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Netflix Subscriber Data Reveals 70% of Global Streaming Ends Up on TVs, 10% on Phones

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:53
Netflix this week gave a briefing to a group of reporters in its Los Gatos, California company headquarters, revealing data about its subscribers' device streaming habits and how these habits might change over the course of a few months (via Recode). While the information isn't particularly shocking, it is one of the rare times that Netflix has provided data and opened up about the streaming habits of its users.

In terms of global Netflix user signups, 40 percent of signups happen on a Mac or PC, but after six months those users have dwindled down to just 15 percent still watching Netflix on their computer. Over time, users understandably migrate to larger screens, with 70 percent of total global Netflix streams ending up on television sets six months after first signing up.

Under TVs and computers, smartphones represent 10 percent of Netflix streaming six months after signing up, followed by tablets at just 5 percent.

Netflix graphs via Recode
While there are some exceptions, this largely stays true across various countries around the globe. In Italy, for example, 36 percent of users are signing up for Netflix on their computer and 54 percent are spending most of their viewing hours on a TV set. Thailand users are predominantly signing up on their smartphones, but viewing habits are nearly equal between TV (35 percent) and computers (29 percent).

The favoritism for TV continues when broken down by genres, although there are slight variations in percentages where device preference varies from genre to genre. Kids shows, for example, are the least popular on computers and the most popular on TVs, while also favoring handheld devices like iPhones and iPads. Dramas have popularity on iPhones and other handheld products, while Documentaries are the third most popular genre to stream on a TV, behind Kids and Family.

CNET had a few additional tidbits of information, stating that about 25 percent of Netflix's total global streaming for any given day happens on mobile networks, as users watch shows or movies on the go. Users also tend to watch movies more often on weekend evenings, while gravitating towards shorter TV show episodes during the hours of the day.

Earlier this week, Netflix said that it will soon add expanded parental controls across devices in the coming months, including the ability for parents to add a PIN lock to individual TV shows and movies. Ratings will also be more prominently displayed across Netflix apps and when content begins playing, so parents are more aware if shows and films are appropriate for their children.

As soon as April, Netflix will be rolling out vertical video clips that provide 30-second snippets of the service's most popular content as a way to provide users with a quick glimpse into what the shows and movies are about.

Tag: Netflix
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Samsung's Galaxy S9 Called 'Worthy Rival' to iPhone X as Reviews Hit

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 16:38
Galaxy S9 and S9+ reviews are officially out, and they're mostly positive. The consensus is that Samsung's latest smartphones are iterative but improved versions of its already-impressive Galaxy S8 devices.

We've linked a handful of the reviews below for anyone interested, but since we're an Apple-centric website, we've chose to specifically highlight some comparisons made to Apple and the iPhone X in particular.

The Wall Street Journal's David Pierce believes that Samsung and the Galaxy S9 once again "set the bar for smartphone design":Nobody makes better-looking phones than Samsung. Last year's Galaxy S8 was a particular gem of a device, glassy and stark with that "infinity display" stretching almost entirely across the front. It was thoughtfully designed on a level only Apple used to be able to achieve. As a result, it flew off shelves.

So why change anything? Nine versions in, Samsung feels it has landed on the right design for its Galaxy S phones. A company spokeswoman compared Samsung's approach to the way a luxury car maker might build new models: Nip and tuck, but dont change what people already love.CNBC's Todd Haselton described the Galaxy S9 as "a worthy rival to the iPhone X" in his review. However, he said Samsung still lacks a Galaxy S smartphone that "pushes the boundaries a bit more" like the iPhone X.I don't normally compare Android phones with the iPhone because the product ecosystems are so different […] There's no question the Galaxy S9 is a worthy Android rival to the iPhone X, with a great screen, camera, wireless charging and more. If you're buying an Android phone and don't like Apple products for whatever reason, this is a safe bet.This brings up a larger point: Samsung's Galaxy S9 feels a lot like the move from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8. It's an upgrade, but not really a huge bump in a lot of ways. Samsung needs something in the Galaxy S range that pushes the boundaries a bit more, like the iPhone X does in Apple's lineup.Samsung finally included stereo speakers on the Galaxy S9, and Haselton believes they sound "noticeably better" than those on the iPhone X.

The Verge's Dan Seifert said Samsung's new "AR Emoji" feature is "built just to compete with Apple" and "not very good":There are a couple issues with Samsung's AR Emoji. First, Samsung isn't using any special tech to capture your face or movements, it's just relying on the front or rear camera, so tracking is bad. Second, the characters it creates are on the wrong side of creepy, and everyone I've tested it with has been completely turned off with the results. The animal characters are similarly weird. It's definitely something that Samsung built just to compete with Apple, and it's not very good.Quartz's Mike Murphy said what irks him most about the iPhone X is that it can only be unlocked with Face ID or a passcode, whereas the Galaxy S9 has a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, facial recognition, or a passcode.

