Mac Rumors

Apple Sets Aside '$1 Billion War Chest' for Hollywood Programming

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 04:21:50 PDT
Apple has earmarked $1 billion to acquire and produce original television content over the next year to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The plans could see Apple procure and produce as many as 10 television shows, according to people familiar with the matter, thanks to a budget figure that is about half of what Time Warner's HBO spent on content last year and around the same amount as Amazon spent in 2013, after it announced its own move into original programming.


The budget will reportedly be controlled by Hollywood veterans Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were hired by Apple in June from Sony to oversee content acquisition and video strategy. Apple also recently hired former WGN America President Matt Cherniss to oversee development of the company’s worldwide video unit. Cherniss previously worked with Erlicht and Van Amburg to bring the Sony shows "Underground" and "Outsiders" to WGN.
Mr. Van Amburg and Mr. Erlicht have begun meeting with Hollywood agents and holding discussions about shows Apple could acquire, the people familiar said. Mr. Matt Cherniss has movie experience, having worked as a production executive at Warner Bros.
WSJ notes that not only will Apple have a fight on its hands going up against rivals already heavily invested in original content, but it will also have to avoid jeopardizing its 15 percent cut of subscriptions from its App Store for services like Netflix and HBO GO.

As for the cost of programming, this can vary widely, from more than $2 million an episode for a comedy to more than $5 million for a drama, while high-end shows such as "Game of Thrones" can cost over $10 million per episode to produce.

For its video service to gain traction, Apple needs at least one hit, according to the people familiar with the plan who spoke to the newspaper. The company's initial video efforts include "Planet of the Apps", which was launched in June on Apple Music, and "Carpool Karaoke," which was launched last week. Apple has not revealed ratings for the shows but both have been criticized by reviewers.

Apple is hoping its efforts in original programming will bolster the appeal of iTunes movie rentals and other offerings through the store. Last year, iTunes generated an estimated $4.1 billion in revenue, but its share of the movie rental-and-sales market has declined to less than 35 percent from 50 percent in 2012, according to the report.
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Blurry Leaked Images Depict Alleged 'Apple OLED TV' in Testing Facility

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 03:18:22 PDT
Blurred images emerged online on Wednesday morning purporting to show what looks like an Apple-made standalone display in a specially prepared testing environment. The images were posted on Chinese microblogging site Weibo and later picked up by mobile leaker Benjamin Geskin and shared on Twitter.


A Google translation reveals that the original Weibo post refers to the pictures as "Apple OLED TV spy photos", and claims that the display is "about 60 inches" with a narrow frame design and a metal shell.


The first two photos show a closed-circuit TV screen outputting front and rear camera angles of the alleged Apple television mounted on a rotating test bed in the center of an acoustically insulated room, with connecting cables running down a table into the floor. While the original Weibo post notes that two black spots at the bottom of the screen depict a camera, these aren't visible in the photos.


A third image appears to be taken from the door shown in the previous two images, while a fourth photo, below, shows what looks like the same display from a different angle, connected by orange cables to large unidentified testing equipment.


It's virtually impossible to say anything definitive about the contents of the photos, and Apple is known to regularly test devices most of which never see the light of day as consumer products.

As far as Apple-branded television rumors go, these had been circulating for years before a Wall Street Journal report two years ago essentially confirmed that Apple had shelved its TV set plans back in 2014. The company reportedly spent more than a decade researching the possibility of releasing an ultra high-definition television set before deciding to cancel the project because it couldn't find untapped features that would give it an edge in the television market.

Apple is rumored to be working on a fifth-generation Apple TV box that's able to stream ultra high-definition 4K video and it may well launch this year, so whether or not this could see Cupertino revive its plans for an accompanying or integrated television set remains to be seen.

Discounting the "60 inches" reference in the Weibo post, this leaves the possibility of an Apple-branded external computer monitor. Apple discontinued its nearly five-year-old Thunderbolt Display in 2016, but the company is said to be working on a "pro" display to accompany a future Mac Pro machine due next year. 4K and 5K LG Displays are already available from Apple, but these don't fit with Apple's usual aesthetic and have been prone to issues.

Whatever the origin of these photos, it's best to take them with a grain of salt, for now at least.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Google Pixel 2 Smartphone Will Feature Squeezable Sides and No Headphone Jack

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 01:33:02 PDT
Google's second-generation Pixel smartphone will be made by HTC and feature "squeezable" sides to perform different functions, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday.

