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Apple Prepping Fix for Message Bug that Crashes iPhones

Friday, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple says it has a patch in the works that will counter a bug causing iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and even Macs to crash. The bug occurs when people receive a message with certain Indian language characters in apps including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. According to The Verge, Apple will push the patch "soon." This means the bug will be fixed through a minor update (iOS 11.2.x) rather than the larger iOS 11.3 update expected later this spring. Apple also plans to issue patches for macOS and watchOS to resolve the issue on those devices.


Apple Puts Its Foot Down, Will Require Apps Support iPhone X

Thursday, 4:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 4:55 PM

Apple today told developers that soon all new apps submitted to the iTunes App Store must support the screen of the latest iPhone. "Starting April 2018, all new iOS apps submitted to the App Store must be built with the iOS 11 SDK, included in Xcode 9 or later," said Apple in an email to developers. "All new apps for iPhone, including universal apps, must support the Super Retina display of iPhone X." The iPhone X display swaps the 16:9 aspect ratio found on the iPhone 6, 7, and 8 for a 2:1 aspect ratio with a notch at the top. It also boosts the resolution beyond full HD. Apps that haven't yet been updated for the iPhone X often have black bars at the top and bottom, which look unsightly. Developers can find the iOS 11 SDK on Apple's developer web site.


YouTube TV Gains More Channels, But Price Goes Up

Wednesday, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Subscribers to Google's YouTube TV service now have access to more content in more places for more dollars per month. The live TV and video service is adding a number of Turner-owned stations to its lineup, including Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies. Sports content from NBA TV and MLB Network will follow soon. The service launched with content from 50 channels. There are still glaring omission, particularly with respect to content for children, such as Nickelodeon. Google didn't say what the full new channel lineup is. YouTube TV has expanded is geographical reach to the top 100 markets around the country. Some of the most recent additions include Burlington, Champaign, Charleston, Columbia, Dayton, El Paso, Harlingen, Honolulu, Lexington, Mobile, Petersburg, Plattsburgh, Richmond, Scranton, Springfield, Syracuse, Wichita, and Wilkes-Barre. These content and market expansions come at a cost. Google plans to raise the price from $35 per month to $40 per month beginning March 15. Customers who sign up before then will be grandfathered in at the lower price. YouTube TV is available on Android and iOS phones and tablets, as well as the Apple TV and Roku players. Subscribers have access to live television, six sub-accounts, and unlimited DVR recordings.


U.S. Intel Directors Warn Against Using Huawei, ZTE Phones

Wednesday, 8:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intelligence agency leaders have suggested that U.S. consumers not buy phones from Huawei or ZTE, according to a report from CNBC. The six intelligence chiefs, including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the director of national intelligence made the remarks at a recent security hearing. "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks," said FBI Director Chris Wray. All six intel heads said plainly they don't think American citizens should use phones or other products from Huawei and ZTE. Huawei recently saw plans to sell its flagship Mate 10 Pro device via AT&T and Verizon Wireless thwarted at the last moment by pressure from the U.S. government. Lawmakers in the House and the Senate have since introduced bills that would make it illegal for the government to use any equipment from Huawei or ZTE. Huawei said it is "aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor." ZTE didn't provide a response. Nearly all mobile devices, including Apple iPhones, are made in China.


Verizon to Start Locking Its Phones Again to Fight Thieves

Feb 12, 2018, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless plans to lock its handsets in order to cut down on theft. Verizon claims its unlocked phones are a big target, often stolen when in transit to Verizon stores or to consumers. Unlocked phones, particularly Apple iPhones, are easier to sell on the black market because they can be used virtually anywhere. Verizon's devices will be locked when first flashed with the operating system and will remain locked until the point of purchase. When consumers buy the phone, a software update will unlock the device. Later this spring, however, Verizon will keep phones locked to its network for an unknown period of time — even after activation. This move will prevent people from signing up for service with fake identities and then absconding with the device. "We're taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud," said Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, in a statement provided to CNET. "These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals." Verizon claims consumers won't really be impacted by the change in policy. The company says it will unlock phones upon request after the initial locked period expires, even if the phone is not yet fully paid for. It will also continue to allow customers to bring their own unlocked handsets to its network. Verizon didn't say how soon the policy change will go into effect. Verizon has sold unlocked devices since it launched 4G LTE. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all require people to pay the balance of their phone and wait 14 to 60 days before they'll agree to unlock it.


