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Featured Apps in Revamped iOS 11 App Store Can See 800% Download Boost

1 hour 31 min ago
Earning a featured spot in the revamped iOS App Store can increase app downloads by up to 800 percent, according to new data sourced from app analytics site Sensor Tower and shared by TechCrunch.

The data, collected from September 2017 to the present, suggests an app that's highlighted using either the "App of the Day" or "Game of the Day" feature in the U.S. sees the greatest increase in downloads.


Specifically, "Game of the Day" apps have seen a median download increase of 802 percent for the week following the feature, while "App of the Day" apps have seen a boost of 685 percent.

Other features, such as a developer story or an app list can increase downloads by up to 240 percent. Stories resulted in a 222 percent boost in downloads, while app lists increased downloads by 240 percent. A theme feature had the lowest impact at a 164 percent increase in downloads.


Sensor Tower has also outlined what kind of data Apple has chosen to highlight through the new App Store design. Many of the top publishers that have been featured are larger companies, like Electronic Arts, Warner Bros., Square Enix, Gameloft, Noodlecake Studios, and King, which is unsurprising as these companies have put out some of the most popular apps in the App Store.

13 of the top 15 featured publishers had at least one million U.S. iPhone downloads since the launch of the new App Store.


Apple has, however, also focused on highlighting indie apps. 29 percent of apps featured since the launch of the new App Store have been from publishers who had fewer than 10,000 downloads at the time."While it's clearly the case that big publishers are more likely to receive the largest number of features, small publishers still very much have their chance to benefit from a feature on the App Store," said Sensor Tower's Mobile Insights Analyst, Jonathan Briskman.Apple introduced the redesigned App Store in iOS 11 to offer additional opportunities for exposure to app developers. The new App Store includes a "Today" section that's updated daily with app suggestions, featured spots, app lists, developer features, and more, and it splits apps and games into two distinct categories.

Content featured in the new App Store is chosen and curated by Apple's App Store editorial team, which ensures high-quality recommendations that don't rely solely on popularity rankings.

As noted by TechCrunch, Sensor Tower's data suggests that Apple's goal of increasing developer exposure through the new App Store design has largely been a successful venture.

Tag: App Store
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MacRumors Giveaway: Win AirPods in a Color of Your Choice From ColorWare

3 hours 16 min ago
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with ColorWare to give MacRumors readers a chance to win a set of custom-painted AirPods, which are available in dozens of different colors.

ColorWare is a company that's been around for quite some time, offering custom paint jobs and unique skins for a range of electronic devices. AirPods can be ordered from ColorWare in custom colors for a fee of $299, with an additional $40 fee to paint the case a matching shade.


At $299 (or $349 with the case), there's a premium for choosing AirPods from ColorWare, but ColorWare is the only site that offers one-of-a-kind color options you can't get anywhere else.


ColorWare's AirPods can be ordered in one of several solid or metallic colors, with both gloss and matte finishes available. Traditional black, gold, silver, and gray shades are options, but there are also a several bright shades in every color of the rainbow. If you want AirPods in teal, red, green, purple, or pink, ColorWare is the way to go.


You can choose to have both AirPods custom painted in the same color along with the case, or you can get each AirPod and the case all in different colors, meaning there are quite a few available color combinations.


ColorWare has been custom-painting devices since 1998 and has had a lot of time to perfect the painting process. The company uses a coating process that includes a primer, an application of a proprietary color formula, and an X2 liquid plastic coating that protects the new color.


Because ColorWare is using traditional AirPods, full AirPods functionality is intact, with a W1 chip for easy pairing, a long battery life, a built-in accelerometer for ear detection, iCloud support for quick device switching, and support for gestures.

We have one set of custom-painted AirPods and Charging Case to give away, with the winner to choose the color and finish of their choice. We've also teamed up with ColorWare to offer MacRumors readers an exclusive 30 percent discount on all iPhone, iPad, and Mac skins, which is a more affordable way to get a fresh device color.


To get the discount, just visit ColorWare's site and click on the MacRumors banner at the top of any page.

To enter to win our giveaway, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (April 20) at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on April 27. The winner will be chosen randomly on April 27 and will be contacted by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before a new winner is chosen.

Related Roundup: AirPodsTag: giveawayBuyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)
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Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover Plan Combo Checkout Button to Compete With PayPal

5 hours 29 min ago
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover are planning to combine their online payment options into "a single button," hoping to make customers' shopping easier and reduce friction in the checkout process. The button will be a major competitor to PayPal, and combat what's called "the Nascar effect," where multiple payment logos and options dot the purchasing interface on online marketplaces "like the side of a race car" (via Bloomberg).

The new project is being headed by Visa and Mastercard, which announced during an industry conference that they will integrate the Visa Checkout and Masterpass payment options into the button. Afterwards, spokespeople for American Express and Discover announced they are joining the project as well. With all of these platforms located behind one button, users who already have payment options saved in each will be able to checkout "with a few clicks."


Still, the project is in early stages, with a name and the visual design of the button still undecided. Visa and Mastercard hope to start moving customers enrolled in Visa Checkout and Masterpass to the new program by the end of this year, and expanded checkout support is expected in 2019.

