posted 2 days ago on mac rumors
Apple and AT&T have been working together to improve cellular connectivity for iPhone users in Puerto Rico who have been largely without cellular service since Hurricane Maria hit a month ago. The two companies are enabling LTE Band 8, a provisional LTE band that's been approved but not activated or licensed in the United States or Puerto Rico, reports TechCrunch. LTE Band 8 will work with the iPhone 5c and up on iOS 10 or higher in Puerto Rico following a carrier update. Band 8 is a 900Mhz band with improved range to better reach cell towers that are located further away."We are working with AT&T to activate cellular service for iPhone users in Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria," read an Apple statement. "Apple engineers have created a special carrier settings update which users connected to Wi-Fi or who are connected to a cellular network will automatically be prompted to download throughout the week. The update allows iPhone customers with iPhone 5c and later models running iOS 10 or higher, to connect to a provisional band on the AT&T network so they can be in touch with loved ones and get services in this time of need."iPhone owners in Puerto Rico will need to go to Settings --> General --> About when connected to Wi-Fi or cellular to download the carrier update. Once the new carrier data has been installed, iPhones will be able to use Band 8 where available to connect to cellular towers and Project Loon balloons being deployed by Google to improve cellular service in Puerto Rico. Project Look balloons support basic communication and internet activities for sending text messaging and accessing information online over LTE. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on September 20, much of Puerto Rico continues to be without power, and millions are also without running water. Many areas are also without cellular service and Wi-Fi connectivity with up to 75 percent of antennas currently down, making it difficult for families to stay in touch.Tags: AT&T, LTEDiscuss this article in our forums

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Starting on Monday, October 23, iPhone Upgrade Program customers will be able to get a "head start" on the iPhone X pre-order process by getting pre-approved for an iPhone Upgrade Program loan. Apple started notifying customers about the option this morning through its website and via a notice in the Apple Store app. Customers will need to download the Apple Store app and choose their preferred iPhone X model to get pre-approved for a loan ahead of the launch of iPhone X pre-orders. Apple says this process, which was also offered for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, will let customers "speed through checkout on 10/27." Once approved for a loan on a device, customers can use the Apple Store app when iPhone X pre-orders kick off to complete the purchase, making the pre-order process faster for iPhone Upgrade customers as no approval will need to be completed at the time orders are placed. Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program is designed to allow customers to upgrade to a new iPhone after at least 12 payments have been made towards an existing iPhone. The Upgrade Program, which includes AppleCare+, requires customers to trade-in their current phones to get a new phone. Customers can choose to make payments for 24 months and keep their devices, however. iPhone Upgrade Program members are able to use a Trade-in Kit this year to return their existing devices to Apple, alleviating the need to visit an Apple Store to purchase a new device. Apple has made marked improvements to the iPhone Upgrade Program since last year. In 2016, new customers were forced to reserve an iPhone from a local Apple retail store due to in-store trade-in requirements, which left upgrade customers with limited stock to choose from. A smooth and quick pre-order process for iPhone Upgrade customers will be important when it comes to the iPhone X, as rumors have suggested supplies are heavily constrained. It's likely available stock will sell out quickly, so it could be difficult to get an iPhone X for the remainder of the year.Related Roundup: iPhone XDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming iOS 11.1 update to developers, just four days after releasing the third iOS 11.1 beta and a month after releasing the iOS 11 update to the public. Registered developers can download the fourth iOS 11.1 beta from Apple's Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center. iOS 11.1 introduces a range of new Unicode 10 emoji like crazy face, pie, pretzel, t-rex, vampire, exploding head, face vomiting, shushing face, love you gesture, brain, scarf, zebra, giraffe, fortune cookie, pie, hedgehog, and more. Several emoji also feature some small design changes in iOS 11.1, including the dolphin, octopus, bee, snail, and whale characters, among others. The new designs are more detailed and realistic than existing designs. The update also introduces a fix for a Reachability bug that's been present since the release of iOS 11 and it brings back the 3D Touch App Switcher gesture that has been missing from iOS 11 since its release. With the return of the gesture, iPhone users can once again 3D Touch at the left edge of the display to bring up the multitasking App Switcher interface. A few other small features are included in the iOS 11.1 beta. The built-in keyboard in iOS 11.1 now offers up multiple emoji symbols when using an emoji-related word, there's an updated camera icon under Restrictions, a new animation when tapping the status bar to scroll upwards, and a faster unlock animation. As for security fixes, iOS 11.1 addresses a serious vulnerability in the WPA2 Wi-Fi standard that protects many modern Wi-Fi networks. Using a key reinstallation attack or "KRACK," attackers can exploit weaknesses in the WPA2 protocol to decrypt network traffic to sniff out sensitive information. Though not in the developer/public beta right now, the iOS 11.1 update could introduce the Apple Pay Cash feature, which Apple employees are currently testing in a special version of the beta. iOS 11 marks a major update to the operating system with systemwide design tweaks, a new Lock screen experience, a revamped Control Center, ARKit, new app features, and an entirely new interface for the iPad that includes a Dock, Drag and Drop support, and a redesigned App Switcher for better than ever multitasking.Related Roundup: iOS 11Discuss this article in our forums