Qualcomm Says Two Big Buyers Likely to Bail Over Broadcom Tie-Up

Feb 10, 2018, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm warned investors that two of its most important customers have threatened to take their business elsewhere should Qualcomm be acquired by Broadcom. Qualcomm didn't name the customers, but said together they contribute a combined $1 billion in chip revenue. Qualcomm's most important customers are Apple and Samsung, followed by Huawei, LG, Sony, Oppo, and Xiaomi. The customers in question cited a lack of confidence in Broadcom's ability to lead a combined Qualcomm-Broadcom entity as the impetus for their decisions. Broadcom made a second offer for Qualcomm this week, but Qualcomm's board rejected it. The two companies will, however, meet over the next few days to discuss the possibilities of a merger. Some of the biggest questions Qualcomm wants answered concern how much more is Broadcom willing to spend on the acquisition, and what will it do to ensure the deal is completed successfully. Qualcomm is also worried about antitrust issues, and pointed to several big deals that have taken more than 18 months to clear regulatory hurdles. Broadcom has offered to pay Qualcomm $8 billion should the merger fail to be approved.


T-Mobile Drops BOGO Deal On Phone Lines

Feb 9, 2018, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a buy-one, get-one deal for service plans. Subscribers to a T-Mobile One family plan (minimum two lines) can add a third line of service at full price and get a fourth line of service for free. The fourth line is free after monthly bill credits. Without auto-pay, each line will carry an additional $5 monthly fee. The free line is available as long as subscribers maintain at least three paid lines. T-Mobile says the BOGO line deal can be combined with its BOGO deals on smartphones, which let people score free or reduced-cost handsets when two are purchased at the same time. The company is offering up to half off an Apple Watch when purchased with another at full price (Digits plan required). Last, T-Mobile is offering discounts on select accessories, such as Beats headphones. The BOGO deal on service lines and discounted Apple Watch deal kick off on February 10 and will be available for a limited time.


Apple Releases iOS 11.3 Public Beta 2

Feb 7, 2018, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11.3 Beta 2 available to public testers. This build tweaks performance and adds Apple's promised battery health meter. The tool is meant to help people balance battery life and speed/performance of older iPhones. The new feature is a response to news that Apple slows down the performance of older iPhones to account for the degradation of lithium ion batteries. Apple said the final version of iOS 11.3 will be available to all consumers this spring.


Apple Weighing Refunds for Those Who Paid Full Price for iPhone Battery Replacements

Feb 6, 2018, 3:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple might give some customers a refund. The company is mulling whether or not it should offer cash back to those who paid full price to replace the battery of their older iPhone. Until December 2017, Apple charged $79 to replace iPhone batteries. The company admitted late last year that it slowed down some older iPhones in order to prevent random shutdowns. Replacing the battery of said older iPhones mitigates the speed/performance issue. Apple has since dropped the price of replacing batteries by $50, from $79 to $29. The company may offer $50 refunds to people who coughed up the full $79 price. The information was revealed in a letter Apple sent to Sen. John Thune, who requested more details about Apple's actions concerning the iPhone slowdown kerfuffle. "Apple has promised the committee some follow-up information, including an answer about additional steps it may take to address customers who purchased a new battery at full price," indicated Thune. Apple says it is seeing strong demand for replacement batteries at its retail stores. The company is also offering a software tool to customers, which will arrive in iOS 11.3 later this year, to help balance speed and battery life.


