Bluetooth 5 With 4x Longer Range and 2x Faster Speed is Officially Approved

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group today announced that the Bluetooth 5 standard has been officially adopted, which means manufacturers are now able to build it into their devices. The next-generation Bluetooth standard offers longer range, faster speed, a larger broadcast message capacity, and better interoperability with other wireless technologies. Compared to existing Bluetooth 4.2 protocol, Bluetooth 5 offers four times the range, two times the speed, and eight times the broadcast message capacity, bringing whole home coverage and more reliable connections between connected devices. "This means whole-home and building coverage, as well as new use cases for outdoor, industrial, and commercial applications will be a reality. With the launch of Bluetooth 5, we continue to evolve to meet the needs of IoT developers and consumers while staying true to what Bluetooth is at its core: the global wireless standard for simple, secure, connectivity."With the debut of Bluetooth 5, SIG's Bluetooth naming convention will drop all references to version and point number going forward, simplifying marketing. Devices that adopt Bluetooth 5 will be available within two to six months, meaning the next-generation products Apple plans to debut in 2017, including the iPhone 8, may offer Bluetooth 5 support.Tags: Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 8:13 pm

macOS 10.12.2 Fixes Time Machine Backup Crashing Issue on New MacBook Pro

Apple in the latest macOS Sierra beta appears to have fixed a common issue where transferring files to an external hard drive or SSD connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port caused the new MacBook Pro to crash for some users. MacRumors forum member Dave Miles claims he received an email response from Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi, who apologized for the inconvenience and confirmed the issue has been fixed in the fifth macOS 10.12.2 beta seeded to developers and public testers on Monday. While we have not been able to verify the authenticity of the email beyond a reasonable doubt, the issue does appear to be fixed regardless. At least a half-dozen users claim the fifth beta of macOS 10.12.2 addresses the crashing issues, which most often affected users backing up their new MacBook Pro to an external drive with Time Machine using a wired connection. Some users also reported crashing issues when transferring files between two external drives. MacRumors forum member TreadEverSoLightly succinctly described the dilemma that a number of other users faced:I'm already on my 2nd MacBook Pro. Picked up last Wednesday and swapped it for another model 2 days later after experiencing crashing while my laptop backs up via Time Machine to an external HD. Computer freezes up during data transfer and refuses to acknowledge my inputs. Then crashes and restarts itself.It is unclear what the underlying problem was, with some users speculating it could have been related to USB driver, firmware, or software issues. Others believe large file transfers contributed to the problem. Ultimately, what matters the most is the issue now appears to be resolved. MacRumors forum member saba01 is one of several users who delivered the good news today following weeks of complaints:I had the same issue. My MacBook Pro crashed when transferring large files (over 4TB). I installed macOS 10.12.2 and the problem is solved! Yesterday I did a 40TB backup with no problems at all!macOS Sierra 10.2.2 will likely be publicly released as a free software update later this month following completion of beta testing.Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, macOS Sierra Tag: Time Machine Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 4:23 pm

Apple Negotiating to Offer Rentals for Movies Still in Theaters, but at a Price

Apple wants to bring new movies to iTunes more quickly, and is in talks with several film studios over rights that would allow it earlier access to content, reports Bloomberg. Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, and 21st Century Fox are all seeking deals to offer higher-priced rentals of new movies as soon as two weeks after they debut in theaters, and the studios are said to be considering an offer from Apple. Like Apple Music exclusives, access to earlier releases could draw more people to Apple's platform, but encryption is said to be a concern. Studios aren't sure whether iTunes will be a secure platform for showing movies that are still in theaters, because content can be recorded and leaked online.The most recent talks are part of longer-running efforts by Cupertino, California-based Apple to get new movies sooner, two of the people said. Such an arrangement could help iTunes stand out in a crowded online market for movies, TV shows and music. While the iTunes store helped Apple build a dominant role in music retailing, the company hasn't carved out a similar role in music and video streaming.Most major movies that debut in theaters are not available on iTunes and other streaming platforms for a period of 90 days, but film companies are said to be looking to expand beyond theaters to find new revenue streams. At least one option studios are considering involves a $25 to $50 fee for a new rental, which is potentially more affordable than a movie theater ticket depending on how many people are watching a film. No deal has been established as of yet, and it's possible the film studios could decide to offer the rights to a competing company.Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10 Tags: iTunes, bloomberg.com Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 1:59 pm

