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Updated: 21 min 31 sec ago

T-Mobile and Sprint Aiming to Close Merger as Early as April 1

26 min 45 sec ago
T-Mobile and Sprint are aiming to finish their merger by April 1 now that all legal issues have been resolved and regulatory approval has been granted, the two companies announced today.


In a press release, Sprint and T-Mobile announced an amended business combination agreement that has been approved by the Boards of Directors of T-Mobile and Sprint. Under the terms of the amendment, T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom will get a slightly higher ownership stake in the new company.A separate arrangement entered into by SoftBank Group Corp. in connection with the amendment will result in an effective exchange ratio of approximately 11.00 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share immediately following the closing of the merger, an increase from the originally agreed 9.75 shares. This is a result of SoftBank agreeing to surrender approximately 48.8 million T-Mobile shares acquired in the merger to New T-Mobile immediately following the closing of the transaction, making SoftBank's effective ratio 11.31 Sprint shares per T-Mobile share. Sprint shareholders other than SoftBank will continue to receive the original fixed exchange ratio of 0.10256 T-Mobile shares for each Sprint share, or the equivalent of approximately 9.75 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share.

Immediately following the closing, and after the surrender of shares by SoftBank, Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank are expected to hold approximately 43% and 24%, respectively, of the fully diluted New T-Mobile shares, with the remaining approximately 33% held by public shareholders.Mike Sievert, T-Mobile COO and President (who will be CEO of the new company as of May), said that with the new agreement in place, the focus is on closing the transaction and creating the new T-Mobile company "as early as April 1, 2020.""We are on the verge of being able to do what we've set out to do from day one - reshape a broken wireless industry and create the new standard for consumers when it comes to value, speed, quality and service. The New T-Mobile is literally going to change wireless for good and now we're almost ready to get to the fun part: bringing our teams together, building this supercharged Un-carrier and becoming the envy of the wireless industry and beyond!"The merger between Sprint and T-Mobile was able to proceed after a judge in early February ruled that the deal could go on despite an antitrust lawsuit filed by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The states argued that combining T-Mobile and Sprint was not in the public's interest as it would reduce competition and lead to higher smartphone bills, but T-Mobile's pro-consumer efforts that spurred changes in the smartphone industry weighed in the merger's favor.

The combined company will be known as "New T-Mobile" and it will be the third largest carrier in the United States after Verizon and AT&T.

T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to building a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population in three years and 99 percent within six years. T-Mobile has promised not to raise prices for three years following the merger's completion, and plans to offer the same or better rate plans even when 5G connectivity is available.

To gain regulatory approval from the FCC, T-Mobile and Sprint were required to sell some of their assets to Dish, as the FCC wants to see Dish become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States.

Tags: Sprint, T-Mobile
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Upcoming 13-Inch MacBook Pro Models to Use Intel's 10th-Generation Ice Lake Chips

2 hours 49 min ago
Apple is rumored to be working on a refreshed version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro following the launch of the new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ in October, and the new 13-inch machines could adopt Intel's 10th-generation Ice Lake chips.


Over the weekend, a Twitter leaker shared a 3D Mark Time Spy benchmark of a machine said to be an upcoming 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ equipped with Intel's 10th-generation i7-1068NG7 Ice Lake 2.3GHz chip with 4.1GHz turbo boost capabilities (via Wccftech).

2020 13" Macbook Pro
> i7-1068NG7 2.3GHz base 4.1GHz boost 28W
> 32GB of RAM
> 2TB SSD pic.twitter.com/o4k6ymc6oJ

— _rogame (@_rogame) February 15, 2020
The benchmarks compare the new 10th-generation chip to the 8th-generation 2.4GHz Core i5 chip in the high-end 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ from 2019 and suggest the new 13-inch machine Pro will be approximately 12 percent faster than the current 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ when it comes to CPU speeds, and close to 30 percent faster when it comes to GPU performance.

Time Spy

i5-8279U 4C/8T 2.4GHz base 4.1GHz boost + Iris Plus 655 with 128MB eDRAM 28W (2019 13" ‌MacBook Pro‌)
vs
i7-1068NG7 4C/8T 2.3GHz base 4.1GHz boost 28W (2020 13" ‌MacBook Pro‌) pic.twitter.com/Ogr4sfGGNa

— _rogame (@_rogame) February 15, 2020
If Apple does release a 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ with the aforementioned Ice Lake chip, it will be the first Apple notebook equipped with a 10th-generation chip. Though not included in the leak, a 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ refresh in 2020 could also feature 10th-generation chips, though 16-inch machines are expected to use Comet Lake chips built on the 14++nm architecture as there are no 10-nanometer Ice Lake chips appropriate for them.

