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SiriusXM Launches New App for Apple TV

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:50
SiriusXM today announced the launch of a new SiriusXM Radio app for the Apple TV, designed to allow SiriusXM subscribers to listen to more than 200 commercial-free radio channels.

The new app is available on the fourth-generation Apple TV and the Apple TV 4K with an interface that has been optimized for the two set-top boxes.

SiriusXM Radio for Apple TV offers customizable music and comedy channels, access to a library of archived SiriusXM On Demand content, easy access to preferred channels and shows, and a syncing feature for resuming shows from SiriusXM On Demand across devices. There's also an integrated screen saver for viewing currently playing content."Apple TV is one of the leading and most innovative devices in the burgeoning world of in-home audio and video entertainment. We are excited to bring our extensive programming lineup into homes nationwide with Apple TV," said Jim Cady, SiriusXM's Executive Vice President of Products, Operations & Connected Vehicle.The SiriusXM service offers access to a wide range of music genres, exclusive channels from Howard Stern, live games and events from professional and college sports, news broadcasts, comedy shows, and more.

Pricing for access to SiriusXM starts at $10.99 per month for a music package and goes up to $20.99 per month for an all access package that includes access to sports channels.

Tag: SiriusXM
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Best Buy Apple Event: Up to $150 Off iPad Pro, $200 Off MacBook and iMac, and BOGO 20% Off iTunes Cards

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:24
Best Buy this week launched a new Apple sale event, running concurrently with the retailer's existing 20 Days of Doorbusters event this December. The new sale includes promotions and deals on iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Beats by Dre devices, Apple Pencil, and more. We've listed some of the best deals and promotions below, so be sure to check out anything you're interested in before the discounts end on Saturday, December 9 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

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.
  • iPhone X - Trade in select iPhones towards the purchase of an iPhone X and get a Best Buy gift card worth up to $250

  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus - Save up to $200 when buying and activating with a monthly installment plan

  • iPhone 6s - Save $150 when buying and activating with a monthly installment plan

  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro - Save $100 on 64GB, $125 on 256GB, and $150 on 512GB Wi-Fi models

  • iPad mini 4 - Save $125 on the 128GB model

  • MacBook - Save up to $200 on the latest models of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

  • iMac - Save up to $200 on the latest 27-inch and 21.5-inch models

  • iTunes Gift Cards - Buy one, get one 20 percent off

In other deals, Amazon's $50 iTunes gift card for $42.50 from this morning is still ongoing, but as of writing it has reached a 49 percent claim rate so it will be ending shortly. Also of note is Day 7 of Best Buy's 20 Days of Doorbusters event, with today's discount focusing on the WD easystore 8TB External USB 3.0 Hard Drive for $139.99, down from $299.99.

Head over to our Deals Roundup for more of the latest discounts, including savings of up to $850 on Vizio's SmartCast TV set and sound bar bundles.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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LIFX's HomeKit-Enabled LIFX Z Light Strip Adds Smart Multi-Color Accent Lighting to Your Home

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 17:27
LIFX, a company that makes a range of smart light bulbs and other lighting products, recently embraced HomeKit and introduced several HomeKit-compatible lights that are an alternative to the popular Philips Hue line of smart lights.

One of the new products that's been updated with HomeKit support is the LIFX Z, a $90 light strip that's comparable to the LightStrip Plus from Philips, which I was able to test this week. The LIFX Z is a multi-zone light strip that supports up to 16 million colors, and like the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus, it measures in at 6.6 feet. You can buy extensions to make it longer.

I'm deep in the Hue ecosystem with seven Hue lights in my office alone, so it was interesting to try an alternate solution. LIFX products, unlike Hue, connect directly to WiFi and thus don't require a bridge for functionality. This is nice because it means there's nothing to connect to your home router, but I did notice that the LIFX Z can be slower to respond to input than the Hue products.

LIFX Z bottom, Hue LightStrip Plus on top
Design wise, the LIFX Z looks a lot like the Hue LightStrip Plus. It's a strip of LED lights with an adhesive backing that can be attached to cabinets, desks, walls, and more. At one end, there's what I assume is a controller for HomeKit, which can also be attached next to the lights with adhesive, and a power adapter that needs to be plugged in.

The LIFX Z light strip is thinner than the Philips version, and it comes in two pieces that attach together with thin metal prongs. The Hue LightStrip is all one piece and is thicker, so it feels sturdier. I'm worried about the longevity of the LIFX Z, especially if I choose to move it sometime in the future because of the delicate prongs and the thinner design.

LIFX Z has two LEDs that are close together, a design that repeats, while Hue uses three repeating LEDs. In actual usage, both seem to output the same general shades with the same level of accuracy. Purple, for example, is a struggle for both, but most other colors work well. I didn't see a huge difference between the two, color for color.

LIFX Z on top, Hue LightStrip Plus on bottom
As a light strip, the LIFX Z is an accent light and it isn't going to replace traditional lighting in a room, but it can get fairly bright at 1400 lumens per two meters. Comparatively, I think it's just a bit less bright than the LightStrip Plus from Philips, but it's close.

I attached the LIFX Z to my desk, across the back of it and down each leg. The adhesive works fairly well, but there is one section that keeps coming unstuck, so I'll need to secure it with new adhesive. There's no easy way to get the light strip to go around corners, so that's a bit of an awkward setup, but since my desk is against the wall, it's not visible.