With all of the major credit and debit card companies joining forces, the new button is believed to be a direct competitor to PayPal, which amalgamates a customer's credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts into one place for easier checkouts.
The aim, according to the card networks, is to make online shopping simple, letting people finish with a few clicks -- an experience pioneered by PayPal Holdings Inc. Yet some analysts say the coordinated effort may ratchet up competition between cards and PayPal, something long seen as a potential risk to that company’s meteoric growth.

“This is always kind of a looming threat to PayPal,” said Thomas McCrohan, an analyst at Mizuho Americas after the first announcements this week. In a recent survey, 58 percent of merchants said they accepted PayPal in 2017, followed by Apple Pay at 48 percent, Visa Checkout at 26 percent, Masterpass at 16 percent, and AmEx Express Checkout at 9 percent. By providing a less splintered landscape for online shopping, the credit card companies hope to increase visibility among the "one-button concept" marketplace, where people currently "think of PayPal and Amazon Pay," analyst Raymond Pucci said. "People don't really say, 'Oh yeah, Visa and Mastercard.'"

PayPal has been facing increased pressure from rival payments processors recently, with eBay in February detailing plans to phase out its 15-year-long partnership with PayPal to integrate Adyen as its primary payments platform.

PayPal and eBay have an operating agreement to stay partners through mid-2020, so the Adyen alliance will begin slowly by educating buyers and sellers about the new processor in late 2018 and throughout 2019. By 2021, eBay wants to have "transitioned a majority" of its marketplace customers to Adyen, at which time PayPal will be relegated to a secondary checkout option.

Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and Visa also plan to make checkouts simpler in physical stores, this month eliminating the signature requirement for purchases.

Tags: American Express, Visa, Discover, PayPal, MasterCard
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New iPhone SE Could Launch in May With Touch ID and A10 Fusion, Without 3.5mm Headphone Jack

6 hours 14 min ago
Apple will release an updated iPhone SE in May, according to case makers who spoke with Japanese website Mac Otakara at the Global Sources Mobile Electronics trade show in Hong Kong this week.


The case makers said the second-generation model will retain the same physical size as the current iPhone SE, and Touch ID is expected to remain, suggesting the device will continue to have a four-inch display sandwiched between top and bottom bezels for the home button, camera, and earpiece.

Following in the footsteps of the iPhone 7 and beyond, the case makers do not expect the new iPhone SE to have a 3.5mm headphone jack. If accurate, and with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus likely to be discontinued in September, Apple would no longer sell any iPhone model with a headphone jack.

Also like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the new iPhone SE will supposedly be powered by Apple's last-generation A10 Fusion chip, up to 40 percent faster than the A9 processor in the current iPhone SE. The chip will likely enable support for the HEIF image format and HEVC video compression standard.

The report speculates that the new iPhone SE may have a glass back with wireless charging capabilities, like the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, but evidence is said to be inconclusive at this time.

It's unclear how and where the case makers obtained this information, but they are likely compelled to dig up details from the supply chain in order to be first to the market with properly fitting cases and accessories.

Earlier this week, Apple filed several unreleased iPhone models with the Eurasian Economic Commission, as legally required, and this action has often foreshadowed product launches. Apple submitted a new tablet to the database in February, for example, and the new 9.7-inch iPad debuted in March.

If history repeats itself, the regulatory filings in April do lend credence to a new iPhone SE debuting next month. DigiTimes also predicted May or June. Apple has only debuted new products in May twice in the past five years, including the fifth-generation iPod touch in 2013 and a refreshed 15-inch MacBook Pro in 2015.

WWDC 2018 in June could also provide Apple with stage time to introduce the new iPhone SE, but that hasn't happened since the iPhone 4 in 2010. A press release in May could be more fitting if the update is insignificant.

iPhone SE rumors have been all over the map in recent months. A sketchy report from Chinese website QQ.com, for example, claimed the second-generation model will have a larger 4.2-inch display, Touch ID, A10 Fusion chip, 2GB of RAM, and metal back and frame, available with 32GB or 128GB of storage.

Apple is likely most focused on making under-the-hood improvements to the iPhone SE, as the device is now outdated by a few years. At its $349 price point, its new design is unlikely to resemble the iPhone X.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who relays information from Apple's supply chain in Asia, recently cast some doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the second quarter of 2018.

If there really is a so-called iPhone SE 2 on Apple's roadmap, Kuo expects it will have few outward-facing changes. He predicts the device would likely have a faster processor and a lower price, rather than iPhone X-like features like a nearly full screen design, 3D sensing for Face ID, or wireless charging.

The current iPhone SE looks much like the iPhone 5s, including its smaller four-inch display preferred by a subset of customers. The device is powered by Apple's A9 chip, like the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and it has 2GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Touch ID.

Apple hasn't fully refreshed the iPhone SE since it launched in March 2016, but it did double its available storage capacities to 64GB and 128GB in March 2017. It also dropped the device's starting price to $349 last September.

