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Apple Says iOS 11 is Now Installed on 59% of Devices

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:54
iOS 11 is now installed on 59 percent of iOS devices, according to new statistics Apple shared this week on its App Store support page for developers.

That's up from 52 percent on November 6, indicating iOS 11 adoption has grown just 7 percentage points over the course of the last month.


33 percent of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices continues to run iOS 10, while 8 percent of devices run a version of iOS earlier than iOS 10.

iOS 11 adoption has been slower than iOS 10 adoption. Based on Apple's official App Store numbers, for example, iOS 10 was installed on 54 percent of devices in October, a month after the operating system had been released. Comparatively, iOS 11 was only at 52 percent in November, a month and a half after launch.

Apple has already released several updates for iOS 11, but that doesn't seem to have improved installation rates, especially as many of those updates have been made available to address major bugs found in the operating system.

Over the weekend, Apple released iOS 11.2, the second major update to iOS 11. iOS 11.2 introduced Apple Pay Cash in the United States, but the update was released early to fix a date bug that was causing crashes on December 2. As a result, Apple Pay Cash was not initially available and wasn't provided to customers until yesterday.

With Apple Pay Cash now available, though, customers who have been reluctant to upgrade may install the iOS 11.2 update to access the new feature, so it's possible we'll start seeing improved installation rates in Apple's next App Store support page update.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple Adds New 'Search Ads Basic' Ad Option for Developers

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:21
Apple last year started displaying ads in the App Store when a user searches for a particular app as a way to provide developers with a way to improve app discovery via keyword search.

Searching for a term like "to-do" or "calendar" or even something specific like "Tweetbot" surfaces ads that are purchased by developers.

Starting today, Apple is expanding search ads with a new ad product called "Search Ads Basic," while also renaming the existing search ad feature to "Search Ads Advanced," reports TechCrunch.


Search Ads Advanced, like the initial Search Ads option, requires developers to pay whenever an ad is tapped. Search Ads Basic allows developers to pay for actual app installations received from the ad, rather than taps.

With Search Ads Advanced, developers are able to select specific keywords and demographics when delivering ads, while Search Ads Basic simply allows developers to choose a monthly budget and a maximum cost-per-install, with far less customization.

Search Ads Basic includes suggestions on how much a developer should pay based on historical data pulled from the App Store based on the type of app being marketed, and it uses App Store trends to target the ideal audience.

There's a maximum monthly budget of $5,000 for Search Ads Basic, but there are no limitations on which apps or companies can use the feature, so it's available to both independent developers and larger companies.

At launch, Search Ads Basic will be limited to the United States, rolling out to additional markets next year.

Tag: Apple ads
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iPhone X Charging Speeds Compared: The Fastest and Easiest Ways to Charge Your iPhone

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:31
With the addition of both fast charging and wireless charging to Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup, there are more ways than ever to charge your iPhone. Every method is different -- some are faster and more expensive, while others are slower but more convenient.

We tested several charging accessories from both Apple and third-party manufacturers with the iPhone X to see how charging speeds compare across different charging methods. These tests also apply to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which share many of the same features available in the iPhone X.


Accessories Tested
- Apple's default 5W iPhone charger (Free with iPhone, $19 alone)
- 5W wireless charger from Choetech ($16)
- 7.5W Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad from Apple ($59.95) (Tested at 5W and 7.5W)
- Apple's default 12W iPad charger (Free with iPad, $19 alone)
- 18W USB-C power adapter from Choetech ($17.99)
- 29W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 12-inch MacBook, $49 alone)
- 30W USB-C power adapter from Anker ($30)
- 87W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 15-inch MacBook, $79 alone)

The 5W and 12W chargers from Apple were paired with a standard Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $19. All USB-C charging accessories were paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $25.

Methodology
We used the same iPhone X for all tests, plugged into the same outlet. Between tests, the battery was drained to one percent, and then battery percent was checked at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 60 minutes while charging.

For all tests, the iPhone X was placed into Airplane mode with no apps running. The display was deactivated except for the four time checks. Tests were conducted without a case on the iPhone X.

Results
The absolute fastest way to charge an iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone 8 Plus is with a USB-C power adapter and an accompanying USB-C to Lightning cable. Charging with USB-C activates a "fast-charge" feature that's designed to charge the iPhone to around 50% in 30 minutes, and I saw about that level of charge in all of my USB-C tests.

5W wireless charging and 5W wired charging with the standard iPhone adapter were the slowest methods that I tested. 7.5W wireless testing was faster than 5W wireless charging, but not by much.

Click to enlarge
Charging at 12W with the iPad adapter wasn't ultimately too far off of the fast charging results at the end of an hour, making this one of the better compromises between cost and speed.

