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Apple Expands Mobile Phone Billing in Europe: EE in UK, Orange in France and Spain, and Telekom in Germany

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 12:00
Apple has expanded mobile phone billing to additional European countries and carriers, according to an updated support document on its website.

As of this week, the feature is now supported by EE in the United Kingdom, Orange in France and Spain, and Telekom or T-Mobile, which are owned by the same company, in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, and Slovakia.

The payment method enables customers to pay for iTunes Store content, App Store apps, iBooks, and Apple Music subscriptions without needing a debit or credit card, or even a bank account. Instead, purchases are added to a customer's mobile phone bill and paid off at the end of the month.

The payment method was already offered by select carriers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Apple's support document explains how to set up mobile phone billing in the iTunes Store on both iPhone and iPad or Mac and PC.

Tag: carrier billing
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Apple Has Two-Year Lead Over Smartphone Rivals in 3D Sensing Race

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:59
Apple has gained a two-year lead over its rivals in the smartphone industry in the area of 3D sensing technology, according to a new report on Tuesday.

Following talks with three major parts suppliers, Reuters estimates that Android phone makers will have to wait until 2019 to duplicate the 3D sensing feature behind Apple's Face ID security, which debuted last year in the iPhone X.

According to parts manufacturers Viavi Solutions Inc, Finisar Corp and Ams AG, bottlenecks on key parts will mean mass adoption of 3D sensing will not happen until next year, disappointing earlier expectations.

That means that China's Huawei, Xiaomi and others could be a total of almost two years behind Apple, which launched Face ID with its iPhone X anniversary phone last September.Android producers are reportedly struggling to source vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, or VCSELs, a key component of Apple's TrueDepth camera that the company moved to secure supplies of last year. In December, Apple said it planned to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which supplies the components for VCSELs.

Apple said the investment would enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs, which power some of the iPhone's X flagship features, such as Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods.

According to Reuters' sources, Apple was initially sourcing VCSELs chiefly from California-based Lumentum, and it was bottlenecks in production there last year that also spurred the $390 million deal with Finisar.

Meanwhile, Lumentum, which declined to comment on the report, is ramping up additional manufacturing capacity for VCSELs and edge-emitting lasers for the first half of fiscal 2019, according to the company’s earnings call.

Another producer, Austria-based Ams, also expects to have VCSEL chips widely available next year and says it has won a large deal with one phone maker.

Viavi, the only major supplier of optical filters needed for the 3D sensing modules, believes only one Android handset maker will deliver 3D sensing by the end of the calendar year, but volumes are likely to be very low. The company expects at least two more Android-based phones to follow that trend in 2019.

According to a report in October by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, inquiries by Android smartphone vendors into 3D-sensing technologies tripled after Apple unveiled its TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology, which will likely replace traditional Touch ID fingerprint recognition in future iOS devices.

Apple is reportedly working on a new high-end 2018 iPad that will adopt many of the design elements from the revamped iPhone X, including built-in support for Face ID. The new tablet device, which is likely to be a "Pro" model, will reportedly do away with the Home button.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: TrueDepthBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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How to Make Web Pages in Safari for Mac Easier to Read

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:04
In Apple's Safari web browser, there are several ways to make viewing web pages easier on the eyes. All of them involve adjusting the font size or the zoom level that Safari applies when it loads web page content, which can be helpful if you're using a small screen or a large display set at a high resolution.

To increase or decrease the zoom level of both text and images when viewing web pages in Safari, press Command and the + (plus) or - (minus) keys. You can also click on View in Safari's menu bar and select Zoom In or Zoom Out.

Alternatively, you can add zoom buttons to Safari's interface: Right-click (or Ctrl-click) on a space in the Safari toolbar and click Customize Toolbar.... Then drag the Zoom buttons in the dropdown to the space you just clicked on the toolbar. Click Done to finish.

If you want to keep images at the same size and only adjust web page font size on the fly, press Option-Command and the + or - keys. You can also hold down the Option key and click on View in the Safari menu bar, which changes the Zoom options to Make Text Bigger and Make Text Smaller.

Safari will remember your zoom and font size settings until you clear your History. To do so, click Safari in the menu bar, select Clear History..., then click the Clear History button.