It's difficult to capture the look of the LIFX Z on camera, but it adds a very neat backlighting effect to my desk that complements the Nanoleaf Aurora I have on the wall above it. People use these light strips under counters, behind TVs, on shelving, and anywhere else six feet of lights can manage to fit. At maximum brightness, the LIFX Z can be a little distracting, but at about 50%, it's a great accent light.

I've noticed a slight buzzing sound coming from the LIFX Z's power adapter, which is especially noticeable when it's set to red or yellow. Since the power adapter is across the room and in a cable organizer box, it's not noticeable to me unless I'm sitting next to it, but if other units suffer from the same problem, it could be irritating to some people.

Setting up the LIFX Z was a little bit of a hassle. It needs a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, so I had to disconnect my phone from 5GHz and connect to 2.4GHz to get it set up, but it's worked fairly well since then. I've seen it lose connectivity once since I've been testing it, but it was fixed with a restart. Otherwise, it's worked fine for me with one exception, which I'll detail in just a bit.

LIFX Z's major draw over the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus is its support for color zones. There are 8 zones per strip, for a total of 16 zones that can each be set to a different color. The LightStrip Plus, meanwhile, can only be set to a single color at a time.

The main point of control for the LIFX Z is the LIFX app, which I have mixed feelings about. It has a somewhat confusing interface with three separate areas for changing the color of the lights, and every time I open it, it seems to turn off my music even with its access to the microphone disabled.

There's a main "colors" section in the app for setting the light strip to a single color, with the color wheel separated into colors and whites. There are a lot of white presets, which is nice, and the color wheel setup is easy enough to use. If you swipe in the middle, it brightens or dims the LIFX Z, which isn't super intuitive.

A separate "Themes" section is where you can take advantage of the different zones. There are several multi-colored presets, and you can also use the 14 colors in a color palette at the top of the section to "paint" colors onto the light strip. This is neat, but the interface could be improved to allow for more precise color choices, and it would be nice if all the colors were available. If you accidentally tap a color instead of dragging it into the painting interface, it also ruins all your work, which is a point of frustration.

With the Themes section, for some reason, whenever I tap on one of the pre-sets, one section of the LIFX Z refuses to respond, which is bizarre. I can paint on it using the included tools, and it responds to full color changes, but not the pre-set Themes. LIFX tells me that this is a known bug and that a firmware update is coming soon to fix the problem.

You can set Themes and specific light setups as "Scenes," in the LIFX app, but the scenes I create here don't seem to translate to HomeKit, so I can't activate them via voice. I can use Siri to turn the LIFX Z on and off, and I can dim it and turn it to specific colors like "purple" or "red," but it is disappointing that I can't create voice-activated scenes.

LIFX Z can be paired up with other accessories, but that can't be done in the LIFX app. You'll need to use the Home app or another third-party HomeKit app.

Along with themes for painting specific colors onto the LIFX Z, there's an "Effects" feature and an option for automating it to come on at dawn and dusk. Effects is unique to LIFX - this is also something Hue lights can't do.

With Effects, you can set animations like "Candle Flicker," "Color Cycle," or "Animate Theme" to cause the colors to shift in accordance with the effect selected. The LIFX app needs to run in the background for these effects to work. There's also a Music Visualizer option that listens to ambient sound to animate the lights, similar to the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm.

Bottom Line
I love all the LIFX Z features that I can't get with the LightStrip Plus from Philips, but I do wish there was more complete HomeKit integration. Being able to paint the colors I want onto the LIFX Z is fun, and there's a good selection of themes to choose from. I also appreciate being able to set animating effects, something I've never been able to do with my Hue lights.

This would make a great nightlight for a child's room, and it's also nice accent lighting anywhere else.

Ultimately, I think the LIFX Z is neater and more versatile than the Philips Hue LightStrip Plus, and people who are bridge adverse will appreciate the Wi-Fi connectivity. I like the look of the LIFX Z's multi-colored capabilities behind furniture, though it could potentially be distracting as backlighting for a television set. Luckily, solid colors are an option too.

I am concerned that one section of the LIFX Z is sometimes unresponsive and that it has lost its Wi-Fi connection at least once. If you buy one of these and get a section that's unresponsive to themes, I'd definitely recommend returning it for a new one, and potential connectivity problems are something to be aware of.

There's one other consideration - LIFX Z is $90, which is expensive for an accent light. The pricing is competitive with Hue, but Hue goes on sale pretty often now (I picked up a LightStrip Plus for $50 recently). I haven't seen the same sales on this product, as it's relatively new.

It's pricey, but if you're looking for a highly-customizable accent lighting option that can connect to HomeKit systems and comes with some bonus features, it's worth taking a look at the LIFX Z. LIFX also has some other intriguing products on the horizon like the Beam and the Tile, and I'm interested to see how these interact with existing products and compare with other decorative options like the Nanoleaf Aurora.

