You can order the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR starting tomorrow

Apple has emailed its customers notifying them that its new Mac Pro desktop computer and accompanying Pro Display XDR will be available for order starting tomorrow, December 10. However, the company has not yet revealed when units would actually ship to buyers or any details about build-to-order configuration pricing. This news came around the same time that records of FCC approval of both tower and rack-mount configurations of the Mac Pro surfaced.

The Mac Pro is Apple’s attempt to answer six years of complaints about the 2013 Mac Pro. The 2013 version was not as customizable as some users wanted and bet on a video architecture that did not pan out for segments of the computer’s target audience, such as video production professionals. The new device is a sort of middle ground between the Mac towers of yore, which could house certain industry-standard components that users could select themselves, and the company’s current focus on proprietary hardware. Users will be able to purchase modular upgrades made specifically for the Mac Pro, made by Apple and its partners.

The Pro comes with eight PCIe expansion slots and offers anywhere from eight to 28 cores, plus memory up to 1.5TB and 12 DIMM slots. Pricing starts at $5,999, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how much various upgrades add to that price.

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Source: Ars Technica – You can order the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR starting tomorrow

Dentist who rode hoverboard while pulling tooth faces patient in court

A man tests out a Hovertrax hoverboard produced by Razor at the International Toy Fair 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, 01 January 2017.

Enlarge / A man tests out a Hovertrax hoverboard produced by Razor at the International Toy Fair 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, 01 January 2017. (credit: Getty | picture alliance)

An Alaskan dentist accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid and needlessly sedating patients was also found to have pulled a patient’s tooth while riding on a wheeled “hoverboard” scooter.

Dentist Seth Lookhart had the July 2016 hoverboard operation captured on video, which he shared with several people. He joked over text that it was a “new standard of care,” according to a lawsuit filed by the state of Alaska in 2017.

The footage—played in court last week and broadcast by Anchorage’s KTUU-TV—shows Lookhart standing over a sedated patient, swaying slightly on his hoverboard while extracting a tooth. Once done, he rolls out of the room, strips off his gloves, tosses them, and triumphantly throws both hands in the air as he zooms away down a hallway.

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Source: Ars Technica – Dentist who rode hoverboard while pulling tooth faces patient in court

Surprise! Oculus Quest becomes first VR set with native hand tracking—this week

Starting this week, the Oculus Quest VR headset becomes even more tantalizing by adding a feature we’ve never seen ship as a built-in option in a VR system: hand tracking. VR users will be able to put down their controllers and use their fingers to manipulate VR worlds, as tracked by Quest’s array of built-in cameras.

The feature received a tease at October’s Oculus Connect 6 conference and got an “early 2020” launch window from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But someone on the Oculus engineering team clearly ignored Lord Zuck in getting this feature out the door a bit early, and it will land in an “experimental” tab in Quest’s settings menus as a free update by week’s end.

Today’s news comes with two important asterisks. First, there’s no fully fledged VR software available for the feature yet. At launch, the experimental feature will only work within Oculus Quest’s root menu, which at least includes photo and multimedia viewing tabs. Within “a week” of the toggle going live, a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Quest hand tracking will go live for Oculus developers, which will allow them to tap into Oculus’ hand-tracking system and potentially implement it in various games and apps.

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Source: Ars Technica – Surprise! Oculus Quest becomes first VR set with native hand tracking—this week

WireGuard VPN is a step closer to mainstream adoption

You want receipts? I got receipts.

Enlarge / You want receipts? I got receipts. (credit: Jim Salter)

As of this morning, Linux network stack maintainer David Miller has committed the WireGuard VPN project into the Linux “net-next” source tree. Miller maintains both net and net-next—the source trees governing the current implementation of the Linux kernel networking stack and the implementation of the next Linux kernel’s networking stack, respectively.

This is a major step forward for the WireGuard VPN project. Net-next gets pulled into the new Linux kernel during its two-week merge window, where it becomes net. With WireGuard already a part of net-next, this means that—barring unexpected issues—there should be a Linux kernel 5.6 release candidate with built-in WireGuard in early 2020. Mainline kernel inclusion of WireGuard should lead to significantly higher uptake in projects and organizations requiring virtual private network capability.

Normal, day-to-day Linux users probably won’t see in-kernel WireGuard until late 2020. Ubuntu is one of the faster-moving mainstream distributions, and its next Long Term Support (LTS) release is in April 2020. But the Linux 5.6 kernel and Ubuntu 20.04 will likely be in release candidate status at the same time, so its inclusion in 20.04 seems unlikely. The interim 20.10 Ubuntu release seems like a much safer bet for Canonical’s first use of a 5.6 or later kernel. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) inclusion will likely be a year or more beyond that; the current RHEL 8.1 shipped in May 2019 with the 4.18 kernel, which was already 9 months old.

