A new destination for creative and media collaboration

Mitchell Pok, Director, Creative Services & Technology at MightyHive and an early tester said, “The initial experience with Ads Creative Studio has been really promising; the potential for the platform to make creative production across teams and formats seamless and efficient is a game changer.”

For brands, Ads Creative Studio allows you to consolidate and collaborate across creative and media teams while giving them control over what content and campaign data is shared. For creative partners, it’s a one-stop-shop to discover, build and iterate on innovative display, audio and video formats. And for all customers our goal is to help improve operational efficiency, reduce barriers and make it easier to scale ads across channels.

Ads Creative Studio will be available in beta to Display & Video 360 customers at the end of July and to select YouTube Ads customers in September. Additional features will be made available to a wider group of users over the following months.

Prime Day 2021 deals: $899 M1 MacBook Air returns

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Crypto finance startup Amber Group raises $100M at $1B valuation

More mainstream venture capital firms are jumping on the crypto bandwagon as investors increasingly consider bitcoin an investable asset, despite the recent massive price drops of a few major cryptocurrencies. Amber Group, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency trading startup, said on Monday it has raised $100 million in a Series B funding round at a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.

The latest valuation is ten times that of the company’s Series A closed in 2019, a $28 million round that counted Coinbase Ventures as one of its investors. Also notably, Amber’s Series B financing was bankrolled by a list of high-profile financial and VC firms, including China Renaissance, which led the round, and Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, Arena Holdings, Tru Arrow Partners, Sky9 Capital, DCM Ventures, and Gobi Partners.

Its past investors Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com also participated in the round.

In May, Babel Finance, another crypto asset manager based out of Hong Kong, secured $40 million in funding from a number of big-name institutional investors, including Amber’s investor Tiger Global.

Founded by a group of former investment bankers in their twenties, Amber initially set out to apply machine learning algorithms to quantitative trading but pivoted in 2017 to crypto when the team saw spikes in virtual currency’s trading volumes. The startup now serves both institutional and individual investors, offering them algorithmic trading, electronic market-making, high-frequency trading, OTC trading, borrowing and lending, derivatives, among other products.

The firm launched its mobile app in the third quarter of 2020, widening its scope from institutional clients to retail consumers. It said the trading app has so far accumulated over 100,000 registered users.

Amber has been profitable since its inception, according to its co-founder and CEO Michael Wu, with annualized revenues of $500 million based on figures from January to April 2021.

The startup has seen “record months over the past quarter across both client flow and on-exchange market-making volumes,” said Wu, and it now accounts for “2-3% of total trading volumes in major spot and derivative markets.” Its cumulative trading volumes have doubled from $250 billion since the beginning of the year to over $500 billion. Altogether, it manages around $1.5 billion in trading capital that varies based on BTC and ETH prices.

Amber has over 330 employees worldwide across Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, and Vancouver. The proceeds from its Series B will go towards global expansion.

How to move your Mac's mouse by tracking your head with a webcam

Reduce your reliance on your mouse by using your head, by enabling Head Pointer in macOS to move your cursor and click icons by shifting your skull from side to side.

Apple includes many different accessibility tools in its operating systems, allowing many people to access its software and tools without using conventional methods. While they are intended for users who cannot use a keyboard or mouse, the same features could also be used by anyone, simply by turning them on and changing a few settings.

Sometimes, the accessibility features could help a user’s productivity in unexpected ways, such as with the Head Pointer feature of macOS.

What is Head Pointer?

Included since macOS Catalina, Head Pointer is a tool that, simply put, turns your head into a mouse. Using a webcam pointed at the user, the tool can monitor the user’s head rotation, from side to side or vertically, and move the on-screen cursor in that direction.

This has an obvious utility for people who cannot use a mouse at all, but it can also benefit all users. With a sufficiently large screen and a perfectly placed webcam, the tool could feasibly move the cursor near to an area of the display the user is actively viewing.

Head Pointer is held in System Preferences' Accessibility menu.

Since the mouse can still be used and overrides any head movements, this system could move the cursor close to where a user intends to use it, simply by moving their head and attention. The mouse could then be used for the last and potentially shorter movement to the icon or element that will be clicked or dragged.

The system isn’t entirely perfect, as it does rely on correctly interpreting a video feed from the webcam, one that has been confused in testing by bushy beards and glasses. It’s also not entirely precise enough for applications such as finely detailed artwork.

But for getting the mouse in the general area or for simple tasks, it’s still a handy tool to have enabled.

