Google's newest version of Gboard — its keyboard-replacement app for iOS — adds physical feedback when typing. Apple's own iOS keyboard does not offer this popular feature. The haptic feedback feature is available on iPhone 7 and later. Gboard also offers input by word swipe and voice. It includes emoji (with search), GIFs, stickers, and personalized stickers. Google search is built-in and results — such as business listings, videos, images, and articles — can easily be pasted and sent to others. The new version is 1.4 and is available now in the Apple App Store.
After holding out longer than most auto makers, Toyota's new 2020 lineup includes, for the first time, a variety of models that support both Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. The new models include the 2020 4Runner, Sequoia, Tacoma, and Tundra. Last year's Avalon supported CarPlay, but not Android Auto. The two technologies are comparable, letting the driver sync their phone to the car and display an interface on the dash touchscreen that's driven by the phone, and includes voice control. The interfaces are tailored to driving, with a focus on navigation, music, and basic communication. Other car companies already supporting both CarPlay and Android Auto are: Chrysler (and Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram), Ford (and Lincoln), GM (Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, GMC), Honda (and Acura), Hyundai (and Kia), Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, VW (and Audi), and Volvo.
Apple iOS 12.1.4 is available today, and fixes the major privacy bug discovered last week that enabled FaceTime callers to hear (and sometimes see) people before they picked up the call. Apple turned off Group FaceTime for everyone as its initial response to the issue, and it remains off for everyone without today's update.
A massive bug in Apple's new Group FaceTime feature allowed callers to listen in on people before they answered an incoming FaceTime call, and in some cases even see live video. Apple has already moved to prevent the issue from affecting users by turning off the Group FaceTime feature altogether, for all users, apparently with a change to its cloud systems. Before Apple acted, anyone running iOS 12.1 could exploit the bug by initiating a FaceTime video call to their target, then making it a Group FaceTime by adding their own phone number to the call. The caller would then receive audio from the other end, and if the callee pressed the power button to dismiss the incoming call, it would instead trigger live video to be sent to the caller. The issue also affected FaceTime on MacOS. Apple has acknowledged the bug and promised a software update to fix it
Apple Pay and Google Pay are closer to being accepted everywhere, with the announcement that Target, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Hy-Vee and Speedway are now rolling out support for NFC payments. Target was one of the last big holdouts in supporting the technology, which lets you simply tap your NFC-equipped phone or smartwatch on the card terminal to pay. Target expects its rollout to all 1,850 locations across the US to be complete in the "coming weeks". Taco Bell and Jack in the Box expect to finish their rollout in the "next few months". Previous holdouts CVS, 7-Eleven, and Costco launched support for NFC payments last year.
A new group video chat app called Squad lets users share what's on their screen, including other apps, in addition to traditional video chat. It's currently available for iOS; an Android version is in internal beta. The Android version also supports picture-in-picture, for sharing both a live selfie and screen sharing at the same time. Squad is designed to let users turn any app, including social media apps, into a shared social experience. In beta testing, users also found it useful for tech help, homework help, and coordinating dining and travel plans.
Verizon's top two unlimited postpaid plans now include an Apple Music subscription. The most affordable plan, GoUnlimited, still includes just a six-month trial of Apple Music, as the other plans did previously.
ToughTested has a new Qi wireless charging pad designed primarily for cars. Its grippy all-rubber construction ensures it stays put, and that your phone stays put while charging. It supports wireless fast charging up to 10W, including Apple's 7.5W fast charging mode for iPhones. It's large enough to accommodate the largest phones, but designed so that a phone placed anywhere in the tray will charge; no centering needed. It has foreign object detection and is Qi-certified to ensure it won't overheat the phone. It includes a Quick Charge power supply that plugs into a car's 12V power port. It will go on sale in March for about $50. Read on for photos and first impressions.
Do you ever wish your iPhone had a notification light? Do you use the LED flash to notify you of incoming calls, but wish it weren't blindingly bright? Iconcase is an attractive new case for iPhones that adds a large notification light to the back. The newest model charges by sipping a little juice whenever the iPhone is wirelessly charging through the case, so you never have to worry about charging it. It communicates with the iPhone via standards built in to Bluetooth LE, so you only need to pair it; no special app or setting is required. The standard model includes one light-up icon for incoming calls and second for messages. The company is also working on a range of cases with fixed full-color designs that light up, and a skull design with eyes that light up red. The company says they are close to a deal to sell the cases through Apple's online store in the US. Pricing has yet to be determined, but is expected to be roughly $50. Read on for our hands-on impressions and photos.
