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Apple Completes Maps Revamp in US
Apple today announced that it has completed the US roll-out of revamped, more-detailed map data for its Maps app. Apple claims the new map data offers "faster and more accurate navigation and comprehensive views of roads, buildings, parks, airports, malls and more". Apple also today added real-time transit information for Miami. The new map data will begin rolling out across Europe in the coming months.
Apple's "Attention Correction" Lets You See Eye-to-Eye in FaceTime
The latest beta version of iOS 13 includes a new feature in FaceTime called Attention Correction, which subtly alters the image of your face in real time to make it look like you're looking into the camera even when you're looking down at the screen to see the other person. It only seems to work on the very newest generation of iPhone models, (Xs, Xs Max, and Xr, but not the original iPhone X,) indicating that the feature may require the A12, Apple's newest processor chip.
Apple Releases iOS 13 Public Beta
Apple has made a public beta available of iOS 13, the next major version of the software that powers iPhones. Major new features include swipe gesture typing, a new version of CarPlay, Dark Mode, richer Maps content, a new Shortcuts app, audio sharing, and smarter AR. Also, apps load faster and Siri has a more natural-sounding voice that's easier to understand. The beta software is available today for users who opt in to Apple's beta testing program. The final version is expected this fall.
Sprint Offers Risk-Free 30-Day Trial Period
Sprint today launched a satisfaction guarantee to let potential customers try Sprint's latest LTE coverage risk-free for 30 days. If customers aren't happy, they can cancel and have all phone costs, service charges, and fees fully refunded. The offer also applies to existing customers adding a new line. Sprint is also offering up to $650 to cover switching costs (such as paying off a phone payment plan with another carrier). Also, for a limited time, Sprint is offering a $250 prepaid MasterCard when buying a new iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max from Sprint and porting a phone number from a competitor. Like most carriers, Sprint has spent billions in recent years to improve coverage and data performance. Sprint claims this has resulted in a 36.4% increase in national average download speeds year over year, and 30% more total LTE data coverage nationwide thanks to roaming agreements.
Iconcase Adds Notification Lights to Your iPhone
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 Distributes iOS 12.1.2 to Squash Bugs
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.
ITC to Weigh Apple/Qualcomm Import Ban Ruling
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.
T-Mobile iPhone eSIM Support On Track for Launch By Year's End
T-Mobile hopes to offer support for the newer iPhones' eSIM by the end of the year, according to a report from PCMag. The carrier is distributing training materials concerning its eSIM app to staff this week. T-Mobile will allow iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr owners to sign up for prepaid T-Mobile service on the eSIM using this new app. 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. AT&T began allowing the eSIM today, and Verizon is expected to support the eSIM tomorrow. The eSIM is already supported by GigSky and Truphone. Sprint is not likely to support the eSIM until 2019.
AT&T and Verizon Turning On Support for iPhone eSIM
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 Makes iOS 12.1.1 Available with Broader eSIM Support
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.
Apple to Give More for Old iPhones On Trade-In Deal
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.
Spotify Introduces App for Apple Watch
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 Will Sell New Apple iPhones, iPads, and More
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 Updates Clips Video-Creation App with Selfie Scenes
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.
Dual-SIM Tech On iPhones Messes with Verizon Coverage
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.
iOS 12.1, with Group FaceTime and New Emoji, Lands Tuesday
Apple today said it will release iOS 12.1 to the iPhone and iPad on Tuesday, October 30. The updated platform contains a number of new features. For example, all devices will be able to conduct Group FaceTime calls with between 2 and 32 participants. Group FaceTime chats are able to intelligently and automatically prioritize the active speaker in group sessions. Group chats are also integrated with iMessage, feature a silent ringer, and are encrypted end-to-end for privacy. The system software also introduces 70 new emoji that are more representative of peoples' individual appearances. The iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr gain real-time depth control when shooting portrait photos. Last, these same phones gain access to the built-in dual SIM functionality, allowing owners to add service from a second carrier if they wish. iOS 12.1 will be free to download and install starting midday.
iOS 12.1 to Tweak Selfies Taken with iPhone XS, XS Max, XR
Apple plans to adjust its software to appease owners of its newest iPhones. Some users complain that pictures captured with the user-facing camera produce images with skin that is overly smooth. The result is lost detail and an unnatural look. Apple explained to the Verge that the Smart HDR tool on the new iPhones is selecting the wrong frame when processing HDR selfies. Smart HDR works by taking a number of exposures and then merging elements of them together into a single frame. The software is sometimes choosing a frame with a longer exposure time as the base image, which results is a small amount of blur and smoothness in the end result. Moving forward, Apple will update the software to base its Smart HDR photos on frames taken with a shorter shutter speed, which generally produces cleaner, sharper results with more detail. The end product should be selfies that look less doctored. Apple will include this update in iOS 12.1, which it is expected to release to the public soon.
Apple Lays Out the Cost of Repairing the iPhone XR
The iPhone XR goes on sale Friday, October 26, and Apple has revealed what it will cost to repair the device should it break. If the screen is broken accidentally due to mishandling, or if the screen breaks on its own, and the device isn't covered by AppleCare+, Apple will charge $199 to repair it. Other breakages for the iPhone XR, such as a cracked rear panel, will cost a weightier $399 to repair. These same repairs cost $279/$549 for the iPhone XS an $329/$599 for the iPhone XS Max. iPhone owners who opt for AppleCare+ will see far lower repair costs. Apple charges AppleCare+ subscribers a straight $29 deductible for screen repairs and a $99 deductible for all other repairs across its entire iPhone range. The standard price for AppleCare+ is $199, which can be broken down into monthly payments if needed.