Related Roundup: iPhone SETag: macotakara.jpBuyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Don't Buy)
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AT&T Reveals $15/Month Streaming Service Without Sports, Launching 'in the Next Few Weeks'

7 hours 2 min ago
AT&T is planning to add a new streaming service to its lineup called "AT&T Watch," priced at a low cost of $15 per month with the removal of all sports channels. The service will be one of the cheapest streaming bundles available on the market, and will even be free for AT&T wireless subscribers on unlimited plans (via The Wall Street Journal and Variety).


As of now not much else is known about AT&T Watch, including exactly what channels will be on offer, what platforms it will launch on, or even a specific launch date besides "in the next few weeks." When it does debut, the service will undercut Sling TV's cheapest $20/month streaming tier, and be more of a competitor to Philo's $16/month option, which predominantly advertises itself as the over-the-top bundle for people who don't watch sports.

The upcoming skinny bundle was announced yesterday by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, during his time on the witness stand where he defended his company's intent to acquire Time Warner. Stephenson mentioned AT&T Watch after the Justice Department argued that AT&T continuously raises prices for traditional DirecTV subscribers, reportedly "emphasizing" the new service and DirecTV Now's entry level $35/month tier, "while acknowledging price increases for traditional DirecTV subscribers."
Often speaking directly to the judge, Stephenson testified on the origins and rationale for the merger, but his examination also veered into other topics, like an email exchange he had with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg following last year’s Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference. He even revealed a new product offering, AT&T Watch, a $15-per-month bundle of channels, countering the Justice Department’s point that AT&T is still raising prices on its traditional DirecTV satellite service. AT&T's other streaming service, DirecTV Now, extends beyond the entry level $35/month for 60+ channels to $50/month for 80+ channels, $60/month for 100+ channels, and $70/month for 120+ channels. Additionally, the service includes an Apple TV 4K offer that's been ongoing since November 2017, providing the device to new subscribers at no extra cost when they pre-pay for anywhere between three to four months of service.

Tag: AT&T
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Samsung May Remain Exclusive Supplier of OLED Displays in 2018 iPhones Due to LG's Reported Production Issues

8 hours 3 min ago
LG Display is widely considered to be ramping up its OLED display production capabilities in hopes of securing orders for Apple's next-generation iPhone lineup, expected to be released later this year, but mass production challenges have caused the company to fall behind schedule, according to The Wall Street Journal.


The report, citing people familiar with the matter, claims that Apple recently subjected LG to a third round of prototype production for the OLED displays, described as an extra step that most suppliers don't go through for many components.

As a result, opinions within Apple are divided on whether LG Display will complement Samsung as a second source of OLED displays for the upcoming iPhones, according to the report. However, analysts at investment firm Susquehanna estimate that LG will supply as much as 20 percent of OLED displays for the 2018 lineup.

By securing orders from both Samsung and LG for OLED displays, Apple could benefit from more competitive prices and increased supply. Samsung is also one of Apple's largest rivals, so it's easy to see why Apple is aiming for diversification.

Should LG not be in a position to supply Apple with OLED displays for the next iPhones, it's unlikely that customers will notice much of an impact. If anything, availability of Apple's second-generation iPhone X and rumored iPhone X Plus could be slightly tighter, but supplies are typically limited at launch regardless.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhonesTags: LG, LG Display
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Apple Retail Store Logos Gain Green Leaves in Celebration of Earth Day

11 hours 16 min ago
In celebration of Earth Day, which takes place on Sunday, April 22, Apple has started tweaking the logos of some of its retail stores with green leaf accents, in a departure from the usual uniformly white design.

Apple Orchard Road Store, Singapore (Images courtesy of Stanford Chong)
For example, Singapore's Apple Orchard Road store has already been updated with the green logo, as Apple gears up for its annual Earth Day celebrations at multiple retail locations around the world.

In typical fashion, Apple store staff are also encouraged to wear green shirts instead of their usual blue ones to promote the event. Apple may also be planning to hold a special Earth Day celebratory event at its Cupertino headquarters, as it has done in the past.


Apple often uses Earth Day as a way to highlight its environmental efforts and reaffirm its commitment to recycling, renewable energy, and other initiatives. This year it is explicitly tying the event to its new GiveBack trade-in program, which offers customers credit and/or free recycling on old Apple devices, as well as a donation to Conservation International.

On Thursday, Apple published its environmental report outlining all of the improvements and changes that were implemented throughout 2017 and early 2018 to lessen the company's overall environmental impact.

In addition, Apple shared details on initiatives that support its goal of making its products using only recycled or renewable materials, and introduced a new iPhone disassembly robot named Daisy – an improved version of Liam, its first disassembly robot launched in 2016.

Also on Thursday, Apple Watch owners received a notification about an Earth Day activity challenge. If previous years are anything to go by, customers can expect more Earth Day-related goings-on from Apple over the coming days.

(Thanks, Stanford!)

Tags: Apple retail, Earth Day
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Greenpeace Criticizes Apple's 'Daisy' Recycling Robot, Says Focus Should be on 'Repairable and Upgradeable Product Design'

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 20:35
As part of its 2018 environmental report, Apple today unveiled the latest iteration of its recycling robot, named Daisy. Daisy is an upgraded version of Liam, the recycling robot Apple debuted in 2016. Daisy is smaller, faster, and more efficient than Liam, able to disassemble 200 iPhones per hour and obtain their component parts for recycling.

