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Apple Releases macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 With Compatibility Improvements for Third-Party USB Audio Devices

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:27
Apple today released macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, the second update for the macOS High Sierra operating system available for Apple's Macs. macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 comes a little over a month after the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.1, the first update to High Sierra.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 can be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store or through the Software Update function in the Mac App Store on all compatible Macs that are already running macOS High Sierra.

No major outward-facing changes were found in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 during the beta testing period, but according to Apple's release notes, it offers security and feature improvements. The update improves compatibility with third-party USB audio devices, it introduces better VoiceOver navigation when viewing PDF documents in Preview, and it improves the compatibility of Braille displays with Mail.The macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, and is recommended for all users.

This update:

- Improves compatibility with certain third-party USB audio devices
- Improves VoiceOver navigation when viewing PDF documents in Preview
- Improves compatibility of Braille displays with MailFor more information on the macOS High Sierra operating system, make sure to check out our dedicated macOS High Sierra roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Apple's 'The Rock x Siri' Cracks Top 10 Most Watched Ads on YouTube in 2017

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 17:54
Apple's short film "The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day" was the eighth most watched ad on YouTube around the world in 2017, according to Adweek.

Adweek says the ad has been viewed more than 25 million times, although that figure is based on Apple's channel for India rather than the United States, where the video has amassed nearly 18 million views.

With the views from all of Apple's regional YouTube channels combined, the ad has actually received over 80 million views to date, but that includes the possibility of some duplicate views from the same users.

"The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day" stars actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who uses Siri throughout an eventful day in which he pilots an airplane, floats in space, prepares fine cuisine, acts on a set, and more.

The theme of the short film, released in July, is that Siri can be used for a wide variety of tasks, such as checking calendar appointments, setting reminders, starting a timer, reading emails, starting an Apple Music playlist, and more.

The ad was certainly unorthodox for Apple and had mixed reception, with some finding it funny and others feeling it was cringeworthy.

The most watched YouTube ad of the year came from Samsung, promoting its customer service vans in India, according to Adweek. The four-minute video has received over 150 million views on the Samsung India channel.

Other ads that made the top 10 were shared by brands such as Adidas, Budweiser, Levi's, Mr. Clean, Oreo, Clash Royale, and Miss Dior.

Tag: Apple ads
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Apple's Video Team Gains TV Programming Veteran Michelle Lee

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 17:31
The latest addition to Apple's video team is Michelle Lee, who is taking on a role as a creative executive, reports Variety. Lee will report to Matt Cherniss, the former president and general manager of WGN America who now leads development of Apple's worldwide video unit.

Prior to joining Apple, Lee worked with Jason Katims at the Universal Television-based True Jack Productions, where she helped develop and produce several series. "Rise," "The Path," "About a Boy," and "Pure Genius" are some of the shows that she worked on. Prior to that, she worked with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci on "Sleepy Hollow" and "Fringe."

Apple started building its new video division in June with the hiring of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony executives who now report to Apple senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue. Erlicht and Van Amburg helped produce shows like "Breaking Bad," "Better Caul Saul," "The Crown," and more.

Erlicht and Amburg have made several hires since then, bringing on Matt Cherniss in August and former Amazon Studios executive Morgan Wandell in October, along with other television executives.

Apple's video team is currently pursuing two shows, including a reboot of Steven Spielberg's sci-fi series "Amazing Stories" and an untitled "morning show drama" that will star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTag: Apple's Hollywood ambitionsBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Valve Reveals Portal Spin-Off 'Bridge Constructor Portal' Coming to macOS and iOS December 20

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 17:10
Valve, Headup Games, and ClockStone Software today announced that the next iteration of the popular Portal franchise is launching later this month, in the form of a spin-off game tied into the Bridge Constructor puzzle series (via TouchArcade). Bridge Constructor Portal will launch on December 20 for macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux, and then console versions will follow in 2018.

Image via TouchArcade
The companies said that the new game "fully embraces the Portal license" while primarily focusing on the puzzle and physics elements of Bridge Constructor. Similar to past Bridge Constructor games, players will have to build bridges to connect pathways and safely traverse across chasms without falling to their death.
"Hello and welcome back to the Aperture Science computer-aided enrichment center."

We welcome all lucky applicants to Bridge Constructor Portal with our new vehicle-based test chambers, Quantum Tunnels and patented Aperture technology! For the last year we've been secretly working in our underground labs on the next iteration of the million-selling Bridge Constructor series. This new stand-alone title will release on PC, MacOS, Linux, mobile devices, and console, and fully embraces the Portal license, one of the most beloved video game franchises of the last decade. The Portal elements come in with the gaming being set in Aperture Laboratories, as well as various in-game items that players can use to solve puzzles, like the companion cube and the repulsion and propulsion gels from Portal 2. GLaDOS will also narrate your progress and failure as you make your way through the new vehicle-based test chambers.

The price of Bridge Constructor Portal hasn't yet been disclosed, but those interested can expect more information ahead of the game's release. Bridge Constructor's paid iOS app is currently priced at $1.99 [Direct Link], so players can likely expect a price point above $2, considering that the game will also be launching simultaneously on Mac and PC as well as eventually coming to consoles, like the Nintendo Switch.