USB-C
I tested both Apple's 29W and 87W USB-C chargers that come with the 12-inch MacBook and the 15-inch MacBook Pro, respectively, along with much cheaper 18W and 30W chargers from Choetech and Anker. I saw little difference in charging speeds between 18W and 87W.

Click to enlarge
At the 30 minute mark in all tests, my phone was charged to between 45 and 49%, and at 60 minutes, I reached 77 to 79% battery life. The slowest charger was the Anker 30W, but the overall difference was so small that I think it can be chalked up to random variance. My charts are using 1 charging result, but I did test many of these chargers multiple times with the same general results.

Apple's 29W USB-C power adapter and USB-C to Lightning cable
Apple's 29W MacBook charger costs $49 and the USB-C to Lightning cable costs $25, so you're looking at about $75 for this charging method, but luckily, third party USB-C power adapters work the same way and are more affordable. That 18W Choetech charger I tested, for example, is just $18, while the one from Anker is $30.

There are cheaper non-official USB-C to Lightning cables on Amazon, but given the problems we've seen with some third-party USB-C cables, it may be best to stick with verified Apple hardware as far as the cable goes. I didn't test third-party Lightning to USB-C cables, but I wouldn't expect to see major speed differences.

Choetech's 18W USB-C power adapter and Anker's 30W USB-C power adapter
If you go with Apple's cable and something like the 18W Choetech charger, you can get a fast charge setup for just over $40. If you want to try your luck with a non-official cable, you can get fast charging for under $30.

Standard iPad and iPhone Chargers
All of Apple's iPhones ship with a standard 5W power adapter and USB-A to Lightning cable, and charging with the standard setup is excruciatingly slow comparative to other charging methods. It's not faster than 7.5W wireless charging and it can't compare to charging with power adapters that put out more juice. At 30 minutes, for example, it had only charged my iPhone to 21 percent, and I only made it to 39 percent after 60 minutes.

Apple's 5W iPhone charger and 12W iPad charger
Apple's 12W iPad charger is much quicker, though, and it's affordable at $19. With the 12W iPad charger and a standard Lightning cable, I saw charging speeds that weren't too far off of what I got when charging with a USB-C power adapter. At the 30 minute mark, my iPhone charged to 39 percent, and at the 60 minute mark, I hit 72 percent.

That's not too bad for a setup that's one of the most affordable I found, and there are a lot of 12W equivalent third-party charging options on the market, including several with multiple ports and other conveniences.

Wireless Chargers
In general, wireless charging is slower than wired charging, but it's undeniably convenient, and if you're charging for a lengthy period of time, say at your desk at work or overnight on the night stand, the slower charging doesn't matter.

That said, 7.5W wireless charging, which was activated in iOS 11.2, was faster than the standard 5W wired charging method in my testing. There's also a noticeable but slight speed difference between 5W wireless charging and 7.5W wireless charging.

Click to enlarge
I tested this difference using the 7.5W wireless charger from Belkin, which Apple sells, on both iOS 11.2 and iOS 11.1.2, which limited iPhone charging to 5W. The Belkin 5W charging result on iOS 11.1.2 is the result included in my graph.

I also tested a Choetech 5W charger that was much slower than the Belkin at 5W, so much so that I wasn't sure it was an accurate representation of 5W charging. From 1%:

- 15 minutes: 9%
- 30 minutes: 19%
- 45 minutes: 27%
- 60 minutes: 35%

There wasn't a huge difference between 5W and 7.5W charging in my experience, but 7.5W is faster. If you're buying a wireless charger, it's worthwhile to get a 7.5W+ charger that offers faster charging for the iPhone, but which chargers are compatible with 7.5W wireless charging remains something of a mystery.

The Mophie and Belkin wireless charging docks
We know the Belkin and Mophie chargers that Apple sells offer the faster wireless charging option, but it's not entirely clear if other higher-watt chargers from third-party manufacturers are able to charge the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus at higher speeds.

For a separate post on wireless charging options, we've been investigating third-party wireless chargers, and it's looking like there may be a restriction put in place by Apple to limit 7.5W charging to approved manufacturers. As an example, on the Amazon page for this charger from Choetech, which says it is 7.5W, there is this message:We get notice from Apple engineer that current IOS only support 5w qi wireless charging currently, 7.5w wireless charging is encrypted and never released to 3rd party manufacturer.We've heard similar information from other manufacturers, but it's all very nebulous and not something Apple has clearly outlined at this point. For that reason, if you want confirmed 7.5W wireless charging, go with the Belkin, the Mophie, or another charger that specifically states that it's compatible with Apple's 7.5W charging.

