posted 17 days ago on mac rumors
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new federal guidelines [PDF] intended to reduce distracted driving caused by smartphone use behind the wheel. The voluntary guidelines recommend smartphone makers like Apple develop a Driver Mode, a simplified interface that would prevent access to non-driving-related tasks such as manual text messaging, social media content, automatically scrolling text, and viewing images and video not related to driving. Driver Mode would not be initiated if the smartphone is already paired to a vehicle's infotainment system, while certain features such as maps and access to emergency services and alerts would not be locked out. The NHTSA said technologies exist that could detect whether a driver is using a smartphone behind the wheel, and presumably enable Driver Mode, but refinements are still being made to ensure reliability. In the meantime, Driver Mode would have to be manually enabled by drivers who choose to use it. Smartphone use while driving continues to be a major problem, despite the safety risks to drivers, passengers, and other drivers sharing the road. The NHTSA said driver distraction was responsible for 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of crashes causing injuries, and 16% of all traffic crashes in the United States in 2014, the most recent year in which detailed distracted driving crash data is available. In total, the year had 385 fatal crashes that involved the use of a cell phone."Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said Secretary LaHood. "These guidelines recognize that today's drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives."Given the guidelines are voluntary, Apple and other smartphone makers are under no obligation to adhere to them. The NHTSA is accepting public feedback about the distracted driving guidelines on the Regulations.gov website.Tag: distracted driving Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 17 days ago on mac rumors
In a recent interview with The New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump said he received phone calls from Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates after winning the presidential election earlier this month. Donald Trump at The New York Times offices in Manhattan Trump told Cook it will be a "real achievement" for him when he gets Apple to make its products in the United States, as opposed to countries like China and Vietnam where many of its current manufacturing partners operate.I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, ‘Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you’re making your product right here.’Cook acknowledged the proposition by nondescriptly saying "I understand that," according to Trump. Trump said he is confident Apple will turn to U.S. manufacturing based on the incentives he plans to offer the iPhone maker, including a "very large tax cut" and "substantial regulation cuts" for corporations.I said: ‘I think we’ll create the incentives for you, and I think you’re going to do it. We’re going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you’ll be happy about.’ But we’re going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, I mean I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous. It’s gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can’t, they can’t even start up, they can’t expand, they’re choking.A recent report said Apple asked its Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn to study the possibility of moving iPhone production to the United States, although Foxconn chairman Terry Gou is said to be less enthusiastic about the idea due to inevitably higher production costs compared to China. While campaigning at Liberty University in Virginia earlier this year, Trump said "we're going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries," while he has also threatened to introduce a 45% tax on products imported from China. Cook previously said Apple manufactures iPhones in China because the country has put an "enormous focus on manufacturing," while noting the U.S. workforce has a smaller number of individuals with the "vocational kind of skills" needed.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.Apple also benefits from lower wages in China, where many of its suppliers are located within close proximity of each other. In Asia, Taiwan's TSMC makes A-series chips for iPhones, Japan's Sharp and Japan Display supply iPhone displays, and South Korea's SK Hynix and Japan's Toshiba produce memory chips for the device. Apple does have a Mac Pro manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, operated by Flextronics, but it is a limited effort given the relatively low production volume of its high-end desktop computer. Cook was personally a Hillary Clinton supporter, hosting a fundraiser for the Democratic presidential nominee in August on behalf of himself. In a company-wide memo issued following Trump's victory, Cook urged Apple employees to "move forward together" despite "uncertainties ahead." Apple as a company showed support for both the Democratic and Republican parties during their respective campaigns, but it reportedly withheld support for the 2016 Republican National Convention due to Trump's controversial comments about minorities, women, and immigrants, among other subjects. 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: Tim Cook, Donald Trump Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
Over the last few days, speculation has begun brewing over the potential winding down of Jony Ive's career at Apple, where he works as the company's chief design officer. During an episode of "The Talk Show" podcast posted last Friday, John Gruber mentioned that he had recently heard Ive has been "checked out or not as directly involved with product design" at Apple, and instead focused on architecture projects for its campuses and retail locations. Earlier this week, a couple of websites began sharing Gruber's words in stories angled with Ive's lessening involvement at Apple, backed up by the recent release of "Designed by Apple in California," which many look at as the designer's swan song within the company. Rumors of Ive being "on his way out" of Apple have existed for a while, however, going back to his promotion to chief design officer last year. The position was described as allowing Ive to focus less on management and more on design, or as Gruber said, "the skeptic’s take is that this new arrangement allows Ive to be less involved, period." Following all of this, Gruber yesterday posted a new blog to clear up his original statement. He reiterated on the second and third-hand sources speaking of Ive's status in the company, stating that no one has directly mentioned Ive has stopped overseeing Apple's day-to-day product design, but what he's heard is from sources who "think" he has. After addressing the nuance he meant to convey during his podcast, Gruber admitted that he's in fact heard from "well-placed sources within Apple" that Ive is as devoted and involved as ever. Importantly, I’ve also heard from well-placed sources within Apple that there is nothing to this — that while Ive is devoting much of his time and attention to architecture recently (both for the new campus and Apple retail), every aspect of every new product remains as much under his watchful eye as ever. That his chief design officer title isn’t the least bit ceremonial, and instead is an accurate representation of his increased authority. When I first started seeing these “Gruber thinks Jony Ive is on his way out” stories, I was appalled. It felt like a punch to the gut, because it wasn’t what I meant to convey, and I realize how influential my word is in such regards. But perhaps it was worth it. It shook a few well-placed little birdies out of the tree, all of whom emphasized that Jony Ive is as connected to product design as ever. Gruber ultimately bet that Ive is "not going anywhere," because the arguments that state the designer is leaving Apple must also argue that he is giving up being a designer altogether, and "that doesn't sound right" to him. Addressing the recently released design book -- which covers all of Ive's history with Apple -- Gruber also mentioned that while it could be construed as a goodbye to Apple, "it feels to me like Ive's heartfelt goodbye to his best friend and colleague, five years gone. I don't think Jony Ive is going anywhere." Check out the full blog post on Daring Fireball.Tag: Jony Ive Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
