iOS update fixes your iPhone’s missing Health data

The iOS 10.1 update addressed a lot of initial gripes with Apple’s latest mobile operating system. However, it also introduced a glaring bug for some users: the Health app might not show your data, which is more than a little troublesome if you’re a fitness maven or need those stats for medical reasons. Don’t fret, though. Apple has released an iOS 10.1.1 update for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that makes sure you can see Health info. This is a relatively tiny update (the over-the-air fix is well under 100MB for many iPhone users), but it’ll matter a lot if you’re tracking step counts or calories with your Apple gear.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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The Morning After Weekend Edition: Happy Halloween!


Letter from the Editor

Change is life. It’s what keeps things interesting. It’s also what keeps the cauldron of commerce at a full boil. And in the technology industry, change is constant. This week, Apple and Microsoft revealed new computers that’ll tempt many — particularly folks working in the creative arts — even if they come with eye-watering price tags.

Change can also be cause for consternation. Apple decided to eliminate the headphone jack from its phones a month ago, and yesterday it banished everything without a USB-C or Thunderbolt connector from its laptops. This is the pain of progress. Given enough time, the benefits received will, we hope, be a good bargain. It often is.

In other instances, change comes slowly. Jess Conditt wrote about how powerful video games have become as a medium for cultural and social commentary. Yet respect and investment for such projects trail more “traditional” arts, despite games’ arguably wider potential impact. And finally, Edgar Alvarez explained Amazon’s difficulties in becoming a purveyor of luxury fashion items. It seems that scale and quality can’t mix — at least in the minds of those running haute couture.


Hey, artists use Windows too!They’re used to paying Apple prices, right?

Microsoft wants to be the company for creative types. Like in the worst way possible. The company’s big Surface event this week was all about creating, building and drawing. There was even a little 3D printing thrown in for good measure. Of course, the biggest news was the launch of the Surface Studio all-in-one PC, but we’d be lying if we said MS Paint 3D didn’t kinda steal the show.


Apple wants your fingers to caress its new laptopAll in the name of stimulating your artistic sensibilities

Apple couldn’t let Microsoft hog the spotlight, though. The Cupertino crew held their own big event this week, and the focus was all on the MacBook Pro. The most exciting news was the addition of the Touch Bar on the high-end models — an OLED touchscreen strip in place of those anachronistic function keys. The less exciting news was that Apple ditched basically all the ports except for USB-C. At least they didn’t ax the headphone jack.


Shhh … you hear something?That’s the sound of sick video game sound effects, y’all

Microsoft went all out for the sound on “Gears of War 4.” Most games treat the audio like a second-class citizen, but developer the Coalition fired up some elaborate software that simulates how sound reacts in different environments and how it interacts with different materials to make “Gears 4” seem ultra-realistic. Or as realistic as a game set in the future on an alien world can seem.


R.I.P. VineWe (most of us) hardly knew ye

Twitter announced that it was going to be laying off more than 350 people, and now, it seems, we know where at least some of those cuts are coming from. Vine is coming to an end, and with it the art of six-second video loops. Some Engadget editors will miss it more than others.


What are pro designers saying about Microsoft’s Surface Dial?No thanks, mostly.

We talked to a host of illustrators, designers and other creative types to see what they think of Microsoft’s newest devices. The Surface Studio seems to have piqued their interest. The Dial, on the other hand…


Please don’t do this. Seriously.11 super-sexy Hallow-meme costumes

Look, sexy nurse and policeman are passé. If you’re really looking to leave an impression, you need to blend your love of popular internet culture with your normal raw sexual energy.


Bokeh everywhereiOS 10.1 brings a new photo feature to the iPhone 7 Plus

If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, you don’t need beta software to try out its new “portrait mode” shots. Environments where the background is a similar color to your subject can confuse the camera, but in most situations it did the job of making phone pictures look like they came from a high-end SLR camera.