However, he adds that the Galaxy S9's iris scanner and facial recognition system are both slower than Face ID on the iPhone X.While it's nice that there are multiple ways to unlock the S9, the iris and face scanners aren't as quick as the iPhone X. The iris scanner requires you to hold the phone pretty much at eye level and takes a few moments to scan, whereas Apple's Face ID technology seems to work almost instantaneously, at a range of angles.Mashable's Raymond Wong touted the Galaxy S9 camera's variable aperture, but he said low-light photos aren't necessarily better than those shot with an iPhone X or Google Pixel 2. Most reviews agree it is a matter of personal preference.Yes, the camera is smart enough to identify the amount of light in a scene and switch to the suitable aperture, but the photos don't stomp all over the iPhone X's or Pixel 2's shots, even in low light scenarios.

The iPhone X still takes the prize for color accuracy. The S9 camera still over-saturates and over-processes photos. And the Pixel 2 XL is still the sharpness and low-light champion.More ReviewsGalaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ can be pre-ordered on Samsung's website for $720 and $840 respectively. The smartphones launch March 16.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTags: Samsung, reviews, Galaxy S9Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple and Tim Cook Celebrate International Women's Day

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 15:11
Today is International Women's Day, which recognizes the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Apple is celebrating the day by highlighting a selection of songs, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts created by, about, or inspired by women across Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks, as it did last year. Look for featured banners in the iTunes Store or tap on the Browse section in Apple Music.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also tweeted a quote from Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, as mentioned in her autobiography I Am Malala. Yousafzai became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of 17 for her struggle against the suppression of young people's right to an education.

“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” — Malala
Thank you to all of the inspiring women I work with at Apple, and to every woman who fights for equality. #InternationalWomensDay

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 8, 2018
Apple has also been hosting Today at Apple sessions in Singapore in celebration of women who inspire the community, and at its Marché Saint-Germain store in France tonight, the company will be hosting a recruiting event, billed as an evening of inspiration, participation, and celebration.

In addition, there's an Activity Challenge that tasks Apple Watch users with doubling their Move ring today in return for a set of still and animated stickers that can be sent to friends and family members via iMessage.

Tag: International Women's Day
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August Announces Doorbell Cam Owners Now Have 24 Hours of Free Video Storage

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 14:42
Smart lock and doorbell maker August, which was acquired by Assa Abloy last October, today announced that all August Doorbell Cam Pro and Doorbell Cam owners will now have access to 24 hours of free video storage under a new subscription plan. Called the "Basic August Video Recording" subscription, users will be able to replay any moment they might have missed from the past 24 hours in the connected iOS August app.

Under the new Basic plan, users will also get access to saved clips of all activity captured by the Doorbell Cam, and be able to download and share saved videos. This plan will be included for free with the purchase of August's Doorbell Cam devices.

If users need more video storage, the Premium Video Recording plan has up to 30 days of storage for $4.99/month or $49.99/year. More information on the distinction between the plans can be found on
“We believe video recording is such an important feature for video doorbells that we are adding 24 hours of video recording, for free, with both of our Doorbell Cams,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home. “Now if you miss a motion notification or experience a porch pirate walking off with a package from your doorstep, you can access and review the stored video from the August app.” The August Doorbell Cam Pro, which launched in October, integrates with the company's HomeKit-compatible Smart Lock Pro so that users can verify who is at their front door and allow them entry into their house, all from an iPhone. At CES in January, August also announced an expansion of its in-home delivery service August Access, competing in the same market with Amazon Key.

Today's reveal of a new free video storage tier for August Doorbell Cam users appears to be a move to remain competitive in the connected doorbell market. Ring, a similar video doorbell and camera company that was acquired by Amazon recently, offers a few features for free to its users, like smartphone notifications, live-streaming video, and two-way audio. However, without a Ring Video Recording plan (starting at $3/month, $30/year per device) users who miss alerts or live events can not review video footage.

Tag: August
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Nintendo Celebrating Mario Day With 50% Price Drop on 'Super Mario Run' in iOS App Store

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 13:13
This Saturday, March 10 is "Mario Day," a day when Nintendo celebrates its mascot Mario "and his many awesome fans" around the world. Although the full plan for the company's celebrations on Saturday have not yet been revealed, one part has and it focuses on the iPhone and Android game Super Mario Run (via TouchArcade).

On March 10, Nintendo will discount Super Mario Run's $9.99 in-app purchase that unlocks the full game down to $4.99, and that 50 percent discount will run for two weeks, through March 25. Nintendo has created a detailed table that shows the special discount price of Super Mario Run on the App Store and Google Play Store in every country of availability, which you can see on its website.