Apple will switch to an all-glass casing for next year's entire iPhone line-up in order to support wireless charging, with Pegatron being the exclusive supplier of the wireless charger. That's according to the latest research note by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, the transition from metal to glass casing is key if Apple is to introduce a wireless charging feature in the 2017 iPhone. While patented engineering solutions do exist for wirelessly charging devices with metal cases, issues with wireless frequency tolerances for metal alloys can limit the speed at which charging takes place. On top of that, it is widely believed that Jony Ive has wanted to introduce an iPhone that looks like a single sheet of glass for several years. iPhone concept image via ConceptsiPhone We believe one of the reasons why new iPhones will switch from metal casing to glass casing is to support wireless charging. In order to ensure a superior performance, we believe it is most appropriate for EMS suppliers to develop and make the wireless charger because then a comprehensive test can be conducted. As Hon Hai needs to deploy most resources to develop and produce OLED iPhone, we expect Pegatron will be the exclusive supplier of the wireless charger.Kuo remains uncertain whether a wireless charger will be bundled with all new iPhones, but expects a certain bundling rate is likely next year, with increases to come in 2018. Kuo last week claimed that Apple will release 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch model iPhones with LCD screens as well as an all-new OLED model with a dual-lens camera. Although Kuo did not specify the size of the OLED model, he has previously suggested Apple will launch a 5.8-inch iPhone with a curved OLED display and glass casing next year. Barclays analysts also recently said Apple will release a 5-inch LCD iPhone and 5.8-inch OLED iPhone, both with curved, bezel-free designs, next year. Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is set to introduce wireless charging into the "iPhone 8", despite the company downplaying the usefulness of the technology back in 2012. Last month it was reported that Foxconn is testing wireless charging modules for use in the 2017 iPhone, although inclusion of the technology in the iPhone 8 was thought to be dependent on whether Foxconn can boost the yield rate to a satisfactory level. Reports that Apple was exploring extended range wireless charging for the 2017 iPhone also appeared back in January. Extended wireless charging is considered superior to existing wireless solutions because it does not require the device to be as close to a charging mat or source. Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone, which is expected to feature a major redesign with a glass body and edge-to-edge OLED display that integrates a Touch ID sensor and front-facing camera, is expected to arrive in September 2017. Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017) Tags: wireless charging, KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
iPhone sales may have declined for three consecutive quarters, but the latest data from research firm Strategy Analytics suggests Apple is unsurprisingly still doing exceptionally well in the smartphone market. Apple captured a record 91% of profits in the worldwide smartphone market in the third quarter, or $8.5 billion of the overall $9 billion in profits recorded by all vendors combined, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple's biggest competitor Samsung was nowhere to be found on the list, as Chinese smartphone makers Huawei, Vivo, and OPPO took the second, third, and fourth spots respectively with between 2.2% and 2.4% of profits."Apple’s ability to maximize pricing and minimize production cost is hugely impressive and the iPhone continues to generate monster profits," said Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics. "Huawei, Vivo and OPPO are the next three most profitable smartphone vendors globally this quarter, but they are still a long way behind Apple."Apple's profit margin is impressive given no other smartphone maker generated more than $200 million in profits during the quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple's share of profits was some 40× larger than its closest competitor. iPhone sales declined on a year-over-year basis in the second, third, and fourth quarters of the 2016 fiscal year, after rising only marginally during the first quarter, which makes Apple's record-breaking smartphone profits even more impressive. BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long previously estimated Apple captured 103.6% of smartphone industry profits in the third quarter. The reason for the discrepancy between the datasets remains unclear.Tag: Strategy Analytics Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
Apple has partnered with Indian ride-sharing company Ola to make Apple Music available to customers who order a ride, reports The Los Angeles Times. Apple Music, along with services from Sony, Fynd, and Audio Compass, will be incorporated into a platform called Ola Play, allowing customers to control music, watch videos, read ebooks, and adjust in-car temperature, all from a tablet inside the car. Apple Music will be one of the audio choices, letting customers choose which music to listen to on the car's audio system while on their journey. Ola, which holds 75 percent of the ride-sharing market in India, believes the platform will "completely transform" the ride experience. Image via YourStory According to a Brulte and Co. analyst that spoke to The Los Angeles Times, Apple's Ola deal, combined with Apple's stake in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, points towards deeper connected car ambitions."Apple invested $1 billion in [Chinese ride-hailing giant] Didi, so it has access to all their data. Now Apple will have access to Ola's Apple Music data," said Grayson Brulte, president of technology consulting firm Brulte and Co. "So you start to put the pieces together. I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple try to gather all the data in the food chain." [...] Brulte said it wouldn't be surprising to see Apple shift from working on self-driving cars to working on the services and interfaces with which drivers and passengers interact. Think: The sleek and simple design of iOS, for cars.With its own car development ambitions on hold, Apple is said to be working to develop autonomous driving software that could be incorporated into vehicles made by third-party companies. Such a system would undoubtedly be able to be deeply integrated with iOS devices, offering a heads-up display and other functionality. Apple has been dabbling in the car market for several years with its CarPlay offering, which is built into many new 2016 and 2017 car models available today, and an autonomous driving system could be a natural evolution. Speculation has suggested that Apple could use Didi Chuxing to test such software in the future, as it provides Apple with a huge fleet of cars to work with. Apple first invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing in May of 2016 and now holds a seat on the company's board. Ola Play will be available in Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi for Ola Select customers starting next week. It will expand to all Prime rides in three months time.Tags: Apple Music, India, Ola Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