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Source: Ars Technica – WireGuard VPN is a step closer to mainstream adoption

Amazon: Trump used “improper pressure” to block AWS from DOD cloud contract

The JEDI contract is central to DOD's efforts to rapidly adopt cloud technology. But the winner-take-all contract offer has been controversial from the start—and now Amazon claims President Trump put a whole lot more than a finger on the scales to ensure AWS lost.

Enlarge / The JEDI contract is central to DOD’s efforts to rapidly adopt cloud technology. But the winner-take-all contract offer has been controversial from the start—and now Amazon claims President Trump put a whole lot more than a finger on the scales to ensure AWS lost. (credit: Department of Defense)

In a redacted filing released today by the US Federal Court of Claims, attorneys for Amazon asserted that Amazon Web Service’s loss of the Department of Defense Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract to Microsoft’s Azure was the result of “improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS’s parent company, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”), and owner of the Washington Post.”

The suit cites Trump’s instructions to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the contract, as recounted by Mattis’ former chief speechwriter, and numerous other incidents of direct interference by Trump in the contract competition, including ordering an “independent” review of the contract by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in August of 2019.

JEDI was awarded to Microsoft in October. The $10 billion contract is for a DOD-wide enterprise Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service(PaaS) program providing compute and storage services—including delivering them to the “tactical edge,” giving troops in the field access to critical data. The initial expenditure, scheduled for the first year of the contract, would be just $1 million—but it would be followed by a base two-year ordering period and up to eight years of optional extensions out to 2029, with a capped value of $10 billion.

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Source: Ars Technica – Amazon: Trump used “improper pressure” to block AWS from DOD cloud contract

A new generation ain’t afraid of no ghosts in Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer

Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd star in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

It has been more than 30 years since Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd first strapped on their proton packs to battle a ghostly infestation in Manhattan in the 1984 blockbuster comedy Ghostbusters. Now the legacy continues. Sony Pictures just dropped the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a sequel directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking), featuring a whole new team.

Reitman is a fitting choice to direct, as he’s the son of Ivan Reitman, director of the 1980s films. You may have glimpsed Jason, his mother, and his sister in the original Ghostbusters as residents who are fleeing their haunted skyscraper. Reitman resisted following in his father’s footsteps for years before finally succumbing to the call. “I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan, when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set,” Reitman told EW back in January. “This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ’80s happened in the ’80s, and this is set in the present day.”

Vanity Fair offered a first look at the latest film last week, featuring several stills—including one showing the original Ghostbusters tricked-out ambulance. Per the official synopsis, “A single mother and her two children move to Summerville, Oklahoma, after inheriting property from a previously unknown relative. They discover their family’s legacy to the original Ghostbusters, who have become something of a myth, as many have long since forgotten the events of the ‘Manhattan Crossrip of 1984′”—i.e., the events of the original film. Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) plays mom Callie, while Mckenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill House) plays her science-loving daughter Phoebe. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) plays son Trevor.

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Source: Ars Technica – A new generation ain’t afraid of no ghosts in Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer

Verizon reportedly blocks archivists from Yahoo Groups days before deletion

Screenshot of the Yahoo Groups home page, showing a collection of people jumping in the air and a message that says,

Enlarge / The Yahoo Groups home page (for now). (credit: Yahoo)

An ad-hoc group scrambling to archive as much content as possible from Yahoo Groups ahead of the site’s final demise next week is running into trouble as more than a hundred volunteer archivists say Yahoo’s parent company, Verizon, has banned their accounts.

Yahoo Groups has been on the wane for years, but Verizon announced its official date of death two months ago. Users were blocked from uploading or posting new content to the site as of October 28, and all content currently on the site is slated to be deleted on December 14—less than one week from now.

Members of the Archive Team have been working rapidly to preserve content from as many groups as possible in that six-week time frame. The volunteers have been using “semi-automated” scripts to join groups rapidly and are using a third-party tool known as PGOffline to access messages, photos, and files not captured by Verizon/Yahoo’s data download or export tool. They estimate that as a result of this weekend’s blocks, they have now lost access to 80 percent of the material they were attempting to preserve.

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Source: Ars Technica – Verizon reportedly blocks archivists from Yahoo Groups days before deletion

Render shows OnePlus tackling the midrange market with OnePlus 8 Lite

2020 will bring all the usual yearly updates from all the usual phone vendors, but one interesting new addition is a cheaper smartphone from OnePlus. The king of value flagship smartphones is making what looks like a midrange device.