Apple's AI Team Working on LiDAR, Smaller Neural Networks, Image Processing and More

At an exclusive invitation-only lunch at an AI conference in Barcelona, Spain that took place on December 6, Apple head of machine learning Russ Salakhutdinov and other Apple employees talked about their work on artificial intelligence. Quartz has obtained some of the slides that Salakhutdinov used during the presentation, giving us a glimpse at the advancements Apple is making in AI and machine learning. Based on one of the slides, topics at the lunch were wide-ranging, including health and vital signs, volumetric detection of LiDAR, prediction with structured outputs, image processing and colorization, intelligent assistant and language modeling, and activity recognition. One of the slides, related to Apple's LiDAR work, featured a picture of two cars, but Apple engineers did not mention cars or any automotive research, such as self-driving vehicles. Another slide focused on Apple's image recognition algorithms, which are able to process 3,000 images per second, twice as fast as Google's capabilities. Apple's work on smaller neural networks that can run directly on devices was also covered. Another slide focused on Apple's ability to build neural networks that are 4.5 times smaller than the originals with no loss in accuracy, and twice the speed. The technique, not unknown in AI research, uses a larger, more robust neural network to teach another network the decisions it would make in a variety of situations. The "student" network then has a streamlined version of the "teacher" network's knowledge. In essence, it predicts the larger network's predictions about a given photo or audio sample.The discussion also covered some of Apple's research focus areas: - Deep generative models - Model compression - Holistic scene understanding - Model reliability - Deep reinforcement learning - Unsupervised learning, transfer learning, one-shot learning - Reasoning, attention & memory - Efficient training on distributed computing Going forward, Apple plans to allow its AI and machine learning researchers to start publishing papers, marking its willingness to contribute to the research community. Apple has always been notoriously secretive, but allowing researchers to publish could attract top talent that would not otherwise want to join the company. A full rundown of the slides from Apple's presentation can be seen over at Quartz.Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 1:10 pm

T-Mobile's New 'Digits' Service Lets Customers Use Multiple Numbers Across All Their Devices

T-Mobile is famous for uncoupling device costs from mobile service plans through its "Uncarrier" initiatives, a move that changed the entire smartphone industry, and now the company is aiming to do the same thing with phone numbers. T-Mobile's newly announced "Digits" service lets customers use their phone number across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, wearables, and PCs, while also allowing multiple phone numbers to be used on a single device. Many people have separate phone numbers for work and personal use, and the Digits service, which is a souped-up blend of AT&T's NumberSync and Google Voice, puts both numbers on one smartphone. And then those numbers can be used on any device a customer owns, even if it's not on the T-Mobile network. "Simply put, DIGITS is breakthrough technology that won't be replicated any time soon," said Mike Sievert, Chief Operating Officer of T-Mobile. "This isn't the first time you can add extra numbers to a device, but this IS the first time you can do it all -- multiple numbers on one device and one number on multiple devices - and do it with carrier-grade quality. DIGITS is your real T-Mobile number with every bit of the reliability, call prioritization, services and mobility you expect."While Digits is built directly into newer Samsung smartphones like the Note 5 and Galaxy S6 and later (purchased on the T-Mobile network), on iOS devices, Digits will be available through an iOS app. On the Mac, Digits will work through the browser. When Digits is used on a device without cellular service, voice calls and texts will be received over a Wi-Fi connection, delivering "crystal clear HD voice quality." Simple Choice and T-Mobile ONE customers can sign up to test a beta version of the Digits service. iOS 9 and newer, Android 5.0 and newer, and Firefox or Google Chrome are required. During the beta testing phase, Digits is free, but it will require customers to pay an additional fee when it launches next year. Pricing has not yet been announced.Tags: T-Mobile, Digits Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 12:21 pm

Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of iOS 10.2 to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming iOS 10.2 update to developers and public beta testers, two days after seeding the sixth beta of iOS 10.2 and more than a month after releasing iOS 10.1, the first major update to iOS 10. Registered developers can download the seventh beta of iOS 10.2 from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed. iOS 10.2 introduces new emoji, such as clown face, drooling face, selfie, face palm, fox face, owl, shark, butterfly, avocado, pancakes, croissant, and more. There are dozens of new Unicode 9 emoji, plus several profession emoji available in both male and female genders, such as firefighter, mechanic, lawyer, doctor, scientist, and more. Apple has also redesigned many existing emoji, adding more detail to make them look more realistic. Along with new emoji, iOS 10.2 includes new wallpaper, new Music sorting options and buttons for Repeat and Shuffle, new "Celebrate" and "Send with Love" Screen Effects, an option for preserving camera settings, Single-Sign On support for watching live TV via apps, and the official "TV" app that was first introduced at Apple's October 27 event. The TV app serves as an Apple-designed TV guide that aims to simplify the television watching experience and allow users to discover new TV shows and movies to watch. The TV app is available on both iOS devices and the Apple TV (in the tvOS 10.1 beta), and in iOS 10.2, the "Videos" app has been replaced entirely with the new "TV" app, which will now serve as the iOS TV and movie hub. Apple has called iOS 10 its "biggest release ever" for iOS users, with a revamped lock screen, a Siri SDK for developers, an overhauled Messages app, a dedicated "Home" app for HomeKit users, new facial and object recognition capabilities in Photos, and redesigned Maps and Apple Music apps.Related Roundup: iOS 10 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 11:52 am

Apple Believes MacBook Pro Graphics Issues May Be Fixed in Latest macOS 10.12.2 Beta

Last week, we reported an increasing number of early adopters experiencing concerning graphics issues on the new MacBook Pro. All late 2016 MacBook Pro models appear to be affected, including standard 13-inch and 15-inch configurations with AMD Radeon Pro 450 or AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics, but the issues appear to be most prevalent on the high-end 15-inch model with built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics. 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar exhibiting graphics issues (jscooper22) User complaints have continued to surface over the past five days, with new videos emerging showing the usual symptoms, ranging from brightly colored flickering and full-screen checkerboard patterns to screen tearing and visual artifacts. Affected systems sometimes become unresponsive or crash due to a kernel panic, requiring some new MacBook Pro users to perform a hard restart. Separately, a number of users continue to report brief glitches during the boot up process on new MacBook Pro models, particularly along the bottom of the screen. It appears this issue is related to FileVault 2 startup disk encryption, as the glitches go away for many of these users once the feature is disabled. Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge or comment on the graphics issues, but in a supposed email response to a MacRumors forum member, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi allegedly said he believes the problems have been resolved in the latest macOS Sierra 10.12.2 beta released on Monday. As a point of emphasis, this email response has not been verified.Hi, Thanks for your note! We believe we have addressed all of these graphics issues in the latest beta of Sierra 10.12.2 (available at beta.apple.com). I hope that you enjoy your new MacBook Pro — it’s a fantastic machine! - craigWhile we have yet to verify the authenticity of the email beyond a reasonable doubt, there is some unscientific evidence to suggest it could be real: • Although it could easily be faked, the response appears to resemble previous email responses sent by Federighi • The user who shared the email response is a longtime MacRumors forum member who registered his account in June 2007 • Apple executives appear to be increasingly using email as a vehicle to subtly address customer questions and concerns • MacRumors viewed a lengthy follow-up email the user received from Apple's Executive Relations team, which appears to be legitimateReports from affected users running the latest macOS Sierra beta are slim at this point, but at least one forum member claims to still be experiencing graphics issues on the fifth and latest macOS Sierra beta. macOS Sierra 10.12.2 should be publicly released later this month, so additional user reports should soon prove if the graphics issues have truly been fixed.Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, macOS Sierra Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 10:49 am

'iPhone 7s' and 'iPhone 7s Plus' Said to Come in All-New Red Color, Lack New Design and Wireless Charging

Apple will release updated versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus next year, aptly called the "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus," according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. The report claims the smartphones will retain the same aluminum design as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, with only internal changes, including the addition of a faster A11 chip. The report added it is highly probable the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus will come in an all-new red color alongside current Black, Jet Black, Gold, Rose Gold, and Silver options. Multiple rumors suggest Apple plans to release three new iPhone models next year, including updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models with traditional LCD displays and a larger premium model with an OLED display and glass casing, but reports have been conflicting about which features will be included on each model. If this report is accurate, it could signify Apple's plans to release a completely overhauled glass-backed iPhone with a curved, bezel-free OLED display and wireless charging at the high end of its 2017 smartphone lineup, while making only incremental upgrades to its traditional 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones with LCD displays. An earlier report from Japanese website Nikkei Asian Review said Apple plans to release three glass-backed iPhones next year, while it was said the 4.7-inch iPhone would get wireless charging, so there remains a lack of consensus among rumors—perhaps unsurprising given new iPhones are likely over nine months away. Mac Otakara was first to report about Apple's plans to remove the headphone jack and add a new Jet Black color for the iPhone 7 lineup, but its track record is not perfect. Its rumor from November about Apple adding a "Jet White" color for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has also yet to materialize.Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017) Tags: wireless charging, macotakara.jp Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 8:40 am