With fewer than three days until Black Friday, a number of developers are beginning to offer deals on their apps and software. Below, we have rounded up some of the notable discounts available for popular iOS and Mac apps and software. More deals will inevitably be announced, so keep an eye on our Black Friday roundup. Final Fantasy Tactics Square Enix has discounted both the iPhone and iPad versions of Final Fantasy Tactics to $3.99 for a limited time, marking the game's lowest price ever. The lowest previous sale was $6.99 for the iPhone version and $7.99 for the iPad version. Regular prices are $13.99 for iPhone and $15.99 for iPad. TouchArcade gave the title a rather mediocre 3.5/5 stars rating back in 2011, but noted Square Enix has significantly updated the game since then. "The graphics got redrawn, iCloud support was added, making it a significantly better port than when it was first released," said editor-in-chief Eli Hodapp. A gameplay overview from the 2011 review:You'll be taking over a squad of characters and battling on grid-based maps in a turn-based system. As you play through, you'll be able to level up your characters, equip weapons and effects and change jobs. Since the iOS port is based on the PSP version, you'll also get an updated story, a better translation than the PS1 version and a few fancy cutscenes.Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is available on the App Store for iPhone [Direct Link] and iPad [Direct Link]. Lumines Puzzle and Music Mobcast's falling-block puzzle game Lumines Puzzle and Music is on sale for just 99 cents for a limited time. The app has normally cost $2.99 since it first launched in September. Lumines universally supports both iPhone and iPad.A mobile rebuild of the classic PSP title, LUMINES PUZZLE & MUSIC is an action packed puzzle game synchronized to a musical beat, featuring newly-produced tracks and classics such as “Shinin’” by Mondo Grosso. Players swipe and tap their screen in portrait mode to properly align their Lumines blocks to clear blocks of four matching colors in rhythm to the beat. TouchArcade gave Lumines Puzzle and Music a favorable 4/5 stars rating, with editor Shaun Musgrave noting the game "nails the core gameplay" and has "exceptional aesthetics." Here's a bit more on gameplay:In Lumines, 2 x 2 blocks composed of two different colors drop in the field and begin falling. You need to move them left or right, rotate them, and drop them at the bottom of the playfield. As opposed to making lines as in Tetris, here you are trying to make 4 x 4 squares of a single color. When you do that, they will be marked for clearing. As you play, a bar is constantly moving across the field in line with the tempo of the current song. That bar will removed any marked squares you've matched up, and the remaining blocks will settle into place.Lumines Puzzle and Music is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad [Direct Link]. Other Apps and Games Name: Talisman Developer: Nomad Games Sale Price: $1.99 Previous Price: $3.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) TouchArcade Review: 4.5/5 stars Links: AppShopper | iTunes | YouTube Trailer Description:Talisman: Digital Edition is a classic fantasy adventure board game, where you embark on a dangerous quest, fighting dragons, battling serpents, and avoiding the deadly curse of the Hag. These are some of the many obstacles you will face. So choose your character wisely, Warrior, Assassin, Thief or Wizard? There are 14 available, unique in their strengths, weaknesses and special powers. To win the game race your opponents through a perilous realm, journeying to the heart of the land to find the crown of Command. Name: Heroes of Loot 2 Developer: OrangePixel Sale Price: 99 cents Previous Price: $3.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) TouchArcade Review: 4/5 stars Links: AppShopper | iTunes | YouTube Trailer Description:After their job, of keeping the dungeons in balance, was done, our heroes needed a new job. Roaming the lands they found a call for heroes, a castle in need, possible even a damsel in distress? Pick two heroes to take into the adventure, controlling both heroes and using their special skills to navigate the dangerous castle hallways, rooms and floors. Switching between the two characters to solve quests, puzzles, and of course clear the dungeons of all evil. Name: Space Grunts Developer: OrangePixel Sale Price: 99 cents Previous Price: $3.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) TouchArcade Review: 4/5 stars Links: AppShopper | iTunes | YouTube Trailer Description:Space Grunts combines fast paced arcade action with turn-based gameplay. The year 2476, Earth's space-federation has been building moon-bases across the galaxy. One of those moon-bases has been sending a distress signal. Space Grunts are a group of intergalactic "problem" solvers, sent to investigate.. You play one, out of a team, of Space Grunts, and your mission is simple: find your way into the moon-base, and figure out what has happened. You'll have to fight your way through aliens, robots, security drones and base-systems. Find the lower levels of the moon-base, and get to the core of the problems. Name: Screens for iOS Developer: Edovia Sale Price: $9.99 (Late Thursday to Early Tuesday) Previous Price: $19.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Leave your computer behind and travel light! Screens lets you connect back to your Mac, Windows or Linux PC and control it from the comfort of your living room, the corner coffee shop or anywhere in the world.Name: Screens for Mac Developer: Edovia Sale Price: $14.99 (Late Thursday to Early Tuesday) Previous Price: $29.99 Compatibility: OS X 10.10 or later Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Access your computers from wherever you are! Screens is a beautiful, yet powerful Screen Sharing and VNC client that lets you connect back to your Mac, Windows or Linux PC from the comfort of your living room, the corner coffee shop or anywhere in the world. Name: Scanner Pro Developer: Readdle Sale Price: $1.99 (Wednesday to Friday) Previous Price: $3.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Scanner Pro is the best app for quickly scanning and saving a digital version of a paper document. Scan any papers, ranging from a receipt to multi-page documents. Scanner Pro will automatically detect borders, correcting distortion and geometry. Share, email and upload your perfect scans. Use OCR to convert any scan into a text.Name: PDF Expert Developer: Readdle Sale Price: $4.99 (Wednesday to Friday) Previous Price: $9.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:PDF Expert 5 is a must-have app for anyone who reads, annotates or edits PDF documents on iPad or iPhone. It allows you to mark up documents with highlights and handwriting, insert text and stamps, sign and even merge PDFs. Moreover, PDF Expert 5 is the best choice for filling out PDF forms right on your iPad and iPhone.Name: Printer Pro Developer: Readdle Sale Price: $3.99 (Wednesday to Friday) Previous Price: $6.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Printer Pro lets you wirelessly print from the iPhone or iPad. It can print directly to many Wi-Fi printers or any printer attached to your Mac or PC via helper application installed on your computer.Name: Calendars 5 Developer: Readdle Sale Price: $3.99 (Wednesday to Friday) Previous Price: $6.