The last IAP discount for Super Mario Run came in September 2017, alongside what Nintendo called the "biggest update ever," introducing a new gameplay mode called Remix 10, new character Princess Daisy, new world, and more. It's unclear if the game will be getting more content this weekend, like it did last September, alongside the price drop.

For Mario Day last year, Nintendo celebrated in a variety of ways, including working with nonprofit Starlight Children's Foundation to provide hospitalized children with brightly colored hospital gowns featuring the company's well-known characters. There were also Mario-themed frames on Facebook, games on sale across Nintendo console platforms, and major events at PAX East in Boston and the Kids' Choice Awards on Nickelodeon.

You can download and play the first few levels of Super Mario Run for free on the iOS App Store [Direct Link], and the discounted $4.99 in-app purchase should begin appearing on Saturday.

Tags: Nintendo, Super Mario Run
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Netflix to Debut New Vertical Preview Feature on Mobile Next Month

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 12:27
Netflix is set to introduce a new movie and show preview mode to its iOS app next month (via Variety). Announced on Wednesday at the company's Lab Days press event in California, the upcoming feature will mean Netflix subscribers can watch 30-second previews displayed as vertical video on mobile devices.

The previews will appear as round icons on the home screen below a carousel showcasing the latest Netflix content available. Users tap on the icons to watch the previews and can swipe across them to see more. Netflix will debut up to 75 of its custom-crop previews for both original and licensed content when the feature goes live in April.

A similar preview feature has been part of Netflix's TV interface for a few years now, but this will be the first time the company has used a vertical viewing format within its mobile apps. Some subscribers who signed up to the "Test Participation" feature in their account settings may already see the previews in the iPhone app.

Netflix said approximately 20 percent of all viewing happens on a mobile device, which is why the company has been working on several improvements to its mobile offering, including the recent launch of mobile downloads and codec optimization to enable higher-resolution viewing over as little as 200kbps bandwidth.

Tag: Netflix
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How to Control and Tweak a True Tone Display on iPhone and iPad

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 04:21
Last year, Apple brought a display feature called True Tone to its flagship iPhone line-up for the first time, following the technology's debut in 2016 with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

True Tone works by adjusting the color temperature of a device's screen to match the surrounding ambient light, so that images on the display appear more natural and are less apt to contribute to eyestrain.

If you stand in a dimly lit room illuminated by a table lamp, for instance, a True Tone display appears warmer and yellower, much like a piece of paper would in the same light. Stand outside on an overcast day, however, and the same display looks cooler and bluer, as would the same piece of paper.

In this article, we'll run through how to quickly enable or disable True Tone from within Control Center as well as via the Settings app. We'll also explain how to tweak your device's color settings to help acclimatize you to True Tone's warmer extremes, which some users find too intense under certain conditions.

Apple Devices With True Tone Displays
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro (9.7-inch)

How to Control True Tone From iOS Settings
  1. Launch the Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Tap Display & Brightness.
  3. Toggle the True Tone switch on or off.
How to Control True Tone From Control Center
  1. Launch the Control Center on your iOS device in the following manner: On iPad, double-tap the Home button; on iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; or on iPhone X, swipe down from the upper right "ear".
  2. Depending on your device, either firmly press (for 3D Touch) or long press on the Brightness slider.
  3. Tap the True Tone button to turn it on or off.
How to Cool the Warm End of the True Tone Spectrum
Some users dislike True Tone because under certain conditions it can make the screen seem too warm or yellow to them. If that sounds like your experience, it's probably worth trying Night Shift set at a low color temperature level instead (Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift). But if you want to give True Tone one more go, this time try adjusting the display tint to make it look more natural under low light conditions.
  1. Enable True Tone on your iOS device using one of the methods described above.
  2. Launch the Settings app.
  3. Tap General.
  4. Tap Accessibility.
  5. Tap Display Accommodations.
  6. Switch on the Color Filters toggle.

  7. Tap Color Tint to check it.
  8. Drag the Intensity and Hue sliders all the way to the right.
  9. Now, gradually drag the Hue slider leftwards so that the display turns a purplish color (just past red and towards blue).
  10. Now drag the Intensity slider all the way to the left again. With a little luck, you have reduced the warmer screen tone with a more natural look that's to your liking. If it still doesn't look right, carry out the previous two steps and try leaving the Hue slider at a slightly deeper purple tint (closer to blue than red).
Some will argue that messing with Color Filters defeats the purpose of True Tone. But tweaking the screen tint in this way can help accustom you to True Tone's warmer cast if you gradually dial down the color adjustment over time.