In response to Apple's environmental report and details about the new robot, Greenpeace has released a statement suggesting Apple's focus should be on product longevity rather than recycling robots.

Daisy, Apple's newest recycling robot.
In a statement, Greenpeace Senior analyst Gary Cook said Apple needs to work on product designs that better accommodate upgrades and repairs, allowing for devices to be used for a longer period of time. Cook says customers clearly want to keep their devices for longer, citing demand for battery replacements under Apple's discounted battery program."Rather than another recycling robot, what is most needed from Apple is an indication that the company is embracing one of its greatest opportunities to reduce its environmental impact: repairable and upgradeable product design. This would keep its devices in use far longer, delaying the day when they'd need to be disassembled by Daisy.

Customers want to keep their devices longer, as evidenced by a 3 to 4 week wait for a battery replacement at Apple retail stores earlier this year, when Apple was compelled to dramatically reduce the replacement cost.Greenpeace often champions device repairability and longevity, especially in regard to Apple products. Last summer, for example, Greenpeace teamed up with iFixit to rate the repairability of Apple devices, accusing Apple of shortening device lifespan with difficult, proprietary repair processes and components, ultimately leading to more electronic waste.

For its part, Apple in its environmental report says that device durability and longevity is one of its goals, citing its efforts to provide parts and repairs for five years after a product is no longer manufactured. "When products can be used longer, fewer resources need to be extracted from the earth to make new ones," reads the report.

While Greenpeace criticized Apple's lack of focus on repairability, it did laud Apple's efforts to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to Apple competitors. Samsung, for example, operates on 1 percent renewable energy, a sharp contrast to Apple's operations that now run on 100 percent renewable energy."Apple's latest environment report highlights the company's continued leadership in aggressively deploying renewable energy to tackle the greenhouse gas footprint of not only its own operations, but also its suppliers who are responsible for the vast majority of its emissions. Apple's leadership on climate change contrasts sharply with its main competitor, Samsung Electronics, who currently operates on only 1% renewable energy.Greenpeace regularly gives Apple high marks for the company's dedication to environmental improvements, which is close to unparalleled in the tech world. Apple received a B- in Greenpeace's latest Guide to Greener Electronics, beating out Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei, HP, LG, and more.

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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Apple Shares 2018 Environmental Report With Details on Daisy Recycling Robot, Progress on Closed-Loop Supply Chain

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 20:02
Apple today shared its 2018 environmental report [PDF], outlining all of the improvements and changes that were implemented throughout 2017 and early 2018 to lessen the company's overall environmental impact.

As was announced earlier this month, Apple recently hit a major milestone and longtime environmental goal, with 100 percent of its operations around the world powered by renewable energy. Apple has also convinced 23 of its suppliers to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy so far.

A map of Apple's renewable energy projects
These efforts allowed Apple to cut down on its total carbon footprint in 2017. During the year, Apple was responsible for 27.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, down from 29.5 million metric tons in 2016.

A breakdown of Apple's carbon footprint
Through its unwavering commitment to renewable energy, improvements to energy efficiency, and a reduction in emissions from aluminum manufacturing, Apple has reduced emissions by 54 percent worldwide since 2011, and as of 2018, 66 percent of the renewable energy Apple procures comes from Apple's own projects.

Over the course of 2017, Apple worked to implement energy efficiency improvements to its facilities around the world, including Apple retail stores. Upgrades were made to LED lighting, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, resulting in an overall electricity savings of 3.7 million kilowatt-hours per year.


Apple's overall energy footprint was reduced by 14.7 million kWh and 225,000 therms in fiscal 2017, and combined with other efficiency measures implemented since 2011, Apple cumulatively saves 70 million kWh of electricity and 2.4 million therms of natural gas per year. The company has also worked directly with its suppliers to audit facilities and find opportunities for better energy efficiency, with the program saving an annualized 320,000 metric tons of C02e from entering the atmosphere in 2017.

Today's environmental report highlights Apple's newest recycling robot, Daisy. Daisy can disassemble 200 iPhones per hour, removing and sorting components more efficiently than Apple's previous recycling robot, Liam. Daisy removes and sorts components from the iPhone, allowing Apple to collect more materials than it would get from traditional recycling methods.

Daisy has a smaller footprint than Liam and can disassemble multiple models of iPhone with higher variation compared to the earlier robot. Using Daisy, Apple was able to make progress towards its goal of creating products without mining materials from the earth, aka the closed loop supply chain that it announced as a goal in 2017.


Apple says that in 2017, it invited "key stakeholders" to small "closed-door roundtables" in Europe, the U.S., and China to get targeted feedback on its closed-loop supply chain ambitions. Apple spoke with academics, NGOs, industry leaders, and other companies.

