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MoviePass CEO Admits He Was 'Completely Inaccurate', iOS App 'Has Never Tracked' Users in Background

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 16:07
Last week, movie subscription service MoviePass received negative press when CEO Mitch Lowe mentioned that the company watches "how you drive from home to the movies" and notices "where you go afterwards" using location tracking in the background on iOS. This week, through customer support emails and in an interview with Variety, MoviePass and Lowe are apologizing over this "mischaracterization" of how the service locates its members and are trying to clear things up once and for all.

In a letter that began hitting subscriber inboxes yesterday, Lowe admitted the need to "eliminate any misconceptions" that MoviePass is collecting location related data when it shouldn't be. He explained that the MoviePass app uses "standard" location services capabilities on an opt-in basis, and specified that there are only two events that would prompt MoviePass to identify your location: when you perform a search for nearby theaters and when you check into a theater.

Otherwise, Lowe stated that Moviepass does not follow you before or after you watch a movie, or at any time that the app is not open.
MoviePass does not track and has never tracked or collected data on the location of our members at any point when the app is not active. Last week, following Lowe's comments, the company removed the background tracking capabilities from the iOS app. In the letter, the CEO said that MoviePass "does not use and has never used this feature."

Lowe echoed these sentiments in an interview with Variety, explaining that prior to the update, MoviePass used Apple's three standard privacy tracking options: "Never," "While Using the App," and "Always" -- the option that was removed. In regards to the "Always" tracking capability, Lowe said that because the company never used it, "it was confusing to have it there." Lowe mentioned that MoviePass lost just "half a dozen" customers over the newly raised privacy concerns.
In an interview with Variety on Monday, Lowe said he was mistaken about what data the MoviePass app actually collected. “I said something completely inaccurate as far as what we are doing,” he said. “We only locate customers when they use the app.”

He added, “If you get in your car and drive five miles, we don’t know where you are or where you are going.” While MoviePass has confirmed it isn't tracking subscribers in the background and when the app is closed, the service is still built around collecting and sharing user data with exhibitors and studios. MoviePass ensures that this data has been "completely anonymized," so that "there's never any personal information" shared with its partners. MoviePass monetizes this data sharing process and is the main way the service intends to stay afloat and make money going forward.

Lowe also mentioned the company's vision for its future, where MoviePass wants to be the center of "this whole night at the movies" idea, giving users recommendations for events after watching a movie. Of course, following the privacy concerns of the last few weeks, Lowe reiterated that, "When we do that, if we do that, we'll send a request to each customer to let them opt in or opt out."

Tag: MoviePass
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Third Report Says Apple's AirPower Charging Mat Will Launch in March

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 15:54
Apple's new AirPower inductive charging mat will be released by the end of March, according to Taiwanese website DigiTimes.

The report, citing industry sources, claims the AirPower will have a maximum charging performance of up to 29 watts, compared to 7.5 watts for other single-device wireless charging pads like the Belkin Boost Up and the Mophie Wireless Charging Base for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

AirPower is an oval-shaped accessory that can inductively charge multiple Apple devices at once, including the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and Apple Watch Series 3 models. It will also be able to charge AirPods when they are placed in a new inductive charging case set to launch alongside AirPower.

The mat's ability to charge multiple devices will be achieved with a propriety technology developed by Apple. Apple said it will work to have its technology become part of the universal Qi standard supported by the latest iPhones.

Apple said the AirPower will be released in 2018, but it hasn't provided an exact release date or pricing. Apple blogs Mac Otakara and The Apple Post also reported that the charging mat will be released in March, which is a common month for Apple to introduce new products, including a new 9.7-inch iPad last year.

It's still unclear if Apple will announce the AirPower's availability at a March event alongside other new products, via press release, or quietly with an update to its online store. If there is an event planned, Apple will likely send invitations to the media by Thursday at the absolute latest.

Tags:, AirPower
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Apple Music Growing at Record Pace With Two Million Subscribers Added in Just Five Weeks

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 15:32
Apple's services chief Eddy Cue, who spoke at the SXSW media festival in Austin, Texas this week, revealed that Apple Music now has 38 million paying subscribers worldwide. Cue also said there are over eight million customers that are currently taking advantage of Apple Music's free three-month trial period.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Apple Music had 36 million subscribers in a February 4 report, so it appears the streaming music service has gained around two million subscribers in just over five weeks.

The numbers suggest Apple Music is growing at a clip of roughly 400,000 subscribers per week, or 1.6 million per month. Accordingly, it would appear to be Apple Music's fastest growth rate since it launched in June 2015, at least based on the figures that Apple has publicly shared over the past three years.