HP Launches 4K ENVY Display With USB-C for New MacBook Pro

HP today launched its 27-inch ENVY display with 4K Ultra HD resolution and a built-in USB-C port for charging the new MacBook Pro, 12-inch MacBook, or most other USB-C devices at up to 60 watts over a single cable. The IPS LED-backlit display features a clean design with a micro-edge bezel, matte black rear panel, and a thin aluminum stand. The base can be detached for VESA wall or arm mounting, but a bracket is not included. The display has a 60Hz refresh rate and supports AMD FreeSync, designed to eliminate stuttering and tearing in games and videos by locking the refresh rate to the framerate of the graphics card. Tech specs:• 27-inch IPS LED display with ultra-wide 178° angle viewing • 4K Ultra HD resolution (3,840×2,160 pixels) • 16:9 aspect ratio with 142 PPI • 60Hz refresh rate • 99% sRGB color gamut • Typical brightness of 350 cd/m2 • Built-in ports: 1 USB-C, 1 DisplayPort 1.2, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 HDMI 1.4 • USB-C Power Delivery up to 60 watts • AMD FreeSync • VESA mounting Included in the box:• A/C power cable • USB-C cable • DisplayPort cable • HDMI cable HP's new ENVY 27 Display is available on HP.com and at select retailers in the United States for $499 starting today. The price point is about $200 cheaper than some competing USB-C displays, such as the LG 27UD88 and Lenovo ThinkVision X1, but features and connectivity vary. One display that may be a better buy in the near term is LG's and Apple's new UltraFine 4K display. While it has a smaller 21.5-inch screen, the UltraFine has "Cinema" 4K resolution (4,096×2,304), built-in speakers, 3 additional USB-C ports, higher 500 cd/m2 brightness, and a wider DCI-P3 color gamut. LG's UltraFine 4K display is $524—only $25 extra—until December 31. Afterwards, its price returns to $699.95, which will make it a less attractive option compared to HP's ENVY 27 display, although still worth consideration.Related Roundup: MacBook Pro Tags: USB-C, HP, 4K displays Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 8:05 am

iPhone Assembler Foxconn in Early Talks to Expand U.S. Operations

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is in preliminary stages to build a collection of assembly plants within the United States (via Reuters), potentially fulfilling President-elect Donald Trump's wish that Apple would move the majority of its manufacturing to the U.S. instead of overseas. Foxconn decided to make a statement about its U.S. expansion after details of the move were picked up and shared by CNBC yesterday. The news alleged that Foxconn would be investing $7 billion into its U.S. expansion and aiming for the creation of 50,000 jobs within the country, all in the next four years. Foxconn simply stated that more details will come after its talks with "the relevant U.S. officials" are over. Image via CNBC "While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant US officials," the Foxconn statement said. In the meetings with Donald Trump, Japan's SoftBank also looked towards U.S. expansion and pledged $50 billion in its investment stateside, along with 50,000 new jobs of its own, "a move the U.S. President-elect claimed was a direct result of his election win." In a call made to Trump by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Trump mentioned to the CEO that one of his goals and future achievements would be to "get Apple to build a big plant in the United States," by offering the company incentives and "a very large tax cut" to do so. Cook was said to have remained neutral on the subject by saying "I understand that" in response to Trump, while Foxconn chairman Terry Gou is said to be less enthusiastic about the idea due to inevitably higher production costs compared to China. Cook explained one of the major reasons Apple's manufacturing is so heavily centered in China is due to the country's large number of individuals with the required "vocational kind of skills." China put an enormous focus on manufacturing. In what we would call, you and I would call vocational kind of skills. The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills. I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we're currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields. Foxconn does have manufacturing facilities on a very small scale in the U.S., in Virginia and Indiana, along with logistic locations in California and Texas. Apple has a comparably limited facility in Austin, Texas which manufactures the company's Mac Pro. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.Tag: Foxconn Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 7:17 am