Just bear in mind that it may cause your True Tone display to look overly blue in an environment that normally elicits a bluish cast. Also, remember that you'll need to turn off Color Filters separately if you end up disabling True Tone, otherwise your screen will almost certainly look off color.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPhone 8, iOS 11, iPhone XTag: True Tone displayBuyer's Guide: 10.5" iPad Pro (Neutral), 12.9" iPad Pro (Neutral), iPhone 8 (Neutral), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases 2018 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 01:54
Apple today released its 2018 Supplier Responsibility Report, which provides a look into Code of Conduct violations in the Apple supply chain and outlines progress made with new programs promoting health and education awareness.

Apple provides supplier responsibility progress reports on an annual basis in an effort to be transparent about the steps it takes to improve the lives of the employees who manufacture the wide range of Apple products available to consumers.

Apple conducted 756 audits across 30 countries in 2017 (up from 705 last year), and it says that its efforts to raise standards are having a "dramatic impact." The number of low-performing facilities (judged on a point system based on compliance with Apple's Code of Conduct) decreased to one percent during the year, and Apple saw a 35 percent increase in the number of high performers. Overall, Apple suppliers earned an average Labor and Human rights score of 86 out of 100.

Apple did, however, uncover 44 core violations at its supplier facilities, including three bonded-labor violations, 38 working hours falsifications violations, one access restriction violation, and two cases of underage labor. In one incident, Apple says 700 workers in the Philippines paid out a total of $1 million in recruitment fees for factory jobs, which Apple made the supplier pay back. These violations have increased from last year, and Apple says this is because it brought on several new suppliers during the year.

Last year, Apple launched a health awareness program for women at supplier facilities in India and China, which offers access to services and education on self-examination for early cancer detection, nutrition, personal care, and maternal health. Apple says that this program, along with others promoting education and worker rights, has been highly successful."We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that almost 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years. We're going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers," said Jeff Williams, Apple's COO. "A new preventive health care curriculum is encouraging women to focus on their personal health, and hopefully share that knowledge with their families and communities. Our goal is to reach 1 million women by 2020. We know our work is never done and we're committed to raising the bar every year across our supply chain."Apple also worked with Beijing Normal University and some of its larger suppliers to introduce a Factory Line Leader Program that offers practical vocational skills, guaranteed internships, and long-term full-time employment opportunities to workers in an effort to recruit more factory line leaders.

Apple says that over the course of the last 10 years, more than 2.5 million supplier employees have taken education classes under its Supplier Employee Education and Development program, and over 12,000 have enrolled for a degree.

As of 2017, all of Apple's final assembly sites around the world have been certified as zero waste to landfill, and suppliers working with Apple introduced energy efficiency improvements that reduced more than on 320,000 annualized metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions during the year.

Additional details about Apple's supply chain and environmental efforts can be read in the full 2018 Supplier Responsibility Report.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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California to Introduce 'Right to Repair' Bill Requiring Smartphone Manufacturers to Offer Repair Info and Parts

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 01:00
California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops.

California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act. Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.

iPhone X image via iFixit"The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said.Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste said smartphone manufacturers and home appliance makers are "profiting at the expense of our environment and our pocketbooks" while Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new bill is "critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair," which will lead to "better service and lower prices."

In addition to California, 17 other states have already introduced similar Right to Repair legislation, including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Several states began introducing Right to Repair legislation early last year, and the Right to Repair movement has continued on since then, spurred by Apple's iPhone throttling controversy.

Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies. In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a "mecca for bad actors" making it "easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska." Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety.

Right to Repair bills are heavily endorsed by repair outlets like iFixit, independent repair shops, and consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In California specifically, the Right to Repair bill is particularly interesting because as Motherboard points out, there are strong repairability laws already in place. California Civil Code Section 1793.03 states that companies must offer parts for repair for at least seven years after a product is released, which is why on Apple's vintage and obsolete products list, it lists California as the sole state where consumers can continue to get repairs on vintage products.

Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device's warranty.

Apple's current flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, earned a repairability score of 6 from repair site iFixit. Repairs on the device require a special Apple-specific screw driver, delicate cables are often in the way and are difficult to replace, and Apple's waterproofing makes repairs complicated. Other Apple products, like MacBooks, have much lower repairability scores.

Tag: Right to Repair
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Apple-Owned Workflow App Updated With New 'Mask Image' Action

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 23:25
Workflow, the automation app that Apple acquired back in March of 2017, was today updated to version 1.7.8, introducing a new Mask Image action, and a long list of other bug fixes and improvements.

As MacStories points out, the Mask Image action added in today's update is a feature Workflow users have been wanting for several years. The new action, which applies a mask to an image and cuts it into any desired shape, is designed to make it easier to simplify image editing workflows that require image masking features.

By default, the masking feature offers rounded rectangle, ellipse, and icon masking options, but custom masks can also be used.