Choetech's 5W wireless charger
Just because a wireless charger offers more than 5W, it's not necessarily going to offer 7.5W charging speeds when used with an iPhone. If you're using wireless charging on the night stand or when sitting at a desk for long periods of time, 5W is perfectly adequate, and the third-party chargers are much more affordable than the Belkin and Mophie chargers.

On the subject of wireless charging, I also tested to see if case thickness impacts charging speed. I tested with a naked iPhone X, an iPhone X in Apple's Silicone case, and an iPhone X with one of the thickest backs I could find, the glitter-filled iPhone X case from Casetify. Charging speeds were almost identical in all three tests, and while the Casetify case was maybe about 2 percent slower, that can perhaps be chalked up to margin of error. There was zero difference with the thinner Apple case.

If your case works with wireless charging at all (and most do, with the exception of those that have rear magnets or are made from aluminum), it's going to charge at the same speed or nearly the same speed as a naked iPhone.

Conclusion
To get fast charging on iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, you don't need anything over 18W, and you don't need a USB-C power adapter that's from Apple. The third-party options work just as well, but you will probably want to pick up Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable over the alternatives.

Fast charging is going to get you the best charging times, but for less money, you can get the 12W iPad charger and use it with a standard Lightning cable to charge your iPhone almost as fast as you can charge it with fast charging. There's only about a 10 percent difference between the 12W iPad charger and USB-C charging.


It's not really worth it using the 5W charger that the iPhone ships with if you can help it, because it's incredibly slow.

Wireless charging is also a comparatively slow charging method, but it's convenient to be able to set your iPhone right next to you on a wireless charger and pick it up when necessary without the need to hassle with a cord.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Consumer Reports Ranks iPhone X Below iPhone 8 Because of Durability and Battery Life

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:53
Consumer Reports today shared its final iPhone X testing results, and while the site has given the iPhone X a recommendation, Apple's new flagship smartphone has been ranked below the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus in the Consumer Reports recommended list.

The iPhone X did make the Consumer Reports list of top 10 smartphones in the number 9 slot, but the site says it did not beat out the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus because of its poor performance on a durability test. Both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus better survived a tumble test for emulating real-world drops and fumbles of about 2.5 feet that can result in device damage, despite the fact that all three devices have glass bodies.


After 50-100 tumbles, one iPhone X model suffered serious body damage, while two others had screen defects. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus ended up with just a few scrapes after the test. Front displays for the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus all came away unscathed, and the iPhone X did well on scratch tests and water resistance tests.

"If not for the damage in that durability test, the iPhone X would have come in ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus," says Richard Fisco, head of smartphone testing at CR.Consumer Reports also had some complaints about the iPhone X battery life, which does not last as long as the battery in Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8. The iPhone X lasted 19.5 hours in the Consumer Reports battery test, compared to 26 hours for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and 21 hours for the iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone X didn't fare well on durability or battery tests, but it did earn the highest camera score out of all the smartphones tested by Consumer Reports. The site also listed the OLED display and the Face ID facial recognition system as iPhone X strengths.The rear camera on the iPhone X is among the best we've ever seen. In fact, if you combine the performance scores for stills and video, this is the highest-rated smartphone camera Consumer Reports has tested.Overall, Consumer Reports continues to rank the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ as its top two recommended smartphones, mainly due to superior battery life, followed by the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 8 in spots number three and four. At number nine, the iPhone X is at the bottom of the list, but only a few points separate all of the devices tested.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Consumer ReportsBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases watchOS 4.2 With Support for Apple Pay Cash

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:07
Apple today released watchOS 4.2, the second major update to the watchOS 4 operating system that runs on the Apple Watch. watchOS 4.2 comes a little over one month after the release of watchOS 4.1, the first major update to watchOS 4 that brought Apple Music streaming over LTE.

watchOS 4.2 can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it needs to be placed on a charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone.


The watchOS 4.2 update introduces support for Apple Pay Cash, Apple's new peer-to-peer payments service designed to let users transfer money to one another. Apple Pay Cash, which is also available in iOS 11.2, can be used to send and receive money through the Messages app on the Apple Watch. Apple Pay Cash started rolling out yesterday and is officially available for everyone as of today.

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Payments are sent using a linked credit or debit card (or an existing Apple Pay Cash balance), while money received is stored within a new Apple Pay Cash card that's available in the Wallet app. For more on Apple Pay Cash, make sure to check out our how to.

Along with support for Apple Pay Cash, the watchOS 4.2 update also adds support for HomeKit sprinklers and faucets, plus it introduces a new workout type that allows third-party apps to track distance, average speed, number of runs, and elevation descended for downhill snow sports with Apple Watch Series 3.

The update addresses a bug that could cause the Apple Watch to sometimes restart when asking Siri about the weather, it fixes an issue that could cause scrolling to be disabled in Heart Rate for some users, and it resolves an issue that prevented simultaneous timers or alarms from being dismissed independently.