Set the Zoom Level for a Specific Website
Once the zoom level is set up for a particular site, Safari applies it automatically whenever you visit it. Here's how it's done.
  1. Navigate to the site that you want to adjust the zoom level for.
  2. Right-click on the URL or website name that appears in the address bar, and select Settings for This Website. Alternatively, click Safari in the menu bar and you'll see the same option just below Preferences.
  3. Click the Zoom Level percentage and select a new level from the dropdown menu. (Anything greater than 100 zooms in; anything less than 100 zooms out.)
Set the Zoom Level for All Web Pages
  1. In Safari's menu bar, select Safari -> Preferences....
  2. Click the Websites tab.
  3. Click Page Zoom in the General column.
  4. Clear any Configured Websites in the list by highlighting them all with your mouse button and then selecting Remove.
  5. Click the When visiting other websites pop-up menu and choose a percentage to suit.
Set Your Own Zoom Level With a Style Sheet
If none of Safari's zoom level increments sit right with your eyes, here's a way to set your own percentage.

  1. Open the TextEdit application.
  2. Click New Document.
  3. In TextEdit's menu bar, select Format -> Make Plain Text.
  4. Copy and paste the following CSS code into the file, changing the zoom number to your preferred percentage level:
    body {
    zoom: 140%;

  5. In TextEdit's menu bar, select File -> Save....
  6. Name the file safari zoom.css or whatever you like, just make sure it retains a .css suffix.
  7. Choose a location for the file and click Save.
  8. Back in Safari, select Safari -> Preferences... in the menu bar.
  9. Select the Advanced tab.
  10. Click the Style sheet dropdown menu and select Other....
  11. Navigate to the location of your saved CSS file, select it, and click Choose.
From now on, Safari will default to the zoom level specified in your style sheet file, which you can edit at any time.

Force Websites to Use Bigger Font Sizes
Finally, there's an option in Safari that lets you force websites to display text using a minimum font size, without affecting the zoom level.

  1. In Safari's menu bar, select Safari -> Preferences....
  2. Select the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Accessibility section, check the box next to Never use font sizes smaller than: and select a font size in the dropdown.

Related Roundup: macOS High SierraTag: Safari
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Invite-Only Game Fortnite Has Earned an Estimated $1.5M Since Launch

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 03:24
Epic Games' popular Fortnite Battle Royale game for iOS devices has grossed an estimated $1.5 million worldwide since its release last Thursday, according to figures shared this afternoon by app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Fortnite has topped the iPhone download charts in more than 40 countries since it was released, despite the fact that it continues to be invite only. As of now, it is the number one free app in the Games section of the App Store.

According to Sensor Tower, Fortnite earned $1 million during the first 72 hours after in-app purchases first became live in the game for beta testers.

In Fortnite, players can buy outfits, tools, weapons, emotes, gliders, and more using the in-game currency, V-Bucks. Players can purchase 1,000 V-Bucks for $9.99, which is the minimum in-app purchase. Higher quantities of V-Bucks are available for more money.

Fortnite earned far more than other survival-style games that were released at the same time. Knives Out, a competing game, earned $57k, while Rules of Survival earned $39k. Fortnite could have some competition now, however, as Tencent today released the official version of PUBG Mobile, which offers the same kind of gameplay available in Fortnite.

Compared to other popular games, Fortnite hasn't brought in quite as much money, but it is still in a beta testing phase. Pokémon GO brought in $4.9 million just four days after release, and Clash Royale earned $4.6 million four days after it was released.

The goal in Fortnite is to be the last person standing, with players tasked with killing opponents using a variety of weapons while also avoiding death from other players. The game is also available on PCs and consoles, with cross-platform gameplay available if enabled.

Fortnite can be downloaded from the App Store for free, but a beta invite is required to play. Epic Games plans to expand the beta in the weeks to come, but it's not yet clear when it will see an official launch. [Direct Link]

Tags: App Store, Sensor Tower, Fortnite
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Amazon Kindle App for iOS Gains Support for iPad's Split View

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 00:28
The Amazon Kindle app for iOS devices, which is designed to allow Amazon-purchased ebooks to be read on the iPhone and iPad, was today updated with several new features.

On compatible iPad models, there's now support for Split View, so you can use the Amazon Kindle app side-by-side with other apps for multitasking while reading.

In addition to Split View support, today's update adds continuous scrolling, a feature that lets you scroll through books like you would an iPad. You can activate the option by going to Settings and turning on continuous scrolling. Once enabled, the feature can be turned on and off using the Aa menu in your book.