The news come to us from OnLeaks and 91Mobiles, which have whipped up CAD-based renders of the device. OnLeaks says there’s no name for the device yet, but for now, the report is going with “OnePlus 8 Lite.” The render shows a device with a flat display measuring somewhere around 6.4-inches and a front camera that lives in a hole punch in the middle of the display, just like a Samsung device. The hole-punch camera is apparently the design OnePlus will go with across its lineup—OnLeaks has released “OnePlus 8 Pro” renders earlier, featuring this same Samsung-y front camera design.

Other features on the render include two cameras and a lot of sensors on the back, a USB-C port and speaker on the bottom, and a physical mute switch on the side. It’s hard to imagine an Android phone shipping without a fingerprint reader (unless you’re Google, I guess), so an in-screen fingerprint reader is probably included. There’s no headphone jack, which is a shame for a mid-range device.

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Source: Ars Technica – Render shows OnePlus tackling the midrange market with OnePlus 8 Lite

BioShock will return, but without Ken Levine

BioShock will return, but without Ken Levine

Publisher 2K announced today that development has started on the first new BioShock game since 2013’s BioShock Infinite. But Ken Levine, who served as creative director on Infinite and 2007’s original BioShock (and as lead designer on System Shock 2) will not be involved with the new project.

Instead, the new game “will be in development for the next several years” by Cloud Chamber, a 2K-subsidiary studio based in both Novato, California and Montreal. Veteran Firaxis game producer Kelley Gilmore will be heading up the new studio and confirmed to GamesRadar that the BioShock project will be moving forward without Levine.

“Ken and his team at Ghost Story Games are fully engaged in developing a new experience that will surely be another incredible game for all of us to enjoy,” Gilmore told the site. “He is not affiliated with Cloud Chamber or the development of our BioShock title.”

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Source: Ars Technica – BioShock will return, but without Ken Levine

Jaguar increases I-Pace range with update after one-make race series

My EV screen

Enlarge / Display in a 2019 Jaguar I-Pace displaying remaining battery charge level. (credit: Marlowe Bangeman)

If there’s one thing I like writing about more than electric vehicles, it’s the topic of how motorsport improves the cars that normal people drive. Sometimes that’s an intangible thing, like the motivating esprit de corps that the pressure of racing can instill, but sometimes it’s more concrete. The evolution of the Corvette through generations five to seven is an example of a race program that led to successively better and better road cars, but today I’ve got an example of a racing program that’s actually bringing improvements to cars that already belong to their owners. On Monday, Jaguar revealed that it’s applying stuff learned from the I-Pace eTrophy series to push out an update for the I-Pace battery electric vehicle that will boost range by up to 12 miles, among other improvements.

“The Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy has generated a huge amount of data for us to analyze and those marginal gains, derived from competition on the track, are now being applied to customers’ cars to further enhance their driving experience,” said Stephen Boulter, I-Pace Vehicle Engineering Manager. “The new software updates optimize the powertrain control systems to improve efficiency and allow I-Pace drivers to travel even further on a single charge without any hardware changes—it really is a case of the vehicle getting better with age.”

What’s changing?

Jaguar says that the changes to the I-Pace include: tweaks to the way Eco mode sends energy (and therefore torque) to the front and rear motors for better range efficiency, better thermal management, and the ability of the battery pack to run to a lower state of charge (SoC) “without affecting drivability, durability or performance.” (The battery is rated at a nominal capacity of 90kWh but until this update has only had a useable capacity of 84.7kWh.)

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Source: Ars Technica – Jaguar increases I-Pace range with update after one-make race series

Kids playing charades develop core features of language

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Source: Ars Technica – Kids playing charades develop core features of language

Cloudy with a chance of neurons: The tools that make neural networks work

Machine learning is really good at turning pictures of normal things into pictures of eldritch horrors.

Enlarge / Machine learning is really good at turning pictures of normal things into pictures of eldritch horrors. (credit: Jim Salter)

Artificial Intelligence—or, if you prefer, Machine Learning—is today’s hot buzzword. Unlike many buzzwords have come before it, though, this stuff isn’t vaporware dreams—it’s real, it’s here already, and it’s changing your life whether you realize it or not.

