Mac Rumors

Apple Responds to Hack Threats, Says There Were no iCloud or Apple ID Breaches

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:57:00 PDT
In response to a ransom threat in which hackers are claiming to have access to more than 600 million iCloud accounts, Apple told Fortune there have been no breaches of its systems.

Instead, if the hackers do have access to iCloud accounts, Apple suggests previously compromised third-party services are at fault. From an Apple spokesperson:
There have not been any breaches in any of Apple's systems including iCloud and Apple ID," the spokesperson said. "The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.
Apple's response follows a report from Motherboard that suggests a group of hackers known as the "Turkish Crime Family" have claimed to have access to hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts.


The Turkish Crime Family has threatened to reset the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe victims' Apple devices if Apple does not pay $150,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum by April 7. If Apple does not pay in three days, the group plans to increase the amount of money it is asking for.

Originally the group was believed to have access to 300 million icloud.com, me.com, and mac.com email addresses, but that number later jumped to 627 million due to additional hackers allegedly stepping forward to provide account credentials. The hackers say at least 220 million of the login credentials are verified to work and do not have two-factor authentication enabled.

With Apple denying a breach, the iCloud account information has likely been obtained from major hacking incidents that have affected companies like Yahoo. iCloud users who have the same username and password that was used for both a hacked site and for iCloud should change their passwords immediately.

The Apple spokesperson also told Fortune the company is "actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved," but did not outline what specific steps are being taken to monitor the situation beyond "standard procedure."

Apple recommends that all iCloud users choose strong passwords, use different passwords for different sites, and turn on two-factor authentication to protect their accounts.
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Apple Acquires Popular Automation App Workflow

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:48:16 PDT
Apple has acquired well-known and popular automation app Workflow, reports TechCrunch. The deal was reportedly finalized today for an unspecified sum.

Workflow, first released in 2014, is an automation tool that can essentially do anything. It allows users to create a variety of workflows to accomplish tasks like creating GIFs from a series of photos, pulling images from a web page, translating an article, posting photos to multiple social networks at once, calculating a tip, and tons more.


It is equipped with a built-in Gallery, which allows people to quickly find and use a wide range of automation tasks, and it can be used to create custom automations.

Apple is purchasing the Workflow app and the Workflow team, including Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, and Nick Frey, will be joining the company.
"We are thrilled to be joining Apple," said Weinstein in a statement. "We've worked closely with Apple from the very beginning, from kickstarting our company as students attending WWDC to developing and launching Workflow and seeing its amazing success on the App Store. We can't wait to take our work to the next level at Apple and contribute to products that touch people across the world.
Apple confirmed the acquisition of Workflow, which notably received an Apple Design Award in 2015 for its excellent accessibility features, likely one of the reasons behind the purchase.

Typically apps acquired from Apple disappear from the App Store, but Workflow will remain available and will be made free starting later today. The Gallery will continue to be updated on a regular basis, as will app integrations.

Beyond the app, it is not clear what Apple will do with Workflow in the future, and whether it will be built into future versions of iOS and macOS, but it is definitely a possibility. TechCrunch speculates that it could be used alongside Siri in the future, or perhaps be the backbone of powerful automation tools for the iPad.

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


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Nintendo's 'Super Mario Run' for iOS Updated With New Characters, Easy Mode and More Free Content

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:27:48 PDT
Nintendo today released version 2.0 of Super Mario Run, its popular Mario-themed platform game for iOS devices. Today's update adds a host of new features, including new playable characters, an easy mode, additional free content, and more.

Starting today, players can get different colored Yoshis in Super Mario Run. Using a Yoshi of a particular color to play Toad Rally will result in more Toads of that color when a rally is won.


For customers who have not purchased the full Super Mario Run game, Nintendo is adding more free content, in the form of Bowser's Challenges. Completing one of Bowser's challenges will unlock the previous locked 1-4 course. Clearing 1-4 will then unlock new courses to play in Toad Rally, new Toad colors, and new Shop buildings.

For tough challenges and for players who aren't as skilled, an Easy Mode has been added to the game that can be selected when using World Tour mode. This will make the basic Mario levels easier to complete.