Amazon has also added a feature to pull down in your book library to refresh the list of available books, and there are new Kindle dictionaries for Arabic.What's New

- Split view on iPad is here! Resize the app to multi-task while reading without ever switching context.
- Try scrolling through your book - just like a web page. Turn continuous scrolling on via Settings, then easily turn it on and off from the Aa menu in your book. Tell us what you think.
- Pull down in the library to refresh your list of books.
- We've added Kindle dictionaries for Arabic.Amazon Kindle can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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Galaxy S9 and S9+ Beat iPhone X in Drop Tests, But Still Suffer Severe Damage

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 21:55
Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are using 20 percent thicker glass and a stronger aluminum frame, both of which are designed to cut down on damage from drops. Samsung says the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are more durable than previous devices thanks to the new materials.

SquareTrade today conducted its traditional breakability tests on the Galaxy S9 devices to test Samsung's claims. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ did indeed manage to beat out the iPhone X and older Galaxy devices, but they still didn't fare well when dropped.

In every drop test, conducted from a height of six feet, the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ shattered. The two devices bent at 230 and 210 pounds, respectively, and both were cracked in a 60 second tumble test. The Galaxy S9 earned an overall breakability score of 71, while the larger Galaxy S9+ earned a score of 76.

Back in November, SquareTrade conducted the same tests on the iPhone X and deemed it the "most breakable iPhone ever" as it too shattered at the front and back when dropped from a height of six feet.

The iPhone X actually fared worse in SquareTrade's tests and showed more extensive damage and breakage in every durability test. It earned an overall breakability score of 90, much higher than the S9 and S9+.

PhoneBuff also recently did some side-by-side drop tests to compare the Galaxy S9+ and the iPhone X. In a back drop test, the iPhone X held up while the Galaxy S9+'s glass back shattered. A side test comparing the iPhone X's stainless steel frame to the S9+'s aluminum frame also saw the iPhone X come out on top.

A third facedown drop on the display side of each smartphone saw the Galaxy S9+ win out over the iPhone X, which cracked. Overall, PhoneBuff used a numbered rating system to compare the drop results, giving the edge to the Samsung Galaxy S9+ because it held up better to a repeated drop test.

While the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ appear to have fared slightly better than the iPhone X in drop tests, the two devices are still made of glass and still shattered. They shattered to a somewhat a lesser degree, sure, but broken is broken. All glass smartphones, regardless of manufacturer, need to be used with caution and protected with a case as necessary.

Unsurprisingly, neither the iPhone X's "most durable" front and back glass nor the Galaxy S9's 20 percent thicker glass with "enhanced durability" can hold up to concrete and similar hard materials when dropped.

SquareTrade and PhoneBuff may have conducted these tests using specialized equipment for consistent results, but drop tests are never scientific and are not a reliable measure of durability because there are so many variables to take into account when a device is dropped in the real world.

Samsung, like Apple, offers an extended warranty that covers accidental damage. Priced at $11.99 per month, Samsung Premium Care allows Samsung device owners to submit three accidental damage claims in a 12-month period with a $99 deductible required.

Apple's AppleCare+ for iPhone X costs $199 up front and provides coverage for two incidents of accidental damage. Screen replacements require a $29 deductible, while all other damage is subject to a $99 fee. Sans AppleCare+, it costs $279 to repair a damaged iPhone X display and $549 for all other repairs.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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How to Enable Automatic Reader View in Safari for iOS

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 21:23
Safari for iOS has a nifty built-in "Reader" feature that's designed to allow Safari users to read online articles with a distraction-free design that tucks away ads and other visual clutter on supported sites.

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You can tap the Reader icon whenever you're reading through an article to activate this mode, but there's also a way to turn it on for all articles on a specific website or all supported articles on the web.

  1. Open up Safari.

  2. Navigate to a favorite website like

  3. Click on an article.

  4. In the navigation bar at the top, where it says "Reader View Available," tap and hold on the icon that looks like three lines.
From here, you'll see a pop that says "Automatic Reader View," with options to either enable Automatic Reader View on the website you're currently visiting or on all websites.

With this feature enabled, all articles that you click on for a specific website (or all websites if you chose that option) will be displayed in Reader View by default.

You can also use Reader View on the Mac too, and your Automatic Reader preferences for Mac can be accessed by going to Preferences in the Safari Mac app and choosing "Reader" under general. You can also turn Reader on for all articles on a particular webpage by right clicking or clicking and holding on the Reader icon while visiting a website.
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Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 to Developers

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 20:50
Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 update to developers, one week after seeding the fifth beta and one month after the release of a macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 Supplemental Update to address a bug that could cause apps to crash when receiving a character from the Indian language Telugu.

