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Apple Confirms HomePod Can Leave White Rings on Wood Surfaces With Oil or Wax Finishes

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple has issued a statement confirming that the HomePod can possibly leave white rings on wood surfaces with an oil or wax finish.

Image: Wirecutter


The strange discovery was brought to light in HomePod reviews published by Wirecutter and Pocket-lint, as highlighted by VentureBeat, while at least one customer shared a picture of the same problem on Twitter.

Pocket-lint‘s Stuart Miles:

For our tests we placed the speaker on a solid oak kitchen worktop treated with Danish oil.

Within 20 minutes the HomePod had caused a white discoloured ring to appear on the wood that some days later has faded, although still hasn’t completely disappeared.

We subsequently tested the HomePod on other materials: the same wood that hadn’t been treated with Danish oil and a regular lacquered desk and haven’t seen the same issues.

Apple told Pocket-lint that it is "not unusual" for a speaker with a silicone base to leave a "mild mark" when placed on certain oiled or waxed surfaces, suggesting the rings are caused by chemical interactions with treated wood.

Image: Pocket-lint


Apple told Wirecutter that "the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface." If not, Apple recommends "cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method."

The HomePod can damage wood furniture: An unhappy discovery after we placed a HomePod on an oiled butcher-block countertop and later on a wooden side table was that it left a defined white ring in the surface. Other reviewers and owners have reported the same issue, which an Apple representative has confirmed. Apple says "the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface," and if they don’t fade on their own, you can basically just go refinish the furniture—the exact advice Apple gave in an email to Wirecutter was to "try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method."

It’s unclear at this point whether the issue is limited to treated wood, or if the problem could cause any sort of long-term damage to the HomePod’s rubber base. For now, we would obviously recommend not placing your HomePod on a surface with an oil or wax finish if possible.

Wirecutter conducted some additional testing and saw no visible damage when placing the HomePod on glass, granite countertop, nice fiberboard, polyurethane-sealed wood, and cheap IKEA bookcases.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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Report: Apple News Drives Significant Traffic to Stories, Publishers Pitch Articles via Slack

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple News can yield a flood of traffic for news publishers, with the app accounting for as much as 50 to 60 percent of readership for some stories, according to a paywalled report by Tom Dotan for The Information.

Apple News has generated half of Vox.com’s daily traffic at times, according to a person familiar with Vox’s numbers. An executive at the website of a major TV network said Apple News has accounted for as much as 60% of traffic for some stories.

The report claims Apple has an editorial team of about a dozen former journalists, led by veteran Apple executive Roger Rosner, who decide which articles get featured in the Top Stories or Spotlight sections of Apple News, or in the News tab on an iPhone, accessible by swiping left from the first page of the home screen.

The editorial team in the United States runs a dedicated Slack channel in which publishers can pitch stories to Apple, which tends to favor big breaking stories, special features, and multi-part series, according to the report. Apple is said to have similar teams working with publishers in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The curation process isn’t praised by all publishers, as smaller to medium-sized sites say Apple News tends to favor big mainstream outlets, which get featured prominently when users first sign up for Apple News.

A bigger issue that publishers have with Apple News is that many don’t earn any significant ad revenue from the app.

Part of the problem relates to how it sells ad space next to stories. Apple initially used its ad team iAd, but it later outsourced sales to NBC. It has yet to integrate Google’s industry standard ad-serving tool DoubleClick, which publishing executive say would make ad sales much easier.

This may change soon, as Apple has supposedly begun to run a closed test of Google’s industry standard ad-serving tool DoubleClick with around 20 publishers, in line with a report from last July. However, it’s unclear when or if Apple News will roll it out wider, according to the report.

All in all, while Apple News has proved more successful than first expected, there is still some progress to be made as Apple aims to become a key distribution outlet for news publishers around the world.