Fitbit Buyout Will See Pebble's Time 2 and Core Wearables Canceled, Refunds Issued

Late last month we reported that Fitbit was closing in on a deal to acquire smartwatch maker Pebble "for a small amount". Bloomberg has now revealed that the buyout will cost "less than $40 million" and exclusively concerns Pebble's software assets, which are being sought by Fitbit "in a bid to better compete with Apple", according to people familiar with the matter. Yesterday's update on the details of the acquisition comes at a time when the wearables market as a whole appears to be facing increased uncertainty and significant profit hurdles. Earlier this week, in response to IDC market research claiming that Apple Watch's share of the wearables market had fallen to 5 percent, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Watch's sell-through rate had hit a new high. Cook was responding to data which suggested fitness trackers "reigned supreme" in the market, yet Fitbit has seen its own struggles, with the company's shares tumbling 30 percent after announcing mixed third-quarter results and weak guidance for its fourth quarter. To improve its standing in the market, Fitbit reportedly wants to hire Pebble's software engineers and testers, and get hold of intellectual property including the Pebble OS, watch apps, and cloud services. The $40 million buyout sum does not include Pebble's debt and other obligations, product inventory or server equipment, all of which will be sold off separately, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous. The news all but confirms the end of the road is in sight for Pebble's entire product line-up, including its most recent smartwatch announcements, the Pebble 2, Time 2, and the Pebble Core. The Pebble 2 has already started shipping to people who funded the startup through crowd-funding site Kickstarter, but the Time 2 and Pebble Core will be canceled and refunds will be issued to Kickstarter backers, said the sources. Following the buyout, Pebble's offices will be closed and former engineers will relocate to Fitbit offices in San Francisco. There's no word yet as to whether Fitbit will decide to use the Pebble brand in future. The deal will make Pebble stock held by employees "worthless", said sources, with the money earned on the acquisition going to debt holders, vendors, some equity investors, and Kickstarter refunds for the Time 2 and Pebble Core orders.Tags: Pebble, Fitbit Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 7 December 2016 | 4:50 am

Apple Says 35% of U.S. Merchants Accept Apple Pay

While speaking at the Code Conference today in San Francisco, Apple Pay vice president Jennifer Bailey announced that 35% of U.S. merchants now accept Apple Pay, reports The Verge. She said that only 4% of merchants accepted the payment option two years ago when it debuted. Bailey says the new EMV chip cards are annoying customers and have helped drive adoption. "Once you figure out you have to chip, you wait a while, you wait awhile," she said before imitating the "BEEP" sound the chip reader makes when you can remove your card. Apple won't be marketing Apple Pay to take advantage of the annoyance toward EMV chips, Bailey said, instead focusing on creating new partnerships with banks and merchants. "Knocking EMV is not necessarily the way to go," she said. "I think it's to increase acceptance and work with great partners." The Cupertino company is also focusing on offering deals with retailers and banks. In November, Apple debuted exclusive holiday offers for those who use Apple Pay on the web. Promotions included one- or two-day free shipping with Adidas and 50% off a one-year subscription to The New York Times. Bailey notes that Apple has to work with partners for special offers because Apple doesn't collect transaction data, eliminating its ability to offer promotions by itself. Bailey says that Apple is excited by the speed of the transition to contactless payments. However, Bailey says that the challenge for Apple is that they have to match the speed of the transition to EMV chip readers. Apple has to get retailers and merchants to adopt Apple Pay at the same time they adopt EMV chip readers so that consumers can more easily see the benefit of Apple Pay. Bailey also teased what was next for Apple Pay, saying that the company is thinking about "everything in your wallet."Related Roundup: Apple Pay Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 10:33 pm

Apple's Best of the App Store in 2016:' Prisma' and 'Clash Royale' Win Top Honors