But wait, there’s more…

  • The FBI isn’t done with Hillary’s emails yet?
  • I have the power! … of two first-gen Tesla battery packs
  • Sony is working on new PS4 controllers for pro gamers (just don’t call them Elite)

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Lenovo’s Moto M reportedly packs 5,100mAh of power

We don’t have an official release date for Lenovo’s next Moto handset just yet, but we do have a leaked set of specs that hint at what’s to come. According to some grainy renders that made the rounds earlier this week, the Moto M will be the first Motorola smartphone to feature a rear-facing fingerprint sensor and its unibody frame puts it solidly in the mid-tier of current generation handsets. But the big spec surprise here is a huge 5,100mAh battery which Lenovo estimates will give you more than a month of standby time.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but that battery is still about 47 percent larger than the Pixel XL and more than 75 percent larger than the iPhone 7 Plus. And even larger than the last big-battery-packing phone we spotted, the LG X Power. To charge a battery that size, Lenovo is also including a 4.5A rapid charger in the box.


As for the rest of the specs: the Moto M will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow with an octa-core 2.0 GHz Snapdragon processor, 4 or 4GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB of storage expandable to 128GB via microSD. According to Krispitech, the Moto M will land in December, although that date is still unconfirmed.

Source: TechDroider, Krispitech

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First look at the new MacBook Pro (the one without the Touch Bar)

This is the new MacBook Pro. But it’s probably not the one you were hoping to read about. What I have here today is the new entry-level 13-inch model — the one without the multi-touch Touch Bar you’ve surely heard about by now. No, this is for all intents and purposes the Pro that replaces the MacBook Air. (The Air is still on sale — for now — but unless you have an inflexible budget, you should buy the new Pro instead.)

As a refresher, the new Pro weighs the same as the Air, at approximately three pounds, but has a noticeably smaller footprint. It also has the Retina display you always wished you had on the Air. There are some other differences too, including a much larger touchpad, a redesigned keyboard and a new selection of ports: just two Thunderbolt connections and a headphone jack. Oh, and it has a new price: The 13-inch Pro starts at $ 1,499, a bit more than you would have hoped to pay for a refreshed Air.

The laptop is shipping now and on display in Apple Stores, so there’s nothing stopping you from getting hands-on today. For my part, I received my test unit yesterday evening, which means I am in no way ready to publish a full review. But I am ready to give you a first look. Join me.

First impressions

Let’s start with the design: Holy moly, is this thing small. I noticed it right away, just because my normal work laptop is a MacBook Air, which means I’m used to something much larger than this. The difference is especially obvious if you stack one machine on top of the other. Though both have 13.3-inch screens, the new MacBook Pro has a much smaller footprint — it’s shorter and less wide. Truly, trimming down that humongous bezel from the Air makes a world of difference. Just ask Dell, whose compact, 2.6-pound XPS 13 paved the way for laptops that take up shockingly little space. Basically, if you can achieve a nearly bezel-less screen, you can then squeeze it into a much smaller chassis than you would otherwise.

The MacBook Pro also weighs about the same as the Air: 3.02 pounds versus 2.96. And that underscores another reason the Air should probably be given the axe. It was once a featherweight feat of engineering; now it’s heavier than competing Windows machines (the XPS 13 being just one example), and it weighs the same as Apple’s once-heavier Pro line. All that said, three pounds is still plenty portable, especially if you’ve bought MacBook Pros in the past and are used to toting around something heavier. For those of you who are upgrading, this will feel like an improvement.

At 14.9mm thick, the Pro is also 12 percent thinner than the Air, though that’s not quite as obvious, just because the Air has a wedge-shaped design that gets narrower at the end. Thinner is generally good, so long as the battery life doesn’t suffer. In this case, it also means thinner ports. (Though let’s face it, Apple likes to get rid of legacy ports, so it would have done that even on a thicker machine — and did, on the 15-inch Pro.) Where there used to be several full-sized USB connections and an HDMI socket you’ll now find two Thunderbolt 3 ports, along with a headphone jack. If you choose one of the higher-end MacBook Pros, you’ll get four Thunderbolt ports.

Either way, be prepared to un-learn some old habits. Gone is the MagSafe power adapter, though you can at least charge out of any Thunderbolt port now. You’ll also need a dongle for any accessories requiring a full-sized USB connection. Out of the box, you cannot charge your iPhone off this.

In many other ways, the MacBook Pro looks and feels similar to the previous generation. It’s made of unibody aluminum, available in silver and Space Gray. Though the 500-nit display is 67 percent brighter than the previous-gen Retina panel, with 67 percent higher contrast and 25 percent more colors, the resolution is the same, at 2,560 x 1,600 (a pixel density of 227 ppi). It’s lovely, especially with those tiny bezels and skinny metal frame around the screen. Particularly for those of you who have only ever owned the Air or an ancient MacBook Pro, you’re in for a treat.

