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iPhone X review: Day one with Face ID and animojis

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The iPhone X feels like a concept car, or a secret project. That’s because of the X name, probably, and the legacy of 10 years of iPhones. It’s also the fact that this is an optional step-up model — like an 8 Plus, but smaller. It’s a bold new design, different after three years of each iPhone looking very much the same. Huge kudos to cnet for this. Link to source at bottom of page

I love new technology and the wild ideas that come with it. I love to be immersed in new concepts. But I’m also practical when it comes to tools. Will I use a fully rethought phone? Will it work for me when I need it to? My phone is my mission critical everything. It’s my Indiana Jones hat. Will Face ID work as well as the trusty Touch ID home button? Will I feel safe?

Ultimately the all important question is simple: Is this the must-have upgrade? Should my mom get it? Should my sister? My brother-in-law? My best friend? You?

I’ve spent 18 hours with the device to begin to answer this question. Consider this a living review that we’ll be updating throughout the week — and beyond — as we test, retest and experience the iPhone X.

Face ID works pretty well…

You’ve been able to unlock an iPhone with Touch ID using your fingerprint since 2013. The original iPhone shipped with a home button a decade ago. Apple‘s making a big leap by getting rid of both in one fell swoop and replacing them with Face ID. Your face — or a passcode — is the only way to unlock the iPhone X.

Face ID worked well in early tests. Setup is quick: Two circular head twists and the iPhone adds your face to its secure internal database.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Unlocking isn’t automatic. Instead, the phone “readies for unlock” when it recognizes my face. So I look at the iPhone, and then a lock icon at the top unlocks. But the iPhone still needs my finger-swipe to finish the unlock. It’s fast, but that extra step means it’s not instantaneous. Face ID did recognize me most of the time but sometimes, every once in a while, it didn’t.

I tried the phone with at least five of my coworkers. None of their faces unlocked it — although none of them look remotely like me. I also attempted to unlock it with a big color photo of my face on a 24-inch monitor, but that didn’t register as a face to the iPhone X either. The TrueDepth camera recognizes face contours to identify you.

iPhone X Face ID yes
Face ID worked perfectly in these instances.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Face ID worked perfectly in almost completely dark room, too, lit only by the iPhone’s screen. (It uses infrared). We’ll still need to do a lot more testing to see what Face ID’s limits are. By default, it requires “attention” at the display, but that requirement for direct attention can be turned off for those who need it, or those who prefer to speed up the process.

…but it’s not perfect

By design, the iPhone X doesn’t unlock with just a glance. Once you’ve identified yourself with your face, you need to swipe up with your finger to get to your apps. Not only does the swipe remove the immediacy of Face ID, it means you need your hand to do anything. Quick access to the phone wasn’t quite as quick as I expected.

I pushed my face testing hard. I got a haircut, shaved my beard into several shapes, then off completely. I tried on sunglasses and other frames. I wore hats and scarves. Then I went to more absurd levels, including some that wouldn’t happen in most real-world scenarios, trying on wigs, fake mustaches and steampunk goggles.

iPhone X Face ID no
Face ID failed here.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The preliminary results are in my video. This is by no means a final test, but the bottom line is that most of the “real world” tests worked and showed me that Face ID is more resilient than I expected. Face ID didn’t mind my sunglasses. Scarves presented some challenges, but that makes sense if they’re pulled up over your mouth since they’re hiding essential aspects of your face. All the tests worked far better than Samsung’s face unlock feature on the Galaxy Note 8 — though Samsung kept its fingerprint reader on, as an easy backup.

The iPhone X occasionally asked me to re-enter the passcode after a failed Face ID attempt, then locked out further Face ID efforts until I entered the passcode again. If you’ve used Touch ID, this will remind you of trying to use an iPhone with wet fingers.

The big OLED screen is a welcome addition…

The 5.8-inch screen is the biggest on an iPhone to date, and the first Apple handset to use OLED (organic light-emitting display) technology versus the LED/LCD in all previous iPhones. In addition to better energy efficiency, OLED screens offer much better contrast and true, inky blacks — not the grayish blacks of LCD screens.

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The iPhone 8 (left) has a 4.7-inch screen; the iPhone X (center) has a 5.8-inch screen; and the iPhone 8 Plus (right) is 5.5 inches.


Sarah Tew/CNET

At first use, the bigger screen feels great. I’ve wanted more screen real estate on the iPhone, and the X comes closest to all-screen. Picture quality improvement isn’t immediately noticeable over previous iPhones, but that’s a testament to how good Apple’s previous TrueTone displays are. The larger screen gives the iPhone a more current and immersive feel.