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Apple Store employees won't try to upsell customers to the iPhone X, according to Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts. Ahrendts, who is in Chicago today for the grand opening of Apple's new Michigan Avenue store, told CNBC that Apple recognizes each customer has different needs that may not require purchasing the most expensive iPhone model."Internally we said the tagline was 'an iPhone for everyone,'" she said. "I prefer that we ask you who you're buying it for. If they're 6 or 7 years old, what do they need? If it's someone who's leaning into something else, what do they need? We do that with Mac, we do that with iPad, why wouldn't we do that with [the] phone?"iPhone X starts at $999 in the United States with 64GB of storage, while a 256GB model is available for $1,149. By comparison, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $699 and $799 respectively. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable Apple analyst at KGI Securities, recently said only 2-3 million iPhone X units will be available to purchase when the device launches. Pre-orders begin October 27 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. Related: iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 8 PlusRelated Roundup: iPhone XTags: Angela Ahrendts, Apple retailDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple's operating chief Jeff Williams will reportedly meet Foxconn chairman Terry Gou later this month, following several reports about ongoing iPhone X production issues, according to Nikkei Asian Review. While the report did not say which issues Gou and Williams will discuss, the two executives will presumably brainstorm ways to deal with the manufacturing bottleneck for Apple's new high-end smartphone. Williams will be visiting Taiwan for the 30th anniversary of TSMC, the sole supplier of the A11 Bionic chip in the latest iPhone models, the report said. A ceremony marking the celebration is scheduled for Monday. Apple's suppliers are still struggling to perfect manufacturing of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera and 3D facial recognition system, according to the report. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo highlighted the issues last month. Multiple reports have claimed it has taken more time to assemble the TrueDepth system's so-called "Romeo" module than the "Juliet" module. The "Romeo" module reportedly includes the dot projector that beams more than 30,000 invisible dots to create a precise depth map of your face, while the "Juliet" module includes the infrared camera that analyzes the pattern. Together, they help power new iPhone X features such as Face ID and Animoji. Foxconn is the sole assembler of the iPhone X, while its subsidiary Sharp and LG Innotek are reportedly responsible for assembling the 3D sensor modules. Today's report cited an industry executive who said that while the yield rate has improved, it has not yet reached a satisfactory level. The executive believes it's unlikely the yield rate will reach a level that will enable Apple's suppliers to churn out the iPhone X at their full capacity by the end of October. iPhone X pre-orders begin one week from today in the United States and more than 55 other countries. The device launches November 3.Related Roundup: iPhone XTags: Jeff Williams, FoxconnDiscuss this article in our forums

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Billboard has announced that its Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts -- which measure singles and albums, respectively -- will begin weighing plays made on paid subscription streaming services/tiers more than plays made on pure ad-supported services/tiers in 2018. This means services that only support paid subscriptions, like Apple Music, will receive a "greater emphasis" in Billboard chart calculations. The Billboard calculations will include plays made on paid subscription tiers of hybrid services as well, related to Spotify and SoundCloud. For the Hot 100 list, Billboard said that there will now be "multiple weighted tiers" of streaming plays, with paid subscription at the top, then ad-supported streams, and programmed streams. Besides streaming, radio airplay and digital song sales are also still accounted for. Currently, the Billboard Hot 100 chart weighs streaming music from services like Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Music under one "on-demand" category, as well as having a "programmed" type for Pandora and other online radio services. In this setup, on-demand has a greater weight, but plays made through paid subscriptions aren't specifically given more weight over free tiers. Billboard explained that this shift to a "multi-level streaming approach" reflects how much music listening has changed over the years, particularly with how popular exclusive songs and albums have become for streaming services, which lock this content behind paid subscriptions. These changes not only affect the Hot 100, but also the Billboard 200 and "many other charts," with the media company stating: "It is our goal at Billboard to accurately portray in an unbiased manner how music performs relative to other music." Beginning in 2018, plays occurring on paid subscription-based services (such as Amazon Music and Apple Music) or on the paid subscription tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported platforms (such as SoundCloud and Spotify) will be given more weight in chart calculations than those plays on pure ad-supported services (such as YouTube) or on the non-paid tiers of hybrid paid/ad-supported services. The shift to a multi-level streaming approach to Billboard’s chart methodology is a reflection of how music is now being consumed on streaming services, migrating from a pure on-demand experience to a more diverse selection of listening preferences (including playlists and radio), and the various options in which a consumer can access music based on their subscription commitment. The Billboard 200 chart, which tracks albums, only began to count streaming numbers back in 2014, one year prior to Apple Music's debut. Once the service launched, Apple Music plays were counted towards Billboard's Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts beginning in August 2015. Other streaming providers that contribute to the charts include Spotify, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Medianet, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Tidal, and Groove Music Pass.Tags: billboard.com, Apple MusicDiscuss this article in our forums

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This shouldn't come as any surprise given that it's already the 20th of October, but Apple has no plans to hold an event to introduce new products this month. Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi confirmed there will be no October event in an email to MacRumors reader Luke. "Will we see an October keynote event?" Luke asked. "I think we're all Keynoted out for the season! :-)" Federighi replied. Some people were expecting an event to take place this October because there was a Mac-centric event in October of 2016 that saw Apple unveil the Macbook Pro with Touch Bar, but there have been no rumors of a second 2017 event, nor are there any new products on the immediate horizon. iPads and Macs were both refreshed in June, and while Apple is still planning to introduce the HomePod and the iMac Pro this year, those products are set to debut in December. Apple is not likely to hold an event for the release of the HomePod or the iMac Pro as the two devices were previously introduced in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Instead, Apple will probably launch both via a press release, with no additional events to take place in 2017. Aside from a "December" debut date listed for both the HomePod and the iMac, there's no further word yet on when we might see them during the month.Discuss this article in our forums

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Two U.S. senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China (via CNBC). Reports that Apple had pulled the VPN apps first arrived in July, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government. In the open letter dated October 17, Senators Patrick Leahy and Ted Cruz write that China has an "abysmal" human rights record when it comes to freedom of expression and free access to online and offline information, and say they are "concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet". Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas, left) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)"While Apple's many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to 'speak up'." "To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China's new regulations targeting online anonymity."The senators go on to note that Cook was awarded the free speech award at Newseum's 2017 Free Expression Awards, where he said: "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves." In the bipartisan request, the senators then ask Cook to explain Apple's actions by answering a list of questions, including whether Apple was personally asked to remove the VPN apps by Chinese officials, and if the company expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities before the country's anti-freedom laws were enacted. In addition, the senators question what Apple has done to promote free speech in China and whether it has pushed for human rights and better treatment of oppressed groups in the country. During an earnings call, Cook spoke about his decision to remove the VPN apps. "We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business." Cook went on to say that he hopes China will ease up on the restrictions over time. Apple has yet to respond to the letter. 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.Tags: App Store, China, VPNDiscuss this article in our forums