Apple Drops Second iOS 11.3 Beta with Battery Health Meter

Feb 6, 2018, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made several new beta builds of its various operating systems available to developers. Chief among them is iOS 11.3 Beta 2. This second developer build tweaks performance and adds Apple's promised battery health meter. The tool is meant to help people balance battery life and speed/performance of older iPhones. The new feature is a response to news that Apple slows down the performance of older iPhones to account for the degradation of lithium ion batteries. Apple also updated tvOS 11.3 to Beta 2. Public versions of these betas will likely be released later this week. Apple said the final version of iOS 11.3 will be available to all consumers this spring.


Apple Selling Refurbished iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus at Discount

Feb 2, 2018, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has added refurbished units of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to its online store. Refurbished iPhones are given a new battery, a new outer shell, and are certified by Apple. They carry the same one-year factory warranty available to new iPhones, and can be protected via AppleCare. Savings varies between $50 and $70 off the cost of a comparable new iPhone 7. For example, the refurbished iPhone 7 (32 GB) costs $499 while a new one costs $549. iPhone 7 Plus buyers will save between $70 and $80 if they select a refurbished unit rather than a new one. The refurbished units are only available online. They are sold unlocked and SIM free.


Google's YouTube TV Apps Reach Apple TV and Roku Devices

Feb 2, 2018, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made its over-the-top streaming video service, YouTube TV, easier to access from television sets thanks to dedicated set-top-box applications. Owners of the Apple TV product and select Roku streaming devices will find the new YouTube TV app and service available directly from their TV box. YouTube TV launched during the second quarter of 2017 and only supported television sets via casting from mobile devices. Now, subscribers will be able to bypass their mobile device and use the service more easily. YouTube TV is available in more than 100 markets around the country and offers live TV and unlimited online DVR access. Content is limited to about 50 channels, though several premium add-ons, such as HBO, are available for an extra monthly fee.


Apple's iPhone Slowdown Kerfuffle Raises Flags at DOJ, SEC

Jan 30, 2018, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 30, 2018, 2:56 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched investigations into Apple's treatment of older iPhones, according to a report. Apple admitted in December that it uses software to reduce the performance of select iPhones in order to compensate for aging lithium-ion batteries. iPhone owners have long complained that their devices slow down over time. Apple contends that it limits performance in order to prevent older iPhones from randomly shutting down as their batteries deliver uneven power under duress. At issue is how Apple communicated this behavior to its users. The company did not disclose that it slowed down older iPhones until last month, despite engaging in the behavior for years. The government agencies likely believe Apple should have been more upfront about the practice. Apple said it will allow those who own older iPhones to score replacement batteries at lower costs ($29 instead of $79). Replacing the battery mitigates the performance issue. Apple did not immediately comment on word of the government agencies' investigations.


Virgin Mobile to Soon Sell 'Certified Pre-Loved' iPhone 7

Jan 29, 2018, 4:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile today said customers will be able to buy "Certified Pre-Loved" (aka, used) iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handsets beginning in February. The company already sells the refurbished iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices. Prices for the used iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will range from $380 to $420. Virgin reiterates that Certified Pre-Loved iPhones are tested and inspected, given a new battery, and include a one-year Apple warranty. The used handsets also include new Apple EarPods and an Apple charger. The company is still offering six months of its Virgin Mobile Inner Circle service to port-ins for $1 per month for six months. After the initial six-month period ends, the Virgin Mobile Inner Circle costs $50 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data.


Immersion and Apple Come to Terms Over Touch Patents

Jan 29, 2018, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Immersion Corporation today said it has reached an accord with Apple concerning touch feedback patents. Immersion sued Apple in 2016 over the iPhone's use of touch and haptic technology. Later, the U.S. International Trade Commission agreed to weigh the case. Immersion now says it has entered into settlement and license agreements with Apple. The terms are confidential.


Apple Release iOS 11.3 Public Beta 1

Jan 25, 2018, 1:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11.3 Beta One available to public beta testers. iOS 11.3 adds a host of significant new features to iPhones and iPads, including control over the battery, new animoji, business chat, health records, Apple Music videos, and improved augmented reality. Apple released iOS 11.2.5 to the general public earlier this week. Apple typically tests five to six betas, distributed every other week, before finalizing iOS releases. iOS 11.3 isn’t expected to reach most users until later this spring.


