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Instagram Now Lets You Follow Hashtags in Your Main Feed

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:05
Instagram today announced that you can now follow any hashtag the same way you can follow normal accounts. Once you do, Instagram will use its algorithms to curate "highlights" from photos posted with that hashtag and place them within your main feed.

Similar to previous uses of Instagram's algorithms, if you engage with these posts by liking them or commenting, the social network will search for similar content and present it to you in the future. You'll be able to follow hashtags through searches in Explore or simply tapping on one already placed in another post.

To distinguish from a hashtag post and a normal post, there will be a "prominent button" above all hashtag posts. If something comes up that you don't like, you can dislike the post via this button. Instagram said this won't completely unfollow the tag, but it will help train the service on which parts of a specific hashtag you find appealing.

Image via James Bareham and The Verge
Matthew Ogle led the team behind the new feature at Instagram, and he previously worked at Last.fm and Spotify. When he was at Spotify, he was the product manager that helped launch Discover Weekly, and he told The Verge there are a few similarities to the origins of Spotify's curated playlists and Instagram's new hashtag-following option.
“Discover Weekly wasn’t about teaching an algorithm to understand and then recommend music. We taught an algorithm to look at what the community was already doing with this building block, the playlist, and to take the best of what the community was doing and extend it in a new direction,” says Ogle. “Hashtags are kind of the same way. You have something that is working organically on the platform, how do we add just enough additional structure so that more people can participate.” Before the update, you could find hashtags mainly through searches in Instagram's "Explore" tab. Explore would become personalized over time and showcase posts that the app thought you liked, but there were no "like" or "dislike" options to further fine-tune the tab.

The new update will be rolling out to Instagram users throughout the day.

Tag: Instagram
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iMac Pro Available With 8 or 10 Cores This Week, 14 and 18 Core Models Ship Early Next Year

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:27
Apple today announced that the iMac Pro will be released this Thursday, December 14, but YouTube reviewer Marques Brownlee says only 8-core and 10-core models will be available to order this week.


Brownlee in his hands-on video said the high-end 18-core iMac Pro will ship early next year, alongside an unannounced 14-core model that will apparently be added to the lineup for a total of four Intel Xeon processor configurations.

Skip to the 1:53 mark of the video
The 10-core iMac Pro clocked at 3.0GHz earned a multi-core score of just over 37,400 on Geekbench, which is up to 93 percent faster than the latest 27-inch 5K iMac and up to 45 percent faster than the high-end 2013 Mac Pro.

The powerful desktop workstation can also be configured with up to 4TB of SSD storage, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and up to an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16GB of HBM2 memory.

iMac Pro will be available to order on December 14, starting at $4,999, in the United States, Canada, UK, and several other countries. Apple has yet to provide exact pricing details on a configuration-by-configuration basis.

Note that in Australia, the iMac Pro launches December 15.

Related Roundup: iMac ProBuyer's Guide: iMac Pro (Caution)
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Mid-Range iMac Pro is Nearly Twice as Fast as High-End 5K iMac and Up to 45% Faster Than 2013 Mac Pro

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:53
While we already knew the iMac Pro will be the fastest Mac ever, at least until Apple releases its promised modular Mac Pro at some point in the future, now we have an idea of just how fast the desktop workhorse will truly be.


YouTube reviewers Marques Brownlee and Jonathan Morrison have each shared hands-on videos of the iMac Pro, and put its CPU performance to the test with benchmarks on Geekbench, which simulates real-world workload scenarios.

In both videos, the mid-range iMac Pro with a 10-core 3.0GHz Intel Xeon processor recorded a multi-core score of just over 37,400, which is up to 45 percent faster than the high-end 2013 Mac Pro's average multi-core score of 25,747.

The 10-core iMac Pro is also up to 93 percent faster than the latest 27-inch 5K iMac with top-of-the-line tech specs.


Apple said the iMac Pro can be configured with an even faster 18-core Xeon processor, so the 10-core benchmarks aren't even the peak. The 18-core iMac Pro will unquestionably be the fastest Mac ever by an almost unimaginable margin.

iMac Pro can also be equipped with up to 4TB of SSD storage, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16GB of HBM2 memory, which helps to power its beautiful 5K display.