Apple Music Subscribers
  • Oct 2015: 6.5 million
  • Jan 2016: 10 million
  • Feb 2016: 11 million
  • Apr 2016: 13 million
  • Jun 2016: 15 million
  • Sep 2016: 17 million
  • Dec 2016: 20 million
  • Jun 2017: 27 million
  • Sep 2017: 30 million
  • Feb 2018: 36 million
  • Mar 2018: 38 million
Spotify maintains a sizeable lead over Apple Music. The streaming music service revealed that it had 71 million paying subscribers as of the end of 2017, so it should be around twice as large as Apple Music by now. Spotify also has a free, ad-supported tier, giving it over 159 million listeners overall around the world.

Spotify launched in 2008, and expanded to the United States in 2011, while Apple Music debuted in over 100 countries at once in 2015. Both platforms offer individual subscriptions for $9.99 per month, student plans for $4.99 per month, and family plans sharable with up to six people for $14.99 per month.

Apple Music has the benefit of being preinstalled on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads. It's also available on Mac, PC, Android, Apple Watch, Apple TV, vehicles equipped with CarPlay, Sonos, and HomePod.

At SXSW, Cue estimated there are around two billion people that have access to and a means to pay for streaming music, suggesting the market is ripe for growth. Apple Music and Spotify have around 110 million subscribers combined, so there is clearly an opportunity for both services to continue growing.

The harder task for Spotify will be turning a profit, which it has yet to do. Apple Music executive and record industry mogul Jimmy Iovine recently said streaming music services are "not making any money" due to a lack of margins, suggesting that a standard $9.99 per month subscription is not profitable.

Apple Music's profitability is likely less of a concern for Apple, as it sells a wide range of other products and services. Apple's broad services category brought in a record $8.5 billion revenue last quarter, up 18 percent year over year.

Tag: Apple Music
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Fitbit Announces New Apple Watch Rival 'Versa' and Kid-Friendly 'Ace'

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:31
Fitbit today announced the Fitbit Versa, which the company described as the "smartwatch for all." The Versa has a few features that directly compare it to the Apple Watch, as well as an overall design that looks similar to Apple's wearable device. Alongside the Fitbit Versa, Fitbit announced a kid-focused Fitbit Ace device and female health tracking coming to the Fitbit iOS app.

Fitbit said the Versa is the "lightest metal smartwatch" in the United States market, with a case made out of ultra-thin, anodized aluminum that is slightly tapered and angled so it fits small or large wrists. The device's touchscreen supports a brightness of up to 1,000 nits, allowing users the ability to read the screen in bright environments, and it has a battery that will last for 4+ days.

The Fitbit Versa has many of the expected features seen in previous Fitbits, like 24/7 heart rate tracking, onscreen workouts, onboard music storage, automatic sleep tracking, and wallet-free payments on the Fitbit Versa Special Edition with an NFC chip. Fitbit will also sell a variety of accessories, ranging from stain-resistant classic bands to Horween leather, stainless steel links, metal mesh bands, and a designer collection.
"As the wearables category continues to grow, Fitbit Versa fills a critical need in the market by delivering a beautifully designed, full-featured smartwatch that is easy to use at a very competitive price," said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. "Versa brings consumers the advanced health and fitness features Fitbit is known for, along with broad compatibility across mobile platforms and 4+ days battery life to provide users with a better picture of their overall health, making it stand out from any smartwatch available today." The new smartwatch will launch with Fitbit OS 2.0 for the company's line of wearable devices, which will include a new personalized dashboard for a simplified overview of a user's health and fitness data. Users will be able to see daily and weekly health stats, historical activity, heart rate, exercise summaries, motivational messages, tips, and daily guidance, all from their wrist.

Over time, Fitbit said this dashboard will become more personalized, offering reminders, celebrations, logging, insights, sleep summaries, and social challenges, all with prompts to take actions based on each user's own data. This ongoing personalization aspect of Fitbit OS 2.0 is said to launch later in 2018. Here are a few other features available on Fitbit Versa with Fitbit OS 2.0:
Music on your device: Listen to phone-free music anywhere using Bluetooth headphones like Fitbit Flyer, including 300+ songs from your personal music collection, your favorite stations from Pandora, and now your own or curated playlists as well as Flow from Deezer.

Apps and clock faces you want: Personalize your device by choosing from a wide range of apps and clock faces in the Fitbit App Gallery, including those from Fitbit, Fitbit Labs, and popular brands like E*TRADE, Flipboard, Hue Lights, Nest, Starbucks, Strava, Surfline, United Airlines, Weather powered by AccuWeather, and Yelp. The Fitbit App Gallery has more than 550 apps and clock faces available today, many of which developers are working to make available to Versa users soon. Fitbit Ace, the kid-focused wearable band, will include many of Fitbit's features in a pared-down hardware model. Kids eight and older wearing the device will see that it automatically tracks steps, active minutes, and sleep on a five day battery. Using a Fitbit family account, parents will be able to monitor and control who their kids connect with in the Fitbit app and other features of the Ace band.