Rumors suggest Apple will release an updated 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ in the first half of 2020, perhaps at its March event, though WWDC is also a possibility. Along with 10th-generation Intel chips, the new machines are expected to feature the improved scissor keyboard that was first introduced in the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, along with the option to upgrade to 32GB RAM.

Related Roundup: MacBook ProBuyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)
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Apple Seeds Second Public Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.4 With New Mail Toolbar, iCloud Folder Sharing and More

5 hours 48 min ago
Apple today seeded the second public betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.4 updates to its public beta testing group, two weeks after seeding the first public betas and a day after releasing the second updates for developers.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will be able to download the iOS/‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 beta update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on an iOS device.


iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 bring useful and notable new features and changes. There's an updated Mail toolbar that separates the reply button from the delete button to make it harder to accidentally delete emails, there's a new "Shazam It" shortcut in the Shortcuts app for identifying songs, and some tweaks have been made to CarPlay controls for calls and third-party navigation apps.


The update includes support for iCloud Folder Sharing, a long-awaited iOS 13 feature. ‌iCloud‌ Folder Sharing allows iCloud Drive files to be shared with other people, making the folders accessible to multiple users.

There are a total of nine new Memoji/Animoji stickers that can be used wherever emoji can be used, there are new Settings options for the TV app, and Apple has made minor changes to Location Services to appease app developers who want to encourage customers to turn on the "Always" option for Location Services for apps that need it.


Apple has added support for universal app purchases, which means developers can sell a single app across iOS, tvOS, and macOS. For apps that enable this feature, customers will be able to make one purchase and then download an app across all applicable platforms.

There are hints of a new "CarKey" API, which is designed to allow the iPhone or the Apple Watch to be used in lieu of a traditional car key in vehicles that support NFC, complete with options for sharing digital car keys with friends and family.

For the iPad, Apple has introduced new keyboard shortcuts for the Photos app for navigating between tabs, search, creating albums, deleting photos, and entering Edit mode, plus there's a new feature for hardware key remapping in ‌iPadOS‌.

For a rundown of everything that's new in iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4, make sure to check out our complete feature list.

Apple has also released a new public beta of tvOS 13.4, which is identical to the tvOS 13.4 beta provided to developers yesterday.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
This article, "Apple Seeds Second Public Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.4 With New Mail Toolbar, iCloud Folder Sharing and More" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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DigiTimes Continues to Suggest New Version of AirPods Pro Are Forthcoming

8 hours 13 min ago
Taiwanese publication DigiTimes provides its paying subscribers with a daily preview of stories that it plans to publish, and in today's edition, it continues to suggest that Apple is planning a new version of AirPods Pro.

The story preview reads as follows:USI likely to enter supply chain of AirPods Pro, sources say
Taiwan-based Universal Scientific Industrial (USI), a unit of ASE Technology, is likely to obtain system-in-package (SiP) orders for the upcoming AirPods Pro, according to industry sources.Presumably, these "upcoming" AirPods Pro are the same model as the "AirPods Pro Lite" that the publication referred to earlier this month.


The earlier report claimed that "AirPods Pro Lite" will be an "entry-level version" of the AirPods Pro, but no features or specifications have been shared. The report added that production is unlikely to begin until at least the end of the second quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in China.

All in all, details are slim right now. "AirPods Pro Lite" is somewhat of an oxymoron, as "Pro Lite" just sounds like regular AirPods, but it has been speculated that perhaps Apple will release a less expensive version of the AirPods Pro with the same design and sound quality but without noise cancellation.

Of course, it is worth noting that DigiTimes has a rather infamous reputation. While the industry publication has connections within Apple's supply chain, it has a mixed track record in relation to the company's exact plans and timing. For this reason, it is possible that the "AirPods Pro Lite" will simply be a third generation of regular AirPods or that the report is entirely inaccurate.

We'll update this post if there are any additional details shared in the full report, which should be published by tomorrow.

Related Roundups: AirPods 2, AirPods ProBuyer's Guide: AirPods (Neutral), AirPods Pro (Buy Now)
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Spotify May Be Allowed to Stream Directly on HomePod and Set as Default Music App in iOS 14

10 hours 38 min ago
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman today reported that Apple is working to allow third-party music services like Spotify and Pandora to be streamed directly on the HomePod with Siri in a future software update, as is possible with Apple Music. Spotify currently can only be streamed on the HomePod via AirPlay.


The report adds that Apple is also considering allowing third-party music services to be set as default in iOS 14, which would let users ask Siri to stream music from the likes of Spotify without specifying "with Spotify" at the end of the command. Siri currently defaults to Apple Music for these requests.