First iOS 11.3 Beta Available to Developers

Jan 24, 2018, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11.3 Beta One available to registered developers. iOS 11.3 adds a host of significant new features to iPhones and iPads, including control over the battery, new animoji, business chat, health records, Apple Music videos, and improved augmented reality. Apple released iOS 11.2.5 to the general public earlier this week. Apple typically tests five to six betas, distributed every other week, before finalizing iOS releases. iOS 11.3 isn’t expected to reach most users until later this spring.


Apple Says iOS 11.3 to Add Battery Tool, More Animoji, Better AR

Jan 24, 2018, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today previewed iOS 11.3, a system update that will give iPhone owners with a significant number of new tools and features. First up, iOS 11.3 provides iPhone users with more control over their handset's battery performance. As promised, people will be able to asses the health of their iPhone's battery, for example, to see whether or not it needs to be replaced. The tool will also allow people to turn off Apple's power management function that is used to prevent battery shutdowns at the expense of speed. iOS 11.3 introduces four new animoji: a bear, lion, dragon, and skull, making for a total of 16. These will only be available to the iPhone X. Apple has updated its augmented reality developer tool, ARKit, to version 1.5. This gives developers even more power to create AR content. iOS 11.3 will improve augmented reality for iPhones by expanding the ability to map surfaces to include horizontal and vertical surfaces. This means AR apps will be able to place virtual objects on walls and doors, in addition to floors and tables. Apple says the iPhone's camera is now able to offer 50% greater resolution when shooting AR, and can take advantage of auto-focus for sharper results. iOS 11.3 adds a new tool to iMessage that will allow iPhone owners to chat with select businesses. Some early adopters include Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s, and Wells Fargo. Through this new business chat feature, people will be able to converse with service representatives, schedule appointments, and make purchases via Apple Pay. Apple didn't say if this tool is powered by bots. iOS 11.3 adds a new Health Records feature that will let health providers share patient health data in an easy-to-digest format. Patients will be able to collect their health records from their various institutions and view them in a single place on the iPhone. The health records support notifications for lab results, medications, conditions, and more. Apple says this data is encrypted and password-protected. Other features headed to iOS 11.3 include the addition of music videos to Apple Music, more video content within Apple News, software authentication for HomeKit devices, and support for Advanced Mobile Location so more accurate location data is made available to emergency services during 911 calls. Apple says iOS 11.3 will be available to developers later today, with the broad rollout expected later the spring.


EU Socks Qualcomm with $1.23B Fine over Apple Baseband Deal

Jan 24, 2018, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The European Union has levied a fine of $1.23 billion against Qualcomm, alleging the chipmaking used its influence to score lucrative chip deals with Apple between 2011 and 2016. The EU says Qualcomm gave Apple massive discounts on baseband chips, the components that allow smartphones and tablets to speak to cell towers, so that Apple would not use components from competing firms. The five-year stretch during which Apple used only Qualcomm radios led to the latter's rise as the dominant supplier in the industry, when it achieved 90% marketshare. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager claims Qualcomm "illegally shut out rivals from the market. In particular it has made a difference because we are talking about the one of the biggest and most important customers in this market," said Vestager, noting that smaller firms looked up to Apple and its business choices. Evidence suggests Apple considered opting for chips from firms other than Qualcomm and yet it didn't because it would have been financially detrimental to do so. Once the deal expired in 2016 and Apple began using baseband chips from other suppliers (in the case of the iPhone, Intel), competition in the space began to turn around. The EU sees the $1.23 billion fine as a deterrent to convince other firms to avoid similar behavior. Qualcomm denied the charges and filed an appeal.


iOS 11.2.5 Released with HomePod Support

Jan 23, 2018, 3:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 23, 2018, 4:32 PM

Apple today made iOS 11.2.5 available to iPhones and iPads. The update primarily adds support for Apple's forthcoming HomePod speaker. It also makes it possible for iPhone and iPad owners to ask Siri to read the day's news. The news feature is initially only available in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. iOS 11.2.5 also fixes bugs and smoothes over performance. The update is free to download and install. Apple also released macOS 10.13.3, watchOS 4.2.2, tvOS 11.2.5, and macOS Server 5.5. The macOS update, in particular, patches significant security holes, while the others perform general bug fixes.