The filing essentially confirms that the Google Pixel 2 will borrow the squeezable frame from the HTC U11. Screenshots included in the document show the feature is to be called "Active Edge" and will launch Google Assistant by default. Other possible functions include turning on the flashlight, launching the camera, and taking a photo.

Leaked image of Pixel 2 from Evan Blass

The 4.97-inch device is expected to feature a 1080p display and stereo speakers, and will have an overall design similar to the original Pixel. The filing also suggests that the Pixel 2 will have a Snapdragon 835 or 836 chipset and 64GB storage capacity – although additional capacities are likely.

LG is said to be manufacturing the Google Pixel XL 2 and will put its own stamp on the larger handset by including a 6-inch AMOLED display with a 2:1 aspect ratio, but it's also likely that the XL 2 will share the same squeezable frame of the smaller device. Based on leaked images, both handsets are rumored to do away with the headphone jack, although this was not confirmed in the filing.

It's still not clear when Google's second-generation Pixel smartphones will be released, but the original version was unveiled in October of last year, so a fall release is likely. (The original Google Pixel FCC filing appeared exactly a year ago on Tuesday.) That would put Google's new phones in direct competition with the iPhone 8, which is expected to launch in September alongside iterative "S" cycle updates to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.


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Sling TV Debuts Desktop In-Browser Player for Google Chrome

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 00:22:23 PDT
Sling TV announced its first in-browser desktop content player on Tuesday. Using the latest version of Google Chrome, subscribers to the streaming television platform can log in at sling.com to access their favorite content and start playback right from within the browser.


It's not yet clear at what quality the content is played within the browser, but Sling TV customers watching on Google Chrome do get access to popular features like "My TV", the "Continue Watching" ribbon, account settings, parental controls, and more.

Sling TV cautions that the Chrome in-browser player is still a beta version, but no app, plug-in or flash player download is necessary.

The service says it will continue to roll out additional features as the browser player matures, including access to cloud DVR and a grid guide. For more information on Sling TV-supported devices, visit sling.com/devices.


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Apple Shares New 'Carpool Karaoke' Trailer With 'Game of Thrones' Stars

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:13:43 PDT
As the second and third "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" episodes premiere on Apple Music tonight, Apple has released a new trailer for an upcoming episode that stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, the two actresses who play Sansa Stark and Arya Stark, respectively, in HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones."

In a play on the popular "Game of Thrones" line "Winter is Coming," Apple's newest trailer opens with the phrase "Karaoke is Coming" before depicting Turner and Williams singing along to several popular songs. The duo also stop by an HBO escape room to surprise fans.


Turner and Williams' Carpool Karaoke episode will air on Tuesday, August 22, which is next week. Apple has also shared a new trailer for an upcoming episode that will star Ariana Grande and Seth MacFarlane, also set to debut on August 22.


"Carpool Karaoke: The Series" debuted last week, on August 8. The first episode starred late night TV host James Corden and Will Smith. Apple this week introduced two new episodes, the first starring Alicia Keys and John Legend and the second starring Billy Eichner and Metallica.


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Facebook Bringing Design Improvements to News Feed for Better Navigation and Conversation

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:48:41 PDT
Facebook today announced plans to make several changes to the Facebook News Feed with the intent of making it "more conversational and easier to read and navigate."

The "look and feel" of News Feed is being refreshed with improved color contrast to make typography more legible, larger link previews to make it easier to read links, circular profile pictures, and updated icons and Like, Comment, and Share buttons that are meant to be easier to tap.


To improve conversations, Facebook plans to implement a chat bubble-style comment design, which the company says is aimed at making it easier to see which comments are direct replies to another person.


Facebook plans to simplify navigation with the following features:
- See where a link will take you before clicking on it
- See whose post you're commenting on, reacting to, or reading while you're in the post
- Return to News Feed once you've finished reading via a more prominent back button
Facebook says the design changes will be available users "over the coming weeks."

Facebook is also starting to roll out several new camera features that have been in testing over the course of the summer, including the ability to create GIFs that can be shared on the social network and a new feature for starting a live stream from the camera interface.