Nintendo has also made adjustments to the tutorial to make it easier to understand special actions, pink coins, and more, and there have also been tweaks to the number of Rally Tickets received from the ? Block and it's now easier to get some of the buildings in the shop.

For Toad Rally, the appearance rates of various Toads have been adjusted, making it easier to get Toads to purchase buildings.

In the future, Nintendo also plans to add additional buildings that will be unlocked by an event.

Super Mario Run can be downloaded from the App Store for free, but it will cost $9.99 to unlock the full game. [Direct Link]


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The New iPad vs. 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air 2

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:07:22 PDT
Apple yesterday announced the newest addition to its iPad lineup, somewhat confusingly called the "iPad" and known officially as the "5th-generation iPad," following in the footsteps of the fourth-generation model that was released before the iPad Air.

Designed to replace the iPad Air, the iPad comes with a tantalizingly low price tag: $329. It is Apple's most affordable tablet to date and it's a competitive price point that will allow the iPad to better compete with lower-priced Android offerings.

What do you get for $329? As it turns out, quite a lot. The iPad is a little bit iPhone 6s, a little bit iPad Air, and a little bit iPad Air 2.


In a nutshell, compared to the iPad Air 2, the iPad has a brighter display and a faster A9 processor (first introduced in the iPhone 6s). Other internal hardware seems to be very similar to what's included in the iPad Air 2, with the exception of the display and the casing. Camera, battery life, Wi-Fi, LTE, and other sensors are all nearly the same.

The iPad does not include a laminated display, and is thus thicker, much like the original iPad Air. It measures in at 7.5mm thick, compared to the 6.1mm iPad Air 2. The thickness and accompanying weight discrepancy is noticeable and the one downside between the new iPad and its predecessor.

Compared to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the new iPad is, of course, significantly inferior, which is why it's priced at $329 and not $599. It does not support the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard (no Smart Connector), and it lacks many of the display improvements, including True Tone color shifting and wide color gamut.

The iPad has a slower processor than the iPad Pro, an inferior camera (8-megapixel vs. 12-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel vs. 5-megapixel front), two speakers instead of four, a slower LTE modem, and of course, since the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the same size as the iPad Air 2, the iPad is noticeably thicker and heavier.

If you're looking for top of the line hardware and accessory support, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the tablet to buy, but if you don't need the bells and whistles, the iPad is a steal at its price point.

Performance wise, it's going to run all the latest games and apps, it'll take decent pictures, it still has a high-quality Retina display, and it features a 10 hour battery life, so it will hold up for several years, especially when doing basic tasks like web browsing and emailing.



Click for larger version

For those looking for a bit more, Apple is rumored to be planning to introduce an updated ~10-inch iPad Pro model that's going to replace the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The ~10-inch model is said to have smaller bezels and perhaps an edge-to-edge display, allowing it to feature a bigger screen in a 9.7-inch-sized body.

That tablet was originally rumored to be coming in the spring, but now it's looking like we won't see it until later in the year. Based on rumors, it may be worth the wait for those willing to shell out more money for the best technology.

Apple plans to start selling the new iPad on Friday, March 24. The entry-level 32GB Wi-Fi only model will be priced at $329, and a 128GB model is available for $429. Wi-Fi + Cellular models are available at a $130 premium, so $459 for 32GB and $559 for 128GB.

For more details on Apple's new iPad, make sure to check out our official iPad roundup. And for details on the upcoming iPad Pro updates, check out our iPad Pro roundup.


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Best Buy Offering $25 Gift Card With Purchase of New iPad

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:46:16 PDT
With the purchase of one of Apple's new iPads, announced yesterday, Best Buy is offering a free $25 Best Buy gift card that can be used towards future Best Buy purchases.

The $25 gift card is a small amount, but it's the best sale we've seen on the as-of-yet unreleased iPad, effectively dropping the price of the entry-level tablet to $305.