With four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the iMac Pro can drive two external 5K displays or four 4K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. It also has a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB-A 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

iMac Pro will be available to order on December 14 in the United States and several other countries. Pricing starts at $4,999 in the United States. Apple has yet to provide exact pricing details on a configuration-by-configuration basis.

Related Roundup: iMac ProTag: benchmarksBuyer's Guide: iMac Pro (Caution)
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iMac Pro Described as Blazingly Fast, Quiet, and Fairly Priced, But Lacks Upgradeability

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:26
Marques Brownlee and Jonathan Morrison have shared hands-on videos of the iMac Pro, which Apple said is available to order on December 14.

Image: Jonathan Morrison
Brownlee spent the past week with the iMac Pro, using it to create his hands-on video itself with Final Cut Pro X, and found it to be a super capable yet quiet machine with a beautiful display and a stealthy space gray enclosure.

He said the iMac Pro's biggest weakness is its lack of upgradeability, but he said its expensive $4,999 starting price is actually fair for the hardware included, and he priced out a PC with mostly equivalent tech specs at $5,100.


Brownlee benchmarked the 10-core iMac Pro on Geekbench and recorded a multi-core score of 37,417, which is up to 45 percent faster than the top-end 2013 Mac Pro's average multi-core score of 25,747.

Of note, those benchmarks suggest the maxed-out, 18-core iMac Pro will be the fastest Mac ever by an almost unfathomable margin.

As a refresher, the iMac Pro can be configured with up to an 18-core Intel Xeon processor, up to 4TB of SSD storage, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16GB of HBM2 memory.

With four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the iMac Pro can drive two 5K displays or four 4K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. It also has a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB-A 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Brownlee also revealed that the iMac Pro comes with a black Lightning to USB-A cable in the box, compared to the standard white version for other devices. We've asked Apple if this black cable will be available to purchase separately.

The black cable complements the space gray Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 in the box.

Image: Marques Brownlee
He also showcased Twelve South's new HiRise Pro height adjustable stand that sits below an iMac or iMac Pro. The stand doubles as a space to hide the likes of external hard drives, cables, AirPods, or simply your wallet or keys.

HiRise Pro is available to order today for $149.99 on Twelve South's website in a color-matched Space Gray finish.

Morrison also had the 10-core iMac Pro, and he recorded a similar multi-core score of 37,434 on Geekbench. His video provides some nice outdoor shots of the machine, but it is more of a first look rather than an in-depth review.


iMac Pro will be available to order on December 14, starting at $4,999, in the United States, Canada, UK, and several other countries. Apple has yet to provide exact pricing details on a configuration-by-configuration basis.

Related Roundup: iMac ProBuyer's Guide: iMac Pro (Caution)
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Twelve South Launches 'HiRise Pro' for iMac and iMac Pro

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:18
Apple accessory maker Twelve South today launched an updated version of its HiRise Mac stand, called the HiRise Pro, which it's selling for $149.99. Similar to the previous iteration, HiRise Pro includes an adjustable height design (with 1-4 height options) and doubles as a storage space to reduce desk clutter.


To better integrate into multiple design spaces, Twelve South's new accessory now comes with a double sided front plate in gunmetal and walnut, which you can flip over easily to pick the color you prefer. The company has also included a padded leather top valet on the HiRise Pro so you can safely place your iPhone on the ledge while you work, and don't have to worry about scratches.
Twelve South's series of HiRise products are built as an ergonomic solution to reduce neck and back strain when you sit in front of an iMac or other external display for long periods of time. The adjustable height allows you to place your iMac's screen at a more even eye level, and the product will work with any iMac and Apple-supported external display with a base width of 10 inches or less.


The new double sided front plate is magnetic and includes small grilles to ensure that hard drives that may be placed inside the storage compartment have enough air circulation. When opened, the inside of the compartment includes two ledges for storing items, with the middle adujstable ledge also providing the landing space for the iMac's base.

Those interested can purchase the HiRise Pro from Twelve South today for $149.95. The older version is still available to buy for $79.99 as well.

Related Roundups: iMac, iMac ProTag: Twelve SouthBuyer's Guide: iMac (Neutral), iMac Pro (Caution)
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Hands-On With djay Pro 2 for Mac's New AI-Driven DJ Mixing and Beat-Matched Photo Slideshows

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:04
Algoriddim's djay lineup has been a mainstay in the DJ app market, getting its start on the Mac over ten years ago, becoming one of the early iPad hits, and over the years expanding to also include iPhone, Apple Watch, Windows, and Android.

