iPhone, iPad Sales Help Apple Bounce Back With Solid Third Quarter

Today’s topics include Apple bouncing back with a solid third quarter; Google tracking ransomware payments with machine learning; Google releasing an API for offline peer-to-peer Android communications; and Microsoft making PowerPoint pop with smart timelines and 3D object support.

Apple turned in a third-quarter 2017 earnings report Aug. 1 that was a bounce-back from the second quarter, in which the device maker saw a hitch in iPhone sales that translated to $1 billion less in revenue than had been projected by Wall Street analysts.

In its Q3 affidavit, Apple reported typically good numbers: an $8.7 billion profit, or $1.67 per share, on revenue of $45.4 billion. Apple sold 41 million iPhones in the third quarter, a slight increase from a year ago, when the company moved a little more than 40 million handsets.

Ransomware isn't just a hot topic in the media, it's a real and growing threat, according to a team of Google-led researchers. Google publicly presented its findings in a session titled "Tracking Ransomware End to End" at the Black Hat USA security conference in Las Vegas on July 26.

Search queries for the term "ransomware" increased by 877 percent over the past year, according to Elie Bursztein, anti-fraud and abuse research team lead at Google. A key reason why ransomware is so devastating to victims is because not everyone has proper data backups, Bursztein said.

According to Google data he cited, approximately only 37 percent of users back up their data on a regular basis. Often, victims who did not back up their data choose to pay the ransom to get their data back, Bursztein added.

Google last week announced the general availability of a new peer-to-peer networking application programming interface that enables Android mobile applications to communicate with nearby devices even when they are offline.

The Nearby Connections API enables what Google describes as low latency, high-bandwidth fully encrypted P2P data transfers between Android devices that are in close proximity with each other. It allows Android apps to detect and connect to nearby devices to exchange data with them regardless of whether the devices are connected to the network or not.

The API works on devices running Google Play services version 11.0 and up.

On July 31, Microsoft detailed some of the new features being added to PowerPoint, Excel and Word.

In PowerPoint, users can now automatically organize date-based information into polished timelines using PowerPoint Designer, one of several design aids that assist users in creating more engaging, professional-quality Office content. "Now PowerPoint Designer recognizes times, dates and topics on your slides and intelligently redesigns your content into professional-looking timelines, making it easier than ever to create high impact presentations," Microsoft announced. In addition, users wishing to add a little more visual flair to their presentations can now add 3D models to their creations.

Excel and Word users can now adorn their files with 3D objects as well. Word also gains a new Read Aloud function to its Review collection of proofing tools that, among other uses, will help those with dyslexia or learning disabilities better create and consume written content.