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posted 3 days ago on mac rumors
With just one week to go until pre-orders for the iPhone X begin, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new report indicating that the "worst [will] soon [be] over" with regards to production difficulties. According to Kuo, the biggest hurdle has likely been the flexible printed circuit board (FPCB) for the device's antenna, due to increased complexity and initial supply chain partner Murata's inability to meet specifications.Special materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are required for antenna FPCB, as the specifications for iPhone X antenna (supplied by Amphenol (US)) are higher than those of iPhone 8 and only Murata (JP) and Career Tech (6153 TT, NT$30.1, NR) can meet Apple's requirements. Murata (originally with a 60% order allocation or higher) won't be able to resolve its issues before 2Q18, and thus has been fully replaced by second supplier Career. We believe Career will ramp up in November, as capacity expansion takes time, and its materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are different from those of Murata.A secondary bottleneck appears to have been the FPCB for the wide-angle rear camera lens. Unlike competing dual-lens camera smartphones from Samsung and Huawei, the iPhone X's wide-angle and telephoto lenses use separate PCBs, and supplier Interflex has reportedly struggled with quality issues on the part for the wide-angle lens. The third bottleneck that has received signifcant attention in recent weeks is the TrueDepth camera's infrared dot projector, or the "Romeo" component. According to Kuo, previous design issues that led to poor facial recognition have been addressed and the "worst is behind us." Overall, Kuo is cutting his iPhone X shipment estimates for the fourth quarter to 25–30 million units, down from 30–35 million, and he expects that 2–3 million units will be shipped into distribution channels ahead of the launch. As a result, initial supplies will be very tight, as has been extensively rumored. Kuo says shipments will "pick up markedly" in the first quarter of 2018.Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Ming-Chi KuoDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple is facing a lawsuit for infringing on an existing Animoji trademark, reports The Recorder. Animoji is the name Apple chose for the 3D animated emoji-style characters that will be available on the iPhone X. The lawsuit [PDF] was filed on Thursday by law firm Susman Godfrey LLP on behalf of Enrique Bonansea, a U.S. citizen living in Japan who owns a company called Emonster k.k. Bonansea says he came up with the name Animoji in 2014 and registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2015. Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store. The lawsuit alleges Apple was aware of the Animoji app and attempted to purchase the Animoji trademark ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X.This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of Plaintiffs' ANIMOJI mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that "Animoji" was original to Apple. Far from it. Apple knew that Plaintiffs have used the ANIMOJI mark to brand a messaging product available for download on Apple's own App Store. Indeed, Apple offered to buy Plaintiffs' mark but was rebuffed. Instead of using the creativity on which Apple developed its worldwide reputation, Apple simply plucked the name from a developer on its own App Store. Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realized Plaintiffs already used ANIMOJI for their own product. Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself--regardless of the consequences.Bonansea's Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store. The app is designed to send animated texts to people. In the summer of 2017, ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X, Bonansea was allegedly approached by companies with names like The Emoji Law Group LLC who attempted to purchase his Animoji trademark, and he believes these entities were working on behalf of Apple. He opted not to sell, though he says he was threatened with a cancellation proceeding if he did not. On September 11, just prior to the debut of the iPhone X, Apple did indeed file a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Animoji trademark. Apple's Animoji Bonansea originally trademarked the name under a Washington corporation called "emonster, Inc," a company that is now defunct. Apple's petition to cancel argued that the "emonster Inc" company did not exist when the Animoji registration was initially filed, and Bonansea claims that it was a mistake the trademark was not filed under the name of his Japanese company, Emonster k.k. A cancellation proceeding for the trademark appears to still be pending. The lawsuit suggests that Bonansea planned to release an updated Animoji app at the end of 2017, but had to rush to submit a new app "so that Apple did not further associate the Animoji mark in the public's minds with Apple." He claims this has caused suffering and "irreparable injury" as he has had to rush to market with an unfinished product. Bonansea is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Apple from using the Animoji name along with damages and attorney fees.Tag: AnimojiDiscuss this article in our forums

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One month after its official public release, iOS 11 has been installed on 54.49 percent of devices, according to data collected by analytics company Mixpanel. iOS 11 was first released on September 19, and while adoption has been rather slow compared to iOS 10 adoption, it is steadily picking up. At the one week mark, iOS 11 was installed on 25 percent of devices, and at two weeks, installation climbed to 38.5 percent of devices. At three weeks, iOS 11 adoption reached 47 percent, successfully overtaking iOS 10, and the gap between the two operating systems has continued to widen. With iOS 11 on nearly 55 percent of devices, iOS 10 is now installed on just 39.17 percent of devices. 6.34 percent of devices continue to run an older version of iOS. Apple has released three minor updates to iOS 11 so far to address bugs and issues discovered since the launch of the new operating system. The most recent update, iOS 11.0.3, fixed an issue with haptic feedback and unresponsive displays, while iOS 11.0.2 addressed an irritating problem that caused the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus earpiece to crackle on phone calls. iOS 11 adoption is likely to increase significantly when iOS 11.1 is released, if past iOS launches are any indication. Major .1 releases often spur people to update, and iOS 11.1 introduces new emojis and may include Apple Pay Cash, Apple's peer-to-peer Apple Pay feature. In past years, new emoji have had a noticeable impact on upgrade rates. The iOS 11.1 update also fixes some lingering bugs, including one that caused Reachability to work improperly, and it addresses a serious WPA2 Wi-Fi vulnerability. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to release iOS 11.1, but there have been three betas thus far.Related Roundup: iOS 11Discuss this article in our forums