I’ll need more time to compare the screen to other iPhones — and to other OLED phones, such as Samsung Galaxy models.

iPhone X

Sarah Tew/CNET

…but the X’s screen feels different from an iPhone Plus

That said, I grappled with a few X display quirks. Sure, there’s a notch cut out of the top of the screen where the front-facing camera array sits. But this isn’t just the Plus display crammed into the body of a 4.7-inch iPhone. The X’s display is taller than recent iPhones — or, when you put it in landscape mode, narrower. For some videos, that means they get letterboxed (black bars at the top and bottom) or pillarboxed (black bars on the left and right) to fit properly and the effective display area ends up a bit smaller than on the 8 Plus.

The rounded edges of the display mean that even if you expand a picture to fill the screen, parts of the image or movie end up cut off.

The notch didn’t bother me — much…

Hear me out. The notch and the two extra bits on either side end up feeling like bonus space: most apps don’t use that area, and it ends up relegated to carrier, Wi-Fi and battery notifications, which saves that info from cluttering the display below.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

…but your favorite apps might not make the most of that screen

Many current apps aren’t yet optimized for the iPhone X. These outdated apps end up filling the same space as on an iPhone 8, leaving a lot of unused area. That’ll certainly get fixed for some apps over time, but it’s a reminder that the extra screen room here might not end up meeting your needs, until or unless the apps are optimized.

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The Witness isn’t optimized for the iPhone X (yet), so it “pillarboxes” (places black bars to the left and right of the screen).


Sarah Tew/CNET

Living without the home button takes some adjustment

A number of new gestures take the place of the old home button. I kept reaching for the phantom button over the first few hours, feeling like I’d lost a thumb.

Unlike phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which adds a virtual home button to create a “press for home” experience, the X remaps familiar gestures completely.

  • Swiping down from the corner now gives you Control Center, instead of swiping up.
  • Swiping up is the new “home button.”
  • Swiping up and holding brings up all open apps.
  • And another new trick: swiping left or right on the opaque bar below all apps, flips between apps for quick multitasking.
iphone-x-58

Sarah Tew/CNET

Meanwhile, there’s a new, large side button that brings up Siri and Apple Pay. I instinctively pressed and held it to shut down my phone, then I realized that is not what that button does. (To turn off the phone, you now hold that same side button *and* the lower volume button at the same time, which feels far from intuitive.)

Those gestures added up to some difficult maneuvers as I walked Manhattan streets in the Flatiron between my office and a local barber shop. At the end of the first day, I admit: sometimes I missed the simple home button.

You’ll need to adjust your Apple Pay routine

Double-clicking the side button brings up Apple Pay, but an additional face-glance is needed to authorize a payment. I tried it on our vending machine at the office and sometimes it worked great. Sometimes Face ID didn’t seem to recognize me. Maybe my timing was off.

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We tested Apple Pay on our in-house vending machine.


Sarah Tew/CNET

I’m definitely going to need to check this out at more places in the days ahead. The bottom line: you don’t want to be the guy holding up the line at the drugstore because your double-click-to-Face-ID-to-NFC-reader flow was off.

The rear cameras are similar, not identical, to the iPhone 8 Plus

Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X has a dual rear camera with both wide-angle and telephoto lenses. But X has two changes: A larger aperture (f/2.4 vs. f/2.8) on the telephoto lens, and optical image stabilization on both lenses (rather than just one on the 8 Plus), which should make for better-lit, less blurry zoomed-in shots at night or in lower lighting.

My colleague, CNET Senior Photographer James Martin, has done a deep dive on the new front-facing iPhone X camera, experimenting with portraits and shots around San Francisco.

The front camera is great with Portrait Mode…

In addition to handling Face ID duties, the TrueDepth front camera brings most of the magic of Apple’s rear cameras to the selfie world.

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Scott Stein/CNET

Portrait Mode, where the subject is in the foreground in focus with a blurred background, and Portrait Lighting, which applies various lighting effects to a photo after the fact, both now work on your selfies. Vanity, thy name is Portrait Mode.

…but not great with Portrait Lighting and my face

Portrait Lighting is officially in beta on both the iPhone’s rear and front cameras, and my experiences with it confirmed Apple isn’t finished perfecting the software that makes it work. My face ended up looking oddly cut-out and poorly lit. Unlike the rear cameras, which seemed to produce hit-or-miss Portrait Lighting shots, I haven’t had luck with my own selfies.

iPhone X selfie portrait lighting
Portrait Lighting is still in beta, so temper your expectations.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Get ready to be bombarded with animojis, and other TrueDepth AR and face-mapping apps

Animojis are exactly what they sound like: animated emojis. They’re cute. They’re also Apple’s showcase for the fancy TrueDepth camera, which maps your facial expressions onto monkeys, aliens, foxes and even a pile of poop. (If nothing else, the 10-second clips made my kids laugh when I sent them a few.)