Throughout that time, djay has proven extremely popular with professional, amateur, and aspiring DJs alike for its powerful yet intuitive tools that make it easy to replace physical media and turntables with a single computer or mobile device, making djay the world's best-selling DJ app with over 30 million downloads while also winning a pair of Apple Design Awards.

Three years ago, the Mac version of djay became djay Pro, gaining a revamped interface, integration with Spotify, and a host of other new features, and Algoriddim has continued to make improvements in the app since that time, most notably with an on-stage demo at Apple's October 2016 media event where Algoriddim showed off Touch Bar support for djay Pro on the redesigned MacBook Pro.


Today, Algoriddim is launching djay Pro 2 for Mac, a major update bringing quite a few features that not only improve the user experience today but also set the stage for more advancements down the road. We met up with Algoriddim's Michael Simmons and Christoph Teschner last week for an in-person demo and overview of the new features, and we came away impressed with the update.

Overall two-deck interface (Click for larger)
The biggest feature Algoriddim has brought to djay Pro 2 for Mac is Automix AI, a massive improvement to the app's existing tools for creating automatic, beat-matched mixes of your songs. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are obviously hot topics these days, and Algoriddim is leveraging those technologies to make transitions between songs even more seamless.

With Automix AI, djay Pro 2 automatically scans the current and upcoming song, identifying the best sections of the two songs to facilitate fading between the outro of one and the intro of the next. Automix AI automatically optimizes EQs and filters for each transition, and the Morph functionality keeps beats and tempos match throughout the transition.

Automix AI matching and transitions (Click for larger)
Pairing Morph with the Match song recommendation engine from Spotify gives users a seamlessly mixed automatic playlist that helps them discover new music, but also lets users take over manual control at any time.

Algoriddim sees itself on the forefront of bringing AI technology to music, said Simmons, wondering out loud why Apple Music, Spotify, and other music services haven't jumped on the opportunity to use AI to recommend songs and create mixes for their own users. Teschner pointed to workout playlists as a prime opportunity for this sort of feature, where AI could build a seamless mix of songs to eliminate dead time between tracks and awkward transitions, keeping your energy and momentum going.

It's clear Apple has some interest in this area, given the company's long partnership and just-announced acquisition of Shazam. The music recognition abilities of Shazam can certainly serve as the basis for such a feature, automatically scanning and identifying songs to help match tracks that complement each other and flow well together, something Algoriddim has already spent years refining.

Perhaps my favorite feature for the casual user is the new PhotoBeat functionality that makes it simple to create a photo slideshow set to music. Integrating directly with your Photos library and building on a similar video feature from the original djay Pro, PhotoBeat in djay Pro 2 lets you pick albums, moments, or even hand-selected photos, and set them to music. Photo transitions happen in time with the beat of the song, and you can customize the transitions on-the-fly from a quarter of a beat per photo all the way up to four beats per photo. With multiple decks, you can queue up different photo sets and songs and smoothly transition between them with various visual effects.

PhotoBeat with separate photo/music sets on left and right mixed together for center master output (Click for larger)
Everything is done live, allowing you to apply audio filters and other settings with the photos following along to stay in sync. Text and image overlays can also be applied to the photos, and it's easy to project the resulting output via HDMI or AirPlay. If you're using your own music or purchased tracks, you can also export your slideshows for sharing.

Another area of significant enhancement is in the media library, with the introduction of local playlists on a dedicated tab in the library to help manage content from different sources. Using Split View, you can easily drag and drop tracks from Spotify, iTunes, and your computer's file system into a single playlist.

The overall djay Pro interface has also been refreshed, with live HD waveforms that make it easy to drill down visually into the audio content, as well as a reduction in popover controls that previously hid other interface elements while active. The refreshed interface will still be immediately familiar to those who've used djay Pro, but everything is just better organized and easier to get to in djay Pro 2.

Heavily customizable keyboard shortcuts
A powerful keyboard shortcuts editor lets you assign any function within the app to a custom keyboard shortcut, while full accessibility support with VoiceOver enables vision impaired users to hear descriptions of everything that's happening in the app, separate from the music mix.