The band will remind kids to move, and reward them for listening to such reminders with collectible badges. Coming soon, Fitbit will launch daily and weekly challenges where families and friends can compete against one another in certain health goals. There will also be a "Family Faceoff" that challlenges family members in a family account to earn the most steps in five days.

Fitbit Ace can be pre-ordered today on for $99.95, and will launch in Q2 2018. Fitbit Versa is available to pre-order today on and at select online retailers tomorrow, priced at $199.95. The smartwatch will come in the following colors: black with a black aluminum case, gray with a silver aluminum case, and peach with a rose gold aluminum case. Band accessories will start at $29.95 and cap at $99.95. For those who want the NFC-enabled Fitbit Versa Special Edition, that model will be $229.95. The device will officially launch worldwide in April.

Tags: Fitbit, Fitbit Versa
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Google Assistant Now Available on iPad

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:47
Google Assistant for iOS has been updated with native iPad support today. The design looks essentially the same as the iPhone version, but with an interface optimized for the larger 7.9-inch to 12.9-inch screen sizes of Apple's tablets.

Like rivals Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, Google Assistant is a digital assistant that can set reminders, schedule calendar appointments, answer questions, and provide other information through machine learning techniques.

Apple only allows third-party assistants to function within their apps, however, limiting their usefulness versus Siri on iPhone and iPad. For example, Google Assistant can't be invoked with a voice command when an iOS device is locked.

Nevertheless, iPad users now have one more option to choose from alongside Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Google Assistant is free on the App Store.

Related Roundup: iPad ProTag: Google AssistantBuyer's Guide: 10.5" iPad Pro (Neutral), 12.9" iPad Pro (Neutral)
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Apple Drops Over Twenty Spots in Latest Company Reputation Survey

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:07
In a new survey that looks at the reputation of corporate brands, called the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient survey, Apple dropped from its previous position at #5 on the list and now sits at the #29 spot. As reported by Reuters, Apple has been sliding down the rankings over the last two years, falling from #2 in 2016.

To determine the results, the poll surveyed 25,800 adults in the United States from December 11, 2017 to January 12, 2018 on the reputations of the "most visible" corporate brands. Similarly to Apple, Google fell this year as well, from #8 in 2017 to #28 in 2018.

Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema theorized that the reason behind Apple's and Google's dips on the list was because of a lack of major, "attention-grabbing" device launches in the last few years.
John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Reuters in an interview that the likely reason Apple and Google fell was that they have not introduced as many attention-grabbing products as they did in past years, such as when Google rolled out free offerings like its Google Docs word processor or Google Maps and Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

“Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys,” Gerzema said. “We’re not quite to self-driving cars yet. We’re not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they’re going to do.” In the #1 spot was Amazon, which the company has held every year for the past five years except in 2015 when it was at #2. Tesla climbed the rankings from #9 to earn the #3 spot and Facebook was #51, which was an improvement for the social media company. In total the top 10 companies on the reputation list were:
  2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc
  3. Tesla Motors
  4. Chick-fil-A
  5. The Walt Disney Co
  6. HEB Grocery Company LP
  7. United Parcel Service Inc
  8. Publix Super Markets
  9. Patagonia Inc
  10. Aldi Inc
In another recent ranking, Apple earned the top spot as the "most intimate brand" for millennials in the United States. Fast Company also named Apple as the world's most innovative company for "delivering the future today," and specifically for its approach to hardware and software engineering that creates the overall user experience surrounding its products.
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Chinese Report Expects 11-Inch iPad Pro at WWDC, No New iPhones Until Second Half of 2018

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 12:43
Apple is planning to release a new iPad Pro with a display that measures about 11 inches, according to Taiwan's Economic Daily News.

iPad Pro with slimmer bezels rendered by Benjamin Geskin
We've already heard rumors about a 10.5-inch iPad Pro with slimmer bezels and no home button, so Apple could include a slightly larger 11-inch display without increasing the physical size of the tablet itself. This would mirror the iPhone X, which has a 5.8-inch screen, but is smaller than an iPhone 8 Plus.

Details are hard to gather from a loose translation of the Chinese report, which says the 11-inch iPad Pro and an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro are likely to be released at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, echoing an earlier prediction from Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang.

Both new iPad Pro models are expected to feature Face ID and faster eight-core Apple A11X processors. It's unclear if the tablets will have notches for the TrueDepth system, or a slimmer, uniform top bezel that still has enough room to house the camera and sensor technology that powers the facial recognition.