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Animojis map to your facial expressions and mouth movements.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Third-party apps also use the TrueDepth camera for real-time 3D effects. Snapchat created new face filters I got to play with, and some did an amazing job staying on my face. I’m curious to see how future apps use this tech for even more advanced face-aware AR.

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Snapchat face filters just got a lot more realistic.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple’s Instagram-like video app Clips has an update coming that also uses the camera to green-screen my face into different scenes, like an 8-bit gaming experience or a Star Wars filter where it looks like my face is a blue-tinged hologram. Again, it’s fun. For many people, the filters Snapchat already provides are probably enough.

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Apple’s Clips app is now TrueDepth-enabled, too.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple nailed the size and feel: Did it nail the entire experience?

I think the X is in the sweet spot that the older iPhone sizes could never perfectly be. It’s a good-feeling phone with a nice, large screen. The shift to Face ID and the removal of the home button feel like changes that some might be fine with, and others will find unnecessary. I’m still learning the X’s design language.

We’re just getting started!

Want to know more? So do we. This is the beginning of our iPhone X journey, not the final word. We’ve got plenty more on deck, including battery tests, benchmarks and in-depth comparisons to rival phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google PIxel 2 XL.

We’ll continue to update our experiences throughout the week as we count down to the iPhone X global launch on Friday, Nov. 3.

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Apple fixes HomeKit bug that allowed remote unlocking of users’ doors | Technology

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Apple has been forced to fix a security hole within its HomeKit smart home system that could have allowed hackers to unlock users’ smart locks or other devices.

The bug within iOS 11.2 permitted unauthorised remote control of HomeKit-enabled devices. Such devices include smart lights, plugs and other gadgets, but also includes smart locks and garage door openers.

An Apple spokesperson said: “The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week.”

The company said the temporary fixed was made server side, meaning that users do not have to do anything for it to take effect, but also that it breaks some functionality of the system.

The vulnerability, disclosed to 9to5Mac, required at least one iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch running the latest software version iOS 11.2 to have connected to the iCloud account associated with the HomeKit system. Previous versions of iOS appear not to have been affected. To exploit the bug the attackers would need to know the email address associated with the Apple ID of the homeowner and knowledge of how the system worked.

Experts said that while issues with smart-home systems such as this impact consumer confidence in smart locks and other security devices, traditional locks can also be easily undermined with traditional picking techniques.

The security bug is just the latest in a series of issues affecting Apple’s software on both its iPhone and Mac computers. Since November, iPhone and iPad users have been plagued with bugs affecting the autocorrect system, including issues typing the word “it” and the letter “I”, having it replaced with odd symbols.

Apple was also forced to apologise after a serious security flaw that allowed anyone to take control of a Mac running the latest version of macOS High Sierra with a blank password was revealed. The company rushed out a fix for the security bug, which then broke the file sharing system, which itself needed fixing in a later software update.

“We greatly regret this error and we apologise to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better,” Apple said at the time.

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Google Rolls Out New Chrome Security Feature to Combat Microsoft

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The internet can be a marvelous thing that gives us access to all the world’s information. However, it also gives us access to all the world’s malware. Every browser maker has implemented tougher security in recent years, but Google and Microsoft are particularly intent on competing with each other. In the latest volley, Google has rolled out a major new enterprise security feature in Chrome called site isolation. It’s a stronger version of the browser’s existing sandboxing feature.

Starting in Chrome v63, which is rolling out now, administrators have the option of enabling site isolation on client machines. This feature uses a separate process for each page the user loads, rather than using the main Chrome process for everything in a window. This offers improved security, because even if a site is running malicious code, it cannot access anything else running in Chrome.

Site isolation comes with a major drawback, though. Google explains that running a separate process for each tab consumes more memory, and Chrome is already a bit of a memory hog. Enabling this feature could increase Chrome’s memory usage by 10-20 percent. If a system has lots of extra RAM, this might be a relatively risk-free change.

This change comes as Microsoft has been making a case for its Edge browser on Windows. In a recent update, Edge gained support for hardware-based virtualization that keeps the browser in an isolated process. This protects the operating system from any malware the browser might encounter, and it doesn’t come with the same performance hit as Chrome’s process isolation.

