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20 years ago Apple introduced the iPod, the perfect gateway drug to the Mac | Engadget

Keith Chambers

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Apple's iPod Classic music player (2008 model).



It’s hard to remember, but 20 years ago, Apple was not a very cool company. Sure, OS X was intriguing, and the titanium PowerBook was definitely a cool computer, But when most people thought of Apple, it was probably the bulbous, colorful iMac G3 that popped into people’s heads. The company was starting to build its reputation for truly desirable products, but it wasn’t solidified just yet.
That all changed on October 23, 2001, when Steve Jobs pulled the first iPod out of his pocket. For a generation of music fans, it became the quintessentially cool item that was more than just a fad. It’s not a stretch to say it reinvented the music industry while simultaneously paving a path for Apple to become the world’s biggest company. It was the ultimate gateway drug to getting people who had never bought an Apple product before to see what all the fuss was about.

At this point, the somewhat skeptical reception to the iPod is part of tech industry lore – particularly Slashdot’s dismissal of the product as “lame” compared to a Nomad MP3 player. (Raise your hand if you ever used a Nomad. That’s what I thought.) And it’s not like the product was an instant hit – the first iPod cost $400 and only worked with the Mac, two factors that limited its appeal.

Those limitations helped it achieve some serious cachet, though. Seeing an iPod in the wild was a rarity, and my Mac-owning friends who were early adopters had to deal with my incessant questions and requests to hold it and spin its distinctive wheel. It didn’t help that my college suite-mate (who had a titanium PowerBook and iPod) and graphic designer friend (with a PowerMac G4 and iPod) were constantly going off about how great their hardware was. I was primed to become one of those switchers Apple liked to talk about in the early 2000s.
The iPod may have started out as a Mac-only product, but less than a year later, Apple opened it up to the other 98 percent of computer users by introducing a Windows-compatible model in the summer of 2002. Less than a year after that, Apple completely redesigned the iPod and released a new version of iTunes for Windows. At the same time, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, making it a lot easier to get legal music onto an iPod. With that, the iPod moved fully into the mainstream.
There’s no good way to quantify how many people bought an iPod for Windows and then eventually switched to a Mac. But, Mac sales increased from about 3 million in 2003 to more than 7 million by 2007. Apple’s move to more powerful Intel processors in 2005 likely helped adoption, but the iPod “halo effect” was often cited in the mid-2000s as a driver of the Mac’s increasing popularity.
Growing Mac sales and the most popular consumer electronics device of the decade truly paved the way for the iPhone to be the monumental success that it was almost. Sure, the iPhone eventually killed the iPod, but as Steve Jobs said, he’d rather cannibalize Apple’s sales with another Apple product than let some other company do it — this was how he justified the existence of the iPod touch, which was basically an iPhone without a phone.

I might be overselling the iPod to Mac to iPhone evolution, because I lived it. After getting a second-generation iPod in 2002 (embarrassing admission time: I also bought four more full-size iPods between then and 2009), I got my first Mac in 2003 and the first iPhone in late 2007. I remember being more excited about my first iPhone than my first iPod, mostly because it was light years better than the Moto RAZR I was using at the time. But my first iPod was similarly a huge step forward from the MP3 players I owned before. And in my early 20s, there was nothing more important to me than music.
That may not make me unique, but it’s still true. Before the iPod was everywhere, someone else who had one was someone you could trust. They took music as seriously as you did; they knew how liberating it was to have your 100 favorite albums with you, on demand, any time you needed them. In a world where Apple Music offers access to 90 million songs anywhere you are for 10 bucks a month, that might seem quaint. But 20 years ago, it was a revelation.
I still have the last iPod I ever purchased, a 2008 iPod classic with 120GB of storage – about the same space as I have in my iPhone 12 Pro. It’s still stuffed to the gills with music, some 11,000-plus songs, most of which come from albums I carefully selected over time. Most of them are still in my Apple Music library, which has now ballooned to more than double that size, with over 25,000 songs.
I’m still a firm believer in the art of making a good album, but I’ve also collected thousands of singles, or a handful of songs from artists who catch my ear on one of the many curated playlists out there. The music industry has changed, and so have I. Whether or not that’s a good thing is a debate for another time, but there’s no doubt that both the music and technology industries changed completely because of the iPod – something its humble introduction 20 years ago only barely hinted at.All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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WhatsApp, iMessage give the most info to the FBI, new document shows

Keith Chambers

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WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 8



Edgar Cervantes / Android AuthorityTL;DR

An internal FBI document has revealed how much data it can legally obtain from messaging apps.
It turns out that iMessage and WhatsApp were the most permissive in this regard.
Signal and Telegram are two high-profile apps that don’t give out much data.