The new macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that weren't addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.3.

The update offers support for some features that are available in iOS 11.3, like Messages on iCloud, which uploads all of your iMessages to the cloud. It will also support Business Chat, a feature coming when iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 are released to the public, and it includes improved support for eGPUs.

The macOS 10.13.4 update also brings the smoke cloud wallpaper that was previously only available on the iMac Pro and it introduces a warning when opening up a 32-bit app as part of an effort to phase them out.

In the future, Apple plans to phase out 32-bit Mac apps, just like it did with 32-bit iOS apps. Apple says macOS High Sierra is the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps without compromises.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Quick Takes: Audiophile Calls AirPods Best Truly Wireless Earbuds He's Ever Heard in Year-Later Review

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 20:33
In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Monday, March 19

1. AirPods: the audiophile review: The Verge's Vlad Savov finally got around to testing a pair of AirPods, over a year after they launched, and now understands why so many people are fans of Apple's wireless earphones. Once dismissive of them, he now thinks AirPods are the best truly wireless earbuds he's heard.I say the AirPods aren't technically amazing, but that's only when comparing against existing standards for sound quality. In the category of truly wireless earbuds, the AirPods are the best I've yet heard. Bragi's The Headphone and Dash Pro left me underwhelmed, with the latter being especially bloated and disfigured by an overabundance of bass.Commentary: AirPods are easily one of Apple's best new products in the past few years. They're easy to set up, easy to use, easy to carry around, and more than likely sound "good enough" for the majority of customers.

2. The case for an ePad: Drawing inspiration from the education-only eMac, released in 2002, 512 Pixels' Stephen Hackett envisions what an education-only iPad or so-called "ePad" could be. His suggestions include a more rugged design, Apple Pencil and external keyboard support, and more competitive pricing.

3. HQ Trivia had a weird night: The smartphone-based live trivia show offered a winner-takes-all $25,000 prize on Sunday night, but the would-be winner was ejected from the game for violating the rules, according to HQ. The company hasn't explained what the rule-breaking behavior was.

Then, on early Monday, HQ Trivia was briefly removed from the App Store. TechCrunch confirmed that the game was briefly unavailable due to an unrelated clerical error. More specifically, someone forgot to update HQ Trivia's expired credit card info in Apple's developer portal, according to the report.

HQ moderators kick players that violate HQ’s Terms of Service and Contest Rules. For more information, please refer to our Terms of Service here:

— HQ Trivia (@hqtrivia) March 19, 2018
Commentary: It sounds like HQ Trivia caught a cheater on its hands, but we may never know for sure. The good news is that the amount now rolls over, meaning next Sunday's winner-takes-all prize will be $50,000, its largest jackpot ever. The game is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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

Related Roundup: AirPodsTag: Quick TakesBuyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)
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Official PUBG Mobile Game Now Available From iOS App Store in the U.S.

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 19:51
The officially licensed app for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, today launched in the United States and several other regions around the world.

PUBG is an extremely popular multiplayer online battle royale-style game that's been available for PC and Xbox One since early 2017 as part of a Steam early access beta, with the game officially launching back in December.

In PUBG, up to 100 players fight in a battle to the death to become the last person (or team of up to four people) standing. The goal of the game is to kill other players without being killed, while also scouting through the game world for equipment, weapons, and other gear.

Two mobile versions of PUBG were released in China in February by Tencent Games, and as of today the mobile version of the game is available in the United States, Canada, and other regions.

According to the App Store description of the game, it's an authentic port of the PC version of PUBG, with 100 players able to fight one another to survive.An authentic port of the PC version. 100 players are dropped on an enormous 8x8 km battlefield. Players fight to survive and eliminate each other through strategy and skill. The last one standing wins! Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!Tencent says the game is compatible with the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad Air and later, the iPad mini 2 and later and the 6th-generation iPod touch. The company recommends the iPhone 6 or above to get the most out of the PUBG Mobile game.

The release of PUBG Mobile in the United States, Canada, and other regions follows the launch of the Fortnite beta on iOS, which became available last week.

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

Tag: App Store
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Apple's Swift Core Team Talks Swift 4.1 in New Podcast

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 18:17
Two members of Apple's Swift Core Team, Doug Gregor and Ben Cohen, joined the Swift Unwrapped podcast this morning, where they discussed Swift 4.1 and all of the changes that are coming in the update.