Apple today indicated that it will yank at least some versions of the iPhone from store shelves in Germany after a court ruled that Apple is violating patented Qualcomm technology. The court said Apple could not sell devices in Germany that contain a specific part. The part comes from Qorvo and the court says it infringes on a Qualcomm patent pertaining to envelope tracking, a method of saving battery life when sending/receiving wireless signals. "We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. "All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple's 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores." Qualcomm and Apple have been battling one another over patents in court rooms around the world. Apple says Qualcomm uses anti-competitive licensing practices, while Qualcomm says Apple is using its technology without permission. There are currently significant cases in progress in the U.S. and China.
You may soon be able to send or receive in-app content from the App Store as a gift. Apple recently updated the App Store Review Guidelines and therein gave developers new powers to entice users. The relevant language in the new Guideline says, "Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others. Such gifts may only be refunded to the original purchaser and may not be exchanged." Apple did not spell out how developers should implement this feature, nor did it explain how the feature will work for end users. Before this change, it was only possible for people to gift apps to one another and not the content within.
Apple's iPhones continue to infringe on Qualcomm patents even after a recent software update pushed by the company, according to Qualcomm. "Despite Apple's efforts to downplay the significance of the order and its claims of various ways it will address the infringement, Apple apparently continues to flout the legal system by violating the injunctions," said Qualcomm in a statement provided to Reuters. Earlier this month, Apple was found to be violating Qualcomm intellectual property. The Chinese judicial system, in a court order, banned Apple from importing its devices into China, though Apple later suggested a software update would resolve the issue. The update was pushed last week. "Apple's statements following the issuance of the preliminary injunction have been deliberate attempts to obfuscate and misdirect," continued Qualcomm. "They are legally obligated to immediately cease sales, offers for sale and importation of the devices identified in the orders and to prove compliance in court." Apple believes it is complying with the court order and continues to offer its devices for sale in China. Apple and Qualcomm have been locked in a battle over patents and licensing costs for several years.
Apple today made iOS 12.1.2 available to iPhones and iPads. The update targets several bugs related to eSIM activation on the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. It also addresses an issue that could affect cellular connectivity in some markets on those same phones. iOS 12.1.2 is free to download over the air.
T-Mobile today said owners of the Apple iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max can now take advantage of the embedded eSIM. T-Mobile is allowing unlocked variants of these iPhones to access prepaid T-Mobile service as a secondary line. In order to do so, people will need to download the (free) T-Mobile eSIM app from the iTunes App Store and use it to initiate prepaid service. T-Mobile says its support of the iPhone eSIM is intended for those who travel to the U.S., for existing T-Mobile customers who need a secondary line on their device, and for those who wish to take T-Mobile’s service for a spin before making a longer commitment. T-Mobile will continue to require physical SIM cards for primary lines and family plans. AT&T and Verizon's method for activating the eSIM requires users to visit a store or use a scannable QR code sent via the carrier. Sprint is not likely to support the eSIM until 2019.
Apple plans to issue a software patch to its iPhones to appease Qualcomm and Chinese authorities. Earlier this week, a Chinese court found Apple to be in violation of two Qualcomm patents pertaining to resizing pictures and managing apps with a touch screen. The court issued a ban against Apple, blocking it from importing a range of phones into China. Though Apple is appealing that decision, it claims it can mitigate the issue via software. "Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. Even so, the company went on to say, "Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case." Apple didn't provide details concerning how the update will resolve the issue. As part of its appeal to the Chinese court, Apple said any ban would impact Chinese suppliers, Chinese consumers, and tax revenue it pays to Chinese authorities. Though the ruling called for an immediate ban, Apple's devices still remain available for sale in China. The patent spat between Apple and Qualcomm is part of a global battle over patent licensing practices and royalty payments.
Qualcomm is seeking to add the iPhone XR and iPhone XS to the list of devices banned from import into China. Qualcomm won a patent-related victory earlier this week when a Chinese court agreed that Apple violated a Qualcomm patent. The Chinese court banned infringing devices (iPhone 6s/Plus, iPhone 7/Plus, iPhone 8/Plus, and iPhone X) from entering the country. Though that ban has yet to go into effect, Qualcomm wants Apple's newest phones also kept out of the country. Earlier this week Apple said all its devices remain available for sale in China, despite the ruling. Qualcomm and Apple have ongoing patent-related legal skirmishes taking place in courts around the globe.