The company has also been investing in research to figure out the barriers to implementing a closed-loop system, and it has been launching pilot programs to determine possible solutions. Apple outlines several materials and programs it's currently focusing on, including aluminum (sourced from old iPhones), cobalt (battery scrap is now shipped to a recycler), copper (reducing copper usage on PCBs), glass (new reuse and reprocess methods), paper (sustainable forests), plastics (aiming to eliminate plastics), rare earth elements (exploring new recycling technologies), steel (increasing recycled content), and tungsten (recovered from the Taptic Engine and sent to specialty recycler).

Apple's main accomplishment in 2017 was the use of 100 percent recycled tin for the solder on the main logic board in the iPhone 6s. Recycled tin is now being used for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.

For those interested, Apple's full environmental report [PDF] goes into much greater detail on landfill usage, water usage, dangerous materials, recycling, product efficiency, and more, and it's well worth reading if you want to brush up on Apple's environmental protection efforts.

Tags: Environmental Responsibility, Apple environment
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Best Buy Discounts Entry-Level 15-Inch MacBook Pro to $1,499 in One-Day Sale

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 18:50
Best Buy currently has a limited-time sale hitting the 15-inch MacBook Pro from mid 2015, with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 256GB flash storage. Under the sale, those interested can get this model for $1,499.99, priced originally at $1,999.99. Students and parents of students can knock the price down an additional $50 to $1,449.99.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Although it's three years old at this point, Apple still sells this configuration of the 15-inch MacBook Pro as an entry-level option for those customers not interested in the more recent additions to MacBook Pro models, like the Touch Bar and Touch ID. Best Buy's discount is also $200 cheaper than it's ever been before in our tracking, and the deal will last today only.

Best Buy's sale on the 2017 MacBook Pro models is still going on as well, with savings of up to $200 or more. Prices start at $1,149.99 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2.3 GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB HD), or as low as $1,099.99 with Student Deals.

In a separate one-day-only sale, Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day for today is also focused on MacBooks from 2015. Sold by Woot, these are certified refurbished models of the original 12-inch MacBook that Apple introduced in early 2015, with prices starting at $779.99 (1.2 GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB HD) and rising to $969.99 (1.2 GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB HD).

Below is a quick rundown of other sales currently happening on Amazon:
For more details on the latest sales -- today including Apple Watch Series 1 for as low as $150 at Walmart -- head over to our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Apple Open Sources FoundationDB

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 18:32
Apple owned-company FoundationDB today announced that the FoundationDB core has been open sourced with the goal of building an open community with all major development done in the open.

FoundationDB, a database company, was purchased by Apple back in 2015. As described in today's announcement, FoundationDB is a distributed datastore that's been designed from the ground up to be deployed on clusters of commodity hardware.


By open sourcing the project to drive development, FoundationDB is aiming to become "the foundation of the next generation of distributed databases.The vision of FoundationDB is to start with a simple, powerful core and extend it through the addition of "layers". The key-value store, which is open sourced today, is the core, focused on incorporating only features that aren't possible to write in layers. Layers extend that core by adding features to model specific types of data and handle their access patterns.

The fundamental architecture of FoundationDB, including its use of layers, promotes the best practices of scalable and manageable systems. By running multiple layers on a single cluster (for example a document store layer and a graph layer), you can match your specific applications to the best data model. Running less infrastructure reduces your organization's operational and technical overhead.Following the open sourcing of FoundationDB, the company believes the quantity and variety of FoundationDB layers will develop rapidly. FoundationDB has adopted a new set of project governance rules and a code of conduct for community development.

The source for FoundationDB is available on Github as of today, and those who wish to join the project are encouraged to visit the FoundationDB community forums, submit bugs, and make contributions to the core software and documentation.

Tag: FoundationDB
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Apple Debuts New iPhone Disassembly Robot Daisy and GiveBack Environmental Program

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 18:00
Ahead of Earth Day on Sunday, Apple today announced a few initiatives that support the company's commitment to the environment, including its goal of making its products using only recycled or renewable materials.

Apple's new iPhone disassembly robot Daisy
First, for every device traded in or recycled at Apple Stores or on Apple.com worldwide between today and April 30, the company will make a donation of an undisclosed amount to the non-profit environmental organization Conservation International, which has worked to protect the nature in more than 30 countries.

Second, Apple introduced a new iPhone disassembly robot named Daisy as an improved version of Liam, its first disassembly robot launched in 2016. Daisy is located in Austin, Texas, with a second robot coming to Breda, Netherlands.Daisy is made from some of Liam's parts and is capable of disassembling nine versions of iPhone and sorting their high-quality components for recycling. Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhone devices per hour, removing and sorting components, so that Apple can recover materials that traditional recyclers can't — and at a higher quality.Apple's environmental chief Lisa Jackson:At Apple, we're constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet's precious resources. In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We're also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what's possible when innovation and conservation meet.Apple will also release its annual Environment Report today, detailing the company's environmental progress in three priority areas: reducing its carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources, conserving precious resources, and pioneering the use of safer materials in its products and processes.

Last week, Apple announced its global facilities are now powered with 100 percent clean energy, including its retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities across the United States and 42 other countries.

Last, Apple Watch owners today will receive a notification about an Earth Day activity challenge, as we revealed earlier this week. To earn the badge, users will have to complete any workout for 30 minutes or longer on April 22.

