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BBC iPlayer Update Hints at Imminent Release of Apple's TV App in the UK

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 13:43
BBC's iPlayer app received an update this morning that is fueling speculation online that Apple's TV app will hit U.K. shores imminently.

iPlayer's changelog for version 4.35.0 of the app simply lists "support for the new Apple TV app, available to users with devices running iOS 11.2 and above".

Apple's TV app – billed as an easy way to watch your favorite movies and TV shows in a single place – has been available in the United States since December of 2016, but remains absent from Apple TVs and iOS devices in the United Kingdom and across the rest of Europe.

In September, Apple released the Apple TV app in Canada and Australia, and announced that it would be bringing the app to France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the U.K. by the end of the year.


The BBC's mention is just the latest indication that the TV app should make an appearance very soon, in the U.K. at least.

Channel 5 was another British broadcaster Apple said it would be adding to its TV app, and last week the My5 app began appearing on Apple TVs. On Tuesday, ITV announced its ITV Hub was available on Apple TV, while Wednesday saw the global rollout of Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV, which also supports the native TV app.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTag: tvBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Component Demand for iPhone X Said to Be Weakening as Production Yield Rates Improve

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 12:01
The surge in component orders for the iPhone X over the last couple of months appears to be coming to an end, based on information coming out of the upstream supply chain. Component shipments for the iPhone X weakened in November, according to sources on Friday, following strong demand in September and October.
With demand for key component not growing as strong as expected, the sources are concerned that Apple may reduce its iPhone X shipment target for the first quarter of 2018. The sources pointed out that Apple's component orders for the iPhone X in November were around 30% lower than its earlier forecast.The weakened component demand reflects improved yield rates for iPhone X production, which has saw Apple's global shipping estimates continue to improve in November, dropping from between 3 and 4 weeks, to 1 and 2 weeks. In the United States and in Europe, iPhone X models ordered today arrive in around a week.

Apple suppliers such as Largan Precision and Catcher Technology have seen revenues slow or begin to decline month on month, respectively. Touch panel supplier General Interface Solution (GIS), which originally expected its sales momentum to continue into 2018, also suffered a sequential decline in November revenues.

Sources expect iPhone X shipments in January and February to be similar as that seen in November 2017, before declining sharply in March. Overall, shipments are expected to be down by around 30 percent sequentially in the first quarter of 2018 because of seasonality and fewer working days caused by the Lunar New Year holidays.

At the same time, DigiTimes' sources believe Apple's iPhone shipments in the first quarter of 2018 may still be better than those recorded in the same period of 2017.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Coinbase Reaches Top of the Free App Charts on the US App Store Amid Bitcoin Surge

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:54
Bitcoin exchange Coinbase watched its iOS app surge to the top of the free apps chart in Apple's App Store yesterday, amid a speculative frenzy surrounding the blockchain cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin prices on Coinbase's GDAX exchange flew past $16,000 to almost $20,000 in around 90 minutes on Thursday, reported Bloomberg, extending its record-breaking run and causing the software to crash and the service's website to go down intermittently in the process. The digital currency fluctuated during a turbulent Asian session, before falling back to about $16,000.

BREAKING: Coinbase unavailable.

The company now has more customers than Charles Schwab and has opened as many as 300,000 accounts in a day.

Today has unprecedented volume and demand.

There are litterally so many people trying to buy Bitcoin that exchanges are crashing. pic.twitter.com/ZzMKkplyga

— Bruce Fenton (@brucefenton) December 7, 2017
The rise and rise of bitcoin has brought it into the mainstream in the last few weeks, but many observers are warning that the cryptocurrency could be a bubble. Investors have also been reminded of the dangers of hackers, after bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash lost $64 million in BTC following a "sophisticated and professional attack".

Apple has had its own problems with cryptocurrencies in the past. In August 2016, the tech giant had to remove several fake bitcoin wallets from the App Store after users of the digital currency were scammed out of thousands of dollars.