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Barclays Says Second-Generation iPhone X Could Have Smaller Notch

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple will launch a trio of new iPhone models later this year with a second-generation TrueDepth camera system, which will potentially be reduced in size, according to a research note issued today by analysts Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, Joseph Wolf, and Blayne Curtis at investment bank Barclays.



While the analysts believe the new TrueDepth system will only "evolve slightly," they predict it could allow for a "smaller notch" on the 2018 range of iPhones with Face ID, which is rumored to include a second-generation iPhone X, a larger iPhone X Plus, and an all-new mid-range 6.1-inch LCD model.

MacRumors obtained a copy of the research note, which also corroborates rumors about Apple extending Face ID to the iPad Pro this year:

Based on several data points within the 4Q17 reporting period and our supply chain meetings at CES, we remain confident that Apple is set to deploy its TrueDepth 3D sensor across the iPhone range in 2018 and to also add it to the pending iPad Pro refresh as well.

Given the complexity and multiple years spent developing the current generation of module, combined with supplier comments over the past month regarding multi-year customer commitments, we do not envisage a major change to the architectural make-up in 2018 […]

We do expect the sensor to evolve slightly, potentially reducing in size (i.e., smaller notch) and improving in specificity […] helping to further drive very strong growth [for some Apple suppliers] in 2H18 as the second generation of sensor ships in this year’s new iPhones.

A smaller notch would be a welcomed change for critics of the iPhone X design, but it remains to be seen if it will happen so soon. An earlier rumor suggested the notch won’t be reduced in size until 2019 or later, and it’s generally expected that 2018 iPhones will look virtually identical to the iPhone X.

The prevailing thought is that Apple doesn’t want to deal with the type of delays it faced with the iPhone X last year, and by keeping the hardware relatively unchanged, suppliers could avoid some retooling. However, it’s certainly possible the TrueDepth camera system could be slightly shrunk down this year.

Beyond this year, the Barclays analysts believe Apple is "working hard" on a rear-facing TrueDepth camera system for future iPhones. The technology could be ready by 2019, but it sounds too far out to know for certain.

A key discussion point regarding 2019 is whether or not Apple will be ready to insert a rear or world-facing sensor, given the additional complexity associated with a greater range and field of view and […] the potential safety implications for the human eye.

Our discussions with suppliers suggests Apple and its partners are working hard on a world-facing solution, but development is ongoing and with over 18 months to go until the 2019 iPhone cycle, not all is yet determined.

The rear-facing TrueDepth camera system would pave the way for expanded augmented reality capabilities on iPhones. Apple has repeatedly expressed a profound interest in augmented reality, and recently highlighted some use cases of the technology in areas like education and gaming with a new page on its website.

Bloomberg News previously reported that Apple is exploring rear-facing 3D sensing, to be added to iPhones as early as 2019, while KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo agrees the technology won’t be ready in 2018, so there does appear to be consensus about back-and-front TrueDepth being a next-year feature.

Apple’s trio of new iPhones should be announced in September as usual, while the new iPad Pro with Face ID could debut in June.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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KGI: Apple Could Ship 100 Million Units of New 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, Replacing iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in 2018 Device Line-up

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today shared shipment projections with MacRumors for Apple’s rumored 6.1-inch iPhone that he expects to launch in the second half of 2018.

The device is said to have some iPhone X features such as Face ID, but design compromises will enable Apple to put it at a more affordable price point. They could include an LCD screen instead of an OLED display, an aluminum frame, a single lens camera, and no 3D Touch.

We project shipments under the new product life cycle (4Q18-3Q19) for the 6.1" LCD iPhone, estimated to be launched in 2H18, will reach around 100mn units.

According to Kuo’s research note, shipment projections could fluctuate depending on the selling price of the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, which Kuo believes will be somewhere between $700 and $800 in the United States. In his analysis, shipments will be around 105-115 million units when priced at US$699, and 95-105 million units when priced at US$799.