The keyboard is both the same as before, and also not the same. As I said, this is the version of the MacBook Pro that does not have the OLED touchscreen stretching above the keyboard. That means the physical Escape key has lived to see another day — as have all the other Function keys, including brightness and volume controls.

So the keyboard looks the same. But then you touch it. Under the keycaps, Apple went with the same “butterfly” mechanism that it first introduced on the 12-inch MacBook. That means these buttons are shallower and less pillowy than on the last-gen MBPs, but still manage to be a lot springier than they look. I felt a little sour at first, giving up my old keyboard design (I don’t love change), but so far I’m typing away at this very story, and I’m not making many typos either.

As for the Force Touch trackpad, it’s 46 percent larger than before, making it nearly as big as Apple’s Magic Trackpad accessory. It’s more than enough space for the basics — stuff like scrolling and pinching to zoom. I’ll be curious, too, to see how it fares in more professional-grade use cases, like video and photo editing. More on that some other day.

All the stuff we’ll save for our review

There’s a reason I’m not calling this a review. There’s so much I haven’t had time to test! Apple says the battery life on both the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros can reach 10 hours. I’ll be sure to investigate that claim. Apple also stepped up to sixth-gen Intel Core processors across its lineup, with faster solid-state drives promising read speeds of up to 3.1 gigabytes per second. Oh, and I specifically didn’t mention the speakers earlier either. I’d like to listen to my very large, and very eclectic, Spotify collection before weighing in on the audio quality.

Given that the Pro has always been aimed at power users — and has a starting price to match — I don’t want to give the performance short shrift. And benchmarks are just the beginning too; real-world use matters as well. So give me a few days to live with this thing and I’ll be back soon with a full review. In the meantime, what’s the over/under on how long Apple waits before killing off the 13-inch Air?

Photos by Edgar Alvarez

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Does the iPad Air have a future at Apple?

During its “Hello Again” keynote in Cupertino today, Apple debuted its newest MacBook Pro as well as an overhaul of Final Cut Pro X and an all-in-one video entertainment app simply titled, TV. But surprisingly, there was not a word spoken about iPads.

First, a quick recap: The iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 were both released in 2013. They then both received updates the following year with the release of the Air 2 and the tepidly received Mini 3. But in less than a year, Apple had already moved on to something newer, bigger and more expensive. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch dropped in September 2015, along with the iPad Mini 4, and was joined by a retina-enabled 9.7-inch Pro this past March.

That means we haven’t seen a new iPad Air in two years. And while the older models are still receiving OS updates, their A8 processors are decidedly pokey when facing the Pro’s A9x. In fact, benchmark tests indicate that the A9, which is really a desktop chip crammed into a tablet, performs nearly twice as well as the previous version.

So if Thursday’s event is any indication, it would appear that Apple is far more focused on its Pro models than the rest of its products. Just as today’s announcement of three new MacBook Pros — the base model of which offers similar specs to the existing MacBook Air at a slightly higher price — likely spells the eventual end of the MacBook Air line, Apple’s recent release of the 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros could be bad news for the older iPads.

This timing — release, update within a year, then nothing for the next two — does not bode well for the iPad Air line, especially with the more recent release of the Pros. What’s more, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro offers superior performance in the same form factor as the Air 2 for just $ 200 more. So why would Apple keep the Air 2 around when it could simply eliminate the model and force consumers to shell out an extra two bills for the Pro? Remember this is a company that recently eliminated the iPhone 7’s headphone jack in favor of selling us $ 180 wireless AirPods and just today rolled out a series of laptops that can’t connect to any peripheral you already own without an adapter.

In the end, there’s no way to confirm that this is the end of the line for the iPad Air. Apple is notoriously secretive when it comes to upcoming product announcements. There are some unsubstantiated rumors that the next Mini could be announced in the spring of 2017, and maybe the Air will be brought along, but we’ll have to wait for March to find out.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Apple’s “Hello Again” event.

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The new Apple TV app is: TV

The rumored TV guide app for Apple TV is here, just unveiled at the company’s event. It brings TV and movies from the box’s various apps into one browsable location. As demonstrated on stage by designer Jen Folse, pressing play within the guide can immediately start a video stream in an app like HBO Now, without any intervening menus. The main “Watch Now” menu knows which apps you’ve signed into with its unified login feature, and will show options that you have access to. “TV” isn’t just for Apple TV either, as the app is also accessible from iPhone and iPad.