In its retail stores, Best Buy is also offering a $150 Best Buy gift card with the trade-in of any working iPad mini 2, mini 3, mini 4, iPad Air, or iPad Pro, with the total able to be put towards the price of the new iPad. Devices must be in working condition with no cracks to be eligible for trade-in.

Customers can't yet place an order for the new iPad from Best Buy, but can sign up for email notifications. The new iPad will go on sale at 8:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, March 24.

Apple's new iPad is positioned as a low-cost 9.7-inch tablet designed to replace the iPad Air 2. It features an upgraded A9 processor, a brighter display, and a thicker iPad Air-style body.

Prices on the iPad start at $329 for the entry-level 32GB Wi-Fi only model. A 128GB model is available for $429, and Wi-Fi + Cellular models are available for an additional $130.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
Tag: Best Buy

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How to Tell Whether Your New LG UltraFine 5K Display Has the Shielding Fix

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:09:37 PDT
Last week, we shared a brief video showing that LG's revisions to the shielding in the UltraFine 5K display have successfully addressed issues with the display flickering and disconnecting when in close proximity to Wi-Fi routers. Apple and LG had temporarily pulled the display from the market while LG adjusted its manufacturing processes to incorporate the fix and push the new stock into sales channels, and sales of the revised display began earlier this month.

At the time of last week's post, we noted that customers purchasing the UltraFine 5K display should check for serial numbers beginning with 702 or 703, as these indicate manufacturing dates of February or March after the fix was put into place. Several MacRumors readers subsequently reported, however, that they have recently received units shipped from Apple with serial numbers starting with 612, indicating manufacturing dates in December 2016.

These readers have been uncertain as to whether their units have the revised shielding in place, or if they should be testing their displays to see if the flickering issue can be induced. One reader noticed that the label on the box of his December UltraFine 5K included a black circular sticker at the top left, a sticker that was not present on our original UltraFine 5K display that was manufactured in November and shipped in December and which was susceptible to the interference issue.

December 2016 unit retrofitted prior to sale (left) vs. March 2017 unit properly shielded from the start (right)

Newly manufactured UltraFine 5K units include a black square printed directly on the label in the same location, and LG has confirmed to MacRumors that the presence of a circle or square does in fact indicate that the unit has the revised internal shielding and should be protected from the interference issues.

While LG did not explicitly confirm any difference between a circle and a square, it appears that the square is indicative of a unit that was originally manufactured with the proper shielding, while the circle is used on earlier units that were subsequently retrofitted with the shielding before sale. There should be no difference in the performance of the two versions.

For those users with units lacking a circle or square on the label and thus susceptible to the Wi-Fi interference, LG is conducting free repairs to install the proper shielding. Users are advised to contact LG to arrange for the repair, which can take up to 7-10 business days once the display is received by the repair facility.

Customers interested in purchasing the UltraFine 5K should remember that Apple's 25 percent discount on USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 accessories is still scheduled to end on March 31, so they have just over a week to order the display at its discounted price of $974 before it goes back up to its regular price of $1299.95. It is possible Apple could extend the discount as it has done once already, but there are no guarantees.

Related Roundup: Displays
Tag: LG

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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 26 With WebGPU Prototype

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:44:12 PDT
safaripreviewiconApple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced one year 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 26 includes fixes and improvements for Web API, CSS, Rendering, Web Inspector, WebDriver, and WebCrypto. Today's update also includes a WebGPU prototype, accessible from the Experimental Features menu.

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.


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djay Pro for Mac Gains Touch Bar Enhancements, Pioneer DJ Integration

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:31:51 PDT
Algoriddim's djay Pro for Mac received a major update today, introducing a range of new features for both hobbyists and professional DJs.

Through a partnership with Pioneer DJ, djay Pro is now officially certified to work with hardware like the CDJ-200NXS2 and the TOUR1, equipment widely used by professionals.

Seamless plug-and-play integration adds support for Pioneer DJ's DJ Link technology, allowing users to connect up to four CDJs with their Pioneer mixer using a single USB cable through the new LAN Link feature. It's a much simpler setup, and allows for access to full Spotify and iTunes catalogs from the CDJ screens.