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Mastercard today announced that cardholders will no longer have to provide a signature for any purchases in the United States and Canada after April 2018. The change will apply to both debit and credit cards. Mastercard said removing the need to sign for card-present transactions will not have any impact on customer security due to modern safeguards. "Our secure network and state-of-the art systems combined with new digital payment methods that include chip, tokenization, biometrics, and specialized digital platforms use newer and more secure methods to prove identity," said Linda Kirkpatrick, an Executive Vice President at Mastercard. Mastercard's consumer research unsurprisingly found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay, and that checkout lines would move faster, if they didn't need to sign the receipt when making a purchase. Already, more than 80 percent of in-store Mastercard transactions in North America today do not require a cardholder signature at checkout. Mastercard said both customers and merchants support the change. The long-existing "signature required" clause is intended to verify that customers own the debit or credit card they are attempting to use. The process is supposed to involve the cashier verifying the signature on the receipt matches the one on the back of the card, but in reality, this process is often skipped. The change should make Apple Pay transactions even quicker for Mastercard cardholders. Currently, even when using Apple Pay, sometimes a signature can be required for purchases over $50 in the United States. The signature requirement is already very uncommon in Canada, where chip-and-PIN cards are the norm. At most merchants in Canada, customers insert a card into the payment terminal, enter a PIN, and the purchase is completed. Mastercard removing the signature requirement won't speed up Apple Pay in Canada, however, as contactless payments aren't generally permitted for purchases above $100. Above this limit, customers must use chip-and-PIN. Mastercard currently doesn't require a signature for purchases totaling $50 or less. Visa's no-signature limit is $25, but the amount is upped to $50 for purchases made at grocery stores and discount stores like Walmart.Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: MasterCardDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple's Mac mini celebrated its third birthday this week, marking three years since the device was last updated. The lack of attention Apple has given to the Mac mini has left many Mac users wondering about the future of the machine and whether there are updates to come. MacRumors reader Krar decided to email Apple CEO Tim Cook to get an update on the Mac mini and he received a response. Cook said it was "not time to share any details," but he confirmed that the Mac mini will be an important part of the company's product lineup in the future. Cook's response echoes a similar statement from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who commented on the Mac mini when Apple's plans for a new Mac Pro were unveiled. "The Mac mini is an important product in our lineup and we weren't bringing it up because it's more of a mix of consumer with some pro use," he said. Positioned as a "bring your own peripherals" machine that comes without a mouse, keyboard, or display, the Mac mini is Apple's most affordable desktop machine. The current version is woefully outdated though, and continues to use Haswell processors and integrated Intel HD 5000/Intel Iris Graphics. It's not clear when Apple will introduce a new Mac mini, and aside from a single rumor hinting at a new high-end Mac mini with a redesign that "won't be so mini anymore," we've heard no rumors about work on a possible Mac mini refresh. With 2017 coming to a close, we're not likely to see a new Mac mini until 2018 at the earliest. A refreshed machine could use Kaby Lake Refresh chips, and as all chips appropriate for the Mac mini feature four cores, a new machine would likely reintroduce quad-core performance.Related Roundup: Mac miniBuyer's Guide: Mac Mini (Don't Buy)Discuss this article in our forums

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Apple today previewed its new Michigan Avenue store along the Chicago River ahead of its grand opening on Friday. Apple shared new pictures that provide a look at the store's 32-foot glass facades and 111-by-98 foot carbon-fiber roof. Two staircases lead to the store's lower level, featuring indoor trees and a seating area for Today at Apple sessions. The flagship store is designed to create a new connection between North Michigan Avenue, Pioneer Court, and the Chicago River. "Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city," said Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer. "It unites a historic city plaza that had been cut off from the water, giving Chicago a dynamic new arena that flows effortlessly down to the river." The store was designed by Apple's longtime architectural partner Foster + Partners, and pays homage to architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style homes in Chicago. Based on plans from 2015, the building spans 20,000 square feet and replaces a vacant food court. The store took over one year to construct. A lengthy staircase leads from street level to a walkway in front of the store. The building will also be accessible via elevator. On Monday, the store will also launch "The Chicago Series," a set of five programs, each with a different area of focus at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, hosted over the course of four weeks. Apple said each program is co-created with local non-profits and creative organizations. Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts is in Chicago today and tweeted a picture of herself alongside some of the store's employees. Thank you to this wonderful team and the many more who are bringing #AppleMichiganAve to life for our customers this week! pic.twitter.com/pZs08QMo4R— Angela Ahrendts (@AngelaAhrendts) October 19, 2017"Apple Michigan Avenue exemplifies our new vision where everyone is welcome to experience all of our incredible products, services and inspiring educational programs in the heart of their city," said Ahrendts. Apple Michigan Avenue opens Friday, October 20 at 5:00 p.m. local time. The store is located in Pioneer Court at 401 North Michigan Avenue, next to the Michigan Avenue Bridge in Downtown Chicago. Apple said its original North Michigan Avenue store, which was its first flagship location, welcomed more than 23 million visitors since opening in 2003. The store, just down the street from the new one, permanently closed today. Apple has nearly 500 retail stores around the world that collectively welcome over 500 million visitors per year.Related Roundup: Apple StoresDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple Stores continue to be the most popular destination to purchase a new Mac in the United States, according to a recent survey conducted by research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Apple's retail locations and online store accounted for roughly 40 percent of Mac sales between October 2016 and September 2017, based on 2,000 survey respondents who purchased a Mac during that period. When the first Apple Stores opened in 2001, Apple was still known as Apple Computer, and the Mac was its primary product. Nowadays, of course, there is the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and beyond. "Since Apple designed its stores originally to promote Mac computers, it is not surprising that that they continue to account for roughly 40 percent of Mac sales," said Josh Lowitz, co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. While it's generally unsurprising that Apple is the most popular Mac retailer, given it creates the computers, it is still notable given there are often better deals available from third-party resellers like B&H and MacMall. By comparison, the survey found only around 20 percent of iPads and 10 percent of iPhones were sold directly by Apple. "Best Buy actually sells more iPads than Apple," added Lowitz. "And, carrier stores have become a significant retailer of tablets." In terms of the iPhone, Apple had the lowest share of iPhone sales in the 12 months ending September 2017. Roughly 77 percent of customers made their purchase through a carrier like Verizon or AT&T, according to CIRP. The research firm said sales can fluctuate based on the timing of product launches and during the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.Related Roundup: Apple StoresTag: CIRPDiscuss this article in our forums