Tag: Valve
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Here's How Apple Improves the iOS and Mac User Experience While Protecting Your Privacy

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:29
Apple has added a new entry to its Machine Learning Journal with in-depth technical details about how it uses differential privacy to gather anonymous usage insights from devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

At a high level, differential privacy allows Apple to crowdsource data from a large number of users without compromising the privacy of any individual.

There are two types of differential privacy: central and local. Apple has chosen to use the local setting, which means that data is randomized before being sent from devices, so that its servers never see or receive raw data from users.

When users set up their device, Apple explicitly asks users if they wish to provide usage information on an opt-in basis. If a user declines, no data is collected by Apple unless they choose to opt in at a later time.

The toggle for sending usage information can be found under Settings > Privacy > Analytics on iOS 10 and later and under System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Analytics on macOS Sierra and later.

Apple says the data it collects helps to, for example, improve the QuickType keyboard's predictive words and emoji suggestions, and to help identify problematic websites that use excessive power or too much memory in Safari.

An opted-in user who types an emoji, for example, may trigger usage information to be collected based on the following process:

• The data is immediately privatized via local differential privacy.

• The data is temporarily stored on-device using a technology called Data Protection, which is explained on page 11 of Apple's iOS Security Guide.

• After a delay, a random sample of the data is collected and sent to Apple's server.

The data sent to Apple does not include device identifiers or timestamps of when the events in the usage information occurred. The communication between a device and Apple's server is encrypted using TLS.

In iOS, information being shared with Apple for the categories of data that are protected using Differential Privacy is visible under Settings > Privacy > Analytics > Analytics Data, in entries that begin with "DifferentialPrivacy."

In macOS, users can launch the Console app and view the information under the Differential Privacy category of System Reports.

On a side note, the blog post reveals that "Face With Tears of Joy" is the most popular emoji, used by more than 25 percent of English-speaking users of Apple devices. We saw this chart before, but now it's labeled along the y-axis.

For a detailed explanation of the mathematical algorithms that Apple is using, the Learning with Privacy at Scale entry in its Machine Learning Journal is a worthwhile read.

Tag: Differential privacy
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Apple and Amazon Confirm Amazon Prime Video on tvOS Supports 4K HDR and 'Up Next' in TV App

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 15:11
Following the early morning launch of the long-awaited Amazon Prime Video tvOS app, both Apple and Amazon have now posted press releases about the launch, each confirming a few details about Prime Video on Apple TV.

Firstly, Apple's PR officially confirms that Amazon Prime Video does support Apple's centralized TV app. This means that users can use Siri Universal Search to find Amazon Prime Video content, and add it to their "Up Next" queue of shows and movies. Prime Video content will then appear within the TV app and users can immediately jump into their shows without needing to navigate to the Amazon app itself.

Some MacRumors staff members were able to get this working this morning, but it appears that Siri Universal Search and playback of Amazon shows within the TV app are not entirely rolled out yet, so you may have to wait a little longer to see these features functional on your own Apple TV. In total, Apple said that Prime Video brings the amount of TV episodes and movies that Siri can search on Apple TV to 1.3 million.
“Amazon Prime Video is one of the most eagerly anticipated apps to come to Apple TV, so we’re excited to bring all of that great content to customers,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. Importantly, Apple also mentioned that Prime Video is integrated into the TV app "where available," so users outside of the United States, Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden will still not be able to use the TV app.

Apple also confirmed that Prime Video for Apple TV "further expands the library of TV shows and movies available in 4K HDR on Apple TV 4K," so owners of the latest Apple TV will gain access to Amazon's 4K content with the new app.
“There is nothing that excites us more than delighting our customers, and we are thrilled for them to stream Prime Video on Apple TV,” said Mark Eamer, Vice President of Prime Video. “The app arrives just in time for the highly anticipated new season of The Grand Tour, which launches on December 8th, and Prime Video members streaming on the Apple TV 4K will have the exceptional viewing experience of 4K HDR.” Apple went on to discuss the newly added Live Sports section of the TV app, as well as further touting the "hundreds of 4K HDR titles" that users can discover on iTunes. Additionally, the company pointed out that tvOS 11.2 now allows Apple TV 4K users to choose between having their video playback converted to the best format their TV can support, or outputting the video in its original frame rate and dynamic range. Check out more information on the tvOS 11.2 update right here.

Related Roundup: Apple TVBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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'ProtonMail Bridge' Brings Encryption to Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 14:58
Swiss-based encrypted email provider ProtonMail today announced Bridge, an app for premium account holders that aims to bring easy-to-use email encryption to desktop email clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail.

One of our goals has always been to bring easy-to-use encrypted email to desktop. The problem is formidable. Desktop systems encompass multiple operating systems with dozens of popular email clients with their own adherents, and virtually none of them natively speak PGP, the email encryption standard upon which ProtonMail is built.