"djay Pro is the most modern way to DJ on your Mac," said Karim Morsy, CEO of Algoriddim. "This new version adds a host of new features for live performance, music discovery, and preparation. It combines the best of both worlds, content discovery via Spotify and hardware access through Pioneer DJ's state-of-the-art CDJ setups."
Touch Bar integration has been improved in the new version of djay Pro, adding the ability to manipulate two decks simultaneously, manually select the active deck, and navigate the library to preview and prepare songs. Other Touch Bar features that were added in a previous update let users scratch and slice tracks, apply filters and effects in realtime, and trigger audio samples.

djay Pro has long offered Spotify integration, but with the new update, there is improved access to the Spotify Browse feature, letting DJs quickly and easily discover new music based on mood, genre, and popularity.

Today's djay Pro update is free for all customers who own a copy of the software.

djay Pro for Mac can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $49.99. [Direct Link]


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Tim Cook Confirms Apple Will Make Global Fund Donations From Sales of Red iPhone 7 in China

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:45:05 PDT
With the news earlier today that Apple has ditched the PRODUCT(RED) branding for the red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in China, MacRumors reached out to CEO Tim Cook to find out if any of the proceeds on sales in the country would still be donated to charity in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
MacRumors' question: We noticed the (PRODUCT)RED branding is missing from the new red iPhone 7 on the China Apple website. Will you be donating any of the proceeds from the phone's China sales to the HIV/AIDs cause anyway?

Tim Cook's response: We donate to the Global Fund on every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus we sell in every country in the world.
Since the omission of the branding came to light, there's been some speculation that recent changes in Chinese law prevent not-for-profit organizations from being involved in commercial advertising. Whatever the truth of the matter, it appears Apple will be upholding its (PRODUCT)RED charitable donations commitment with or without said branding.

Apple's special edition red iPhone 7 models, due to be launched on Friday in more than 40 countries, are the first iPhones to join Apple's (PRODUCT)RED line-up. Apple said the new handset color was in recognition of more than 10 years of partnership between Apple and the charity (RED), offering customers a way to contribute to the Global Fund and "bring the world a step closer to an AIDS-free generation".

In the same press release, (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan said Apple is the world's largest corporate donor to the fund, having contributed more than $130 million to the charity, which seeks to provide "testing, counseling, treatment and prevention programs with a specific focus on eliminating transmission of the virus from moms to their babies".

Other Apple products in the (PRODUCT)RED range that are available all year round include the full iPod line of products, Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker, the iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, and a range of accessories for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

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.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: China, Tim Cook, (PRODUCT)RED

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Hackers Claim Access to 300 Million iCloud Accounts, Say Apple Refused to Pay $75,000 Ransom

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:12:26 PDT
A single hacker or group of hackers who have identified themselves as the "Turkish Crime Family" allegedly have access to at least 300 million iCloud accounts, but they are willing to delete the alleged cache of data if Apple pays a ransom by early next month, according to a report from Motherboard.


The hackers have allegedly demanded $75,000 to be paid in cryptocurrencies Bitcoin or Ethereum, or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards, by April 7, or they will reset a number of the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe victims' Apple devices. The email accounts are said to include @icloud.com, @me.com, and @mac.com addresses.

The report said that the hackers "provided screenshots of alleged emails between the group and members of Apple's security team," while the hackers also shared an unlinked YouTube video that seemingly shows proof of them accessing "an elderly woman's iCloud account" and "the ability to remotely wipe the device."

If the screenshotted email is accurate, which it very well might not be, a member of Apple's security team turned down the ransom, noting that Apple does "not reward cyber criminals for breaking the law."
"We firstly kindly request you to remove the video that you have uploaded on your YouTube channel as it's seeking unwanted attention, second of all we would like you to know that we do not reward cyber criminals for breaking the law," a message allegedly from a member of Apple's security team reads. (Motherboard only saw a screenshot of this message, and not the original). The alleged Apple team member then says archived communications with the hacker will be sent to the authorities.
Apple did apparently request to see a sample of the dataset, according to the report, but it is unclear if the hackers obliged.

"I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing," one of the hackers said.

