posted 25 days ago on mac rumors
The iOS 11.3 update, seeded to developers and public beta testers last week, introduces ARKit 1.5, an upgraded version of the set of tools developers can use to create augmented reality apps for the iPhone and the iPad. As it turns out, ARKit 1.5 can do a lot of neat things. It can map irregularly shaped surfaces for better detection of your surroundings, and it can also recognize and map vertical surfaces like walls and doors, so you can use AR to place and detect items on walls. Over the course of the last week, developers have been testing out ARKit 1.5 and sharing short demo videos on Twitter, providing a look at just what will be possible with augmented reality apps when iOS 11.3 is available. Vertical surface detection, for example, is shown off in the video below. A realistic-looking tunnel is projected on a wall, and while this doesn't have any immediate usage implications, it's a useful demo of how ARKit sees walls in iOS 11.3. So I've been playing with the new ARKit wall detection today...what do you think?#arkit #madewitharkit #augmentedreality #iOS113 #arkit15 #ar #AugmentedReality pic.twitter.com/J9tj6sJf9S— Ubicolor™ (@ubicolorapps) January 25, 2018 An example of how vertical plane detection can be used in augmented reality games is demonstrated in the video below, where creatures projected into open space take advantage of the area around them. Made a weird #GGJ18 game Creature-z this weekend with @tristan_damron, @marknerys and @ericklind using #ARkit verticalPlane detection. Big up to @PIGSquad for hosting pic.twitter.com/BKRdhVKHvq— lauri (^ー^)ノ (@lingoded) January 29, 2018 Another demo adds virtual artwork to a blank wall, a concept that could potentially be used in an art gallery or museum where art is invisible without a smartphone. Vertical plane detection is used in the video below to show a realistic-looking virtual cockatoo coming through a window and landing on a windowsill. Look what flew in through my window today... #ARKit pic.twitter.com/MFYYQlBjP4— Abhishek Singh (@shekitup) January 31, 2018 In addition to mapping oddly shaped spaces and recognizing vertical surfaces, ARKit 1.5 also includes image detection features that work on everything from movie posters to barcodes, as demoed below. In the future, you might be able to scan a barcode with ARKit to get a virtual popup of nutritional information, calories, and more. In ARKit 1.5 reference images can be any image. Including barcodes!!!! #ARKit #AugmentedReality pic.twitter.com/8fwJTcSoRo— azamsharp (@azamsharp) January 31, 2018 Image detection could be useful in settings like art galleries and museums, where visitors could use it to scan paintings and exhibits to receive more information, as shown off in the video below. #arkit image detection 1st try: success! As @Apple said, great feature for museums. Now I need content for 2300 paintings @NationalGallery pic.twitter.com/1m3LZVVCfJ— Romain Derrien (@LondonRom) January 28, 2018 Though not visible in the demo videos shared by developers, ARKit 1.5 also introduces a higher camera resolution, so passthrough video is 1080p rather than 720p, and there's also support for autofocus capabilities, another feature that will improve the augmented reality experience on iOS devices. Recent data has suggested that the ARKit framework has seen only modest adoption from developers and stagnating growth since its debut in iOS 11, but improvements like ARKit 1.5 may change that in the future. Augmented reality on iOS devices is still in its infancy and it will take time for developers and users to discover the best real-world use cases for the technology. Apps using ARKit 1.5 will be available starting this spring when iOS 11.3 is released to the public. Related Roundup: iOS 11Tag: ARKitDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 25 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's Beats By Dre brand has teamed up with UNDEFEATED for a new series of products featuring a tiger camouflage design in shades of green, white, and black. The collaboration includes a new set of UNDEFEATED BeatsX Earphones and a new Beats Pill+ speaker, both of which come in a unique colorway and are available to purchase from Apple's online store. The BeatsX Earphones, available for $179.95, are black and green with a matching tiger camo carrying case. The Beats Pill+ Speaker, available for $199, uses the same camo pattern for the speaker mesh, with a black middle section for the control buttons that features prominent UNDEFEATED branding. It ships with an olive green carrying case, an accessory not normally included with a Beats Pill+ speaker. Apple's Beats by Dre website says the collaboration between the two companies is designed for "the ones dedicated to staying ahead of the game."Back the underdog. Push boundaries. Take a stand. That's what Beats and UNDEFEATED both believe in, which is why we joined forces for a third time with this must-have collection. Designed for the ones dedicated to staying ahead of the game, this latest collaboration is inspired by UNDEFEATED's unmistakable tiger camouflage and fearless attitude.Beats by Dre and UNDEFEATED previously teamed up in 2013 to offer limited edition Beats By Dre headphones in the olive green shade UNDEFEATED is known for. Apple's Beats brand regularly teams up with designers, celebrities, and other companies to create special edition products. Back in July, for example, Apple collaborated with French fashion label Balmain to create special edition Powerbeats and Beats Studio Wireless Headphones in a safari color with metallic gold accents.Tag: Beats by DreDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 25 days ago on mac rumors
Following a report that the United States government is investigating Apple's power management function that slows down some older iPhone models, Apple issued a statement on late Tuesday confirming that it has "received questions from some government agencies" and is "responding to them." In the statement, Apple also confirmed the timing of its promised power management toggle, allowing customers with an iPhone 6 through iPhone 7 Plus to disable the function: it will be rolling out in a future iOS 11.3 beta version in February. The software update will be publicly released later this spring. Apple's full statement was shared by Axios earlier today:About a year ago, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on certain iPhones with older batteries. We know that iPhones have become an important part of the daily lives of our customers and our intention was to improve the customer experience. We sought to further improve the customer experience in December by announcing a significant discount on replacement batteries for certain iPhones. We also announced that we began developing a new iOS feature to show battery health and which would recommend when the user should consider replacing their battery. These actions were taken to further assist our customers and help extend the life of their iPhones. In addition, users will be able to see if the power management feature is being used to prevent unexpected shutdowns, and turn if off if they so choose. These features will be included in a developer release next month and a user release this Spring. As we told our customers in December, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love. Making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that. We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them.Apple's power management function can also be sidestepped by replacing an iPhone's battery if necessary. We've previously outlined steps on how to initiate this process at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. In related news, Apple recently added a "Reserve a Battery" option to its support website in Canada. This system, not available elsewhere yet, allows customers with an iPhone 6 or newer to reserve a battery online and have Apple contact them when a battery is available at their preferred Apple Store. This system can be found by signing into your Apple ID on