Around two years ago, we created a small task force to tackle this challenge. Today, we are finally ready to present ProtonMail Bridge.Basically, the downloadable Bridge app enables ProtonMail users to access their encrypted email accounts using their favorite email client, without compromising on the security provided by the end-to-end encrypted service, and without needing to modify their email application. At the same time, local copies of the emails are stored on the user's computer, allowing them to use the search features of their email client as normal.

To achieve this, the Bridge app functions like a local IMAP/SMTP email server capable of communicating with the remote ProtonMail server to encrypt and decrypt incoming/outgoing messages locally. In this way, it translates end-to-end encrypted email data into a language that any email client can understand, thus "bridging" the gap between ProtonMail's end-to-end encryption and a user's standard email client.

The Bridge app aims to fit right into email clients with standard pre-existing multiple accounts, such as Gmail, enabling users to drag and drop emails into ProtonMail as encrypted versions. It's also possible to have multiple ProtonMail addresses and accounts in a single email client, and move messages between them.

It's important to note that while the Bridge preserves end-to-end encryption, it does not protect emails at the end-point – a compromised laptop could still allow an attacker to read emails in the third-party client app, for example.

Currently, the officially supported email clients are Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and Outlook. However, according to the developers, many other IMAP email clients were shown to work with the Bridge.

ProtonMail Bridge is available for macOS to ProtonMail users with paid-for accounts, and can be downloaded here. The Bridge code is open source and will be released early next year.

ProtonMail launched in March 2016, led by a group of scientists from CERN and MIT who aimed to deliver an easy-to-use end-to-end encrypted email service with freely available open source code. Earlier this year, the team launched a Tor-based site to make ProtonMail available to users in regions under the oppression of strict state online censorship, and also launched its own VPN service called ProtonVPN, which includes a free user tier in its pricing plan.

Tags: security, Encryption
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Apple Plummets to Lowest Ranking Ever in Glassdoor's Annual List of Best Places to Work

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 14:16
Apple has ranked 84th on Glassdoor's annual list of the best companies to work for in the United States, after finishing no lower than 36th every year since 2009. In fact, heading into 2012, Apple was 10th on the same list.

It is Apple's lowest-ever finish over the decade that Glassdoor has published these Employees' Choice Awards:

• 2018: 84th
• 2017: 36th
• 2016: 25th
• 2015: 22nd
• 2014: 35th
• 2013: 34th
• 2012: 10th
• 2011: 20th
• 2010: 22nd
• 2009: 19th

Apple trailed well behind several other technology companies in the rankings, including first-place Facebook, fifth-place Google, 21st-place LinkedIn, 31st-place Adobe, 39th-place Microsoft, and 65th-place Yahoo.

Glassdoor said the rankings are based on its proprietary awards algorithm, which calculated the quantity, quality, and consistency of company reviews submitted by employees between November 1, 2016 and October 22, 2017.

Apple earned a 4.3-star rating out of five during that period, compared to Facebook's leading 4.6-star rating. Glassdoor says the average company rating is 3.3 stars among the more than 700,000 employers reviewed on the jobs site.

Apple has an overall 4.0-star rating on its Glassdoor company profile. Apple CEO Tim Cook was ranked the 53rd best CEO of an American company on Glassdoor last year, with a 93 percent approval rating.

The rankings mirror a recent survey of the most ideal employers for tech professionals in the United States, in which Apple ranked fourth, behind Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. In that survey, however, Apple was ahead of Facebook.

We've reached out to Apple to see if the company has any comment about the results, and we'll update this article if we hear back.

Tag: Glassdoor
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Amazon Prime Video App Launches on Apple TV

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:41
It's been six months since Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Amazon Prime Video would be coming to Apple TV later this year, and now that app is officially beginning to roll out to tvOS devices in the U.S., Canada, and possibly other regions.

Similar to other versions of Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app allows Prime subscribers to sign into their accounts and watch Amazon Prime exclusive TV series, as well as browse a collection of movies. Users can add shows and movies to a watchlist, sync their watchlist across devices, and use Amazon's X-Ray feature to look into the actors and crew members behind each show and movie.

Universal Search is now supported in the updated iOS app, allowing users to search for Prime videos using the native Search function on their devices, while the app also supports iPhone X displays. The Prime tvOS app is obviously a separate download, but it should work on third-generation and later Apple TVs, according to the release notes.

Prior to its official launch, there were numerous release date rumors surrounding the Amazon Prime Video tvOS app. The first pointed to its launch on the day of the iPhone X keynote event, and then a separate report from Recode countered that rumor with sources that claimed the app would not be ready at that time. Later in September, the next rumor predicted its launch alongside Thursday Night Football, and when that date came and went the most recent rumor -- sourced from a Redditor claiming to work for Amazon -- predicted an October 26 debut.

Yesterday, a redditor opened up the App Store and saw an Amazon Prime Video story as the top feature in the "Today" section, after he had manually turned his device's clock forward by a day. He linked the section on reddit, which other users were able to see temporarily before the content was pulled by Apple. The "Today" App Store description in question specifically referenced Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV, which was finally launched today.