Cohen manages Apple's Swift Standard Library Team, while Gregor works on the Swift Compiler and Library Design. The discussion of Swift 4.1 is rather technical and may not interest all readers, but it will be a worthwhile listen for those who work with Swift.

The initial beta of Swift 4.1 was released alongside the first beta of Xcode 9.3 and iOS 11.3 in January. Swift 4.1 is nearing the end of its beta testing period and it will be released when Xcode 9.3 and iOS 11.3 are released. All of Apple's new software is expected soon, and a launch could happen as soon as this week.

The 19-minute Swift Unwrapped episode with Doug Gregor and Ben Cohen can be listened to here or in the Apple Podcasts app.

Tag: Swift
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Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Pedestrian in Arizona, Accident Could Have Implications for Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 17:19
An autonomous test vehicle being tested by Uber struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona early Monday, marking what appears to be the first pedestrian killed by an autonomous vehicle, reports The New York Times.

The Uber vehicle in question was in an autonomous driving mode with a human safety driver at the wheel, and the woman who was struck was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, according to local police. No other details on the accident are available at this time.

One of Apple's autonomous test vehicles
Uber is cooperating with Tempe police and has suspended all of its self-driving vehicle tests in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto at the current time. Uber's autonomous vehicles have previously been involved in collisions, as have vehicles from other companies like Tesla, but this is the first pedestrian-related accident that has resulted in a fatality.

This incident will likely have wide-ranging implications for all companies who are testing autonomous vehicles, including Apple, and it could potentially result in more oversight and regulation.

Apple has been testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads in California near its Cupertino headquarters since last year. Apple vehicles, which include a series of Lexus RX450h SUVs equipped with a host of sensors and cameras, have not been involved in any known accidents to date.

To date, most autonomous vehicles in California and Arizona have been using safety drivers behind the wheel who are meant to take over in the event of an emergency, but California in February lifted that rule.

Starting on April 2, companies in California that are testing self-driving vehicles will be able to deploy cars that do not have a driver behind the wheel. Arizona also allows driverless cars to be tested in the state, and Waymo has been testing autonomous driverless minivans in Arizona since November.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
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Affirm Announces In-Store Financing Options With Virtual Card Integration in Apple Pay

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 16:00
Affirm is a financial startup that allows users to pay for expensive items from select retailers in monthly installment plans, after they are first approved for a loan on the company's website or in the app. Today the company announced that users will now be able to secure credit in seconds and then checkout in retail stores thanks to integration of the Affirm virtual card into Apple Pay.

To apply for Affirm financing, customers complete a "simple, five-field" application that provides them with a real-time credit decision (rates are between 10-30 percent APR based on personal credit). After approval, customers use the Affirm app to enter the amount they want to spend by selecting a payment plan on the item (3, 6, 12, 18, or 24 months), and Affirm loads up the cost of the full purchase onto the virtual card, paying the merchant for the item and taking on "all fraud risk for the purchase."

With the addition of Apple Pay, Affirm's virtual card can be used anywhere that Apple Pay is accepted.
“People’s shopping habits are evolving very quickly, beyond simply moving online-to-offline or offline-to-online when engaging with merchants,” said Rob Pfeifer, Chief Retail Officer at Affirm. “Consumers are on their phones, online, and in-store throughout a shopping experience. Affirm provides a solution for this omnichannel experience in the form of transparent and honest finance.” For merchants, Affirm says it provides two options to support the service: integration with the Affirm InStore API with their own point-of-sale system, or support Affirm's expanded virtual card experience. The company explained that regardless of what method merchants choose, the customer's retail checkout process is "virtually identical" to Affirm online and in the iOS app.

Affirm founder and CEO Max Levchin told Bloomberg that the company hopes it will continue to expand and that more stores will "embrace" Affirm because of its ability to offer retailers "insights into customer purchasing habits."
Levchin hopes more stores will embrace Affirm’s approach by offering them insights into customer purchasing habits. With Affirm In-Store, retailers are able to track if someone applies for a loan in the shop but finishes the transaction elsewhere. This is designed to let the retailer better understand the impact of sales staff.