For more on the watchOS 4 operating system, make sure to check out our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Pay Cash Officially Launches Today After Early Roll Out to Many Users Yesterday

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:08
Apple has announced that Apple Pay Cash officially launches today for all iOS 11.2 users with an eligible iPhone or iPad model in the United States.


Apple's peer-to-peer payment service actually began rolling out in iOS 11.2 on Monday, but some users received an error message stating the service was unavailable. The activation issues began to resolve for many users later in the day, although there are still a few lasting reports of activation issues.

Apple Pay Cash's official launch today comes three days after iOS 11.2 was released early in order to address a serious date bug that was affecting some users on December 2. While the update introduced Apple Pay Cash, as mentioned in the release notes, the feature had not yet been activated by Apple.

Apple Pay Cash allows for quick person-to-person money transfers, much like competing services Square Cash and Venmo.

After setting up Apple Pay Cash, open the Messages app, tap on the App Store icon, tap on Apple Pay, set the dollar amount, tap pay, select a payment card, and securely authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID. The payment card can be any debit or credit card set up in the Wallet app, or the Apple Pay Cash card.

The recipient taps on the message to receive the funds, which are instantly added to his or her Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app. The card's funds can be used to make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, in apps, and on supported websites, or withdrawn to a bank account within one to three business days.

When new users receive money for the first time, the funds are added to their new Apple Pay Cash card once they accept Apple's terms.

You can also send money with Siri, as explained in our How to Use Apple Pay Cash guide, which includes step-by-step setup instructions and other helpful info. Apple Pay Cash is currently available in the United States only. Apple hasn't indicated when the service could expand to additional countries.

Apple Pay Cash is available on iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE, all iPad Pro models, the fifth-generation iPad, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 models running iOS 11.2. Apple recommends that customers who have updated to iOS 11.2 before today restart their devices if Apple Pay Cash is not showing up.

Apple Pay Cash will also be available on all Apple Watch models when watchOS 4.2 is released in the near future.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Apple Pay Cash
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Instagram Now Lets You Highlight Your Favorite Stories Permanently on Your Profile

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:26
Instagram today introduced two new tools that it says will help you revisit your favorite Instagram Stories, as well as showcase these moments to everyone who visits your profile.

To start, a new Stories Archive feature will automatically save your 24-hour-long stories into a private section of the app when they expire. You'll be able to find these in the Archive icon on your profile, which already exists for regular picture and video archive options and will now include a toggle to switch to stories. Only you have the ability to see your archived posts and stories, and the auto-archiving feature for stories can be turned off in settings.


You can revisit all of your stories here, re-share any old story as a new story, create a new post, or add one to the new Stories Highlight section of your profile. Stories Highlights allows you to group old stories together in a new section that sits below your Instagram bio.
Story Highlights lets you show all the sides of your personality, and you can make highlights out of anything you’ve shared to your story in the past. From the best moments of your ongoing soccer season to all the stories you capture of your loved ones, the interests and activities that matter most to you have a home right on your profile. You can tap the "new" button in this area of your profile, choose a Story from the archive, select a cover for the highlight, and name it. After you're finished the highlight will appear as a circle on your profile and will play as its own story when someone visits your profile and taps it.


Instead of disappearing after 24 hours, highlights remain on your profile until you choose to remove them. Instagram said that you can have as many highlights as you want, and any current highlight can be edited by tapping and holding its circle on your profile.

For more information check out Instagram's press release here.

Tag: Instagram
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iOS Lost Market Share in Numerous Countries From August to October 2017 as People Waited for iPhone X

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:04
Apple's piece of the smartphone ecosystem market fell in eight total territories during the August-October 2017 timeframe, according to new data tracked by Kantar Worldpanel. Echoing numerous stories from earlier this fall that reported people were waiting for the iPhone X and not purchasing an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, Kantar's data showed a 7.6 percentage point drop for iOS in the United States when compared to the same year-ago period.


That number was higher in Great Britain where iOS dropped 8.5 percentage points from 2016, and was followed by Japan (down 6.9 percentage points), Germany (down 1.6), France (down 0.6), Italy (down 0.5), and Australia (down 0.2). While iOS dropped 7.6 points in the U.S., Android increased by 8.2 percentage points during this time.

In the same three-month period ending October of last year, 30.1 percent of iOS users in Europe and the U.S. had owned their iPhones for more than two years. iPhone X excitement further affected this statistic as well, increasing to 35.3 percent in 2017 and "signifying considerable pent-up demand" for the iPhone X, according to Kantar.
“It was somewhat inevitable that Apple would see volume share fall once we had a full comparative month of sales taking into account the non-flagship iPhone 8 vs. the flagship iPhone 7 from 2016,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Global Business Unit Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “This decrease is significant and puts pressure on the iPhone X to perform. Considering the complete overhaul that the iPhone X offers, consumers may be postponing their purchase decisions until they can test the iPhone X and decide whether the higher price, compared to the iPhone 8, is worth the premium to them.”