Apple's Delayed HomePod Speaker Reaches Stores Feb. 9

Jan 23, 2018, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said its HomePod smart speaker for the home will go on sale starting February 9. Preorders will kick off Friday, January 26. The smart speaker, which relies on Siri to handle voice requests, was supported to reach stores during the fourth quarter of 2017, but Apple delayed it for reasons unknown. Apple says Siri on the HomePod is able to handle natural-language requests, such as "who's playing drums on this track", "play more songs like thins" and so on. The HomePod focuses works natively with Apple Music and lets people tap into their playlists, artists, albums, and songs. Apple says it developed the HomePod to sound good, to understand where it is, and to provide a fun experience. It features a seven-tweeter array to drive audio in multiple directions and a 4-inch woofer that's upward facing. It is powered by an A8 processor with real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation. It can sense the size of the room it is in and adjust how it performs in order to fill that space with sound. Some core features include reminders, sports, news, alarms, messages, translations, stocks, traffic, and more. It can also interact with HomeKit devices for adjusting the thermostat or controlling lights. The HomePod will compete against the Google Home Amazon Echo series of products. HomePod costs $349.


iOS Update to Let iPhone Owners Keep Phones Running Fast

Jan 18, 2018, 8:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple plans to give iPhone owners more control over their devices, particularly the battery and performance, says CEO Tim Cook. Speaking to ABCNews, Cook addressed the issue concerning older iPhone batteries. The company admitted late last year that it slows down the performance of some devices in order to prevent them from shutting down. End users often complain that their devices feel slow after updating the software. "At the heart of any decision we make is the user, and we felt it would be better to take something off of the performance to prevent [iPhones from restarting]. We deeply apologize for anybody who thinks we have some other kind of motivation," said Cook. Because the problem pertains to the battery, Apple reduced the cost of replacement batteries from $79 to $29. Putting a new battery in an old phone mitigates the issue. Apple plans to take things a step further. It will soon give people more insight into the health of their iPhone's battery. "We've listened to the feedback very carefully and in addition to giving everyone a very low price on a battery if they'd like to get a new battery, we're also going to, in a developer release that happens next month, give people the visibility of the health of their battery. It's very very transparent. This hasn't been done before. We will tell someone we're reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart and, if you don't want it, you can turn it off." Cook didn't provide specifics as to how the battery tool will work. The company tests new features in developer betas ahead of releasing them to the general public. Apple did not say when the feature might reach all iPhones.


Apple Plans Major Investment in U.S., Says 20,000 Jobs On Deck

Jan 17, 2018, 1:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today outlined plans to contribute up to $350 billion to the U.S. economy across various avenues over the next five years. The company will invest some $30 billion in capital expenditures by opening a new campus and creating 20,000 new jobs. Apple already employs about 84,000 people in the U.S. The new Apple campus (location to be announced at a later date) will house technical support for customers. The company will invest $10 billion in data centers around the courtly, such as a new facility that broke ground today in Reno, Nev. Apple will power these facilities with 100% renewable energy. Apple said it is increasing the size of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, first announced last spring, from $1 billion to $5 billion. The fund will continue to support ingenuity from American manufacturers. Further, Apple said it will work closer with its American suppliers to procure parts and materials for its own products. The company intends to provide more direct support to coding and science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education. For example, it will expand initiatives such as its Swift Playgrounds coding app for kids. The company hopes these efforts will eventually pay off for developers. Apple claims the iOS app economy alone has created 1.6 million jobs and generated $5 billion in revenue for U.S companies in 2017 alone. "Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the U.S. economy," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. "We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness."