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Apple has reportedly asked its suppliers to reduce iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus production by nearly 50 percent in November and December, according to Reuters, which cited China's Economic Daily News. The report quotes an unnamed source who claims it is the first time in the iPhone's history that new models face a major cutback so shortly after mass production began. iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus officially went on sale September 22. Apple shares declined around 1.5 percent in pre-market trading as investors reacted to concerns about low sales of the devices. Apple hasn't revealed iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus sales numbers. The company will report its fourth quarter earnings results on November 2, including iPhone sales, but it doesn't break out the number on a model-by-model basis. Even if iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus sales have in fact been lower than expected, it could be a sign of pent up demand for the upcoming iPhone X. With an OLED display, nearly 82 percent screen-to-body ratio, and a TrueDepth camera system powering 3D facial recognition features like Face ID and Animoji, the iPhone X is unlike any other smartphone Apple has ever sold. Apple analysts are patiently waiting to see how many customers are holding out to purchase the flagship smartphone when pre-orders begin October 27. iPhone X officially launches November 3, starting at $999 in the United States.Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone XTag: udn.comBuyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)Discuss this article in our forums

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The cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 3 remain unavailable to new carrier plan subscribers in China, after having been "abruptly cut off...without explanation" just one week after the device's launch in September. A new report published today by The Wall Street Journal has looked into the LTE setbacks faced by the Apple Watch in the country, which is predicted to face ongoing issues over the next couple of months. Originally, Apple Watch Series 3 models on launch were supported by the carrier China Unicom, but on September 28 -- almost one week after the September 22 launch -- Unicom cut off new LTE subscriptions for the device. Those who had signed up for a subscription prior to that date remain unaffected, but now anyone trying to sign up for LTE on their Apple Watch are unable to do so. Unicom said on its website that the feature had been available "on a trial basis" and didn't specify when it might resume. But in China, the feature was abruptly cut off for new subscribers, without explanation, after a brief availability with one telecom company. Industry analysts say the suspension likely stemmed from Chinese government security concerns to do with tracking users of the device, which uses different technology than standard mobile phones. On the Apple Watch Series 3 cellular support site, all Chinese carriers -- China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom -- now say "coming later this year." Previously, Unicom specified the following: "Cellular service available only for mobile lines opened in Guangdong, Henan, Hunan, Shanghai, and Tianjin." A few days after September 28, Apple updated the page with the new reference to support later in 2017. Industry analysts cited "security concerns" likely raised by the government in China related to tracking wearers of Apple's device. Because the Apple Watch uses different technology than standard smartphones, China's strict regulation policies can't simply be outfitted for the new LTE product. Specifically, analysts believe the problem lies in China's user identification system. When users purchase a smartphone in the country, they register for a SIM card under their real names with a network carrier. But, the Apple Watch contains a tiny embedded SIM card (eSIM), which is placed in the device by Apple, not carriers. Analysts believe this raises questions of "how carriers and regulators can track the device user's identity," because the eSIM "isn't mature enough yet in China." The benefit of a device carrying an eSIM is that, with software, users can choose a telecom operator and a communications plan. But in China, that new system raises the question of how carriers and regulators can track the device user’s identity. “The eSIM (system) isn’t mature enough yet in China,” one analyst said. “The government still needs to figure out how they can control the eSIM.” Now, officials at China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology are said to be studying how to resolve the issue before granting any broad cellular access to the Apple Watch. This process, according to analysts, "could take months." The Apple Watch LTE roadblock is the latest problem faced by Apple in China, after last year facing the shutdown of the iBooks and iTunes stores due to the release of a controversial independent movie. Over the summer, Apple then removed the majority of VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Tag: ChinaBuyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 4 days ago on mac rumors
Following Apple's clarification that iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips or antennas designed to support FM signals, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has expressed some doubt about Apple's statement and has called on the company to add FM functionality to its future iPhones. In a blog post, the NAB points to a series of iPhone 8 teardowns that indicate the iPhone 8 uses a Broadcom chip with an integrated FM radio core as evidence that Apple's devices already have some of the hardware required for FM radio support. According to Apple, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8 do not currently have FM radio chips or antennas to support FM signals, and it is not clear how simple it would be for the company to add these features to future devices. From a statement made to MacRumors:Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that's why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products.The disagreement between Apple, the NAB, and the FCC is related somewhat to their various points of view. Apple’s claim that recent iPhones do not have the necessary hardware to support FM radio is indeed true, which means Apple can’t simply flip a software switch to activate it. The NAB seems to be making the case that it would be relatively trivial for Apple to make hardware revisions to enable it in future devices considering the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip in the iPhone can support it and Apple has proven it can incorporate FM antenna connections in the iPod nano.Apple has built and offered a wonderful FM app in their iPod Nano for many years. They know how to make FM work, and work well, in their mobile devices. Apple even wrote its own Nano app that allows the user to pause live radio and buffer up to 15 minutes of content. However, Apple has specifically chosen not to offer this functionality in their iPhone. Indeed, Apple has disabled FM chips despite the capability being available on the communications module within the iPhone. This means other app developers cannot offer FM apps either.In its blog post, the NAB appeals to Apple CEO Tim Cook, highlighting the number of hurricanes experienced in Mobile, Alabama, Cook's hometown, since 1969, and calling on the company to introduce FM support as a way for customers to get news alerts during disasters. FM radio functionality in the iPhone first started gaining media attention last month, following a series of powerful hurricanes that struck several states. At that time, FCC chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement urging Apple to activate FM radio capabilities in its iPhones, which Apple later said was not possible. "It's time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first," Pai wrote. "Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it."Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 4 days ago on mac rumors
Samsung today announced the second-generation version of its Bixby voice assistant, seven months after Bixby was first unveiled ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S8. According to Samsung, Bixby 2.0 is a "fundamental leap forward for digital assistants" and a "bold reinvention of the platform," designed with the aim of making Bixby available on "any and all devices." Bixby 2.0 will be available on smartphones, TVs, refrigerators, home speakers, and other connected technology products. Bixby 2.0 will be "open," allowing developers to choose how users interact with Bixby in their services. Samsung says Bixby 2.0 features enhanced natural language capabilities to support more natural commands and complex processing, so it can "really get to know and understand" who you are and who members of your family are. Bixby, a Siri competitor, was designed to be deeply integrated within apps, differentiating it from other AI-based assistants like Siri and Cortana. Samsung ran into trouble with Bixby early on, though, and was not able to include the assistant in the English versions of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ due to performance issues. While Bixby performed well in Korean, its English voice recognition capabilities lagged behind, and so Bixby was not added to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ models in the United States until July, three months after the devices launched. Galaxy S8 owners have complained that Bixby can be confusing and frustrating to use, and a lack of enthusiasm for the feature has even caused Samsung to implement a feature that allows the dedicated Bixby button on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 to be disabled. Bixby was built using technology Samsung acquired from Viv, an AI assistant that was developed by some of the creators originally responsible for Apple's Siri. Samsung is launching a private beta program with the Bixby SDK, available for select developers.Tags: Samsung, BixbyDiscuss this article in our forums