In early 2019, Spotify announced that it had filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission over unfair ‌App Store‌ practices. At the time, Spotify took issue with Siri's lack of Spotify support on both iOS devices — which has since changed to a limited extent — and the HomePod.

An excerpt from its "Time to Play Fair" website — the wording has since been tweaked:Apple ignores users' preferred choice of music service and instead steers them to use Apple Music exclusively. So can you ask Siri to play your favorite playlist from Spotify? No, not even if you actively want Spotify to be your default streaming service. Or can you listen to Spotify through your Apple HomePod? Sorry, no luck with that either. And by the way, Spotify is available on pretty much every other speaker device out there.Apple has faced increasing scrutiny as of late over the way it runs its ‌App Store‌, beyond Spotify's complaint. Allowing third-party apps to be set as default would certainly help alleviate some of those concerns.

More Coverage: Bloomberg: Apple May Let iOS Users Set Third-Party Web Browser and Mail Apps as Defaults Over Stock Apps

Related Roundup: HomePodTags: Spotify, bloomberg.comBuyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)
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Bloomberg: Apple May Let iOS Users Set Third-Party Web Browser and Mail Apps as Defaults Over Stock Apps

11 hours 44 min ago
Apple is considering whether to let iPhone and iPad users set third-party mail and browser apps as defaults instead of the mobile operating system's preference for its own Safari and Mail stock apps. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman:

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. The potential move comes after criticism that the tech giant gives its in-house apps an unfair advantage and undue prominence on the App Store. As it stands, Apple doesn't allow users to replace pre-installed apps like Safari and Mail with third-party services, opening it up to scrutiny from lawmakers investigating possible antitrust violations.

The report also claims that Apple is considering opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services like Spotify.
The Cupertino, California-based company also is considering loosening restrictions on third-party music apps, including its top streaming rival Spotify Technology SA, on HomePods, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal company deliberations.Currently, Spotify and other third-party music services can be streamed from ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ to ‌HomePod‌ using Apple's AirPlay technology, but it's an ungainly alternative solution than just allowing users to stream third-party music services from the speaker directly.

As Gurman notes, opening the ‌HomePod‌ to additional music services could benefit the product's sales. The speaker has lagged behind rivals like the Amazon Echo in functionality since being introduced in 2018 and owns less than 5 percent of the smart-speaker market, according to an estimate last week from Strategy Analytics.

Whether the discussions include opening the ‌HomePod‌'s integrated Bluetooth technology to Bluetooth streaming devices is unknown. Currently, Bluetooth is used during the ‌HomePod‌'s setup process, but is otherwise rendered dormant in the speaker, which means only Apple devices can stream audio to ‌HomePod‌ using the ‌AirPlay‌ protocol.

Related Roundup: HomePodTag: bloomberg.comBuyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)
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Testing Samsung's New $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip Foldable Smartphone

Wed, 2020-02-19 18:24
Samsung last week unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip, which began shipping out over the weekend. We managed to get our hands on one of the new foldable smartphones, and thought we'd check it out to see how it compares to the Galaxy Fold and how foldable smartphone technology is progressing.

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The Galaxy Z Flip is the followup to Samsung's original Galaxy Fold, which did not receive stellar reviews because it felt more like a prototype than an actual smartphone worth purchasing. The Galaxy Fold was a smartphone that unfolded into a tablet, but the Galaxy Z Flip is a smartphone that folds down to become more compact.


Like the flip phones of yore, the Galaxy Z Flip folds in half top over bottom, compressing down into a little pocketable square. It's thick, like two smartphones stacked on top of each other, in fact, but some people are going to prefer that as it is still more easily pocketable than a large-screened smartphone that does not fold.

When opened up, the Galaxy Z Flip features a 6.7-inch display, which is made from a flexible glass for the first time, a departure from the plastic of the Galaxy Fold. Over the glass, there's still a laminate layer, which scratches easily and has been the source of some complaints.


We haven't seen scratches, even after accidentally dropping the Z Flip four feet onto the floor, but it does feel a little bit delicate. When unlocking the display with a finger, the nail kind of presses down a bit, and if it was longer or sharper, we wouldn't be surprised to see minor screen damage.

One Galaxy Z Flip owner has also had an issue with the display cracking at the fold in the cold, but that seems to be an isolated incident. Our model wasn't taken out into the cold, but it was fine when using it day to day briefly in cold Ohio weather when going from the car to the house.

When it comes to the hinge, the Z Flip's opening and closing mechanism feels a lot smoother and we're not as worried about dust or debris getting into the hinge and mucking things up.


All in all, the Galaxy Z Flip isn't experiencing the same kind of issues that were seen with the Galaxy Fold, and in the hand, it feels more durable and has a better build quality, but make no mistake, this is still a device that needs to be treated delicately.