The new Workflow update also introduces new fields for the Add Things To-Do action, it makes items reorderable in the dictionary action, and it adds support for opening workflows to the URL scheme. Extracting text from PDFs has also been improved, as has drag and drop handling. Multiple bug fixes are included, as outlined before:
  • Workflow names are now case-insensitive

  • Fixed a crash when running the Edit Image action

  • Fixed Todoist and Slack authentication when using a Google account

  • Fixed an issue where icons from Search App Store and Get My Workflows were saved as JPEG, not PNG

  • Fixed an issue where the Encode Media action may not delete temporary files properly when encoding to MP3

  • Fixed an issue where the Custom X-Success URL parameter of the Open X-Callback-URL action did not work

  • Fixed an issue where variables could not be added to arrays in the Dictionary action

  • Fixed an issue where booleans could not be added to dictionaries inside dictionaries in the Dictionary action

  • Fixed an issue where a duplicate workflow could appear after searching for a workflow

  • Fixed an issue where Workflow could crash when deleting many workflows at once

  • Fixed an issue where double-tapping a variable button cleared the variable

  • Fixed an issue where the Tweet and Post on Facebook actions did not work from the Today Widget or Apple Watch

  • Fixed an issue where passing the output of Scan QR Code to Open URL did not work properly

  • Fixed an issue where workflows could not be edited after being opened via 3D Touch

  • Performance improvements to workflow running

  • VoiceOver improvements

  • Other bug fixes and minor additions
Since purchasing Workflow in March of 2017, Apple has continued to provide regular updates to the Workflow app, allaying fears that it would be discontinued and abandoned.

The last update to the app, introduced a long list of bug fixes for third-party app actions, was released in November of 2017.

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

Tag: Workflow
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FaceTime Competitor Google Duo Gains New Video Messages Feature

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 23:07
Google Duo, Google's cross-platform FaceTime-style video calling app, was today updated with a new video messages feature that's designed to allow users to leave video voicemails whenever someone doesn't pick up a call.

Google says that if a person you're calling declines or misses your call, you can record up to 30 seconds of video (or voice) to send to the person. Video messages can be played in the Duo app by tapping on the sender's icon, and a quick call back can be done through the "Call now" button available after watching a video message.

All video messages will disappear one day after they were first watched, but can be saved to the iPhone's camera roll if so desired.Sometimes, your mom isn't free for a video call at the moment you're trying to show off your culinary masterpiece. The same goes when you're trying to catch your best friend to rave about your favorite basketball team's recent win. But even if they miss your call, you shouldn't lose the opportunity to show them what you were calling about. Beginning today on Google Duo, you can leave a video message when the person you're calling can't pick up.First introduced in August of 2016, Google Duo works on both iOS and Android devices. Users sign up with a phone number and can then place calls to any contacts who also have the Duo app installed. Google Duo, like Google Hangouts, another Google video app with a more enterprise focus, has been fairly popular since it launched.

Duo is consistently within the top 20 free apps in the Social Networking section of the U.S. App Store, and with the new release, it's sitting at the number 15 spot.

Video messaging is available today in the Google Duo apps for Android and iOS. [Direct Link]

Tags: Google, Duo
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Quick Takes: Jurassic World Gets New Game, UnitedHealthcare Offers Apple Watch to Members, and More

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 22:41
In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Wednesday, March 7
Apple Watch soon available through UnitedHealthcare Motion: Apple Watch will be integrated into the wellness program, which provides participants with an eligible plan access to activity trackers that can enable them to earn up to $1,000 in incentives per year by meeting certain daily walking goals.

Select program participants will have access to an Apple Watch starting in July, with full availability later this year. The cost of shipping and taxes on the Apple Watch is due upfront, and then participants can apply their earnings towards paying off the cost of the device in as little as six months.UnitedHealthcare Motion is available to employers with self-funded and fully insured health plans nationwide. The program enables employees to earn up to $4 per day in financial incentives based on achieving F.I.T. goals:

Frequency: complete 500 steps within seven minutes six times per day, at least an hour apart;
Intensity: complete 3,000 steps within 30 minutes; and
Tenacity: complete 10,000 total steps each day.Commentary: UnitedHealthcare should benefit from offering this program in the long-run by encouraging its customers to live more active lifestyles, ideally resulting in fewer health insurance claims being filed. Similar programs are offered by life and health insurance providers John Hancock and Vitality.

Universal announces Jurassic World Alive: The augmented reality game enables players to collect a variety of dinosaurs while exploring their own neighborhoods and cities around the world. Players discover dinosaurs by locating them on a map and deploying an in-game drone to collect DNA samples.

Commentary: Jurassic World Alive sounds a whole lot like Pokémon GO. The game is intended to promote the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which debuts in theaters across North America on June 22. Pre-register here.

Ireland chooses Bank of New York Mellon to manage Apple's escrow fund: The European Commission ruled in August 2016 that Apple received illegal state aid from Ireland, and ordered the country to collect 15 billion euros (currently $18.6 billion) in back taxes from the iPhone maker.