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posted 4 days ago on mac rumors
Customers who purchased a Kindle e-book between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 may be receiving a credit from Amazon this morning as the retailer continues distributing funds from an antitrust lawsuit levied against Apple back in 2013 by the United States Justice Department. Emails were sent out to eligible customers in the United States this morning, and Amazon has also set up a website that will list available credits for those who are eligible for a refund. Apple, along with five other publishers including HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin, was found guilty of conspiring to inflate the prices of e-books to weaken Amazon's dominant position in the market. While the five publishers settled, Apple held out and appealed several times, but was ultimately ordered to pay a total of $450 million. Apple maintained its innocence throughout the initial trial and appeals, and has argued that its deals with publishers introduced competition to a market that was largely controlled by Amazon. The United States Justice Department did not see it that way, though, as Apple's efforts ultimately raised prices for consumers. Several rounds of refunds have already been distributed as a result of the lawsuit. In 2014, customers received refunds funded by publishers, and in 2016, refunds totaling $400 million, or the bulk of the money paid by Apple, were sent out. This new round of refunds has also been funded by Apple's settlement and comes from $20 million that was earmarked to pay states that were involved in the lawsuit. Credits sent out today will last for six months and will need to be spent by April 20, 2018. Update: Customers are also receiving notices about available Apple credits that are also being distributed today. Credits are being added to Apple accounts automatically and can be used in iBooks, iTunes, and the App Store. Tags: lawsuit, Amazon, antitrust, e-booksDiscuss this article in our forums

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posted 4 days ago on mac rumors
A new entry in Apple's Machine Learning Journal provides a closer look at how hardware, software, and internet services work together to power the hands-free "Hey Siri" feature on the latest iPhone and iPad Pro models. Specifically, a very small speech recognizer built into the embedded motion coprocessor runs all the time and listens for "Hey Siri." When just those two words are detected, Siri parses any subsequent speech as a command or query. The detector uses a Deep Neural Network to convert the acoustic pattern of a user's voice into a probability distribution. It then uses a temporal integration process to compute a confidence score that the phrase uttered was "Hey Siri." If the score is high enough, Siri wakes up and proceeds to complete the command or answer the query automatically. If the score exceeds Apple's lower threshold but not the upper threshold, however, the device enters a more sensitive state for a few seconds, so that Siri is much more likely to be invoked if the user repeats the phrase—even without more effort. "This second-chance mechanism improves the usability of the system significantly, without increasing the false alarm rate too much because it is only in this extra-sensitive state for a short time," said Apple. To reduce false triggers from strangers, Apple invites users to complete a short enrollment session in which they say five phrases that each begin with "Hey Siri." The examples are saved on the device.We compare the distances to the reference patterns created during enrollment with another threshold to decide whether the sound that triggered the detector is likely to be "Hey Siri" spoken by the enrolled user. This process not only reduces the probability that "Hey Siri" spoken by another person will trigger the iPhone, but also reduces the rate at which other, similar-sounding phrases trigger Siri.Apple also says it created "Hey Siri" recordings both close and far in various environments, such as in the kitchen, car, bedroom, and restaurant, based on native speakers of many languages around the world. For many more technical details about how "Hey Siri" works, be sure to read Apple's full article on its Machine Learning Journal.Tags: Siri, machine learningDiscuss this article in our forums