How to Buy
The LIFX Z light strip with HomeKit compatibility can be purchased from the LIFX website for $89.99 or from

Note: LIFX provided MacRumors with a LIFX Z for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tags: HomeKit, LIFX
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iPhone Remains Flickr's Most Popular Camera in 2017 Ahead of Canon and Nikon

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:00
As it does every year, Flickr today shared its 2017 Year in Review statistics highlighting various aspects of the photo-sharing community with lists including the Top 25 Photos of 2017, Top Devices, and Top Brands. For the Top Brands category, Apple has once again beaten out dedicated camera makers with iPhones being used by 54 percent of photographers uploading photos to Flickr this year, followed by Canon in second place (23 percent) and Nikon in third place (18 percent).

Over the past few years, iPhones have been rising up Flickr's Year in Review rankings. In 2015 iPhones were used for 42 percent of the photos shared to Flickr, and then in 2016 Apple's smartphones retained the top spot again, with 47 percent. Apple first surpassed Nikon to become the second most popular camera brand on Flickr's 2014 rankings.

The most popular iPhones used to capture photos shared on Flickr in 2017 were slightly older models: the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 5s. In total, iPhones accounted for 9 of the Top 10 Devices of 2017, with the Canon 5D Mark III representing the only non-Apple product on the list.

The Top Device Types list has stayed the same over the years, but in 2017 smartphones have grown to account for 50 percent of photos uploaded to Flickr, up from 48 percent last year. DSLR came in second with 33 percent (up from 25 percent last year), followed by point and shoot with 12 percent (down from 21 percent), and then mirrorless at four percent (up from three percent).

Flickr has posted quite a few lists of photos recapping the past year, including the overall Top 25 Photos of 2017, Top Portrait Photography, Top Nature & Wildlife Photography, Top Landscape Photography, and much more. Flickr today also announced new partnerships for its premium Flickr Pro membership, introducing perks from Adobe, Priime, and Portfoliobox into Pro.

Those interested can read more about Flickr Pro here, and check out more of the best Flickr photos of the year here.

Tag: Flickr
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Instagram Testing Standalone Direct Messaging App, Hinting at Potential Removal of DMs From Core App

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:16
Following in the footsteps of parent company Facebook, Instagram is beginning a test in six countries today that will see the launch of a new standalone app called "Direct," which will be solely focused on direct messaging friends and family members. As reported by The Verge, this could be the "first step" toward potentially removing messaging features from the main Instagram app.

Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay will get Direct on iOS and Android today, and if you download the app there and link it to your Instagram account, then your inbox in the core Instagram app "disappears" and can then only be accessed in Direct. Instagram currently has "no timeline" for a global launch outside of these countries, but said that its reason for segmenting off Direct in a test is to create a "best-in-class" experience for private messaging, which could not be possible inside a social-sharing application.

Image via The Verge “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that,” Hemal Shah, an Instagram product manager, told me. “Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app.” Direct is said to open to a camera like Snapchat, encouraging you to send photo messages to friends, and then you can swipe to go left to see your profile and settings, or right to navigate to your list of recent contacts. Direct also includes all of the usual filters, doodle tools, and photo effects Instagram has launched in stories and picture editing over the past year, as well as four new exclusive filters. "That's the whole app," according to The Verge, which also reported on a new way to easily jump between Direct and Instagram.
Still, there are some nice touches. Designers built what might be the niftiest app transition I’ve ever seen: If you start swiping to the right of the Direct inbox, an Instagram logo pops begins to peak out from the side of the app. Swipe all the way to the right and Direct will open Instagram. Similarly, you can swipe right in Instagram to reveal the Direct logo — a modified version of the paper-plane logo Instagram has long used for messages — and completing your swipe will take you back to Direct. Since Facebook broke off Messenger into its own app in 2014, the company has added in chat bots, games, location sharing, ephemeral stories, online friend statuses, group video chat, and more. It's expected that Direct will also expand in a similar way if Instagram goes through with a global launch of the new app, which is starting off barebones in its test, leaving room for the company to "make it even better," according to Instagram product manager Hemal Shah.

Tag: Instagram
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Honeywell's Home Security System Now Compatible With HomeKit

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 13:58
Honeywell today announced that its Lyric Controller home security system is now compatible with Apple's HomeKit platform.

HomeKit support can be enabled with a free software update available to both current and future Lyric Controller customers, allowing the home security system to be controlled with Apple's Home app or Siri on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

By using Siri, homeowners can control the security system's personalized presets and automate scenes for energy saving and security.

Honeywell's Lyric Controller has a seven-inch touchscreen and a built-in camera. If a Lyric sensor or motion detector detects an unusual situation, the system will provide visual and audible alerts and send notifications to an iPhone or iPad.

The home security system can be purchased on Amazon for $288 in the United States and is available at select other resellers around the world.

Tags: HomeKit, Honeywell
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Google Removes Chrome Apps Section From the Chrome Browser Web Store

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:16
Google has shuttered the Chrome Apps section of its Chrome browser web store, following through on an announcement the company made more than a year ago. As of Wednesday, the Apps selection no longer appeared in the web store's search panel filters below Extensions and Themes.

Prior to yesterday's removal, Chrome apps were available in two flavors: packaged apps and hosted apps. As Ars Technica notes, hosted apps were little more than desktop bookmarks, but they gave Chrome OS users a way to pin important web pages to certain parts of the GUI.

Packaged apps, which first appeared on Mac in 2013, could be downloaded into the Applications folder where they were designed to function like native Mac apps, working offline, updating automatically, and syncing on any computer where a user was signed into Chrome.