When it comes to the internal components, the Z Flip is lacking. It runs well, but when it comes down to it, these are components that were introduced last year. It only has a 1080p display, plus an older processor and camera technology that's inferior to the upgraded cameras used in the Galaxy S20 series.


We're going to do an in-depth camera look in a future video with the S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but the Z Flip's cameras are basically the same cameras used in last year's Galaxy S10.

One of the main new features in the Z Flip aside from the foldable design is the little mini display that's visible on the outside of the phone when it's closed. The display can show notifications (tap them and open the phone to get to the relevant app), display the time and date, offer up media controls, and provide details on battery percentage. Most notably, it serves as a mini viewfinder when taking selfies.


Display quality is fine with the 1080p display, but the crease down the middle is definitely visible at times. In usage, though, it kind of fades away much like the notch on the iPhone.

Samsung has added a "Flex Mode" to the Z Flip, which allows it to be used for certain tasks when half folded, kind of like a little tiny MacBook. Flex Mode isn't particularly fleshed out and doesn't work with many apps right now, but when functional, it uses the top as a display and the bottom for controls.


So with the camera app, you can see yourself in the viewfinder at the top of the display and then the settings and the camera modes can be accessed on the bottom of the display. Since it sits upright like a notebook, it's available for hands-free selfies and video calls.

Foldable smartphones are an interesting concept and there's definitely promise of better things to come, but the Galaxy Z Flip is just not a phone the average person should go out and buy.


It's incredibly pricy at $1,380, it needs to be handled with the utmost care, the specs are mediocre for such an expensive device, and we ultimately have no idea how it's going to hold up to a few years of usage.

Foldable smartphones are fun to play with, but most people should stick with traditional designs at the current time to get the most bang for their buck. If you're going to be shelling out $1,300 for an Android smartphone, the Galaxy S20 series, especially the S20 Ultra, is a much better buy.


‌iPhone‌ users, of course, likely aren't going to be lured away from the ‌iPhone‌ in favor of the Galaxy Z Flip simply because it runs Android, but it's useful to see what Apple's competitors are doing as devices like the Z Flip could hint at ideas that Apple might want to explore or stay away from in future devices.

What do you think of Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: Samsung, Foldable iPhone
This article, "Testing Samsung's New $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip Foldable Smartphone" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Everything New in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 Beta 2: New TV App Settings, Updated Mail Toolbar and More

Wed, 2020-02-19 15:33
Apple today released the second iOS and iPadOS 13.4 betas for developers, introducing additional changes and tweaks to the operating system that are worth noting.

In the first beta, Apple added a new Mail toolbar, iCloud File Sharing, new Memoji stickers, and announced upcoming support for universal purchases for iOS and Mac apps. In this beta there's a revamped settings section for the TV app, a tweak to the toolbar, and new info on the CarKey feature Apple has in the works.

We've rounded up all of the changes that we've found in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 beta 2 so far, and we'll be adding to this list if and when new features are discovered.

TV App
Apple has updated the settings for the TV app on iPhone and iPad, adding a number of new options for controlling data downloads and streaming.


There are options to use cellular data for streaming or downloads, with those options toggled off by default. Those with an unlimited data plan may want to tweak those settings to be able to watch content in the TV app on their iPhones when using an LTE network.

There are also options to stream "Data Saver" video or "High Quality" video over WiFi or cellular, with Data Saver limiting data usage to a maximum of 600MB per hour.

For downloads, there are options for Fast Downloads that are lower quality so they download faster, or High Quality for slower downloads that look better but also use more storage. Apple says that High Quality downloaded videos include HDR when available.

Below these new settings, the standard Siri & Search and Notifications options are available, along with toggles for Show Sports Scores, Use Play History, and Video Definition, all of which existed before.

Mail Toolbar
Apple updated the Mail toolbar in the first beta to move the delete button away from the reply button to prevent accidental email deletion, and in beta 2, Apple has tweaked the toolbar once again. The updated toolbar does away with the flag icon from the prior beta and adds a compose button on the far right, moving the reply button over one spot to the middle. The folder and delete icons have remained the same.


CarKey
Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature designed to allow an ‌iPhone‌ or an Apple Watch to unlock, start, and lock NFC-compatible vehicles.

As was found in the first beta, CarKey digital keys can be shared by others, but the second beta adds new information confirming the keys will be able to be sent to people in iMessage conversations, much like Apple Cash payments.

People who are sent a CarKey will be able to use that digital key to access the owner's CarKey-enabled vehicle.

Other Features
See a feature we missed? Let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the list.


Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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Apple's Upcoming 'CarKey' Feature Will Let You Send Digital Keys Using Messages App

Wed, 2020-02-19 15:14
As discovered in the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start NFC-compatible vehicles.