Overall, djay Pro 2 remains a feature-packed DJ app for the Mac, and Algoriddim continues to raise the bar by both adding new capabilities and making existing ones easier to use. There's still a bit of learning curve, but once you start to figure things out it becomes pretty intuitive. The feature set also scales with your experience, letting beginning DJs get familiar with the basics before moving on to more sophisticated skills.

djay Pro 2 for Mac launches today at an introductory price of $39.99, with the price rising to $49.99 following the introductory period. A 15-day free trial is also available.

To celebrate the launch of djay Pro 2 for Mac, Algoriddim is also running a half-price sale on its iOS apps, with the iPad app on sale for $9.99 [App Store] and the iPhone app priced at $4.99 [App Store]. djay Pro 2 and sale prices may still be rolling out at the time of publication.

Tags: djay, Algoriddim
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iPhone X Clones Begin Surfacing in China With Notch-Inspired Designs

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:24
Apple's iPhone X has been out for over a month, and this week a few companies based in China have unveiled new smartphones that are clearly taking design inspiration from Apple's tenth-anniversary device. The first was created by LEAGOO, which is based in Shenzhen, and in an email the company called it the "LEAGOO S9."

The company sent MacRumors images of the LEAGOO S9 today, showcasing the front of the smartphone and a piece of hardware that dips into the screen at the top, providing the same visual design of the iPhone X's "notch." The device also has very trim bezels, rounded edges, and a vertically orientated rear camera system that slightly protrudes from the back.

The LEAGOO S9
Key differences between the LEAGOO S9 and the iPhone X include the S9's physical buttons, which all appear to be located on the right of the device, and a rear-facing fingerprint sensor. The iPhone X was long rumored to potentially include such a sensor, but after the launch of the new smartphone Apple's hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio said the reports were never true. The bottom bezel on the front of the S9 appears to be larger, but it's unclear if this is software-related or not.

The internal specs and other aspects of the software -- besides the lock screen -- are not currently known. It appears that the LEAGOO S9 will also copy some of Apple's "ear" software bar layout, although the Shenzhen company has slightly reordered the Wi-Fi, cellular, and battery indicators.


The second iPhone X clone was made by Boway, based in Hangzhou, China, and marks the company's first foray into consumer electronics after building printers and cutting machines for over 20 years. Boway's smartphone series is actually called "The Notch," and like the LEAGOO S9 it looks very similar to the iPhone X, as seen in images surfacing on Chinese social network Weibo (via Forbes).

The Notch includes trim bezels on the left and right sides of the smartphone, although in some images it appears to pack in thicker bezels on the top and bottom than both the S9 and real iPhone X, which could again be software related. Otherwise, The Notch has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, vertically orientated camera system, and also comes in other colors like red.

Boway's "Notch Series" smartphones via Forbes
It's unclear which type of components are included in the cloned smartphones' notches, but since both of the devices clearly use a form of biometric security that recognizes fingerprints and are believed to lack facial recognition, their copying of the iPhone X's notch is most likely for aesthetic reasons. Apple's notch packs in an infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, speaker, microphone, front camera, and dot projector -- all of these components work to provide users with features like Face ID and Animoji.

Specific prices of the smartphones have not been confirmed, but these types of devices are traditionally sold at fairly low price ranges to compete with the many other low-cost smartphones on the Chinese market. Hardware imitators have long been around copying Apple's design styles, and sometimes even include laptops that are visually similar to MacBook, like Xiaomi's Mi Notebook Pro. Earlier in December, Apple won a trademark case based in Europe against Xiaomi, preventing the latter company from registering its "Mi Pad" tablet device as an EU trademark because the name was deemed too similar to Apple's iPad.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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iMac Pro Available to Order December 14, Starting at $4,999

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:04
Apple today announced the iMac Pro will be available to order on Thursday, December 14. Pricing starts at $4,999 in the United States.


iMac Pro is a powerful, top-of-the-line workstation designed for professional users with demanding workflows, such as advanced video and graphics editing, virtual reality content creation, and real-time 3D rendering.

"iMac Pro is a huge step forward and there's never been anything like it," said John Ternus, Apple's VP of Hardware Engineering.

The all-in-one desktop computer has a 27-inch Retina 5K display within a sleek space gray enclosure. Apple also includes a space gray Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 in the box.

Apple said the iMac Pro is the fastest and most powerful Mac ever, at least until the modular Mac Pro is released.

The machine can be configured with up to an 18-core Intel Xeon processor, up to 4TB of SSD storage, up to 128GB of ECC RAM, and an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16GB of HBM2 memory.