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posted 4 days ago on mac rumors
Earlier in October, Sonos announced its new smart speaker device, called the Sonos One, which will launch On October 24 with support for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. The Sonos One allows users to control the speaker entirely through voice, providing smart speaker capabilities into a music-focused device, similar to Apple's marketing for the upcoming HomePod. Ahead of the October 24 launch, reviews for the Sonos One have been posted online, with many sites giving the new speaker a favorable review thanks to Sonos' expected high-quality playback, which becomes particularly useful with Alexa controls. Still, those voice commands are limited at launch with only a few music services supporting Alexa, making the Sonos One slightly harder to recommend for users not already in the Amazon ecosystem. Engadget said that the Sonos One provides "significantly better" music quality than the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo "without breaking the bank" at $199. The site elaborated that the Sonos One uses the same audio hardware as the company's Play:1 speaker, so users can expect "clear, dynamic and loud sound" when playing music, although the "low end is not as strong as what you'll get from larger (and more expensive) speakers." Photo by Nathan Ingraham via Engadget Engadget wrapped up by noting that while the speaker stumbled occassionally with voice controls and lacks support for Spotify voice commands and Google Assistant at launch, it's still "the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy." The Play:1 has been Sonos' best-selling speaker, and with good reason. It offers significantly better music quality than your average Bluetooth or smart speaker, at a reasonable price. It's also a great first step into a multi-speaker setup for your home. The Sonos One does all of that and adds voice controls without raising the price. Those voice controls may have a few bugs to work out, but aside from one frustrating afternoon, it worked well for me. The Sonos One is a great way for most people to significantly upgrade their audio setup while also getting the convenience of voice controls. I wish that both Spotify voice commands and the Google Assistant were supported at launch, but this speaker will keep getting more features through upcoming software updates. Given that, I have no problem recommending it now. It'll work right out of the box as an Alexa-enabled device, it'll support more music services over time and it's a great way to dip your feet into the Sonos ecosystem. Just don't be surprised if you end up wanting to buy a few more. The Verge broke down the supported music services on the Sonos One, commenting that voice commands at launch (through Alexa) are only supported with Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. Spotify users will gain access "soon," but any Apple Music or Tidal subscribers will have to start playback through the Sonos app, and after that they can use Alexa to control the songs. Photo by Chris Welch via The Verge There are some early frustrations and missing features that prevent the Sonos One from being a perfect marriage between Sonos sound and Alexa’s voice smarts. You can’t yet play music from Spotify with Alexa, but I’ve been told that’s coming “soon.” Other services, such as Apple Music and Tidal, are absent with no ETA, and it’s quite possible that they’ll never support voice playback. They all work perfectly fine through the Sonos app, and once music is playing from any service, Alexa can always pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, or tell you what song or artist is playing. But the bottom line is that, at least for now, Alexa is unable to play anything from your Spotify library. Instead, you’ve got Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM to work with out of the box. In 2018, Sonos One will also update with support for AirPlay 2, and then iOS users will be able to more easily control music playback with the speaker. While many interesting features are promised for future updates, The Verge still gave the speaker a score of 8 out of 10 and said, "Even with the Spotify situation factored in, I’ve found the Sonos One to be good enough in most other places to earn a solid recommendation if you’re looking to spend a couple hundred bucks on an in-home speaker." Like a few reviews, Wired mentioned a convoluted setup process that requires you to switch between the Alexa and Sonos apps multiple times, further pointing out that any device trying to seamlessly connect two ecosystems is "sure to stumble occasionally." Still, the site was a fan of the new speaker, stating that the "key point" of any Sonos product remains: "the One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker," and voice controls -- while limited -- are still a bonus. This new $199 speaker takes the current Alexa-Sonos relationship and removes the complexity. You could think of it as an Echo with much improved sound. It does all of the Alexa things, but it's foremost a Sonos speaker, so it does all the Sonos things too—it works as part of a multi-room system, it streams from scores of services, and it obeys the company's controller apps. The One has some faults. Amazon world and Sonos world are two nuanced and complex domains, and any device that attempts to bridge the two is sure to stumble occasionally. But the key point remains: The One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker, and that's reason enough to consider one. It also so happens that you can command it with your voice. Many reviews compared the Sonos One to Google's and Apple's upcoming products, which compete in the same high-quality music playback area but have noticeable differences in price. While the Sonos One will cost $199 when it launches next week, Apple's HomePod will run for $349, and the Google Home Max will be priced even higher at $399, with both latter products debuting in December. For more of the latest HomePod news and information, be sure to check out our HomePod Roundup. More Sonos One reviews can be found at the following sites: The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, Digital Trends, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, TechHive, and Mashable.Tag: SonosDiscuss this article in our forums

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posted 5 days ago on mac rumors
Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra update to developers, a little over a week after releasing the second macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 beta and more than a month after releasing the new High Sierra operating system to the public. The third macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed. macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 appears to focus on bug fixes, performance improvements, security enhancements, and other under-the-hood changes, but it also introduces a range of new Unicode 10 emoji like crazy face, pie, pretzel, t-rex, vampire, exploding head, face vomiting, shushing face, love you gesture, brain, scarf, zebra, giraffe, fortune cookie, pie, hedgehog, and more. The new emoji are also available in iOS 11.1 and watchOS 4.1. macOS High Sierra is a major update that introduces APFS, a new more modern file system, HEIF and HEVC photo and video encoding improvements for smaller file sizes without compromising quality, Metal 2, and several new features for Safari, like autoplay blocking for videos and Intelligent Tracking Prevention to better protect user privacy. For more on what's new in macOS High Sierra, make sure to check out our macOS High Sierra roundup.Related Roundup: macOS High SierraDiscuss this article in our forums

