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Popular PlayStation Game 'Flower' Comes to iOS

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 21:38
Popular PlayStation game Flower, created by thatgamecompany, made its way to iOS devices in a surprise release this morning. Flower, first released in 2009, was published on iOS by Annapurna Interactive.

In Flower, gameplay consists of controlling gusts of wind with the aim of blowing a flower petal around the world and picking up additional flower petals as you go. As flower petals swirl and gust through the game, the world experiences small changes, like a windmill activating or a field of dead flowers coming to life.


As our sister site TouchArcade points out, Flower is meant to be a casual, relaxing "experience" game that's almost more like art. There is no text or dialogue in Flower, and the sole aim of the game is to make players happy while they play it.

The company behind Flower, thatgamecompany, was recently seen on stage at Apple's September 2017 event to show off its most recent title, Sky. Sky is a romantic multi-player flying game where players soar through the world and work together to uncover new areas to explore. It's coming soon to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

Flower is available today and can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]
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Apple’s Latest Transparency Report Shows Jump in National Security Requests

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 20:03
Apple this week released its latest transparency report [PDF] outlining government data requests received from January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017.

In the United States, Apple received 4,479 requests for 8,958 devices and provided data 80 percent of the time (in 3,565 cases). Worldwide, Apple received 30,814 requests for data from 233,052 devices and provided data 80 percent of the time (in 23,856 cases).

Overall demands for data were slightly down compared to requests during the same time period last year, but Apple disclosed a much higher number of national security requests that include orders received under FISA and National Security Letters. According to Apple, to date, it has not received any orders for bulk data.

Apple says it received 13,250 - 13,499 National Security Orders affecting 9,000 to 9,249 accounts. That’s up from 2,750 - 2,999 orders affecting 2,000 to 2,249 accounts received during the first half of 2016.


Though Apple attempts to be as transparent as possible in its reports, the government does not allow the company to release specific details when it comes to the number of National Security requests received, instead requiring a number range to be provided to customers. Apple uses the narrowest range permissible by law.

Apple lately has been making more of an effort to be clearer about the type of information governments around the world have asked for, and its last two reports, this one included, have been highly detailed.

Along with the total number of device requests and National Security Orders, Apple also provides data on a range of categories covering government requests for emergencies such as missing children, requests related to stolen devices, fraud requests, account deletion/restriction requests, civil non-government cases and account preservation requests, all of which can be viewed directly in the report.

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: security, Apple security, transparency
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Apple Community Raises Over $13 Million for Hurricane Relief and Recovery Efforts

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 19:07
Following a series of natural disasters that have impacted tens of thousands of people in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean, Apple employees and customers have raised more than $13 million to provide shelter, food, and clean water in areas devastated by earthquakes and hurricanes.

Apple shared the update in a news post released this morning. Funds have been raised in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which impacted Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma, which hit the Gulf Coast, Florida Keys, and several Caribbean Islands, Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico, and earthquakes that hit Mexico.

Along with raising money, many Apple employees stepped up to volunteer for recovery efforts, running food drives, opening their homes, transporting clean water, and more.


Apple is continuing to raise money for relief efforts in Puerto Rico and other U.S. communities by accepting donations to the American Red Cross and the Hand in Hand hurricane relief benefit, with customers already having raised more than $2 million.

Employee donations to the American Red Cross, Hand in Hand, GlobalGiving, and UNICEF are being matched two-to-one by Apple, and the company says that it donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and UNICEF for Hurricane Maria relief and $1 million to GlobalGiving for earthquake recovery efforts in Mexico.

These donations are on top of several other donations Apple has made over the course of the last month. Apple donated $5 million to the Hand in Hand benefit for hurricane relief efforts, and another $2 million to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

iTunes and App Store customers can easily donate by clicking on the American Red Cross banner in the respective stores and choosing an amount to donate.
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Apple Releases First Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 to Public Beta Testers

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 18:19
Apple today released the first beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 update to developers, one day after seeding the update to developers and a few days after releasing the new High Sierra operating system to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will be able to download the new macOS High Sierra beta through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.


Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to iOS, macOS, and tvOS betas.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 appears to focus primarily on bug fixes, performance improvements, security enhancements, and other under-the-hood updates. No major outward-facing features were found in the developer beta.

macOS High Sierra is an update that's designed to improve and refine macOS Sierra. Along with a new, more efficient file system designed for modern storage, the update introduces High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC aka H.265).

Many apps have small tweaks and feature updates in High Sierra. Photos features a new persistent side view and editing tools for Curves, Selective Color, and Live Photos, while Safari offers a new autoplay blocking feature for videos and Intelligent Tracking Prevention to protect your privacy.

Full details on all of the new features in macOS High Sierra can be found in our macOS High Sierra roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Apple Seeds First Beta of tvOS 11.1 to Public Beta Testers

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 18:06
Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 11.1 update to its public beta testing group, one day after seeding the tvOS 11.1 update to developers and a little over a week after releasing tvOS 11 to the public.

The tvOS 11.1 public beta can be obtained by going to the Settings app on the Apple TV and navigating to the Software Updates section under "System." "Get Public Beta Updates" will need to be toggled on, and once it is, the Apple TV will download the beta software.


No new features were discovered in the first developer beta of tvOS 11.1, so the update seems to focus primarily on bug fixes, performance improvements, and security fixes.

The latest version of the tvOS operating system, tvOS 11 brings features like automatic switching between light and dark mode based on local time, Home screen syncing options designed to keep multiple Apple TVs in a single household in sync, and new background modes and notification support.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases First Beta of iOS 11.1 for Public Beta Testers

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 18:05
Apple today released the first public beta of iOS 11.1 to its public beta testing group, just a day after seeding the beta to developers and a little over a week after releasing the iOS 11 update to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the iOS 11 beta update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on an iOS device.

Those who want to join the beta testing program can sign up on Apple's beta testing website, which gives users access to iOS, macOS, and tvOS betas. iOS betas are not always stable and should not be installed on a primary device.


While Apple has promised that some major features like peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments and iCloud support for Messages are coming in beta updates, those features are not present in the iOS 11.1 beta.

iOS 11.1 seems to feature only small changes like a tweak to add multiple emoji suggestions to the predictive text options on the built-in keyboard. There's also an updated camera icon under Restrictions, a new animation when tapping the status bar to scroll upwards, and a faster unlock animation.

iOS 11 is a major update to the iOS operating system, introducing significant design changes, a revamped Lock screen experience, a new Control Center, ARKit for developers, new app features, a new App Store, and an entirely reimagined interface for the iPad that includes a Dock, Drag and Drop support, and a new App Switcher for better than ever multitasking.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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FCC Urges Apple to Protect Safety of Americans by Activating FM Radio Chip in iPhones

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 17:21
Amidst renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has now issued a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone.


Pai said he hopes Apple will "reconsider its position" following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico.

Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, and over-the-air FM radio can provide vital access to weather alerts and other life-saving information.

Pai added that "it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first."

His full statement:In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I've specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety groundsalone.’ When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information. I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.

Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That's why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones. It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first. As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, 'Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.'"Pai has advocated for the activation of the FM tuner in all smartphones before, but this is the first time he has called out Apple by name.

A study by the National Association of Broadcasters last year found only 44 percent of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had FM radio capabilities enabled. 94 percent of the unactivated devices were iPhones.

Both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in every iPhone have a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Apple hasn't revealed why it keeps the FM radio functionality disabled. Some critics suggest it could be to avoid losing Apple Music subscriptions, but the real reason is probably deeper than that.

We'll update this article if Apple responds.