Tag: Facebook

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Apple Adds to Video Team With Hire of Former WGN America Head

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:14:52 PDT
Former president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios Matt Cherniss has jointed Apple to help oversee the development of the company's worldwide video unit, reports Variety.

Cherniss will serve under Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony executives who joined Apple earlier this year to lead Apple's video programming efforts on a worldwide scale. Erlicht and Amburg report to senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue.


Back in June, Cherniss stepped down from his role as president at WGN America and Tribune Studios after Tribune was acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Cherniss led WGN's own push into original content and away from re-runs, overseeing the launch of shows like "Salem," "Outsiders," "Underground," and "Manhattan," so he's well-positioned to help Apple make a deeper dive into original programming.

With the addition of Cherniss, Apple has a solid team, as its former two hires, Erlicht and Amburg, helped produce shows like "Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul," and "The Crown."

Over the course of the last several months, Apple has been experimenting with original content as a way to promote its Apple Music service. The company has launched two shows so far, including "Planet of the Apps," a series about app developers pitching ideas to investors, and "Carpool Karaoke," a music-based show developed from the Carpool Karaoke segment on "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

Apple is said to have bigger ambitions when it comes to original content, though, with rumors suggesting the company is pursuing deals with "triple-A-list" talent to create a roster of shows on par with Netflix and Amazon.
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Walmart Streaming Movie Service VUDU Coming to Apple TV on August 22

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 12:12:02 PDT
Walmart's streaming movie service VUDU will be available on Apple TV starting on Tuesday, August 22, following the official launch of the new VUDU app, reports Variety.

With the launch of a dedicated Apple TV app, VUDU users will no longer need to AirPlay content from an iOS device in order to watch VUDU content on the Apple TV.


VUDU first confirmed work on an app for the fourth-generation Apple TV in March, so the app has been in development for some time. Prior to the announcement of an Apple TV app, a VUDU engineer said the company had not been able to develop an app because of Apple's policies preventing third party services from selling movies within their apps.

The current VUDU iOS app adapts to those restrictions by allowing users to download movies and TV shows that have been previously purchased on the VUDU website, and the Apple TV app presumably works in the same way.

VUDU allows customers to rent and purchase a wide range of movies and television shows, including new releases, and it offers services like a disc to digital conversion, digital copies of Blu-rays and DVDs purchased within stores, and free ad-supported movies. VUDU is already available on a range of other platforms, like Roku, Chromecast, consoles, and more.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: VUDU
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Intel Shares Details on Upcoming 'Ice Lake' Chips to Follow Coffee Lake and Cannon Lake

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:00:18 PDT
As Intel prepares to unveil its 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors next week, the company has released basic information on an upcoming 10-nanometer "Ice Lake" chip, which will serve as the successor to the 14-nanometer Coffee Lake and 10-nanometer Cannon Lake chips.

Details on the Ice Lake architecture, which will be made on Intel's 10nm+ process, have been shared on Intel's codename decoder.

"The Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel(R) CoreTM processor family. These processors utilize Intel's industry-leading 10 nm+ process technology," reads the site.

As AnandTech points out, Intel's decision to share details on Ice Lake is odd because the company has not announced or shared details on Cannon Lake, the first chips that will be built on its 10-nanometer architecture, and Intel is also referring to Ice Lake as the successor to its soon-to-be-announced 14-nanometer Coffee Lake chips, leading to confusion about its upcoming processor lineup and how Cannon Lake fits in.

Intel's current Kaby Lake chips were built on a second-generation 14nm+ architecture, while Coffee Lake is a third-generation 14nm++ architecture. Both Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake are available for both desktops and laptops, but it appears the 10-nanometer Cannon Lake chips succeed Coffee Lake chips in laptops, while desktops won't see 10-nanometer architecture until the release of Ice Lake.

AnandTech speculates that the chip confusion is the result of the difficulty behind developing a 10-nanometer architecture. Intel needs to perfect 10-nanometer chips for smaller processors before moving on to larger desktop processors.
Simply put, the first generation of 10nm requires small processors to ensure high yields. Intel seems to be putting the smaller die sizes (i.e. anything under 15W for a laptop) into the 10nm Cannon Lake bucket, while the larger 35W+ chips will be on 14++ Coffee Lake, a tried and tested sub-node for larger CPUs. While the desktop sits on 14++ for a bit longer, it gives time for Intel to further develop their 10nm fabrication abilities, leading to their 10+ process for larger chips by working their other large chip segments (FPGA, MIC) first.
Intel's 14nm++ Coffee Lake chips will be officially unveiled on August 21, and these are the chips that we are likely to see in Apple notebooks and standard iMac desktops in the coming year, but again, it's unclear how Cannon Lake fits into the lineup and whether those chips will be available for some machines in time for 2018 refreshes.