Amazon Prime Video was one of the last remaining streaming service holdouts to release a tvOS app, so users will now be able to rely on the 4th and 5th generation Apple TV devices a little more without having to use a PlayStation 4, Fire TV, or Roku to jump to Amazon's video catalog. In terms of other Apple products with Amazon Prime Video apps, users can also watch Prime shows on iPhone and iPad with the company's iOS app [Direct Link], which also supports downloading select videos to view offline.

Tim Hardwick contributed to this article.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTags: Amazon, Amazon Prime VideoBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Google Maps 'Two-Wheeler' Mode Launches In India, More Countries to Follow

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:30
Google debuted a new "two-wheeler" mode for Google Maps on Tuesday as part of its Google India media event in New Delhi. The biker-based feature joins the existing driving, walking, and public transit modes for Google Maps users in India looking for the fastest possible directions to their intended destination.

Image via India Today
The new mode for motorcycle and scooter users shows trip routes that use "shortcuts" not accessible to other vehicles, and provides customized traffic and arrival time estimates.

The two-wheeler mode also shows major landmarks along the planned route to help riders who rely on them for navigation, as is often the case in India.

#LookBeforeYouLeave to get where you need to, faster with directions and voice navigation mode for two-wheeler riders in @googlemaps#GoogleForIndia

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 5, 2017
Like offline maps when they first launched, the two-wheeler mode for Google Maps is only available in India to begin with, but Google says the feature will roll out to more countries in the coming months. It's unclear at present where "two-wheeler" mode will sit in relation to Google Maps' existing cycling directions, but rider safety, speed, and designated routes are sure to differ.

Tags: Google Maps, India
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Apple CEO Tim Cook Hopes Apps Pulled From China's App Store Will One Day Return

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:34
Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Wednesday he is optimistic that some apps pulled from China's App Store to comply with regulatory rules will eventually be reinstated (via Reuters). Cook made the comments at the economic Fortune Forum in the southern city of Guangzhou, in the latest stint of his week-long China visit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at World Internet Conference in Wuzhen (Image: Reuters)"My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that's been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism on that," Cook said, adding that he always tries to find areas to work together and if he gets criticized for that, so be it.Apple has come in for criticism from local users and rights groups for acceding to government requests that it pull some apps from its Chinese App Store, including VPN services used to gain access to online services banned in China.

During the Forum, Cook also said that he believes strongly in freedoms – a comment that has been interpreted as response to a U.S. democratic senator's remarks on Tuesday that Apple had a moral obligation to promote freedom of expression.

"[T]ech companies must continue to push back on Chinese suppression of free expression," Vermont senator Patrick Leahy told CNBC. Leahy said he believed Apple was in danger of not fulfilling its "obligation to promote free expression and other basic human rights."

In October, senators Leahy and Ted Cruz wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China.

Apple responded in a letter, explaining that it had "questioned the legal basis of the request" and had provided formal comments on Chinese cybersecurity law through trade associations. However, Apple stopped short of condemning the Chinese government's censorship, instead telling the senators that "actions are our most powerful statement."

Cook kicked off his China visit on Sunday, at the country's state-run World Internet Conference, which aims to develop an "open" digital economy, despite its regular practice of online censorship and regulation.

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.

Tags: China, Tim Cook
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Apple Accidentally Promotes Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV in App Store, Launch Could Be Imminent

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 03:18
There are 26 days left until the end of the year, which is the deadline for when Apple said the highly-anticipated Amazon Prime Video app would be coming to the Apple TV. A launch could perhaps come as soon as this week, and maybe as even as early as tomorrow, based on an App Store leak spotted on reddit.

After setting his iPhone date to December 6, a redditor opened up the App Store and allegedly saw an Amazon Prime Video story as the top feature in the "Today" section. He linked the section on reddit, which other users were able to see temporarily before the content was pulled by Apple. The "Today" App Store description in question specifically referenced Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV.

Apple pulled this a few minutes ago. (Hi Apple?)

As said, my time/date is set to tomorrow. That is relevant because I saw the story at the top of the "Today" tab when I opened the App Store. That is how I obtained the link.

Thus my guess is that the story is ready for launch on the App Store tomorrow, and sometime around midnight Eastern or PST, both the story and the updated app itself will go live. That's approx 9-12 hours from now. We'll see.If the App Store leak is genuine, and it appears to be based on multiple reports from different reddit users, it means Apple already has content written up for the Amazon Prime Video release. That the content was visible on December 6 suggests a launch could be imminent.

Apple first announced the Amazon Prime Video app for Apple TV at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. At the time, Apple said the app would be coming later this year, but months have passed since then with no sign of it. There have been continual launch rumors, though, all of which have been incorrect.

Amazon Prime Video is one of the only major streaming video services absent from Apple's set-top box. The service is provided as a benefit to Amazon Prime members who subscribe to Amazon's $99 per year Amazon Prime service. Amazon Prime Video features thousands of TV shows and movies, along with original content produced by Amazon.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTags: Amazon, Amazon Prime VideoBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Apple Says iOS 11 is Now Installed on 59% of Devices

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:54
iOS 11 is now installed on 59 percent of iOS devices, according to new statistics Apple shared this week on its App Store support page for developers.