Tags: Apple environment, Earth Day
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Tim Cook Insists Merging Mac and iPad Would Result in Compromises

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 16:45
Apple CEO Tim Cook remains against the idea of merging the Mac and iPad to create one unified hardware and software experience, according to a brief conversation he had at Apple's education event in Chicago last month.


"We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other," said Cook, speaking with The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Wells. "One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade offs and compromises."

"So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day, but that's not what it's about," he added. "It's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want."

Cook reiterated that he generally uses a Mac at work, and uses an iPad at home and for travel, but added "I use everything and I love everything."

Apple's boss also revealed that an Apple IIc, released in 1984, was his first computer. "I first used it for a project, as a senior in engineering school, making an inventory control program or for a rental business that was close by," said Cook, who majored in industrial engineering at Auburn University.

Cook's comments echo those he shared with the Irish Independent in 2015, when he said Apple is not interested in creating a "converged Mac and iPad."

"What that would wind up doing, or what we're worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You'd begin to compromise in different ways."

While the Mac and iPad will remain distinct products, Apple has and will continue to bridge the gap between its desktop and mobile platforms. In 2014, for example, it introduced Continuity features like Handoff and Universal Clipboard that enable more seamless experiences across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.


Apple may go one step further in iOS 12 and macOS 10.14, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently reported that developers will be able to design a single third-party app that works with both a touchscreen, and a mouse or trackpad, depending on whether it's running on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, starting later this year.

Tag: Tim Cook
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eBay for iOS Gains Barcode Scanning Feature That Can Complete Listing Process 'Within Seconds'

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 16:22
eBay today announced a new update for its iOS and Android apps, aimed at further simplifying the item listing process. The headlining feature of the update is a new barcode scanner, allowing sellers to quickly scan the box of an item (if they still have it), select a condition, and click "list your item."

The barcode scanner will automatically populate the listing with all of the requisite details (images, description, suggested starting price), and the process can be finished "within seconds," according to eBay. If you don't have the item barcode you can still search for it by typing in a description, which should populate the listing at around the same rate as the barcode scanner.


eBay's announcement states the streamlined update is aimed at new sellers who aren't yet familiar with the service's in-depth listing options.
“At eBay, we’re dedicated to delivering a seamless and efficient selling experience for both first-time and seasoned sellers alike,” says Kelly Vincent, eBay’s VP of Consumer Selling Product & Engineering.

“This latest update continues to leverage eBay’s structured data, which helps catalogue the 1.1+ billion items on the platform, to instantaneously populate product details, pricing and shipping information in the listing flow. Not only does the catalogue facilitate a superior listing experience, it enables buyers to easily find the great deals offered by our sellers. This is one of many enhancements we’ll be making this year. We’ll continue to leverage structured data and new technology developments to help our sellers ‘get it sold.’” Late last year eBay updated its search function with the ability for users to find items on its marketplace by taking pictures. Using computer vision technology powered by AI, Image Search lets buyers snap a picture or upload one from their iOS device's Camera Roll to find similar results based on their image.

More recently in 2018, eBay announced major changes that will be coming to its online marketplace regarding how buyers and sellers exchange money. The company's three-year plan is to phase out its partnership with PayPal and eventually make Amsterdam-based payments company Adyen its "primary partner for payments processing globally."

Tag: eBay
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Verizon Announces Updated 'Smart Family' iOS App With Screen Time Management, Content Filters, and More

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 15:43
Verizon today announced the evolution of its existing "FamilyBase" parental controls product into "Smart Family," a redesigned app that lets parents track screen time, set content filters, monitor whereabouts, and more.

With the Verizon Smart Family app, parents can instantly pause the internet to manage their kids' screen time, check the battery status of their phone, and look at a summary of their text and call activity. Usage limits can be set by reducing access to texts, calls, and data, and what the parent deems inappropriate can be blocked with content filters for websites and apps.


There is also a location tracking feature with alerts that push to the parent's smartphone, notifying them when their kid arrives or leaves a specified location.
“Being a parent in today’s digital world can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Susie Fernandes, senior product manager at Verizon. “We created Verizon Smart Family to give parents the tools they need to help them raise tech savvy kids with a healthy and responsible approach to screen time and content viewing.” Verizon Smart Family is available to download for free [Direct Link], but eventually requires a monthly subscription to access its features. The two subscription tiers include an entry level $4.99/month option that lacks location tracking and alerts, and a $9.99/month Premium plan with all features included (a 30 day free trial is available for Premium as well).


Smartphone over-use has become an increasingly debated topic in the past few months, with Apple investors urging the company to do more to protect its younger users from device addiction. Soon after, Apple said that new and "robust" parental controls would be coming, and such features are now rumored to be one of the major updates to iOS 12 this fall.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has touched upon the topic as well, discussing in an interview earlier this year how he has "put some boundaries" on his nephew's smartphone use. He continued: "There are some things that I won't allow; I don't want them on a social network."