As the successor to Intel's 8th-generation chips, Ice Lake is not likely to be available until late 2018 or 2019, with an exact timeline to be determined by Intel's success in improving its 10-nanometer architecture.

Tag: Intel

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Instagram Updated With Better Comment Organization

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:22:09 PDT
Popular Facebook-owned image sharing site Instagram is today being updated with comment threads, a small but long-awaited feature that will bring better organized comments for the first time.

With comment threads, comments on Instagram will more closely resemble comments on Facebook, with replies clearly listed under top-level comments. Prior to comment threading, all comments, even those that were replies to existing comments, were listed in one general thread with no organization.

Comment threads help you keep track of conversations and make it easy to respond to a specific thread. This update will make your feed an even better place to share interests, get inspired and connect with others.

Now, when you hit reply underneath any comment, your response will automatically be grouped right underneath it in a thread.
Instagram says these updates are part of Instagram version 24, available from the App Store today.

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

Tag: Instagram

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Twelve South Debuts 'Curve' Stand for Apple Notebooks

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:29:44 PDT
Twelve South today announced the launch of the Curve, a new stand based on a simple, classic design.

Described as an "elegant" stand that's designed to complement the lines of an Apple notebook while elevating it to an ideal angle, Curve comes in a matte black aluminum that matches well with the Space Gray MacBook models.


Curve elevates the screen by 6.5 inches while keeping 70 percent of the base of the MacBook exposed through its open bottom, which allows for better cooling.

According to Twelve South, the Curve is based on the iCurve, the first stand ever designed by Twelve South co-founder Andrew Green back in 2003. The new design is also meant to pay tribute to Apple Park, Apple's new campus that houses a ring-shaped main building.

I knew someday I wanted to refresh the classic design for the modern Mac universe. In thinking about bringing it back to market, I visualized Curve as a thin metal ribbon - kind of like a Möbius strip. Utilizing aluminum with a matte black finish, Curve is a fresh remix of the original classic that looks simply stunning, especially when supporting the new Space Grey MacBooks.
Curve weighs in at 1.43 pounds and is a desktop accessory that's designed to work with the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro models.

Curve can be purchased from the Twelve South website for $49.99. It's also available from some Best Buy retail locations.


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Apple and Other Companies File Brief Arguing Against 'Rigid Analog-Era' Fourth Amendment Rules

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 08:48:58 PDT
Apple, Twitter, Snap, Facebook, Microsoft, and a collection of other technology companies have filed a legal brief this week, aimed at the Fourth Amendment and its "rigid analog-era" protections that lag behind protecting users in the modern age (via Reuters).

The brief was filed in regards to the case Carpenter v. United States, which is a Supreme Court case focusing on the warrantless search and seizure of historical smartphone records, and whether or not such data collection by the government is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizures.


Carpenter v. United States specifically ties to smartphone data held by a third party -- or any company that has access and can store personal user data -- and includes information revealing the "location and movements" of the user over 127 days.

With the new filing, which is in support of neither party, the companies state that customers should not be "forced to relinquish Fourth Amendment protections" against intrusion by the government, simply because they choose to use modern technology.
"To resolve this case, the Court should forgo reliance on outmoded rules that make little sense when applied in the digital context. In particular, the third-party doctrine and the content/non-content distinction should not operate to categorically foreclose Fourth Amendment protection; instead, Fourth Amendment law should favor a more flexible approach that assess reasonable expectations of privacy in light of new and evolving technologies and the highly sensitive data they implicate."
Other companies included in the brief included Airbnb, Google, and Dropbox. The case in question dates back to 2011, when Timothy Carpenter was convicted on robbery charges after investigators uncovered smartphone data with his past location information without a warrant. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case in June 2017, and it's now on the Court's term docket for October 2017.