Apple's Get Support page and selecting Battery, Power, and Charging → Battery Replacement → Reserve a Battery. An anonymous tipster told us that Canada is a trial country, suggesting Apple may choose to expand this reservation system to other regions. Apple promises to contact customers within three to five days to let them know when their battery replacement can be completed. Its support website currently quotes an estimated two to four week wait in Canada. MacRumors previously obtained an internal Apple memo that stated iPhone 6 Plus replacement batteries were in short supply and unavailable until late March or early April around the world. Apple's internal document quoted a shorter wait of "approximately two weeks" for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus batteries. Apple said batteries for all other eligible iPhones were expected to be available "without extended delays" in most countries. In addition to probes from the United States government, over 50 class action complaints have been filed against Apple since it fully disclosed the power management changes it made in iOS 10.2.1, nearly a year after the update was released. Apple apologized for its lack of communication in a letter to customers.Related Roundup: iOS 11Tags: Canada, iPhone SlowdownDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 25 days ago on mac rumors
While multiple reports suggest Apple has decided to place a greater focus on improving the performance and security of iOS and macOS, which will delay some new features until next year, it appears the company still aims to introduce the ability for Macs to run iPhone and iPad apps later this year. Mark Gurman and Ina Fried, reporting for Bloomberg News and Axios respectively, both claim the framework for combined apps remains on Apple's software roadmap for 2018, despite some planned iOS 12 features likely being pushed back to 2019, including a new home screen with a redesigned grid of app icons. Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi reportedly revealed the plans during a meeting with employees earlier this month. Last month, Gurman reported that developers will be able to design a single third-party app that works with both a touchscreen, and a mouse or trackpad, depending on whether it's running on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Apple would presumably also streamline its own apps on the desktop and mobile. The report didn't explain how all of this will work, but Apple could be planning to release a new SDK with new APIs that enable true cross-platform functionality. Right now, Apple's UIKit and AppKit frameworks provide the required infrastructure for iOS and macOS app user interfaces respectively. It's worth noting that Apple already has a private framework called UXKit, used for the Photos app on Mac. In 2015, Jason Snell said UXKit "sits above the Mac's familiar AppKit frameworks and strongly resembles UIKit on iOS." Apple tentatively plans to begin rolling out the change in iOS 12 and macOS 10.14, so there will likely be an announcement at WWDC 2018 around June. Following a few months of beta testing, major new versions of iOS and macOS are typically publicly released in September and October respectively. The project is reportedly codenamed "Marzipan" within Apple. Gurman speculated that universal apps would make it easier for Apple to one day create a single operating system for all of its devices, should it ever go down that avenue. At the very least, it could bring some renewed attention to Mac apps. Apple would be following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform, aimed at helping developers create universal apps that run across Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, the latter of which is being phased out. Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Over the weekend, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller did a quick fifteen minute interview with Sound & Vision, where he once again explained some of the technology behind the HomePod, shed some light on why Apple ultimately decided to create an in-home speaker, and explained how the HomePod will stand out among other smart speakers on the market. Schiller believes that Apple is in a position to create a "new kind of music experience" that not only "sounds incredible," but is also "fun to interact with." He says that's the driving force behind Apple's work on the smart speaker. Apple's focus, though, isn't on a single product -- the company wants to design a unified experience that's the same throughout the day. We don't think it's just about HomePod though, or any one product, it's about creating an experience that moves with you throughout the day -- so the experience you have at home, is replicated in the car with CarPlay, at work with iPad and Mac, and when you're out for a run with Watch and iPhone. You can listen to the same music, control your home accessories or ask Siri to do something for you, wherever you are.Schiller says that Apple Music, Siri advancements in personal music discovery, and Apple's innovative audio work "come together" in the HomePod to deliver an "amazing music experience" to customers. He went on to explain many of the technological advancements that improve sound quality in the HomePod, including machine learning to allow the HomePod to sense and adapt to its environment, the A8 chip for real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and echo cancellation, and a more advanced thinking of speaker arrays to "create a wide soundstage." Schiller also explained in detail how the HomePod's spatial awareness features work. From the moment it's plugged in, the HomePod senses its location. The built-in microphone array listens to how sound reflects from neighboring surfaces to determine where it's located in a room and what's nearby, adjusting audio accordingly. The A8 chip beams center vocals and direct energy away from walls that are detected, while also reflecting ambient reverb and back-up vocals against the wall for better dispersion into the room.The end result is a wide soundstage with a feeling of spaciousness and depth. This entire process takes just seconds and it doesn't stop with the initial setup. Every time you move HomePod, it uses the built-in accelerometer to detect a change in its location and continues to make sure the music sounds great and is consistent, wherever it's placed. We've also done some great things to help minimize the audible side effects of compression artifacts by developing studio level dynamic processing to optimize for rich, clean bass even at loud volumes.Thus far, it appears Apple's efforts to focus on sound quality have been successful. While full HomePod reviews have not yet been shared, initial first impressions from reviewers who were able to spend a short amount of time with the HomePod have been positive. Many reviewers were highly impressed with the sound quality of the device, which has been described as "warm," "astonishing," "precise," and an "aural triumph." Apple will, however, need to convince its customers that sound improvements are worth the premium price the company is charging for the device. HomePod is more expensive than competing products from Google and Amazon, but some reviewers have questioned whether the average consumer will value sound quality more than affordability. Phil Schiller's full interview, which goes into more detail about Apple's aim with the HomePod, how voice recognition works, HomeKit integration, and more can be read over at Sound & Vision. The HomePod, which is priced at $349 in the United States, can be pre-ordered from the online Apple Store. The first HomePod orders will be delivered to customers starting on Friday, February 9, the official launch date of the device.Related Roundup: HomePodTag: Phil SchillerDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