Enabling and using Head Pointer

The first thing you need to do is to set up a webcam for your Mac. MacBooks have the FaceTime camera, which can be used, but practically any imaging device you can connect and is considered a webcam by the Mac will do.

How to turn on Head Pointer in macOS

  • Click the Apple icon in the menu bar and select System Preferences.
  • Select Accessibility.
  • Scroll down the left-hand side to reach and select Pointer Control.
  • Click the Alternative Control Methods tab.
  • Check the checkmark next to Enable head pointer.

Once enabled, macOS will start to interpret your head movements from the webcam’s point of view into mouse movements. If you want to refine the controls, click the Options button.

You can change how fast the cursor moves relative to your head.

You can change how fast the cursor moves relative to your head.

Under the General section, you can set the system to move the pointer “Relative to Head” or “When Facing Screen Edges.” The latter is the more extreme version, while the “Relative” option will be the best for most people.

While it isn’t necessarily going to be perfect in its positioning, most of the time, “Relative to Head” will help you get the mouse close to where you intend it to be without trying too hard.

Pointer Speed will dictate how fast the pointer will move around the screen based on your head’s movement. Distance to Edge is enabled only when using the “Screen Edges” option and will dictate how much you will need to turn the head before the pointer starts to move.

The Camera Options button will allow you to select the right webcam if you have multiple installed, as well as an Expressions tab that we will get to momentarily.

Actions and Facial Expressions

The Actions tab adds extra controls that you can do with your face, relating to Head Pointer’s basic operation.

You can set facial expressions to toggle Head Pointer on and off, and to periodically recalibrate.

You can set facial expressions to toggle Head Pointer on and off, and to periodically recalibrate.

If the first option is enabled, you can press F10 to turn Head Pointer on and off, though you can also set other commands to toggle it using the Assign button. In that menu, you can define a “Physical Switch” or a keyboard button press to toggle the action, or a facial expression.

You can select from a list of predefined facial expressions, which will similarly toggle it on and off. The list includes a smile, an open mouth gesture, sticking out the tongue, raising the eyebrows, an eye-blink, scrunching the nose, or puckering your lips to the left, right, or outward.

There's quite an extensive list of facial expressions Head Pointer can detect.

There’s quite an extensive list of facial expressions Head Pointer can detect.

There’s a similar menu for recalibrating Head Pointer if it’s been a while and it’s not quite detecting movements, or the cursor’s acting wildly. Again, you can define a button, a physical switch, or a facial expression to prompt a recalibration.

You can even configure how much effort you need to put in for a facial expression to be accepted by Head Pointer. Maybe you don’t want to stick your tongue out too much, or it’s not picking up puckering correctly.

In the Camera Options menu, under Expressions, drop-down boxes allow you to set how much expressiveness you need to count as an intended facial action. The “Default” is the middle setting, but you can set it as “Slight” or “Exaggerated” as needed for each one.

Clicking mouse buttons

While moving your head to shift the cursor is one thing, you may also want to set up some facial expressions to perform some basic actions with the mouse buttons. Tick “Enable alternative pointer actions” and click Options to set this up.

Expressions can be set to trigger mouse button clicks and click combinations.

Expressions can be set to trigger mouse button clicks and click combinations.

In the menu, the F11 and F12 keys are set to left-click and right-click by default, with an interface to add more commands. Below are tick boxes, each to show visual indicators or to play a sound when a facial recognition linked to an action is detected.

How to assign a facial expression to a mouse action in Head Pointer for macOS

  • Enter the Pointer Control section of the Accessibility menu within System Preferences.
  • Click Options next to Enable alternative pointer actions.
  • Click the plus symbol.
  • Select Facial Expression then Next.
  • Select the required Facial Expression from the list.
  • Enter a name for the action and facial expression combination.
  • Select the action you want to be performed. This covers left and right-clicking, double and triple-clicks, and toggling for a Drag and Drop action.
  • Click Done.
  • To remove the assignment, select it from the list, then click the minus button and confirm with Delete.
  • To edit an assignment, select it from the list, then click the circle button. Make edits and save as before.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

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AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

FCC updates emergency alerts to avoid 2018 false alert fiasco

The Federal Communications Commission is refreshing its text alert system, combining two types of alerts into a single “National Alerts” category for iPhones and other Wireless Emergency Alert-supporting devices, as well as introducing checks to prevent false alerts from being made.

The FCC issued a Report and Order on Thursday in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which required it to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make rules to “strengthen emergency alerting.”

As part of the change, the existing “Presidential Alerts” category that was introduced in 2018 will be combined with alerts from FEMA, in a new category titled “National Alerts,” according to The Verge. The category will continue to be a “non-optional alert class” that will appear on all WEA-supporting mobile devices, such as iPhones.