“I’m optimistic there will be a day when shoppers instinctively reach for their phone and the Affirm app, rather than their credit card,’’ Levchin said. In its press release, Affirm detailed how Apple reseller Simply Mac switched from paper-based applications for loans on its private label credit card, to Affirm InStore's new process. Tiffany Polmateer, Simply Mac’s director of purchasing and operations, said that since supporting Affirm it has seen a 20 percent increase in average order values, 63 percent more customer financing applications, and 34 percent more approvals per store.

Affirm is available to download on the iOS App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Affirm
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Apple Announces Shinjuku Store Opening in Tokyo on April 7, Natick Mall Store Closing for Renovations April 22

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 14:33
Apple updated its website recently with the announcement of a new retail location's grand opening in Tokyo, Japan, along with renovation news for its store in Natick, Massachusetts.

In Japan, Apple will open its new Apple Shinjuku location on April 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. local time. The store will be located in the Shinjuku Marui main building -- a department store in Tokyo -- and mark the eighth location for Apple in Japan. Apple previously launched one of its high-end Apple Watch shops at the Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, allowing customers to browse the original $10,000+ Apple Watch Edition and other models.

In the United States, the company announced that it will close Apple Natick Collection for renovations starting Sunday, April 22. The store is located in Massachusetts' Natick Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in New England by number of tenants, reaching 250 as of 2018. Apple notes on its page for the store that customers can visit to find the next store closest to them while the Natick mall location is closed.

More of the latest Apple Store openings in 2018 include Apple Kärntner Straße in Austria and Apple Garosugil in South Korea. In terms of the overall tally of Apple retail locations around the world, Apple Garosugil was the company's 500th store opening on January 27, 2018, following seventeen years after Apple's first two stores opened in May 2001.

Related Roundup: Apple StoresTag: Apple retail
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Sketchy Rumor Suggests Apple Still Plans to Sell iPhone X in Blush Gold

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 14:11
Apple is still planning to release the iPhone X in a so-called Blush Gold color, according to well-known leaker Ben Geskin.

iPhone X in gold rendered by Michael Flux
Geskin tweeted a photo of an iPhone X and an accompanying SIM card tray in the new color earlier today. He said the device is "in production," with a codename of D21A. In a follow-up tweet, he added that the "color is real" and said Apple just "saved it for later," but hedged that "stuff can be canceled."

D21A - “Blush Gold” iPhone in production.

— Ben Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) March 19, 2018
Geskin has gained a reputation for leaking dummy models, screen protectors, and accessories related to unreleased iPhones, but he doesn't have a perfect track record. Back in July, he said the iPhone X would be available in four colors, including a "mirror-like" finish that has yet to materialize.

In the months leading up to the iPhone X, it was widely rumored that the device would be available in a trio of colors, including Blush Gold, but Silver and Space Gray ended up being and remain the only colors available.

In September, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the gold model may encounter some production issues and be available in extremely low volume during pre-orders, which didn't happen, or go on sale at a later date entirely. Since then, rumors have largely gone quiet, beyond a few false release dates.

A year ago this week, Apple unveiled a special (PRODUCT)RED edition of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, so there is some precedence for a new color to be added midway during the product cycle. The white iPhone 4 was also delayed until April 2011, over nine months after the black version launched, due to a lack of UV protection.

(PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Apple may release a (PRODUCT)RED edition of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X as well, according to Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang, and that might be the more likely addition than Blush Gold.

Apple recently announced it will be hosting an education-themed event on Tuesday, March 27 at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. While the event will be focused on "creative new ideas for teachers and students," it's certainly possible we could learn of the new iPhone X colors then.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Ben GeskinBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Likely to Buy 270 Million Display Panels for 2018 iPhone Lineup

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 09:43
Apple plans to order between 250 and 270 million display panels for its iPhone lineup this year, according to sources within Taiwan's panel industry. Around half that number will consist of OLED panels, to be shared among current-model iPhone X orders, a second-generation model, and a larger 6.5-inch iPhone, according to DigiTimes.

Apple's purchases of OLED panels in 2018 will reach 110-130 million units, including 70-80 million 5.9-inch units for the current iPhone X and an upgraded version of the same size. The remaining will be 40-50 million 6.5-inch OLED panels for the production of a less expensive model, said the sources.Given the wording in the above quote from today's DigiTimes article, the "5.9-inch" reference could overlooked as a typo, but claiming the 6.5-inch OLED panels are for a "less expensive model" seems off the mark.