CarKey "keys" live in the Wallet app and as we found in the first beta, can be shared with other people so you can allow others temporary access to your car. In the second beta of iOS 13.4, there's updated wording concerning sharing, which makes it clear that digital car keys will be able to be sent to people using the Messages app.

CarKey keys will be able to be shared with people in individual conversations but not in group conversations. From iOS 13.4 beta 2:CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.Sharing a CarKey with someone will allow that person to use their ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ to access a compatible car by holding the device near an NFC reader located inside of the vehicle. Keys can be permanent (for a spouse) or temporary (for a valet driver or mechanic).

People who receive a digital key over the Messages app will see text letting them know how it works.[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.CarKey access, like Apple Pay and Apple Cash, is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID to make sure the person holding the ‌iPhone‌ is the person with permission to access a car, though there is an "Express Mode: that would presumably work without the need for authentication.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, which indicates that it may be a factory installed option much like CarPlay. CarKey requires a vehicle with NFC, so it is something that vehicle manufacturers will need to implement as ‌CarPlay‌ was.

Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which has developed an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification made available at the end of 2019. The new specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

The CCC is also working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth Le and Ultra Wideband, enabling passive location-aware keyless access. Apple's iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max support Ultra Wideband, so this is CarKey functionality we could see in the future.

There is no word yet on when CarKey will be announced by Apple or when it will start rolling out to new vehicles, but a launch could come with the public release of iOS 13.4.

With Apple rumored to be holding an event on March 31, the CarKey announcement could be made at the event as we expect iOS 13.4's release to coincide with the debut of new devices.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOSTags: Apple Wallet, CarKey
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Apple Tweaks Mail Toolbar Once Again in iOS 13.4 Beta 2, Replacing Flag Button With Compose Button

Wed, 2020-02-19 14:16
With the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple introduced a redesigned Mail toolbar that moves the reply icon away from the delete icon, a design that people had complained about since the release of iOS 13 because it made it easy to accidentally delete an email by tapping the wrong button.


The first beta featured the delete button on the far left, the reply button on the far right, and folder and flag buttons in the middle, but with the second beta that was released this morning, Apple has once again tweaked the design.

As seen in the image above, the new toolbar features a compose icon on the far right, a reply button next to it, a folder icon, and then the delete icon, still on the far left.

The updated design eliminates the dedicated flag icon, which is presumably not a feature that most people use on a regular basis. The inclusion of a compose button makes more sense and offers more utility than the prior flag icon. For those who do often use the flag icon, it can be accessed after tapping the reply button.

We may see more tweaks to the Mail toolbar in upcoming betas, but this at least seems like a much more logical design that should satisfy people who have been unhappy with the ‌iOS 13‌ Mail app toolbar.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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Video Depicts Alleged 'iPhone 9' But Design Doesn't Match Up With Rumors

Wed, 2020-02-19 13:44
A video featuring an alleged "iPhone 9" aka "iPhone SE 2" or low-cost iPhone surfaced on TikTok today, sparking discussion that this is the design of the affordable $399 device that Apple will release in the next couple of months.


The ‌iPhone‌ in the image features thick top and bottom bezels, a Touch ID Home button, and a seafoam green color, but notably, it also has an ‌iPhone‌ 4-style design, which is not at all in line with current rumors.

Alleged ‌iPhone 9‌.$AAPL pic.twitter.com/xJmsVjFBEB

— Stefan Constantine (@WhatTheBit) February 19, 2020
Everything we've heard about the low-cost ‌iPhone‌ suggests it's going to be physically identical to the iPhone 8 but with an upgraded A13 processor, which makes sense given its price tag.

Rumors suggest Apple is going to price the device at $399, and at that price point, it's unlikely Apple is putting development resources into an entirely new device design like the one that's depicted here.

The ‌iPhone‌ in the image is likely a modified ‌iPhone 8‌ or similar that has a custom casing installed. There are custom casings like this available for those who want to change the design of their older iPhones, and that's what we're probably seeing.

As mentioned before, we're expecting the new low-cost ‌iPhone‌ to look identical to the ‌iPhone 8‌, but with upgraded internals. It will be similar to the ‌iPhone‌ SE, which adopted Apple's ‌iPhone‌ 5 design with more modern components.

Rumors suggest that the new low-cost ‌iPhone‌ is going to launch in the first half of 2020, with Apple said to be planning an event for March 31. If there is indeed a March 31 event where the new ‌iPhone‌ is shown off, we can expect a launch to follow on April 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE 2
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Apple Seeds Second Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.4 to Developers

Wed, 2020-02-19 13:01
Apple today seeded the second betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.4 updates to developers, two weeks after the release of the first betas and two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1.


iOS and ‌‌‌iPadOS‌‌‌ 13.4 can be downloaded from the Apple Developer center or over the air once the proper developer profile has been installed. On the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, Apple requires the beta to be installed over the air using the configuration profile.

iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 are major updates, bringing several major new features to the iPhone and the iPad. There's a new toolbar in the Mail app that's available when viewing an email, featuring a more logical design to address complaints about the Mail layout in iOS 13.