For anyone interested in observing the hourly fluctuations of bitcoin while maintaining a safe distance, free app CoinHub offers real-time quotes and up-to-date cryptocurrency news all within an impressive-looking dark-themed dashboard. [Direct Link]

Tag: bitcoin
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2018 iPhone X Successor Could Feature Up to 10% More Powerful Battery With New 1-Cell Design

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 05:34
Next year's version of the iPhone X could feature up to 10 percent more battery power if Apple and LG Chem are able to deploy a one-cell design for the device's L-shaped battery, as opposed to the two-cell battery used in the iPhone X, according to a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that was obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo says the more space efficient two-cell design would allow Apple to boost battery capacity from 2716 mAh in the iPhone X to somewhere between 2900 and 3000 mAh for next year's 5.8-inch iPhone.

As he previously claimed, Kuo believes Apple will release three new iPhones with TrueDepth cameras next year: a larger 6.5-inch OLED model that can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus", a 5.8-inch OLED successor to the iPhone X, and a 6.1-inch LCD model. Today's report says that Apple is likely to use a two-cell battery design in the 6.5-inch model, but the larger size of the device will still allow it to have a capacity in the range of 3300 to 3400 mAh.


Two new 2H18 iPhone models could adopt L-shaped battery (6.5” & 5.8” OLED models), with capacity upgraded for all models. In order to extend battery life, we believe it is necessary to expand battery capacity because all three new 2H18 models will be equipped with TrueDepth Camera, which consumes more power. We think Apple (US) is developing a 1-cell L-shaped battery in collaboration with LGC (KR). If the new battery enters mass production on time, the 5.8” OLED iPhone model will come with a battery with larger capacity (2,900-3,000mAh with higher RFPCB ASP $2.1-2.4). For the 6.1” LCD model, we expect Apple to keep the rectangular battery design to keep a better cost structure, and we expect capacity could be larger than those of the iPhone 8 series.Some observers were surprised to see a two-cell battery inside the iPhone X when it was opened up by iFixit just after its launch, but there are technical challenges involved in producing non-rectangular battery cells, challenges Apple was unable to overcome in time for the iPhone X.

iPhone X battery from iFixit's teardown
With device space at a premium and a number of power-hungry components like the TrueDepth camera, however, it's unsurprising that Apple and its supply chain partners are pushing forward to develop a one-cell design to provide more battery capacity within the same volume.

Tags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo
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YouTube to Launch Music Subscription Service in March 2018

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:05
Apple's streaming music service will soon face another major competitor, as YouTube prepares to launch a paid music service in March of 2018, reports Bloomberg.

YouTube has already inked a deal with Warner Music Group and is in talks with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Merlin, a group of independent labels. The service will allow YouTube to better compete with Spotify and Apple Music, and it will provide more revenue to music labels that have been pushing for more money from the video site.

Yet major record labels say the growth would be even more significant if not for YouTube, which they criticize for not compensating them enough, considering how much people use the site to listen to tunes. Music is one of the most popular genres of video on YouTube, which attracts more than a billion users a month.YouTube is referring to its new service as "Remix" internally, and it is said to include Spotify-style on-demand streaming along with YouTube-only elements like video clips. YouTube has already been contacting artists for help promoting the service.

According to Bloomberg, YouTube will need to overcome "several hurdles" to meet its March 2018 launch date. YouTube has been stuck in negotiations with Universal and Sony for more than a year.

Tags: YouTube, Apple Music
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Hilton Debuting 'Connected Rooms' Controlled via Smartphone Next Year

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 00:37
Hilton today announced the upcoming debut of the "Connected Room," a high-tech guest room that will enable hotel guests to control the temperature, lighting, TV, window coverings, and more from their smartphones using the Hilton Honors app.

Guests will also be able to personalize their rooms using technology that loads popular streaming media and other accounts to their in-room TVs. Eventually, guests will also be able to use voice commands to access content and upload artwork and photos to display in their rooms.


Hilton already allows guests to use the Hilton Honors app to check into their rooms and open their room doors using their smartphones, but with the Connected Room expansion, additional in-room controls will be available."At Hilton, almost all digital products are born out of necessity and shortcomings in the marketplace - and Connected Room is no exception," said Joshua Sloser, senior vice president of Digital Product, Hilton. "The technology we put in hotel rooms has to be intuitive, simple and quick to pick up because guests typically spend a limited amount of time in their rooms and we want them to spend that time enjoying the experience instead of adapting to new technology."The Connected Room is live in one Hilton hotel and will deploy "in the coming weeks" to several more before rolling out on a wider scale in 2018.
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Apple Fixed iOS 11.2 Vulnerability That Allowed Unauthorized Access to HomeKit Devices

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 21:42
A HomeKit vulnerability in iOS 11.2 that allowed unauthorized access to HomeKit accessories that included smart locks has been fixed by Apple, the company told 9to5Mac in a statement today.