The high-end performance is made possible by an all-new thermal design that delivers up to 80 percent more cooling capacity than a traditional iMac.

With four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the iMac Pro can drive two 5K displays or four 4K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. It also has a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB-A 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Other tech specs and features include a 1080p front camera, stereo speakers, four microphones, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2.

Apple previewed the iMac Pro at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The news, together with the modular Mac Pro, helped alleviate some criticism that Apple was no longer focused on professional users.

Apple has yet to provide exact pricing details on a configuration-by-configuration basis.

Related Roundup: iMac ProBuyer's Guide: iMac Pro (Buy Now)
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Feral Releases 'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided' for macOS

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:04
Feral today released the Mac version of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the sixth installment in the hit series of action stealth games.

Mixing a first-person perspective with a third-person cover system, Deus Ex combines elements of classic FPS shooters with a role-playing upgrade system and dialogue interaction.

The year is 2029, and mechanically augmented humans are now outcasts, completely segregated from the rest of society.

Now an experienced covert operative, Adam Jensen is forced to operate in a world that has grown to despise his kind. Armed with a new arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons and augmentations, he must choose the right approach, and who to trust, in order to unravel a vast worldwide conspiracy.Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is available from the Feral Store and Steam for $59.99. The Desperate Measures in-game mission and the Covert Agent pack, which includes various weapons and items, are available for free.

The Digital Deluxe Edition is available from the Feral Store and Steam for $89.99. The Deluxe Edition includes two new story-based DLCs, System Rift and A Criminal Past, as well as the Assault and Tactical packs, which include various weapons and items. On top of that, players get the Desperate Measures in-game mission and the Covert Agent pack, four Praxis kits, 5,000 credits, 1,000 weapon parts, five booster packs, and 20 Chipsets for Breach, a standalone online game mode.

To get the games to run, users will need a Mac running OS X 10.13.1 and at least an Intel Core i5 3GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2GB video card, and 67GB of disk space. Feral says the game is officially supported on the following Macs: All 15-inch MacBook Pros released since late 2016, all 21.5-inch Retina 4K iMacs released since 2017, all 27-inch Retina 5K iMacs released since late 2014, and all Mac Pros released since late 2013.

The only caveat seems to be the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro released in mid 2015 with an AMD Radeon R9 M370X, which Feral says is "capable of running the game but does not consistently meet the standards required for official support".
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Adobe Lightroom CC v1.1 for Desktop Brings Enhanced Auto Mode, Split Tone Effect, and More

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:17
Adobe on Tuesday released Lightroom CC v1.1 for macOS, bringing some additional features and enhancements to the photo editing suite, including support for new cameras and lenses.

Top of the new feature list is an enhanced Auto mode for automatically applying optimized edits to images. Located in the Light panel in the Detail view, the mode now uses Adobe's advanced Sensei machine learning to intelligently apply what it considers to be the best edits. By design, Auto adjusts a number of slider controls, including Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Saturation, and Vibrance.


According to Adobe, the neural nets underlying Auto mode have been trained with thousands of professionally shot and manually edited photos to evaluate and correct an image. In an additional tweak, the Auto feature now also includes the ability to optimize the adjustments of the photo even after cropping has been applied.  

Elsewhere, it's now possible to use Tone Curve in the Light panel to fine-tune the tonal range and contrast in photos, while the Split Toning controls in the Effects panel have been enhanced to let users create a split tone effect in which a different color is applied to Shadows and Highlights.


In addition, users can now adjust the date and time of an individual photo or a group of photos. The feature aims to be useful in scenarios where users need to change the capture time of photos after clicking them. Meanwhile, fullscreen mode can now be activated from within the Detail view by pressing the F key, and the lists of supported cameras and lens profiles has been updated.

The new Auto mode is also available over on Adobe Lightroom for iOS, where the quality of HDR capturing has been improved. The mobile app now also lets users add watermarks during export, ACR 10.1 has been integrated, and a number of bug fixes and speed improvements have been applied.


Lightroom CC is available through Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography plan, which bundles Photoshop and Lightroom together for $9.99 per month, or through Adobe's complete Creative Cloud plan, featuring all Adobe software for $49.99 per month.