A quick overview of AI/ML

Before we go too much further, let’s talk quickly about that term “Artificial Intelligence.” Yes, it’s warranted; no, it doesn’t mean KITT from Knight Rider, or Samantha, the all-too-human unseen digital assistant voiced by Scarlett Johansson in 2013’s Her. Aside from being fictional, KITT and Samantha are examples of strong artificial intelligence, also known as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). On the other hand, artificial intelligence—without the “strong” or “general” qualifiers—is an established academic term dating back to the 1955 proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Project on Artificial Intelligence (DSRPAI), written by Professors John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky.

All “artificial intelligence” really means is a system that emulates problem-solving skills normally seen in humans or animals. Traditionally, there are two branches of AI—symbolic and connectionist. Symbolic means an approach involving traditional rules-based programming—a programmer tells the computer what to expect and how to deal with it, very explicitly. The “expert systems” of the 1980s and 1990s were examples of symbolic (attempts at) AI; while occasionally useful, it’s generally considered impossible to scale this approach up to anything like real-world complexity.

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Source: Ars Technica – Cloudy with a chance of neurons: The tools that make neural networks work

Celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s 8th birthday at a Raspberry Jam

On 29 February 2020, the Raspberry Pi Foundation will celebrate the eighth birthday of the Raspberry Pi computer (or its second birthday, depending on how strict you are about counting leap years).

Like any parent, we feel like time has flown by, and it’s remarkable to think how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.

Since launching the credit-card–sized $35 Raspberry Pi Model B, we have sold 30 million high-quality, low-cost computers worldwide. Raspberry Pi has become the third best-selling general-purpose computer ever, behind only the Mac and the PC.

Women using Raspberry Pi and Trinket

Our latest model, Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, is still the size of a credit card and still costs $35, but it’s around 20 times faster, with more and speedier connectivity, as well as the neater board design that we introduced in 2014. Raspberry Pi computers are used everywhere from homes, schools, and factories to penguin colonies, volcanoes, and the International Space Station.

An amazing community

In many ways, what’s been even more remarkable than the success of the product is the amazing community that has formed around our tiny, low-cost computer. These are the makers, educators, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life and all corners of the globe who share our passion for inspiring the next generation of digital creators. You can often read about them on this blog and in the official community magazine, The MagPi. You can also meet them in person at a Raspberry Jam.

Raspberry Jam Manchester

Meet up with other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts!

Celebrate at a Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jams are community-led meetups that bring people together to share, connect, and learn from each other. The first one was held in Manchester in 2012, and so far Jams have been held in more than 70 countries — and that’s just the ones we know about.

Raspberry Jam Manchester
Raspberry Jam Manchester
Raspberry Jam Manchester

While Jams take place throughout the year, there’s a special tradition of Jams celebrating the birthday of the Raspberry Pi computer. This year, there were over 130 Raspberry Jam events in 39 countries, attended by 8000 people. Now that’s a party!

Register your Birthday Jam and we’ll send you some special swag

Next year, because it’s a big birthday, we’ll be sending a special box of swag to any Jam that is taking place between Saturday 15 February and Sunday 15 March 2020.

It’s really simple to register your Birthday Jam: just fill in the Raspberry Jam submission form, including a valid event information URL linking to a webpage with more information about your event. (This is an excellent example of a Jam event listing.)

Raspberry Jam logo and illustrations

We’d prefer you to link to a public ticketing system (e.g. Eventbrite) if possible, but we know some libraries and community centres have restrictions that prevent them from doing this.

In order to ensure that your pack reaches you in time, we need you to register your Birthday Jam at least six weeks before your event.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us via jam@raspberrypi.org.

The post Celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s 8th birthday at a Raspberry Jam appeared first on Raspberry Pi.



Source: Raspberry Pi – Celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s 8th birthday at a Raspberry Jam

Diana Prince reunites with her long-lost love in first Wonder Woman 1984 trailer

Gal Gadot reprises her role as everyone’s favorite Amazonian demigod in Wonder Woman 1984.

Diana Prince faces off against two new formidable foes, and reunites with an old love, in the hotly anticipated first trailer for Wonder Woman 1984, with Gal Gadot reprising her titular role. Director Patty Jenkins unveiled the trailer today at Comic Con Experience (CCXP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Inspired by the comic book heroine created by William Moulton Marston in the 1940s for DC Comics, Wonder Woman made her big screen debut in the DCEU with 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, followed by 2017’s Justice League. The first fell short of box office expectations; the second bombed outright. So when Jenkins took on Wonder Woman’s origin story, she deliberately departed from the grim humorlessness and dark sensibility of those earlier films, bringing a brighter energy and wit to her tale, along with the usual action. That vision paid off: Wonder Woman went on to gross $821 million worldwide, and earned critical raves, making it the most successful of the DCEU films thus far.