The price could also depend on "whether Apple ultimately sees the new 6.1-inch LCD model as the successor of iPhone 8 or 8 Plus," according to Kuo. In a previous note, KGI Securities has said the 6.1-inch iPhone will have a standard non-stacked logic board and rectangular battery pack like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Kuo expects the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone to account for around 50 percent of the new iPhone line-up’s shipments, with sales remaining strong into 2019. On that basis, today’s shipping estimate suggests lifetime sales of 2018 iPhones could reach approximately 200 million units.

The device is expected to be announced around September-October as usual alongside a new 5.8-inch iPhone X and a larger 6.5-inch version dubbed iPhone X Plus.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Highlights of Apple’s 2018 Shareholders Meeting

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple’s annual shareholders meeting took place at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park this morning, with shareholders gathering to vote on proposals and ask questions of Apple executives.

Apple does not live stream its shareholders meetings, but several members of the press, such as CNET‘s Shara Tibken and Business Insider‘s Kif Leswing, were at the event and shared details on what was covered on Twitter.

Image via Shara Tibken


Much of the meeting was spent discussing shareholder proposals, several of which were routine proposals direct from Apple for re-electing the board of directors, compensating executives, appointing Ernst & Young LLP as Apple’s public accounting firm, and approving the non-employee Director Stock Plan. All of these passed with more than 95% approval.

Two proposals from shareholders, one that asked Apple to implement more relaxed rules for letting shareholders nominate directors to the board and another asking Apple to form a human rights commission were defeated. 32 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the first, while just 5.6 percent voted in favor of the second.

During a Q&A session, and during the proposal discussion portion of the shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a few interesting comments worth highlighting, though much of what was said was a repeat of comments made during Apple’s Q1 2018 earnings call earlier this month.

– iPhone X customer satisfaction is at 99%.

– Apple’s wearables business, which includes AirPods, Beats, and Apple Watch, is "approaching" the size of a Fortune 300 company. Earlier this month, Cook said it was the size of a Fortune 400 company.

– Apple acquired 19 companies in 2017 (10 of those are known, nine unknown).

– Across all products, Apple holds almost a quarter of a billion subscriptions.

– On the topic of Telegram being briefly removed from the App Store earlier this month for elicit content, Cook said Apple has "always curated [Apple’s] properties." Apple keeps pornography, terrorism, and other questionable content out of the App Store. "I think people are coming around to that actually being a good thing," said Cook.

– Apple has internal candidates ready to succeed Tim Cook, which is a topic that comes up at every shareholders meeting.

– Cook said mobile payments have "taken off slower than I personally would have thought." Adoption is speeding up though in key countries like China and Russia. Cook also said he hopes he’ll still be alive "to see the elimination of money."

– On a question about special dividends, Cook said he’s "not a fan," but Apple is committed to increasing dividends each year. Apple will provide more info on its capital return program in April.

– On the topic of retail stores, Cook said Apple doesn’t believe physical stores will go away. "We believe that interaction with people still beats anything," he said.

– Apple won’t open its main ring-shaped building at Apple Park for tours because "we have so much confidential stuff around." "Keeping stuff confidential is the bane of my existence now," said Cook.

Shareholders also asked a few frivolous questions, which ate into the Q&A time and limited what we heard from Apple executives. One asked about Apple’s work in oral health, a topic Cook said Apple isn’t focusing on, while another asked when Apple will introduce a waterproof iPhone (iPhones have been water resistant since the iPhone 7).

There was a question on Blockchain, which Cook avoided, and one investor, still using iOS 9, abstained from voting on board re-election because of Apple’s "bad" software updates that have removed features. "I’m not gonna sell my stock or buy the competitor’s stuff because it’s even worse," he said.