Lightroom for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [iPad: Direct Link] [iPhone: Direct Link]

Tags: Adobe, Adobe Lightroom
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Bank T&C's for Digital Wallets Suggest Imminent Launch of Apple Pay in Brazil

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:12
Apple could well be on the cusp of launching Apple Pay in Brazil, almost two years after rumors of rollout in the region first surfaced. Users of iOS devices in the country who attempt to add a Visa Platinum Personnalité card from Itaú Unibanco to their Apple Wallet are now seeing a terms of service agreement relating to digital wallet use.


The message was first spotted by local tech site MacMagazine and picked up by AppleInsider. Prior to Monday, users trying to register the cards would see a message informing them that the card was not yet supported by Apple Wallet.

Indeed, the same message still shows up when users try adding other cards to their digital wallet, but the fact that Itaú bank's card has been granted residence inside the native app suggests Apple Pay could well be about to launch.

Olha o @itau mostrando que o #ApplePay tá chegando no Brasil 😉 pic.twitter.com/DwkiDcQOGn

— Apple Pay Brazil (@ApplePayBR) December 11, 2017

Separately, local blog iHelp BR yesterday claimed that Apple Pay would roll out imminently, citing sources familiar with the matter, although no specific date was given.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Brazil
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Apple Announces New Swift Coding Initiative for Nearly 500,000 Students in City of Chicago

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:23
Apple on Tuesday announced it is working to bring coding opportunities to almost half a million students in the city of Chicago, through an expansion of the company's Everyone Can Code program.

The Swift-centered coding initiative has been designed in collaboration with the Mayor's Office of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, local businesses and non-profit organizations.

"At Apple we believe coding is an essential skill, so we've designed Everyone Can Code to give everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "We're thrilled to be working with our friends and partners in the great city of Chicago on this initiative. Together with Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges, we look forward to helping students learn Swift and build the skills they need to thrive in today's workplace."Starting in the spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand their Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials, while City Colleges of Chicago will offer the the App Development with Swift curriculum for the first time, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Chicago Public Schools will also offer new Swift Coding Clubs, according to Apple, bringing coding education to after-school programs. The clubs aim to guide students through key coding concepts, introduce them to Swift and walk them through an app design and prototyping project.

Several businesses operating in the area will also be making volunteer opportunities available for their Chicago-based employees to help support students. Companies include GE Transportation, IBM, Jellyvision, Lextech, McDonald's, Rush University Medical Center, Ulta Beauty, and United Airlines.

"Coding is not just a critical skill in today's economy, it is another outlet for students to expand their horizons and explore their creativity," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Everyone Can Code is an incredible opportunity for young people across Chicago to learn the language of the future, sharpen their minds and develop the skill sets needed to compete and win in the 21st century."Over the last two years, Apple has promoted its Swift programming language as ideal for anyone who is keen to code but has no previous computing experience. In 2016, it released Swift Playgrounds, an app aimed at teaching both children and adults how to code through simple interactive coding exercises, which is meant to make learning to code "easy and fun" for everyone.

Tags: Swift, Chicago
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Apple Now Allowing Developers to Offer App Pre-Orders

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:50
Apple is implementing a new feature that allows developers to offer pre-orders for unreleased apps, letting customers purchase popular apps ahead of their release date.

The pre-order feature is listed in a new iTunes Connect Resource and Help document, which was discovered this afternoon by MacStories. The document says that developers are able to "make new apps available for pre-order on all Apple platforms."

Customers can see your product page and order your app before it's released for download. Once your app is released, customers will be notified and your app will automatically download to their device. For paid apps, customers will be charged before download.Apple outlines the specific steps developers will need to take to list an app for pre-order, which includes navigating to the Pricing and Availability section of iTunes Connect, choosing "make available for pre-order," and submitting an app for review.

To be made available for pre-order, an app must have a release date at least two days in the future, but no more than 90 days in the future. Pre-orders are available for both free and paid apps.

When an app is pre-ordered, on release date, it'll be automatically downloaded to a customers device. With paid apps, the purchase price will be charged when the app is released, not before.

As our sister site TouchArcade points out, there are already two apps available for purchase using the new pre-order feature. Both Gorogoa ($4.99) and Inside (Free) can be pre-ordered from the App Store ahead of a release coming later this week.

Tag: App Store
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watchOS 4.1 GymKit Feature Rolls Out to First U.S. Gym

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:31
GymKit, the watchOS 4.1 feature that allows the Apple Watch to interface with gym equipment like treadmills, has started rolling out in the United States in a very limited capacity.