"The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week."To patch the vulnerability, which was reportedly difficult to reproduce, Apple disabled remote access for shared users, something the company says will be reintroduced in a software update that's set to be released early next week.

Apple was able to address the vulnerability server side as it affected the HomeKit framework rather than individual HomeKit products. Though the vulnerability impacted all HomeKit devices, it is of particular interest to HomeKit users with smart locks and other HomeKit-enabled devices that allow access to the home, as someone able to exploit this kind of problem could gain entry to a dwelling without a physical key.

9to5Mac says that Apple was first informed about the security issue and other related HomeKit vulnerabilities in October. Some of the problems were addressed in iOS 11.2 and watchOS 4.2, while the rest were fixed server side. HomeKit setups with at least one connected iPhone or iPad running iOS 11.2 and signed into a HomeKit user's iCloud account were impacted.

Since its launch in 2014, HomeKit has seen many major improvements and its adoption has grown steadily. A wide range of manufacturers have embraced HomeKit, and there are HomeKit lights, outlets, switches, thermostats, window coverings, fans, sensors, cameras, locks, and garage door openers.

August, Friday, Koogeek, Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale all make HomeKit-enabled smart locks that can be controlled via Siri voice commands and HomeKit apps.

Related Roundup: iOS 11Tag: HomeKit
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Apple to Switch From Dollars to Brazilian Reals for App Store Purchases in Brazil in 2018

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:16
Starting in early 2018, Apple users in Brazil will pay for purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store using Brazilian reals instead of dollars. Reals will also be used for Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage charges.

Apple began notifying users about the change from dollars to reals in emails that were sent out today.

Apple says that once the currency change happens, all new purchases and subscriptions will be charged in reals rather than dollars.

Since the iTunes Store became available in Brazil in 2011, customers have been required to pay in dollars using an international credit or debit card payment.

At one point, the Brazilian government looked into Apple's payment scheme, leading to speculation at the time that Apple was using dollars instead of reals to avoid software taxes that would negatively impact developers.

(Thanks, João!)

Tags: App Store, Brazil
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SiriusXM Launches New App for Apple TV

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:50
SiriusXM today announced the launch of a new SiriusXM Radio app for the Apple TV, designed to allow SiriusXM subscribers to listen to more than 200 commercial-free radio channels.

The new app is available on the fourth-generation Apple TV and the Apple TV 4K with an interface that has been optimized for the two set-top boxes.


SiriusXM Radio for Apple TV offers customizable music and comedy channels, access to a library of archived SiriusXM On Demand content, easy access to preferred channels and shows, and a syncing feature for resuming shows from SiriusXM On Demand across devices. There's also an integrated screen saver for viewing currently playing content."Apple TV is one of the leading and most innovative devices in the burgeoning world of in-home audio and video entertainment. We are excited to bring our extensive programming lineup into homes nationwide with Apple TV," said Jim Cady, SiriusXM's Executive Vice President of Products, Operations & Connected Vehicle.The SiriusXM service offers access to a wide range of music genres, exclusive channels from Howard Stern, live games and events from professional and college sports, news broadcasts, comedy shows, and more.

Pricing for access to SiriusXM starts at $10.99 per month for a music package and goes up to $20.99 per month for an all access package that includes access to sports channels.

Tag: SiriusXM
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Best Buy Apple Event: Up to $150 Off iPad Pro, $200 Off MacBook and iMac, and BOGO 20% Off iTunes Cards

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:24
Best Buy this week launched a new Apple sale event, running concurrently with the retailer's existing 20 Days of Doorbusters event this December. The new sale includes promotions and deals on iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Beats by Dre devices, Apple Pencil, and more. We've listed some of the best deals and promotions below, so be sure to check out anything you're interested in before the discounts end on Saturday, December 9 at 11:59 p.m. CT.


Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
  • iPhone X - Trade in select iPhones towards the purchase of an iPhone X and get a Best Buy gift card worth up to $250


  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus - Save up to $200 when buying and activating with a monthly installment plan


  • iPhone 6s - Save $150 when buying and activating with a monthly installment plan


  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro - Save $100 on 64GB, $125 on 256GB, and $150 on 512GB Wi-Fi models


  • iPad mini 4 - Save $125 on the 128GB model


  • MacBook - Save up to $200 on the latest models of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air


  • iMac - Save up to $200 on the latest 27-inch and 21.5-inch models


  • iTunes Gift Cards - Buy one, get one 20 percent off

In other deals, Amazon's $50 iTunes gift card for $42.50 from this morning is still ongoing, but as of writing it has reached a 49 percent claim rate so it will be ending shortly. Also of note is Day 7 of Best Buy's 20 Days of Doorbusters event, with today's discount focusing on the WD easystore 8TB External USB 3.0 Hard Drive for $139.99, down from $299.99.

Head over to our Deals Roundup for more of the latest discounts, including savings of up to $850 on Vizio's SmartCast TV set and sound bar bundles.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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LIFX's HomeKit-Enabled LIFX Z Light Strip Adds Smart Multi-Color Accent Lighting to Your Home

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 17:27
LIFX, a company that makes a range of smart light bulbs and other lighting products, recently embraced HomeKit and introduced several HomeKit-compatible lights that are an alternative to the popular Philips Hue line of smart lights.

One of the new products that's been updated with HomeKit support is the LIFX Z, a $90 light strip that's comparable to the LightStrip Plus from Philips, which I was able to test this week. The LIFX Z is a multi-zone light strip that supports up to 16 million colors, and like the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus, it measures in at 6.6 feet. You can buy extensions to make it longer.


I'm deep in the Hue ecosystem with seven Hue lights in my office alone, so it was interesting to try an alternate solution. LIFX products, unlike Hue, connect directly to WiFi and thus don't require a bridge for functionality. This is nice because it means there's nothing to connect to your home router, but I did notice that the LIFX Z can be slower to respond to input than the Hue products.

LIFX Z bottom, Hue LightStrip Plus on top
Design wise, the LIFX Z looks a lot like the Hue LightStrip Plus. It's a strip of LED lights with an adhesive backing that can be attached to cabinets, desks, walls, and more. At one end, there's what I assume is a controller for HomeKit, which can also be attached next to the lights with adhesive, and a power adapter that needs to be plugged in.


The LIFX Z light strip is thinner than the Philips version, and it comes in two pieces that attach together with thin metal prongs. The Hue LightStrip is all one piece and is thicker, so it feels sturdier. I'm worried about the longevity of the LIFX Z, especially if I choose to move it sometime in the future because of the delicate prongs and the thinner design.


LIFX Z has two LEDs that are close together, a design that repeats, while Hue uses three repeating LEDs. In actual usage, both seem to output the same general shades with the same level of accuracy. Purple, for example, is a struggle for both, but most other colors work well. I didn't see a huge difference between the two, color for color.

LIFX Z on top, Hue LightStrip Plus on bottom
As a light strip, the LIFX Z is an accent light and it isn't going to replace traditional lighting in a room, but it can get fairly bright at 1400 lumens per two meters. Comparatively, I think it's just a bit less bright than the LightStrip Plus from Philips, but it's close.

I attached the LIFX Z to my desk, across the back of it and down each leg. The adhesive works fairly well, but there is one section that keeps coming unstuck, so I'll need to secure it with new adhesive. There's no easy way to get the light strip to go around corners, so that's a bit of an awkward setup, but since my desk is against the wall, it's not visible.


It's difficult to capture the look of the LIFX Z on camera, but it adds a very neat backlighting effect to my desk that complements the Nanoleaf Aurora I have on the wall above it. People use these light strips under counters, behind TVs, on shelving, and anywhere else six feet of lights can manage to fit. At maximum brightness, the LIFX Z can be a little distracting, but at about 50%, it's a great accent light.


I've noticed a slight buzzing sound coming from the LIFX Z's power adapter, which is especially noticeable when it's set to red or yellow. Since the power adapter is across the room and in a cable organizer box, it's not noticeable to me unless I'm sitting next to it, but if other units suffer from the same problem, it could be irritating to some people.