Apple today announced plans to build a new campus in Austin and expand its presence in a wide range of other markets with new hires. The company will invest $1 billion in the Austin campus, which entails a 133-acre site capable of handling up to 15,000 employees. Apple claims that once the Austin site is fully staffed, it will make Apple the largest private employer in Texas. The Austin campus will include engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales, and customer support jobs. Apple already has 6,200 employees at its existing Austin facility. Apple said it will establish new sites in Culver City, Seattle, and San Diego. Existing Apple sites in Boston, Boulder, New York, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Ore., will add an unspecified number of jobs over the next three years. Apple claims it added 6,000 jobs in the U.S. during 2018 and now employs 90,000 people in all 50 states. Apple said it is on track to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023. The company plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. data centers over the next five years, and expand data centers in Arizona, Nevada, and N. Carolina. The newest data center is being prepared for Waukee, Ida. "Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "Talent, creativity and tomorrow's breakthrough ideas aren't limited by region or zip code."
The U.S. International Trade Commission plans to review an earlier ruling that found Apple guilty of infringing on a Qualcomm patent, but did not seek to ban iPhone imports. In September, an administrative law judge determined that Apple violated one of three Qualcomm patents pertaining to how smartphones perform without consuming too much power. Qualcomm had asked the ITC to ban Apple from importing the infringing iPhones into the U.S., but the law judge said such a ban was not in the U.S. interest. Now, the full ITC panel will review the earlier decision to determine what steps to take. Qualcomm said it was pleased to see its lawsuit take another step forward. The two companies are battling one another in courts around the world over patents and royalties, with each company seeings wins and losses. Earlier this week, Qualcomm won a case against Apple in China that may see iPhones banned from the People's Republic.
Qualcomm today said that a Chinese court has granted two preliminary injunctions against Apple subsidiaries. The ruling orders the subsidiaries to "immediately cease infringing upon two Qualcomm patents through the unlicensed importation, sale and offers for sale in China of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X." Qualcomm alleges that Apple is violating two of its patents, which let people resize and reformat pictures, and to view, navigate, and dismiss apps using a touch screen. Qualcomm says the patents were previously upheld as valid by the Chinese patent office. Qualcomm is seeking similar relief for other patents that it claims Apple is violating in China and other markets. Qualcomm and Apple have been locked in a bitter patent-related feud for nearly two years. Though today's preliminary ruling calls for "immediate" action, it's not clear how soon any sort of ban might actually begin. Apple did not immediately comment on the matter.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless have confirmed that the latest system update for iPhones from Apple has made it possible to support the eSIM on their networks. AT&T is activating eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR starting today. It won't cost AT&T subscribers to use the feature. "AT&T does not charge for a SIM Card/eSIM Card for device upgrades or new lines of service," said the company in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Verizon told Fierce that it will initiate support for the eSIM starting tomorrow, December 7. T-Mobile is still working to make eSIM happen, but has not provided a timeline for bringing the feature to its customers. The eSIM in the newer iPhones allows the devices to act as though they have dual SIM cards. Owners can designate one SIM as the primary and use that for calls, messaging, and data. The secondary SIM acts as a separate account and can handle calls and texts.
Apple said owners of the Apple Watch can expect to see watchOS 5.1.2 arrive later today. This update targets the new Series 4 smartwatch and introduces features Apple first revealed earlier this year. The Series 4 gains an ECG app, which gives people the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). Electrodes built into the back of the Digital Crown support the feature. Watch owners need only launch the app and press and hold the Digital Crown for 30 seconds. In addition to taking the ECG, the app also looks for irregular heart rhythms. The Watch is specifically looking for signs of atrial fibrillation, which is a warning sign of imminent health events such as a stroke. Apple worked with the FDA for years in order make this possible. The results are stored securely in the Health app on the associated iPhone and can be shard in PDF form with health care providers. All Apple Watches gain access to an improved heart rhythm detector. The detector uses the optical heart sensor on the Watch to check the rhythm occasionally. If it detects any abnormalities, it will alert the wearer. This feature was validated by testing hundreds of people. Apple says these new tools will need to be turned on. An onscreen setup flow teaches Apple Watch owners what the features can do, what they cannot do, what types of results they may get, and how to interpret those results and take action if warranted. watchOS 5.1.2 will be available for download today.