Commentary: The Bank of New York Mellon will hold the funds while Apple and Ireland both appeal the decision before the European General Court. Apple expects the amount will be reported as restricted cash on its balance sheet.

Macintosh Portrait Display released on this day in 1989: The 15-inch display was released for $1,099 alongside the Macintosh IIcx. The grayscale monitor featured a vertical orientation designed to show full pages on a single screen, making it useful for desktop publishing.

Commentary: Apple discontinued the Macintosh Portrait Display in late 1992, but tech specs are still available on its website for those who want to take a trip down memory lane. Nowadays, we wait for Apple to deliver on its promise of a new pro display to succeed the nearly seven year old Thunderbolt Display.

For more Apple news and rumors coverage, visit our Front Page, Mac Blog, and iOS Blog. Also visit our forums to join in the discussion.

Tag: Quick Takes
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Apple Store Now Offering Exclusive Insta360 ONE Camera Bundle

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:40
Insta360, a company that offers a 360 degree camera, today announced the launch of an exclusive Insta360 ONE Camera Bundle that's available only from the Apple Store.

The bundle, priced at $329.95, includes an Insta360 ONE camera, a selfie stick, a case, a mini tripod, a micro SD card, and a new bullet-time handle.

Designed to attach to an iPhone's Lightning port or connect to an iPhone using Bluetooth, the Insta360 ONE Camera allows users to shoot and livestream 360 degree video and capture 360 degree photos.

Using a FreeCapture mode, the camera lets you shoot footage in 360 degrees and then go back and edit to a traditional 1080p format, so you can shoot an entire scene and then go back later to pick out what you want to highlight.

With the bullet-time handle, the Insta360 ONE camera can orbit a scene while suspended in mid-air, recording action in slow motion, hence the bullet-time name.

The new Insta360 ONE Camera Bundle is available from the Apple online store starting today, and it should be in retail stores later this week.

Tag: Apple retail
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Amazon Working on a Fix for Alexa Devices Scaring Users With Creepy Laughter

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 20:16
For the past couple of weeks, speakers equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice-based personal assistant have been randomly laughing, scaring and creeping out speaker owners who have affected devices.

Complaints have been surfacing on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms over the course of the last few weeks, but the issue started receiving widespread attention this week after it was shared on BuzzFeed. From Reddit:A friend of mine at work just a couple of days ago told me this very thing happened at his moms house. He was face timing with his her(he jokes she is jealous of Alexa, his dad just loves it) and out of the blue in the background Alexa started to laugh, he even heard it on his end. Said it was super creepy. I'm waiting the have the holy hell scared out of me one quiet evening...or even worse, awakened by the one a foot from my head while I'm sleeping.Some audio examples of the Alexa laugh, with a humorous skit from Jimmy Kimmel included
In a statement provided to The Verge this morning, Amazon said that it is aware that some Alexa-enabled devices are randomly laughing and a fix is in the works. "We're aware of this and working to fix it," Amazon said.

So Alexa decided to laugh randomly while I was in the kitchen. Freaked @SnootyJuicer and I out. I thought a kid was laughing behind me.

— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
Customers who have an Alexa-enabled device and are creeped out by the random and unprompted laughs may want to turn off their speakers until Amazon is able to locate the issue and push out a fix.

Tags: Amazon, Amazon Echo, Alexa
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Google Debuts 'Android P' With Support for iPhone X-Style Notches

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 18:50
Google today announced a new Android update, Android P, which introduces support for display notches built into Android devices that mimic the design of the iPhone X.

According to Google, Android P offers support for "the latest edge-to-edge screens with display cutout for camera and speaker," with a new "DisplayCutout" class for outlining the size and shape of a notch on an Android device.

Several new Android devices feature an edge-to-edge display with an included notch much like the iPhone X. The Leagoo S9, for example, is a $150 iPhone X clone that features slim side bezels and a front notch, with a design that looks very similar to the iPhone X.

Leagoo S9
The recently announced Asus ZenFone 5 also adopts a design that uses a notch, and when it was unveiled, Asus bragged that its notch is 26 percent smaller than the notch on the iPhone X.

Asus ZenFone 5
Other clone devices have surfaced from Chinese vendors, such as the Boway "Notch Series," and with official Android support for notch-style designs, we'll likely see more Android smartphones that aim to emulate the iPhone X. Even more well-known Android smartphone vendors are embracing the notch, with LG's upcoming G7 said to include a notched design.

Renders of the upcoming LG G7 via Techno Buffalo
Apple implemented a notched design in the iPhone X in an effort to maximize the available display area. The notch houses the TrueDepth camera system, which includes several components necessary for Face ID. Android companies copying Apple's design aren't using the notch in the same way, with currently available models offering fingerprint scanners rather than facial recognition.