The report should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism, as these allegations could be untrue, and Apple has yet to confirm or comment on the matter.

Update: The group claims additional hackers have stepped forward and shared additional account credentials, putting the number of accessible iCloud accounts at over 627 million, according to security-centric website CSO Online.


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Google Maps Introduces New Location Sharing Feature With Real-Time Friend Tracking

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:57:57 PDT
Google today announced an update coming to the iOS, Android, and desktop versions of Google Maps will introduce a way for users to share their real-time locations with friends and family. Google's update differs from the location sharing in Apple Maps, Messages, and Find My Friends, which all lack the ability to follow friends around on a map in real-time.

In Google Maps on iOS, users will be able to tap into the app's side menu, choose "Share Location," and pick from a selection of approved contacts who will see their current location. Contacts are pulled from existing Google accounts, and users can also send links through Messages to friends who aren't on their contacts list when they need to share their location.


After a user's location is shared, their chosen contacts will see where they are within Google Maps, represented as a small face icon that moves in real-time according to where the sharer is located. A small icon above the compass in the app will remind users that their location is being shared for the period of time they requested, but they can also choose to end sharing early.

Google today posted a video to detail a real scenario where its location sharing feature could come in handy, focusing on the creation of a surprise birthday party. The video also shows off how users can share their car trips with friends, so they can see an ETA on when the sharer should be arriving.


Google said that location sharing will be rolling out worldwide sometime soon. Google Maps can be downloaded for free from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]


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iPhone Named World's Most Popular Smartphone Last Year

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:34:56 PDT
iPhone was the world's most popular smartphone last year, in terms of global shipments, according to research firm IHS Markit.


iPhone 6s took the top spot as the most-shipped smartphone in the world in 2016, trailed by the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 6s Plus, based on research from IHS Markit's Smartphone Shipment Database, which tracks quarterly shipment data for more than 350 smartphone models.

Samsung's Galaxy S7 edge took the fifth spot, followed by the low-cost Galaxy J3 and several other Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S7. Notably absent was the Galaxy Note7, which was recalled last year due to safety concerns after some units were found to have defective batteries.

Apple's lead over Samsung is impressive given that the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge were launched in March 2016, around six months prior to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September. The mid-range Galaxy J3, Galaxy J5, and Galaxy J7 also preceded the latest iPhone models when they launched in April 2016.


The above chart makes it hard to determine exactly how many shipments each smartphone model had, but it looks like the iPhone 6s was around 60 million, while the Galaxy S7 edge and most other Samsung smartphones are around the 25 million mark. IHS declined our request for specific shipment figures.

An earlier version of the chart had the iPhone 6s Plus labeled twice. IHS Markit has corrected this mistake and sent us the new chart shown above.

Oppo's A53, a popular smartphone in markets such as China and India, was the only smartphone not manufactured by Apple or Samsung to make the list. Huawei, the world's third largest smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple, did not have any of the top ten smartphones shipped last year, IHS said.

Apple's iPhone 6s was similarly declared the world's most-shipped smartphone in the second quarter of 2016 by research firm Strategy Analytics, ahead of the iPhone 7, and if IHS Markit's data is accurate, then Apple's last-generation smartphone remained most popular through to the end of last year.

It is important to acknowledge that these are estimated figures, and that shipments do not necessarily reflect sales. Apple does not break out iPhone sales on a model-by-model basis in its quarterly earnings results.

Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone 7
Tag: IHS
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

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Siri and Alexa Battling to Become Go-To Voice Assistants in Hotel Rooms

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:50:14 PDT
Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa are being put through their paces in a "tech incubator" hotel chain, in order to determine which voice assistant brings more to the table for guests wanting to order room service, control lights, change TV channels, adjust the temperature, and more (via Bloomberg). The main incubator for the test is happening in Aloft Hotels, which are owned by Marriott.

The Aloft Hotel in Boston is using Amazon Echo devices and a collection of iPhones and iPads to gather information on which voice assistant will ultimately best serve guests in the long run. Marriott hasn't divulged information on who might be the winner as of yet, but the company did say that it expects to decide if it will expand the test to more chains besides Aloft Hotels "as early as mid-year."

