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Can smart home devices get viruses? There’s been a lot of talk about the idea of IoT (Internet of Things) devices being infected by viruses, not least because Samsung this month recommended scanning its QLED televisions for viruses every few weeks.

Security experts from Avast and Symantec have set out to separate fact from fiction. They say that while a virus isn’t impossible, it is extremely unlikely – but there are four other ways the security of your smart home can be compromised, and we outline some simple steps you can take to reduce the risks …

Gizmodo sought clarity from Vladislav Iliushin, IoT threat researcher at Avast, and Candid Wueest, principal threat researcher at Symantec, both specializing in smart home security.

Can smart home devices get viruses?

The short answer here is ‘Yes, but.’ Some smart home devices can, in principle, be vulnerable to viruses and other forms of malicious payload. 

Even Android malware designed to infect smartphones can compromise smart TVs if they run the Android operating system

And it’s not just Android devices that are at risk.

However, the experts stress that the risks are low because there are only four ways to get malware onto your device. Each of these is relatively easy to guard against.

The four risks, and how to guard against them

A poorly-secured device

The main protection here is to buy devices from reputable brands. These will have a professional approach to security, and keen to protect their reputation by acting quickly to deal with any vulnerabilities discovered. We saw a good example of this recently with Nest cameras, where Google was extremely fast to block a security hole.

HomeKit certification is an excellent form of protection. Apple requires that all HomeKit-certified devices use end-to-end encryption, and are ‘mutually authenticated.’ For example, when a Philips Hue hub switches on a Hue bulb, the hub checks the security credentials of the bulb before issuing the instruction, and the bulb checks the security credentials of the hub before obeying it.

Access to your home Wi-Fi network

Once someone has access to your home Wi-Fi network, many smart home apps allow immediate control of your devices. This is obviously particularly worrying with locks and cameras.

This too is easy to secure by having a strong password on your router, and ensuring that you have changed the default login details. For example, many routers default to admin/admin or admin/password as their administrator login.

Make sure, too, that your router is configured to automatically download and apply security updates. Most are by default, but not all.

Physical access to your IoT devices

Not a practical risk for most consumers – this is more something companies need to think about.

Tricking you into installing malware

A malicious app running on a computer or smartphone is the biggest risk of all. Macs and iOS devices are significantly safer than Windows PCs and Android smartphones, but they are still not completely immune.

Best practice is to download apps only from sources you completely trust, such as Apple’s own App Store and reputable developers.

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Gift Guide: Smart Health/Fitness Devices For Beginners And Fanatics

Gifting smart health/fitness devices can be really thoughtful and helpful but sometimes it can be tricky to figure out which one to pick. Below we’ve got a roundup of great options for everyone from those just getting started to super fit family or friends.

The first three smart health/fitness devices I wanted to highlight below range from a few smart scale options, blood pressure monitor, to a pocket-sized metabolic analyzer – all of which work with iPhone and Apple Health.

If you’re considering gifting a wearable, we’ll finish up by covering some tips to help you decide whether a smartwatch or more basic and affordable fitness band is a better fit (as well as how something like Apple Watch compares with Garmin/Suunto and even Google’s Wear OS).

Best smart health/fitness devices 2023 gift guide Withings Smart Scales

I’ve been using a Withings Smart Scale for going on seven years and it’s been really reliable and useful. The reason I recommend going for Withings over other options is it’s a company with a solid track record, a good iOS app with Apple Health integration, and durable/good looking build quality. Withings currently has three models for pretty much any budget and need.

Withings Body Smart Scale

For those just getting started on a health and fitness journey, the Body Withings Smart Scale is a great choice. It offers weight and BMI, automatic syncing with the iOS app, and automatically recognizes up to 8 users. It usually goes for around $60.

Body+ Smart Scale

If the person you’re looking to buy for is further along in their fitness journey or would enjoy more data, the Withings Body+ Smart Scale adds body composition measurements. That includes fat, muscle, and bone mass, as well as water percentage. Body+ goes for around $99.

Body Cardio

If you want to go for the top of the line option, the Withings Body Cardio offers all of the features of Body+ like full body composition and adds in heart rate monitoring. It usually sells for around $150.

You can check out the full Withings Smart Scale lineup here.

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

I have an old version of Withings Blood Pressure Monitor that still works great and the current model is even more impressive. You’re getting a wireless experience, rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 6 months, it’s FDA cleared as medically accurate and you can easily send results to your doctor.

Since it works with the Withings Health Mate app like the smart scale above, you get Apple Health integration and can see all your other data in one place.