That's up from 52 percent on November 6, indicating iOS 11 adoption has grown just 7 percentage points over the course of the last month.

33 percent of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices continues to run iOS 10, while 8 percent of devices run a version of iOS earlier than iOS 10.

iOS 11 adoption has been slower than iOS 10 adoption. Based on Apple's official App Store numbers, for example, iOS 10 was installed on 54 percent of devices in October, a month after the operating system had been released. Comparatively, iOS 11 was only at 52 percent in November, a month and a half after launch.

Apple has already released several updates for iOS 11, but that doesn't seem to have improved installation rates, especially as many of those updates have been made available to address major bugs found in the operating system.

Over the weekend, Apple released iOS 11.2, the second major update to iOS 11. iOS 11.2 introduced Apple Pay Cash in the United States, but the update was released early to fix a date bug that was causing crashes on December 2. As a result, Apple Pay Cash was not initially available and wasn't provided to customers until yesterday.

With Apple Pay Cash now available, though, customers who have been reluctant to upgrade may install the iOS 11.2 update to access the new feature, so it's possible we'll start seeing improved installation rates in Apple's next App Store support page update.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple Adds New 'Search Ads Basic' Ad Option for Developers

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 22:21
Apple last year started displaying ads in the App Store when a user searches for a particular app as a way to provide developers with a way to improve app discovery via keyword search.

Searching for a term like "to-do" or "calendar" or even something specific like "Tweetbot" surfaces ads that are purchased by developers.

Starting today, Apple is expanding search ads with a new ad product called "Search Ads Basic," while also renaming the existing search ad feature to "Search Ads Advanced," reports TechCrunch.

Search Ads Advanced, like the initial Search Ads option, requires developers to pay whenever an ad is tapped. Search Ads Basic allows developers to pay for actual app installations received from the ad, rather than taps.

With Search Ads Advanced, developers are able to select specific keywords and demographics when delivering ads, while Search Ads Basic simply allows developers to choose a monthly budget and a maximum cost-per-install, with far less customization.

Search Ads Basic includes suggestions on how much a developer should pay based on historical data pulled from the App Store based on the type of app being marketed, and it uses App Store trends to target the ideal audience.

There's a maximum monthly budget of $5,000 for Search Ads Basic, but there are no limitations on which apps or companies can use the feature, so it's available to both independent developers and larger companies.

At launch, Search Ads Basic will be limited to the United States, rolling out to additional markets next year.

Tag: Apple ads
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iPhone X Charging Speeds Compared: The Fastest and Easiest Ways to Charge Your iPhone

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:31
With the addition of both fast charging and wireless charging to Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup, there are more ways than ever to charge your iPhone. Every method is different -- some are faster and more expensive, while others are slower but more convenient.

We tested several charging accessories from both Apple and third-party manufacturers with the iPhone X to see how charging speeds compare across different charging methods. These tests also apply to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which share many of the same features available in the iPhone X.

Accessories Tested
- Apple's default 5W iPhone charger (Free with iPhone, $19 alone)
- 5W wireless charger from Choetech ($16)
- 7.5W Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad from Apple ($59.95) (Tested at 5W and 7.5W)
- Apple's default 12W iPad charger (Free with iPad, $19 alone)
- 18W USB-C power adapter from Choetech ($17.99)
- 29W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 12-inch MacBook, $49 alone)
- 30W USB-C power adapter from Anker ($30)
- 87W USB-C power adapter from Apple (Free with 15-inch MacBook, $79 alone)

The 5W and 12W chargers from Apple were paired with a standard Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $19. All USB-C charging accessories were paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple, priced starting at $25.

We used the same iPhone X for all tests, plugged into the same outlet. Between tests, the battery was drained to one percent, and then battery percent was checked at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 60 minutes while charging.

For all tests, the iPhone X was placed into Airplane mode with no apps running. The display was deactivated except for the four time checks. Tests were conducted without a case on the iPhone X.

The absolute fastest way to charge an iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone 8 Plus is with a USB-C power adapter and an accompanying USB-C to Lightning cable. Charging with USB-C activates a "fast-charge" feature that's designed to charge the iPhone to around 50% in 30 minutes, and I saw about that level of charge in all of my USB-C tests.

5W wireless charging and 5W wired charging with the standard iPhone adapter were the slowest methods that I tested. 7.5W wireless testing was faster than 5W wireless charging, but not by much.

Click to enlarge
Charging at 12W with the iPad adapter wasn't ultimately too far off of the fast charging results at the end of an hour, making this one of the better compromises between cost and speed.

I tested both Apple's 29W and 87W USB-C chargers that come with the 12-inch MacBook and the 15-inch MacBook Pro, respectively, along with much cheaper 18W and 30W chargers from Choetech and Anker. I saw little difference in charging speeds between 18W and 87W.

Click to enlarge
At the 30 minute mark in all tests, my phone was charged to between 45 and 49%, and at 60 minutes, I reached 77 to 79% battery life. The slowest charger was the Anker 30W, but the overall difference was so small that I think it can be chalked up to random variance. My charts are using 1 charging result, but I did test many of these chargers multiple times with the same general results.