Tag: FCC
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Spotify's New 'Your Time Capsule' Playlist Surfaces Songs From Your Teens/Early Twenties

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 16:01
As Apple Music and Spotify continue to battle for subscribers, each service has released new personalized playlists that curate a specific selection of songs for each user. Apple Music's latest addition was its "Chill Mix" this past June, and today Spotify has added onto its roster of personalized playlists with "Your Time Capsule."


As explained by Spotify, Your Time Capsule will gather the 30 "most nostalgic tracks" from your teenage years and early twenties, resulting in a soundtrack that lets you revisit classic songs, albums, and artists from when you were younger. Any Spotify user below the age of 16 will not be able to access the new playlist.

Your Time Capsule follows the launch of Spotify's "Your Summer Rewind" from June, which surfaced all of the songs that you listened to most during prior summers. Spotify said Your Time Capsule is similar, but is meant "to evoke powerful memories from your youth." The new playlist will be at the top of Home or in the Decades section of the Spotify app's Browse tab on iOS and Android smartphones.

Visit Spotify's website to start generating your own version of the new playlist. Your Time Capsule is launching worldwide today for all appropriately aged Spotify users.

Tag: Spotify
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iPhone 8 Shows Modest Improvements in Cellular Network Bandwidth Tests

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 15:44
With a number of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus devices now in the hands of users, Ookla's network benchmarking suite Speedtest.net has been able to gather data on how the latest iPhones are performing compared to previous-generation models and has shared details with PCMag.

Based on data collected by Ookla, improvements appear to be around the 10 percent mark for most users, but users in Australia could expect up to nearly 25 percent faster speeds thanks to their network structure. Those users can expect up to the full 80 MHz carrier aggregation bandwidth in the phone due to Telestra's use of the appropriate bands.

iPhone 8 download speeds compared to previous generations
Beyond speed comparisons to previous-generation iPhones, PCMag also compares the iPhone 8's cellular architecture to competing phones, such as the Galaxy S8.The iPhone 8 is missing one of the components needed for gigabit LTE, or LTE category 16, in the US. The Qualcomm X16 modem can do Category 16, as we've seen on the Galaxy S8 and Moto Z2 Force. The phone supports 256QAM encoding and 4x carrier aggregation to 80MHz of spectrum, but not 4x4 MIMO antennas, which would improve both speed and signal strength. In theory, that would make this an 800Mbps phone, also known as LTE category 15.The lack of 4x4 MIMO antennas is something we touched on at MacRumors on Tuesday. While the Qualcomm and Intel modems in the new iPhones are likely more power efficient, the cellular front-end and back-end supporting them are largely unchanged in structure from the iPhone 7 models.

The article goes on to point out can that this can result in loss of coverage due to deficient receiver diversity compared to other phones, complete with a New York subway test.The lack of 4x4 MIMO is probably why the iPhone still falls short of the Galaxy S8 when it comes to recovering from dead zones, a notorious iPhone problem. We took an iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 on the New York City subway, where they dropped in and out of T-Mobile coverage. The Galaxy S8 recovered faster in 8 out of 11 tests, and where it did, it was an average of 16 seconds faster than the iPhone at regaining LTE signal; when the iPhone won, it did so by 5 seconds on average.Users looking for an unlocked iPhone should probably still opt for the Verizon or Sprint model, featuring the Qualcomm modem. While it boasts higher peak speeds than the Intel modems in aggregated user data, it is not clear whether it is superior for coverage, which would require more in-depth testing.

Finally, users looking ahead to the iPhone X should expect the same dichotomy of models and performance, given the iPhone X's tech specs page matches that of the iPhone 8 models in number of models and bands supported. The form factor will likely not have any impact on the antenna structures that will directly impact users in a meaningful way.

Moving forward, adopting 4x4 MIMO antenna structure would be one of the biggest advancements Apple could make for future iPhones' speed and coverage robustness.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Intel, Qualcomm
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)
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Apple Faces Renewed Pressure to Enable FM Radio Chip in iPhones Amid Strong Hurricane Season

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 15:10
A series of powerful storms over the past six weeks, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, has placed renewed pressure on Apple to enable the FM radio capabilities of the wireless modem in every iPhone.