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Meanwhile, Google is also moving forward on a plan to revoke trust for certificates issued by Symantec, which it has accused of lax oversight in the way these important cryptographic keys are distributed. Symantec and Google began tussling over the last year when Mozilla developers brought to light some bad practices at Symantec. At that point, Google investigated what appeared to be around 100 incorrectly assigned certificates. It turned out the number was closer to 30,000, which is a huge security issue. Websites that were issued these certificates without proper accreditation might appear legitimate to a browser, but in reality, they could be stealing user information or distributing malware.

Symantec is selling its certificate business to let someone else manage the fallout. Google will begin marking old Symantec certificates as untrusted this coming April with Chrome v66, and all Symantec certificates will be untrusted in late 2018.

 

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The Canon 70D Review, Pros and Cons (Mainly Pro’s)

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A few minor niggles but still a consummate all-rounder – still our favourite enthusiasts’ SLR

Pros
Excellent image quality
Articulated touchscreen
Impressive autofocus in video
Cons
Video quality could be sharper
No headphone socket

The Canon EOS 70D is the company’s latest enthusiast-oriented SLR. It replaces the Canon 60D, and has various enhancements that distinguish it from the likes of the Canon EOS 700D.

The viewfinder is significantly larger, there are lots of single-function buttons, a passive LCD screen on the top plate and a command dial and rear wheel for direct access to exposure settings. It’s faster than both the 700D and the 60D, with a 7fps continuous mode that lasted for 108 JPEGs or 16 RAW frames before slowing to the speed of the card.

Price, specs and rating based on the body-only package

Canon EOS 70D review: What you need to know

If you don’t want to wade through the details, the previous paragraph sums up the Canon EOS 70 pretty well. This is an enthusiast SLR that produces sublime 20.4-megapixel images and excellent video as well. It isn’t the newest SLR around anymore, having been replaced by the 80D, and it’s been discontinued by Canon, but if you can find one, it’s worth considering over some more recent models (see below).

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Price and competition

When we originally reviewed the 70D it cost £999 for the body only. It’s now been officially discontinued by the manufacturer and replaced by the Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS 77D, but you can still buy one from various outlets for around £600 (body only), and for around £880 including an 18-55mm lens kit.

At that price, it’s worth picking one up over the 80D, because the more recent update didn’t move things on enough for us to give it a glowing review. We haven’t tested the Canon EOS 77D yet it looks like it might be a better option. It uses the same sensor as the EOS 80D, has more focus points than the 70D and a higher resolution, and the prices are closer together. The EOS 77D is more expensive than the 70D, though, and it loses the weather sealing of its predecessor as well.

Equally, though, now that the EOS 7D has been replaced by the newer 7D MKII, you can get the original as a body only for less than the 70D. While the 70D has more pixels, an articulated screen and is a newer camera, the 7D has more professionally-minded controls, an LCD display on the top of the body and a lower price.

If you’ve already bought into the Canon lens system and don’t need to buy a body with a kit, the 7D could be a bigger step up in terms of manual controls than the 70D. For everyone else, though, the 70D is a camera still worth considering, despite its age.

Canon EOS 70D review: Phase detect

The 20-megapixel resolution is Canon’s highest to date for an APS-C sensor, and the sensor design is radically different to anything we’ve seen before. Each pixel not only measures the intensity of light, but also the direction, with each one made up of two photodiodes facing left and right. This helps the sensor to perform phase-detect autofocus, determining not just whether the image is in focus, but also, if not, by how much. It means the lens can jump straight into focus rather than shuttle back and forth in search of a sharp picture.

Phase-detect autofocus is already available in all modern SLRs when using their viewfinders, but in most cases it’s disabled in live view mode. The 70D’s ability to perform phase-detect autofocus directly on the sensor makes it much faster than the 60D to focus in live view mode.

We’ve seen this technique a few times before, most recently on the EOS 700D. However, previous implementations have been limited to a few dedicated phase-detect points dotted across the sensor. What’s special about the 70D is that almost every pixel can contribute to phase-detect autofocus. The active area is quoted as 80 per cent of the frame, horizontally and vertically – you can’t place the autofocus point right at the edge of the frame.

Canon EOS 70D

Testing with the 18-135mm STM lens, the benefit was immediately obvious. It took around half a second to focus and capture a photo in live view mode, rising to around one second in low light. That’s twice as fast as the 700D, and about five times faster than the 60D.

It’s a superb result, but we can’t help wondering if it could have been even faster. It typically took less than 0.2 seconds from when we pressed the shutter button to hearing a double-beep to confirm that focus was achieved, but then it took another 0.3 seconds for the shutter mechanism to kick in. Half-pressing to focus and then fully pressing to capture removed this shutter lag, though. We measured 2.1 seconds between shots in live view mode, which is much slower than the 0.4 seconds it achieved when using the viewfinder. It delivered 7fps continuous shooting in live view mode, but focus was fixed and the screen was blank during bursts.

