For the past few years, there’s been a giant void left in Apple’s iPad lineup. On the low end, the base iPad model has retained the traditional form factor, with a spec bump here and there, and most recently gained Apple Pencil support. The iPad Pro line, however, has taken advantage of the fastest processors, modest display improvements, and Apple’s Smart Connector tech for keyboards and sat comfortably at the high-end of the lineup.
Also: Apple unveils new 10.5-inch iPad Air and iPad Mini
The price difference was stark, as well. The iPad starts at $329. The newest iPad Pro models start at $799. There wasn’t a device priced in-between the two.
Then, last month, Apple somewhat quietly released a new iPad Mini and a revamped iPad Air. It’s the first iPad Air since the iPad Air 2 was released in 2014 and then discontinued in 2017. The third-generation iPad Air mixes some of the high-end iPad Pro features while retaining some of the core iPad features and looks, at a $499 price point.
ZDNet’s Matthew Miller recently reviewed the iPad Mini and found it to be outstanding. And for the past two weeks or so, I’ve been using the new iPad Air.
Instead of complicating Apple’s tablet line, the new iPad Air provides some clarity.
The new iPad Air comes with Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac WiFi, and 64GB or 256GB of storage. The latter of which carries a $150 over the $499 starting price. If you want to add LTE connectivity to the iPad Air, the price increases by $129 for either storage model.
Color options include silver, space gray, and gold. In lieu of Face ID, the iPad Air uses Apple’s tried-and-true home button with Touch ID. An 8-megapixel camera is found on the rear, with a 7-megapixel camera on the front for selfies and FaceTime calls.
Also: Would a cheaper iPad encourage you to upgrade?
Apple Pencil support is now a standard feature across the entire iPad lineup, including the new iPad Mini. Only the iPad Pro supports the newest Apple Pencil with wireless charging. With the Air, you’ll still need to stick one end of the Apple Pencil into the Lightning port for initial pairing and charging the Pencil. There’s a headphone jack on the top of the housing.
Apple’s Smart Connector is located on the side of the iPad Air, providing connectivity and power to the Smart Keyboard; a new accessory for the iPad Air line. Previously, the Smart Connector and associated peripherals had been reserved for the iPad Pro line. A Lightning port on the bottom is used for charging. Without the keyboard, the new Air weighs right at one pound.
The iPad Air looks very much like older iPad Air models, only instead of a 9.7-inch display, the new iPad Air has a 10.5-inch 2224×1668 display. That’s the same size panel that Apple used in a previous generation of the iPad Pro. It’s just enough extra screen real estate to ease the cramped feel of using multiple apps at the same time.
When using the iPad Air, as opposed to the iPad Pro that I’ve used daily for the last few months, it quickly became apparent there are two features I sorely miss. The first is Face ID. Sitting down at my desk and double-tapping the spacebar and watching as the iPad Pro unlocks and goes back to the app I was in last has become a task I didn’t even think about. Unlocking the iPad Pro with Face ID is done the moment the iPad wakes up and requires zero thinking on my part.
With the iPad Air, I have to either enter my pin code or place a finger on the Touch ID home button. Double-pressing the space bar does nothing more than wake the iPad Air, and I’m left staring at it, waiting for it to unlock.
The other feature I miss is the sound quality of the speakers. The iPad Pro has four speakers: Two on the top and another two on the bottom when holding it vertically. The iPad Air, however, only has two speakers, both of which are on the same end as the home button.
Also: Apple just can’t stop insisting iPad Pro is a computer
Outside of those two areas, the iPad Air is every bit as capable as the iPad Pro in my work routine. A routine that consists of text documents, triaging my inbox, photo editing, and occasional video editing. At no point during my time using the iPad Air in place of the iPad Pro did I feel like it was underpowered or lacking in performance.
Battery life has been more than enough to get through a normal workday, with power to spare. Apple estimates 10 hours of use, and my experience has mirrored that expectation.
Writing or drawing with the Apple Pencil is smooth and the iPad Air’s display is responsive. I’ve made it clear before, I’m no artist, but I do like to use an iPad and Apple Pencil to jot notes during a meeting or when brainstorming story ideas.
One area that all iPads fall short in is software. I complained about with the iPad Pro and iOS 12; the iPad Air runs the same software and suffers from the same shortfalls. Specifically, the lack of a desktop-class browser. Despite the reach of the App Store and the number of companies with apps available for every sort of task, some tasks rely on using a full web browser. Hopefully, iOS 13, which Apple should reveal in early June at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, will include a heavy emphasis on improving the iPad’s computing experience.
Which model do you go with?
With different iPad models of various sizes, capabilities, and price points, there’s bound to be some debate on which model to purchase.
I’d imagine that for most users — including those in the enterprise — the new iPad Air is the right choice. It’s not overly expensive, and the recent updates provide modest performance improvements over the iPad. The addition of the Smart Keyboard helps the iPad Air toe the line between a tablet built for productivity, and one that’s better suited for binging on Netflix shows and checking an occasional email.
Also: A Best Buy salesman told me it’s iPad or don’t bother
Unless you absolutely have to have the best of Apple’s best, or a 12.9-inch display, the iPad Pro is too much tablet and has a price point to match. The Air nearly matches the Pro in performance, and at that, I doubt most users would notice the minor differences. And it does it for a few hundred dollars less.
Update: An earlier version of this review stated there wasn’t a headphone jack on this model. That’s been corrected. ZDNet regrets the error.
Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch
The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.
The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).
Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.
“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on] all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)
The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.
The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.
Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.
Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.
“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”
Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.
These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)
Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.
Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.
If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.
“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”
Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch
Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.
Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.
In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.
Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.
On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.
It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.
Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.
“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”
downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch
As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).
Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital.
Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.
The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.
The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.
Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories. and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.
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