When the HomePod launches, it will receive regular updates much like Apple's iOS devices, Macs, Apple TVs, and Apple Watch models. Apple hasn't shared details on how these updates will be installed, but some digging into the iOS code by 9to5Mac has revealed that updates will be available via Apple's dedicated Home app for HomeKit devices. As we learned before the launch of the HomePod, the speaker runs a version of iOS, and it's actually a lot like an iPhone sans display. Because it's running an iOS variant, we can expect the HomePod to receive updates right alongside iOS devices. Apple employees have been testing the HomePod for months, and in that time, Apple has released several software updates for the device. The latest updates have indeed coincided with iOS releases, and the last HomePod software update came when iOS 11.2.5 was released. When it launches on February 9, the HomePod will likely be running its own dedicated version of iOS 11.2.5. When a new software update is released for the HomePod, users will receive an alert and will likely be directed to the Home app to install it, similar to how Apple Watch updates are installed through the Watch app. HomePod will be listed as an available HomeKit device in the Home app. HomePod update screenshot via 9to5Mac As with the Apple TV, there will be a setting to enable automatic HomePod updates, and updates will be available for either a single HomePod or multiple HomePods if you have more than one. The first update to the HomePod may be iOS 11.3, and that update is expected to introduce key features Apple wasn't able to make available ahead of its launch. When the HomePod launch date was announced, Apple said multi-room audio and support for pairing two or more HomePods together for stereo sound, two features requiring the not-yet-implemented AirPlay 2 protocol, would come in an update set to be released later this year. Apple implemented AirPlay 2 features in iOS 11.3, which suggests we won't be waiting too long to see new functionality in the HomePod. iOS 11.3 is expected to see a spring launch, which means anytime between March 20 and June 21, if we're going by the dates for spring 2018 in the Northern Hemisphere. HomePod is available for purchase from Apple for $349, and the first HomePod orders will be in the hands of customers on February 9, the official launch date for the device. Over the course of the last week, we've learned several new details about the HomePod from hands-on first impressions and additional information released by Apple, so make sure to check out our HomePod roundup for an updated overview of the speaker with everything you need to know about it.Related Roundup: HomePodDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple is continuing to face scrutiny over the power management features it introduced in older iPhones last year, with the U.S Department of Justice and the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission launching an investigation into the company, reports Bloomberg. The DoJ and the SEC are aiming to determine whether Apple violated security laws "concerning its disclosures" when it launched an iOS 10.2.1 update that throttled some older iPhones with degraded batteries in order to prevent unexpected device shutdowns. According to Bloomberg's sources, the government recently requested information from Apple and the investigation is in the early stages. Apple in iOS 10.2.1 introduced a new power management feature to address complaints of unexpected shutdowns in iPhone 6 and 6s iPhones. The shutdowns were caused by batteries below optimal health drawing too much power. At the time, Apple did not make it clear that to solve the issue, it was throttling the iPhone's processor at times of peak usage to limit power draw, and that lack of information has led to the company's current predicament. The full details behind the power management feature implemented in iOS 10.2.1 were not explained until benchmark testing revealed older iPhones with degraded batteries were being deliberately slowed down, and without an adequate explanation from Apple, customers were outraged and dozens of lawsuits were filed. Apple has since apologized and made reparations in the form of a new no-questions-asked discounted battery replacement program available to customers who have an iPhone 6 and newer, and the company is planning to introduce much more detailed battery information in an upcoming iOS 11.3 update. iOS 11.3 will let customers know when their iPhones are being throttled due to battery degradation, and it will also allow them to opt out of the power management features. Despite these efforts, Apple is still facing the aforementioned lawsuits and in addition to the U.S. investigation, the company will need to deal with inquiries in other countries including China, Italy, South Korea, France, Brazil, and more.Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone 7Tag: iPhone SlowdownBuyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral), iPhone 8 (Neutral)Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple is set to report its earnings results for the first quarter of its 2018 fiscal year at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. The fiscal quarter reflects Apple's sales between October 1 and December 30 of 2017. Apple provided the following guidance for its fourth quarter back on November 2: • revenue between $84 billion and $87 billion • gross margin between 38 and 38.5 percent • operating expenses between $7.65 billion and $7.75 billion • other income/expense of $600 million • tax rate of 25.5 percentApple's guidance suggests the company will easily beat its current all-time quarterly revenue record of $78.4 billion set a year ago. Wall Street analysts forecast that Apple will report $87.06 billion revenue and earnings per share of $3.83, according to 29 estimates averaged by Yahoo Finance. A quarter-by-quarter look at Apple's revenue since the 2009 fiscal year:Apple's FY Q1 Rev. • 2014: $57.6B • 2015: $74.6B • 2016: $75.9B • 2017: $78.4B • 2018: $84B+ MacRumors has compiled fiscal first quarter estimates from several financial institutions and analysts tracking Apple's financial results and stock. The figures are listed below, ranked from highest to lowest in revenue. Key Takeaways and What to Look For• Was the iPhone X a hit? Apple began taking iPhone X orders on October 27, roughly four weeks after the quarter began, so investors will be closely examining Apple's total number of iPhones sold to see if the flagship smartphone had a measurable impact. Apple doesn't reveal iPhone sales on a model-by-model basis, however, so its total will include sales of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and older models in its smartphone lineup. Apple's mark to beat is 78.3 million iPhones sold in the year-ago quarter. • Will the HomePod delay have any affect? Apple originally said that its HomePod speaker would launch in December, which would have been within the final month of the quarter. Instead, orders began last week, after the quarter, and this could have a marginal impact on Apple's forecasted revenue. • How strong will Apple's second quarter guidance be? Apple's forecasted revenue for the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, reflecting the January-March period, should prove whether iPhone X demand has significantly declined as suggested by The Wall Street Journal and Japan's Nikkei Asian Review. Apple CEO Tim Cook has dismissed these types of reports in the past, noting that the company's supply chain is very complex and that any singular data point is not a great proxy for what's going on.Tim Cook in January 2013: pic.twitter.com/OwoprY8N3U— Joe Rossignol (@rsgnl) January 29, 2018• Will there be services growth? Apple said it reached over $30 billion revenue in its 2017 fiscal year for services, such as the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, and iTunes, making this part of its business the size of a Fortune 100 company. Investors will be looking for continued growth in this category. The mark to beat is $7.1 billion in the year-ago quarter. • iMac Pro orders began on December 14, roughly two weeks before the end of the quarter, which could give a small boost to Mac sales. Cook and Apple's financial chief