Several reliable sources claim Apple is readying a second-generation version of the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED display, along with a larger "Plus" size with a 6.5-inch display. Design wise, both the 5.8-inch iPhone and 6.5-inch iPhone coming in 2018 are expected to look similar to the current iPhone X, with an edge-to-edge display and notch for the TrueDepth camera, glass bodies for wireless charging support, and dual-lens rear cameras.

Along with these two OLED iPhones, which will likely be just as expensive as the current iPhone X, Apple is however planning to introduce a new, more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display.

DigiTimes claims 60 to 70 million Low-Temperature PolySilicon (LTPS) LCD panels have been earmarked for this device, and around the same number in 4-inch, 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch sizes are destined for new iPhone 8, iPhone SE, and iPhone 7 devices this year. Other reports claim Apple could use a Full Active LCD display for an upcoming 6.1-inch device, which could match or exceed some of the benefits of OLED.

Otherwise, today's report reiterates previous OLED supplier rumors for 2018. Apple is said to be sourcing the majority of its OLED displays for the 2018 iPhone lineup from Samsung, but LG Display seeks to become the second-largest supplier in the second half of this year, perhaps providing displays for the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone. Lastly, DigiTimes' sources claim Sharp and Japan Display could become Apple's main suppliers of LCD panels, rather than shoring up extra OLED supplies, as previous report claimed.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhonesTags:, OLED
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How to Reset Your Mac's Bluetooth Module to Fix Connection Issues

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 09:10
Bluetooth is what your Mac uses to connect to wireless devices like keyboards, mice, trackpads, speakers, and other peripherals. Generally, it's a reliable technology. At some point however, the chances are you'll run into difficulty establishing a Bluetooth connection with one or more of your devices.

Most problems can be fixed by unpairing and repairing the Bluetooth device, changing its batteries, rebooting your Mac, or performing an SMC reset. But if none of these methods work, you can always try resetting your Mac's Bluetooth module. Here's how to do it in macOS using the hidden Bluetooth Debug menu.

How to Reset Your Mac's Bluetooth Module
Before proceeding, bear in mind that if your setup relies exclusively on Bluetooth for communicating with your keyboard and mouse, then you're going to temporarily lose connection to them using the following methods, so you might want to have a backup wired input device option just in case.
  1. Holding the Shift + Option (Alt) keys on your Mac's keyboard, click the Bluetooth symbol in the top-right corner of the macOS menu bar. (If you don't see it there, you need to check Show Bluetooth in menu bar in System Preferences -> Bluetooth.)

  2. Locate the revealed Debug submenu and hover your mouse cursor over it.
  3. Click Reset the Bluetooth module.

  4. Now, restart your Mac.
You'll notice a couple of other potentially useful options in the Debug submenu. Factory reset all connected Apple devices does exactly what it says – forces any Apple-branded Bluetooth accessories back to the default settings they came with out of the box. It's a reliable fallback option if you've tried everything else to fix a connection issue, including resetting the Bluetooth module.

Lastly, the Remove all devices option might prove useful if you're moving your Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to another Mac, for example. However, you can also remove devices on an individual basis from the macOS menu bar, as long as you hold down Shift + Option (Alt) before you click the Bluetooth symbol.

Removing devices in this manner means you're not also banishing a whole bunch of other established Bluetooth connections like speakers and so on that you might want to keep.

Related Roundup: macOS High SierraTag: Bluetooth
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Apple Developing Its Own MicroLED Displays for Future Devices

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 01:32
Apple has a secret manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and producing test samples of its own displays, reports Bloomberg. The company is reportedly using MicroLED technology in an effort to replace Samsung's OLED displays in future devices.

Apple's MicroLED facility in Santa Clara (Bloomberg)The technology giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.Apple's desire to expand its supply chain beyond Samsung has been extensively rumored, with Apple reportedly spending billions of dollars to help LG get its own OLED production up to speed and LG displays rumored to be making their way into this year's "iPhone X Plus" device.

Looking beyond OLED, many believe MicroLED will be the next display technology to appear in mobile devices, and Apple's interest in the technology was revealed in its acquisition of MicroLED firm LuxVue back in 2014. Apple has reportedly been working to first bring MicroLED to the Apple Watch, with some rumors pointing to that happening as soon as this year.