The update design moves the reply icon away from the delete icon, making it much harder to accidentally delete an email, and it re-adds Folder and Flag icons.


iCloud Folder Sharing, designed to let users share folders in iCloud Drive with other people, is available as of iOS 13.4. ‌iCloud‌ Folder Sharing was first announced at WWDC last year, but it has taken Apple several months to implement it. The feature shows real-time updates so file changes will sync across the devices of all people with access to a specific folder.


There are nine new Memoji and Animoji stickers included in the update, featuring emoji-style poses like shocked face, face with hearts, eyes rolling, and more.


There are hints of a new CarKey API in iOS 13.4, which would allow the ‌iPhone‌ to be used to lock, unlock, and start a car that has NFC capabilities. This functionality hasn't been announced by Apple as of yet, but it will ‌iPhone‌ owners to use their devices in lieu of a car key. Sharing features will also be available for assigning keys to friends and family members.

Though not an iOS specific feature, Apple with iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4, tvOS 13.4, and Xcode 11.4 is allowing developers to create apps with universal purchase support, which means Apple device users will be able to purchase one app that works across multiple platforms.

There are new controls for calls and third-party navigation apps in CarPlay, along with keyboard shortcuts for the Photos app, changes to location requests for apps requesting user location, a new Shazam Shortcuts action, options for remapping hardware keys of a keyboard connected to the ‌iPad‌, and more.


For a full list of all the new features that have been found in iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 so far, make sure to check out our dedicated what's new article.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon X60, Smaller 5G Modem Suitable for 2021 iPhones

Wed, 2020-02-19 13:00
Qualcomm this week introduced the Snapdragon X60, its third-generation 5G modem for mobile devices. The company says the first 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to launch early next year.


Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to its 7nm-based predecessor, the Snapdragon X55. In the context of an iPhone, this could allow for longer battery life and more room inside the device for a larger battery or additional components.

Smartphones with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.


Multiple reports have indicated that Apple plans to use the Snapdragon X55 in its first 5G iPhone models, widely expected to be released later this year. The new X60 modem would be suitable for 2021 iPhones, but beyond that, it has been reported that Apple is developing its own modem for use in iPhones by 2022 or 2023.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12Tags: Qualcomm, 5G iPhone
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Microsoft Office App Released for iPhone, Combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Wed, 2020-02-19 10:44
Following beta testing, Microsoft today released its new Office app for iPhone, bringing together Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a single app.


The main benefit of the unified Office app is that it requires only a single download with a much smaller file size, but it does have a few unique features, including camera integration for easily converting photos of documents and tables into Word and Excel files. The app also has a new Actions pane that supports a number of common tasks like signing PDFs and scanning QR codes.

Microsoft explains some of the benefits of the new Office app in a blog post:The Office app delivers several key benefits including:

- Combining Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a way that simplifies the experience with fewer apps to download or switch between. It requires far less phone storage than installing individual apps while maintaining virtually all the capabilities of the existing mobile apps people already know and use.

- Integrating our Lens technology to unlock the power of the camera with capabilities like converting images into editable Word and Excel documents, scanning PDFs, and capturing whiteboards with automatic digital enhancements to make the content easier to read.

- Adding new functionality for common tasks people often encounter when working on a phone—things like making quick notes, signing PDFs, scanning QR codes, and transferring files between devices.The new Microsoft Office app is available on the App Store for the iPhone and on the Google Play Store for Android. Microsoft says the app will be optimized to support the iPad soon. The app is free to use, even without signing in, but an Office 365 subscription starting at $6.99 per month is required to unlock premium features.


Microsoft's standalone Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps remain available and were recently updated with a simplified three-tab layout.

(Thanks, Michaël!)

Tags: Microsoft, Microsoft Office
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Photoshop Turns 30, Updated With Dark Mode Support on Mac and Object Selection Tool on iPad

Wed, 2020-02-19 09:00
Adobe is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Photoshop today with several updates to the app across the Mac and iPad.

A key new feature on the Mac is support for Dark Mode on macOS Mojave and later. Photoshop already has a dark user interface on the Mac, but now system dialogs like the File menu will also be dark based on the systemwide appearance selected in System Preferences > General.


The desktop app has also received Content-Aware Fill improvements. Now, you can make multiple selections and apply multiple fills without leaving the workspace. You can use the new "apply" button to iterate your fills before committing, and click "OK" only when you are finished, according to Adobe.