The report, citing a source, adds that Apple has no new iPhone models planned for the first half of 2018, dampening hopes for an iPhone SE refresh. The first new models of the year will likely be the so-called iPhone X2, iPhone X2 Plus, and a 6.1-inch aluminum iPhone with Face ID in September.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had already cast doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the first half of 2018. He said Apple was likely to focus its development resources on the trio of iPhone X-like models expected to launch in the second half of the year.

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

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

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPhone SETag: udn.comBuyer's Guide: 10.5" iPad Pro (Neutral), 12.9" iPad Pro (Neutral), iPhone SE (Don't Buy)
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Movies Anywhere Expands Digital Retailer Support With New Partner FandangoNOW

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 12:15
Last October, Disney announced that its "Disney Movies Anywhere" service would be expanding to become simply "Movies Anywhere," allowing customers to collect all of their digital films into one centralized location. Previously, the digital retailers supporting the service were iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU, and Google Play, but today the latest retailer has joined: FandangoNOW.

FandangoNOW is the ticketing service company's video on-demand service, and now users who stream and purchase films on FandangoNOW will see their content piped to Movies Anywhere. This means that when using the Movies Anywhere app and website, FandangoNOW customers can access eligible digital movies from studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios (encompassing Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), and Warner Bros.

Once a FandangoNOW account is connected to Movies Anywhere, users can watch their redeemed digital films on multiple supported devices with Movies Anywhere apps, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, Amazon Fire devices, Android and Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and on Mac and PC. According to Fandango CMO Adam Rockmore, a major advantage of FandangoNOW is having "one of the industry's largest collections of 4K Ultra HD movies," but as of yet the service doesn't have an app for Apple TV.
“At Fandango, we aim to deliver the best movie experience anytime and anywhere, throughout a movie’s entire life cycle — from theatrical to home entertainment and beyond,” said Fandango CMO, Adam Rockmore. “Since FandangoNOW’s launch in 2016, we’ve been hyper-focused on innovation, including building one of the industry’s largest collections of 4K Ultra HD movies and broadening our distribution on a wide variety of connected devices. Now, through our new relationship with Movies Anywhere, FandangoNOW customers will gain simple, streamlined access to their digital movies from Hollywood’s major film studios.” Since its launch late last year, Disney stated that Movies Anywhere now provides access to a library of nearly 7,500 digital movies, and it has been used to store over 100 million movies to date. In addition to purchases made on connected digital retailers' stores, Movies Anywhere lets customers redeem digital codes that they find included in physical Blu-ray and DVD disc cases.

In celebration of the launch, FandangoNOW is offering two free films -- Ghostbusters (2017) and Ice Age -- when FandangoNOW is the first account a user connects to Movies Anywhere. This is part of Movie Anywhere's "5 Movies on Us" promotion, where the fist digital retailer linked nets you the previously mentioned films, and the second retailer linked provides you with an additional three free films: Big Hero 6, The LEGO Movie, and Jason Bourne.

Disney is also using the announcement as a promotion for today's digital release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, adding in a few new Star Wars themed profile picture options to the service. On the iTunes store on Apple TV, Disney is still the only major Hollywood studio not supporting 4K. It's believed that price is the reason behind the lack of support, because Apple is adamant about keeping 4K films equal to HD prices at $19.99, while Disney sells its films in 4K on apps like VUDU at a higher price of $24.99.

Tags: Disney, Fandango, Movies Anywhere
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How to Grab Screenshots and Video From Apple TV Using Your Mac

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 11:49
Apple doesn't go out of its way to advertise the fact, but it's perfectly possible to connect a Mac to a fourth-generation Apple TV or later and grab screenshots and video output from the set-top box. In this article, we'll show you how it's done.

Note that this method can't be used to record DRM-protected content off the likes of Netflix or iTunes, but it will let you capture your driving skills in Asphalt 8: Airborne, for instance, just as it will allow you to take screenshots for use in troubleshooting, training, blogging, or any other purpose.

The way to connect a Mac to an Apple TV used to depend on the presence of a USB-C port on the rear of the fourth-generation set-top box to establish a wired connection. But since there's no such port on the latest fifth-generation Apple TV 4K, that's no longer an option for a growing number of users.

However, thanks to macOS High Sierra and tvOS 11, it's now possible to connect your Mac wirelessly to a fourth- or fifth-generation Apple TV on the same Wi-Fi network, and you don't have to download Xcode or any other additional software to do so. Simply follow the steps below, and you should be capturing video and taking screenshots in no time.

How to Grab Images and Video From Apple TV on a Mac
  1. Turn on your Apple TV and your HDMI-connected display.
  2. On Apple TV, open Settings and select Network.
  3. Under Connection, make a note of the Wi-Fi network.