Setting up the LIFX Z was a little bit of a hassle. It needs a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, so I had to disconnect my phone from 5GHz and connect to 2.4GHz to get it set up, but it's worked fairly well since then. I've seen it lose connectivity once since I've been testing it, but it was fixed with a restart. Otherwise, it's worked fine for me with one exception, which I'll detail in just a bit.

LIFX Z's major draw over the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus is its support for color zones. There are 8 zones per strip, for a total of 16 zones that can each be set to a different color. The LightStrip Plus, meanwhile, can only be set to a single color at a time.


The main point of control for the LIFX Z is the LIFX app, which I have mixed feelings about. It has a somewhat confusing interface with three separate areas for changing the color of the lights, and every time I open it, it seems to turn off my music even with its access to the microphone disabled.


There's a main "colors" section in the app for setting the light strip to a single color, with the color wheel separated into colors and whites. There are a lot of white presets, which is nice, and the color wheel setup is easy enough to use. If you swipe in the middle, it brightens or dims the LIFX Z, which isn't super intuitive.


A separate "Themes" section is where you can take advantage of the different zones. There are several multi-colored presets, and you can also use the 14 colors in a color palette at the top of the section to "paint" colors onto the light strip. This is neat, but the interface could be improved to allow for more precise color choices, and it would be nice if all the colors were available. If you accidentally tap a color instead of dragging it into the painting interface, it also ruins all your work, which is a point of frustration.

With the Themes section, for some reason, whenever I tap on one of the pre-sets, one section of the LIFX Z refuses to respond, which is bizarre. I can paint on it using the included tools, and it responds to full color changes, but not the pre-set Themes. LIFX tells me that this is a known bug and that a firmware update is coming soon to fix the problem.


You can set Themes and specific light setups as "Scenes," in the LIFX app, but the scenes I create here don't seem to translate to HomeKit, so I can't activate them via voice. I can use Siri to turn the LIFX Z on and off, and I can dim it and turn it to specific colors like "purple" or "red," but it is disappointing that I can't create voice-activated scenes.


LIFX Z can be paired up with other accessories, but that can't be done in the LIFX app. You'll need to use the Home app or another third-party HomeKit app.

Along with themes for painting specific colors onto the LIFX Z, there's an "Effects" feature and an option for automating it to come on at dawn and dusk. Effects is unique to LIFX - this is also something Hue lights can't do.


With Effects, you can set animations like "Candle Flicker," "Color Cycle," or "Animate Theme" to cause the colors to shift in accordance with the effect selected. The LIFX app needs to run in the background for these effects to work. There's also a Music Visualizer option that listens to ambient sound to animate the lights, similar to the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm.

Bottom Line
I love all the LIFX Z features that I can't get with the LightStrip Plus from Philips, but I do wish there was more complete HomeKit integration. Being able to paint the colors I want onto the LIFX Z is fun, and there's a good selection of themes to choose from. I also appreciate being able to set animating effects, something I've never been able to do with my Hue lights.

This would make a great nightlight for a child's room, and it's also nice accent lighting anywhere else.

Ultimately, I think the LIFX Z is neater and more versatile than the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus, and people who are bridge adverse will appreciate the Wi-Fi connectivity. I like the look of the LIFX Z's multi-colored capabilities behind furniture, though it could potentially be distracting as backlighting for a television set. Luckily, solid colors are an option too.


I am concerned that one section of the LIFX Z is sometimes unresponsive and that it has lost its Wi-Fi connection at least once. If you buy one of these and get a section that's unresponsive to themes, I'd definitely recommend returning it for a new one, and potential connectivity problems are something to be aware of.

There's one other consideration - LIFX Z is $90, which is expensive for an accent light. The pricing is competitive with Hue, but Hue goes on sale pretty often now (I picked up a LightStrip Plus for $50 recently). I haven't seen the same sales on this product, as it's relatively new.

It's pricey, but if you're looking for a highly-customizable accent lighting option that can connect to HomeKit systems and comes with some bonus features, it's worth taking a look at the LIFX Z. LIFX also has some other intriguing products on the horizon like the Beam and the Tile, and I'm interested to see how these interact with existing products and compare with other decorative options like the Nanoleaf Aurora.