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Calendars 5 is complete re-imagining of what the best mobile calendar experience should be. Calendars 5 is smart, excels in both tasks and events and runs on any iOS device you might have. It's the calendar app you have been looking for.Name: PDF Converter Developer: Readdle Sale Price: $1.99 (Wednesday to Friday) Previous Price: $3.99 Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (Universal) Links: AppShopper | iTunes Description:Make PDFs from any file that you have on your iPad or iPhone. Save Word, Excel, Powerpoint or iWork documents, web pages, photos and even clipboard content as professional quality PDFs. Everything from a multi-million contract to a web page you want to read later can be saved as a PDF in just a few taps. Name: Luminar Developer: Macphun Sale Price: $59 Previous Price: $209 Compatibility: OS X 10.10.5 or later Links: Macphun Description:Meet the world’s first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. Luminar is the supercharged photo software that makes complex editing easy & enjoyable. And it is as responsive and beautiful as your Mac.Name: 2017 Aurora HDR Developer: Macphun Sale Price: $79 Previous Price: $89 Compatibility: OS X 10.10.5 or later Links: Macphun Description:The world's most advanced HDR photo editor for Mac gains powerful new features and a new look which will amaze, inspire and help you to make incredible HDR photos.Parallels Parallels is offering a Black Friday bundle that includes seven free Mac apps with the purchase of Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac (available for $79). The bundle has been available since November 21. Software includes: • 1Password for families • PDFpenPro 8 • Pocket Premium (1 year subscription) • Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac (1 year subscription) • TextExpander • Hotspot Shield Elite (2 year subscription) • Acronis Online Backup (500GB, 1 year subscription) VMware VMware will offer up to 55 percent off all of its software products, starting on November 23 and running through December 2. Deals are as follows: Fusion Pro & Workstation Pro Discounts • Nov 23 - 27: Save 40% on new licenses and upgrades • Nov 28 - Dec 2: Save 35% on new licenses and upgrades Fusion & Workstation Player Discounts • Nov 23 - 27: Save 30% on new licenses and upgrades • Nov 28 - Dec 2: Save 25% on new licenses and upgrades Fusion Pro/Workstation Pro Bundle Discount • Nov 23 - Dec 2: Save 50% Fusion vs Parallels Discount • Nov 23 - Dec 2: Save 55% VMware Certification & Training Discount • Nov 23 - Dec 2: Save 25% Keep an eye on our Black Friday roundup for further software deals as they are announced. The roundup also tracks good deals on Apple products such as iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TVs, accessories, and more from retailers such as Best Buy, Kohl's, Target, and Walmart. Related Roundup: Black Friday Tag: App Store Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 18 days ago on mac rumors
Similar to the current confusion regarding the release date of Apple's AirPods, a couple of differing launch days for the new wireless BeatsX earphones have begun sprouting up online, leading to uncertainty over when exactly Apple will begin selling the new Beats-branded earphones. In line with some AirPods rumors, most retailers are placing order dates in December for BeatsX. The new rumors would mean BeatsX will miss the retail rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up this week, but would place the earphones as potentially available for last-minute holiday shopping later in December. Fry's Electronics has the earphones listed as estimated to ship on December 5, 2016. Users can add the BeatsX to their cart, but pre-orders aren't available yet as checkout can't be completed at the time of writing. The date was originally spotted by a user on Reddit. Photo, video, and audio electronics retailer B&H also has a date listed for BeatsX, with expected availability of the earphones on December 16. Users can pre-order BeatsX at B&H, although detailed shipping estimates for them are not yet available. At both Fry's and B&H, the BeatsX earphones are listed at the expected price of $149.95. On Apple's website, the earphones are still simply "coming this fall." As was the case with the AirPods, it's likely that most retailers are using placeholder dates for BeatsX until they receive word on the official launch. Still, since November is nearly over and there's been no word from Apple yet, there is a growing possibility that both AirPods and BeatsX will launch sometime in December, in time for holiday shopping. The BeatsX earphones were announced during Apple's September 7 iPhone event, along with the Beats Solo3 and Powerbeats3 devices. The new line of Beats headphones have Apple's W1 chip -- also found in the AirPods -- that lets them pair easily with an iPhone. The Powerbeats3 wireless earphones launched in October.Tag: Beats Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 19 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's upcoming iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 updates will bring a new "TV" app where users will be able to view much of their TV and movie content from across various apps, all centrally located to make it easy to pick up where you left off and receive recommendations on additional content. The new TV app has been gradually going live on both platforms for U.S. users during the beta testing period, and it works hand-in-hand with a "Single Sign-on" feature that will let subscribers to certain pay TV services authenticate their accounts once on a systemwide basis and receive access to content across all supported apps for which they are eligible. When the early beta of Single Sign-on began going live earlier this month, there were four supported TV providers, with Dish Network and its Sling TV subsidiary being the most recognizable while small regional services GVTC Communications and Hotwire rounded out the list. Full support for Single Sign-on will require apps to be updated to recognize the systemwide authentication, but the provider listings have offered a glimpse at which providers are currently on board with the feature. As of this week, another major provider has joined the Single Sign-on program, with AT&T's DirecTV now appearing in the TV Provider list for authentication. The addition of DirectTV's 20 million U.S. subscribers makes it the biggest provider to support the feature so far, displacing Dish Network and Sling TV. The addition of DirecTV isn't necessarily a surprise, as Apple had touted "DirecTV, Dish Network, and more" in its press release announcing the new TV app last month, but it's apparently taken DirecTV a few extra weeks to prepare. Still notably absent are the major U.S. cable companies such as Comcast and Charter/Time Warner, and there's no word on if or when those companies will be coming on board. Apple has announced that the new TV app will become available to the public in December, indicating the company intends to release iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 within that timeframe.Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10, iOS 10 Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 19 days ago on mac rumors
Apple tonight updated its website with a brand new page teasing a one-day Black Friday shopping event. Apple didn't offer Black Friday deals last year, opting to allow third-party retailers like Best Buy and Target to offer deals instead. Friday can't come soon enough. Our one-day shopping event will be here before you know it. Come back this Friday to check off everyone on your list.Last year, Apple SVP of Retail Angela Ahrendts said the company was backing away from Black Friday promotions because "being good to your employees will always be good for your business." On its Black Friday website, Apple says that its one-day shopping event will include free shipping on in-stock items ordered by 5 PM. You'll also be able to take part in the event with the Apple Store app and in-store. Those interested in visiting an Apple retail store on Black Friday will need to check their local Apple store's extended holiday hours because there will not be uniform opening and closing times. Apple has also provided easy links to four holiday gift collections curated by the company, including "Apple gifts," "Music gifts," "Photography gifts" and "Games & Toys." It's unclear what kind of Black Friday promotion the company will use this year. In the past, Apple has offered gift cards worth variable amounts with the purchase of Apple products. For instance, purchasing a Mac would yield a $100 gift card. However, in its European stores Apple has also opted for more traditional discounts.Related Roundup: Black Friday Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 19 days ago on mac rumors