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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Amazon Debuts 'Instant Pickup' for Ordering and Picking Up Items in Under Two Minutes

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 07:26:18 PDT
In its ongoing push into retail, Amazon today announced the opening of five "Instant Pickup" locations in the United States, allowing Prime subscribers to choose from a selection of "daily essentials" that are made available for pick up in two minutes or less (via Reuters). The essential items include snacks, drinks, electronics, and Amazon's own devices.


The Instant Pickup process begins with Prime and Prime Student users visiting Amazon's iOS or Android app to browse through hundreds of essential and daily care items. Users can then place an order, decide on an Instant Pickup location, and then go to the retail store to pick it up from a self-service locker.

On the employee side of things, when users place an order someone at the Instant Pickup store gathers the items in a back room, and then places them within one of the numbered lockers. After customers place their order, they're given the number to the locker and a barcode to access its contents at the Instant Pickup store.
“Instant Pickup is another way Amazon is making life more convenient for Prime members,” said Ripley MacDonald, Director, Student Programs, Amazon. “As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster. Whether it’s a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time. While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”
Amazon is launching Instant Pickup as an expansion to five of its established pickup locations in Los Angeles; Atlanta; Berkeley, California; Columbus, Ohio; and College Park, Maryland. More pickup shops will be getting Instant Pickup in the coming months.

For those near one of the locations who want to try out Instant Pickup, Amazon advises users to update their Amazon iOS app to version 9.15 [Direct Link], and then look for Instant Pickup in "Programs and Features." The new service is a free addition to any Prime or Prime Student membership.

Tag: Amazon

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Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt Now Remotely Controllable With Wi-Fi Adapter

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:00:40 PDT
Schlage today released a new Wi-Fi adapter that enables iOS and Android users to control the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt away from home.


Schlage Sense is a Bluetooth-enabled smart deadbolt compatible with HomeKit, allowing homeowners to control it using Siri voice commands or the Home app on iOS 10 or later. The lock has a touchpad and comes in various finishes.

The adapter plugs into a wall outlet, connects to a home's Wi-Fi network, and allows the lock to be controlled remotely with the Schlage Sense app, which is free to download on the App Store [Direct Link] or Google Play.

With the Wi-Fi adapter, Schlage Sense owners can check on and change the lock's status from anywhere in the Schlage Sense app. The app also provides push notifications when the adapter detects that the lock has been used.

It was already possible to remotely control a Schlage Sense lock with a third-generation Apple TV or newer and, in terms of price, that may remain the less expensive or more worthwhile option for many homeowners.

Schlage's Wi-Fi adapter costs $70, the same price as the third-generation Apple TV at many retailers, in the United States. In fact, many new or used third-generation Apple TVs are considerably cheaper by this point.

At $149, even a fourth-generation Apple TV is worth considering, as it can be configured as a Home Hub to control other HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories. Needless to say, it's also an entire Apple TV.

Schlage said the Wi-Fi adapter is available today at Amazon, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, and Build.com. The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is sold by Apple, Amazon, and select Lowe's and Home Depot stores for $229.95 or less.


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DJI Announces 'Local Data Mode' to Fly Drones Without Internet Connection

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:45:44 PDT
Drone company DJI this week announced a new "local data mode" that breaks any internet connection between the DJI drone and a user's smartphone, which the company said will greatly enhance security and data privacy when users enable the mode (via Reuters).

The announcement comes a few weeks after the United States Army ordered its members to stop using DJI drones due to "cyber vulnerabilities," believed to be related to the drones' ability to save flight logs, photos, or videos onto a smartphone app, and then onto DJI's servers if the user chose to do so.

DJI announced the Spark drone earlier this year

Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs at DJI, said that business and government customers in particular have since raised concerns about sensitive content -- "such as movie footage or images of critical infrastructure" -- potentially leaking out.
DJI said it does not collect images, video or flight logs from users unless they share them. But turning on the new "local data mode" will prevent accidental syncing with DJI's servers. Its drones do not rely on an internet connection to fly.

Cutting the link between the internet and DJI's controller apps that run on tablets and mobile phones will disable updates of maps, flight restrictions and other data that the controller application receives from the internet while the drone is in use, he said.
Because of the Army's memo, DJI sped up work on local data mode, which it says has been in the works for several months. When activated, the new mode blocks all internet data, so DJI apps will not update maps, geofencing information, newly-issued flight restrictions, "and may result in other performance limitations." But, even without an internet connection, the company's drones can still be piloted as normal.