“As of October 2017, 35.3% of Apple’s installed base customers across Europe and the USA had owned their iPhones for more than two years – up from 30.1% a year earlier and signifying considerable pent-up demand within Apple’s base. In pure value terms, it is likely the iPhone X average selling price will more than make up for a dip in sales of older iPhone models,” Sunnebo added. While Apple saw a drop in most countries, iOS share grew slightly in China during this period with a 0.5 percentage point increase, suggesting that the company's ongoing efforts to expand its foothold in the Chinese market are paying off. Apple CEO Tim Cook furthered that sentiment during a keynote speech at China's annual state-run World Internet Conference over the weekend, where he said that Chinese developers have earned more selling apps on Apple's iOS platform than developers from any other country.


Now that the iPhone X has been out for a month, sales figures for the smartphone have been positive and Apple has continuously improved delivery dates for the device over the subsequent weeks. Research shared by IHS Markit earlier in December reported that early adoption rates for the iPhone X -- looking at its first three weeks on the market -- beat the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 Plus during similar timeframes. According to TrendForce, this strong iPhone X demand will help push Apple ahead of Samsung in Q4 2017 to become the world's largest smartphone maker.

Related Roundups: iOS 11, iPhone XTag: Kantar WorldpanelBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Acquires Podcast Search Startup 'Pop Up Archive'

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:19
Apple has acquired podcast search startup Pop Up Archive, according to Harvard University's Nieman Lab via AppleInsider.


Apple more or less confirmed the report by issuing its standard statement about acquisitions: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Pop Up Archive was an Oakland-based online platform focused on building tools to transcribe, organize, and search audio files, including a podcast search engine Audiosear.ch, according to the report.Pop Up Archive was founded in 2012, and has since grown off an extended series of seed investments and grants from sources like Bloomberg Beta, 500 Startups, and the Knight Foundation, among others. The company also has a close relationship with PRX; in 2012, the two organizations partnered up to build PRX’s original web-based archive system.Both the Pop Up Archive and Audiosear.ch websites state that operations shut down on November 28, 2017, presumably around the time Apple acquired the startup. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

While no other details about the acquisition were shared, it can be assumed that Pop Up Archive's search tools could be used to improve podcast search and discovery in Apple's official Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad.

Tag: Podcasts
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Apple Devices Could Have Reversible Emoji Next Year

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:20
The Unicode Consortium has proposed new guidelines that would allow for reversible emoji. In other words, emojis such as a car or train that currently face to the left or right only would be able to face either direction.

Reversible emoji mockup via Emojipedia
Apple and other vendors would be able to choose which emoji can be reversible on their devices, if any, according to their preferences.

The guidelines are still a draft that should be finalized by time the next major batch of over 100 new emoji characters are made available for companies like Apple to implement starting in the second half of 2018.

The Unicode Consortium has also introduced a handful of new emoji candidates for the second half of 2018, including a swan, badger, infinity, and pirate flag, according to Jeremy Burge at Emojipedia.org.

Unfortunately, for true emoji aficionados, it looks like "Frowning Pile Of Poo" and two other faces haven't made the cut for the next batch.

Emoji 11.0, proposed earlier this year, currently includes 130 new emoji candidates. Some notable inclusions are faces with red hair, faces with no hair, faces with curly or afro hairstyles, and hot and cold faces.


Other candidates include new superheroes, a firecracker, a fire extinguisher, a test tube, a lacrosse stick with ball, a softball, and a bagel.


The timeline means that iPhones and iPads could support both the new and reversible emoji in iOS 12 or iOS 12.1 around September to November of next year. The new batch should extend to the Mac as well in a future macOS update.

The emoji included in this article are sample images by Emojipedia.org and could vary slightly from Apple's final designs.

Tag: emoji
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DirecTV Now Reaches 1M Subscribers While AT&T Continues to Promise DVR, 4K, and More Coming in 2018

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:15
AT&T this morning announced that its over-the-top streaming service DirecTV Now has surpassed the one million subscriber mark, with the milestone coming in just a little bit over a year since the service launched on November 30, 2016. DirecTV Now originally debuted only on iOS and Apple TV devices, and continues to promote the Apple TV in offers where new subscribers can pay for four months of service upfront ($140) and get an all-new 32GB Apple TV 4K ($180) for free.