A large part of the Report and Order is dedicated to ensuring there aren’t any mistaken messages issued using the system. The FCC specifically references a 2018 false emergency alert in Hawaii that warned of incoming ballistic missiles, as the incident “highlighted the need to improve these systems.”

The changes include encouraging all states to form “State Emergency Communications Committees” to help administer alerts, or to review the composition of existing committees that do the same task. Certification of annual committee meetings are also required.

The order also requires the creation of a checklist of information that needs to be included in annual state Emergency Alert System plans, along with amending the process for review by the FCC itself. Government agencies will be able to report false alerts to the FCC’s operations center, while more clarification will be provided on how alert originators can repeat transmissions.

FEMA and the FCC will be conducting a national test of the wireless alerts and the Emergency Alert System, affecting televisions and radios, on August 11.

At the time of the false alert, Apple received criticism for its own alerts from Apple News, which sent a series of push messages to iPhones informing users of CNN’s story on the incident. A number of users received a repeated alert every seven seconds for a period of around ten minutes.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

Best Apple Watch Prime Day deals: Series 6 now $279 ($120 off) at Amazon

Amazon just launched killer Prime Day Apple Watch deals, dropping the Series 6 to $279 ($120 off). Target has the Series 3 on sale for $169 as well.

Apple Watch Prime Day deals

The standout markdown in the latest round of deals to go live ahead of Prime Day is a $120 discount on the 40mm Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) with a Red Aluminum Case and Red Sport Band.

Apple Watch Series 6 $120 off

Read more

Additional Apple deals

Cheap Apple Prices

AppleInsider and Apple Authorized Resellers are also running additional discounts on Apple hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus savings on accessories, peripherals and more. Here are just a few of the deals running for Prime Day:

Texas homes heat up as power companies alter smart thermostats

Texas homeowners have discovered their homes are getting warmer despite the use of air conditioning, with the discovery that energy companies are remotely adjusting the thermostat to higher temperatures with minimal warning.

Residents in Houston and surrounding areas have complained that their thermostats have been increasing in temperature, seemingly on their own. Rather than keeping the house cool, the thermostats have been remotely tampered with to operate at a warmer temperature.

In one example aired by WFAA, the English family of Deer Park discovered such a situation on Wednesday. Brandon English returned home that day to discover his wife and daughters had lowered the temperature at 2:30pm, but it had been changed while they had a nap.

The house had risen in temperature to 78 degrees, English said, and that his wife and kids “woke up sweating.” He was concerned about his three-month-old daughter potentially dehydrating from the heat in the unbearably hot home.

Later, his wife received an alert advising their thermostat was changed remotely as part of a three-hour “energy-saving event.”

It was determined that the family’s thermostat was enrolled into a program called “Smart Savers Texas,” operated by EnergyHub. As part of an agreement, EnergyHub could remotely control the thermostat during a period of high energy demand, in exchange for entry into sweepstakes.

The changes occur during a period in the summer where homeowners are putting a strain on the power grid to keep their homes cool with air conditioning. On Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas urged residents to raise their thermostats to reduce the strain on the power grid.

In a statement received by Gizmodo, EnergyHub said “During a demand response event, Smart Savers Texas increases the temperature on participating thermostats by up to four degrees to reduce energy consumption and relieve stress on the grid. Every participant actively agrees to the terms of the program and can opt-out of a demand response event at any time.”

EnergyHub says it works with a number of smart thermostat vendors, including some that offer thermostats with HomeKit support. The list includes Ecobee, Honeywell, and Lux, as well as Google’s Nest, which pledged support for the Apple-backed smart home protocol Matter in May, meaning HomeKit support for Nest thermostats is in development.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

Russia votes to force U.S. tech giants to open local offices

Major tech companies like Apple must open offices in Russia by January 2022, lawmakers in the country have decided, in what could be a move to crack down on dissent and banned commentary online.

The vote on Thursday saw members of the Russian parliament pass legislation requiring foreign companies to either set up a local branch or open a Russian legal entity. Affected firms are those that serve more than half a million daily users from the country via their website, which would include Apple and most social networks and search engines.

While the legislation has passed through the lower house of parliament, it still has to be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin to be turned into a law. Reuters reports it is widely expected to pass through the upper house unscathed, and to be signed by Putin with no issues raised.

It is asserted by the bill’s authors that there is a need to create a local branch, otherwise foreign websites will be outside of Russia’s jurisdiction.