Another new wrinkle for Apple TV, is the ability for Siri to tune into live video streaming apps, and control third-party apps. Live tune-in with Siri is available now, while single sign-on and the TV app will arrive through a software update in December.

Key Features Within the TV App Include:

• Watch Now: Watch Now is where viewers will see their collection of available shows and movies from iTunes® and apps. From Watch Now, viewers can then go to Up Next or Recommended to choose what to watch.

• Up Next: Users can enjoy the shows and movies they are currently watching, including recent iTunes rentals and purchases — all presented in the order they are most likely to watch first. For example, when viewers finish an episode, the next one will automatically appear at the start of the Up Next queue, as will any new episodes as they become available. At any time, users can simply ask Siri to continue watching a show and immediately pick up where they left off.

• Recommended: Viewers can explore a great selection of curated and trending shows and movies, including collections handpicked by Apple’s curators, and dedicated categories and genres such as kids, sci-fi and comedy.

• Library: Viewers can access their entire collection of iTunes movies and TV shows that they have rented or purchased on iTunes.

• Store: If users are looking for something new, they can check out the Store to discover great new content across video services that they have not yet downloaded or are not yet subscribed to, along with the latest releases on iTunes.

Developing…

Click here to catch all the latest news from Apple’s “Hello again” event.

Source: Apple (Businesswire)

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Native Union made a USB hub that blends into your home

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a gadget freak and may need to recharge multiple devices on a daily basis. That’s when you’re greeted by a pile of messy cables plugged into a dull-looking and maybe under-powered USB hub. Cable boxes may hide the ugliness, but they’re bulky and don’t actually solve the issue. Not one to admit defeat, Native Union — the mad folks behind the marble iPhone case — came up with the ultimate solution: a stylish, cylindrical USB hub dubbed Eclipse. On the outside, it looks like a piece of home decor thanks to its wooden top, but it’s really the inside that got our attention: as you touch the top gently, the main body slowly rises up to let you uncoil the cables tucked inside, while the base emits a subtle halo for night-time usage. It’s rather mesmerizing to watch.

The Eclipse offers three standard USB ports — one of which can be flipped to USB-C — which total up to 7.8A of current, and each standard port can go up to 2.4A while the USB-C port maxes out at 3A. There’s no Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 magic here (so the voltage stays at 5V), but the high current output is already plentiful for office hour or night time charging. And don’t worry, all the essential electrical protection mechanisms are in place. The device itself supports 110-240V variable voltage input so you can use it anywhere around the world, and it’s attached to a 4-foot long power cable with an electrical plug of your choice in the Kickstarter campaign.

While Native Union makes its own USB cables, the Eclipse is designed to house any cable that are up to 8-foot long. All you have to do is plug one end into the ports on the inside, then wrap each cable around one of the three slots on the cable management part, pop the part back into the cylinder and you’re good to go. To grab a cable, simply tap the top, let the body rise (powered by a motor), unwind your desired cable, and then tap the top again to let it slowly sink back down. This works even if you choose to hang the Eclipse on the wall — because it’s that good-looking — using the bundled wall mount. There’s a 4mm gap between the outer case and the wooden top, which should let most types of USB cables go through.

The Eclipse is already proving to be quite popular on Kickstarter, as it reached its $ 50,000 goal within the first couple of hours after launch. For those who don’t mind waiting until April 2017 for delivery, early birds can grab an Eclipse for $ 49 while everyone else will have to pay $ 50 — which is still a bargain considering that it’ll retail for $ 80 next year.

Source: Kickstarter

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Apple Pay transactions surge by 500 percent

Mobile payments are all the rage among tech companies, but how successful have they been, really? Quite successful, if you ask Apple. While discussing its latest earnings, the Cupertino firm revealed that Apple Pay purchases were up 500 percent year-over-year in the third quarter. In fact, there were more transactions this September than in all of Apple’s fiscal 2015 — not bad for a tap-to-pay service that’s still unavailable in many parts of the world, not to mention many stores. Apple didn’t say what prompted the spike, but there are a handful of factors beyond any increases in popularity.