According to CNET, GymKit is available at the Life Time Athletic location at Sky in New York City. This is the sole location where GymKit is available, but it is coming to Equinox locations and additional Life Time Athletic locations in 2018.


GymKit is also available at select locations in the United Kingdom and Australia.

CNET was able to test the GymKit functionality, and found it to work well. Setup was a one-tap affair, with a tap on the equipment and then a confirmation on the Apple Watch. Once paired, health data from both gym equipment and the Apple Watch syncs up for a more accurate reading.

GymKit is compatible with fitness machines from TechnoGym, Life Fitness, Matrix, Star Trac, Schwinnn, Cybex, and Stairmaster, with Apple eventually planning to cover 80 percent of the fitness equipment market. At the gym where CNET tested GymKit, the feature works with ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bikes, and stair-climbers.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Google Security Researcher Shares Details on 'tfp0' iOS 11.1.2 Exploit That Could Lead to Future Jailbreak

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 23:18
Google security researcher Ian Beer, who works for the Project Zero team, last week highlighted an iOS 11.1.2 exploit called "tfp0," which he believes could be the basis for a future iOS 11.1.2 jailbreak.

Today, Beer released the exploit to the public. He says it should work on all iOS devices running iOS 11.1.2 or below, though he only personally tested iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and a sixth-generation iPod touch.

What Beer released is not a full iOS 11 jailbreak as some had hoped, but what he's shared could potentially be used to create a jailbreak in the future.

tfp0 should work for all devices, the PoC local kernel debugger only for those I have to test on (iPhone 7, 6s and iPod Touch 6G) but adding more support should be easy

— Ian Beer (@i41nbeer) December 11, 2017
iOS 11.1.2 is no longer the current version of iOS as Apple released iOS 11.2 on December 2, but Apple is still signing iOS 11.1.2 at this time. Apple will likely stop signing the older update in the near future, and its end could come sooner now that further information on the tfp0 exploit has been released.

Jailbreaking iOS devices has dwindled in popularity in recent years, which has led two major Cydia repositories to close. Both ModMy and ZodTTD/MacCiti, which provided apps, themes, tweaks, and more for jailbroken iOS devices, shut down in November. For the time being, iOS 11 continues to be the only major version of iOS that has not been jailbroken.
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Google Launches Two New Experimental Photography Apps on iOS

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 21:53
Google today announced the launch of two new experimental photography apps on iOS, which are designed to allow the company to test technologies like object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding, and more.

Called "appsperiments," the two apps include "Selfissimo" and "Scrubbies." Selfissimo is an automated selfie app that captures a stylish black and white photo each time you change to a new pose, sort of like a photo booth. The app lets you tap to start a photoshoot, and then it encourages you to adopt different poses. Each time it detects a pause in movement, it snaps a photo.


Scrubbies lets you manipulate the speed and direction of video playback to create video loops of action scenes, funny faces, and replay moments. You can shoot a video directly in the app and then use swipe gestures to remix it.


Scrubbies and Selfissimo can both be downloaded from the App Store for free.

Google has also released experimental apps for Android devices, and, since the company say this is the "first installment" of a series, we can expect additional photography apps to be released in the future.

Tag: Google
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Exclusive Offer: Get 15 Percent Off Pad & Quill Accessories for iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Apple Watch

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:20
With holiday shopping in full swing, MacRumors has begun another exclusive partnership, this time with Pad & Quill and focusing on the accessory company's iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Apple Watch product categories. If you're interested, browse from Pad & Quill's accessories in any of these areas, add items to your cart, and then enter the promo code MR15 during checkout to get 15 percent off your order. The code expires on Thursday, December 21 at midnight.

If multiple items are in your cart, the code will take 15 percent off the total cost of your order for all relevant products. The code excludes items from Pad & Quill's leather bags and wallet & accessories categories (note that this covers any bags and portfolios within the MacBook category).

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Pad & Quill. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Pad & Quill is focused on creating high-quality leather and wooden accessories, many of which MacRumors has reviewed over the years. These include the Classic Apple Watch Band, Lowry Cuff for Apple Watch, Timber Catchall and Timber Nightstand for Apple Watch, and Oxford Case for iPad Pro.