Samsung plans to launch a glossy black version of its nine-month-old Galaxy S7 smartphone early next month, according to The Korea Herald. The report claims the new color will help Samsung compete with the popular Jet Black and Matte Black variants of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The new color could also fuel additional Galaxy S7 sales to help fill the void left by the permanently discontinued Galaxy Note 7 following battery safety concerns. If the report proves accurate, it would not be the first time Samsung has followed in the footsteps of Apple in terms of smartphone colors. Earlier this year, it released a "pink gold" version of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge after Apple launched the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in Rose Gold last year. Samsung's existing Black Onyx variant of the Galaxy S7 already has a somewhat glossy finish, so the new color would presumably be even slicker.Tags: Samsung, Galaxy S7 Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 19 days ago on mac rumors
Apple has shared a new TV ad called "Frankie's Holiday" in time for the holiday season, accompanied with the tagline "open your heart to everyone." In the ad, Frankenstein brings a package with ornaments to a town square and starts singing "Home for the Holidays" by The Carpenters on his iPhone. While he initially shocks the large group of people in the town, a young girl urges Frankenstein to come forward, and everyone joins along in singing with him.Tag: Apple ads Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 19 days ago on mac rumors
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller has allegedly responded to an email from software developer Ben Slaney to further clarify why the new MacBook Pro maxes out at 16GB of RAM, noting that supporting 32GB of RAM would require a different logic board design which might reduce space for batteries.Schiller: The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz. To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.Slaney himself wrote an article explaining how the new MacBook Pro uses a low power, enhanced version of DDR3 RAM called LPDDR3E, which maxes out at 16GB. To achieve up to 32GB RAM would have required using DDR4 RAM, but its low-power variant LPDDR4 is not supported by the Intel processors powering the late 2016 models. Using the iStat Menus tool, Slaney determined that, under normal conditions, the LPDDR3E RAM uses 1.5 watts of power. In comparison, he said the notebooks would use about 3-5 watts if they were using DDR4 memory, although this estimate is rather loosely based on tests of DDR4 RAM on Windows-based notebooks. Slaney said the 2-5 watts saved translate to 10% of overall power usage being dedicated to RAM versus 20-30% that would be required for DDR4 RAM, which, if accurate, helps justify Apple's power versus performance tradeoff. Apple's decision is even more justified when considering background power draw, or the energy a notebook uses to go back into sleep mode after regular usage. Slaney said this figure is estimated to be about 50% of overall power draw on an average system when using DDR4 RAM, but only 20% when using LPDDR3 RAM. Moreover, the new MacBook Pro would get less than 7 days of standby time if it used DDR4 RAM, compared to 30 days with LPDDR3E RAM, he said.Apple have been using LPDDR for several generations of their notebooks, and it’s part of the way that they get very long standby time on them. Switching to DDR4 would drastically decrease it from the 30 days of standby time that they get now to less than one week. With DDR4 they’d have produced a notebook that would have a completely drained battery if it was at 50% charge and you closed the lid and left it for a few days. Not only would that be annoying, but by running the battery flat often it would end up damaging a percentage of their batteries because they’d frequently get 100% discharged, which puts a lot of stress on them, and sometimes even kills them.The rest of the article reflects upon poor battery life in several Windows-based notebooks with 32GB RAM, part of which can be blamed on the FAA's 100-watt-hour limit on notebook batteries brought on airplanes. Full Article: "Why the MacBook Pro is limited to 16GB of RAM" on MacDaddyRelated Roundup: MacBook Pro Tag: Phil Schiller Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 20 days ago on mac rumors
Apple has dissolved its division which develops wireless routers and is now sending engineers who worked on the AirPort lineup into other product teams, including one currently working on Apple TV. The news comes from a report by Bloomberg, who said Apple has been slowly shutting down the division over the past year and made the decision "to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue." Currently, Apple sells three wireless routers, including the AirPort Express ($99), AirPort Extreme ($199), and AirPort Time Capsule ($299), but none of the devices have seen a refresh since 2013. A temporary stock shortage earlier in the year gave hope that a refresh of the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule was coming during WWDC, but Apple never mentioned the products during its keynote. The trio of wireless routers still remain available for purchase for the time being. Exiting the router business could make Apple’s product ecosystem less sticky. Some features of the AirPort routers, including wireless music playback, require an Apple device like an iPhone or Mac computer. If the company no longer sells wireless routers, some may have a reason to use other phones and PCs. The central reason for abandoning the AirPort line appears to focus mainly on its small revenue gains in comparison to the company's more lucrative products, like the iPhone. Apple includes its routers in the "other products" category of its annual financial results, a section which generated $11.1 billion in fiscal 2016, or about 5 percent of the company's total sales.Related Roundup: AirPort Tags: bloomberg.com, AirPort Extreme, AirPort Time Capsule Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 20 days ago on mac rumors
Apple today launched a new repair program for iPhone 6s users whose devices may be unexpectedly shutting down. The issue is a limited one only affecting certain devices manufactured between September and October 2015. Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down. This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015. If you have experienced this issue, please visit an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider and have your device's serial number checked to confirm eligibility for a battery replacement, free of charge.Apple's resolution for the issue is to replace the device's battery free of charge, although Apple notes that if there are other problems with a user's device such as a cracked screen that could impair the battery replacement procedure, those issues must be repaired for a fee before the battery issue can be addressed. Users who previously paid to have their batteries replaced for this issue can contact Apple to request refunds. Just three days ago, Apple launched a repair program for iPhone 6 Plus owners whose devices are experiencing so-called "Touch Disease" where users may see display flickering or a loss of touch sensitivity. That program carries a $149 repair fee, as Apple says the issue is caused at least in part by the device having been "dropped multiple times on a hard surface."Related Roundup: iPhone 6s Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 20 days ago on mac rumors