In comparison, Sling TV is said to still sit at the top of the OTT streaming service bundle market with about 1.7 million subscribers as of Q3 2017. Around this time, Sling TV was followed by PlayStation Vue (455,000 subscribers), YouTube TV (325,000), Hulu with Live TV (150,000), and FuboTV (100,000), according to research firm Guggenheim Securities (via Variety). At the end of the same quarter this year, AT&T reported about 787,000 people had signed up for DirecTV Now, which has now grown to more than one million in just over two months.


"This milestone is an incredible testament to the thousands of hours many people spent working to bring this product online and continually improving it during the past year," said David Christopher, president, AT&T Entertainment Group. "We're thrilled so many customers have come to love DIRECTV NOW and can't wait to bring them a host of new features in 2018."

"To reach 1 million subscribers is an important benchmark for any OTT video service, but to go from zero to 1 million subscribers so quickly is quite an achievement," said Brett Sappington, senior director of Research, Parks Associates. As it celebrates the milestone, AT&T also looked forward into the New Year and listed a few upcoming features coming to the service in 2018. According to the company, subscribers can expect the following features to be added to DirecTV Now sometime next year:
- A DVR in the cloud to record your shows and access virtually anywhere
- 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) quality video
- Capacity for more than 35,000 titles on demand
- Individual profiles
- Adding an additional concurrent stream
- More……surprises! One of the most-requested additions to DirecTV Now is a cloud-based DVR for recording and storing shows to watch later, and AT&T originally stated that the DVR would be launching in fall 2017. The DVR has been in beta for weeks now, so it appears that AT&T is still fine-tuning the experience ahead of the wide launch next year. It's not clear if all of the new features will debut at once, but besides the DVR subscribers can expect an overhauled user interface, 4K video, expanded on demand options, and more.

Tags: AT&T, DirecTV Now
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Lifeprint Launches Larger WiFi-Equipped AR Photo Printer That's Available Exclusively From Apple

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 13:00
Lifeprint, known for its photo printers that come equipped with augmented reality technology, today announced the launch of its latest printer, which is larger than the original version to let iPhone users print bigger pictures.


The new Lifeprint photo printer can print images that are 3 by 4.5 inches, up from 2 by 3 inches. WiFi is new to this version of the printer, which means you can print to a Lifeprint printer from anywhere in the world and send photos to printers owned by friends and family. Bluetooth is also available for local printing.


With Lifeprint printers, you also can print a still of a video or a Live Photo and then use the Lifeprint app to see an augmented reality version of the video, essentially bringing your photos to life. It's a little bit gimmicky, but it can be a fun way to share videos with friends. It's also a neat way to print and share Live Photos.


Like many of the miniature iPhone printers on the market, Lifeprint printers use ZINK paper, which allows for color images without ink cartridges. ZINK also has a sticky back, so all of your printed photos double as stickers. On the downside, ZINK is expensive at over $1 per photo when using the Lifeprint-branded paper in the new size.


You can print photos, videos, Live Photos, GIFs, Snaps, and more with Lifeprint, and the Lifeprint app has built-in tools for editing your images and adding stickers, filters, and captions. There's also integration with Instagram and Facebook so you can print directly from your social network."For our second printer, we wanted to go bigger and broader. The larger film is classic instant camera size and really captures that retro look and feel. Perfect for decorating your walls. But more importantly the WiFi capability means you're always connected. This allows users to print to and from anywhere in the world. No matter where you are, you're connected and ready to print. And of course, the magical Harry Potter-like Hyperphotos still bring those videos to life in your hands. Super cool."Lifeprint's new 3x4.5 printer is available exclusively from Apple.com and Apple retail stores for $149.99 starting today. Film is priced at $50 for a pack of 40 and $30 for a pack of 20.

Tag: Apple retail
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Apple Wins EU Trademark Case Against Xiaomi and its 'Mi Pad' Tablet

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:24
Apple Tuesday won the right to prevent Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from registering its "Mi Pad" mobile tablet device as an EU trademark because the name has been deemed too similar to Apple's iPad (via Reuters).

The General Court, the European Union's second highest, ruled that registering Mi Pad as a trademark was not in the public interest, as consumers were likely to be confused by the similarity of the signs.

"The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from the presence of the additional letter 'm' at the beginning of "Mi Pad", is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity between the two signs," the Court said in a statement. The decision comes three years after Xiaomi filed an application with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register Mi Pad as a trademark, which prompted Apple to lodge a complaint. The EUIPO sided with Apple's view, based on the grounds that Mi Pad could be misconstrued as a variation of the iPad trademark.
The court agreed with the EUIPO's decision and said English-speaking consumers were likely to understand the prefix "mi" as meaning "my" and therefore pronounce the "i" of Mi Pad and iPad in the same way.Xiaomi could appeal against the ruling at the EU's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, but so far no statement on today's decision has been given by the Chinese mobile maker.