Jenkins first broached the possibility of a sequel shortly after the first film’s release in June 2017, and principal photography began a year later. It has been described as a standalone film rather than a direct sequel, “in the same way that Indiana Jones or [James] Bond are, instead of one continuous story that requires many installments.” (That standalone strategy worked well for Warner Bros’  2019 box office smash Joker, which became the first R-rated film to gross over $1 billion worldwide.)

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Source: Ars Technica – Diana Prince reunites with her long-lost love in first Wonder Woman 1984 trailer

The physics behind how fire ants band together into robust floating “rafts”

A spinning fire ant raft in David Hu's biolocomotion lab at Georgia Tech is an example of collective behavior.

Enlarge / A spinning fire ant raft in David Hu’s biolocomotion lab at Georgia Tech is an example of collective behavior. (credit: Hungtang Ko)

Fire ants can survive floods by linking their bodies together to form large floating rafts. Now researchers at Georgia Tech have demonstrated that fire ants can actively sense changes in forces acting upon the raft under different fluid conditions and adapt their behavior accordingly to preserve the raft’s stability. Hungtang Ko described their work at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics, held in Seattle just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fire ants (and ants in general) provide a textbook example of collective behavior. A few ants spaced well apart behave like individual ants. But pack enough of them closely together, and they behave more like a single unit, exhibiting both solid and liquid properties. You can pour them from a teapot like a fluid, or they can link together to build towers or floating rafts—a handy survival skill when, say, a hurricane floods Houston. They also excel at regulating their own traffic flow.

Any single ant has a certain amount of hydrophobia—the ability to repel water—and this property is intensified when they link together, weaving their bodies much like a waterproof fabric. They gather up any eggs, make their way to the surface via their tunnels in the nest, and as the flood waters rise, they’ll chomp down on each other’s bodies with their mandibles and claws, until a flat raft-like structure forms, with each ant behaving like an individual molecule in a material—say, grains of sand in a sand pile. And they can do this in less than 100 seconds. Plus, the ant-raft is “self-healing”: it’s robust enough that if it loses an ant here and there, the overall structure can stay stable and intact, even for months at a time. In short, the ant raft is a super-organism.

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Source: Ars Technica – The physics behind how fire ants band together into robust floating “rafts”

Gorgeous Black Mesa Half-Life Remake Now Complete And Available, Get It Here

Gorgeous Black Mesa Half-Life Remake Now Complete And Available, Get It Here
Half-Life fans who have grown very tired of Valve not giving the followup to the last game in the franchise all these years later are likely aware of Black Mesa: Xen. This fan-made remake of Half-Life has long been in development, and many have been anticipating the completion of the game. Black Mesa: Xen has now been [mostly] completed and

Source: Hot Hardware – Gorgeous Black Mesa Half-Life Remake Now Complete And Available, Get It Here

Quickly Locate Hard-to-Find Items With This Search Engine for Vintage Clothing

If you’re shopping for new clothing, then finding the thing you want is a relatively easy proposition. When you’re looking for vintage clothing; however, finding that perfect jacket, bag, or pair of jeans gets a bit more complicated. Gem is a website and app that can help.



Source: LifeHacker – Quickly Locate Hard-to-Find Items With This Search Engine for Vintage Clothing

Samsung Galaxy S11+ Leak Hints At Bodacious 5000 mAh Battery, Buttery 120Hz Display

Samsung Galaxy S11+ Leak Hints At Bodacious 5000 mAh Battery, Buttery 120Hz Display
MWC 2020 will be here before you know it, and at that event, many expect Samsung to go official with its new Galaxy S11 family. The line is expected to include the Galaxy S11+, Galaxy S11, Galaxy S11e smartphones. A new leak has surfaced, and this one drops hints about the battery and the screen the S11+ will use.

One of the leaks shares

Source: Hot Hardware – Samsung Galaxy S11+ Leak Hints At Bodacious 5000 mAh Battery, Buttery 120Hz Display

Apple’s Alarming iPhone 11 User Tracking Issue Likely Will Be Fixed In This iOS Release

Apple’s Alarming iPhone 11 User Tracking Issue Likely Will Be Fixed In This iOS Release
iPhone 11
Apple was under fire this past week for tracking iPhone 11 users’ locations even when that setting was disabled. They have now promised that an update is on its way. iOS 13.3 will likely be released next week and contain a fix for unwanted location tracking.

Security researcher Brian Krebs or “KrebsOnSecurity” recently discovered

Source: Hot Hardware – Apple’s Alarming iPhone 11 User Tracking Issue Likely Will Be Fixed In This iOS Release