Apple tonight has posted a new Apple Music ad that continues its "distractingly good" campaign. The ad stars Drake, an artist who has developed a good relationship with Apple and its music service. In the ad, Drake is working out with a friend and listening to music. When his friend leaves, he decides to use Apple Music's curated "Pop Workout" playlist to play Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." Drake then begins dancing around the gym while lip synching. He eventually goes back to his workout, but he's so distracted having a fun time singing Swift's song that he botches the bench press. The ad works as a companion to an ad from February in which Taylor Swift works out to Drake and Future's "Jumpman." Swift, like Drake, is so distracted by Apple Music that she messes up her workout. Swift's latest album, "1989", is still exclusive to Apple Music. Drake's "Views" is the first album on the streaming service to be streamed more than 1 billion times. "Views" was also exclusive to Apple Music for a week before expanding to other services. Drake also debuted a 23-minute short film called "Please Forgive Me," which is meant to be a visual companion to the album, exclusively on the service.Tags: Ads, Apple Music, Drake, Taylor Swift Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 21 days ago on mac rumors
In late September, the Financial Times reported Apple was considering a full takeover of McLaren Automotive or a strategic investment in the British supercar maker. The New York Times and Bloomberg separately reported talks were underway as well, noting Apple was more likely to make a large investment in McLaren rather than buy it. Two months later, it now turns out those reports were accurate. In an interview with Reuters, McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt confirmed McLaren was in discussions with Apple, but he said the talks never progressed towards a definitive proposition. He also ruled out a takeover bid from Apple."There wasn't a bid from Apple," said Flewitt. "They visited. We talked. We talked about what they did. We talked about what we did. They toured. It never matured to a definitive proposition," he said.McLaren previously said it was "not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," a seemingly purposefully vague statement that did not rule out discussions between the companies entirely. Financial Times reporter Tim Bradshaw rightly stood by his story despite McLaren's statement. Apple's interest in McLaren may have diminished as the iPhone maker's ambitions reportedly no longer include building its own car "for now." Under the leadership of Bob Mansfield, Apple's automotive team has reportedly shifted its focus towards developing an underlying system and technologies for autonomous vehicles. McLaren, headquartered in Woking, Surrey, manufactures high-performance sports cars, including the P1 and F1 models commonly used for Formula One racing. The carmaker produced just 1,654 vehicles last year, some costing as much as $1 million apiece. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller is said to own a McLaren. McLaren has a Formula One team itself that competes under the name McLaren Honda, winning more F1 Grand Prix races than any other team since 1966. Formula One itself was sold to U.S.-based Liberty Media for $4.4 billion in August. McLaren Automotive and McLaren Racing are subsidiaries of McLaren Technology Group. (Thanks, OllyW!)Related Roundup: Apple Car Tag: McLaren Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 22 days ago on mac rumors
Apple may be throttling the LTE performance of the Verizon iPhone 7 to keep it on par with the AT&T iPhone 7, according to research conducted by Twin Prime and Cellular Insights and shared by Bloomberg. Based on testing, the Verizon iPhone 7 performs about as well as the AT&T iPhone 7, but it does not reach the data transfer speeds that it is capable of hitting. The Verizon (and Sprint) iPhone 7 models use different LTE hardware than the AT&T (and T-Mobile) iPhone 7 models, adopting a Qualcomm LTE modem instead of an Intel LTE modem. The hardware from Qualcomm is capable of maximum theoretical download speeds of 600Mb/s, while the Intel LTE modem tops out at 450Mb/s, but the Qualcomm-equipped Verizon iPhone 7 is only marginally outperforming the AT&T iPhone 7. Researchers believe Apple may be hobbling the Verizon iPhone 7 by not taking advantage of "a crucial component," thereby ensuring all models of the iPhone 7 perform at a similar level. "The data indicates that the iPhone 7 is not taking advantage of all of Verizon's network capabilities," said Gabriel Tavridis, head of product at Twin Prime. "I doubt that Apple is throttling each bit on the Verizon iPhone, but it could have chosen to not enable certain features of the network chip." [...]Field tests suggest the Verizon iPhone 7 is just a "little faster" than the AT&T iPhone 7, but not as fast as it could be. Tests were conducted by comparing iPhone 7 performance on the Verizon network to a Samsung Galaxy S7, which also uses the Qualcomm X12. Data collected from more than 100,000 phones downloading the same image indicates the S7 was twice as fast as the iPhone 7. In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the iPhone 7 models."Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple's wireless performance standards, quality metrics, and reliability testing," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said. "In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models."Though the two phones are performing on a similar level, past testing by Cellular Insights suggests that changes somewhat when signal strength is an issue. In areas of weak reception, the Verizon iPhone noticeably outperforms the AT&T iPhone by maintaining a stronger connection and enabling faster low-signal transfer speeds. Other network testing companies that Bloomberg contacted said that reliably measuring data transfer speeds is difficult due to the many factors that can affect performance, but the information collected from Cellular Insights and Twin Prime was not disputed.Related Roundup: iPhone 7 Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Several MacRumors readers have discovered that System Information readouts on some 15-inch MacBook Pro units appear to suggest they are running Iris Pro 580 integrated graphics, rather than Intel HD Graphics 530 as advertised in Apple's tech specs. The strange inconsistency was first found on some demo units running in Apple Store showrooms, leading some readers to suggest Apple was running higher-specced machines in-store. However, since then, some owners of newly shipped 15-inch MacBook Pros have also noted the same inconsistency in stock laptops sold to them. MacRumors forum member torquer discovered that on their machine, System Information reports an Intel HD Graphics 530 when the laptop is running on battery, but reports Iris Pro 580 once it's plugged in. This would suggest a bug in macOS Sierra is causing System Information to misreport the integrated graphics chip in some 15-inch MacBook Pro models. Another indication of misreporting is that units which identify the GPU as an Iris Pro 580 appear to show the device ID string "191b", which correlates with the Intel HD Graphics 530 chip. In addition, owners of machines reporting the more powerful Iris Pro 580 are not seeing the kind of graphics performance improvement one would expect. For the record, Intel only matches the more powerful Iris Pro 580 to Core i5-6350HQ and Core i7-6770/6870/6970HQ mobile processors, none of which Apple chose to use in its latest lineup of notebooks, likely due to power consumption concerns.Related Roundup: MacBook Pro Tags: Intel, Apple retail Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Apple today launched a new repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus, addressing complaints about a manufacturing issue that can cause the iPhone 6 Plus to become unresponsive to touch. According to Apple, some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit Multi-Touch issues after "being dropped multiple times on a hard surface," causing damage to the device. Under its repair program, Apple will fix affected iPhone 6 Plus devices for a service price of $149. Customers who paid more than $149 to have their devices fixed before the repair program was implemented will be able to get their money reimbursed by Apple. Complaints about the iPhone 6 Plus touchscreen issue started in August, after iFixit published a video highlighting the bug and dubbed it "Touch Disease." Touch Disease presents as a gray flickering bar at the top of the screen and a display that becomes unresponsive or less responsive to touch. The problem is believed to be caused by the touchscreen controller chips soldered to the logic board of the phone, making repairs difficult. Third-party repair outlets speculated that the issue could be linked to the same structural design flaw that caused the major "Bendgate" controversy, and Apple's suggestion that it is caused by repeated physical damage seems to confirm that. Customers who have an iPhone 6 Plus with Multi-Touch issues can visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple retail store to see if they qualify for the $149 repair fee.Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Starting today, Apple has made in-store pickup available for the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in the United States, allowing customers to check stock at their local store and reserve a machine online. The MacBook Pro first started popping up in retail stores on Tuesday, but because there was no in-store pickup option, there was no way to tell which stores had stock and which didn't. It's now much easier to see which locations have MacBook Pro models available for immediate purchase. Many stores around the country are listing December 30 pickup dates for the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro model and the two 15-inch models, but there are some locations where the new MacBook Pros are currently in stock. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar appears to be much more widely available than other machines. A MacBook Pro with Touch Bar ordered from the Apple online store today won't ship for approximately four to five weeks, so checking local stock on a daily basis is a good way to get a model with a standard configuration much more quickly. Prices on the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar start at $1,799 for the 13-inch model and go up to $2,799 for the 15-inch model, with additional processor, storage, and GPU boosts available for additional fees.Related Roundup: MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Apple this week unveiled its latest product, a hardbound photo book that showcases 20 years of Apple products, highlighting every Mac, iPhone, iPod, and iPad released between 1998 and 2015. Because it's positioned as an art piece, Apple's "Designed by Apple in California" book costs a jaw dropping $200 to $300 depending on size, so we thought we'd take a look inside to see just what you're getting for that price tag. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Aside from a dedication page dedicating the book to former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a foreword by Apple design chief Jony Ive, and an insert with product descriptions, the book is text-free, filled with large, high-quality images of Apple products. There are 450 images in total, with multiple photographs of each item to highlight its design process. It starts with the 1998 iMac, one of the first products Ive designed at Apple, and ends with the 2015 Apple Pencil. According to Apple, it took eight years to design the linen-bound hardcover book, which features specially milled, custom-dyed paper with "gilded matte silver edges," and low-ghost ink. As can be seen in the video, the book is of the highest quality with gorgeous photographs, but its price limits its appeal to the general public. "Designed by Apple in California" can only be purchased from the online Apple Store and at select Apple retail locations around the world. It's priced at $199 for a 10.2x12.8 inch version, and $299 for a 13x16.3 inch version.Tag: Designed by Apple in California Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Apple today uploaded a new MacBook Pro ad to its YouTube channel, showcasing the machine's Touch Bar and comparing it to major inventions throughout time. Called "Bulbs," the ad features hundreds of exploding lightbulbs alongside brief glimpses of world-changing innovations, starting with fire and running through tilling, blacksmithing, trains, flight, the telephone, the typewriter, toilet paper, the microwave, the television, the freezer, cameras, computers, robotics, and space flight before finishing with a glimpse of the new MacBook Pro. The ad ends with the lines "Ideas push the world forward" and "Introducing a tool for all the ideas to come" as a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is displayed. In line with the rest of the ad, an image of a lightbulb is briefly shown on the MacBook Pro's screen before being exploded and unexploded via a quick gesture on the Touch Bar. Introduced in October, the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar began arriving in the hands of customers earlier this week and is now available for purchase in some Apple retail stores. The new MacBook Pro features the first major redesign to the MacBook Pro in four years. It includes a new Touch Bar, Skylake processors, a thinner, smaller body, a larger trackpad, a new keyboard, and more.Related Roundup: MacBook Pro Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now) Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
Earlier today, reports surfaced on The Intercept and Forbes claiming Apple "secretly" syncs Phone and FaceTime call history logs on iCloud, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. The info comes from Russian software firm Elcomsoft, which said the call history logs are stored for up to four months. Likewise, on iOS 10, Elcomsoft said incoming missed calls that are made through third-party VoIP apps using Apple's CallKit framework, such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber, also get synced to iCloud. The call logs have been collected since at least iOS 8.2, released in March 2015, so long as a user has iCloud enabled. Elcomsoft said the call logs are automatically synced, even if backups are turned off, with no way to opt out beyond disabling iCloud entirely.“You can only disable uploading/syncing notes, contacts, calendars and web history, but the calls are always there,” said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft. "One way call logs will disappear from the cloud, is if a user deletes a particular call record from the log on their device; then it will also get deleted from their iCloud account during the next automatic synchronization.Given that Apple possesses the encryption keys to unlock an iCloud account for now, U.S. law enforcement agencies can obtain direct access to the logs with a court order. Worse, The Intercept claims the information could be exposed to hackers and anyone else who might be able to obtain a user's iCloud credentials. In some cases, hackers could access an iCloud account even without account credentials, such as by using Elcomsoft's Phone Breaker software. The tool is being updated today with the ability to extract call histories from iCloud with only an authentication token for an account from the accountholder's computer. However, the entire narrative is largely overblown. In a 63-page white paper about iOS security, Apple clearly defines which information it collects for iCloud backups, emphasis our own. Likewise, in its Legal Process Guidelines, Apple notes FaceTime call invitation logs can be stored for up to 30 days.Here’s what iCloud backs up: • Information about purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books, but not the purchased content itself • Photos and videos in Camera Roll • Contacts, calendar events, reminders, and notes • Device settings • App data • PDFs and books added to iBooks but not purchased • Call history • Home screen and app organization • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages • Ringtones • HomeKit data • HealthKit data • Visual Voicemail Further, in a statement today, Apple said the call history syncing is intentional.“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices,” an Apple spokesperson said in an email. "Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.”Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski told The Intercept he "doesn't think Apple is doing anything nefarious in syncing the call logs," which are very clearly stored for the purposes of Continuity and being able to access your call history across Apple devices, even after restoring from a backup. Nevertheless, Zdziarski emphasized the need for Apple to be clear to users about the data being collected and stored on iCloud. As noted by The Intercept, Apple does not indicate call logs are synced even with iCloud Backup disabled, while FaceTime call logs appear to be stored longer than Apple's claim of up to 30 days. iCloud users concerned about their accounts being compromised should set a strong password and enable two-step verification.Tag: security Discuss this article in our forums