Apple today released iOS 12.1.1, an update for iPhones and iPads that introduces a handful of new features. To start, iOS 12.1.1 brings dual SIM support, via eSIM, to more carriers for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. The XR gains haptic vibrations for notification previews. The update reinstates the ability to flip between the rear and front-facing cameras during a FaceTime call with a single button tap. The software makes it possible to capture Live Photos during one-to-one FaceTime calls, as well as take advantage of real-time text when using WiFi calling on the iPad. Apple News gives iPad users the option to hide the sidebar when in landscape orientation. As to be expected, a number bug fixes are included in iOS 12.1.1. For example, it makes stability improvements to dictation when using VoiceOver, fixes a Face ID reliability problem, addresses a visual voicemail glitch, and resolves an issue in Messages that sometimes prevented predictive text suggestions when typing in Chinese or Japanese. Other fixes tackle a problem that prevented Voice Memos from backing up to iCloud and a bug that prevented time zones from updating automatically. iOS 12.1.1 is free to download over the air.
Microsoft today revealed a wholly redesigned version of Outlook Mobile for iOS devices. Not only did Microsoft give the app a fresh coat of paint, it tweaked many of the tap and swipe actions to help speed up and simplify users' daily routines. For example, when users swipe left or right on an email they'll see changes in color and shape, as well as experience haptic feedback to make it more obvious what action is taking place. Microsoft has animated the calendar icon, which now fans forward or backward as people scroll their agenda, and the app now calls out calendar conflicts more visually. Microsoft has changed the color of the app, which is a bolder shade of blue across the inbox and calendar. Microsoft says this helps people visually identify apps faster as they swipe through the iOS app picker. Microsoft has embraced the native font and typography of iOS, giving the app a look that's more in line with those from Apple. Other changes impact the mechanics of the app, such as the Focused Inbox toggle and message list filtering, which now help people focus on content and account details. The app continues to support multiple accounts, and will now call them out visually with personalized avatars. These are meant to instantly alert the user as to which account they have accessed. Similarly, Outlook adds new avatars for contacts to aid in visibility. The new Microsoft Outlook Mobile for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Amazon today said Apple Music subscribers will soon be able to enjoy their playlists through Alexa-powered devices. Apple Music customers can request that Alexa play songs, artists, albums, and Apple playlists, as well as stream Apple Music radio stations. For example, people can say "Alexa, play Beats 1" to hear Apple's global radio stream. In order to pair Apple Music with Amazon Alexa, customers will need to enable the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app. "Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa — since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before," said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices in a blog post. "We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and we're thrilled to bring Apple Music — one of the most popular music services in the U.S. — to Echo customers this holiday." Amazon says Alexa owners stream tens of millions of hours of radio each month, and have set tens of millions of music alarms in the last year. Apple Music comes to Amazon Alexa and Echo on December 17. Before this announcement, Apple Music was only available to Apple's own HomePod speaker.
Google today renamed its MVNO, Project Fi, to Google Fi. Along with the name change comes dramatically expanded compatibility with phones. Moving forward, the service will work with most Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone. The process of activating Fi on Android devices will be straightforward. Google says compatibility with iPhones is in beta and will require people to jump through a few more hoops, including the use of an iOS app. Basic service will be available to the majority of devices. Fi operates on T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and WiFi, dynamically jumping to the strongest connection. Subscribers will need specific phones, listed on the Fi web site, to get this benefit, as proper LTE support is required. Google recently added VPN protection to Fi. The base service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice and text. Google charges $10 per gigabyte of data. People interested in the service will need to order SIM cards from the Google Fi web site. The service does not require contracts.
Apple will give you more money for your old iPhone if you trade it in for a new one. Specifically, Apple has upped the trade-in value of the iPhone 6/Plus, 6s/Plus, 7/Plus, and 8. For example, the iPhone 6 had a trade-in value of $75, but now has a value of $150. The iPhone 7 had a trade-in value of $175 and now has a value of $250. The trade has to be made through Apple when upgrading to an iPhone Xr ($749) or iPhone Xs ($999). The value will be applied as a refund toward the new phone or an Apple Store Gift Card. Phones ineligible for credit can be recycled. Apple said the improved trade-in values will be honored for a limited time.
Apple has made the SIM-free variant of the iPhone Xr available from its web site. The phone ships unlocked and without service from any wireless carrier. People who buy the phone will need to use an existing SIM card or purchase one separately. The SIM-free iPhone Xr is compatible with most U.S. networks. Pricing starts at $749, which is the same as the carrier versions.