The biggest push continues to come from the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobbying group that represents over-the-air radio and television broadcasters in the United States, according to Bloomberg."Broadcasters are providing information on how to evacuate quickly, where flood waters are raging, how to get out of harm’s way if there's a tornado or a hurricane," said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters. "The notion that Apple or anyone else would block this type of information is something that we find fairly troubling."Both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in every iPhone have a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, however, which can make it difficult or impossible to listen to FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai also renewed his calls for smartphone manufacturers to enable the chip during a recent trip to areas of southern Florida devastated by Hurricane Irma earlier this month, according to the report.

Pai, speaking with ABC affiliate WPBF 25 in West Palm Beach, said the chip is especially valuable "when it's an emergency.""The FM chip is a valuable functionality, not just when times are good or when it helps you save battery life or reduces congestion on the wireless network, but especially when it's an emergency. People want to tune in to the radio broadcast and get emergency information and this can be a valuable way of doing that," said Pai.In February, at the Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C., Pai said "radio is vital" when disaster strikes.When disaster strikes, often knocking out cell networks and Internet service, over-the-air radio is a lifeline, providing the latest weather forecasts or directions on where to seek shelter or relief assistance. After hurricanes or tornadoes or fires or floods, time and again, we see an exponential surge in radio audiences.He added that most consumers would enjoy the ability to access free content over the air, like music on FM radio stations, which some critics believe is a key reason why Apple hasn't enabled the functionality.It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don't enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.

You could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone. The former head of our Federal Emergency Management Administration has spoken out in support of this proposal. […]

Moreover, most consumers would love to access some of their favorite content over-the-air, while using one-sixth of the battery life and less data. As more and more Americans use activated FM chips in their smartphones, consumer demand for smartphones with activated FM chips should continue to increase.Pai noted that he is a believer in free markets and the rule of law, and he thereby cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips, nor does he believe the FCC has the power to issue such a mandate.

Apple declined to comment on the report, and its stance on the activation of FM receivers in iPhones remains unclear.

Tag: FM radio
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Apple Music Now Has Over 30M Paid Subscribers, Up from 27M in June

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 14:55
In an interview with Billboard posted today, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine has discussed a number of topics related to the streaming music service's "long game," including its growth over the past three months. At WWDC in June, Apple mentioned that Apple Music had 27 million paid subscribers, and today the company confirmed to Billboard that it has now reached "well over" 30 million.


Iovine was enthusiastic about Apple Music's growth, but admitted that simply adding more subscribers, launching entire back catalogues through record label deals, and staying on the forefront of new hits isn't enough to maintain Apple's presence in the streaming music market. "I just don't think streaming is enough as it is," he said.
“I believe we’re in the right place, we have the right people and the right attitude to not settle for what exists right now.” But ultimately? “Just because we’re adding millions of subscribers and the old catalog numbers are going up, that’s not the trick. That’s just not going to hold.”

"I just don’t think streaming is enough as it is. I don’t agree that all things are going to be OK [just] because Apple came into streaming and the numbers went up. Look at the catalog: It’s a matter of time before the ’60s become the ’50s and the ’50s become the ’40s. The people that are listening to the ’60s will die -- I’m one of them. Life goes on. So you have to help the artists create new stuff that they would never be able to do on their own." Apple Music's main rival remains Spotify, which counted 60 million paid subscribers in July. Spotify has continued to grow faster than Apple Music thanks to the former streaming service's free tier that allows users to listen to music interspersed with advertisements, which Apple Music does not have.

Apple's offer for new users is a three-month free trial to test out the service before deciding to pay the $9.99/month price point. In May, Iovine said that if Apple Music did have a free tier, "it would have 400 million people on it" and make his job easier, but he and Apple believe in focusing everything into creating a quality experience for the people who are paid subscribers, making them "feel special" in the process.