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor retails for $99.

Lumen metabolic analyzer

This will be a neat option for someone in your life that already has most of the smart health/fitness devices on the market. While those really into fitness may be the most likely to appreciate a metabolic analyzer, Lumen is a really useful tool that anyone can use to achieve goals like losing weight, building muscle, or maintaining weight.

I did a full review of Lumen earlier this year and think it’s a really innovative device that offers super actionable data. What you’re getting is a pocket-sized metabolic analyzer that can tell you if you’re burning fat or carbs based on your breath. From there, the Lumen app gives meal planning/macro recommendations to meet your specific weight loss or fitness goals.

Another big aspect of Lumen is measuring and building metabolic flexibility. And research shows there are a wide variety of health benefits beyond just changing your body composition. They include better sleep, stronger immune system, more consistent blood sugar levels, improved workout performance, and more.

If you’re looking for a gift for someone who enjoys the quantified self, this is a killer gift.

Lumen is normally priced at $349 but is going for $279 during the holidays.

Smartwatch comparison overview Apple Watch, Wear OS, Garmin, fitness bands compared

If you’re thinking of picking up a smartwatch or fitness band for someone for the holidays, there are lots of choices, so here are some TL;DR tips to narrow down what to look at for each type:

Lots of functionality (e.g. Messages, Maps, email, fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, ECG, much much more

Completely integrated with iPhone

Single-day battery life (rated for 18 hours can be more or less depending on use)

Many finishes to choose from especially when considering Apple Watch bands/straps

Solid for general some specific fitness tracking, not as ideal for marathons, ultra runners, and other multi-day fitness events

Price: Usually $199 and up

Be sure to check out my colleague Chance’s comparison here for more on the differences between Apple Watch models:

Garmin and Suunto: Dedicated GPS, long battery life, more

If you’re looking for a gift for an endurance athlete or someone who values dedicated GPS, a Suunto or Garmin smartwatch may be the best fit.

Usually, full smartwatches from these companies include battery life of 7 days or more

Dedicated GPS for tracking workouts, bikes, runs, etc. without cellular data or an iPhone in your pocket

Ideal for marathons, ultra runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes

Durable build quality

Keep in mind these often are running on Google’s Wear OS

If the person you’re gifting is an Android user, it will probably be best to go for Wear OS (or a band-style fitness tracker).

Very wide selection of styles

Made to work with Android smartphones

Wide range of price points

Check out our sister site 9to5Google’s round ups of best Wear OS smartwatches:

These are a good option if you’re looking for something more affordable and basic in overall functionality.

Slim profile

Usually include step and activity tracking, some include sleep tracking

Overall less functionally than Apple Watch or other smartwatches

Often Long 7 days+ battery life

Most are $100 or less

Smart health/fitness devices wrap-up

Hopefully, you’ve now got some great ideas on what you’d like to gift the person (or people) who could use a smart health/fitness device.

If you’re interested in diving more into Apple Watch and health/fitness, be sure to check out 9to5Mac’s Watch Time podcast.

More 9to5Mac 2023 Holiday Gift Guides

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How To Upgrade Your Smart Home To Apple’s New Architecture

Upgrade to the new smart architecture in Apple’s Home app to make your HomeKit appliances perform faster and more reliably than before.

Apple had to pull the new Home app architecture in iOS 16.2 over bugs and issues, re-launching it in iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS Ventura 13.3 as part of the ongoing transition to the new Matter smart home connectivity standard.

The new underlying architecture should enhance the performance of your smart home and improve the reliability of any smart appliances. Follow the steps below to upgrade your smart home to the new architecture in iOS 16.4’s Home app.

How to upgrade your smart home to Apple’s new architecture

If opening the Home app after upgrading to iOS 16.2 doesn’t automatically greet you with a splash screen offering to upgrade your smart home, you can perform the upgrade manually using Software Update in the Home app.

Here are the steps to follow:

Open the Home app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

Hit the three-dotted (More) button, then choose Home Settings from the menu. If you own multiple homes, choose one first before selecting Home Settings.

Select Software Update.

Hit Learn More under Home Upgrade Available.

Touch Continue to proceed or Upgrade Later if you don’t want to do this now.

This feature will upgrade all homes in the Home app simultaneously. After a few moments, you’ll see a message confirming a successful upgrade.

“This includes people you invite to control your home,” Apple notes.

I’ve lost control of my smart home via my ancient Apple Watch Series 2, which isn’t compatible with watchOS 9. When performing an upgrade in the Home app, I got a warning message but ignored it and continued the process. I don’t mind not being able to use the Home app on my Apple Watch because I usually control my accessories through Siri on my HomePod or the Home app on my iPhone.