  4. Now click the Wi-Fi menu bar icon over on your Mac to make sure it's connected to the same network.

  5. On Mac, launch QuickTime Player from the Applications folder.
  6. In the QuickTime menu bar, click File -> New Movie Recording to open a new recording window.

  7. Click the small down arrow to the right of the red record button.
  8. In the dropdown menu, select Apple TV under both the Camera and Microphone sections.

  9. A screen sharing permissions prompt will appear on your Apple TV display. Use your Siri Remote to select Allow.

  10. To begin recording video, simply click the red record button.
  11. To take a screenshot of the Apple TV output from your desktop, press the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-4 and hover the cursor crosshair over the QuickTime Movie Recording window.
  12. Press the spacebar. The crosshair will turn into a camera and the QuickTime window will take on a transparent blue cast to indicate it's selected.
  13. Wait a moment for the QuickTime interface overlay and title bar to disappear, and then click to take your Apple TV screenshot. It will be automatically saved to your desktop by default.
Note: If you want to try the traditional method of taking Apple TV screenshots, you need to download Apple's Xcode developer utility from the Mac App Store. Bear in mind that it's a hefty 5.5GB download, and you might run into connection issues if you're running a beta version of tvOS.

After installing Xcode 9.2, launch the utility and select Window -> Devices and Simulators from the menu bar, and you should see the screenshot button in the Devices tab once you've successfully connected to Apple TV.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, iOS 11, macOS High SierraBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Facebook Watch Platform to Launch Dedicated News Section

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 10:59
Facebook is set to launch a news section for its Watch platform and is testing different video partnerships with around 10 publishers, according to a report by Axios today.

Launched back in August, Watch is a section of Facebook in the U.S. for mobile and desktop that's designed to showcase TV shows exclusive to the social network. Along with serving as a platform for end users to watch shows, Watch is also meant to help creators and publishers find an audience for their content, build a community, and earn money.

The additional section would be the first standalone news product for national news in Watch. Previously news has been hosted on the platform mixed in with other publisher content through delivery mechanisms such as Instant Articles and Facebook Live.

Facebook is said to be testing a daily video feature for the upcoming news section that includes content from both "legacy and digital-first news publishers" and would run for at least a year, according to Axios' sources. Hosted content would be a minimum of three minutes, and Facebook plans to launch the feature this summer to test what works best.

Aside from Facebook's monetization goals, creating a news product that's native to the platform is part of an effort to promote content from vetted publishers, following last year's outbreak of "fake news" on the social network. Accusations that Facebook did little to halt the spread of misinformation on its platform hit the company's reputation among both users and publishers in 2017, and it has since been testing ways to guide readers to more credible sources of news.

In another Watch development, last week Facebook and Major League Baseball announced a content agreement to stream 25 weekly MLB games on the social network starting in 2018. The games will be distributed over Facebook Watch as part of the MLB Live show Page, and the deal marks MLB's first digital-only distribution agreement, which was unanimously approved by 30 Major League Clubs.

Tag: Facebook
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Trump Prohibits Broadcom's Takeover of Qualcomm Due to National Security Concerns

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 23:13
United States President Donald Trump this afternoon issued an executive order blocking Broadcom from acquiring Qualcomm in a deal that would have been worth more than $117 billion, reports Bloomberg.

The president's order came following a recommendation from the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) in the United States, despite Broadcom's efforts to save the proposed transaction over the course of the last few weeks. U.S officials believed Broadcom's acquisition of Qualcomm, which has been under investigation by the CFIUS, could threaten national security.

The CFIUS previously said that a Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm could undermine Qualcomm's leadership in 5G wireless technology, allowing China's Huawei to become the dominant 5G provider in the world. Broadcom, a Singapore-based company, promised not to sell Qualcomm 5G assets, announced plans to redomicile in the United States, and pledged to invest billions in the United States, but that did not ease regulators' concerns."There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Ltd." by acquiring Qualcomm "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Trump said in the order released Monday evening in Washington.Trump also said that "any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited."

Broadcom first made an offer to acquire Qualcomm for $70 per share in cash and stock back in November of 2017, marking the proposal of the "largest technology acquisition ever, which Qualcomm turned down.

Qualcomm also turned down subsequent offers of $121 billion and $117 billion, and had not agreed to the acquisition at the time that it was blocked by Trump. Broadcom had been attempting to add merger-friendly individuals to Qualcomm's board, but today's order makes it clear that no merger or acquisition between the two companies will be allowed.

Broadcom may intend to fight the order as earlier today, the company said in a statement that U.S. national security concerns are not a risk as "Broadcom never plans to acquire Qualcomm before it completes redomiciliation.

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: Qualcomm, Broadcom
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Mac App Store App 'Calendar 2' Mines Cryptocurrency by Default, but Feature is Being Removed

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:49
A Mac App Store app called Calendar 2 has been mining a digital coin known as Monero using customers' machines, and Apple took no action against the app despite knowing about it for at least 24 hours.