There are loads of messaging apps on the market today, and many of these services make a big deal about their security and privacy policies. Now, a newly leaked document has revealed just how much data the FBI can legally obtain from these services.Rolling Stone and Property of the People obtained an FBI document (seen below) that details exactly what kind of information the bureau can obtain from various messaging apps with a warrant or subpoena. And it turns out that WhatsApp and iMessage provide the most information.WhatsApp, iMessage, and Line all provide “limited” message content in response to a legal request from the FBI. Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber, WeChat, and Wickr don’t disclose any message content though.But the amount of data shared by WhatsApp and iMessage doesn’t stop there, and it turns out that “limited” message content isn’t as innocuous as it sounds.
The biggest snitches uncoveredRolling Stone/Property of the PeopleThe Facebook-owned messaging platform will only give up “basic subscriber records” with a subpoena, but a search warrant allows the FBI to grab address book contacts and WhatsApp users who have the target as a contact. A surveillance request (called a pen register here) will also allow WhatsApp to send the source and destination of messages to the FBI every 15 minutes, but not the message content itself.Using an iPhone and got your WhatsApp messages backed up to iCloud? Then the FBI can grab actual message content too, as Apple is required to hand over the iCloud encryption key with a search warrant.
More reading: The best alternatives to WhatsApp right nowMeanwhile, iMessage only serves up “basic” subscriber information with a subpoena, but dishes out 25 days of iMessage search queries with a court order. Authorities armed with a search warrant can also make backups of a target’s device and see actual messages if the targeted person is using iCloud backups for iMessage. Apple’s service doesn’t offer a surveillance/pen register capability like WhatsApp though.Telegram and Signal are two services with more significant limitations on what can legally be handed over to the FBI. Telegram doesn’t offer message content at all, nor does it typically provide contact information. The FBI document adds however that Telegram “may” disclose IP addresses and phone numbers to authorities for “confirmed” terrorist investigations.Signal doesn’t provide message content either, but does offer the date and time a user registered on the service and the last date it connected to the platform.Most of this information isn’t new, but the document does give users a better idea of how these platforms compare to each other. And this is particularly important for journalists, leakers, and their sources. Will this news make you switch messaging apps though? Let us know via the poll below.Will you switch messaging apps after these FBI disclosures?48 votesYes25%No29%I’ve already switched to Signal/Telegram46%Comments

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Virtual modular synth VCV Rack 2 is now available | Engadget

Keith Chambers

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Mariella Moon



VCV Rack 2 has arrived, and it could help you figure out if modular synthesis is something you can get into before blowing a fortune on it. The original app dropped in 2017, giving you access to thousands of virtual modules that let you try Eurorack for free. This upgraded app comes with a completely redesigned user interface with a dark room mode and a much better module browser than its predecessor. VCV has a library of almost 2,700 modules, and the new browser will make them easier to sort with its category filters and the capability to highlight the modules you use the most.
While the app itself is still free to download and use, there’s now a Pro version that includes a VST plugin for full integration into the digital audio workstation of your choice. That means you’ll be able to use VCV Rack within Ableton, Logic or even GarageBand. The Pro tier also comes with professional support — and the promise of more plugin formats in the future. Rack 2’s paid version will set you back $99 until 2022, though you can also get it bundled with VCV Drums and VCV Sound Stage for $209. You can get both paid and free VCV Rack 2 versions right now from its official page.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Here are 2021’s best apps and games according to Google

Keith Chambers

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C. Scott Brown



We’re slowly inching towards the end of the year. With December just a few days away, Google has announced the winners of its annual Google Play Best of awards. This year, Google’s including categories for apps and games playable on tablets, Wear OS, and Google TV, broadening the scope of possible winners.In 2020, we saw plenty of mindfulness apps make the cut, and 2021 sees a similar outcome. This year, personalized mediation app Balance takes home Google’s top app honors. As for the top game, Pokémon Unite is the company’s title of choice. Canva and Calm took home the Best for Tablets and Best for Wear titles, respectively, while Disney Plus, ESPN, and Tubi claimed “popular on Google TV” medals.

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