Spotify today revealed a new way for people to manage their music. The company developed an app specifically for watchOS and the Apple Watch. Once installed, people will be able to play, pause, or skip to the next track; instantly set tempo-matching songs for runs; connect to home speakers; as well as access and manage playlists. The wrist-born controls also make it possible to favorite tracks and rewind podcasts on the go without reaching for your iPhone. The controls are built into the Spotify watch face. Spotify says its new app for the Apple Watch will be rolling out to users in phases over the coming weeks. Apple Watch owners will also need to update Spotify on their iPhone. The app is free. Spotify charges for some subscriptions.
Amazon has agreed to sell more products from Apple, including the company's iPhone, iPad, Beats headphones, and wearables. The deal arrives just ahead of the holiday shopping season and means Amazon customers will have access to the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, Xr, iPad Pro, and Apple Watch 4, among other products. Amazon already sells a few Apple devices, including some Beats models and MacBook laptops. Amazon will not sell the Apple HomePod, which competes directly with Amazon's own Alexa-powered home speakers. The distribution deal applies to Amazon's footprint in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India. Products should reach Amazon's warehouses in those markets over the next few weeks. Moving forward, only authorized Apple resellers will be allowed to sell Apple and Beats products via the Amazon marketplace. The move means pricing of Apple products on Amazon should normalize. Moreover, it makes Apple's products more available to consumers.
Apple today provided an update to Clips, its app for creating and sharing videos on the iPhone and iPad. First, the new version of Clips adds a half dozen Selfie Scenes, which are Apple's 360-degree background environments that let people put themselves into a 3D scene. The new Scenes rely on the TrueDepth camera on the newer iPhones and iPad Pros so people can record themselves against animated backdrops, such as from "Incredibles 2." Clips gains three new filters, too, including black and white comic book, monochrome watercolor, and aged film. There are new posters for creating title cards with fun scenes. Fresh stickers and text labels let people dress up their Clips, and 17 new soundtracks mean users can add background music to their Selfie Scenes. Clips 2.0.5 is free to download from the iTunes App Store. It is compatible with devices from the iPhone 5s and up, and the iPad Air, and up. Selfie Scenes requires a device with a TrueDepth camera.
Apple is not in settlement talks with Qualcomm "at any level" and is preparing to go to trial against the chipmaker over patent fees. Apple sued Qualcomm in 2017 over what it described as illegal patent licensing practices. Apple has since ceased using Qualcomm-made modems in its mobile devices and instead relies on Intel for those components. "There is absolutely no meaningful discussion taking place between us and Qualcomm, and there is no settlement in sight," said an unnamed source to Reuters. "We are gearing up for trial." The case, which is separate from the one between the Federal Trade Commission and Qualcomm, is scheduled to go to trial early next year. Qualcomm’s chief executive, Steve Mollenkopf, told investors in July that the two companies "continue to talk." It's not clear if those talks have since broken down. Neither Apple nor Qualcomm commented on the matter. Apple hasn't paid Qualcomm royalty fees since filing the lawsuit. Reuters says another, unnamed phone maker is also disputing royalty fees with Qualcomm. The company, believed to be China's Huawei, has made a "good faith partial payment" of $500 million and the talks are ongoing.
Apple today released watchOS 5.1.1, an update to watchOS 5.1 correcting a problem that bricked some Apple Watches. Apple pulled the update last week to sweep up the bug. Apple didn't indicate how many devices were impacted, but not all users experienced the problem. WatchOS 5.1 adds new emoji, Group FaceTime audio, and new watch faces.
7-Eleven is testing a new way for customers to pay for items as they shop at 7-Eleven retail locations. The Scan & Pay feature is being added to the 7-Eleven mobile app. Customers will need to install the app and sign up for the 7Rewards loyalty program in order to gain access to the feature. When customers are near a store that supports Scan & Pay, the "start scanning" option will appear within the app. Customers can then scan their items through the app as they go, adding items to their virtual basket. The app supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, or credit/debit cards for completing the transaction. Once customers have paid, the app generates a QR code that shoppers scan at the confirmation station before they can leave with their items. 7-Eleven is piloting this feature at just 14 stores in the Dallas area. It expects to expand availability of Scan & Pay over time.
Apple recently added the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to its roster of refurbished phones. The iPhone 8 starts at $499 and the iPhone 8 Plus starts at $599 (a savings of $100 each compared to new). Apple's refurbished phones are given a new battery, a new outer shell, and are certified by the company. They ship with a standard warranty, are eligible for AppleCare, and include all the in-box accessories that come with brand new iPhones. Apple's refurbished iPhones are only available online. Supply is subject to change.