Luca Maestri will discuss the company's earnings results on a conference call at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday. MacRumors will transcribe the call as best as possible for those unable to listen.Tags: earnings, AAPLDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's reported plans to delay some features planned for iOS 12 until next year will similarly extend to the Mac, although to a lesser degree, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News. Gurman's sources corroborate an earlier report from Ina Fried at Axios, which claimed that Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi disclosed the revised plans during a meeting with employees earlier this month. While the shift in strategy appears to extend to macOS, it reportedly will not affect the development cycles of watchOS or tvOS.The company told its software engineering groups about the change this month, one of the people said. The shift will also affect this year's update to Mac computer software, but to a lesser degree, the person said, adding that planned upgrades to Apple Watch and Apple TV software won’t be affected.Apple's plans to focus on the quality of its current software platforms will presumably result in a greater emphasis on bug fixes, performance improvements, and the general stability of its operating systems. The shift in strategy follows a few embarrassing mishaps for Apple in recent months, including a major security vulnerability that enabled access to the root superuser account with a blank password on macOS High Sierra version 10.13.1. Apple promptly fixed the critical bug in a security update. Just weeks later, MacRumors was alerted to a security flaw in macOS High Sierra version 10.13.2 that allowed the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password. While this bug was much less serious, it was still system behavior that obviously shouldn't have been possible. Apple had a similar shift in strategy in 2015 with the release of iOS 9, and with some other macOS updates in recent years, according to the report, so this isn't Apple's first time doubling down on the polish of its software. The report also corroborates that Apple was planning a redesigned grid of app icons on the home screen in iOS 12, but that change is now delayed until 2019 along with expanded photo management capabilities. There's also word of a multiplayer mode for augmented reality games, but it's unclear when it'll be ready. Gurman still expects some smaller improvements to the Photos app to roll out in 2018, while the original report by Fried mentioned enhancements to the Health app and parental controls are still planned for release this year.Related Roundups: iOS 11, macOS High SierraTag: bloomberg.comDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue has been announced as a Featured Speaker for 2018's South By Southwest Conference event. SXSW takes place from March 9-18 in Austin, Texas, and Cue will lead a talk focused on startup companies and the tech sector, accompanied by CNN senior reporter Dylan Byers. Other speakers include Steve Jobs biography writer Walter Isaacson, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and more. During last year's SXSW conference, Apple Music Beats 1 radio host Zane Lowe appeared as a speaker. “The speakers announced today feature a diverse group of leaders and innovators that make SXSW the foremost destination for creative people,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. "As SXSW celebrates the 25th year of Interactive and Film, the cross-industry talent announced today reflects the ongoing convergence of the modern world, the trends we see throughout our programming, and the paramount reason for our now unified conference experience." The full schedule of events for this year's SXSW can be found online. Besides keynote speakers discussing a variety of topics, the Austin-based festival includes film screenings, concerts, gaming events, a comedy festival, and more. At Apple, Cue oversees the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Maps, iCloud, and the iWork and iLife suites of apps. He had previously headed Siri development, but work on Apple's AI assistant shifted to software engineering chief Craig Federighi sometime last year. The move was confirmed by Apple in September.Tags: Eddy Cue, SXSWDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling smartphones in December 2017 "across all key regions," according to new data tracked by Kantar Worldpanel. Specifically, Apple's new iPhone X climbed best-selling charts in Europe, Japan, Australia, the United States, and China, where it was the top selling model during the holiday season this year. Although iOS market share fell 0.5 percentage points in the U.S. during the October to December 2017 period (down to 43.9 percent), the researchers noted that iOS loyalty "reached a new high of 96 percent." Ultimately, Kantar argued that Apple's staggered release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X has been a "sound" strategy with multiple price points offering entry points for a wider variety of consumers and "boosting" Apple's smartphone OS share in these key markets. “The full results for the last quarter of the year show that Apple’s decision to release three new handsets over a staggered period, including the ultra high-end iPhone X, has been a sound one. With Apple’s existing release structure, expectations would always be that the flagship model would be the top selling device in key developed markets, but with the premium price of iPhone X, real life affordability has come into play. Given that in December iPhone X made it into the top three best-selling devices across all key regions, particularly in urban China where it was the top selling model, the pricing strategy seems to have been vindicated.” In total, Apple's piece of the global smartphone OS market saw a percentage point increase across six markets in the three months ending December 2017. iOS market share climbed 0.5 percentage points in Spain and Japan, 0.7 in Europe, 1.2 in Australia, 2.5 in Germany, and 10.1 in China. Apple's growth in China has "continued to impress" Kantar, with the iOS smartphone sales share in China growing from 24.3 percent in September-November to 28.6 percent in October-December 2017. Besides Apple, Kantar also discussed Samsung and the Android OS market share, noting Android's losses in a few markets (down 10.1 percentage points in China amid Apple's rise). The researchers pointed out that these losses were "cushioned" to an extent by the "rapid fall of Windows," which has a share now of under 1 percent in every market tracked by Kantar except Italy (1.9 percent). With today's report from Kantar, this marks the final time we'll see smartphone OS market share data only focused on months in 2017. It should be interesting to see how Apple and iOS perform following the 2017 holidays and into the new year, amid ongoing reports in recent weeks focused on "weakened demand" and lowered production volume for the iPhone X in Q1 2018.Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Kantar WorldpanelBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 26 days ago on mac rumors
Apple has changed its iOS software plans, and will now delay some new features until next year to focus on addressing performance and quality issues, according to Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent at Axios. The single-sentence report reads:Apple has shaken up its iOS software plans for 2018, delaying some features to next year in an effort to put more focus on addressing performance and quality issues, Axios has learned.The report doesn't specify which new features may be delayed. MacRumors reached out to Fried, who told us she plans to publish additional stories that provide more context, but this current story is all to go on for the moment. In a "why it matters" footnote to the report, Ina said Apple been "criticized of late, both for security issues and for a number of quality issues, as well as for how it handles battery issues on older devices."Related Roundup: iOS 11Tag: axios.comDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 27 days ago on mac rumors