By 2016, Google had decided they were no longer worth the resources, because only around 1 percent of users across Windows, Mac, and Linux actively used Chrome packaged apps, and by that time the functionality of most hosted apps had been implemented as regular web apps.

This week, Google began sending out emails to Chrome app developers informing them that Chrome Apps are now deprecated, and that the functionality of already installed apps will end early next year. As a replacement, Google is moving developers towards Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).

The hybrid software was launched earlier this year on Android and brings similar app features to websites, including push notifications and offline sync. Apple has already started building support for PWAs into Safari on iOS, while Google is reportedly aiming to release PWAs for desktop by the middle of next year.

Tags: Google, Chrome
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Tidal Streaming Service Announces Apple CarPlay Support

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:39
Music streaming service Tidal on Wednesday announced its compatibility with Apple CarPlay, enabling subscribers to stream music through their vehicle's dash-integrated infotainment systems.

The support comes via an iOS app update, which also includes interface harmonization with iPhone X screens, ensuring Tidal's default dark theme makes the most of those 5.8-inch OLED displays.

We're proud to announce that TIDAL is now CarPlay compatible! Get ready to access all your favorite music & TIDAL playlists right from your car’s dashboard.

— TIDAL (@TIDAL) December 6, 2017
The My Collection section of the app is the hub of Tidal's CarPlay integration, where listeners can gain access to their favorited tracks, albums, and playlists.

As noted by The Verge, a special version of the Explore section will also let users find new music and podcasts, including the most played versions of both.

The update follows Tidal's announcement last month that it was providing in-app support for Sonos speaker systems, allowing subscribers to control their Sonos home sound systems directly from within the Tidal interface.

Tags: CarPlay, Tidal
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Yoink for iOS 1.1 Update Brings Better Clipboard Support, Download Option, and Improved iOS Integration

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:22
Eternal Storms today released version 1.1 of Yoink for iPhone and iPad, the mobile version of the popular drag-and-drop Mac app. On iOS 11, Yoink acts like a convenient shelf for users to drag in files and other content, do something else (switch apps, tabs, and so on) and then easily access those items again by dragging them out of Yoink.

A handful of new iOS integrations are particularly notable in the latest update. For example, Yoink now offers enhanced clipboard awareness, so that when users copy something to the clipboard, Yoink will automatically offer to store it for them.

Elsewhere, when sharing a URL with Yoink through its new action extension in a share sheet, the app offers to either store the URL itself in Yoink or to download the file the URL points to in the background.

There's also a new Today Widget, offering quick access to the most recent items stored in Yoink as well as another avenue to storing clipboard contents, while additional 3D Touch Quick Actions make it easier to add clipboard contents from the home screen.

Meanwhile, the app's UI design has been tweaked for iPhone X support, and each item and stack in Yoink now has a button that can be tapped to quickly copy, share, select, delete, and more. After the update has been applied, items stored in Yoink can be accessed from any app that supports iOS 11's Files browser.

Other improvements to the app in this version include a smaller memory footprint, easier stacking of items via drag and drop, a new "never-delete" auto-empty trash option, Spotlight indexing for text items, and a number of bug fixes.

Yoink is available on the App Store for $2.99 in a limited time deal (regular price $4.99). The app is localized in English, German, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese, with
more languages will follow. The Mac version of Yoink is available for $6.99.

Tag: Yoink
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Apple Shares Top Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts and Books of 2017

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:16
Apple today published its annual lists featuring the most popular media content in the iTunes Store and iBooks Store in 2017, highlighting the best music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and books.

"The Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran was the top song of the year, while the top album was Drake's "More Life." Other hit albums included Kendrick Lamar's "DAMN," Taylor Swift's "Reputation," Ed Sheeran's "Divide," and "Starboy" from The Weeknd.

Top movies in 2017 included "Moana," "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Wonder Woman," "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2," and "Sing."

The Top TV shows were "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead," "The Big Bang Theory," "The Americans," and "Rick and Morty."

NPR's "Fresh Air" was the most downloaded podcast, followed by "The Joe Rogan EXperience" and "Stuff You Should Know."

The best selling fiction book of the year was "Camino Island: by John Grisham, followed by "The Handmade's Tale" by Margaret Atwood and "Origin" by Dan Brown. "Hillbilly Elegy" was the number one nonfiction book, followed by "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" by Mark Manson and "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil de Grasse Tyson.

Full top lists for movies, TV shows, books, music, and podcasts can be found in Apple Music, the iTunes Store and the iBooks Store.
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Apple's Best of the App Store in 2017: Calm, Splitter Critters, Affinity Photo and The Witness

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 09:10
Apple today published its annual Best of 2017 charts for the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBooks Store, highlighting the top media content and trends across 2017.

Apple's App Store editors chose two standout games and two standout apps for the iPhone and the iPad as their best of 2017 picks. On the iPhone, meditation app Calm and popular game Splitter Critters won top honors, while photo editing app Affinity Photo and puzzle game The Witness took the top spots on iPad.

- iPhone App of the Year: Calm
- iPhone Game of the Year: Splitter Critters
- iPad App of the Year: Affinity Photo
- iPad Game of the Year: The Witness

Apple shared apps that are part of the top Trends of the Year, which included augmented reality apps like IKEA Place and Very Hungry Caterpillar, meditation-style apps like Calm and Joyable, multiplayer games like Art of War: Red Tides and The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and modern storytelling apps like Hooked and Serial Box Publishing.