People who purchased an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X may see their phone's performance slow down thanks to new software. Apple distributed iOS 12.1 earlier this week and with it new tools for managing battery life and performance. People who own these phones can use the system settings to choose top optimize speed or battery life. In December 2017, Apple admitted to slowing down older iPhones in order to prevent them from shutting down. The issue pertained to how lithium ion batteries lose capacity over time. Apple placed a priority on keeping the phone up and running over raw speed. Apple later introduced software allowing customers to choose between the two. This same software is now on the 2017 batch of iPhones from Apple. "Starting with iOS 12.1, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X include this feature, but performance management may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design," said Apple on its support page. Apple had initially implied that its 2017 iPhones wouldn't need this software.
Apple today released the first public beta of iOS 12.1.1. iPhone and iPad owners who have registered for the public beta should be able to download the beta right away. This release is mostly expected to fix bugs, but it does include some feature adjustments. For example, Apple News users can now hide the side bar if they wish. The platform tweaks FaceTime controls a bit, as well. The bar at the bottom now offers buttons for switching cameras and muting calls, with other actions a short swipe away. Apple provided this beta to developers earlier in the week. It's likely iOS 12.1.1 will remain in beta testing for a month before a final version is released.
Apple this week distributed iOS 12.1 and with it turned on the dual-SIM capability of the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Each of these newer iPhones includes a slot for physical SIM cards as well as an embedded eSIM. The eSIM can be used to change carriers at will. Despite the feature's availability from Apple, U.S. carriers aren't supporting it just yet. A check of Apple's web site shows that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will add the capability "later this year." AT&T says it is still working with Apple to add the feature, T-Mobile says it is still finalizing the software, and Verizon has confirmed that the eSIM causes coverage issues. Sprint has publicly said it will support the dual-SIM and eSIM functionality of the newer iPhones, but the company has not said when that might be. This all means U.S. consumers hoping to take advantage of the new iPhones' dual-SIM capabilities will have to wait a bit longer.
Apple has pulled the watchOS 5.1 update after reports of bricked devices surfaced. The system upgrade for Apple's smartwatch was initially released alongside iOS 12.1 on Tuesday. Shortly thereafter, users began to report that their watches were stuck on the loading screen. Apple later pulled the update. "Due to a small number of Apple Watch customers experiencing an issue while installing watchOS 5.1 today, we've pulled back the software update as a precaution," said Apple in a statement. "Any customers impacted should contact AppleCare, but no action is required if the update installed successfully. We are working on a fix for an upcoming software update." Apple didn't indicate how many devices were impacted, nor how long it will be before the revised update is available. WatchOS 5.1 adds new emoji, Group FaceTime audio, and new watch faces.
Apple today pushed out a significant update to the Shortcuts app, which lets iOS device owners make more connections between Siri and actions. For example, new shortcuts let people ask for the current weather or the weather forecast, easily set alarms and timers, convert between a variety of units and measurements, as well as view the most recent batch of imported photos. Apple says running shortcuts from HomePod via Siri will now automatically play back from the HomePod using AirPlay, rather than nearby iOS devices. Shortcuts 2.1 also includes bug fixes. The app is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Verizon Wireless will not support Apple's dual-SIM technology at first due to a software bug that degrades service. The new Apple iPhones (Xs, Xs Max, Xr) support dual-SIM functionality thanks to one physical SIM and one eSIM. The way dual-SIM phones typically work is to designate a primary SIM for voice, text, and data, with a secondary SIM handling voice and messaging through a second subscription. Many dual-SIM phones allow you to switch which SIM is designated as the primary/secondary at will. With the new iPhones, a third option exists that uses the primary SIM for iMessage and FaceTime, and the secondary for data. According to PCMag, when a Verizon physical SIM is designated as the secondary account, it drops to 2G CDMA data, which is slow, not widely available, and doesn't support MMS. Verizon confirmed the issue to PCMag and said it is working on a fix. "Wireless customers will be able to activate Verizon service eSIMs as soon as we're confident you'll be able to have the great, high-quality service you expect from us on both your primary and secondary line. If you are a Verizon customer and you activate another carrier's service on your iPhone's eSIM, your Verizon service will be degraded due to the current software configuration. We believe these concerns will be resolved quickly and you should be able to add our great Verizon service on your secondary line before the end of the year." Verizon said that until the secondary SIM supports all its LTE-based services, it won't activate service on any eSIM for now. Apple is activating the dual-SIM feature on its new iPhones today via iOS 12.1.