Apple's 29W MacBook charger costs $49 and the USB-C to Lightning cable costs $25, so you're looking at about $75 for this charging method, but luckily, third party USB-C power adapters work the same way and are more affordable. That 18W Choetech charger I tested, for example, is just $18, while the one from Anker is $30.

Apple's 29W USB-C power adapter and USB-C to Lightning cable
There are cheaper non-official USB-C to Lightning cables on Amazon, but given the problems we've seen with some third-party USB-C cables, it may be best to stick with verified Apple hardware as far as the cable goes. I didn't test third-party Lightning to USB-C cables, but I wouldn't expect to see major speed differences.

Choetech's 18W USB-C power adapter and Anker's 30W USB-C power adapter
If you go with Apple's cable and something like the 18W Choetech charger, you can get a fast charge setup for just over $40. If you want to try your luck with a non-official cable, you can get fast charging for under $30.

Standard iPad and iPhone Chargers
All of Apple's iPhones ship with a standard 5W power adapter and USB-A to Lightning cable, and charging with the standard setup is excruciatingly slow comparative to other charging methods. It's not faster than 7.5W wireless charging and it can't compare to charging with power adapters that put out more juice. At 30 minutes, for example, it had only charged my iPhone to 21 percent, and I only made it to 39 percent after 60 minutes.

Apple's 5W iPhone charger and 12W iPad charger
Apple's 12W iPad charger is much quicker, though, and it's affordable at $19. With the 12W iPad charger and a standard Lightning cable, I saw charging speeds that weren't too far off of what I got when charging with a USB-C power adapter. At the 30 minute mark, my iPhone charged to 39 percent, and at the 60 minute mark, I hit 72 percent.

That's not too bad for a setup that's one of the most affordable I found, and there are a lot of 12W equivalent third-party charging options on the market, including several with multiple ports and other conveniences.

Wireless Chargers
In general, wireless charging is slower than wired charging, but it's undeniably convenient, and if you're charging for a lengthy period of time, say at your desk at work or overnight on the night stand, the slower charging doesn't matter.

That said, 7.5W wireless charging, which was activated in iOS 11.2, was faster than the standard 5W wired charging method in my testing. There's also a noticeable but slight speed difference between 5W wireless charging and 7.5W wireless charging.

Click to enlarge
I tested this difference using the 7.5W wireless charger from Belkin, which Apple sells, on both iOS 11.2 and iOS 11.1.2, which limited iPhone charging to 5W. The Belkin 5W charging result on iOS 11.1.2 is the result included in my graph.

I also tested a Choetech 5W charger that was much slower than the Belkin at 5W, so much so that I wasn't sure it was an accurate representation of 5W charging. From 1%:

- 15 minutes: 9%
- 30 minutes: 19%
- 45 minutes: 27%
- 60 minutes: 35%

There wasn't a huge difference between 5W and 7.5W charging in my experience, but 7.5W is faster. If you're buying a wireless charger, it's worthwhile to get a 7.5W+ charger that offers faster charging for the iPhone, but which chargers are compatible with 7.5W wireless charging remains something of a mystery.

The Mophie and Belkin wireless charging docks
We know the Belkin and Mophie chargers that Apple sells offer the faster wireless charging option, but it's not entirely clear if other higher-watt chargers from third-party manufacturers are able to charge the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus at higher speeds.

For a separate post on wireless charging options, we've been investigating third-party wireless chargers, and it's looking like there may be a restriction put in place by Apple to limit 7.5W charging to approved manufacturers. As an example, on the Amazon page for this charger from Choetech, which says it is 7.5W, there is this message:We get notice from Apple engineer that current IOS only support 5w qi wireless charging currently, 7.5w wireless charging is encrypted and never released to 3rd party manufacturer.We've heard similar information from other manufacturers, but it's all very nebulous and not something Apple has clearly outlined at this point. For that reason, if you want confirmed 7.5W wireless charging, go with the Belkin, the Mophie, or another charger that specifically states that it's compatible with Apple's 7.5W charging.

Choetech's 5W wireless charger
Just because a wireless charger offers more than 5W, it's not necessarily going to offer 7.5W charging speeds when used with an iPhone. If you're using wireless charging on the night stand or when sitting at a desk for long periods of time, 5W is perfectly adequate, and the third-party chargers are much more affordable than the Belkin and Mophie chargers.

On the subject of wireless charging, I also tested to see if case thickness impacts charging speed. I tested with a naked iPhone X, an iPhone X in Apple's Silicone case, and an iPhone X with one of the thickest backs I could find, the glitter-filled iPhone X case from Casetify. Charging speeds were almost identical in all three tests, and while the Casetify case was maybe about 2 percent slower, that can perhaps be chalked up to margin of error. There was zero difference with the thinner Apple case.

If your case works with wireless charging at all (and most do, with the exception of those that have rear magnets or are made from aluminum), it's going to charge at the same speed or nearly the same speed as a naked iPhone.