Tag: Verizon
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Popular Sleep Cycle iPhone App Expands to Apple Watch With 'Snore Stopper' and Haptic Wake Up Features

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 14:38
Sleep Cycle, a popular and highly downloaded alarm clock and sleep tracking app available for the iPhone, today announced a new Apple Watch app that introduces more features for an even better waking up experience. With the Sleep Cycle for Apple Watch, Sleep Cycle users can enable "snore stopper" and silent wake up options.

Sleep Cycle uses "sound analysis technology" to detect when someone is snoring, subtly alerting them with a silent vibration sent to the Apple Watch for a more restful night of sleep. The company says that this will "not cause you to wake up," but instead simply encourage you to change position and stop snoring.


Additionally, the app has a silent wake up function that taps you with haptics to wake you from sleep and avoid disturbing anyone else nearby. Sleep Cycle will also continuously track your heart rate average, providing data that you can revisit when you wake up. Available from today, Sleep Cycle’s Apple Watch app release features a snore stopper, a welcomed added feature. In addition to the snore tracker, already available in the existing Sleep Cycle alarm clock app using patented sound analysis technology. Snoring is more likely to occur in certain positions. For example, sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your mouth.

The Sleep Cycle snore stopper uses the silent haptics function of the Apple Watch to gently nudge your wrist when it detects snoring. The alert will not cause you to wake up. But it will have you change position without knowing it and stop snoring. Much like the old trick of sewing tennis balls onto the back of your pajama shirt. No more snore means better quality sleep – for both the snorer and to the delight of potential roommates.Sleep Cycle on iPhone also uses the same sound analysis technology that tracks snoring to detect movement in an effort to distinguish different sleep phases and provide information on sleep length and quality. This information, which can be viewed on either iPhone or Apple Watch, is used to determine the best time to wake a sleeping person up in the morning, with the aim of cutting down on grogginess by waking people up during the lightest sleep phase.


Sleep Cycle on Apple Watch follows a few sleep tracking apps that have been popular on the App Store, including Sleep++ (which updated recently with automatic sleep tracking), Pillow, and AutoSleep. For Sleep Cycle, the app is free to download and has a collection of features for free, while other features can be added on with a "premium" subscription at $29.99/year.

Beddit is another well-known sleep monitor app, which was acquired by Apple about a year ago. Beddit's sleep tracking data is accumulated using a thin, flexible sensor -- sold for $149.95 on Apple.com -- that provides detailed sleep analysis in areas like respiration, temperature, movement, snoring, and more. Apple's acquisition of Beddit hinted at potential implementation of similar sleep tracking technology in a future Apple Watch, but as of yet the company has not launched a wearable device with built-in sleep analysis features.

Sleep Cycle is available to download for free on the App Store [Direct Link].

Mitchel Broussard contributed to this report.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Apple Pay Offering Free Fries From McDonald's in New Promotion

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 13:02
Anyone who uses Apple Pay to checkout in the McDonald's iOS app on a Friday in April will have the opportunity to get free Medium fries with their order. The offer for a free side of fries is Apple's latest promotion for Apple Pay, and customers have two more Fridays to take advantage of it: April 20 and April 27.


The McDonald's promotion is valid only with a minimum $1 purchase (excluding tax), is available to each user once per week, and can only be used with Mobile Order & Pay at participating McDonald's. With this feature, customers can place their order in the McDonald's app, pay using Apple Pay during checkout, and then head to their local McDonald's to pick up their food.

The promotional email also touts Apple Pay's support in other fast food restaurants, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway. Within apps, Apple reminds users that they can order ahead in Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Jimmy John's. Lastly, the company mentions Apple Pay Cash as a way for users to split lunch orders with friends.

The last few Apple Pay promos offered savings for Adidas and Hotwire, Fanatics, Grubhub and Seamless, TouchTunes, and Fandango.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Apple Pay promo
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Netflix Adds 30-Second Preview Videos to iOS App

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:22
Netflix today added a slew of 30-second video trailers to its iOS app, after limited testing of the feature since early March.

Optimized for mobile, the trailers ape the look of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, appearing as circular icons on the app's main screen and playing back in a vertical format on iPhones. Netflix offered its rationale for the feature in a blog post on its website:

Today, we are excited to introduce mobile previews (launching today on iOS and coming soon to Android) to the mobile experience. Mobile previews present members with a fun, simple, and easy way to learn about all the new content on Netflix -- and find something great to watch even faster.

Years of testing has made it clear that video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly. With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way.While watching a trailer, users can tap to play the content being previewed, get more information on it, or add it to their Watch Later list. Tapping the video or swiping across it also skips to another trailer without having to return to the main screen.

The company introduced video previews to its TV and web interface last year, but Netflix says around a fifth of all viewing occurs on mobile devices, which is why previews will be a permanent feature of the app going forward. Currently in the list are 75 custom-crop previews for both original and licensed content, with Netflix expected to add more in future.

Netflix exceeded Wall Street expectations this week by adding 7.4 million new subscribers between January and March, giving it a total of 125 million paying subscribers worldwide – far more than Amazon and Hulu.

The service is now available in 190 countries, and users of the streaming service can expect a crop of new television shows from around the world to debut this year, including a six-part British series called The English Game, a look into the invention of football, written by the creator of Downton Abbey. Netflix says several newly announced movies will also be added in 2018, along with new seasons of existing series, such as Glow.