Xiaomi's expansion into Europe kicked off last month when it began selling its smartphones in Spain. The company has managed to become China's fourth largest mobile vendor by sales and has launched in dozens of other countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine, as part of a $1 billion overseas expansion drive.

Its devices, ranging from smartphones to tablets, have been publicly criticized in the past for heavily borrowing design elements from Apple's iPhones and iPads and adopting marketing materials tactics similar to Apple's.

Tags: European Union, Xiaomi
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Spotify's Annual 'Wrapped' Feature Serves Up Playlists Based on Your 2017 Listening Habits

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:57
Spotify's annually hosted Wrapped website went live today, offering subscribers a look back at their listening habits over the last twelve months.

After the user logs in with their Spotify credentials, the site tells them how many minutes in total they listened for in 2017, including the number of different songs and artists they listened to, and how many genres they explored along the way.


Users then move onto a short quiz where they get to guess their top songs, artists, and genres over the course of the year, before being revealed the results.

The site then provides "Your Top Songs of 2017", collected in one playlist, as well as a playlist titled "Ones That Got Away", which includes a selection of unplayed tracks released in 2017 that are "based on what you love", according to Spotify.

Buttons are presented on the site that let users play the playlists in Spotify, although we had trouble getting the function to work from within the desktop Safari browser (Chrome and Firefox had no such trouble). The site doesn't seem to like Safari on iOS if content blockers are enabled, either.

In addition to the Wrapped feature, Spotify today released its Year in Music lists, which revealed that Ed Sheeran was the service's most streamed artist globally in 2017, racking up 47 million listeners, while his latest album, ÷, was played 3.1 billion times. Meanwhile, Rihanna was the most streamed female artist of the year, with Drake, Taylor Swift, and Coldplay also proving popular choices throughout 2017.

(Via TechCrunch.)

Tag: Spotify
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Apple Releases Apple Watch Sport Bands and iPhone Cases in Three New Colors

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 04:07
Apple today quietly added three new Apple Watch Sport bands to its online store, introducing three unique colors. The new bands are available in Spicy Orange, Dark Teal, and Flash, a bright shade of yellow.

Flash and Spicy Orange match previously available Sport Loop and Woven Nylon bands. The Flash color is available for the Sport Loop, and Spicy Orange is available for both the Sport Loop and the Woven Nylon.


The Spicy Orange shade is similar to the exclusive orange Apple Watch Sport band Apple offers with its Hermès Apple Watch models, which has never been available on a standalone basis.

The new Apple Watch Sport bands, like all Sport Bands, are available for both the 38 and 42mm Apple Watch models and are priced at $49. Sport Bands fit wrists from 130 to 200mm and come in S&M and M&L sizes with both size options included in the purchase price.

Apple's Silicone Cases for the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus are also available in three new colors, including Flash and Spicy Orange to match the new Sport Bands and Cosmos Blue, which is similar to the Dark Teal and a color previously available for the iPhone lineup in leather.


The new iPhone cases are priced at $39 for the X, $35 for the 8, and $39 for the 8 Plus. iPhone 8 and 8 Plus cases also fit the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, iPhone 8, iPhone XBuyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now), iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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SIM-Free iPhone X Now Available From Apple Online Store in the United States

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 01:19
Starting today, Apple is offering a SIM-free version of the iPhone X from its online store in the United States, allowing customers to buy an unlocked iPhone without choosing a carrier.

SIM-free versions of the iPhone X in all capacities list the same ~one week delivery estimate available for other iPhone X devices. SIM-free iPhone X models ordered today will arrive on December 12.



SIM-free iPhone X models will work with any carrier and have full support for both CDMA and GSM networks, much like the Sprint and Verizon versions of the new smartphone. iPhone X models from AT&T and T-Mobile do not support CDMA networks and are not compatible with Sprint or Verizon.

Since iPhone X pre-orders kicked off on October 27, Apple has only allowed customers to buy an iPhone X with an AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon SIM, though models purchased in full are listed as unlocked. At launch, Apple was requiring carrier pre-activation to make an iPhone X purchase, but that requirement was lifted in mid-November.

It's been possible to get the equivalent of a SIM-free unlocked iPhone X ordering a Verizon model and paying full price, but now there is an official SIM-free version.

Now that SIM-free iPhone X models are available, Apple is will also soon allow its employees to purchase the iPhone X through the internal employee site at a discount.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Gmail App for iOS Updated With Support for iPhone X

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 00:15
Google today released a new version of its Gmail app for iOS devices, and while not listed as a new feature, the update introduces support for the iPhone X, Apple's newest flagship device.