In addition to notch support, Android P includes several other notable new features, such as indoor positioning APIs, enhanced notifications, multi-camera support, HEIF image support, design tweaks and changes, restricted access to the mic, camera, and other hardware, and more.

Android P is available for developers starting today, with a public release to come in the future following beta testing. Google is warning that Android P is in the early stages of development and should not be installed on a primary device.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: AndroidBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 51 With Bug Fixes and Feature Improvements

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:56
Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced two years ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 51 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Accessibility, Security, Loading, Service Workers, Rendering, Styles, and Web Inspector.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

Tag: Safari Technology Preview
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Smart Speaker Survey States iPhone Owners 22 Percent More Likely to Buy Speakers, Favor Amazon Over Google

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:34
In January, surveyed 1,057 Americans over the age of 18 regarding their ownership or interest in smart speakers, and today the researchers have published their final report with the results. While the data precedes Apple's entry into the market with HomePod in February, it does include a few points of data regarding iPhone/iOS users and their interest in smart speakers, prevalent long before rumblings about Apple's HomePod began.

Specifically, the Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report states that iPhone owners are 22 percent more likely to own a smart speaker compared to non-Apple smartphone owners. Of the smart speakers on the market besides HomePod, iPhone users are 30 percent less likely to own a Google Home and favor devices like Amazon Echo.

Graphs via
In fact, argued that Apple and Amazon are likely companions in "multi-manufacturer households," where HomePod is purchased as a "luxury item for music listening" and Echo is used for more "utilitarian tasks."
iOS users are attractive consumers and far more likely to own a smart speaker overall, but far less likely to own a Google device. However, the data also suggests that Google is at less risk of losing share to Apple HomePod than Amazon. Apple and Amazon may be the focus of multi-manufacturer households where HomePod is a luxury item for music listening in living spaces while Echo products get placed in the kitchen and bedrooms for utilitarian tasks.

In addition, iPhone owners are a good fit for Amazon because they are far more likely to have made a purchase by voice and more likely the 30,000 Alexa skills offered to Echo users. The favoritism shown by Apple owners to Alexa devices may also appeal to developers. Historically, iPhone app users have been far more valuable to developers on a revenue basis than Android users. The report has many other interesting tidbits of information, stating that about 19.7 percent of adults in the United States use smart speakers, while 47.3 million have access to one of these devices. This means that they live in a home with a smart speaker, but may not be the primary owner -- a necessary distinction for the survey as smart speakers are "communal devices" used by entire households, unlike a smartphone with one user.

Many consumers own an average of 1.8 smart speakers, most place them in their living room (45.9 percent of owners) or kitchen (41.4 percent), and Amazon remains the dominant player in the market with a 3.5 times larger install base than Google. All of this growth surprised many analysts, particularly compared to growth rates of other product categories.
How does the march to nearly 50 million smart speaker consumers in 3 years compared to growth rates of other communications channels? Television took 13 years, the internet four years, and Facebook just two years. Smart speakers are devices but are growing almost as quickly as social media apps." Among the most popular use cases, questions, music, and weather commands remain at the top. In total, the researchers said that this data provides the best indication that smart speakers are "being incorporated into everyday lives of consumers," with 63 percent using them daily and 77 percent at least weekly.

For those who don't own a smart speaker, 37.9 percent stated disinterest as their reason, 21.2 percent said they get enough similar features from their smartphone, 16 percent referenced privacy concerns, 11.8 percent said they plan to purchase soon, 8.8 percent claimed they were too expensive, and 4.2 referenced other reasons. For future owners, 9.8 percent expect to make a purchase in 2018, 26 percent of which said they will be purchasing Apple's HomePod.

Related Roundup: HomePodTags: Amazon Echo, Google HomeBuyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
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iPad Pro With Face ID Will 'Likely' Debut at WWDC 2018 in Early June

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:18
Apple's rumored iPad Pro with Face ID will likely be released in the second quarter of 2018, according to Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang.

iPad Pro with Face ID mockups via Ben Geskin and Carlos Guerra
If accurate, the timeframe suggests Apple will unveil the new iPad Pro models at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will likely take place June 4-8 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Apple similarly unveiled its current iPad Pro lineup at WWDC last year.

Zhang expects the revamped iPad Pro to have slimmer bezels and no home button, in line with the iPhone X. The revamped design will likely be featured on both the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, although his research note didn't specify.

Apple's plans to release an iPad Pro with Face ID were first revealed by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the refresh would occur in 2018. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was a bit more specific, noting the iPad Pro with Face ID would debut "a little more than a year" after the current models.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro and second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro launched in June 2017, so it's not entirely clear if "a little more than a year" meant WWDC 2018 or Apple's annual September event where it introduces new iPhones.