Your smart home is now more reliable

There’s nothing else left to do. The Home app’s interface hasn’t changed after performing this upgrade, and all your smart appliances are still present in the app but should now respond faster and work more reliably than before.

You need a home hub

The new architecture requires a home hub to share control of your smart home, receive notifications in the Home app, add Matter accessories and more.

Apple’s support document:

You must set up a home hub to add Matter accessories to the Home app. Thread-enabled Matter accessories require a Thread-enabled home hub, such as HomePod mini or Apple TV 4K (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Ethernet or a supported third-party border router.

When you set up an Apple TV, HomePod or HomePod mini, it automatically becomes your home hub. To manually turn your Apple TV 4K into a home hub, go to Settings → AirPlay and HomeKit and scroll down, then select Room and choose an existing room where this Apple TV will be used or add a new one.

One thing to note is that the iPad, which can still be set up as a home hub, is unsupported when used with the new Home app architecture.

A quick tip for resolving many HomeKit issues

And lastly, if you continue to experience issues with your smart home appliances after upgrading to the new architecture, try removing all HomeKit bridges from the Home app, then re-added them. This will cause HomeKit to load factory settings, which may help resolve your issues.

Helpful Home app tutorials

How To Remove Removable Storage Devices Folder From Desktop

Sometimes we see folders that are created on their own on our PC. They might be created by the programs we install or the tools we use. There is no need to panic unless they are created by the malware. There is a Removable Storage Device folder that is appearing suddenly on the desktop of some users. It does not harm but such a folder on a desktop is not a usual thing. You might have created a shortcut for the drive but not a removable storage devices folder. In this guide, we show you different ways to remove the removable storage devices folder from the desktop.

Why is there a Removable Storage Device folder on my desktop?

It appears suddenly on the desktop after you have used a removable storage device on your Windows PC. It mostly appears when you have used the files on the removable storage device on your PC and make changes to them without copying them onto your PC. For example, if you have used photos on a removable storage device and edited them on your PC without copying them, you may see the removable storage device folder on your desktop.

How to remove Removable Storage Devices folder from desktop

If a folder named Removable Storage Devices appears on your desktop and you are wondering how to get rid of it, the following fixes can help you remove it. Any of the below methods can help you fix it.

Use the Refresh option on desktop

Restart your PC

Manually delete the folder

Use a File Deleter software

Run a malware scan

Let’s get into the details of each method and delete the Removable Storage Devices folder from Desktop.

1] Use the Refresh option on desktop

Read: Desktop and Taskbar keep refreshing constantly in Windows 11/10

2] Restart your PC

Restarting a device is the most generic fix when we face any issue with it. It works even when you see a removable devices folder on the desktop of your PC. Just close all the programs, eject the removable device (if any), and restart your PC. After the restart check if the folder is gone or not.

Read: Shutdown or Restart Windows without using the mouse cursor

3] Manually delete the folder

If refreshing your desktop or restarting your PC does not work, try to delete the folder manually. You can select the folder and press Delete on the keyboard or use the Shift + Delete buttons to delete it permanently and press Enter to confirm. You can also use the context menu to delete it.

Read: Delete undeletable & locked files, and folders in Windows 11/10

4] Use a File Deleter software

If the Removable Storage Devices folder is still there after trying to manually delete it, you should use a third-party file deleter software to delete it. You can use programs like ForceDelete, ThisisMyFile, Wise Force Delete, or any program of your choice.

5] Run a malware scan

There are some chances that the removable storage devices folder has been created by the malware. We need to eliminate the possibility of it. To do so, you need to run Windows Defender as well as a free malware scan or antivirus program to find and delete such traces. If it is really created by malware, you will see it disappear now.

Read: Managing Files and Folders in Windows 11/10 – Tips & Tricks

These are the different ways using which you can remove the removable storage devices folder from the desktop.

How do I turn off removable storage?

You can turn off removable storage devices on your PC using the Registry Editor, disable USB ports from the Device Manager, disable using Command-line tools, using a third-party program, or using Microsoft Fix It. You can use any of them and turn off removable storage.

Why do I have a removable storage devices folder on my desktop?

There are five different ways to remove the Removable Storage Devices folder from your desktop. For example, you can simply press the F5 button to refresh your computer and remove the corresponding folder immediately. However, if it doesn’t work, you can restart your computer, or delete the folder manually.

Read: Automatically create shortcuts to USB Removable Media on Desktop.