One major component: regional expansion. The launch of Apple Pay in China may have played the biggest role, but there was also a steady stream of expansions to key markets like Australia, Canada and swaths of Asia and Europe. Also, there were simply more people with Apple Pay-capable devices. You had to buy one of two high-end iPhones (the 6 and 6 Plus) to use Apple Pay throughout most of fiscal 2015, but the service was an option across all of Apple’s phone lineup by the time the iPhone SE arrived in March of this year. That’s also excluding those people who may have an iPhone 5 or 5s and are using an Apple Watch for their payments.

Whatever is involved, it’s likely that Apple Pay will see continued growth for at least a while. The payment system reached both Japan (as of iOS 10.1) and Russia in October, and there’s still room for both more countries as well as additional cards and stores in existing regions.

The question is whether or not Apple still has a lead in this fledgling industry. The company hasn’t divulged its latest transaction numbers, you see. Samsung was quick to boast about having 100 million transactions for its own service in August, but the lack of context makes it difficult to say whether it’s catching up (Apple is estimated to have racked up $ 10.9 billion in purchases in 2015) or trailing behind. About the only certainty is that Google’s Android Pay will need to grow faster if it’s going to latch on. It only just reached the UK in May, and card support isn’t as broad as you get with its rivals.

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Google adds a food delivery shortcut to Maps for iOS

Not content with a simple navigation app, Google has updated Maps for iOS with a handy food delivery shortcut. So when you tap on a nearby restaurant, perhaps to see its opening times, you’ll soon see a button titled “Place an Order.” Tapping this will give you a few different options (these will vary depending on your country and the business in question) such as Grubhub, Seamless and Eat 24 in the US. Select your preferred service and you’ll be thrown across to the relevant iPhone app. It’s a small addition, sure, but one that could make ordering dinner just a little faster at night.

Via: Mac Rumors

Source: Google Maps (iOS)

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Apple releases iOS 10.1, adds Portrait mode to the iPhone 7 Plus

The Portrait mode for Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus has been in the works for months, and now it’s ready for the masses… sort of. People with the 7 Plus who are running beta software have been able to shoot photos full of artificial bokeh for over a month now, but Apple just pushed out its iOS 10.1 update, which means Portrait mode is here (along with a bunch of bugfixes and support for transit directions in Japan).

Now, here’s the thing: Even though you don’t need to be enrolled in the iOS beta program to use the feature anymore, the feature itself still isn’t completely done. Once the update is installed, the camera app asks if you’d like to “try the beta” when you swipe into the new Portrait position.

Our professional recommendation? Dive right in. Portrait mode might not be completely complete, but it’s still capable of producing seriously nice headshots. In case you missed it the first time around, the feature uses the iPhone 7 Plus’s two cameras in tandem; the primary 12-megapixel sensor captures the image as normal, but the second, wide-angle sensor is used to determine how far away the subject is.

All of that data gets mashed up into a nine-layer depth map, providing the context needed to artfully blur out backgrounds while keeping faces and subjects closer to the phone remain crisp and intact. Apple’s goal was to build a dead-simple photography experience that yields pictures that look like they were shot on expensive SLR cameras, and for the most part, Apple did an impressive job.

This photo represents well the sort of quality you can expect out of Portrait mode. The focus stays locked on the face and hands, and the windows in the background are blurred pretty dramatically. Thanks to that nine-layer depth map, you can see areas where blurring is very subtle, like the top of the subject’s head and the bottom of her scarf.

You don’t need to take photos of people to get some mileage out of Portrait mode either. Have cats prancing around? Or a sweet new mug you need to share? In my experience, as long as you’re within proper range (the app tells you when you are) and there’s enough contrast between the foreground and background, you’ll get that pleasant background blurring.

It’s when you’re in well-lit environments with lots of similar colors that Portrait mode seems to have trouble — that’s often when you’ll see edges blurred when they shouldn’t be. Just check out this photo of a cactus precariously perched on a railing. The camera didn’t have trouble differentiating between the cool blue of the pot and the trees in the background, but it obviously had some difficulty telling where the cactus ended and the trees began.

These disappointments are rare, though, and will probably become less frequent as people continue to put Portrait mode through its paces. Most of the big problems have been solved — now Apple has to focus on the fine-tuning (which is obviously easier said than done). At this point, Portrait mode is still imperfect, but there’s nonetheless a lot to like about it, starting with how simple it is to use. It’s fast, it’s impressive and it’s only going to get better with time. Interested in taking it for a spin? Jump into your iPhone 7 Plus’s settings and hit that software update button. It’ll show up sooner or later.

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