Adobe says it has also improved the output quality and performance of Lens Blur on the desktop, and made performance improvements, claiming that clicking interactions like panning and zooming are smoother and more responsive.

On the iPad, the headline new feature is the Object Selection tool, which can automatically find the object within a selected area for you based on Adobe Sensei machine learning.


Adobe explains:The Object Selection tool is designed to give you speed, but also more control over the selection process on more complex images. For example, it is the right tool if you have images with multiple objects, or when selecting a part of an object, or if you want this part but not that part, or need to isolate more than one object in an image. With the Object Selection tool, you draw a rectangular region or even a crude lasso around the area you want to select, and the tool automatically finds and selects the primary objects inside the defined region.Photoshop for iPad is available on the App Store.

Tags: Photoshop, Adobe
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10 More Apple Stores Reopen Across China, Other Stores Outside of Beijing Remain Closed

Wed, 2020-02-19 07:00
Apple has updated its website to indicate that it will reopen 10 more stores across China, following closures due to the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan.


The stores, listed below, will reopen on February 19 for limited business hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time until further notice, as noted by iMore.

Chengdu
Dalian
Guangzhou
Quingdao
Shanghai
Apple reopened all five of its retail stores in the Beijing area on February 14, operating on similar limited hours.

Apple has yet to announce reopening dates for its other stores in mainland China, which remain listed as closed on its website due to the viral outbreak. Apple began working toward re-opening its corporate offices and contact centers in the country last week.

Reports suggest ongoing delays from the coronavirus outbreak in China will likely impact iPhone production, in particular its upcoming low-cost iPhone, and inventories of existing models could remain low until April or longer.

The coronavirus has infected more than 75,000 people, and there have been at least 1,870 deaths, primarily in China.

Tags: China, Apple retail, Wuhan coronavirus
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Latest Foldable Smartphones Experiencing Failures and Durability Issues

Tue, 2020-02-18 15:47
Foldable smartphones are the latest device trend, and companies that include Motorola and Samsung have released new foldable smartphones over the course of the last few weeks.

The first foldable smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy Fold, had major durability issues that caused its launch to be delayed. Samsung's newest foldable device, the Galaxy Z Flip, seems to be faring a bit better so far, but there are some complaints about the build quality and problems with the display. The same is true of Motorola's latest smartphone, the RAZR.

Motorola RAZR foldable smartphone, image via Ray Wong
Over the weekend, YouTuber JerryRigEverything tested the durability of the Galaxy Z Flip's display, which is made of a bendable "Ultra Thin Glass" for the first time rather than the plastic material used for the Galaxy Fold.

The testing suggests that the display of the Galaxy Z Flip scratches like plastic and isn't resistant to scratching or other damage. A fingernail on the display was able to make a permanent dent, which is concerning for a smartphone that costs $1,380.


In response to that video, Samsung told CNBC in a statement that the display should be "handled with care" and that it has the same protective layer used in the Galaxy Fold, which perhaps explains some of the scratching.

Another Samsung Galaxy Z Flip user on Twitter got his smartphone, opened the box, opened the phone, and then had it crack right down the middle. He suggests that it could have been due to cold weather.

Image via Twitter
Cracking at the fold was a problem that plagued the Galaxy Fold, and Samsung does warn against pressing hard on the screen and making sure there's nothing on the screen when it's folded closed, but a crack down the middle right out of the box is unexpected behavior.

The $1,500 Motorola RAZR, another foldable smartphone that came out in February, is also seeing durability issues. Ray Wong from Input over the weekend said that the site's Motorola RAZR has a display that's peeling apart just a week after it was purchased.

I'm too scared to even fold up the phone now because the more I close it the wider the spread gets. There's a long streak across the top of the bubble and at first glance, you might mistake it for a scratch. It's not a scratch; there's no physical damage on the surface of the lamination. It's literally the pixels splitting from the two layers.The damage is more than just cosmetic - the touchscreen is broken and the warping on the surface makes touches and taps unresponsive. Wong isn't sure what caused the damage, but as with the Galaxy Z Flip crack, he speculates that it could be related to cold temperatures.

There have been a few rumors suggesting Apple is working on foldable display technology, but given the super high price points of foldable displays and the ongoing durability issues that have impacted every foldable smartphone to date, Apple may be planning to hold off on a foldable iPhone.

Apple in early February shared a patent for a foldable device with movable flaps to prevent the display from creasing, and that's the latest that we've heard about an Apple device with foldable display technology.


Interestingly, Apple has also separately patented a self-heating display for a foldable device to prevent damage in cold weather, which seems to be a significant issue for foldable devices at the current time.