While the mode will be available for everyone, DJI is focusing on "professional, commercial, government, and educational users" who might fly a DJI drone to capture critical infrastructure, commercial trade secrets, or governmental functions.
“We are pleased about how rapidly DJI’s customer base has expanded from hobbyists and personal drone pilots to include professional, commercial, government and educational users,” said Jan Gasparic, DJI head of enterprise partnership. “As more of these customers have asked for additional assurances about how their data is handled, DJI has moved to address their needs by developing local data mode to provide enhanced data management options for customers who want to use them.”
Local data mode will arrive in an update to DJI's suite of apps by the end of September. If any location has regulations that require drone pilots to fly with the most updated maps and information, the offline mode "may not be available" in those areas.

Tag: DJI

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Apple Stops Accepting Returns and Exchanges in Hong Kong Ahead of New iPhones

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:25:33 PDT
Apple today updated its sales policy in Hong Kong to indicate all products purchased at Apple's online and retail stores in the country on and after August 15, 2017 cannot be returned or exchanged indefinitely.


As an exception to the rule, Apple will still honor exchanges for defective products in Hong Kong at its sole discretion.

Apple didn't provide a reason for the policy change, but it's likely a precautionary move ahead of new iPhone models expected in September. The same policy went into effect in Hong Kong on iPhone 7 launch day last year.

Hong Kong is a hotbed for black market electronics due to the lack of import taxes and duties added to foreign goods purchased, as is the case in neighboring mainland China. Scalpers often attempt to illegally smuggle new iPhones across the border to mainland China to make significant profits.

Hong Kong scalper spotted "walking strangely" across the border into mainland China in 2015 via South China Morning Post

When the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launched in Hong Kong last year, for example, the smartphones hit the black market for as much as $15,000 in Hong Kong dollars, which was slightly over $1,900 in U.S. dollars.

Apple's standard return policy in Hong Kong is already stricter than in some other countries. For volume purchases of four products or more, the return window is seven days, and there is a 25 percent restocking fee per unit.

Apple will likely revert back to its standard return policy in Hong Kong at some point, but it didn't specify when.


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Apple's Q2 2017 MacBook Sales Increase 17 Percent Over the Previous Quarter

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:26:05 PDT
Apple's notebook shipments totaled an estimated 3.98 million units in the second quarter of the 2017 calendar year, representing a quarter-on-quarter increase of 17.1 percent, according to new data published by market research firm TrendForce.

Apple gained ground on ASUS at fifth place in the second quarter ranking, with a 0.7 percent increase over the previous quarter to leave both companies taking a 10 percent share of the market. TrendForce highlighted Apple's decision to upgrade its 12-inch MacBook as one of the reasons behind the gains.

Apple trailed closely behind ASUS at fifth place in the second-quarter ranking. The updated 12-inch MacBook helped expand MacBook shipments by 17.1 percent from the first quarter to 3.98 million units. TrendForce also anticipates a double-digit sequential growth for third-quarter MacBook shipments as Apple will focus on the MacBook Pro series during the year’s second half.
Global notebook shipments in the second quarter of 2017 registered a sequential quarterly increase of 5.7 percent and a year-on-year increase of 3.6 percent, totaling 39.96 million units. Sales in the U.S. and the arrival of new product models were said to be the main driving forces behind the second quarter shipments, with strong demand in the entire first half of 2017 exceeding market expectations.

Tapping into back-to-school sales, HP's market share increased by 8.5 percent, allowing the company to retain first place in the global shipment ranking for the fifth consecutive quarter, while Dell posted the largest sequential increase of 21.3 percent to take third place in the ranking. Lenovo meanwhile shipped just 8.05 million units in the second quarter, representing a year-on-year drop of 2.4 percent, with slowdown in the notebook market in the Asia-Pacific region said to have had an impact on the brand's performance.


Acer's aggressive expansion in the Chromebook market did little to fend off rival models in the U.S., causing its notebook shipments to drop by 3.5 percent from the first quarter to 3.22 million units, with Acer remaining in sixth place in the global ranking.