Senator Wants Answers from Apple Over iPhone Slow-Down

Jan 10, 2018, 1:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has caught the ire of Sen. John Thune (R) who wants to know more about Apple's throttling of older iPhones. The company admitted last month that it sometimes slowed down older iPhones with aging batteries in order to prevent shutdowns. Apple insisted the strategy was meant to keep phones up and running, rather than allowing them to crash and reboot from overheated batteries. Others don't see it that way and the company has been the subject of harsh criticism. A number of lawsuits have been filed against Apple in the U.S. and other regions. In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Thune said, "The large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency.” Thune serves as the chairman of a U.S. Senate committee overseeing business issues. He believes Apple should have been more upfront with consumers with respect to this business practice. In response to the issue, Apple dropped the price of replacing iPhone batteries from $79 to $29. Replacing batteries in older iPhones mitigates the need to slow down their performance. Apple has yet to publicly comment on Thune's request for more information.


Apple Plans to Add More Parental Controls for Protecting Kids

Jan 9, 2018, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week said it will improve the tools parents can use to control how much time their children spend on iPhones and iPads. The move is a response to investor criticism that suggested screen time is highly damaging to kids. “We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust," said Apple in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal. "We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids." Apple already provides a series of parental controls for iPhone and iPad use, such as moderating what content is accessible by children and what apps are downloaded. Apple did not specifically state what new features it plans to introduce.


iOS 11.2.2 Tackles iPhone and iPad Security

Jan 8, 2018, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11.2.2 in order to patch several significant security problems. Specifically, iOS 11.2.2 includes security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of the Spectre vulnerability discovered earlier this month. Apple recommends all iPhone and iPad owners install the update as soon as possible. Apple issued a similar update to its macOS desktop software.


Powermat Has Joined the Wireless Power Consortium

Jan 7, 2018, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 11, 2018, 4:40 PM

Powermat, a member of the Power Matters Alliance using the AirFuel standard, has also joined the Wireless Power Consortium, the group that supports the Qi wireless charging standard. Powermat became a member of the WPC this week, where it will contribute its technology to improve and advanced inductive wireless charging for both PMA and Qi devices. The PMA and WPC competed for years to bring wireless charging to the masses, each with its own charging tech The WPC, however, scored a major victory last year when Apple picked the Qi for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. "Qi has become the dominant wireless charging standard on the market and the recently launched Apple iPhone lineup is evidence of this success," said Elad Dubzinski, Powermat CEO. "Powermat will share technology innovation to further unlock wireless charging potential, and will expedite the growth of the wireless charging infrastructure, bringing wireless charging to wherever users need it." More than 360 companies already back the Qi standard. Powermat plans to make gear that supports both PMA and Qi. The company is already working with Starbucks to upgrade the many PMA-powered wireless charging stations in some U.S. Starbucks locations with support for Qi.


Apple Says Chip Flaws Impact All iOS and Mac Devices

Jan 4, 2018, 9:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today verified that many of its laptops, tablets, and smartphones are compromised by the security issues known as Meltdown and Spectre. These exploits take advantage of a modern CPU tool called speculative execution, which allows processors to predict where instructions will travel. Hackers could use certain techniques to manipulate speculative execution in order to access privileged memory, such as that of the kernel. Apple says the vulnerabilities are found in all modern processors and touch nearly every computing device and operating system, including its Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones. However, Apple has already mitigated the issue via recent system updates. For example, iOS 11.2 for iPhones and iPads, macOS 10.13.2 for Mac computers, and tvOS 11.2 for the Apple TV defend against these exploits. Apple has a release planned for Safari that will help protect Macs against the Spectre vulnerability. The company will continue to monitor the exploit and test further updates to keep Meltdown and Spectre at bay. There are no known exploits of either Meltdown or Spectre.


Apple Lowers Battery Replacement Cost to $29 Immediately

Dec 30, 2017, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple made $29 replacement batteries available to owners of older iPhones effective starting today. The drop, announced earlier this week, was originally slated to go into effect in late January. "We expected to need more time to be ready, but we are happy to offer our customers the lower pricing right away," said Apple in a statement provided to Axios. "Initial supplies of some replacement batteries may be limited." Apple uses software to limit the performance of some older iPhones in order to prevent battery-related shutdowns. Replacing the original, aging battery with a new one resolves such issues and leads to better performance of the smartphone. The battery replacement service typically costs $79, but Apple has lowered the cost to $29. The program will run through December 2018 and targets the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE.