Apps designed for the Mac often don't get as much attention as apps for iOS, even though there are dozens of super useful, must-have Mac apps out there. In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at five of the most useful Mac apps that may have gone under your radar. If you don't already own these apps for organizing and sharing files, they're well-worth checking out. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. All of the Mac apps featured in our video are listed below, with prices and links. Unclutter ($9.99) - As the name suggests, Unclutter is designed to clean up your desktop. It's an app that's designed to store notes, files, and everything copied to your clipboard. You can drag everything that's on your desktop into Unclutter for a neat, organized desktop that still offers easy access to all the temporary files and information you need. DeskCover (Free) - If you often work with multiple windows open but dislike distraction, DeskCover is an app worth looking at. It automatically highlights the active app window while dimming everything else in the background, plus it allows you to hide everything stored on your desktop with a single mouse click. Dropzone 3 ($9.99) - Dropzone makes it easier to copy, move, and share files with unique, customizable actions that let you organize your data with simple drag and drop gestures. Drag a file into an application listed in Dropzone and you can copy it, share it to a social network, AirDrop it, and do tons more. Bartender 3 ($15) - Bartender 3 is a super popular Mac app that lets you rearrange and hide icons on the menu bar of your Mac. With Bartender, you can put the menu bar items you use most often front and center, while hiding all the rest behind the Bartender icon for a much more streamlined menu bar. Bartender 3 is the only app on our list that you'll need to download outside of the Mac App Store. Magnet ($0.99) - Magnet is designed to let you rearrange all of your open app windows into an orderly layout for a clean, organized desktop. It's called Magnet because your app windows will snap right into place. Do you have favorite must-have Mac apps that aren't in our video? Let us know what they are in the comments and we might feature them in a future video.Tag: Mac App StoreDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 27 days ago on mac rumors
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has sources within Apple's supply chain in Asia, has issued a research note today that casts doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the second half of 2018. Kuo believes Apple doesn't have enough spare development resources to focus on launching another iPhone this year, with three new models already in the pipeline, including a second-generation iPhone X with a "much different" internal design, a larger 6.5-inch version dubbed iPhone X Plus, and a lower-priced 6.1-inch iPhone with Face ID but design compromises like an LCD screen. An excerpt from the research note, obtained by MacRumors, edited slightly for clarity:The announcement of three new iPhone models in the same quarter in the second half of 2017 was the first time Apple made such a major endeavor, and we believe the delay of iPhone X, which had the most complicated design yet, shows that Apple doesn't have enough resources available for development. […] With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources. Also, we think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models. As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18.If there really is a so-called iPhone SE 2 on Apple's roadmap, Kuo expects it will have few outward-facing changes. He predicts the device would likely have a faster processor and a lower price, rather than iPhone X-like features like a nearly full screen design, 3D sensing for Face ID, or wireless charging. The current iPhone SE looks much like the iPhone 5s, including its smaller four-inch display preferred by a subset of customers. The device is powered by Apple's A9 chip, like the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and it has 2GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Touch ID. Apple hasn't fully refreshed the iPhone SE since it launched, but it did double its available storage capacities to 64GB and 128GB last March. It also dropped the device's starting price to $349 last September.Related Roundup: iPhone SETags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi KuoBuyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Don't Buy)Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 27 days ago on mac rumors
Apple is developing at at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News. The report claims the new models could be released as early as this year, but it doesn't specify which ones they'll be. Of course, Apple's notebook lineup includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, while its desktop lineup includes the iMac and iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and aging Mac mini. In terms of notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro are the most likely candidates for a refresh this year, as the MacBook Air has not received any meaningful updates since March 2015, nearly three years ago, and it seems like Apple is only keeping it around for its $999 price tag at this point. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models released in 2016 and later are already equipped with Apple's custom T1 chip that authenticates and secures Touch ID and Apple Pay respectively, and it's possible the notebook could be updated with a newer chip that offloads even more tasks from the main Intel processor. MacBook models do not feature a custom co-processor, but unless Apple is planning to extend the Touch Bar to the 12-inch notebooks, it remains to be seen if there would be much necessity for a T-series chip. There's also a single rumor from DigiTimes, which doesn't have the most reliable track record, claiming Apple will release a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook in the second half of this year. It's unclear if this model would be a potential MacBook Air replacement, or where else it would slot in Apple's notebook lineup. Shifting to desktops, the iMac Pro is already equipped with Apple's custom T2 chip for enhanced security and integration. The co-processor integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller. The T2 chip has a Secure Enclave that makes the iMac Pro even more secure with new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. It's possible Apple could extend this co-processor to standard iMac models this year. Apple has also confirmed it is working on an all-new modular Mac Pro, although it only revealed that its release date would come at some point after 2017. And the Mac mini has gone over 1,200 days without an update, according to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide, and the portable computer could sorely use a refresh. Much of the Bloomberg News report is focused on Apple's shift towards in-house chip design, reducing its dependance on companies like Qualcomm and Imagination Tech, so further details about the new Macs are scant.Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, MacBook, iMac ProTag: bloomberg.comBuyer's Guide: iMac (Neutral), Mac Pro (Caution), Mac Mini (Don't Buy), MacBook Pro (Caution), MacBook (Neutral), iMac Pro (Buy Now)Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 27 days ago on mac rumors