TrendForce noted there are worries in the market that the strong shipment result for this year's first half reflects demand pulling ahead, so shipments in the second half might be comparatively weak. Despite that, third-quarter notebook shipments are projected to increase by another 3-5 percent versus the previous quarter.

Apple updated its 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro notebooks in June, introducing faster processors and improved GPUs just eight months after the machines were last refreshed. It also introduced a new low-price 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar with a 128GB SSD. No other changes were made to the MacBook Pro.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is working on a high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro model that will include 32GB RAM, with production on this machine to begin early in the fourth quarter of 2017. Kuo claimed the MacBook Pro will be "the most significantly redesigned product this year" with desktop-class RAM to appeal to high-end users.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, MacBook
Tag: TrendForce
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now), MacBook (Buy Now)

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Google Could Pay Apple $3 Billion to Remain Default Search Engine on iOS

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 03:13:22 PDT
Google is set to pay Apple nearly $3 billion this year to remain as the default search engine on iPhones and iPads, according to U.S. research and brokerage firm Bernstein (via CNBC).

According to the investor note, Google is paying out three times as much to Apple as it did in 2014 for the same privilege, with Google's licensing fees making up a large bulk of Apple's services business.

"Court documents indicate that Google paid Apple $1B in 2014, and we estimate that total Google payments to Apple in FY 17 may approach $3B," CNBC quoted analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. as saying.

"Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for five per cent of Apple's total operating profits this year, and may account for 25 per cent of total company OP growth over the last two years," he added.
Apple has increasingly highlighted its services business as a core component of its continued growth. In a recent conference call, for example, CEO Tim Cook said the company's services had become as large as a Fortune 100 company over the last 12 months.

Apple's iOS devices contribute about 50 per cent to Google's mobile search revenue, according to Sacconaghi, suggesting Google would be unlikely to walk away from the licensing deal even if it suspected Apple would stick with Google as the default search engine anyway, given its huge popularity.

Tag: Google

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Snapchat's New 'Crowd Surf' Feature Stitches Together Users' Concert Videos

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 02:37:04 PDT
Snapchat is currently trialling a new concert-related feature on the platform that stitches together individual video clips from different users to create one seamless video.

Called Crowd Surf, the feature uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to work out when multiple users are actively recording the same event.

By combining the two technologies, Crowd Surf is able to match clips from various users filming at different angles in close proximity, and then overlay the environmental audio seamlessly, creating what's essentially a multi-camera video clip.

Users who later watch the video can then tap a button in the lower right of the clip to switch between angles, or simply sit back and let the transitions take place automatically as the action unfolds.


According to TechCrunch, the feature made its debut on the platform during a Lorde concert in San Francisco on Monday, the results of which can be viewed in the Featured section below the list of stories.

Snapchat says the Crowd Surf feature is still being tested, but will gradually be rolled out to coincide with more high profile events such as concerts and public speeches going forward.

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

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Apple Watch 3 Won't Have 'Obvious Change' to Form Factor, LTE to Be Main Selling Point

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:46:15 PDT
The third-generation Apple Watch, expected to be introduced alongside new iPhones this fall, does not feature an obvious change to form factor, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a new note shared with investors this afternoon, Kuo says LTE connectivity will be the main selling point of the new device.


The Apple Watch will keep the same two case sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and will be available in LTE and non-LTE versions, much like the iPad. Previous rumors have suggested the major carriers in the United States will offer add-on cellular service for the new LTE Apple Watch, and the plans may work similarly to iPad data plans.

Kuo believes shipments of the new Apple Watch models will reach 8 to 9 million units in the second half of 2017, with the LTE model to account for 35 to 40 percent of shipments. Overall, he forecasts 17.5 to 18 million units shipped in 2017, up 70 percent year-over-year.

According to Kuo, to drive major growth, Apple needs to introduce a radical form factor change, more FDA approvals supporting medical and health applications, and 5G commercialization.

Bloomberg first suggested the third-generation Apple Watch would include support for LTE in early August, allowing the wrist-worn device to be uncoupled from the iPhone for the first time.

Following Bloomberg's report, Daring Fireball's John Gruber said he had heard from a "little birdie" that the third-generation Apple Watch would feature an "all-new form factor," but he warned that the information might be inaccurate.

Based on Kuo's report and a lack of rumors hinting at major design changes, it appears we may not see significant design changes after all.


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