Still, the bottom line is that live view mode is far more useful than on any other Canon (or Nikon or Pentax) SLR. It helps that the screen is articulated, with a side-mounted hinge that allows it to tilt up, down, to the side and right around for self-portraits – a feature that’s conspicuously absent from the Nikon D7100 and Canon and Nikon’s full-frame SLRs.

Canon EOS 70D

The 70D’s screen is touch-sensitive too, so moving the autofocus point in live view mode couldn’t be easier. Subject tracking is available but we weren’t bowled over by its reliability. The touchscreen also speeds up navigation of the Q menu, which gives quick access to a wider array of functions than are covered by the dedicated buttons. The touchscreen provides an alternative way to navigate the main menu, but we found it quicker to use the command dial and rear wheel to jump to a particular setting.

The 70D is fastest when using the viewfinder, so it’s good to see some improvements here too. The 60D’s 9-point autofocus sensor has been ditched in favour of the 19-point sensor first seen in the EOS 7D. All 19 points are cross-type for increased sensitivity, and they were fast and accurate even in extremely low light. There’s a new button next to the command dial for expanding the active area. The largest area encompasses all 19 points, and when used in conjunction with the AI Servo autofocus mode, allows for some basic subject tracking. It can’t match the sophistication of the 3D Tracking mode in the Nikon D7100, though.

Canon EOS 70D review: Wi-Fi and connectivity

Wi-Fi is built in, with the same functions that we saw on the Canon EOS 6D. They include remote control via the accompanying iPhone and Android apps, with access to exposure settings and the ability to move the autofocus point using the smartphone or tablet’s touchscreen. While the 6D had to make do with lethargic live view autofocus, the 70D was much more responsive when shooting remotely. The app can also access the camera’s card to view full-screen previews with EXIF metadata, apply star ratings and instigate transfers.

Canon EOS 70D

We appreciate how both the remote shooting and image browsing modes are accessible without locking up the camera’s controls. Photos appeared in the app within two seconds of being captured, letting us use an iPad to review shots in more detail that the camera’s 3in screen allows. However, previews and transfers are limited to 2.5 megapixels, so it’s not so useful for checking focus. Enabling Wi-Fi disables the USB port and video capture, so a tablet can’t be used as a remote video monitor.

The iOS app worked fine in our tests but we could only connect our Nexus 4 smartphone via an existing network rather than make a direct connection. We’ve heard others have made direct connections with different handsets, but if this is an essential feature to you it might be worth popping along to a retailer and testing it with your own device.

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Video

The new autofocus technology is great news for photographers, but it’s potentially even more exciting for videographers. The 70D’s video autofocus was the most responsive we’ve ever seen from a large-sensor camera, adjusting in less than a second when we moved the autofocus point using the touchscreen. There was no sign of focus hunting, and face detection and subject tracking helped us follow moving subjects – although once again, it was a little unreliable.

Even so, when we tapped on a subject to focus on, more often than not, focus would remain locked as it moved nearer or further. We’ve always maintained that manual focus is the only way to achieve polished results, but for the first time, here’s a video autofocus system that we can envisage being used in professional productions. With a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps capture at 1080p, clips up to 30 minutes and an All-Intra mode that encodes at 75Mbit/s to avoid compression artefacts, it all looks pretty promising for serious video production.

It’s a shame, then, that details in the 70D’s videos aren’t a little sharper. Its footage looked decent enough in isolation, but the Panasonic GX7 and Panasonic GH3 were able to resolve fine details with greater fidelity. We also noticed a tendency for moiré interference on repeating textures such as fabric and bricks. The full-frame Canon 5D Mark III showed big improvements in video detail compared to previous EOS cameras, but it seems that these advances haven’t been built into the 70D. We achieved better results by selecting the Neutral Picture Style and sharpening up the footage in software, but this didn’t get rid of the moiré interference.

Canon EOS 70D sample shot

^ It will bother some more than others, but the Panasonic GH3 (left) has a clear advantage over the 70D (second from left) for details in videos. The 70D’s details can be improved by rolling off the sharpness and contrast and then sharpening in software, but it still can’t quite match the GH3 – click to enlarge

Another hurdle for serious video production is the lack of a headphone socket, which limits the usefulness of the microphone input. The HDMI output can stream a live feed but it’s not a clean feed to send to an external recorder. Despite the 70D’s superb autofocus performance, the Panasonic GH3 remains our top choice for video production. The 70D isn’t too far behind, though. For more casual users who still demand high quality, its more responsive video autofocus may tip the balance in its favour.

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