As Ars Technica points out, Calendar 2 is supposed to have an opt-in feature that allows users to choose to let the app mine cryptocurrency to unlock paid features that normally require an in-app purchase, but instead, it's been bugged and has been mining Monero by default.

Image via Ars Technica
Surprisingly enough, Apple has allowed the Calendar 2 app to remain available in the Mac App Store despite the fact that it openly embraces cryptocurrency mining. Ars Technica asked Apple if the app violated App Store policies, but did not receive a response, and more than 24 hours after Ars contacted Apple, the app remains available for purchase in the Mac App Store.

It's not clear if Apple has left the app in place because it approves of allowing cryptocurrency mining in the Mac App Store as a way to enable paid features or because Mac App Store apps often receive little attention from the company.

Regardless, because of the attention the feature has received from the media today, Qbix, the company behind Calendar 2, has decided to remove the feature from the app. Qbix founder Gregory Magarshak told Ars Technica that the currency miner's rollout had been complicated by bugs that prevented it from working as intended, with the miner running continuously even when not approved by the user. Other bugs caused it to use too much of a Mac's resources.

Magarshak originally said Qbix would update the app to fix the bugs, but he later told Ars that Qbix has decided to remove the miner in the app, so there will be no way to get free features via cryptocurrency mining going forward. From an email he sent to Ars Technica:We have decided to REMOVE the miner in the app. The next version will remove the option to get free features via mining. This is for three reasons:

1) The company which provided us the miner library did not disclose its source code, and it would take too long for them to fix the root cause of the CPU issue.

2) The rollout had a perfect storm of bugs which made it seem like our company *wanted* to mine crypto-currency without people's permission, and that goes against our whole ethos and vision for Qbix.

3) My own personal feeling that Proof of Work has a dangerous set of incentives which can lead to electricity waste on a global scale we've never seen before. We don't want to get sucked into this set of incentives, and hopefully our decision to ultimately remove the miner will set some sort of precedent for other apps as well.Even though the features are going to be removed from the Mac App Store app, it continues to be unclear how Apple feels about cryptocurrency mining within apps and if the company's apparent indifference on the issue is going to lead to additional Mac apps attempting to go this path to implement features in exchange for processing power.

Websites and malware have been sneakily mining for currency by taking advantage of unsupecting users, but Calendar 2's method of openly offering features in exchange for free mining is new to the Mac App Store.

Tag: Mac App Store
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Quick Takes: PGA TOUR Gets Augmented, Interview With HQ Trivia's $25,000 Winner, and More

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:31
In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Monday, March 12
- PGA TOUR introduces augmented reality app: PGA TOUR AR uses Apple's ARKit platform on iOS 11 to project 3D models of featured holes on any flat surface. Fans will be able to select their favorite player on the golf course, compare shot trails from each round, and compare the shots of different players.

The first featured hole will be No. 6 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational starting March 15, while shot trails can be reviewed from the seventh hole of last month's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament. The end goal is for at least one hole to be featured at every tournament on the PGA TOUR schedule.

Commentary: PGA TOUR AR is free on the App Store for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and iPad Pro models. The app is somewhat rudimentary at launch, but an update later this year will enable fans to view 3D shot trails for selected players at live golf tournaments.

- Apple Bluewater re-opens Saturday, March 24, according to a photo shared yesterday by Joe White on Twitter: The store has been closed for nearly eight months to allow for renovations to be completed. Apple Bluewater is located in Greenhithe, Kent, on the edge of Greater London in England.

@Apple Bluewater re-opening March 24 after 9 month refurbishment.

— Joe White (@JoeWhiteLondon) March 11, 2018
- Canada to initiate mobile emergency alerts on April 6: iPhones and other LTE-enabled smartphones in Canada will receive emergency alerts from the government about life-threatening situations, such as tornadoes, flash floods, and child abductions, when necessary. On an iPhone, these will appear in the form of a push notification at no cost to the user. There is currently no way to opt out.

Commentary: This long-overdue feature, already in place in the United States, should greatly extend the visibility of emergency alerts beyond TV and radio in Canada. Test alerts, to be identified as such, are scheduled to begin in May.

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Tag: Quick Takes
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Apple Seeds Fifth Beta of watchOS 4.3 to Developers

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 20:06
Apple today seeded the fifth beta of an upcoming watchOS 4.3 update to developers, one week after seeding the fourth beta and a three weeks after releasing watchOS 4.2.3, a minor update focusing on bug fixes.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software update.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it has to be placed on the charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone it's paired to.

watchOS 4.3 introduces support for Nightstand mode in portrait orientation, a feature that was previously only available when the watch was placed in landscape orientation. There's also a new charging animation when the Apple Watch is placed on the charger, a new app loading animation, your Activity data is now displayed on the Siri watch face, and the battery complication more accurately reports battery life.