The new iPad Pro models will likely retain LCDs instead of OLED displays due to supply, cost, and technological constraints. It's unclear if the tablets will have a notch for the TrueDepth sensor housing, or if the device will have uniformly slim bezels on all four sides with enough room for the components.

A supply chain report out of China recently claimed the new iPad Pro models will be faster thanks to an octa-core A11X Bionic chip with three high-performance "Monsoon" cores and five energy-efficient "Mistral" cores.

There's no word on potential pricing yet, but the new iPad Pro lineup will likely cost more than the current 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, which start at $649 and $799 respectively in the United States. Since the new models won't have OLED displays, however, the price increase might not be substantial.

Apple is also rumored to release a new 9.7-inch iPad for $259 in March, while the fate of the iPad mini remains uncertain.

Related Roundup: iPad ProTag: Rosenblatt SecuritiesBuyer's Guide: 10.5" iPad Pro (Neutral), 12.9" iPad Pro (Neutral)
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Chinese Report Says $150-$200 HomePod and $799-$899 MacBook Air to Launch This Year

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:00
Apple will launch lower-priced versions of four products this year, including an iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air, and HomePod, according to a translated report from Taiwan's Economic Daily News via Japanese blog Mac Otakara.

We've already heard rumors about more affordable iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air models, but this is the first word of a supposedly lower-priced HomePod being on Apple's roadmap. The speaker is forecasted to launch in the second half of 2018 for between $150 and $200 in the United States.

At $349, the current HomePod is considerably more expensive than the Amazon Echo and Google Home for $99 and $129 or less respectively. But the HomePod also has significantly better sound quality than its smart assistant rivals, in line with Apple positioning it as a high-quality speaker first and foremost.

A lower-priced HomePod would certainly be more competitive with the Echo and Google Home, but it's unclear if that would come at the expense of audio quality. One possibility is that Apple will release a smaller HomePod mini that still delivers premium sound relative to other portable speakers in that category.

Here's the full breakdown of the Economic Daily News report, based on what we could gather from a translated version:
  • 9.7-inch iPad for $259: This lines up with a DigiTimes supply chain report from last December that said Apple is considering releasing a cheaper 9.7-inch iPad for $259 in the second quarter of 2018. The current 9.7-inch iPad was released in March 2017 for $349.

  • 6.1-inch iPhone for $649 to $749: This lines up with a prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who expects Apple to launch a mid-range 6.1-inch iPhone with Face ID, but with some design compromises like an LCD rather than OLED display to achieve the lower price point.

  • MacBook Air for $799 to $899: This lines up with another prediction from Kuo, who said Apple will launch a more affordable MacBook Air in the second quarter of 2018. The estimated price range comes from WitsView researcher Yubin Qiu. The current MacBook Air starts at $999.

  • HomePod for $150 to $200: Today's report cites industry sources who expect a more affordable HomePod to launch in the second half of 2018. It's hard to decipher details from the loosely translated report, but Mac Otakara's coverage seems to suggest it will be a smaller speaker.
It's worth noting that these prices are estimates, as it's hard to envision Apple sharing pricing information with its supply chain partners.

Of the four products, the new iPad and MacBook Air are most likely to debut first. Apple is rumored to unveil new devices later this month, but it's unclear if the announcements will be made via press release or at a media event. If there is a keynote planned, invites would certainly have to go out soon.

The new 6.1-inch iPhone should debut in September alongside a new iPhone X and so-called iPhone X Plus, and the lower-priced HomePod could certainly be introduced at the same event. The current HomePod launched in early February.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, HomePodTag: udn.comBuyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Caution), HomePod (Buy Now)
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PayPal on eBay Offering $100 iTunes Gift Cards for $85 as iTunes Discounts 4K Movies

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 14:58
About one month after PayPal's previous 15 percent discount on iTunes cards, the company has launched its latest sale for those who have been waiting on a deal to get some free iTunes credit. Like previous discounts, PayPal on its Digital Gifts eBay storefront is offering $100 App Store and iTunes gift cards for $85. While the sale lasts, anyone with a PayPal account can take advantage of the deal, and you should receive the code for the iTunes credit within a few hours after the purchase.

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.

As usual with email delivery sales on iTunes cards, you can either enter your own email address and send the code to yourself, or enter the email of a friend or family member to send it as a gift. The credit will only be valid on purchases made on the United States App and iTunes stores, however.

Coinciding with the new gift card offer, iTunes has some notable discounts on its Movies storefront that might be of interest to users getting iTunes credit today. The sale prices include a collection of Disney films for $14.99 each, as well as some recent 4K releases for as low as $9.99. We've rounded them up below:

Disney Movies on Sale

4K Movies on Sale

For more details on sales happening this week, check out our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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