Apple holds its shareholders meetings on an annual basis, with the next one scheduled to take place in early 2019. This year’s meeting had limited attendance due to the size limitations of the Apple Park theater, but shareholders not able to attend were able to vote on proposals by proxy ahead of the meeting.
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Apple Working on ‘Swagger’ TV Show Based on NBA Star Kevin Durant

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple is developing a new drama series that’s based on the early life and career of NBA star Kevin Durant, who plays for the Golden State Warriors, reports Variety.

The show, called "Swagger," was inspired by Durant’s experiences as a youth playing basketball. It will highlight the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball, taking a look into the lives of players, their families, and coaches.



Imagine Television, led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, will produce alongside Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Media. Both Durant and Grazer will serve as executive producers, while Reggie Rock Bythewood will write and direct. Bythewood is known for his work on "Notorious," a movie that shared the story of Notorious B.I.G., and television series "Shots Fired."

Apple now has at least 10 television shows in the early stages of development, including an untitled morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, an "Amazing Stories" reboot from Steven Spielberg, an untitled space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, a series written by "La La Land" creator Damien Chazelle, a Kristen Wiig comedy series, See, an epic world-building drama, Home, a docuseries focusing on incredible homes, and "Little America," an anthology series from "The Big Sick" creators Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.

More details about each of Apple’s television projects can be found in the original content section of our Apple TV roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Said to Copy iPhone X’s Animoji Feature

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will reportedly copy one of the iPhone X’s most popular new features: Animoji.



Korean website ETNews claims the flagship smartphones will have a new 3D emoji function that is "more advanced" than Animoji. Like on the iPhone X, users will be able to choose from various 3D characters, including animals, that mimic facial movements as tracked by the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition sensors.

Samsung should reveal the name of its Animoji competitor when the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are unveiled at Mobile World Congress on February 25. Many details about the smartphones have already leaked, including entire images of the devices shared by Evan Blass, hinting at many features that can be expected.

While rumors suggest the next major version of Android will include support for smartphones with a so-called notched design, like the iPhone X, it appears that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will retain slim bezels along the top and bottom of the display for the front camera, microphone, and sensors.

3D emojis will be powered by the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition system, which is expected to remain less secure than Face ID on the iPhone X. Other biometric options will include a rear fingerprint sensor and an iris scanner.

Samsung is rumored to release the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 on Friday, March 16, with pre-orders expected to begin about two weeks prior.

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Consumer Reports: Google Home Max and Sonos One Sound Better Than HomePod

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Consumer Reports has conducted some early audio testing of the HomePod, and while the full evaluation isn’t yet finished, the site believes that both the $400 Google Home Max and the $200 Sonos One sound better than Apple’s new $349 smart speaker.

The HomePod received a "Very Good" sound quality rating, as did the Sonos One and the Google Home Max, but the latter two speakers also received higher overall sound quality scores.



Consumer Reports says that its speaker tests are conducted in a dedicated listening room, with experienced testers who compare each model with "high-quality reference speakers." In the case of the HomePod, testers found a few issues.

The bass was "boomy and overemphasized," while midrange tones were "somewhat hazy," and treble sounds were "underemphasized." Overall, Consumer Reports found the HomePod’s sound to be "a bit muddy" when played next to the Sonos One and the Google Home Max.

The HomePod will serve many music fans well, but CR testers did hear some flaws. The HomePod’s bass was a bit boomy and overemphasized. And the midrange tones were somewhat hazy, meaning that some of the nuance in vocals, guitars, and horns was lost: These elements of the music couldn’t be heard as distinctly as in more highly rated speakers. Treble sounds, like cymbals, were underemphasized. But the HomePod played reasonably loudly in a midsized room.

All three smart speakers "fall significantly short" of other wireless speakers Consumer Reports has tested, like the Edifier S1000DB, priced at $350.



The HomePod’s sound has been highly praised both by new HomePod owners and by media sites that tested the device ahead of its release. While Consumer Reports doesn’t believe the HomePod outshines the Google Home Max and the Sonos One, other reviews have disagreed, including an extensive, in-depth review published by a self-professed audiophile earlier this morning.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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Verizon No Longer Plans to Sell Unlocked iPhones

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Verizon plans to stop selling unlocked smartphones as a way to deter criminals from stealing the devices, the company told CNET.