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The watchOS 4.3 update also brings the return of a much-desired feature that allows music playing on the iPhone to be controlled using the Music app on the Apple Watch.

In prior versions of watchOS, starting with watchOS 4, the Music app could only be used to control music playing on the watch itself. With the tvOS 11.3 beta installed, there's also an option to control music playing on the Apple TV with the watch.

Apple plans to release watchOS 4.3 to the public in the spring, and until then, it will be limited to developers. Apple offers public betas of tvOS, iOS, and macOS, but watchOS betas are not available for public beta testers because there's no way to revert to an earlier version of watchOS once an update is installed.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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YouTube TV Price Increasing to $40 for New Subscribers Starting Tomorrow

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 20:03
The price for Google's YouTube TV subscription service will be increasing to $40 per month for new subscribers starting tomorrow, up from the current price of $35 per month.

Google first warned potential subscribers about the new pricing for YouTube TV in February, and today is the last day to sign up at the current $35 per month price point. Existing subscribers will continue to be able to pay $35 per month for the service.

Introduced in April of 2017, YouTube TV is a live streaming television service designed to compete with services like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, and Playstation Vue.

YouTube TV provides subscribers with access to TV shows on more than 40 channels, with participating networks that include ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW, Disney, ESPN, FX, USA, and dozens more.

As of early February, YouTube TV launched an Apple TV app, making the subscription service available on all Apple devices. YouTube TV is available in a wide range of locations across the United States.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTags: YouTube, YouTube TVBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Apple Engineers to Discuss AR/VR, Display Technology at Display Week in May

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 19:51
Apple engineers are slated to join in on several discussions covering display technology and augmented/virtual reality at Display Week, which is set to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 22 to May 25.

Apple's Cheng Chen, a director of Display Optics and Platform Technologies, will kick off the event chairing a keynote session that covers three discussions: "OLED Leading to the New Experience of Display," "Reactive Displays: Unlocking Next-Generation VR/AR Visuals with Eye Tracking," and "Blue LEDs and Transformative Electronics for Developing Sustainable Smart Society," with speakers Deqiang Zhang (CEO of Visionox), Douglas Lanman (Director of Computational Imaging at Oculus Research), and Hiroshi Amano (Director of the Center for Integrated Research of Future Electronics), respectively.

Engineers from Apple will also chair and co-chair a range of discussion sessions, outlined below:

  • AR/VR I Display Systems

  • OLED Driving and Compensation

  • Micro-LED Epitaxial Semiconductor Materials & Manufacturing

  • Image Processing (Display Electronics)

  • Micro-LED Device Processing and Hetero-Integration

  • Novel OLEDs

  • Micro-LED System Integration and Applications

  • Capacitive-Touch Displays

  • Projection: Screen Technology

  • QD Electroluminescence I

  • Fingerprint Sensing and Optical Sensing Displays

  • Color Gamut

  • Enhancements to AR/VR

Apple engineers will also serve as moderators at two Monday seminars, including "SE-8: Artificial Intelligence: Image Recognition and Visual Understanding with Deep Learning Techniques" and "Quantum-Dot Displays: Advances and Outlook."

Apple has always been a notoriously secretive company, but over the course of the last several years, Apple has been loosening restrictions and allowing its engineers and researchers to publish papers and share their work in an effort to contribute to the research community. This decision also allows Apple to continue to attract top employees who might not otherwise join the company without being able to share their research.

The Display Week event is designed for and limited to professionals who are part of the display industry. It is hosted by the Society for Information Display and will be attended by many of the world's most prominent technology companies.
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Apple Orders New 'Central Park' Animated Comedy From 'Bob's Burgers' Creator

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 18:20
Apple has picked up its first animated TV series, a new show called "Central Park" developed by Loren Bouchard, well-known for popular cartoon "Bob's Burgers."

According to Variety, the animated series is a "musical comedy" written by Bouchard, Josh Gad, and Nora Smith. It's said to tell the story of how a family of caretakers who live in Central Park in New York City end up saving the park and the world.

Apple has ordered 26 episodes of the show in total, split into two 13-episode seasons. "Central Park" is produced by 20th Century Fox and stars Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, and Kathryn Hahn.

This marks the 12th known television show that Apple has invested in so far.

Other TV shows Apple is working on include an untitled morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, an "Amazing Stories" reboot from Steven Spielberg, an untitled space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, a series written by "La La Land" creator Damien Chazelle, a Kristen Wiig comedy series, See, an epic world-building drama, Home, a docuseries focusing on incredible homes, "Little America," an anthology series from "The Big Sick" creators Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, Swagger, a drama based on the early life and career of NBA star Kevin Durant, and a psychological thriller produced by M. Night Shyamalan.