Check out Billboard's full interview with Jimmy Iovine, Zane Lowe, and Larry Jackson right here. Other topics discussed include how the Apple Music team discovers new artists, Spotify's plan to go public, and Iovine's belief that while Apple Music is good where it's at, the company is "not even close" to being done with iterating and adding onto its features.

Tags: Jimmy Iovine, Apple Music
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Super Mario Run's 'Biggest Update Ever' Arrives on the iOS App Store One Day Early

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 13:23
Super Mario Run's "biggest update ever" has arrived one day early, with many players noticing the version 3.0.4 update is available to download as of this morning. One of the biggest new additions is "Remix 10," which lets players run through 10 super-short courses in a row to try to find and add Daisy -- the new playable character -- to their roster.


There's also new full-size courses in the game, inhabiting "World Star," including a forest, a ship, and an airship armada. New customization items can be earned from playing Remix 10, and the game has been tweaked so that Toad Rally won't pit you against players whose Toad population is "significantly different" from your own.

Nintendo has also added a subtle visual detail, giving Mario and his playable friends a pair of headphones any time you listen to your own music while playing the game. With the new update, Super Mario Run [Direct Link] is 50 percent off its full price of $9.99 from today until October 12, meaning you can unlock all six worlds for $4.99. The game is still free-to-start and lets you play the first world for free, with the in-app purchase unlocking the rest of the game's content.

Tag: Super Mario Run
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ROLI BLOCKS Modular Music System Gains Next-Generation 'Lightpad Block M'

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 13:00
ROLI, the company that makes a fun music creation system called BLOCKS, today announced the launch of its next-generation Lightpad Block, the Lightpad Block M.

The Lightpad Block M is a light-up square grid that supports pressure-based multi-touch gestures to make music. The Lightpad M can recreate the sounds of drums, cellos, flutes, and hundreds of other instruments with just a touch.


Compared to the previous-generation Lightpad Block, ROLI says the Lightpad M is more sensitive and precise, and it's 50 percent brighter with a deeper, softer silicone top layer that enhances control and a higher contrast display that offers up a wider range of colors.

The silicone of the Lightpad M also includes new tactile microkeywaves for better feedback compared to the flat surface of the first Lightpad Block.

The Lightpad M Block is designed to work with the other components in the ROLI BLOCKS modular system, including the Seaboard Block, the Live Block, the Loop Block, and the Touch Block.


ROLI's Lightpad M launch is accompanied by a new version of the NOISE app that goes along with the ROLI BLOCKS. According to ROLI, the app adds new sounds and improvements to clip launching, clip editing, and user navigation.

There are also two new Treble Quartet and Bass Quartet soundpacks in the app, offering realistic cello, violin, clarinet, and saxophone sounds. Bass Quartet comes bundled with the Lightpad M.

ROLI is also introducing a NOISE audio unit for GarageBand and integration with Ableton Live Lite.

Lightpad M can be purchased for $199.95 from the ROLI website, and it will soon be available at other retailers, including Apple retail stores.
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Google Drive Updated to Play Friendly With Apple's Files App

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 12:53
Google Drive no longer hijacks file opening duties in Apple's Files and iCloud Drive apps on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.


The app was updated today with a fix for the issue. Microsoft Word documents and other file types can now be viewed directly in in Apple's Files and iCloud Drive apps on iOS 11 and iOS 10 respectively.

Since a previous update to Google Drive earlier this month, the app became the default opener for many file types due to an open-in-place issue.


When users with the Google Drive app installed attempted to open a DOCX file in Files or iCloud Drive, for example, the Google Drive app would automatically open and prompt the user to save the file in that app.

Google Drive version 4.2017.37510 is available on the App Store [Direct Link].

Tags: iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Files
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ESPN iOS App Now Lets Users Stream Shows On Demand

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:18
ESPN yesterday announced an update to its iOS app that will let users stream their favorite sports shows on demand from their mobile device.