As of today, Verizon devices will be locked to the Verizon network and unlocked as soon as a customer signs up for service and activates the phone. Later in the spring, though, smartphones will remain locked until unlocked by Verizon, and Verizon has not yet shared details on how long it will keep phones locked before offering to unlock them.



Verizon previously sold all of its smartphones, iPhones included, unlocked, which means they were not tied to the Verizon network and could be used with any carrier right after purchase.

Purchasing a Verizon iPhone has long been a way to get an unlocked device right away, as Apple often does not sell its own unlocked models until several weeks to several months after a new iPhone launches.

With the iPhone X, for example, all Verizon models sold in November were unlocked and were able to be used across different cellular networks.

Going forward, the smartphones that Verizon sells will be locked to the Verizon network. Smartphones locked this way will not be compatible with other carriers until unlocked by Verizon, which is similar to how other cellular carriers in the United States operate.

According to Verizon, the new policy is aimed at preventing criminals from stealing unlocked phones that can be resold or used overseas. "We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud, Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon told CNET in a statement. "These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.

Verizon has not yet shared details on how its unlocking policy will work, but if it’s like other carriers, such as AT&T, the company will offer to unlock a smartphone after a waiting period. AT&T requires customers to wait for 60 days, Sprint requires customers to wait for 50 days (and then automatically unlocks devices), and T-Mobile has a 40-day waiting period, but does offer temporary unlocking for customers who need to travel.

AT&T and Sprint require smartphones to be paid off before being unlocked, but CNET says Verizon will allow customers to unlock their devices regardless of whether or not they’re paid off once the waiting period has expired.

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MacBook Lineup Represented Estimated 1 in 10 Notebooks Shipped Worldwide Last Year

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple’s lineup of MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models accounted for roughly one in ten notebooks shipped worldwide last year, according to data published today by research firm TrendForce.



TrendForce claims that Apple surpassed ASUS to become the world’s fourth largest notebook vendor, with an estimated 9.6 percent market share in 2017, up from 8.3 percent in 2016. ASUS saw its market share drop to an estimated 9.5 percent last year, down from a reported 10.3 percent in 2016.

The research firm says Apple releasing updated MacBook Pro models in June 2017 helped the company expand its shipments by 18 percent for the whole year—supposedly the highest growth rate among all notebook brands.

TrendForce estimates notebook shipments from all brands totaled 164.7 million units worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 2.1 percent. Windows PC makers HP, Lenovo, and Dell led the industry with estimated 24.3 percent, 20.2 percent, and 15.2 percent market shares respectively in 2017.



It’s important to note that Apple doesn’t break down its Mac sales on a model-by-model basis in its earnings reports, so TrendForce’s data is estimated, likely based in part on the average selling price of a Mac.

Another caveat is that PC makers like HP, Lenovo, and Dell sell a wide variety of notebooks at all different price points, while Apple primarily targets the high-end market, with its cheapest notebook being the outdated MacBook Air for $999 and up. Apple’s profit margins are also significantly higher.

Apple routinely flip-flops between fourth and fifth place in the notebook market, so these results aren’t overly surprising. The company is expected to remain the world’s fourth most popular notebook vendor in 2018.

What’s next for Apple’s notebook lineup? We haven’t heard much yet, but a recent report claimed that at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, are planned for release later this year. MacBook refreshes often occur between March and June.

Apple’s desktop lineup has actually received more attention than MacBooks recently. In addition to the all-new iMac Pro, Apple continues to work on a Mac Pro with an upgradeable design. The portable Mac mini has also gone well over three years without an update, and could certainly use a refresh.

For a history of release dates and the latest rumors about the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, be sure to visit our Mac Buyer’s Guide.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook

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