To get fast charging on iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, you don't need anything over 18W, and you don't need a USB-C power adapter that's from Apple. The third-party options work just as well, but you will probably want to pick up Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable over the alternatives.

Fast charging is going to get you the best charging times, but for less money, you can get the 12W iPad charger and use it with a standard Lightning cable to charge your iPhone almost as fast as you can charge it with fast charging. There's only about a 10 percent difference between the 12W iPad charger and USB-C charging.

It's not really worth it using the 5W charger that the iPhone ships with if you can help it, because it's incredibly slow.

Wireless charging is also a comparatively slow charging method, but it's convenient to be able to set your iPhone right next to you on a wireless charger and pick it up when necessary without the need to hassle with a cord.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Consumer Reports Ranks iPhone X Below iPhone 8 Because of Durability and Battery Life

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:53
Consumer Reports today shared its final iPhone X testing results, and while the site has given the iPhone X a recommendation, Apple's new flagship smartphone has been ranked below the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus in the Consumer Reports recommended list.

The iPhone X did make the Consumer Reports list of top 10 smartphones in the number 9 slot, but the site says it did not beat out the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 8 Plus because of its poor performance on a durability test. Both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus better survived a tumble test for emulating real-world drops and fumbles of about 2.5 feet that can result in device damage, despite the fact that all three devices have glass bodies.

After 50-100 tumbles, one iPhone X model suffered serious body damage, while two others had screen defects. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus ended up with just a few scrapes after the test. Front displays for the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus all came away unscathed, and the iPhone X did well on scratch tests and water resistance tests.

"If not for the damage in that durability test, the iPhone X would have come in ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus," says Richard Fisco, head of smartphone testing at CR.Consumer Reports also had some complaints about the iPhone X battery life, which does not last as long as the battery in Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8. The iPhone X lasted 19.5 hours in the Consumer Reports battery test, compared to 26 hours for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and 21 hours for the iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone X didn't fare well on durability or battery tests, but it did earn the highest camera score out of all the smartphones tested by Consumer Reports. The site also listed the OLED display and the Face ID facial recognition system as iPhone X strengths.The rear camera on the iPhone X is among the best we've ever seen. In fact, if you combine the performance scores for stills and video, this is the highest-rated smartphone camera Consumer Reports has tested.Overall, Consumer Reports continues to rank the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ as its top two recommended smartphones, mainly due to superior battery life, followed by the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone 8 in spots number three and four. At number nine, the iPhone X is at the bottom of the list, but only a few points separate all of the devices tested.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: Consumer ReportsBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases watchOS 4.2 With Support for Apple Pay Cash

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:07
Apple today released watchOS 4.2, the second major update to the watchOS 4 operating system that runs on the Apple Watch. watchOS 4.2 comes a little over one month after the release of watchOS 4.1, the first major update to watchOS 4 that brought Apple Music streaming over LTE.

watchOS 4.2 can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it needs to be placed on a charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone.

The watchOS 4.2 update introduces support for Apple Pay Cash, Apple's new peer-to-peer payments service designed to let users transfer money to one another. Apple Pay Cash, which is also available in iOS 11.2, can be used to send and receive money through the Messages app on the Apple Watch. Apple Pay Cash started rolling out yesterday and is officially available for everyone as of today.

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Payments are sent using a linked credit or debit card (or an existing Apple Pay Cash balance), while money received is stored within a new Apple Pay Cash card that's available in the Wallet app. For more on Apple Pay Cash, make sure to check out our how to.

Along with support for Apple Pay Cash, the watchOS 4.2 update also adds support for HomeKit sprinklers and faucets, plus it introduces a new workout type that allows third-party apps to track distance, average speed, number of runs, and elevation descended for downhill snow sports with Apple Watch Series 3.

The update addresses a bug that could cause the Apple Watch to sometimes restart when asking Siri about the weather, it fixes an issue that could cause scrolling to be disabled in Heart Rate for some users, and it resolves an issue that prevented simultaneous timers or alarms from being dismissed independently.

For more on the watchOS 4 operating system, make sure to check out our dedicated watchOS 4 roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Pay Cash Officially Launches Today After Early Roll Out to Many Users Yesterday

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 17:08
Apple has announced that Apple Pay Cash officially launches today for all iOS 11.2 users with an eligible iPhone or iPad model in the United States.

Apple's peer-to-peer payment service actually began rolling out in iOS 11.2 on Monday, but some users received an error message stating the service was unavailable. The activation issues began to resolve for many users later in the day, although there are still a few lasting reports of activation issues.

Apple Pay Cash's official launch today comes three days after iOS 11.2 was released early in order to address a serious date bug that was affecting some users on December 2. While the update introduced Apple Pay Cash, as mentioned in the release notes, the feature had not yet been activated by Apple.

Apple Pay Cash allows for quick person-to-person money transfers, much like competing services Square Cash and Venmo.

After setting up Apple Pay Cash, open the Messages app, tap on the App Store icon, tap on Apple Pay, set the dollar amount, tap pay, select a payment card, and securely authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID. The payment card can be any debit or credit card set up in the Wallet app, or the Apple Pay Cash card.