How to Buy
The LIFX Z light strip with HomeKit compatibility can be purchased from the LIFX website for $89.99 or from Amazon.com.

Note: LIFX provided MacRumors with a LIFX Z for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tags: HomeKit, LIFX
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iPhone Remains Flickr's Most Popular Camera in 2017 Ahead of Canon and Nikon

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:00
As it does every year, Flickr today shared its 2017 Year in Review statistics highlighting various aspects of the photo-sharing community with lists including the Top 25 Photos of 2017, Top 10 Devices, and Top Brands. For the Top Brands category, Apple has once again beaten out dedicated camera makers with iPhones being used by 54 percent of photographers uploading photos to Flickr this year, followed by Canon in second place (23 percent) and Nikon in third place (18 percent).

Over the past few years, iPhones have been rising up Flickr's Year in Review rankings. In 2015 iPhones were used for 42 percent of the photos shared to Flickr, and then in 2016 Apple's smartphones retained the top spot again, with 47 percent. Apple first surpassed Nikon to become the second most popular camera brand on Flickr's 2014 rankings.


The most popular iPhones used to capture photos shared on Flickr in 2017 were slightly older models: the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 5s. The Top Devices list has stayed the same over the years, but in 2017 smartphones have grown to account for 50 percent of photos uploaded to Flickr, up from 48 percent last year. DSLR came in second with 33 percent (up from 25 percent last year), followed by point and shoot with 12 percent (down from 21 percent), and then mirrorless at four percent (up from three percent).

Flickr has posted quite a few lists of photos recapping the past year, including the overall Top 25 Photos of 2017, Top Portrait Photography, Top Nature & Wildlife Photography, Top Landscape Photography, and much more. Flickr today also announced new partnerships for its premium Flickr Pro membership, introducing perks from Adobe, Priime, and Portfoliobox into Pro.

Those interested can read more about Flickr Pro here, and check out more of the best Flickr photos of the year here.

Tag: Flickr
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Instagram Testing Standalone Direct Messaging App, Hinting at Potential Removal of DMs From Core App

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:16
Following in the footsteps of parent company Facebook, Instagram is beginning a test in six countries today that will see the launch of a new standalone app called "Direct," which will be solely focused on direct messaging friends and family members. As reported by The Verge, this could be the "first step" toward potentially removing messaging features from the main Instagram app.

Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay will get Direct on iOS and Android today, and if you download the app there and link it to your Instagram account, then your inbox in the core Instagram app "disappears" and can then only be accessed in Direct. Instagram currently has "no timeline" for a global launch outside of these countries, but said that its reason for segmenting off Direct in a test is to create a "best-in-class" experience for private messaging, which could not be possible inside a social-sharing application.

Image via The Verge “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that,” Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, told me. “Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app.” Direct is said to open to a camera like Snapchat, encouraging you to send photo messages to friends, and then you can swipe to go left to see your profile and settings, or right to navigate to your list of recent contacts. Direct also includes all of the usual filters, doodle tools, and photo effects Instagram has launched in stories and picture editing over the past year, as well as four new exclusive filters. "That's the whole app," according to The Verge, which also reported on a new way to easily jump between Direct and Instagram.
Still, there are some nice touches. Designers built what might be the niftiest app transition I’ve ever seen: If you start swiping to the right of the Direct inbox, an Instagram logo pops begins to peak out from the side of the app. Swipe all the way to the right and Direct will open Instagram. Similarly, you can swipe right in Instagram to reveal the Direct logo — a modified version of the paper-plane logo Instagram has long used for messages — and completing your swipe will take you back to Direct. Since Facebook broke off Messenger into its own app in 2014, the company has added in chat bots, games, location sharing, ephemeral stories, online friend statuses, group video chat, and more. It's expected that Direct will also expand in a similar way if Instagram goes through with a global launch of the new app, which is starting off barebones in its test, leaving room for the company to "make it even better," according to Instagram product manager Hemal Shah.

Tag: Instagram
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Honeywell's Home Security System Now Compatible With HomeKit

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 13:58
Honeywell today announced that its Lyric Controller home security system is now compatible with Apple's HomeKit platform.