Apple today published its annual Best of 2016 charts for the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store, naming photo editing app "Prisma" as the iPhone App of the Year and "Clash Royale" as the iPhone game of the year. Released in June of 2016, Prisma is designed to turn photographs into works of art using a range of different filters. Prisma garnered a lot of interest in 2016 and continually introduced new art filters. Clash Royale, named Apple's best game, first came out in March of 2016. A card based game, Clash Royale encourages players to collect dozens of cards from the Clash of Clans universe and duel other players. Apple also chose top apps and games for the iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch, with all of the top picks listed below: iPhone App of the Year: Prisma iPhone Game of the Year: Clash Royale iPad App of the Year: Sketchbook Motion iPad Game of the Year: Severed Apple TV App of the Year: Twitter Apple TV Game of the Year: Riptide GP: Renegade Apple Watch App of the Year: MySwimPro - Personal Swim Trainer Apple Watch Game of the Year: Field Day Mac App of the Year: Bear Mac Game of the Year: Life is Strange Apple has named face-shifting app "MSQRD" as the runner up for best iPhone app, and swipe-based game "Reigns" as the runner up for best iPhone game, both of which are showcased alongside the winners in the main banner in the App Store. Two new App Store sections, "10 Best Apps of the Year" and "10 Best Games of the Year" further break down the best apps chosen by Apple's editors, highlighting apps like Quartz, Vogue, Hyper, Plants vs. Zombies, Rodeo Stampede, and more. There are separate sections for both iPhone and iPad apps and games, each with different picks. There are also a selection of apps in categories that include games playable on one hand, card-based games, celebrity games, video making apps, tap-based games, productivity apps, shopping apps, indie games, coding apps, and more. In the Mac App Store, Apple has also published a full list of its picks for best Mac apps, with selections that include Spark, Polarr Photo Editor, Mini Metro, Doo, XCOM 2, Darkest Dungeon, Day One, Layers of Fear, and OmniGraffle 7. Finally, Apple has announced the top apps based on overall App Store charts throughout the year, with Snapchat winning Top Free iPhone App and Heads Up! winning Top Paid iPhone App. For the iPad, YouTube was the top free app and Minecraft: Pocket Edition was the top paid app, while Netflix was the top free Apple TV app and Earthlapse TV was the top paid Apple TV app. All of Apple's best app picks can be found in the App Store, with similar lists available naming the best music, TV shows, movies, and books in the iTunes and iBooks Stores. Tag: App Store Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 9:04 pm

Apple Shares Tips for Taking 'Pro' Photos Using iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode

Apple today shared some tips to "Shoot like a Pro" with depth-of-field "Portrait" effect in the iPhone 7 Plus, highlighting a range of suggestions collected from professional photographers on its news site. Tips include getting up close to a subject to bring out details, minimizing the background, putting the sun behind a subject, slightly underexposing, and using soft, diffused lighting. The suggestions are sourced from fashion photographer JerSean Golatt, celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, travel photographer Pei Ketron, and wedding photographer Benj Haisch, and are accompanied by photos shot on the iPhone 7 Plus. For many years running, the iPhone has been the most popular camera on Flickr, which has encouraged Apple to make continual improvements to the camera equipment in its smartphones. Along with dual cameras and the Portrait mode in the iPhone 7 Plus, both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus feature lens, sensor, stabilization, and image signal processor improvements that offer much improved performance compared to previous-generation devices, especially in low-light conditions.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 5:36 pm

Apple's Support Site Now Lets Customers Schedule Repairs at Apple Authorized Providers

Apple recently made a quiet update to its Apple Support site, introducing a new feature that allows customers to find and schedule repairs for iPhones, Macs, and iPads from Apple Authorized Service Providers. When troubleshooting a product, choosing "Bring in for Repair" after going through Apple's support prompts now brings up all repair centers near a customer, including Apple's own retail stores and retail locations where customers can get repairs from Apple Authorized Service Providers. In addition to including all nearby Apple Authorized Service Providers, the new repair site also lists availability, so customers can find the fastest repairs and get same-day service in many locations. There's even an option to book a repair right from the site. Most of the time, getting a repair appointment at an Apple Store's Genius Bar requires a wait of several days to a week, while Apple Authorized Service Providers have much more open availability. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, local Apple Stores do not have repair appointments until next week, but third-party repair shops like Best Buy, Clickaway, Mobile Kangaroo, and Computercare have appointments today or tomorrow. Apple Authorized Service Providers have been officially authorized by Apple to perform repairs on Apple devices. Both AppleCare repairs and out-of-warranty repair services are available, but many customers may not be aware of local options outside of an Apple Store. Apple's new focus on third-party service providers may provide some much-needed relief for Apple retail stores that are unable to keep up with repair requests and it will ensure customers are able to get faster service.Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 3:33 pm