Marriott expects to decide whether to adopt the technology for one or more of its chains as early as mid-year, potentially boosting sales for the device of choice. More important, it will increase the winning company’s exposure in the market for voice-activated devices, which are gaining more mainstream traction.

“Those two players are in the game right now,” said Toni Stoeckl, who oversees the Aloft, Element, AC and Moxy chains as global brand leader for lifestyle brands at Marriott. There are almost 130 Aloft hotels in the U.S., and more than 100 additional ones planned.
Carolina Milanesi, a market analyst with Creative Strategies, compared the introduction of voice assistants into hotel rooms to when the hospitality industry began putting iPhone docking stations into rooms so guests could easily charge their phone and listen to their own music. Still, personalization with the voice assistants remains a key question for the new tests. As of now it's unclear whether guests will be able to somehow access their own accounts to use Alexa and Siri, or be treated with a "standard set of skills relevant to a hotel stay," concerning news reports, weather forecasts, and other default commands that might be easier for guests unfamiliar with voice assistant technology.

In regards to the overall voice assistant battle over hotel rooms, Alexa currently appears to be winning. Amazon's assistant and its connected speaker system Echo are now helping out guests in hotels like the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, with Alexa devices installed in 10 of 1,002 rooms and plans to add around 100 more as early as next month. On an even bigger scale, the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas plans to equip all 4,748 rooms with an Echo speaker by this summer.

Although most users agree Siri is inferior to other assistants from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, Apple isn't out of the running yet in the battle to win hotel rooms, and Siri's advantageous support of multiple languages could give it a leg up over its competition with international travelers. According to Toni Stoeckl, Marriott's global brand leader, the company is searching for which voice assistant can become the "ideal solution" and ultimately turn into "a global platform" with Siri or Alexa installed at multiple of its locations around the world. Stoeckl said that the company should have an indicator of where it's headed by the end of 2017, so "the race is still on."
Marriott’s Stoeckl said his company is “looking for the ideal solution to make this a global platform.” Aloft hotels act as a “tech incubator” for new concepts, and a successful test may determine whether digital assistants -- and which ones -- are installed at other Marriott chains, he said.
Of course that means that neither assistant could win, but the company said it will continue to test both out in its Aloft Hotels, and even plans to add more "concierge-like" services in the future, which hint that more personalized experiences are likely to be introduced. These include the ability to connect with a guest's personal smartphone to fuel actions like setting an automatic wake-up temperature or creating an activation time to open the room's drapes.

Voice assistants continue to be a dominant factor in the smartphone and tablet market, and thanks to devices like the Echo speaker, they're expanding into unique product categories as well. Reports have been scarce lately, but last year Apple was said to be "pressing ahead" into prototype testing for its own standalone Siri speaker. The Cupertino company is also believed to be working on "enhanced Siri" capabilities that should beef up the assistant's presence on iOS devices, likely to begin with this year's "iPhone 8."


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Apple Drops iPhone 7 (PRODUCT)RED Branding in China

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:36:40 PDT
Yesterday, Apple announced a special edition (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, to go with its current (PRODUCT)RED line-up that Apple promotes as a way for customers to support HIV/AIDS charity (RED).

The red handset, which launches on Friday, is the first time Apple has included its flagship phone in the promotional line-up, but the PRODUCT(RED) iPhone branding does not apply across all regions.

Apple's Taiwan website

As noted by TechCrunch, internet users have spotted that the (PRODUCT)RED branding is missing on the regional China website, but all other details including launch date and time remain identical, indicating that Apple is promoting the red iPhone in the country simply as an additional colorway.

Apple's China website

Sex remains a controversial issue in China, where traditional values frequently clash with more liberal Western attitudes as the country's economic boom increasingly opens it to outside influence. In the past, AIDS and HIV have been characterized in China as a consequence of contact with the West, but recent legislation has been more progressive and a lot more successful in treating the AIDS/HIV problem in the country.