Apple has also published the top apps for 2017 across multiple App Store charts. Top free iPhone apps included Bitmoji, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, while top paid iPhone apps included Facetune, HotSchedules, Tabs & Chords, Enlight, and the 7 Minute Workout Challenge.

On iPhone, the top games included Super Mario Run, 8 Ball Pool, Ballz, Snake vs. Block, and Word Cookies. Top paid iPhone games included Heads Up!, Minecraft, Plague Inc., Bloons TD 5, and Monopoly.

YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Chrome were the top free iPad apps, while Procreate, Notability, Toca Life: Hospital, Toca Life: Salon 3, and GoodNotes 4 were the top paid iPad apps.

Super Mario Run, ROBLOX, Rolling Sky, Word Cookies, and Bowmasters were the top free iPad games, and Minecraft, Geometry Dash, Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, Bloons TD 5 HD, and the Escapists were the top paid iPad games.

The full list of top iPad and iPhone apps and games, along with additional details on the top App Store content in 2017, is available through the App Store on an iOS device.

Tag: App Store
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Apple Store App Updated With iOS 11 Enhancements and Support for iPhone Purchases Without Carrier Pre-Activation

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 01:13
Apple today updated its Apple Store app to version 4.4, introducing iOS 11 enhancements and a new scanner feature for quickly adding your credit card information at checkout.

According to the release notes, the app update also allows customers to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones, a purchasing option that has been available for the iPhone X on the Apple Store website since November.What's New in Version 4.4
- iOS 11 enhancements
- Scanner now available to easily add your credit card information at checkout
- Customers now have the option to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones on AT&T, Verizon, or SprintThe Apple Store app is Apple's iOS storefront, allowing customers to find and purchase a range of Apple products and accessories. It can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tags: App Store, Apple retail, Apple Store
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Apple's Rumored 2018 6.1-Inch Lower-Cost iPhone With LCD Display Could Feature Metal Back

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 00:20
Apple will release three iPhones in 2018, including two OLED models and one LCD model that could feature a metal back like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, reports Nikkei.

Citing a source "privy to the company's product designs," Nikkei says the LCD model will feature a 6.1-inch display, while the two OLED models will measure in at 5.8 inches and either 6.2 or 6.3 inches.

The LCD model with a metal back will "come in several colors," much like existing aluminum iPhones, and the body for the device could be manufactured by Casetek, a Pegatron subsidiary.

Nikkei's information is in line with previous details shared by KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has accurate insight into Apple's plans, though there is some variance in size predictions for the three devices.

Kuo believes Apple will introduce three iPhones in 2018: an OLED model that measures in at 5.8 inches like the current iPhone X, an OLED model that measures in at 6.5 inches that will serve as a sort of "iPhone X Plus," and a 6.1-inch model that features an LCD display.

Kuo's 2018 iPhone predictions
Kuo has said that all three models will feature a full-screen edge-to-edge design and a TrueDepth camera system like the current iPhone X, but he made no mention of a different casing material. The current iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus all feature glass backs to support wireless charging.

A 6.1-inch LCD model with a metal body presumably made of aluminum would not be able to work with wireless charging, and it is not clear if Apple is willing to take a step back and remove a new key feature from future iPhones.

The 6.1-inch LCD model has thus far been described by Kuo as a lower-resolution model that will be more affordable than the two OLED models, with the aim of targeting the low-end and midrange markets.

Since earlier this year, we've been hearing hints of a two device lineup next year, with Apple planning to introduce a larger-screened OLED iPhone to sell alongside a new 5.8-inch model, which seems like the next logical iteration of the iPhone X. The first rumor of a third device with an LCD display came from Kuo in November.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Hands-On With the New Amazon Prime Video App for Apple TV

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 23:46
The long-awaited Amazon Prime Video app for the Apple TV finally debuted today after a wait that spanned six months since it was first teased at WWDC.

Apple's set-top box is one of the last platforms to support the Amazon Prime Video app, which is now available on third, fourth, and fifth-generation Apple TV models. We spent the afternoon checking out the new app for a hands-on look at its feature set.

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If you've used the Amazon Prime Video app on an iOS device or on another platform like a console, the interface will be immediately familiar, organized into sections that include Originals, Movies, TV, Kids, Video Library, and more.

Content available from Amazon Prime Video includes TV shows like "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and movies like "The Big Sick," with Amazon adding new options on a regular basis. Amazon Prime Video requires an Amazon Prime subscription, priced at $99 per year or $10.99 per month.

Movies and TV shows in Amazon Prime Video can be added to your Watchlist, which is synced across all of your devices, and the Apple TV's Siri Remote can be used to search for Amazon content from within the app.

Universal Search is also supported, so Amazon Prime Video content will come up in systemwide searches on the Apple TV, and integration with Apple's dedicated TV app is included in countries where the TV app is supported, with access to Up Next syncing and content recommendations.

Integration with the TV app is nice, as is Universal Search, because both features let you access Amazon content without needing to use the Amazon Prime Video interface.

For the 4K Apple TV and supported television sets, supported Amazon Prime Video content plays in 4K HDR.

Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV is available in more than 100 countries, and it is also available on iOS devices. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: Apple TVTag: Amazon Prime VideoBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases iTunes 12.7.2 With Minor App and Performance Improvements

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 22:13
Alongside of the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, Apple today released an updated version of iTunes for Mac machines.

iTunes 12.7.2 is a minor update, and according to Apple's release notes, it introduces minor app and performance improvements.

Today's iTunes update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free using the Software Update function.

iTunes 12.7.2 follows iTunes 12.7.1, an October update that also focused on minor improvements. iTunes 12.7, released in September, was the last major update to iTunes, eliminating the built-in App Store to focus solely on music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Tag: iTunes
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Comparison: Mophie and Belkin's Wireless Chargers for iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 20:30
With the release of iOS 11.2, faster 7.5W wireless charging is available on the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.

Currently, there are two chargers that Apple has confirmed support 7.5W wireless charging: the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad and the Mophie Wireless Charging Base, both of which are sold by Apple.

Now that 7.5W wireless charging has been implemented, we thought we'd take a look at both charger options for those of you who are considering a purchase following the update.

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Both the Mophie and Belkin wireless chargers are priced at $60 and offer the same charging speeds, but there are some distinct design differences between the two. The Mophie charger is smaller in diameter and is available only in black, while the Belkin model is larger and available only in white.

There are dozens if not hundreds of less expensive wireless chargers available, but it's not yet entirely clear which of these - if any - support 7.5W wireless charging in Apple's new devices at this point in time. It looks like there may be an Apple-controlled factor that prevents some existing higher-watt chargers from offering 7.5W charging speeds on the new iPhones, but that's something we're still investigating in a forthcoming post comparing wireless charging options.

We tested the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad on both an iPhone X running iOS 11.1.2 with 5W charging speeds and on iOS 11.2 with 7.5W charging speeds, and we did notice a small difference, but wireless charging speed is dependent on many different variables and it can vary.

In our current testing, 7.5W wireless charging was faster than both 5W wired and 5W wireless charging, so iPhone owners who are looking for faster wireless charging speeds may be interested in considering one of the chargers offered by Apple.

Both the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad and the Mophie Wireless Charging Base can be purchased from the Apple Online store and in retail shops around the world.
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Apple's Greg Joswiak Talks iPhone X Face ID, Display and A11 Chip

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 20:12
Tom's Guide today shared its list of "2017 Innovation Award Winners," which of course includes the iPhone X, among other products like the Nintendo Switch, the DJI Spark, and the Amazon Echo.

Apple's iPhone X took the Tom's Guide "Best Overall" award for its Super Retina Display, Face ID, and A11 Bionic chip, and the site's iPhone X writeup includes some interesting commentary from Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing.

For the iPhone X's Super Retina Display, which incorporates the first-ever OLED panel in an iOS device, Joswiak says Apple had to "do a lot of engineering" to come up with "panels that were better" to address traditional OLED issues like oversaturated colors.

The iPhone X is using its own color management system, a folding panel design that stacks circuits for minimal bezel, and other technology improvements to outshine competing smartphone displays.

Reiterating previous comments from Apple executives on Face ID, Joswiak says Touch ID was never planned for the iPhone X. Prior to the launch of the device, there were rumors suggesting Apple had tried and failed to embed Touch ID both under the display. Apple execs say Face ID was planned for the iPhone X from the beginning. "We had a line of sight on how to do real facial recognition, in a way never done before," said Joswiak.

The "notch" on the iPhone X, which some believe is a questionable design decision, houses what Joswiak says is "one of the most densely packed technology areas" Apple has done. The notch includes a 7-megapixel camera, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a speaker, a microphone, and a dot projector, all of which powers the TrueDepth system that enables Face ID and other features like Animoji.

At the heart of the iPhone X, there's an A11 Bionic chip with two performance cores and four high-efficiency cores that work together to make the iPhone X incredibly fast. An included neural engine powers Face ID and other machine learning tasks, while an embedded M11 Motion coprocessor captures motion-based data.

Apple's chip team "worked hand in glove" with the rest of Apple's hardware and software teams to design chips that are "perfectly suited" for the iPhone X's feature set. "That's huge," said Joswiak. "No one else can match that," he added.

Josiwak's full commentary on the iPhone X, which includes additional details about each feature, can be read over at Tom's Guide. The Innovation Award list also highlights multiple other products across categories like Augmented Reality, TV, Graphics, Design, Game, Entertainment, CPU, Tablet, Peripheral, and more.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Greg JoswiakBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Exclusive Offer: Get 15% Off Any Full-Priced Items From Nomad Through December 18

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 20:02
MacRumors has partnered up with accessory maker Nomad to offer our readers an exclusive promotional code for 15 percent off any full-priced items on the company's website. To receive the promotion, all you have to do is enter the code MRUMORS15 during checkout and any full-priced items will get marked down by 15 percent. Note that this offer excludes any Nomad accessories already on sale.

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

If your cart includes both full-priced and sale items, the promo code will automatically apply to the correct items and exclude any that are already discounted. The offer will be live from today through Monday, December 18, which should provide enough time for any items to arrive to your home in time for Christmas. Since this promo code can be used across most of the Nomad storefront, we've rounded up some the company's products to give you a few browsing ideas.