HomeKit support can be enabled with a free software update available to both current and future Lyric Controller customers, allowing the home security system to be controlled with Apple's Home app or Siri on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

By using Siri, homeowners can control the security system's personalized presets and automate scenes for energy saving and security.

Honeywell's Lyric Controller has a seven-inch touchscreen and a built-in camera. If a Lyric sensor or motion detector detects an unusual situation, the system will provide visual and audible alerts and send notifications to an iPhone or iPad.

The home security system can be purchased on Amazon for $288 in the United States and is available at select other resellers around the world.

Tags: HomeKit, Honeywell
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Google Removes Chrome Apps Section From the Chrome Browser Web Store

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:16
Google has shuttered the Chrome Apps section of its Chrome browser web store, following through on an announcement the company made more than a year ago. As of Wednesday, the Apps selection no longer appeared in the web store's search panel filters below Extensions and Themes.

Prior to yesterday's removal, Chrome apps were available in two flavors: packaged apps and hosted apps. As Ars Technica notes, hosted apps were little more than desktop bookmarks, but they gave Chrome OS users a way to pin important web pages to certain parts of the GUI.

Packaged apps, which first appeared on Mac in 2013, could be downloaded into the Applications folder where they were designed to function like native Mac apps, working offline, updating automatically, and syncing on any computer where a user was signed into Chrome.

By 2016, Google had decided they were no longer worth the resources, because only around 1 percent of users across Windows, Mac, and Linux actively used Chrome packaged apps, and by that time the functionality of most hosted apps had been implemented as regular web apps.

This week, Google began sending out emails to Chrome app developers informing them that Chrome Apps are now deprecated, and that the functionality of already installed apps will end early next year. As a replacement, Google is moving developers towards Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).

The hybrid software was launched earlier this year on Android and brings similar app features to websites, including push notifications and offline sync. Apple has already started building support for PWAs into Safari on iOS, while Google is reportedly aiming to release PWAs for desktop by the middle of next year.

Tags: Google, Chrome
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Tidal Streaming Service Announces Apple CarPlay Support

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:39
Music streaming service Tidal on Wednesday announced its compatibility with Apple CarPlay, enabling subscribers to stream music through their vehicle's dash-integrated infotainment systems.

The support comes via an iOS app update, which also includes interface harmonization with iPhone X screens, ensuring Tidal's default dark theme makes the most of those 5.8-inch OLED displays.


We're proud to announce that TIDAL is now CarPlay compatible! Get ready to access all your favorite music & TIDAL playlists right from your car’s dashboard. pic.twitter.com/JqqMFbJlwg

— TIDAL (@TIDAL) December 6, 2017
The My Collection section of the app is the hub of Tidal's CarPlay integration, where listeners can gain access to their favorited tracks, albums, and playlists.

As noted by The Verge, a special version of the Explore section will also let users find new music and podcasts, including the most played versions of both.

The update follows Tidal's announcement last month that it was providing in-app support for Sonos speaker systems, allowing subscribers to control their Sonos home sound systems directly from within the Tidal interface.

Tags: CarPlay, Tidal
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Yoink for iOS 1.1 Update Brings Better Clipboard Support, Download Option, and Improved iOS Integration

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:22
Eternal Storms today released version 1.1 of Yoink for iPhone and iPad, the mobile version of the popular drag-and-drop Mac app. On iOS 11, Yoink acts like a convenient shelf for users to drag in files and other content, do something else (switch apps, tabs, and so on) and then easily access those items again by dragging them out of Yoink.

A handful of new iOS integrations are particularly notable in the latest update. For example, Yoink now offers enhanced clipboard awareness, so that when users copy something to the clipboard, Yoink will automatically offer to store it for them.


Elsewhere, when sharing a URL with Yoink through its new action extension in a share sheet, the app offers to either store the URL itself in Yoink or to download the file the URL points to in the background.

There's also a new Today Widget, offering quick access to the most recent items stored in Yoink as well as another avenue to storing clipboard contents, while additional 3D Touch Quick Actions make it easier to add clipboard contents from the home screen.

Meanwhile, the app's UI design has been tweaked for iPhone X support, and each item and stack in Yoink now has a button that can be tapped to quickly copy, share, select, delete, and more. After the update has been applied, items stored in Yoink can be accessed from any app that supports iOS 11's Files browser.