Despite the gradual change in attitudes, it's likely Apple took the decision to drop the (PRODUCT)RED affiliation in order to avoid possible tension with the Chinese government, following recent incidents in which the company has fallen foul of China's restrictive internet policies.

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.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: (PRODUCT)RED

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Amazon Brings 'Send to Kindle' Read-it-Later Feature to Safari iOS

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 03:42:07 PDT
Amazon has added a long-awaited Pocket-style read-it-later feature to its Kindle iOS app that allows users browsing the web to send articles to their Kindle device for offline reading.

Amazon has offered desktop Chrome and Firefox browser extensions to feed into its Send to Kindle feature for some time, but the company had not offered a Safari-compatible iOS solution until now.


The new feature works as a Send to Kindle extension in Safari's Share Sheet. After updating the Kindle app, users can add the extension by scrolling to the end of the first row of icons in Share Sheet, tapping the More button, and enabling it in the app list.

Users can find saved articles at the top of their library in the Kindle app as well as any Kindle devices associated with their Amazon account.

Articles are saved in Kindle format, meaning users can adjust their look in the usual way via the text, font, page color, and line spacing options. The articles are also compatible with Kindle features like dictionary lookup, translations, Wikipedia search, bookmarking, text highlighting, and annotations.

The read-it-later feature is included in the latest version of Kindle for iOS, which is a free download on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tags: Amazon, Kindle

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Bear Notes 1.1 Update Adds Infinite Nested Tags, Note Merging, 3D Touch, New Code Syntax Support, and More

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 02:36:42 PDT
Flexible writing platform Bear Notes received its first major update on Tuesday, bringing a number of highly requested features to the popular Mac/iOS app.

Perhaps top of the list is the new ability to infinitely nest tags. Previously, users could organize their notes by structuring tags in simple hierarchies, so a parent tag could have one child tag. Now, nested tags can go infinitely deep, allowing for more nuanced note organization.


A handful of other general updates include the ability to bulk delete and rename tags, change the note list font, a new way to exclude search terms, additional support to import from other apps such as Day One, code syntax highlighting in exported documents, and better Word exports.

There's also a new High Contrast theme ideal for visually impaired users, three additional font choices, new shortcuts, expanded support for programming language syntax highlighting, and the ability to undo completed tasks.

Meanwhile, a raft of Mac and iOS specific enhancements have also been made to the writing platform.


On the Mac side, Bear introduces Touch Bar support, tag drag and drop, multiple note merging, Quadro app support, QuickLook preview support, and a new Firefox extension.

For iOS users comes the ability to Peek and Pop notes in the notes list via 3D Touch, enhanced formatting options for importing web pages via the Bear Notes extension, haptic feedback options for multiple actions, and the ability to ask Siri to read Bear notes.

The full list of updates and enhancements can be found on the Bear Notes blog.

The core version of Bear Notes v1.1 is a free download for Mac and iOS. Bear Pro is offered as a $1.49 monthly or $14.99 yearly subscription, and enables syncing between devices, exporting notes, and switching themes.
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Amazon Music iOS App Now Supports CarPlay

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:58:18 PDT
Amazon today updated its Amazon Music app for iOS devices to version 6.4.0, adding a small but important new feature: support for CarPlay.

With the latest version of the Amazon Music app, Amazon Music subscribers who own a vehicle equipped with CarPlay can access their music directly through the CarPlay interface when an iPhone is connected to the car.

Amazon Music is available to Amazon Prime subscribers, with two million songs, playlists, and stations included in a membership.

Separate Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions are also available for on-demand listening to "tens of millions" of songs, with pricing starting at $7.99 for Prime members ($9.99 without a Prime subscription). A lower-cost Echo-only plan is also available for $3.99 per month.

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

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tags: Amazon, Amazon Music Unlimited

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New (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 Plus Shown Off in Unboxing Video

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:43:19 PDT
Early this morning, Apple unveiled new Special Edition (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, which feature a vibrant red aluminum finish paired with a silver Apple logo and white front bezels.

While the new red iPhone models won't be available for purchase until Friday, March 24, tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee got his hands on one of the new devices early, and has shown it off in the first (PRODUCT)RED iPhone unboxing video.