Tag: Netflix
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How to Apply Color Tags to Items in macOS Finder Using Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 10:00
In one of our previous macOS how-to guides, we explained how using tags can help you organize your files and folders and quickly locate them when they're needed. In this article, we're going to show you how to tag items in Finder using a simple custom keyboard shortcut, for even faster tagging.

The first series of steps below shows you how to create a handy key shortcut to activate Finder's inline tagging menu. Once you've done that, we explain how you can use one or more custom shortcuts to directly apply specific color tags to selected items in a Finder window.


This more powerful color tagging method requires creating a simple Automator service. If that sounds scary, don't worry – it's a simple process, and if you're a frequent user of tags then you'll find this quick recipe well worth the effort. Keep reading to learn how it's done.

How to Create a Shortcut for Tagging Items in Finder

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu bar ( -> System Preferences...).
  2. Select the Keyboard preference pane.
  3. Click the Shortcuts tab.

  4. Select App Shortcuts in the left column and click the + button.
  5. Select Finder.app in the Application field.
  6. Type Tags... in the Menu Title field.

  7. Click inside the Keyboard Shortcut field and press your preferred key combination for activating the service. In our example, we've used Shift-Command-T.
  8. Click Add.
Now your shortcut is set up, it's time to try it out. Open a Finder window and select an item (or several) for tagging. Hit your chosen key combination and you should see a tag menu pop up beneath the selected item(s), like so.


From there, just start typing the name of the tag you want to use and it should appear in the input field. Hit Enter to apply it. Alternatively, use the down arrow key to choose the tag you want from the dropdown list, and hit Enter.

How to Create a Color Tagging Service in Automator

  1. Launch Automator from the Applications folder.

  2. Click New Document.
  3. Choose Service as the type of your document.

  4. Type label into the Library search field at the top of the Automator sidebar.
  5. Drag the Label Finder Items action into the empty workflow area.

  6. Click the tag color you want to use for your first keyboard shortcut. (We're going for red in our example.)
  7. Select files or folders in the Service receives selected dropdown.
  8. Select Finder in the in application dropdown.

  9. Select File -> Save from the Automator menu bar, and give your service a name. We'll be using the name "Tag Red".
  10. Click Save.
How to Assign a Shortcut to Your New Tagging Service

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu bar ( -> System Preferences...).
  2. Select the Keyboard pane.
  3. Click the Shortcuts tab.
  4. Select App Shortcuts in the left column and click the + button.

  5. Select Finder.app in the Application field.
  6. In the Menu Title field, type the exact name of the service you just created in Automator ("Tag Red" in our example).

  7. Click inside the Keyboard Shortcut field and press your chosen key combination for activating the service. We've used Shift-Command-R.
  8. Click Add.
You should now be able to tag selected items in Finder with your chosen color using the keyboard shortcut you created.


To create additional shortcuts for applying other tag colors, simply follow the Automator steps again but choose another color, and save the service under a corresponding name. Then simply assign a shortcut to the named service in the Keyboard preference pane as described above.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Drafts 5 Overhauls Note-Taking App With New Themes, Editor Options and Action Features

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:15
A new version of Drafts, the simple note-taking app from Agile Tortoise, was released today. Drafts 5 stays faithful to its predecessor's primary goal of allowing users to quickly jot down text, thoughts, ideas, and notes, and builds on these functions by introducing a ground-up rewrite of the app with a raft of new features and customization options.

Agile Tortoise has opted to release Drafts 5 as a standalone app, which means it doesn't replace Drafts 4, but installs alongside it, allowing users to migrate previous drafts, actions and keyboard customizations from the earlier app.


Once they've done that, long-time users can look forward to new interface theming options – like the ability to switch between light and dark modes – and granular control of a host of draft appearance settings in the new editor. These include the ability to adjust margins, line height, line numbering, auto-correct, smart quotes/dashes, and more.

Drafts 5 also introduces new organization options with multiple tags, which can be used to filter the draft list and queries for all inbox, archived, and flagged drafts. Elsewhere, a new Focus mode disables the automatic creation of new drafts after a specific time period, allowing users to continue adding to drafts long after they were first created. Siri integration is another new addition in this version, so users can add a note to Drafts by just using their voice.

Elsewhere, there's enhanced support for inline syntax highlighting for several different types of markup, interactive to-dos, drag and drop support, multiple extended keyboards for grouping actions into categories, a new Action Directory, and automated backup. Small changes have also been made to improve the Apple Watch complication of Drafts 5, which allows dictation and note-taking from the wrist, as well as flagging and tagging of drafts.

The comprehensive list of changes and improvements can be found on the GetDrafts.com website. Drafts for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch is a free download on the App Store [Direct Link], while Drafts Pro is a universal subscription ($20 per year / $2 per month) that unlocks more features. These include themes, custom icons, editing of actions, saving workspaces and more. According to the developer, Draft 4 will continue to be supported and available, so users can choose to migrate to Drafts 5 if and when they feel they are ready.

Tag: AgileBits
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