Apple Drops Price of iPhone Battery Replacement In Wake of Slow-down Kerfuffle

Dec 28, 2017, 5:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said it will significantly drop the cost of replacing iPhone batteries in order to appease customers upset about their device's performance. "We’ve been hearing feedback about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize," said Apple in a letter posted to its web site. Apple explained that it tweaked some performance parameters in older iPhones in order to prevent battery-related shutdowns. The result is sometimes-slower speeds on devices such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Apple maintains that it took steps necessary to account for the behavior of lithium-ion batteries as they age. "We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades," explained Apple. "Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that." Even so, many customers felt they had been misled over the performance degradation issue, while some have filed lawsuits against Apple. In order to address customer concerns, the company is dropping the out-of-warrany cost of replacing the battery in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, or SE from $79 to $29 beginning late next month through December 2018. Further, Apple plans to issue a software update with new features that will give iPhone owners more visibility into the health of their handset's battery. Apple says this will let people see for themselves if the battery's condition is impacting the iPhone's overall performance. Replacing the battery in an older iPhone should fully mitigate the speed issue experience on some handsets. More information regarding the specifics of the replacement battery program will be available early next month.


Apple Says It Slows Older iPhones To Manage Battery Performance

Dec 20, 2017, 4:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today confirmed what owners of older iPhones have long suspected: that new versions of iOS will slow down the performance of older iPhones. The matter has regained significant discussion in recent days due to benchmark scores shared on Reddit that appear to show a correlation between new versions of iOS and reduced performance. Apple says this is a feature, not a bug. “Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” said Apple in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.” Device shutdowns are problematic for a number of reasons, including safety. “Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.” In short, Apple says older iPhones will in fact slow down from time to time in order to preserve battery performance and prevent the shutdowns. Apple has not previously disclosed this policy. Doing so might have helped it mitigate customer complaints. It is worth pointing out that iPhone owners have the option of having Apple install a new battery in their older iPhone (~$79), which would resolve the battery-related slow down issue.


T-Mobile Rolls Out iPhone BOGO Promo

Dec 20, 2017, 10:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a new buy-one, get-one promotion for select iPhones. People who purchase an Apple iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, or 8 Plus can earn a second iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, or 8 Plus (up to $700) for free. The devices must be purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will make monthly payments for the second device over a period of 24 months until it is paid off. Further, T-Mobile is offering up to $300 off the iPhone X when people trade in a recent iPhone. The $300 rebate is applied via monthly payment credits over 24 months (~$12/mo) when the iPhone X is purchased on an equipment installment plan. These deals kick off Thursday, December 21. T-Mobile is already offering BOGO deals on select LG and Samsung smartphones.


Apple's Indoor Maps Land in 30 New Airports Around the Globe

Dec 15, 2017, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple recently improved the selection of indoor airport maps in Apple Maps with an expansion to 30 new structures. Apple worked with each individual airport and the associated airlines in order to provide the most accurate data possible, including directions to gates, details about food courts and other amenities, and the ability to jump between floors/levels. A button tagged "look inside" clues users it to the availability of indoor maps at the supported airports. According to TechCrunch, Apple relies on WiFi inside each airport to help triangulate the user's iPhone and accuracy is to within a few meters. The new indoor maps are available at major airports including Amsterdam Schiphol, Baltimore/Washington International, Berlin Tegel, Chicago O’Hare and Midway, Denver, Detroit, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas McCarran, London Heathrow and Gatwick, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Nashville, New York JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, and Vancouver. Apple plans to add more airports over time.