Additional detail on all of Apple's TV projects can be found in the original content section of our Apple TV roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTag: Apple's Hollywood ambitionsBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Apple Updates Made For iPhone Licensing Program With USB-C Ports, Lightning to 3.5mm Output Cable

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 18:08
Apple recently updated its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program to include specifications for USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable (via 9to5Mac).

With the new specifications, accessory makers will be able to include USB-C ports on MFi-certified charging accessories designed for the iOS and Mac, with those accessories able to use the USB-C cables that ship with new Macs.

Third-party MFi accessories that include Lightning ports are able to offer passthrough charging, but Apple's new specifications do not allow the USB-C port built into an accessory to be used for passthrough charging or syncing of an iOS device.

Apple's documentation suggests speakers and battery packs could benefit from the use of a USB-C port for charging purposes.

As for the Lightning to 3.5mm stereo output plug, it is designed to let users connect to a 3.5mm input using a Lightning port on an iOS device, something that was previously only possible with adapters.

Apple also recently revamped its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod logos, introducing support for the San Francisco font and replacing device icons with standard Apple logos.

Tags: USB-C, MFi Program
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Apple Maps Now Displays Nearby Bike-Sharing Stations in 175 Cities

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:41
Apple Maps recently inked a deal with Ito World, which adds bike-sharing data to Apple Maps in more than 175 cities across 36 countries, reports TechCrunch.

The feature went live this morning, and Apple Maps users can now type "bike sharing" or a specific service name like GoBike into the search bar to get results for nearby bike sharing options.

Apple previously had some available bike-sharing data in a few cities in Apple Maps, but with the Ito World partnership, it's more widely available. Ito World has signed deals with dozens of companies to license bike sharing data.

Bike sharing information is somewhat limited at the current time, as all Apple Maps lists is the location of the bike sharing stop rather than information on available bikes or empty docks for dropping off a bike.

According to TechCrunch, Apple Maps supports a wide range of services like Citi Bike in New York City, Ford GoBike in San Francisco, Biketown in Portland, Santander Cycles in London, Bicing in Barcelona, BIXI in Montreal, and more.

Tag: Apple Maps
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iTunes Chief Eddy Cue: 'We're All In' on Original Content

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:26
Apple iTunes music chief Eddy Cue is at the SXSW conference today, where he sat down for an interview with CNN's Dylan Byers to discuss media, entertainment, and why curation matters.

The major announcement of the event was Apple's pending acquisition of magazine subscription service Texture, which will be integrated into Apple News, but Cue also shared some insight into Apple's original content plans, and much of what he said has been shared on Twitter.

Image via @JohanTrouve
According to Cue, Apple News is a unique service because it isn't focused on advertising, so it's not solely providing the news you want to read - it's also sharing news "you should be reading." Cue says Apple can do that because advertising isn't the focus. "We're not trying to get you to read so we can serve you more ads," he said. "We want to give you a bit of serendipity to see all of what's out there," he added.

On the topic of Apple's content plans, Cue said the company is "all in." "We're completely all in," he said. Apple isn't going to buy a company like Netflix or Disney, though, because the focus is not quantity, it's quality. "You need to have a great story," he said, while also teasing technology that will be a "surprise" to users.

Apple searched for the right people to run an original content team for two years before finding former Sony executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Cue says Apple was after someone who "really knew the business but was also willing to think about it differently." Since hiring Van Amburg and Erlicht last year, Apple has inked deals for more than 10 TV shows, many with high-profile actors, producers, and directors.

"We're making big investments," said Cue. "Money isn't an issue." Apple's original content team has grown to about 40 people over the course of the last year.

When asked about sports, Cue said that Apple wants to "augment the experience" rather than own sports content, doing things like sending out notifications when a game stats to enhance the viewing experience. "We think there's a huge opportunity," he said, referring to making sports watching a more interactive experience.

Cue also shared new details on Apple Music. The subscription service has grown to 38 million subscribers, with more than 8 million people using the trial service.

Cue commented on the HomePod, which went on sale in February. He said Apple is happy with the initial sales of the device, which is the "best musicologist there is." Cue said Apple is "very proud" of the device.

Echoing statements Apple CEO Tim Cook has made several times over the course of the past year, Cue said Apple is "very, very optimistic" that AR is going to be huge. It's going to be a mainstream product that everyone uses every day.

He declined to give specifics on the topic of AR hardware outside of the iPhone, though, citing a desire to continue working at Apple. "I've worked for Apple for almost 30 years and hope to work for Apple for another 20 years, so I'm not going to answer questions on future products," he said.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTags: Eddy Cue, Apple MusicBuyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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