Apple is set to halve its 40 million iPhone X production target in the three month period from January, reported Nikkei Asian Review on Monday without naming a source. The U.S. tech giant notified suppliers that it had decided to cut the target for the period to around 20 million units, in light of slower-than-expected sales in the year-end holiday shopping season in key markets such as Europe, the U.S. and China. The iPhone X, Apple's first smartphone equipped with an organic light-emitting diode display, has failed to catch on globally -- something many put down to a price tag starting at $999.Part of the reason for the high price tag of iPhone X is said to be down to the cost of OLED panels made by Samsung, which is the only supplier of the component that can guarantee Apple a steady supply of the screens. According to Nikkei, Apple is now considering an increase to the proportion of LCD iPhone models by reducing production of the OLED screen models scheduled for release this year. Apple is expected to launch a trio of new iPhone models in 2018, including 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models with OLED displays and a 6.1-inch model with an LCD display, according to respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. However, at least one other analyst has predicted that the LCD-to-OLED ratio this year will actually be 2:1. DigiTimes' Luke Lin believes Apple is increasingly leaning towards releasing two LCD-based models and a single larger 6.4- to 6.5-inch OLED model. Indeed, today's Nikkei report claims lackluster sales for iPhone X could actually result in a delay to the company's plans to introduce OLED screens in other models, potentially adding weight to DigiTimes' prediction. The production cuts for the X will have a domino effect on manufacturers that have supplied high-performance components for the handset, with the combined impact expected to run into billions of dollars. It could also slow down the shift at display manufacturers from LCD to OLED technology. Nikkei added that Apple is expected to maintain a total production target of 30 million units for lower priced models such as the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7. Apple Japan replied to Nikkei's request for comment by stating that it would confirm the details with headquarters. Related Roundup: 2018 iPhonesTag: nikkei.comDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 27 days ago on mac rumors
Apple began taking pre-orders for its HomePod on Friday, but the company has remained unusually reticent regarding some of the Siri-based smart speaker's finer functions. Last week we learned that HomePod can play songs purchased through iTunes Music as well as stream podcasts and Beats 1 radio, but Apple didn't address questions about the device's handling of iTunes Match content stored in iCloud Music Libraries. For those unaware, iCloud Music Library lets users upload or "match" up to 100,000 songs from their personal music library with the DRM-free iTunes Store catalog, without eating into their standard iCloud storage allocation. The feature comes as part of Apple's iTunes Match service ($24.99 a year) and is also included with every Apple Music subscription ($9.99 monthly). As it turns out, both iTunes Match and Apple Music subscribers will be able to use HomePod's Siri voice-based activation to access tracks stored in iCloud Music Library. The detail was confirmed on Sunday by Apple, as relayed by iMore's Serenity Caldwell: Okay, got some HomePod clarification: iTunes Match *and* Apple Music users can access their iCloud Music Library via Siri. 🎊— Serenity Caldwell (@settern) January 28, 2018 To reiterate, the user whose iCloud account is linked to HomePod can access their Apple Music subscription, tracks stored in their Cloud Music Library, and iTunes Store purchases via Siri. However, Siri will not be able to control any content streamed over AirPlay from supporting devices. Meanwhile, HomePod owners without an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription can still play music they've purchased on iTunes, as well as stream podcasts and Beats 1 radio, but Siri requests for playing songs by name, genre, artist, and so on will not be available. Apple has still to clarify how HomePod handles Family Sharing subscriptions to Apple Music, and whether the speaker's Bluetooth 5.0 specification means it will accept pairing requests from devices over the Bluetooth protocol. Apple has positioned the HomePod as a speaker that can stream Apple Music, but with built-in Siri, users can also send messages, set timers and reminders, check the news, control HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories, and complete several other tasks without needing to take out their iPhone. The speaker is equipped with spatial awareness and Apple-engineered audio technology, including a seven‑tweeter array and high-excursion woofer. It stands almost seven inches tall and is powered by Apple's A8 chip. HomePod is available in the United States ($349), UK (£319), and Australia ($449). Apple is currently taking pre-orders for the HomePod, with the device set to ship on Friday, February 9.Related Roundup: HomePodDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 28 days ago on mac rumors
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often relays information gathered from sources within Apple's supply chain in Asia, today shared a trio of new research notes that outline both new and existing predictions about the new iPhone X, iPhone X Plus, and lower-priced 6.1-inch iPhone expected later this year. iPhone X Plus dummy model versus current iPhone X via Ben Geskin MacRumors obtained a copy of each research note, and we've rounded up the key points. More details are available in our 2018 iPhones roundup. All-New 6.1-inch iPhone with LCD New:• Taiwanese manufacturers Pegatron, Foxconn, and Wistron will be the key assemblers of the 6.1-inch iPhone, with 60 percent, 30 percent, and 10 percent allocation of EMS respectively • Japan Display will supply around 70 percent of LCD panels for the 6.1-inch iPhone. Rumors suggest Apple will use Japan Display's six-inch Full Active LCDs that only require ultra-slim 0.5mm bezels on all four sides Reiterated:• Nearly full screen design with no home button and notch for TrueDepth sensors • 3D sensing for Face ID and Animoji • Rectangular-shaped, one-cell battery with 2,850-2,950 mAh, up to 8.5 percent larger than current iPhone X. The increased capacity will be the result of a smaller logic board given manufacturing advancements • Lower price point: starting at between $700 and $800 in the United States The rumored 6.1-inch iPhone is shaping up to be a lower-priced iPhone X with some design compromises, which Kuo previously said will include an aluminum frame, a lack of 3D Touch, a single rather than dual lens rear camera, and 3GB of RAM, which will be less memory than other new 2018 iPhones have. Next-Generation iPhone X and iPhone X Plus According to Kuo, the second-generation iPhone X and a larger 6.5-inch version we're calling iPhone X Plus will each have an increased 4GB of RAM. Unsurprisingly, given its larger physical size, the iPhone X Plus is also expected to have up to a 25 percent larger battery capacity of 3,300-3,400 mAh vs. iPhone X. Kuo adds that Apple has settled on a two-cell, L-shaped design for the second-generation iPhone X and iPhone X Plus battery, compared to a single-cell, L-shaped design that could have yielded up to 10 percent additional capacity. By the sounds of it, the new iPhone X and iPhone X Plus, beyond the latter's larger screen size, won't be significant upgrades. Kuo doesn't expect improvements to be made to the TrueDepth camera system until 2019. Nevertheless, he expects the devices to sell well, especially the lower-priced 6.1-inch iPhone.Related Roundup: 2018 iPhonesTags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi KuoDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 29 days ago on mac rumors