Verizon to Offer iPhone 8, Galaxy S8 BOGO

Dec 13, 2017, 4:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless plans to let holiday shoppers score a smartphone for free with an upcoming buy-one, get-one deal. Beginning Friday, December 15, customers who buy an Apple iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can get a second device for free. Both devices will need to be purchased on a payment plan and at least one must be a new line of service. The second phone must be from the same manufacturer and be of equal or lesser value. The cost of the second device will be reimbursed monthly over a 24-month period. Verizon says the offer is valid for existing customer upgrades, as well as those who switch to Verizon. The buy-one, get-one deal will be available for a limited time.


iOS 11.2.1 Arrives to Stomp Out Bugs

Dec 13, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11.2.1 available to the iPhone and iPad in order to resolve performance issues. Specifically, the update tackles a problem that could disable remote access to shared users of the Home application. The update is rather lightweight at about 69 MB and it can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Apple Awards Face ID Laser Company Finisar with $390 Million

Dec 13, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said it plans to invest $390 million in Finisar, the Texas-based supplier of its VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) wafers. Apple uses the VCSEL technology in the iPhone X to power Face ID, Animoji, and portrait photography in the TrueDepth camera. VCSELs are also found in the AirPods headphones for sensing proximity. The investment will allow Finisar to re-open a plant and employ 500 new engineers and technicians. Apple says 100% of the VCSELs it plans to purchase will be made in Texas. The plant, expected to be producing by mid-2018, will be powered entirely be renewable sources. The investment comes from a $1 billion fund Apple set aside to foster innovation and high-skilled jobs in the U.S. Earlier this year, Apple agreed to invest $200 million in Corning, the company behind Gorilla Glass.


YouTube TV Reaches 34 New Markets

Dec 12, 2017, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube TV has expanded once again to 34 new markets around the country. The additional cities, some of which include Flint, Green Bay, New Orleans, Rochester, San Antonio, San Diego, Savannah, Shreveport, Tulsa, and Tucson, make for a total of 83 markets. YouTube TV originally launched in just five markets in April. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and includes up to six personal accounts all with unlimited DVR recordings and access. The number of channels is still limited to about 50. YouTube TV is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as via the Chrome browser on desktop PCs. A YouTube TV app is expected to reach the Apple TV shortly.


Synaptics Says A 'Top Five' Phone Company to Use Its Under-the-Glass Fingerprint Reader

Dec 12, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Synaptics today said of the five largest phone manufacturers in the world has agreed to use its Clear ID FS9500 optical, in-display fingerprint sensor. The FS9500 can scan fingerprints through the full thickness of smartphone cover glass, which means device makers can create sleek, button-free designs and still include a fingerprint reader on the front. Synaptics says the FS9500 was designed with "bezel-free infinity displays" in mind. This latest generation of Synpatics' technology can read fingerprints on wet, dry, or cold fingers, and the reader is always protected by the glass, making it durable and waterproof. Synaptics claims its sensor is twice as fast as 3D facial recognition tools, and comes and goes only when needed to authenticate the user. Synaptics didn't name the phone maker, nor did it suggest when a device with the Clear ID FS9500 might come to market. According to IDC, the top five phone makers in the third quarter of 2017 were Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi.


Apple to Let People Pre-Order Apps

Dec 12, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made it possible for people to pre-order applications. Technically, the power is being given to developers, who can publish product pages and accept orders ahead of the app's release. Once the app is ready for download, customers will be notified and it will automatically download to their device. Developers can further advertise their apps by using the pre-order badges in their marketing materials. In another change, developers can now offer new customers discounted introductory pricing for auto-renewable subscriptions that are managed on the App Store. For example, digital magazines can offer the first three months of a 12-month subscription for a lower price. Developers can do this thanks to a new API in iOS 11.2 that allows them to configure introductory pricing. The new tools are available to developers today, and will reach end users soon.


Apple Has Acquired Shazam

Dec 11, 2017, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced that it has acquired Shazam, the song-identifying service, for an undisclosed sum. The deal was first revealed last week in a report from TechCrunch. The Shazam mobile application is available to iOS and Android devices. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users," said an Apple spokesperson to Reuters. "We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement." Apple didn't say if the purchase would impact Shazam's availability on Android. Shazam has a worldwide user base of hundreds of millions of people. The deal will need to clear regulatory hurdles before it can be finalized.


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