Apple Releases iOS 12.0.1 to Clean Up Bugs
Apple today made iOS 12.0.1 available to iPhones and iPads. This is the first public update since Apple released iOS 12 last month. The goal of today's update is to resolve performance issues and stamp out bugs that were part of the initial public release. For example, iOS 12.0.1 tackles a problem that prevented some iPhone Xs devices from charging properly via the Lightning port. It resolves a problem that caused iPhone Xs devices to join 2.4 GHz WiFi networks instead of 5 GHz networks. It fixes an issue that made Bluetooth unavailable, and a problem that prevented subtitles from appearing in some apps. It also restores the original position of the ".?123" key on the iPad keyboard, which had been switched with the emoji key. iOS 12.0.1 is free to download from Apple.
YouTube Adds HDR Support to iPhone Xs and Xs Max
The latest build of YouTube for iOS devices adds HDR support to the newest iPhones from Apple. YouTube version 13.37 allows iPhone Xs and Xs Max owners to flip on HDR and then view HDR content at resolutions up to 1080p at 60fps. The OLED screens on the new iPhones have 1,000,000:1 contrast ratios, allowing them to offer deeper blacks and finer gradations of color. This makes them well-suited to HDR content, which delivers a more vivid experience. Apple's iPhones do not yet support 4K playback. YouTube for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple Gear Spared from Trump's Tariffs for Now
The Apple iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods are not among the list of products that will be subject to a new 10% tariff directed against imports from China. The tariff, levied by President Donald Trump, covers some $200 billion of goods shipped into the U.S. Apple had feared its products would be among those hit with the tariff, but it has been spared. FitBit said its products were spared from this round of tariffs, as well, but some Cisco, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard components necessary for cloud computing equipment do fall on the list of taxed products. The 10% tariff goes into effect September 24, and rises to 25% on January 1, 2019. Trump has threatened to expand the tariffs to an additional $267 billion worth of goods. In that case, Apple's products would no longer be exempt from the added fees, nor would the phones from Samsung, LG, and most other manufacturers. Tariffs are generally viewed as a tax on consumers, as they often result in higher prices on goods.
Apple Adjusts AppleCare+ for New iPhones, Adds Theft Protection
Apple today refreshed its AppleCare+ offerings for its line of iPhones. The company is now allowing iPhone owners to make claims for the theft or loss of their iPhone. Previously, claims were limited to accidental damage. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss includes up to two incidents of accidental damage, theft, or loss, with certain deductibles. In order to qualify for Theft and Loss coverage, Find My iPhone must be enabled on the device in question when it is stolen or lost. AppleCare+ also includes Express Replacement Service and 24/7 access to Apple experts. When resolving claims, screen repairs will require a deductible of $29, while any other damage will require a deductible of $99. The deductibles for theft/loss are much higher. Apple will charge a deductible of $199 to replace a lost/stolen iPhone 6, 6s, 7, and 8; $229 to replace the iPhone 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and Xr; and $269 to replace the iPhone X, Xs, and Xs Max. The standard price for AppleCare+ is $199. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss costs $299. These fees can be broken down into monthly payments.
iPhone Xs and Xs Max Update Key Specs of Apple's Flagship
Apple today announced the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. These devices are upgrades to last year's iPhone X and feature the same design. The new iPhones have an all-screen look with a notch at the top of the display. The front and back surfaces are made of glass and a stainless steel frame is in between. The Xs maintains the same 5.8-inch size as last year's phone, while the Xs Max pushes the screen size to 6.5 inches. Apple says it uses new glass that is the most durable ever on a mobile device. The OLED displays support Dolby Vision and HDR10, with a 60% greater dynamic range. The screens have True Tone for accurate whites, as well as 3D touch and 120Hz touch response. The iPhone Xs and Xs Max will be sold in gold, silver, and space gray. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water, dust, and other liquids. Apple has improved the stereo speakers, giving them a wider sound stage. The 10x features an improved Face ID with better sensors and faster performance thanks to quicker algorithms. In order to power the new iPhones, Apple designed the A12 bionic, with a 7nm process, 6-core CPU (2 high-performance, 4 efficiency cores), 4-core GPU (50% faster), and an 8-core neural engine with dedicated machine learning. Apple says the device can process far more real-time information for the camera, Animoji, selfie scenes, and more. The A12 Bionic helps Apple bring new tools to the iPhone's camera. The Xs has a two-camera system, each with a 12-megapixel sensor. The main lens features a wide-angle field of view at f/1.8 while the secondary lens features a telephoto view at f/2.2. The cameras have optical image stabilization. The A12 Bionic can perform 1 trillion calculations on the photos to improve them. The selfie camera has a 7-megapixel sensor and uses the IR sensor to deliver depth information for portraits. The new Smart HDR feature relies on the A12's neural engine to enhance color and improve exposure. The improved portrait shooting allows people to adjust the background blur with a new depth-of-field slider in the editing tool. The iPhone can now record stereo sound with video. Apple says the battery should deliver 30 more minutes of uptime when compared to the iPhone X, and the Xs Max delivers 90 more minutes. The new iPhones introduce gigabit LTE, dual SIM card support (with dual SIM, dual standby provided by eSIM), wide support for worldwide LTE bands. Apple says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will support this dual SIM technology, which includes one physical SIM and one eSIM, this year. The iPhone Xs will start at $999 and the Xs Max will start at $1099. Both will be available in 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB options. Preorders for the new iPhones start September 14, with in-store availability on September 21.