Apple last week invited select reporters to one-hour-long HomePod listening demos in New York City and London, resulting in several first impressions of the speaker's sound quality being shared online over the past few days. We've rounded up all of the first impressions we've come across so far, and highlighted some excerpts that we thought were interesting below. If you spot an article not listed here, let us know in the comments section. • Business Insider • TechCrunch • CNET • Engadget • iMore • Mashable • TechRadar • Digital Trends • Tom's Guide • Expert Reviews • Wired UK • iNews UK • Huffington Post UK • Vogue UK • Refinery29 • Gear Patrol • Stuff.tv • Alphr • Lance Ulanoff • T3 The consensus is that the HomePod sounds very good, although some felt the quality isn't exactly worth the price. A few reporters were more impressed by upcoming stereo sound capabilities of two HomePods in the same room. Keep in mind these listening demos were conducted by Apple in controlled environments, so we'll have to wait for more in-depth reviews once reporters and customers get the speaker into their hands and try it out. Business Insider's Avery HartmansAfter spending an hour demoing Apple's new HomePod smart speaker, I can say one thing with confidence: it sounds incredible.Overall, HomePod is both louder and better-sounding than I expected. The bass was strong without being too heavy, vocals were crisp and clear, and the overall sound felt somehow bright and energized. I also got a demo of a stereo setup using two HomePods — that functionality is coming later on through a free update — and was blown away. So while I can't give a definitive verdict until testing it for myself, I will say that HomePod gives a great first impression.Wired UK's Jeremy WhiteWe will have much more to say in a full review, but on first impressions while the HomePod looks great, is super simple to set up and is undoubtedly powerful, the sound produced does not immediately match up to its £319 price tag.What becomes immediately apparent is the formidable bass the HomePod kicks out. What's more, the sound remains constant as you walk around the room, no doubt thanks to those beam-forming tweeters. The vocals are clear as a bell, too. It's not all good news, however. There is a distinct lack of mid-range, leaving you feeling that something is missing in the mix.TechCrunch's Brian HeaterAs advertised, the thing sounds great.Apple's engineers were able to get a lot of rich and full sound out of that little footprint. The speaker is particularly adept as isolating vocals and maintaining often muddled aural aspects, like background singers and audience sounds in live recordings.CNET's David CarnoyUltimately, my initial impression is that the HomePod sounds very good for the type of speaker it is and it certainly stacks up well against the competition -- some of it less expensive, some of it more.But like all speakers, it has its limitations and the HomePod left me wanting for true stereo sound. Which is probably why the only time I got truly jazzed during the demo was when they paired the two HomePods together and delivered some real separation.iNews UK's Rhiannon WilliamsWhile it's difficult to get a proper grasp of how a speaker sounds in a short space of time, a second listen to the HomePod reinforces my earlier favourable impressions.While at just under seven inches tall it's undoubtedly on the small side, it's capable of incredible volume, easily filling a room and reinforcing its house party credentials. This is particularly true when two of them pair to play the same song simultaneously: it's a bassy tour-de-force.Apple began accepting HomePod orders through its online store and Apple Store app on Friday in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom, with the first deliveries to customers estimated to arrive Friday, February 9.Related Roundup: HomePodDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 29 days ago on mac rumors
Apple today shared its first series of HomePod ads on its official YouTube channel, titled Bass, Beat, Distortion, and Equalizer. The four ads are each 15-second clips that show the word HomePod animated in various ways, with the actual speaker only appearing in brief flashes. Apple also highlights that the speaker is now available to order ahead of its February 9th launch in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The music-focused ads are each set to their own song, including Ain't I by Lizzo, DNA by Kendrick Lamar, Holy Water by Hembree, and All Night by Big Boi. Apple continues to position the HomePod as a "breakthrough speaker" first and "intelligent home assistant" second in the description of each video. The four ads follow Apple's teaser video titled Introducing HomePod shared back in June, after the speaker was previewed at WWDC 2017. Apple has primarily positioned the HomePod as a speaker that can stream Apple Music, but with built-in Siri, users can also send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news, control HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories, and complete several other tasks without needing to take out their iPhone. The high-fidelity speaker is equipped with spatial awareness and Apple-engineered audio technology, including a seven‑tweeter array and high-excursion woofer. It stands nearly seven inches tall and is powered by Apple's A8 chip.Related Roundup: HomePodTag: Apple adsDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 30 days ago on mac rumors
Apple yesterday seeded the first beta of watchOS 4.3 to developers, and there are some great new features that many Apple Watch owners have been requesting for quite some time. We've outlined all of the changes you'll find in the watchOS 4.3 update in the video and the post below. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First and foremost, watchOS 4.3 once again allows Apple Watch owners to access their Apple Music Library for iPhone, a feature that was removed in watchOS 4. With watchOS 4.3, there's a new "On iPhone" section in the Music app that lets you access your playlists, albums, songs, and artists. Prior to this update, you could access your music library, but only when playing music on the watch itself. When playing music on the iPhone, you were only able to use the Now Playing feature to skip tracks -- there was no library access for choosing songs to play on the iPhone from the Apple Watch. Apple Watch owners have been complaining about the removal of iPhone music controls on Apple Watch since watchOS 4 debuted, so this should be a welcome change for many people. Along with music controls, watchOS 4.3 adds your daily Activity information to the Siri watch face, so you can see your current progress at a glance without needing to open up the Activity app, and it introduces a new charging animation when the watch is placed on a charging puck. The final new feature in watchOS 4.3 is Nightstand Mode while the Apple Watch is in portrait orientation. Since Nightstand Mode was first introduced, using it has required putting the Apple Watch in landscape orientation on its side. That's no longer necessary -- you can now use Nightstand mode in any orientation. Apple doesn't make watchOS betas available to its public beta testers because there's no way to restore an Apple Watch to an older operating system, so the watchOS 4.3 update will be limited to developers until its public launch. We'll likely see watchOS 4.3 in the spring alongside iOS 11.3, macOS 10.13.4, and tvOS 11.3.Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)Discuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 30 days ago on mac rumors
Apple's Animoji are starring in two new ads Apple created for the Grammys, with Apple using the popular Animoji karaoke phenomenon to promote the iPhone X. The ads, shared by Apple on YouTube, feature the alien Animoji singing "Redbone" by Childish Gambino and the Animoji dog, fox, and poop singing "Stir Fry" from Migos. Other Animoji characters and emoji also make appearances in the two videos. Animoji are 3D emoji characters that are designed to mimic your facial expressions and emotions using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X. Shortly after the iPhone X launched, people discovered that you could use Animoji to record yourself lip syncing to a song and then overlay the original music, leading to the birth of Animoji karaoke. Animoji karaoke is not as popular as it was following the debut of the iPhone X, but Apple has previously featured Animoji karaoke in iPhone X ads. You can watch the two new Animoji ad spots on YouTube, or catch them during the Grammys on January 28. The "Alien" ad will air following Childish Gambino's performance, while the "Amigos" ad will air right after the Best Rap Album category, which Migos is nominated for, according to Adweek.Tag: Apple adsDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 30 days ago on mac rumors