Apple's Single Sign-On Service Now Live

Apple today officially launched Single Sign-on, the service designed to allow cable subscribers to sign in once with their cable credentials to gain access to all cable-restricted content in iOS and tvOS apps. Single Sign-on is limited to the United States, and according to a support document, is available for the following providers: CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GVTC, GTA, Hawaiian Telcom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling. While Single Sign-on was introduced and tested in the tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 betas, the feature was remotely released today to all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices. Using Single Sign-on does not require one of the betas, and is instead immediately available to all iPhone and Apple TV users running iOS 10 or tvOS 10. With Single Sign-on, customers with a supported provider will use the Settings options in iOS or tvOS to sign in with their cable credentials. From then on, when accessing a supported app that requires a cable subscription, the app will ask to use the saved sign-on credentials. To get to Single Sign-on on iOS devices, open the Settings app and scroll down to "TV Providers." The process is the same on the Apple TV - open the Settings app and choose the TV Providers option to sign in. Most cable channels and content providers offer individual apps on the Apple TV and iOS devices, but still require cable authentication before users can access content. Prior to Single Sign-on, customers were required to enter their credentials in each individual app, a frustrating and time-consuming process. Single Sign-on will play a key part in the upcoming "TV" app that's set to debut in iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1. The TV app serves as sort of an Apple-designed television guide that lets customers find new content and keep track of what they were watching across multiple devices. At the current time, Single Sign-on is available to a limited number of customers, but its availability will expand as Apple signs the necessary deals with cable providers. Single Sign-on also requires apps to implement support for the feature, and many apps have not yet introduced Single Sign-on support. Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 2:49 pm

Chinese Consumer Group Complains of Spontaneous iPhone 6 Fires, but Apple Blames 'Physical Damage'

As Apple's iPhone 6s is facing scrutiny in China over a battery issue that causes unexpected shutdowns, a Chinese consumer group has complained of a separate problem with the iPhone 6 - spontaneous battery fires. According to the The Wall Street Journal, the Shanghai Consumer Council says it received eight reports from Chinese users claiming their smartphones spontaneously caught on fire, but Apple inspected the devices and says "external physical damage" is to blame. Apple said it analyzed the affected phones and found that the fires followed "external physical damage." The company encouraged customers with issues to visit an Apple store or contact company support. "We appreciate that customers are more concerned than ever about the performance and safety of batteries in their mobile devices," Apple said in a statement.Given that the iPhone 6 has been available since 2014 and there have been a limited number of report about device fires, Apple's physical damage explanation rings true. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which had a true faulty part leading to fires, reports from around the world started flooding in just weeks after the device was released. Complaints from Chinese consumer groups over iPhone 6s battery problems led Apple to introduce a repair program for iPhone 6s devices that unexpectedly shut down, and Apple has gone out of its way in China to explain the issue and assure customers that it is not safety related. Apple's repair program will see it providing new batteries to customers with iPhone 6s devices primarily manufactured between September and October of 2015. Just today, Apple expanded the repair program to encompass a small number of customers "outside of the affected range" who are also experiencing shutdowns. On its Chinese site, Apple explained that the iPhone 6s shutdown issue was caused by exposure to "controlled ambient air" during the manufacturing process, which caused the battery to degrade faster than a normal battery. Next week, Apple plans to introduce a diagnostic tool that will allow it to gather information and better manage battery performance levels to prevent shutdowns. With iOS 10.2 nearly ready to launch, it's likely the diagnostic capability will be included in that update. As Apple's third largest market after the United States and Europe, China has become increasingly important to Apple over the last several years. Apple has made an effort to introduce a number of retail stores in the country, and it has made a $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing. Despite its efforts, Apple has struggled in China. In Apple's third quarter earnings report, revenue in China was down 33 percent year over year, dropping from $13 billion in 3Q 2015 to $8.9 billion in 3Q 2016. Chinese officials have said Apple is "too deeply established in the country's core industries," and along with recent trouble over its iPhones, Apple has also struggled with its iTunes Movie and iBooks Store in China, which were shut down by Chinese administrators in April. Related Roundup: iPhone 6s Tag: China Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 1:36 pm

Apple Adds Support for Four New Single Sign-On Providers Ahead of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 Release