Websites and organizations that do not agree to the legislation and fail to set up a local office will face punitive measures, such as being designated as “non-compliant” on search engines, removed from search results entirely, or banned from advertising in the country.

The legislation is the latest attempt by the Russian government to assert its position on online matters and the tech industry.

Meanwhile, in 2019, Apple moved to comply with a 2014 law requiring data on citizens to be stored on local servers. It was believed by critics that the storage of user data on servers in Russia would open the data up to abuse.

In April 2021, Apple was forced to include a selection of government-approved apps made in Russia on devices sold in the country.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

Nude photo texts and iPhones switched for fruit in the Apple Crime Blotter

iPhone evidence catches a mail fraud conspiracy, a police department recommends AirTags in cars, and Apple device orders replaced with fruit.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at the world of Apple-related crime.

Ex-trooper pleads guilty texting himself woman’s nude photos

A former Minnesota state trooper who was accused in thesummer of 2020 of texting himself a nude photo from a woman’s phone has pled guilty to the offense. According to NBC News, the trooper responded to the scene of a suspected drunken-driving crash and used the woman’s phone to text himself intimate images.

The officer was caught when the boyfriend of the woman, whose phone was synched with her MacBook, discovered that the photos had been sent to an unknown number. This led the boyfriend to call the number.

The officer, who has since been fired, pled guilty to misdemeanor nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images and agreed to two years of probation.

iPhone evidence busts mail fraud conspiracy

Two Dominican nationals have pled guilty to a mail fraud scheme that was busted in part due to evidence obtained from an iPhone.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the two men admitted to “using stolen personal identification information to obtain high-end electronic devices such as cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, and watches.”

The defendants were caught in a Customs and Border Patrol raid in April 2020, in which electronic devices were seized. A review of one of the iPhones revealed much information, including fraudulent driver’s licenses and other details of the scheme.

One Connecticut police department is recommending that car owners place AirTags inside their cars in order to avoid car thefts. According to Patch, the area has seen a large recent uptick in car thefts, and the AirTags are seen as a way to mitigate the problem.

Citizens are also advised to lock their cars and otherwise secure valuable items.

iPhones meant for delivery in Thailand were replaced by fruit

A food preparer in Thailand was meant to receive eight used iPhones from relatives but opened the box only to find that they had been replaced by a single mango fruit.

According to Bangkok Post, a staffer of the parcel delivery company, Flash Express was responsible for the theft. The woman meant to receive the iPhones contacted Apple, and traced the devices to Bang Rakam. In a Facebook post, the woman accused the company of refusing to help her, but they later apologized.

Police later found the suspected thief, who denied any involvement, although the stolen phones later rang nearby.

Find My iPhone tracks, catches accused church thief

Police in Washington state used the Find My iPhone function to catch a man suspected of stealing from two local churches.

According to KPQ, police found $10,000 worth of stolen items reportedly stolen from five different victims. While police found two Apple computers, they did not find the iPad that they had tracked to the residence.

Police seek suspects who stole “bags full of MacBooks

The Knoxville Police’s Property Crimes Unit is seeking two suspects who they say stole “two bags full of Apple MacBooks” from an area Best Buy. The two are said to have left the store in a dark-colored sedan.

The Best Buy was located on Towne and Country Boulevard in Knoxville.

Apple Watches said to be calling 911 by mistake

When the officers call back, which is mandated when people call the police and hang up, they are often told the call came from an Apple Watch and was accidental.

iPhones reportedly being stolen, for bank access, in Brazil

A rash of iPhone thefts in Brazil is meant not to use or resell the phones, but rather to access bank accounts, reporting on the crimes from that country claims.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, as cited by India Today, those who own iPhone 11 and XR models have noticed that if their phone was stolen, they have also had bank accounts hacked. It is a particular gang in Sao Paolo doing so, per the report.

“Robbers noticed how much information people put in their phones. Usually, Waze users in the car with an Android smartphone are their main focus. Although breaking an iOS system is more difficult, they have also specialized in it,” the local police chief in the report.

Find My iPhone leads to 70-year-old on the beach

Police in Ontario recently used the Find My service to try to solve the theft of an iPhone and a pair of shoes, both of which had taken from an area beach. Blackburn News reports the iPhone was found in the possession of a 70-year-old man, who was charged with theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

Pennsylvania State Police are looking into a theft of an iPhone 11 and a wallet containing $1,000 in cash and credit cards – all from a shopping cart at a Tractor Supply store in Somerset County.

According to We Are Central PA, troopers have been warning of items being stolen from shopping carts.

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