Apple has outlined the HomePod's power consumption in an environmental report [PDF] about the speaker published today. Apple says the HomePod consumes less power than an average ENERGY STAR certified LED household light bulb during music playback. The comparison is true, as a classic-shaped A-series LED bulb usually draws around 9-10 watts, while the HomePod draws around 8.74 watts with 115V of line voltage. The environmental report includes a chart with a complete breakdown of the HomePod's power consumption based on different line voltages. For those unaware, around 115V is standard in the United States and Canada, and around 230V is standard in many other countries like the UK. 100V is standard in Japan. Interestingly, Apple says the HomePod automatically enters a low power mode after eight minutes of inactivity. In this mode, the speaker draws between only 1.71 and 1.76 watts of power. We're not entirely sure what this means, as one would assume the HomePod is always in lower power mode when it's not being used, beyond listening for Hey Siri. We've reached out to Apple for comment. The environmental report also notes the HomePod is free of brominated flame retardants, PVC, and beryllium, and adds that 100 percent of its packaging fibers are sourced from responsibly managed forests or recycled paper. On a related note, an Apple support representative told 9to5Mac that the HomePod comes with a two-meter power cable in the box that is color matched in Space Gray or White. The representative said the cable is removable and user replaceable, but this wasn't the case on demo units, so it may be wrong information. Apple began accepting HomePod orders today in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia for $349, £319, and $499 respectively. The speaker can be used elsewhere in English for now, with French and German coming this spring.Related Roundup: HomePodTag: Environmental ResponsibilityDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted 30 days ago on mac rumors
Although longer and more in-depth reviews for Apple's smart speaker, the HomePod, have not yet been published, a few websites have gotten the chance to spend an hour or so with the speaker and have been sharing their experiences this week. At Digital Trends, Julian Chokkattu liked the unassuming design of the HomePod, noting that "it's easy to miss... because it makes no effort at standing out." This should make it easier for the HomePod to blend in with any room's decor, according to Chokkattu. In terms of sound, he got to listen to upwards of five songs from various genres at a volume of about 65 percent, and concluded that it "sounds great" no matter where you are in the room. He also called his brief encounters with Siri on HomePod "fast and seamless," explaining that Siri is smart enough to realize when you're meaning to activate it on your iPhone ("when your phone is in your hand") so that the HomePod does not answer. Audio quality is beautifully warm, yet the bass is not overpowering, even though it was still quite rich. If you close your eyes, it’s easy to feel like you’re at a live performance. We could pick out the vocals and instruments clearly. The speaker allows each instrument to shine through; you can hear precise guitar plucks. No, it doesn’t have that crisp sound you’d hear from very expensive high-end speakers, but then again, the HomePod doesn’t cost thousands yet still pushes brilliant sound quality out of a single, small enclosure. What’s more impressive is how consistent the HomePod sounds wherever you are in the room. Yes, the further away you are, the quieter it is, but not by much. It almost felt like the music was following our movement, and it consistently sounded great. Tech journalist Lance Ulanoff shared his thoughts on HomePod in a post on Medium, and noted that when the sound quality was compared to the Google Home Max and Sonos One, HomePod was "astonishing." Ulanoff echoed a sentiment stated by Chokkattu, detailing a listening experience that felt as if he was hearing the music "in a small café for an audience of me" and equating HomePod's sound quality to a live performance. Although stereo pairing won't be ready at launch, Ulanoff got to experience this as well and said that "two HomePods playing just about anything is incredible." Ultimately, he called HomePod an "ultra-high-quality" speaker that doubles as an "excellent Siri ambassador." What Apple has here is an ultra-high-quality speaker and the first physical instantiation of Siri without a screen. The fact that Apple is finally entering the smart speaker race is cause for muted celebration. It’s attractive, sounds amazing and is an excellent Siri ambassador. And it’s $349. Is better sound and solid iOS integration (plus the added cost of an Apple Music subscription) worth spending nearly four times as much as a decent sounding Echo? Pete Pachal with Mashable was also impressed by the HomePod's sound quality, which he described as an "aural triumph," but was more skeptical on the device and questioned whether or not Apple is too late to the smart speaker market. What I'm less convinced of, however, is whether customers will care. The success of the Echo Dot — Amazon's puck-shaped smart speaker that definitely de-emphasizes the second word of that description — tells me that anyone who's been won over by the category mostly just wants to get the power of voice command in more places. And audio? A glorified intercom will do. Or, hey, just connect your own speakers. In my short time with the HomePod, I came away impressed with its acoustic power and precision. I liked the design more than I thought I would, too. But in the world of smart speakers — which is where Apple is now competing, despite its desire to make the conversation all about music — those factors are secondary to the simple question, "How much can this thing do for me?" Those interested in HomePod can pre-order the speaker on Apple.com in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia beginning today, January 26, and then the device will launch on February 9. For those on the fence about Apple's entry into the smart speaker market, Sonos today is launching a sale aimed at competing with Apple where you can get two Sonos One speakers for the same price of one HomePod.Related Roundup: HomePodDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...
posted about 1 month ago on mac rumors
Apple is now accepting HomePod orders through its online store and Apple Store app for iOS in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom, with in-store availability and the first deliveries to customers beginning February 9. HomePod is available in Space Gray and White for $349 in the United States, $499 in Australia, and £319 in the United Kingdom. HomePod order page on Apple's online store: • United States • United Kingdom • AustraliaWhile the HomePod is only launching in three countries today, it can be used anywhere in the world. However, Siri currently supports American, Australian, and British varieties of English only. More languages will be supported in future software updates, including French and German this spring. Apple has primarily positioned the HomePod as a speaker that can stream Apple Music, but with built-in Siri, users can send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news and weather, control HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories, and complete other tasks without needing to take out their iPhone. The high-fidelity speaker is equipped with spatial awareness and Apple-engineered audio technology, including a seven‑tweeter array and high-excursion woofer. It stands nearly seven inches tall and is powered by Apple's A8 chip.Related Roundup: HomePodDiscuss this article in our forums

Read More...