The recipient taps on the message to receive the funds, which are instantly added to his or her Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app. The card's funds can be used to make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, in apps, and on supported websites, or withdrawn to a bank account within one to three business days.

When new users receive money for the first time, the funds are added to their new Apple Pay Cash card once they accept Apple's terms.

You can also send money with Siri, as explained in our How to Use Apple Pay Cash guide, which includes step-by-step setup instructions and other helpful info. Apple Pay Cash is currently available in the United States only. Apple hasn't indicated when the service could expand to additional countries.

Apple Pay Cash is available on iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE, all iPad Pro models, the fifth-generation iPad, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 models running iOS 11.2. Apple recommends that customers who have updated to iOS 11.2 before today restart their devices if Apple Pay Cash is not showing up.

Apple Pay Cash will also be available on all Apple Watch models when watchOS 4.2 is released in the near future.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Apple Pay Cash
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Instagram Now Lets You Highlight Your Favorite Stories Permanently on Your Profile

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:26
Instagram today introduced two new tools that it says will help you revisit your favorite Instagram Stories, as well as showcase these moments to everyone who visits your profile.

To start, a new Stories Archive feature will automatically save your 24-hour-long stories into a private section of the app when they expire. You'll be able to find these in the Archive icon on your profile, which already exists for regular picture and video archive options and will now include a toggle to switch to stories. Only you have the ability to see your archived posts and stories, and the auto-archiving feature for stories can be turned off in settings.

You can revisit all of your stories here, re-share any old story as a new story, create a new post, or add one to the new Stories Highlight section of your profile. Stories Highlights allows you to group old stories together in a new section that sits below your Instagram bio.
Story Highlights lets you show all the sides of your personality, and you can make highlights out of anything you’ve shared to your story in the past. From the best moments of your ongoing soccer season to all the stories you capture of your loved ones, the interests and activities that matter most to you have a home right on your profile. You can tap the "new" button in this area of your profile, choose a Story from the archive, select a cover for the highlight, and name it. After you're finished the highlight will appear as a circle on your profile and will play as its own story when someone visits your profile and taps it.

Instead of disappearing after 24 hours, highlights remain on your profile until you choose to remove them. Instagram said that you can have as many highlights as you want, and any current highlight can be edited by tapping and holding its circle on your profile.

For more information check out Instagram's press release here.

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iOS Lost Market Share in Numerous Countries From August to October 2017 as People Waited for iPhone X

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:04
Apple's piece of the smartphone ecosystem market fell in eight total territories during the August-October 2017 timeframe, according to new data tracked by Kantar Worldpanel. Echoing numerous stories from earlier this fall that reported people were waiting for the iPhone X and not purchasing an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, Kantar's data showed a 7.6 percentage point drop for iOS in the United States when compared to the same year-ago period.

That number was higher in Great Britain where iOS dropped 8.5 percentage points from 2016, and was followed by Japan (down 6.9 percentage points), Germany (down 1.6), France (down 0.6), Italy (down 0.5), and Australia (down 0.2). While iOS dropped 7.6 points in the U.S., Android increased by 8.2 percentage points during this time.

In the same three-month period ending October of last year, 30.1 percent of iOS users in Europe and the U.S. had owned their iPhones for more than two years. iPhone X excitement further affected this statistic as well, increasing to 35.3 percent in 2017 and "signifying considerable pent-up demand" for the iPhone X, according to Kantar.
“It was somewhat inevitable that Apple would see volume share fall once we had a full comparative month of sales taking into account the non-flagship iPhone 8 vs. the flagship iPhone 7 from 2016,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Global Business Unit Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “This decrease is significant and puts pressure on the iPhone X to perform. Considering the complete overhaul that the iPhone X offers, consumers may be postponing their purchase decisions until they can test the iPhone X and decide whether the higher price, compared to the iPhone 8, is worth the premium to them.”

“As of October 2017, 35.3% of Apple’s installed base customers across Europe and the USA had owned their iPhones for more than two years – up from 30.1% a year earlier and signifying considerable pent-up demand within Apple’s base. In pure value terms, it is likely the iPhone X average selling price will more than make up for a dip in sales of older iPhone models,” Sunnebo added. While Apple saw a drop in most countries, iOS share grew slightly in China during this period with a 0.5 percentage point increase, suggesting that the company's ongoing efforts to expand its foothold in the Chinese market are paying off. Apple CEO Tim Cook furthered that sentiment during a keynote speech at China's annual state-run World Internet Conference over the weekend, where he said that Chinese developers have earned more selling apps on Apple's iOS platform than developers from any other country.

Now that the iPhone X has been out for a month, sales figures for the smartphone have been positive and Apple has continuously improved delivery dates for the device over the subsequent weeks. Research shared by IHS Markit earlier in December reported that early adoption rates for the iPhone X -- looking at its first three weeks on the market -- beat the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7 Plus during similar timeframes. According to TrendForce, this strong iPhone X demand will help push Apple ahead of Samsung in Q4 2017 to become the world's largest smartphone maker.

Related Roundups: iOS 11, iPhone XTag: Kantar WorldpanelBuyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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