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Microsoft today introduced the Surface Book 2, the second generation of its high-end notebook and tablet hybrid. The new Surface Book 2 is equipped with Intel's latest eighth-generation Core processors, up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 17 hours of battery life based on video playback. Microsoft says those tech specs make the Surface Book 2 up to five times more powerful than the original Surface Book, and twice as powerful as the latest MacBook Pro, but it didn't specify which configurations. Microsoft's comparisons to its primary competitor didn't end there. On its website, it said the Surface Book 2 has 70 percent more battery life than the latest MacBook Pro, which lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge. The new Surface Book 2 is available with a 13.5-inch or 15-inch display that can be detached from the keyboard and used as a tablet. The display can also be folded or reattached in Studio Mode or View Mode. Microsoft added that the Surface Book 2 has 45 percent more pixels than the latest MacBook Pro. The 15-inch model has a resolution of 3240x2160 pixels, good for 267 PPI, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 2880x1800 and 220 PPI. The notebook is equipped with two USB 3.1 ports, one USB-C port, a full-size SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has a proprietary SurfaceConnect port that allows a Surface Dock to be connected. Surface Dock, available separately for $199, has two Mini DisplayPorts, one Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, and one audio out port. As a Windows PC, the Surface Book 2 will be compatible with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update released today. Surface Book 2 starts at $1,499 for the 13.5-inch model with a Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. More powerful 13.5-inch configurations are available for up to $2,999. The 15-inch model starts at $2,499 with a Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. More powerful 15-inch configurations are available for up to $3,299. Surface Book 2 pre-orders begin November 9 on Microsoft's website and at its retail stores in the United States and select other countries. Deliveries will begin when the device launches November 16.Related Roundup: MacBook ProTags: Microsoft, Surface BookBuyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Neutral)Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 5 days ago on mac rumors
Two weeks after first unveiling the Pixel 2 at an event in San Francisco, reviews of Google's latest smartphone have now been published online. Many of the reviews written on the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are positive, with multiple articles referring to the smartphones as the best Android devices on the market, as well as legitimate competitors to Apple's iPhone series. The only slight negatives appear to surround Google's decision to aim for functional, more iterative updates over flashier feature additions. Like most reviews posted today, The Verge was more impressed by the design and look of the Pixel 2 XL than the smaller Pixel 2, calling the latter phone "humdrum" with "big, chunky bezels" that don't compare favorably to the XL's smaller bezels and larger 6-inch screen. The site noted that each device's Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM resulted in a snappy UI, running "better overall than Samsung's or LG's" version of Android. Image via The Verge The Verge described an all-day battery life that "lasts until bedtime just fine," and said that the Pixel 2 is "easily a contender for best smartphone camera" with photos that are "way sharper than the iPhone 8 and the Note 8." Although the site had qualms with the 2 XL's display quality -- calling colors "muted" -- the overall takeaway came down to being impressed by the smartphone's snappy functionality, despite a lack of "razzle dazzle." The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL do not razzle dazzle. It's not just the somewhat disappointing screen on the Pixel 2 XL, it's that Google has gone out of its way to do things that are functional instead of flashy. Instead of going bezel-less, it added front-facing speakers. Instead of a million camera effects, it focused on one or two, while making the core camera experience much better with machine learning. The list goes on. The Pixel 2 has many, many things going for it. Were it not for a few problems — the screen, the slightly inelegant design, and (yes) the lack of a headphone jack — it might have received the highest score we've ever given a phone. As it is, it's a great phone, but not quite a home run. TechCrunch compared the second iteration of the Pixel line -- focusing its review on the Pixel 2 XL -- to an "S" generation of the iPhone, meaning that the Pixel 2 is an "evolution" of a smartphone that was already solid, but lacks a central "wow factor." Still, the site was impressed by what Google accomplished with a single-lens camera system, describing "admirable" performance in low- and mixed-light settings, and mostly positive early impressions from Google's AI-powered "Lens" feature, which automatically tags objects in pictures. Image via TechCrunch Even though the Pixel 2 XL runs for upwards of $800, TechCrunch ultimately stated that Google's smartphone shows "what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device." The Pixel 2 doesn’t make a particularly compelling upgrade case for users of last year’s model. The hardware isn’t a radical departure, and many of the new software features will be coming to the first-generation model — after all, Android support for older devices is one of the key tenants of Google’s first-party software approach. The device also doesn’t push the boundaries of what a mobile device is as much as other recent flagships. The new phones offer a glimpse at that future and, in the case of the device’s camera, show what can be done without having to charge users $1,000 for a device. Ars Technica looked at the performance of the Pixel 2, calling Google's build of Android for the new smartphones "the most highly optimized, smoothest, and fastest build of Android I have ever seen." Although the site had similar problems with the OLED display as The Verge -- Ars called it "an ugly graniness" most detectable in dark environments -- and the "dated aesthetic" of the 5-inch Pixel 2, its final impression was that Google's new smartphone is "the best Android phone out there." The Pixel XL, Pixel 2 XL, and iPhone 8 Plus via Ars Technica Every single animation goes off without a hitch. Scrolling is flawless. There are additional, exclusive animations on the home screen like bounce scrolling and folder opening that add to the buttery smooth feel. It's amazing—head and shoulders above every other Android phone out there. With the Pixel, you get an iPhone-like update experience, a cohesive software package, and super fast UI performance. It offers a harmonious device with a single, cohesive design language and none of the junk that slows your phone down. In 2017, that's enough to merit the title of "Best Android phone." Interestingly, Ars Technica also pointed out that the Pixel 2 marks Google's first foray into its own custom designed system on a chip (SoC), packed into the smartphone in addition to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. Although not active yet, the chip is said to be "dedicated exclusively to camera image processing" on the Pixel 2, and will eventually make processing photos "faster and more efficient than ever." Google calls the SoC the "Pixel Visual Core," and it includes an eight-core Image Processing Unit capable of more than three trillion operations per second. For more Pixel 2 reviews, check out the following sites: CNET, Business Insider, Engadget, TIME, Wired, ZDNet, CNN Tech, and Venture Beat.Tag: Google PixelDiscuss this article in our forums

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