Anyone browsing Nomad's site will also notice that the company has a sitewide 10 percent off coupon that you can obtain by entering your email address, but this will not stack with our exclusive offer. Head over to Nomad to see more of the company's products, and be sure to place any orders before December 18 to take advantage of the promotion.

Check out our Deals Roundup for more sales going on throughout the holidays, this week including a 25 percent off coupon at eBay on select orders in Tech, Home, Fashion, and more totaling $25 and over. Also don't forget about the ongoing Apple TV 4K offer from DirecTV Now, which nets you a free $180 32GB Apple TV 4K when you pay for four months of the over-the-top streaming service upfront at $140. You can find more information on that deal in our blog post here.

Related Roundup: Apple DealsTag: Nomad
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Review: Ultimate Ears' New Blast and Megablast Speakers Bring Alexa Integration But Sacrifice Features

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:55
Ultimate Ears is known for its line of rugged, waterproof speakers that come in bright colors and offer high-quality sound at prices that aren't exorbitant.

In October, Ultimate Ears expanded its product lineup with two new flagship devices, the Blast and the Megablast, successors to the Boom 2 and the Megaboom, with revamped designs and, for the first time, Wi-Fi support with Amazon Alexa integration.

I tested the new Ultimate Ears speakers, and I liked the addition of Alexa integration, especially in a wire-free device. There were, however, some limitations and caveats that may not make this the best speaker for everyone.

Blast and Megablast don't look too different from previous-generation Ultimate Ears speakers, but they do sport a new, more modern design with a flatter top and less rounded edges for a decidedly cleaner and sleeker appearance.

They use the same cylindrical design as past speakers, offering 360 degree sound. The top and the bottom of the Blast and Megablast feature a soft rubber material with bluetooth/power/Alexa buttons and access to a charging port, while most of the rest of the speaker is made from a matching mesh.

Both speakers continue to feature prominent "+" and "-" buttons that are used for controlling volume. Some people don't like these buttons because of the resemblance to a cross, but I've always been a fan of the bold look and easy-access volume controls. The speakers each come in a range of colors, including Blue Steel, Merlot, Blizzard, and Graphite. The Megablast I have on hand is Blue Steel, while the Blast is Merlot, and both colors are subdued and even elegant, able to match well with any decor.

Blast is about 7.4 inches tall and as thick as a soda can, while Megablast is about 9.3 inches tall and a good deal thicker, closer in size to a coffee can than a soda can. Blast fits well in a bag for travel, making it ideal for the beach or the pool, while Megablast is less portable. There's nothing stopping you from lugging the Megablast around, though.

All of Ultimate Ears' speakers are IP67 water resistant, which means they can be immersed in liquid up to 1m deep for up to 30 minutes. I took both speakers in the shower several times with me over the course of the testing period, and had no problems. Ports are well protected with a rubber covering at the bottom, but it's worth noting that this rubber cover makes charging a chore. There are no other points of ingress for water to get into.

Charging ports are located on the bottom of the speakers, so the rubber covering needs to be pulled back while the micro-USB charging cord is inserted, and it can take a few seconds to get it oriented correctly. This isn't new to the Blast and Megablast, though, and it's a small price to pay for water resistance. Bottom charging ports means these speakers aren't going to sit upright when charging, so it isn't the most convenient port location.

Volume is controlled through the aforementioned large volume buttons, and the speakers can be turned on using a power button at the top. There are no physical controls for pausing music or changing songs -- these things must be done using Alexa integration or your connected iOS device. No on-device control is something of a step back, because both the Boom 2 and the Megaboom have tap gestures for skipping and pausing songs, and I think that's something a lot of people are going to miss.

Some may also miss the 3.5mm aux-in port that was present in the Megaboom. It's been removed in the Megablast.

The Blast is meant to last for 12 hours on a single charge, while the Megablast is supposed to last for 18 hours. I got about that amount of battery life from the Blast, but the Megablast I had on hand seems to drain a good deal faster than that, and I'm not sure why.

Sound Quality
I've used several Ultimate Ears speakers over the years, and I'm a fan of the sound quality for the price. Evaluating sound is always tricky because there's so much preference involved, but objectively, these speakers sound crisp and clean.

For my tastes, and with the Megablast especially, there's too much bass and I do feel that with some songs, the bass can overwhelm some of the other notes.

These speakers are loud, and the sound absolutely fills a room. They're so loud, in fact, that the maximum setting is too high for my apartment. The Blast has a maximum sound level of 90 dBC with a frequency range of 90Hz to 20kHz, and it comes equipped with two 35mm active drivers and two 81mm and 39mm passive radiators.

In comparison, the Megablast has a maximum sound level of 93 dBC with a frequency range of 60Hz to 20kHz. Inside, there are two 25mm tweeters, two 55m active drivers, and two 85mm and 50mm passive radiators. In practice, this means the Megablast is noticeably louder and clearer than the Blast. That's not to say the Blast is lacking - it still offers great sound, but it's not quite on the level of the Megablast.

To power the Alexa features, the Blast and Megablast have several built-in microphones to enable far-field voice recognition. I had a hard time getting the speakers to listen to me when music was playing except for when I was fairly close to them. Without music playing, they had an easier time understanding me.