Previously, users of the ESPN app were out of luck if they missed the live video streams of popular shows such as Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption. But that's set to change, according to the channel's latest press release.

"Our mission at ESPN is to serve sports fans, and now more than ever, they expect to stream their favorite shows on the device and time of day they prefer," ESPN vice president of digital media programming John Lasker said. "With today's launch, fans can now access an array of ESPN's most popular, award-winning shows – with more to come in the near future – anytime, anywhere."Full episodes of select studio shows are now available to stream on demand under "Latest Episodes" within the Watch tab on the ESPN App. The shows will be accessible shortly after the conclusion of their live on-air telecasts. The full list includes:
  • Around the Horn (weekdays at 5 p.m. ET)

  • College GameDay Built by the Home Depot (Saturdays at 9 a.m. ET)

  • College Football Countdown (most Thursdays at 7 p.m. ET)

  • College Football Live (weekdays at 5:30 p.m. ET)

  • College Football Final (at the conclusion of the Saturday games/post-game show on ESPN2 during the season)

  • The Fantasy Show with Matthew Berry (weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

  • The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (weekdays at 10 a.m. ET on ESPNU)

  • Jalen & Jacoby (weeknights at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN2)

  • The Jump (weekdays at 3 p.m. ET)

  • Pardon the Interruption (weekdays at 5:30 p.m. ET)

  • The Paul Finebaum Show (weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on SEC Network)

  • SEC Nation (Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET)

  • SEC Now (nightly on SEC Network)

  • Thinking Out Loud (Mondays at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network).

The studio shows add to the ESPN app's expanded offering of long-form VOD content that includes 30 for 30 films, E:60, Outside the Lines and SC Featured episodes. The ESPN app is a free download available for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: ESPN
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Japan Display to Supply Apple With 'Full Active' LCD Panels for Some 2018 iPhones

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 10:23
Apple has expressed interest in buying advanced liquid crystal display (LCD) panels from Japan Display for use in some of its iPhones next year, according to a new report today from The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, Apple announced the iPhone X, its first smartphone to adopt OLED screen technology. OLED displays offer sharper contrast and brighter colors than traditional LCD panels, but cost and supply issues are an ongoing concern for Apple, and are likely to slow down any full transition to the technology.


However, Japan Display's advanced LCD panels, which it calls Full Active LCDs, are said to match or exceed some of OLED's advantages at a lower cost, and Apple is interested in procuring them for use in at least some iPhones set to debut in its 2018 smartphone line-up, according to people familiar with the matter.

In Full Active panels, the bezel or border space around each edge of the screen has been trimmed to 0.5 millimeters, the Japanese maker says, compared with as much as several millimeters on older LCDs. Current OLED smartphone panels have a bezel of about one millimeter, which makes them easier to be curved or angled. The Full Active panel has already been used by several Chinese mobile makers, including Xiaomi for its Mi Mix 2 phone, according to Kazutaka Nagaoka, chief of Japan Display's mobile unit. 

News about Japanese Display's advanced LCD panels first emerged in January of this year, when they were referred to simply as "flexible LCDs". The panels were said to be bendable enough to manufacture smartphones with the same screen design as Samsung's Galaxy Edge series, thanks to a layer of plastic inside the glass. At the time, the company claimed mass production would begin from 2018.

Last month, Japan Display said that its Full Active displays would account for more than 70 percent of its business in panels for smartphones and other smart devices in the year ending March 2019. People at companies that work with Japan Display said interest about Full Active LCDs came directly from Apple, which is why the display maker is predicting rapid uptake for Full Active. Apple declined to comment on the report.

Apple's line-up of iPhones next year will introduce a larger-screened LCD model, measuring more than 6 inches, according to a rumor earlier this week. Based on the same part maker sources, Apple's supply of LCD screen from Japan Display already includes panel orders for the new larger screen size. Meanwhile, a switch to OLED-only iPhones is not expected until 2019.