How To Get Pixel 2’S Portrait Mode On Other Devices

Update: I have tried the Camera NX Mod on various devices. I found that the app was working perfectly on OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, Nokia 8, and original Pixel and Pixel XL. However, the mod failed to work on Nexus 5X, Redmi Note 3, Mi A1, Samsung Galaxy S8, Moto G4, OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T.

One of the biggest features of the Google Pixel 2 camera is that the smartphone can take incredible portrait shots using just a single camera when most of the flagships fail to do so, even with a dual-camera setup. While Pixel 2s pack impeccable camera hardware, the success of portrait mode feature is undeniably because of Google’s software prowess. Since portrait mode is primarily a software enabled feature, the chances of it being ported to other devices, however slim it may be, was always on the cards.

Well, today we are happy to announce that Senior XDA developer Charles Chow has finally found a way to enable Google Pixel 2’s portrait mode on other Google devices including the original Pixels, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. According to a blog post published on his website Chromloop, Camera NX V7.3, which is a mod for Google Camera, can unlock the portrait mode feature on other Android devices.

Portrait Mode Feature on Other Devices

2. Now, launch the Camera NX app on your phone and tap on the hamburger menu button at the top left corner. Here, tap on the “Portrait” button.

4. That’s it, now just point and shoot to take the portrait shots on your device.

We tested the app on our Nexus 5X but found that at the time of publishing this article, it didn’t work properly on our device. The app just kept on crashing and stopped responding to any input. That said, the same camera mod for OnePlus 3/3T worked perfectly fine. That means that, it might be possible that we are encountering some problem with our own handset. I have attached the sample photo which I took with the modded Camera NX on my OnePlus 3.

SEE ALSO: How to Get Pixel 2’s AR Stickers on Any Android Device

Use Pixel 2’s Portrait Mode on Other Android Devices

Since the app worked on my personal OnePlus 3, I believe that the app will also be working completely fine on original Pixels, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X. However, since the app crashed on my Nexus 5X, I would love for you guys to try it out and share your experiences with us.

Why Are Gadget Experts Needed?

With the development of modern technologies, gadgets have “penetrated” into all spheres of life. We use them to send work documents, to find recipes for dinner, and even to order a taxi. But, unfortunately, any technique tends to break down, especially at the most inopportune moment. It is not always convenient to go to an equipment repair service or call a master, and sometimes it is simply impossible. In this case, the optimal solution would be to seek help from an online gadget expert. A specialist can fix phone and Apple Watch issues.

What Can An Expert Gadget Offer?

Efficiency: Gadget experts work around the clock, and seven days a week, so customers can ask for urgent computer help at any time. Specialists are always in touch through chat and by phone. In some cases, on – site assistance is more effective. Just contact the master, and he will tell you exactly what is better.

Fixed prices: Prices for services are listed on the website and will not change during the service process. Gadget experts do not require any additional payments for work.

Remote round-the-clock assistance: You do not need to wait for the master or take the device to the service center. Specialists solve problems with remote access 24/7 even at night.

Professional engineers: Gadget experts are highly qualified specialists who are certified and constantly improve their professional skills. The team is selected by friendly and polite employees who will be able to answer all questions in an accessible way.

Training: The wizards explain in clear language how, for example, to prevent a problem in the future or to set up another device using a similar principle.

Constant contact: It is not uncommon for companies to forget about a client immediately after providing services. Repeated access to the service turns into a standard scheme of communication with a new client. Gadget experts are not lost after consultation or repair. Clients can always contact by phone or messenger with a specialist they have worked with before.

Advantages Of  The Service

Fast and convenient.

Professional help. The expert knows exactly how to detect and solve the problem.

Low prices (since the specialist does not go anywhere and does not waste time).

Assistance can be provided worldwide via the Internet.

Save time. The client does not need to wait for the master to arrive.

What Problems Can An Expert Gadget Solve?

Online troubleshooting. If there are problems with accessing the Internet from the gadget. Then the online wizard will help you find the cause of the problem and quickly fix it.

Problems with the mobile device. The phone has become a familiar gadget that almost everyone knows how to handle. But many users do not know how to repair or configure it. A gadget expert will help solve problems.

Data recovery. Often important data can be accidentally deleted-files, photos, etc. The faster you call, the higher the chances of full data recovery.

Smartwatch troubleshooting. Smart watches have become an indispensable gadget just like a phone. But not all users can immediately set up the device and start working. For example, the watch won’t turn on. The expert will set up the device so that the user can immediately start using it. In addition, the expert will help me understand if I need a smartwatch and how to work with them correctly.

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