Bloomberg's report suggests, however, that it will likely be a few years until Apple's MicroLED displays will appear in shipping products, perhaps two years for the Apple Watch and three to five years for the iPhone. Apple will likely also outsource full-scale production of the displays.The California facility is too small for mass-production, but the company wants to keep the proprietary technology away from its partners as long as possible, one of the people says. “We put a lot of money into the facility,” this person says. “It’s big enough to get through the engineering builds [and] lets us keep everything in-house during the development stages.”Apple had reportedly been working on MicroLED display technology at an R&D center in Taiwan, but late last year the company was reported to have scaled back its efforts at that center. In light of today's news, it's possible Apple elected to concentrate its efforts at a facility closer to its headquarters.

Tags:, Micro-LED
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iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9+: Which Smartphone Has a Better Camera?

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:36
Over the course of this week, we've been taking a look at Samsung's new flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9+, as these two devices are the iPhone X's biggest competition.

In our latest video, available on the MacRumors YouTube channel, we compared the Samsung Galaxy S9+'s dual-lens camera with variable aperture to the vertical dual-lens camera in the iPhone X.

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Samsung decided to focus heavily on image quality in its latest devices, and the S9+ has a 12-megapixel f/1.5 to f/2.4 variable aperture lens as its main camera, which is paired with a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens, similar to what's available in the iPhone X.

A variable aperture is unique to Samsung's new devices, and it offers some benefits that are going to improve image quality. With a variable aperture, it's easier to find a balance between light and image quality.

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At the wider f/1.5 aperture, the Galaxy S9+ camera can let in more light in low light situations, but a wider aperture tends to compromise image sharpness at the edges of the photo. In conditions where the lighting is better, the narrower f/2.4 aperture will provide a crisper higher-quality image. The Galaxy S9+ can automatically select the proper aperture for the best image.

The iPhone X has two lenses like the Galaxy S9+, but no adjustable aperture, and that gives the S9+ a bit of an edge. As you'll see in the images below, though, both the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9+ have fantastic cameras that are capable of taking some amazing images.

In these photos, we used an automatic mode to capture the images, and no editing was done. This image of a sunset demonstrates some key differences between the two cameras. The S9+ offers a crisper image with more definition, but the colors in the iPhone X image are warmer and more true to life.

Click to enlarge
The Galaxy S9+ has a "Live Focus" mode that's similar to Portrait Mode on the iPhone X, and the photo below compares Live Focus with Portrait Mode. Both of these modes have some issues, but making adjustments to blur is easier on the Galaxy S9+, which gives it the win over the iPhone X. In general, the Galaxy S9 also has more built-in image editing tools with its Pro Mode for taking manual photos.

Click to enlarge
In addition to images, we also took a look at video modes. Samsung's Galaxy S9 can record in slow motion at 960 FPS, a unique feature because the iPhone X's slo-mo maxes out at 240 FPS. Both devices can also record in 4K video with optical image stabilization, but the Galaxy S9+'s video was less jittery. The iPhone X did win out when it came to suppressing outdoor wind sound, though.

Both of these cameras, as mentioned before, are great and can capture images that are on par with DSLRs in some situations, but there are definitely some features that make the Galaxy S9+ ever so slightly better than iPhone X when it comes to image and video quality.

Click to enlarge
Of course, Apple is going to be introducing the successor to the iPhone X in about six months, and with the camera improvements that come with every new upgrade, it's likely iPhones coming in 2018 will outshine the Galaxy S9+.

Which images do you prefer? iPhone X or Galaxy S9+? Let us know in the comments.

Make sure to check out our other videos, which have compared the Galaxy S9 to the iPhone X and pitted Animoji against Samsung's new AR Emoji.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTags: Samsung, Galaxy S9Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Visits Apple Park

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:30
United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today visited Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple Park, according to an image shared on Twitter by Mnuchin.

In his tweet, Mnuchin thanked Tim Cook for Apple's commitment to invest $350 billion in the United States, which refers to a January announcement from Apple where the company said it planned to bolster the U.S. economy through job creation, existing investments, and new investments.

Glad to visit @Apple HQ with @tim_cook. Thank you for your commitment to invest 350B in USA! #TaxCutsJobsAct

— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) March 16, 2018
Apple said it will contribute $55 billion to the economy in 2018 and $350 billion over the course of five years. At the same time, Apple also pledged to increase its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, designed to create jobs in the U.S. through investments in suppliers, to $5 billion, up from $1 billion.

Mnuchin's visit to Apple Park comes just a few days after Tim Cook was spotted at Capitol Hill meeting with senators Mark Warren (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).

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.

Tag: Tim Cook
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