Alexa Integration
Blast and Megablast support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and with a Wi-Fi connection, the two speakers work with Amazon Alexa, a first for an Ultimate Ears product. Alexa integration is somewhat limited on third-party devices, though, so it's worth noting that these can also be used as standard Bluetooth speakers.

With Amazon Alexa integration, when connected to Wi-Fi, you can use Alexa to play music and answer simple queries, much like using Alexa on an Amazon Echo device. Alexa works with Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, and that's it. Ultimate Ears says Pandora and Deezer are coming soon, though, with more to follow in the future.

There is no support for Spotify or Apple Music, so if you subscribe to one of these music services, you're going to need to use Bluetooth. I am an Apple Music subscriber, which only works over Bluetooth, so I signed up for a few months of Amazon Music Unlimited for testing purposes. Ultimate Ears includes a code for a free three month trial.

Alexa integration in Blast and Megablast is useful because you can just ask Alexa to play a particular song, music genre, album, or playlist, but unless you're already a subscriber to an Amazon music service or willing to switch, it's of limited utility as a way to play and control music.

I'm in the Apple ecosystem and use HomeKit, so I don't get the full range of use out of Alexa, but the speakers can be used to control smart home products, offer weather and traffic information, set alarms, create to-do lists, offer up conversions, find recipes, get news updates, and more.

You don't need to connect to power to use Alexa with Blast or Megablast, but you do need a Wi-Fi connection. Because power isn't necessary, the Blast and the Megablast will go to sleep after a short period of time, so the Alexa feature is not always listening. You'll often need to push the power button to wake the speaker back up when you want to use Alexa if it isn't connected to power.

You can, however, enable an always-on Alexa mode through a standalone charging dock that charges the new speakers inductively.

Alexa features are limited to countries where Alexa is available, aka the United States, the UK, and Germany. An Amazon account is also required.

When not connected to Wi-Fi, the Blast and Megablast function as standard Bluetooth speakers, and this is the connection method you're going to need to use to play music from Spotify, Apple Music, or other sources. Connecting via Bluetooth is done in the Settings app, like any other Bluetooth device.

You can listen to music over Bluetooth and use Alexa, but expect some delays. When I listen on Bluetooth and then ask Alexa a question, there's a long pause before my music resumes.

With previous Ultimate Ears speakers, the Ultimate Ears app enabled a lot of neat features like PartyUp/DoubleUp, which let multiple Ultimate Ears speakers be linked together. You can't link Blast or Megablast with other Ultimate Ears speakers or even with each other. These are standalone speakers that can only be controlled separately, with no option to sync them.

There was also a Block Party feature for letting your friends queue up music with you, and that's also unavailable in the Blast and Megablast. This is less of a loss when used with Alexa, though, because you can request songs vocally with a compatible music service.

A speakerphone feature was available with the Megaboom, allowing it to answer calls from a connected smartphone. That's another feature that's not available with Blast and Megablast.

Charging Dock
Ultimate Ears is offering a standalone "Power Up" charging dock that works with the Blast and the Megablast, and while it's not required for charging, if you want always-on Alexa functionality that's not completely inconvenient, you're going to need the dock.

The dock is basically a simple white puck-style device that charges a speaker inductively. It's the best way to merge always-on Alexa functionality with the portability of a battery-powered speaker, but it does cost an extra $40.

This is an almost necessary accessory for customers who want to get the most out of Alexa, so it's disappointing that it wasn't included in the price of the Blast and the Megablast, neither of which are cheap.

Bottom Line
I like the addition of Alexa functionality to the Ultimate Ears lineup, but I do wish Ultimate Ears hadn't sacrificed so many features to add it. People accustomed to Ultimate Ears products are going to miss the auxiliary input, the ability to pair two or more speakers together, and the other fun features that used to be available.

Hopefully some of these missing functions can be re-added with software updates over time, but whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

For someone like me who primarily uses Spotify, Apple Music, or another music service that's not supported by Alexa, you're not going to be able to get a lot out of this speaker's Alexa integration unless you simply want it for non-musical functionality. Being able to request songs via voice is most of the appeal of these speakers, and not being able to use that feature puts Blast and Megablast on par with any other Bluetooth speaker.

I have Apple Music and HomeKit, as do many of us who have iOS devices, so while Alexa is fun to play with, it's not something that I can up and use without tweaks to the products in my home. With HomeKit and Apple Music, I'm instead eagerly awaiting HomePod.

If you're going to be using Blast or Megablast like a Bluetooth speaker, it's probably a better choice not to shell out the extra cash and to get something like the Boom 2 or the Megaboom instead, which are as low as $124 and $188, respectively, on Amazon.

If you do have a supported music service and want to get into the Alexa ecosystem, this speaker is a great choice. You get all of the benefits of Alexa in a portable package that can go absolutely anywhere. I do recommend budgeting for the charging dock if you're picking up a Blast or Megablast to use with Alexa, though, as it's a must-have for always-on functionality at home.

How to Buy
The Blast is priced at $229.99, while the Megablast is priced at $299.99. Both can be purchased from the Ultimate Ears website, or from (Blast/Megablast).

Note: Ultimate Ears provided MacRumors with a Blast and a Megablast for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: Ultimate Ears
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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 45 With Bug Fixes and Feature Improvements

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:33
Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced more than a year ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 45 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Rendering, JavaScript, CSS, Web API, Media, Web Inspector, and Accessibility.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.
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