These products and more can now be purchased at a discount with our exclusive offer, so we've listed a few below to give you an idea of the savings you can get if you take advantage of the promo code.

Make sure to visit Pad & Quill and browse these items -- and many more -- to place your order before December 21, when the exclusive promo code will expire. Pad & Quill offers free shipping that typically estimates a delivery window of between 2-4 business days after you place the order, but factors like color combinations for certain products can affect delivery dates.


Also of note is a separate offer from Pad & Quill -- which can not be stacked with our exclusive code -- aimed at anyone thinking about spending over $125 on the company's online store this holiday. If you spend $125 or more on an order at Pad & Quill, the company will email you a $25 special gift code for you to use -- or gift -- on your next order. Purchases over $250 get a $50 code and purchases over $400 get a $100 code. This offer lasts until December 17, and any code you receive has to be redeemed before January 31, 2018.

For other sales and exclusive promotions -- including our ongoing 15 percent discount on full-priced Nomad accessories -- head over to the full MacRumors Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple DealsTag: Pad & Quill
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Apple Shares New Ads Highlighting iPhone X Face ID and Portrait Lighting

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:13
Apple this afternoon shared three new ads on its YouTube channel, all of which are quick clips that focus on select iPhone X features like Portrait Lighting and Face ID.

The first video, "Opens with a Glance," displays the iPhone X with the words "Introducing the most unforgettable magical password ever created. Your face," before showing off a series of faces to demonstrate how the iPhone X can be unlocked with facial recognition.


A second video, "Adapts to Your Face," was previously available on Apple's Canadian YouTube channel. It's designed to highlight the machine learning techniques used to allow Face ID to adapt to beards, hats, sunglasses, and other facial changes.


The third video, "Introducing Portrait Lighting," demonstrates the Portrait Lighting feature that's available on the iPhone X. Portrait lighting is designed to allow users to adjust the lighting in an image using depth mapping techniques, and it is also available on iPhone 8 Plus.


Today's iPhone X videos follow several iPhone X feature ads that Apple shared in late November. Those previous videos focused on Face ID and Animoji, demonstrating specific Face ID features like its ability to work in the dark and adapt to makeup.

Apple will use these short 15-second ads to show off iPhone X features on television, on the web, and on social networks like Instagram.

Tag: Apple ads
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American Express, Mastercard and Discover to Eliminate Signature Requirement for Purchases in April 2018

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:52
American Express today announced plans to eliminate signature requirements when customers make credit or debit card purchases, joining both Mastercard and Discover.

All three companies plan to stop asking customers to provide a signature when making a purchase in the United States and Canada starting in April of 2018. The change is designed to allow for a more consistent, streamlined, and speedy checkout experience for both merchants and cardholders.

Credit and debit card companies have long required signatures for purchases as an added security measure, but with technology improvements that include contactless payments and the adoption of EMV chip technology, signatures are no longer a necessity."The payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants," said Jaromir Divilek, Executive Vice President, Global Network Business, American Express. "Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud. In addition, the majority of American Express transactions today already do not require a signature at the point of sale as a result of previous policy changes we made to help our merchants."American Express has already phased out signature requirements for purchases under $50 in the United States, as have other credit card companies, and the complete elimination of the signature is a shift that consumers are likely to welcome.

Doing away with signature requirements for credit and debit card transactions will also streamline the Apple Pay process in the United States when using a Mastercard, Discover, or American Express card. With Apple Pay, a signature can on occasion be required for purchases over $50 in the United States, a step that may be eliminated once the card changes are introduced.

Apple Pay customers in other countries that have similar restrictions may also see them lifted when using American Express, but there are locations like Canada where contactless payments are not permitted for large purchases. In these situations, there will be no improvements to the Apple Pay process.

While Mastercard and Discover have said the change applies to the United States and Canada, American Express plans to eliminate signature requirements globally on purchase transactions of all amounts. Merchants are, however, still able to collect signatures if required to do so by an applicable law in a particular jurisdiction.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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Apple Seeds First Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 to Developers

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:21
Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 update to developers, less than one week after releasing the macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update, the second major update to the macOS High Sierra operating system.

The macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.


It's not yet clear what improvements the third update to macOS High Sierra will bring, but it's likely to include bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that weren't addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2.

The previous macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update focused solely on security fixes and performance improvements, with no outward-facing changes introduced.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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