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posted 23 days ago on mac rumors
A few weeks after Microsoft unveiled the Surface Studio to the public at a media event in New York City, a few websites have begun publishing the first reviews for Microsoft's new desktop PC/tablet hybrid. During its announcement in October, the Surface Studio was revealed to have a 12.5mm thin touch screen, with a 28-inch PixelSense Display that packs in 13.5 million pixels. Microsoft said that there's "no monitor like this on the planet." The first reviews of the Surface Studio are largely positive, with many reviewers enamored with the computer's large screen and slick design, as well as its purpose to fulfill and enhance productivity for creatives. However, in line with the unrest over the price of the new MacBook Pros, most of the people who have been reviewing the Surface Studio for the past week admit the $3,000 price tag is one that prohibits casual users and sets an entry bar for serious power users only. Images via Engadget The Verge began by looking at the 28-inch display, which was described as "truly one of the best desktop monitors I’ve ever used." Everything from plain text to videos were said to look great on the screen, and even the 3:2 aspect ratio for the desktop monitor produced better environments for reading and writing, according to the site. The Verge also had a freelance illustrator test out the Surface Studio, and they came away largely impressed, but hoped future iterations introduced a rotating display, more ergonomic stylus, and new input options for the Surface Dial accessory. Although a slight mention, one of the site's minor annoyances was the way the Surface Dial slipped down the screen slowly when not being cradled by the user's hand, even at the computer's lowest 20-degree angle. The Verge concluded its review comparing the Surface Studio to the current lineup and ecosystem of Apple products. The site said that while Microsoft's device won't be invading the homes of die-hard Apple fans just yet, the fact that the Surface Studio even hints at that possibility "is remarkable." For that reason, the site admitted purchasing a $3,000 computer just for fun doodling tools in your spare time is illogical, but those Apple fans who could gain the most out of Microsoft's hardware "might well be tempted to switch camps." Many creatives I’ve spoken to about the Surface Studio have said the same thing: why isn’t Apple doing this? Apple seems to be forcing creatives to choose an iPad Pro for touch and pen, but the powerful and professional apps just aren’t there yet on iOS, and it’s not clear if companies like Adobe are willing to rewrite their software to be just as useful on an iPad Pro. Microsoft has realized the potential in the market to reach out to creatives who feel abandoned by Apple, and it’s an influential crowd that could be swayed over by devices like the Surface Studio. The fact that Microsoft is even being considered an alternative to Apple’s line of machines for creatives is not something anyone, not even Microsoft, was expecting for the Surface devices. The Surface Studio won't take over Mac-focused design houses just yet, but that it’s even a possibility is remarkable. The Studio is special because it knows exactly what it is and who it’s for — and it’s largely spot on. If Microsoft keeps developing its strengths here, some of Apple's most loyal customers might well be tempted to switch camps. Engadget called the Surface Studio "the most interesting computer released this year," thanks in part to the fact that its zero gravity hinge gimmick "is actually useful." The site tested the top-of-the-line $4,200 tier, which includes a 2.7GHz Core i7 6820HQ CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and 2TB HDD, and a NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics with 4GB of VRAM, and admitted "it was one of the most powerful PCs I've ever tested." The Surface Studio is also a good-enough gaming alternative, although it isn't entirely up to the task of most high-end gaming PCs, with Engadget noting that the computer scored 20 percent lower than the Radeon RX 480 GPU, as an anecdotal comparison. The computer still managed to run a few games at playable speeds, including Overwatch (60 frames per second in 1080p with high settings) and Gears of War 4 (50 frames per second with medium settings). The Surface Studio is both familiar and new. It empowers us to work the way we always have, while also giving us entirely new modes of productivity. Personally, that's a philosophy I can get behind -- especially when compared with Apple's habit of pushing consumers down new roads that aren't necessarily improvements (hello, dongle life). But the Surface Studio's high price and lack of expandability could make it a tough sell for an already niche market, especially for people already devoted to their Wacom tablets. CNET also asked some creative professionals to try out the Surface Studio and got their opinions on the machine. Creative director Nick Cogan, who's helped to illustrate and design films like Ice Age and Rio, said that the Surface Studio was a "great" drawing tool that could stimulate workflow and ultimately be a nice main device for professional work after the initial learning curve. But, like CNET described in its review, Cogan wasn't sure if the hardware of the Surface Studio was enough of an excuse to get over the Windows-based software. The bigger challenge may be getting creative professionals to invest in such a high-end, high-price piece of gear, as many of them are creatures of habit, tied to familiar tools and hardware. As Cogan told us, "I think the big barrier is going to be that it's Windows-based, and so many people in the creative fields are really already decades down using Macs." But, he adds, "As a drawing tool, this is great, it's a lot of fun." If you can afford it, and your profession aligns with Microsoft's intent to catalyze passion and ingenuity within creatives, the review consensus on the Surface Studio is largely suggesting a purchase. Those who are interested can order the computer from Microsoft's online store, although following initial pre-orders the Surface Studio's shipping estimate has now been pushed back to early 2017. The cheapest model of Surface Studio includes an Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB hybrid drive, 8GB RAM, and a 2GB GPU for $2,999. That jumps up to $3,499 for an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM, with the top-of-the-line model running for $4,199 with a 2TB hybrid drive, i7 processor, 32GB RAM, and 4GB GPU. The Surface Dial comes packaged-in for pre-order customers who order the computer before December 1, but after that date it will cost $99 sold separately.Tags: Microsoft, Microsoft Surface Studio Discuss this article in our forums

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