Tags: Japan Display, Full Active LCD panels
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Toshiba Signs $17.7 Billion Deal to Sell Memory Chip Unit to Bain-Apple Group

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 08:53
After lengthy negotiations, Toshiba this morning officially agreed to sell its lucrative memory chip unit to a global consortium that includes Apple, in a deal reportedly worth $17.7 billion (via The Wall Street Journal).

Toshiba said the legally binding agreement ensures the chip unit will remain a Toshiba affiliate even after it has become the property of the Bain Capital-led group, which includes Apple, Dell, Seagate, Hoya, and SK Hynix.


Toshiba and Bain want to get the deal done by the end of March, despite ongoing litigation with Western Digital, which jointly operates the memory business with Toshiba. Western Digital claims it has the right to vote on the sale. Another hurdle is receiving antitrust clearance, which could take six months or longer, according to WSJ.

Toshiba originally announced it would sell its NAND flash memory unit in January 2017 to raise funds to cover huge losses associated with its U.S. nuclear subsidiary, Westinghouse. Toshiba wants to close the deal to raise the cash by March so it can remain listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Several companies, including TSMC, Foxconn, Amazon, Google, Broadcom, and a range of private equity firms entered bids this year in an effort to get a piece of the memory chip unit.

In a statement given to Reuters on Thursday, SK Hynix said the Bain-led group will hold 49.9 percent of the voting rights in the chip unit, while Toshiba will hold 40.2 percent and Japan's Hoya Corp will own 9.9 percent. Apple, Dell, Seagate, and Kingston Technology will invest in the form of non-convertible preferred shares, it said.

SK Hynix also revealed it will invest 395 billion yen ($3.5 billion) in the unit. Other companies declined to comment, but individual investments are believed to be 350.5 billion yen ($3.11 billion) from Toshiba, 212 billion yen ($1.88 billion) from Bain, and a combined 415.5 billion yen ($3.68 billion) from Apple, Dell, Kingston, and Seagate.

Apple has been interested in the memory chip unit because NAND flash is an essential component of its iPhones and iPads. Only a handful of companies make the chips and the dominant player is Samsung, Apple's biggest rival in the smartphone industry.

Tag: Toshiba
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Delta to Offer Free In-Flight Access to iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 00:57
Delta this week announced plans to offer free access to mobile messaging services on its flights starting in October.

Delta will allow customers to use iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger to communicate with family and friends while in flight. Though Delta will let customers send text-based messages that include words and emoji, photo and video files are not supported.


Free messaging will be available on all Delta flights that feature Gogo Wi-Fi capabilities, which includes all aircraft with two or more cabins. Delta customers will be able to access the messaging services through the Delta Wi-Fi portal page."We know many of Delta's customers want or need to stay connected in the air and on the ground, which is why we're investing in an easy, free way to send and receive messages inflight through some of the most popular global platforms," said Tim Mapes, Delta's Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "Coupled with our investments in seat-back screens, free entertainment and High-Speed Wi-Fi, free messaging is one more way customers can choose how to make the most of their time on Delta flights."Delta plans to start offering the free messaging services on Sunday, October 1.

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Apple Design Chief Jony Ive to Speak at TechFest 2017 in October

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 00:35
Apple design chief Jony Ive is one of the planned speakers at TechFest 2017, hosted by The New Yorker. Set to take place on October 6 from 8:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, the event will be held in New York City.

Ive will talk about "designing the future," according to The New Yorker. No additional information has been provided on what topics Ive will cover, but with the launch of the iPhone X approaching, it could come up during the discussion.


Other speakers at TechFest include Hyperloop One co-founder Josh Giegel, author Van Jones, Human Rights Foundation chairman Garry Kasparov, Snap chairman Michael Lynton, and M.I.T. computer science and AI lab director Daniela Rus, among others.

Tickets for The New Yorker's TechFest are priced at $1,500.

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