Other improvements to the app in this version include a smaller memory footprint, easier stacking of items via drag and drop, a new "never-delete" auto-empty trash option, Spotlight indexing for text items, and a number of bug fixes.

Yoink is available on the App Store for $2.99 in a limited time deal (regular price $4.99). The app is localized in English, German, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese, with
more languages will follow. The Mac version of Yoink is available for $6.99.

Tag: Yoink
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Apple Shares Top Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts and Books of 2017

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:16
Apple today published its annual lists featuring the most popular media content in the iTunes Store and iBooks Store in 2017, highlighting the best music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and books.

"The Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran was the top song of the year, while the top album was Drake's "More Life." Other hit albums included Kendrick Lamar's "DAMN," Taylor Swift's "Reputation," Ed Sheeran's "Divide," and "Starboy" from The Weeknd.


Top movies in 2017 included "Moana," "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Wonder Woman," "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2," and "Sing."

The Top TV shows were "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead," "The Big Bang Theory," "The Americans," and "Rick and Morty."

NPR's "Fresh Air" was the most downloaded podcast, followed by "The Joe Rogan EXperience" and "Stuff You Should Know."

The best selling fiction book of the year was "Camino Island: by John Grisham, followed by "The Handmade's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Origin" by Dan Brown. "Hillbilly Elegy" was the number one nonfiction book, followed by "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson and "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil de Grasse Tyson.

Full top lists for movies, TV shows, books, music, and podcasts can be found in Apple Music, the iTunes Store and the iBooks Store.
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Apple's Best of the App Store in 2017: Calm, Splitter Critters, Affinity Photo and The Witness

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:10
Apple today published its annual Best of 2017 charts for the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store, highlighting the top media content and trends across 2017.

Apple's App Store editors chose two standout games and two standout apps for the iPhone and the iPad as their best of 2017 picks. On the iPhone, meditation app Calm and popular game Splitter Critters won top honors, while photo editing app Affinity Photo and puzzle game The Witness took the top spots on iPad.


- iPhone App of the Year: Calm
- iPhone Game of the Year: Splitter Critters
- iPad App of the Year: Affinity Photo
- iPad Game of the Year: The Witness

Apple shared apps that are part of the top Trends of the Year, which included augmented reality apps like IKEA Place and Very Hungry Caterpillar, meditation-style apps like Calm and Joyable, multiplayer games like Art of War: Red Tides and The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and modern storytelling apps like Hooked and Serial Box Publishing.

Apple has also published the top apps for 2017 across multiple App Store charts. Top free iPhone apps included Bitmoji, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, while top paid iPhone apps included Facetune, HotSchedules, Tabs & Chords, Enlight, and the 7 Minute Workout Challenge.

On iPhone, the top games included Super Mario Run, 8 Ball Pool, Ballz, Snake vs. Block, and Word Cookies. Top paid iPhone games included Heads Up!, Minecraft, Plague Inc., Bloons TD 5, and Monopoly.

YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Chrome were the top free iPad apps, while Procreate, Notability, Toca Life: Hospital, Toca Life: Salon 3, and GoodNotes 4 were the top paid iPad apps.

Super Mario Run, ROBLOX, Rolling Sky, Word Cookies, and Bowmasters were the top free iPad games, and Minecraft, Geometry Dash, Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, Bloons TD 5 HD, and the Escapists were the top paid iPad games.

The full list of top iPad and iPhone apps and games, along with additional details on the top App Store content in 2017, is available through the App Store on an iOS device.

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Apple Store App Updated With iOS 11 Enhancements and Support for iPhone Purchases Without Carrier Pre-Activation

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 01:13
Apple today updated its Apple Store app to version 4.4, introducing iOS 11 enhancements and a new scanner feature for quickly adding your credit card information at checkout.

According to the release notes, the app update also allows customers to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones, a purchasing option that has been available for the iPhone X on the Apple Store website since November.What's New in Version 4.4
- iOS 11 enhancements
- Scanner now available to easily add your credit card information at checkout
- Customers now have the option to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones on AT&T, Verizon, or SprintThe Apple Store app is Apple's iOS storefront, allowing customers to find and purchase a range of Apple products and accessories. It can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tags: App Store, Apple retail, Apple Store
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