Of course, Apple patents a lot of technologies that don't ever come to fruition, so whether or not these patents and other related patents hint at Apple's work on a foldable ‌iPhone‌ remains to be seen. At the current time, there are no rumors indicating a folding ‌iPhone‌ is something that we can expect to see in the near future, and certainly not in 2020. The 2020 iPhone lineup will be similar to the 2019 ‌iPhone‌ lineup, though Apple is planning to implement new technologies like 5G connectivity and 3D cameras.

Tags: Samsung, Motorola, Foldable iPhone
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Apple Releases watchOS 6.1.3 Update With Heart Rhythm Notification Bug Fix

Tue, 2020-02-18 13:11
Apple today released watchOS 6.1.3, the fifth update to the watchOS 6 operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. watchOS 6.1.3 comes three weeks after the release of watchOS 6.1.2.

watchOS 6.1.3 can be downloaded for free through the dedicated ‌Apple Watch‌ app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update.


To install the new software, the ‌Apple Watch‌ needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it needs to be placed on a charger, and it needs to be in range of the ‌iPhone‌.

The watchOS 6.1.3 update includes important bug fixes, addressing an issue that could prevent the irregular heart rhythm notification feature from working properly for ‌Apple Watch‌ owners in Iceland.

Apple has also released watchOS 5.3.5 for ‌Apple Watch‌ models not able to run ‌watchOS 6‌ due to the use of an older ‌iPhone‌.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Coronavirus Outbreak to Continue Impacting Apple's iPhone Production Into April

Tue, 2020-02-18 13:05
Ongoing delays from the coronavirus outbreak in China will likely cause Apple to miss its schedule for mass producing the low-cost iPhone, and inventories of existing models could remain low until April or longer, according to new information shared today by Japanese site Nikkei.

‌iPhone‌ suppliers, on average, are said to be operating at 30 to 50 percent capacity at the current time, and to ramp up to full production, hurdles that include labor shortages and transportation logistics need to be overcome.


Apple was planning to begin mass production on the upcoming low-cost ‌iPhone‌ in February, but sources that spoke to Nikkei said that meeting that target is "very challenging" and production could be delayed until March.

Current rumors have suggested Apple plans to unveil the new ‌iPhone‌ at an event that's set to take place in March, perhaps on March 31, with Apple then releasing the device on April 3. Though there are issues with production, multiple sources have said the new ‌iPhone‌ is still going to launch on time."The suppliers are doing their best to produce and ship the [cheaper] ‌iPhone‌ within four weeks. ...The delay can't be too long, otherwise it will affect the sales strategy of Apple's new products in the second half of this year," one of the people, who has direct knowledge of the matter, told Nikkei.Apple was hoping to have its suppliers produce 80 million ‌iPhone‌ units in the first half of 2020, including 15 million low-cost iPhones, but the company's production plan is now uncertain. Apple yesterday said that it will not meet its revenue goals for the March quarter due to constrained ‌iPhone‌ supplies and low customer demand for Apple products in China amid the outbreak.

Factories in China are counting on having more employees back at work as soon as next Monday, when a quarantine period for those who returned from outside provinces will end. Travel logistics are said to be a "major headache" at the current time, as suppliers need to change truck drivers when crossing provincial borders due to quarantine requirements.

The coronavirus has infected more than 73,000 people, and there have been 1,870 deaths, primarily in China.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE 2Tags: nikkei.com, Wuhan coronavirus
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Apple Music Makes It Easier to Find Alternate Versions of Albums

Tue, 2020-02-18 09:39
Apple Music has introduced a new UI for alternate albums in an effort to declutter artist pages and make it easier to find these albums. Now, when an alternate version of an album is available (a non-explicit version or a remaster, for example), it will be listed underneath the main album's track list (via MacStories).


This way, the "Albums" section on the artist's main ‌Apple Music‌ page is a bit more focused on their main studio albums and doesn't have clutter of deluxe editions, live albums, or explicit and non-explicit versions. This update does appear to be rolling out slowly, however, as some artist pages still have numerous versions listed under the "Albums" section.

To find if an album has the "Other Versions" list, simply open the album in ‌Apple Music‌, scroll down past the track list, and if there are alternate options you'll see them listed at the bottom of the page. If any of your friends have listened to the album, "Other Versions" will be stacked beneath "Friends Who Listened."

Apple has made quiet changes like this to its music streaming platform in the past, previously revamping artist pages with enlarged portraits and a shuffle all "play" button. More recently, the service gained a new "For You" tab layout that updates throughout the day with artists, songs, and moods that match various themes.

Yesterday, Apple also launched the "Replay 2020" playlist for its users, which will keep track of their most streamed songs throughout the year.

Tag: Apple Music
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