Apple is continuing to add new providers to its Single Sign-on feature in tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2, and today introduced Single Sign-on support for four new providers: CenturyLink Prism, Hawaiian Telcom, MetroCast, and GTA (available in Guam). GVTC Communications, previously listed as a Single Sign-on option, has been removed. With the new additions, when tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 become available for the public, Single Sign-on will be available for eight cable subscription options: DirecTV, Dish, Hotwire, Sling TV, CenturyLink Prism, Hawaiian Telcom, MetroCast, and GTA. Apple will continue adding support for additional providers as it manages to secure the necessary deals. Single Sign-on allows Apple TV and iOS users to enter their cable credentials once and then sign in to all available live cable content, even across multiple apps. Single Sign-on works automatically when you have a cable subscription through a participating provider, prompting you allow a compatible app to use your sign in credentials. Many cable channels offer individual apps on the Apple TV and iOS devices, but still require cable authentication to access content. Without Single Sign-on, users need to enter their cable information for each app, a process that's a huge hassle. Apps that take advantage of Single Sign-on and user cable subscriptions will be easier to find and track in tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2, with content located in the new "TV" app that's been introduced. We expect to see tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 introduced to the public next week alongside macOS Sierra 10.12.2 and watchOS 3.1.1.Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10, iOS 10 Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution) Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 12:26 pm

Samsung's Next-Generation Galaxy S8 Won't Include a Headphone Jack

Like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung's next-generation Galaxy S8 will not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, reports SamMobile. Samsung will instead use a single USB-C port to deliver both power and audio capabilities, using the space once taken by the jack for other components. Samsung often takes design inspiration from Apple, something that's caused legal problems that are still ongoing today, but the decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack is curious given Apple's move was so controversial. According to Apple, removing the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus took a lot of "courage." Apple executives have claimed that the 3.5mm jack is outdated technology that was taking up essential space and holding Apple back from implementing features like a new Taptic Engine and waterproofing. Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 Many iPhone users have not been happy with the removal of the headphone jack, a fact that Samsung took advantage of when announcing the now-defunct Galaxy Note 7. "Want to know what else it comes with?" Samsung VP Justin Denison asked on stage, mocking the iPhone. "An audio jack, I'm just saying." With the removal of the headphone jack in the Galaxy S8, Samsung users will face the same drawbacks iPhone users have had to deal with since September. There will be no way to charge and listen to music at the same time without a special adapter, and existing headphones will also be useless without a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter. Samsung plans to debut the new Galaxy S8 at the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which takes place in February. In addition to overcoming any negative reaction to the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack, Samsung will also need to quell customer fears over the device's build and its battery. The Galaxy Note 7 suffered from an exploding battery issue that injured dozens of people and eventually led Samsung to discontinue the device and pull it from store shelves.Tags: Samsung, Galaxy S8 Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 11:58 am

Supreme Court Reverses Apple's $399 Million Award in Samsung Phone Design Lawsuit [Updated With Apple Statement]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Samsung in its longstanding smartphone design lawsuit with Apple, reversing a $399 million damages judgment awarded to Apple by a lower court. The case will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for further proceedings. Supreme Court judges unanimously decided they do not have enough info to say whether damages paid to Apple should be based on the total device, or rather individual components like the front bezel or the screen. It urged the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider the $399 million penalty Samsung paid in 2012.Absent adequate briefing by the parties, this Court declines to resolve whether the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent at issue here is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component. Doing so is not necessary to resolve the question presented, and the Federal Circuit may address any remaining issues on remand.The lawsuit dates back to 2011, when Apple successfully sued Samsung for infringing upon the iPhone's patented design, including its rectangular front face with rounded edges and grid of colorful icons on a black screen. Apple's damages were awarded based on Samsung's entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones. Calvin Klein, Dieter Rams, Norman Foster, and over 100 other top designers backed Apple in August, arguing the iPhone maker is entitled to all profits Samsung has earned from infringing designs. They cited a 1949 study showing more than 99% of Americans could identify a bottle of Coca-Cola by shape alone. Update: Apple has provided a statement on the ruling to TechCrunch, stating that the company will continue to protect the work that's gone into the iPhone's design.The question before the Supreme Court was how to calculate the amount Samsung should pay for their copying. Our case has always been about Samsung’s blatant copying of our ideas, and that was never in dispute. We will continue to protect the years of hard work that has made iPhone the world’s most innovative and beloved product. We remain optimistic that the lower courts will again send a powerful signal that stealing isn’t right.Tags: Samsung, lawsuit, patent Discuss this article in our forums

Posted on: 6 December 2016 | 9:34 am