The new version of the Gmail app allows it to take full advantage of the larger bezel-free display of the iPhone X, doing away with the large black bars that were previously present at the top and bottom of the app.

Google's Gmail app on an iPhone X before and after today's update.
With the new view, you can see an additional email when viewing your main inbox, and there is more room for reading and composing email messages. It also looks much nicer in general without the ugly black bars.

Today's update also introduces support for adding non-Google email accounts to the Gmail app via IMAP.

Google has been slowly updating its iOS apps with iPhone X support and has thus far updated Gmail, Google Maps, and its productivity apps like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.

Gmail for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tags: Google, Gmail
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Apple Maps Transit Directions Available in Tampa, Florida

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 00:03
Apple recently updated its Maps app to add transit directions and data for Tampa, Florida, according to Apple's iOS 11 Feature Availability website. Transit directions have been available in Miami, Florida since mid-2016, but have not expanded to other areas of the state.

Transit options available in Tampa include the TECO Line Streetcar System, several bus lines, and Amtrak, which connects to other areas in Florida.


Transit directions were first added to Apple Maps in 2015 as part of iOS 9. At launch, transit information was only available in a handful of cities, but Apple has been working hard to expand the feature to additional locations. Transit information is now live in dozens of cities and countries around the world, with a full list available on Apple's iOS 11 Feature Availability website.

Tags: Apple Maps, transit
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Apple Introduces New Apple Watch Recycling Program Offering Gift Cards Up To $175

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 23:31
Apple today updated its Renew and Recycling program for the Apple Watch, offering Apple Store gift cards for older Apple Watch devices that are in good working condition through a partnership with Brightstar.

Apple previously allowed customers to recycle the Apple Watch through its recycling program, but there were no gift cards offered. Gift cards received from recycling products can be put towards new devices purchased from the Apple Store, either at retail locations or online.


Gift cards are available for original Apple Watch models, Apple Watch Series 1 models, and Apple Watch Series 2 models, with Apple offering between $50 and $175 depending on device. For a 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch Series 2 in full working condition, for example, Apple is offering $175, which is the highest payout available.

For an original 42mm Apple Watch Sport model in good working condition, Apple is offering $50, the lowest payout. These prices are lower than what you might get attempting to sell a device on your own, but higher in some cases than the prices available through other trade-in programs.

Working condition means the device powers on, the enclosure is in good condition, there are no obvious signs of liquid damage, the display is in good condition, and the buttons are operational. Apple does allow for normal wear and tear when it comes to the display and the enclosure, however.


Apple is only offering money for Apple Watch devices that meet all of the above restrictions. For devices that are damaged in some way, Apple offers free recycling through Brightstar, but no gift card.

When recycling an Apple Watch through Brightstar, the company will allow you to use your own shipping or it will send a free shipping box. Customers must make sure the Apple Watch is free of all faults, all data has been wiped, and that the battery is fully charged. It does not appear that charging cables nor Apple Watch bands need to be sent with the Apple Watch.

Apple, in partnership with Brightstar, also offers gift cards when recycling a range of older iPhones, iPads, Macs, PCs, and smartphones from third-party manufacturers.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Pay Holdout Target Launches New In-App Mobile Payments System

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 21:59
Target today launched its own payments platform, allowing customers to pay for purchases using a new Wallet feature in the dedicated Target app available on iOS and Android devices.

Target's Wallet feature lets customers pay with their Target REDcard and get Cartwheel discounts and benefits all in one phone scan during checkout.


To use the feature, Target customers need to add a Target REDcard to the Wallet in the Target app. REDcard is Target's store-branded credit card, which offers customers discounts on purchases.

When checking out, Target customers will need to open up the Target app, tap on Wallet, scan coupon barcodes and then scan the wallet barcode to make a purchase.

Target's payments service is a barcode-based system, similar to Walmart's dedicated Walmart Pay option, which uses QR codes. While Walmart Pay supports any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card, Target's Wallet appears to be limited to its own RED cards.

Target claims that its new Wallet feature is up to four times faster than other payment types when checking out."Wallet in the Target app makes checkout easier and faster than ever," said Mike McNamara, Target's chief information and digital officer. "Guests are going to love the convenience of having payment, Cartwheel offers, Weekly Ad coupons and GiftCards all in one place with Wallet."Target, like Walmart, is one of the few remaining major companies that have opted not to adopt Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payments service. As a result, Apple Pay is not available in Target stores, but it can be used in the Target app when making online purchases. Target is also a founding member of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a now defunct consortium of retailers that planned to launch a payment platform called CurrentC to compete with Apple Pay.

CurrentC has been delayed indefinitely, and many MCX members like Best Buy and Rite-Aid have begun accepting Apple Pay.

Earlier this year, Target said it had "no plans" to add support for Apple Pay.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Target
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