The (PRODUCT)RED iPhone ships in a box decorated with red text and a red iPhone, and inside, there's a (PRODUCT)RED insert alongside the regular manuals. Aside from that, the packaging is the same as other iPhone models with a charging cable and Lightning EarPods.

Brownlee's first reaction to the (PRODUCT)RED iPhone was "Wow, this thing is really red and really good looking." He goes on to say that it's as "ridiculously good as you think," and calls it the most photogenic iPhone he's seen in a long time.

According to Brownlee, in person, the device has an almost satin finish that is super saturated, and because it's not as dark as the Matte and Jet Black iPhones, it isn't as prone to showing fingerprints. Brownlee is not a fan of the white front of the device (he calls it "goofy") and says he'd prefer it with a black front.

Apple release the Special Edition (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to celebrate more than 10 years of partnership with the (RED) charity. All (PRODUCT)RED purchases let customers contribute to the Global Fund to join the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Over the course of its 10 year partnership with (RED), Apple has been responsible for donating more than $130 million and is the largest corporate donor to the Global Fund.

The new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone models are available in 128GB and 256GB storage capacities, priced at $749/$849 for the iPhone 7 and $869/$969 for the iPhone 7 Plus. As mentioned above, the new devices will go on sale on Friday in more than 40 countries around the world.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7

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Recap: Everything Apple Announced Today in Under 3 Minutes

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:51:35 PDT
Apple didn't hold an official event to make major announcements this week, but there was a mini press release extravaganza that saw the company introduce new hardware products, a new app, and improvements to existing devices.

A new 9.7-inch iPad debuted with an impressively low $329 price point, and there's now a red aluminum iPhone 7. New Apple Watch bands are out, there are iPhone cases in new colors, Apple is about to release an app for making videos, and the iPhone SE and the iPad mini 4 got new minimum storage tiers and pricing drops.

We've recapped everything Apple announced today in the video below, and we've rounded up all of our new product coverage.


- Apple Debuts New 9.7-Inch iPad With A9 Chip to Replace iPad Air 2, Starting at $329

- iPad Mini 4 With 128GB of Storage Now Starts at $399 as 32GB Model Discontinued

- Apple Unveils Special Edition (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

- Apple Announces Video Creation iOS App 'Clips'

- Apple Doubles iPhone SE Storage to 32GB and 128GB

- Apple Watch Gets New Striped Woven Nylon, Classic Buckle, and Standalone Nike Sport Bands

- Apple Launches New Silicone and Leather iPhone 7 Case Colors

- Apple Discontinues iPad Mini 2

- Swift Playgrounds Now Available in Five Additional Languages

While we saw new devices today, there's still quite a bit on the horizon. The much-rumored ~10-inch iPad with a revamped design has yet to make an appearance, and we're still awaiting a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, too, along with Kaby Lake Macs and the highly anticipated iPhone 8.

With no event coming up in the near future, we may be waiting until June's Worldwide Developers Conference or the fall to see many of these new releases but make sure to keep an eye on MacRumors for the latest rumors on Apple's launch plans.
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Apple Releases iTunes 12.6 With Cross-Device Movie Rental Access

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:01:54 PDT
Following a slew of new product announcements early this morning, Apple today released iTunes 12.6, the next major update for the iTunes app on Mac devices.

iTunes 12.6 introduces a "Rent once, watch anywhere" feature that lets iTunes users watch iTunes movie rentals across all devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

Prior to this update, an iTunes movie was only available on a single device at a time. When a movie rented on a Mac was transferred to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod using USB, the movie became unavailable from an iTunes library until returned to the Mac.

A movie rented on an iOS device or an Apple TV was not previously watchable on other devices and could not be transferred between devices.

The wording of the release notes seems to suggest we're going to see iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 released in the very near future, as the new iTunes update pertains specifically to those releases. We could see new software as soon as tomorrow.

According to Apple's release notes, the update also includes minor app and performance improvements.

The new iTunes 12.6 update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free.

Tag: iTunes

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