iPhone 7 turns around slowing sales for Apple

iPhone sales were bound to start dropping sooner or later, but today’s earnings news from Apple sees a turnaround: iPhone sales are back up after a year. In the first full quarter with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on the market, Apple sold 78.3 million smartphones. That’s up about five percent from a year ago, when the company moved 74.8 million iPhones. Historically, a new iPhone model has guaranteed that sales would be up as well — and even though the iPhone 7 is a rather iterative model, it was enough to do the trick.

As the iPhone goes, so goes Apple’s overall financial health. This quarter (the company’s first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year), revenue of $ 78.4 billion and profits of $ 18.4 billion are massive numbers and both increases on a year ago.

The Mac was another winner this quarter — but just barely. The company sold 5.37 million Macs, up a small 1.4 percent over the year-ago quarter. It’s not surprising that the first MacBook Pro refresh helped out the overall line, although it’s a pretty small bump over last year. The iPad wasn’t so lucky, with sales of 13.1 million representing yet another down quarter. That’s 19 percent less iPads than Apple sold a year ago, and we’re now looking at three full years of declining iPad sales. While Tim Cook has continued to say the product is how Apple defines the future of computing, the numbers don’t lie, and it’ll be interesting to see if he addresses the continued drop today.

Apple is continuing to decline to say how many Apple Watches it sells, so all we have to go on there is Tim Cook’s word — the CEO said that it was a record quarter for Apple Watch revenue. However, revenue in the “other products” category (which covers things like Beats, the iPod, Apple TV and accessories in addition to the Apple Watch) declined year over year, so the Watch wasn’t quite enough to make up for losses in other product categories.

The last big part of Apple’s business is is services business, which covers things like Apple Music, iCloud, the App Store and so on. It was a big winner this quarter, continuing the trend we saw in 2016. Apple says that the $ 7.17 billion in revenue from services is a record, though in terms of overall revenue it’s now just slightly behind the Mac ($ 7.24 billion) in terms of how much overall cash it pulls in.

As usual, Apple will be holding a call with CEO Tim Cook and we’ll be updating this post with anything else we learn. Elephants in the room include the iPad, when the company might get more AirPods to consumers, and what the response has been to the new MacBook Pro. We’re guessing he’s going to say that customers just love it.

Source: Apple

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Starbucks’ iPhone app lets you order by talking to it

Starbucks is continuing its efforts to stay on top of technological trends by adding new voice-ordering functions to its iOS app and Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. Called “My Starbucks barista” on iOS, the service is being rolled out to select customers today as an extension of the company’s Mobile Order and Pay feature, which lets users send and pay for an order ahead of time. At the same time, the company is launching a Starbucks Reorder Skill to the Alexa platform.

My Starbucks barista was previously announced at the company’s Investor Day in December, and uses an AI-powered messaging interface like many existing chatbots. You’ll be able to speak your order, and customize your food and drink to your personal preferences, according to Starbucks. On Alexa, users will be able to re-order a standard, pre-defined order by saying, “Alexa, order my Starbucks.” They will be able to pick up their food and beverage at a pre-determined outlet.

The voice-based ordering service will be available to one thousand users at first, and the company intends to continue rolling out the feature in the US through summer this year. An Android version is also in the works, but if you don’t want to wait to use your voice to make an order, you can always dial the company’s toll-free phone number.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Starbucks

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Porn doesn’t need a XXX hologram

In December, the internet exploded with news of a XXX hologram. CamSoda, a small adult-cam site was bringing a holographic cam girl to the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. I had to see it for myself.

Decades of work have gone into the pursuit of true, full-color video holograms as sophisticated as Princess Leia’s cry for help in Star Wars. I didn’t expect a porn conference to be the place where more than a half-century of scientific research would bear fruit. But two weeks after CES, I was on my way back to Las Vegas for porn’s premier event. I was fully expecting an industry stuck in the past, but hoping for something more.

When I arrived, AVN CEO Tony Rios greeted me and quickly assured me that despite what I might have heard, the show was bigger and better than ever. He took us up to the “Real World” suite, where a 2011 season of the MTV show was shot. As we walked the halls, Rios hinted at the party that had happened there the night before. The suite had an AVN-branded bowling lane and a giant, raised en-suite bath. I had the strange sensation of being on the defunct set of an MTV reality show now serving as the late-night playground for porn’s biggest stars.

Wild nights aside, Rios showed no signs of fatigue as he defended the industry and the event. Not only was he expecting a record 25,000 attendees, but the Hard Rock had also built an entire new wing specifically for AVN’s adult-novelty exhibitors.

That might come as a surprise for those who’ve followed porn’s recent history. After the stock-market crash of 2008, reports of the industry’s demise became commonplace. A mix of a weakened economy, the growth of free tube sites, and an ongoing battle with online piracy crippled the Hollywood-style studio system of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

According to Rios, reports of porn’s death were premature. All I had to do was hit the show floor to see that the industry had evolved. It was now more nimble, diverse and technologically advanced than ever.

“We’re going to continue to see huge growth in cams, and I’m excited to see what happens with VR,” Rios said. “It’s still in its infancy and, you know, a lot people think they know what’s going to happen, but I’ve been around long enough—you just have to wait and see what actually bubbles up to the top.”

That “see what bubbles up” approach is why I was at AEE to begin with. The holographic cam girl is one of a series of often-bizarre experiments to come out of CamSoda’s labs. CamSoda is a relatively new startup in an established and booming segment of adult entertainment focused on connecting users to entertainers through live video and chat. Like Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, porn’s new heavyweights aren’t content creators first but social-networking platforms.

And like their mainstream counterparts, CamSoda realizes iteration is key. In the space of a year, it introduced live 360-degree sex shows, an “iTunes for blow jobs” and, most recently, OhRoma, a VR peripheral that lets you smell your porn. In talking about the hologram and the company’s more practical pursuit of 360-degree live video, CEO Daron Lundeen employs the Silicon Valley cliché, “fail fast, fail often.”

“We’re the site that’s gonna experiment,” Lundeen told me. “If you got a new idea, a new technology that’s out there, we want to grab it, and try it, and use it.”

Compared to other, more established cam sites, like AEE title sponsor MyFreeCams.com and Chaturbate, CamSoda’s booth is relatively small, but no less kinetic. Women in plunging CamSoda-branded bathing suits line a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of tables. Some of the site’s most successful models are here signing autographs and performing for audiences at home at the same time. To the right of the booth is a series of experiments from the CamSoda labs. The crown jewel, like some outsize precious stone, is an inverted, rotating glass pyramid that appears to have a tiny stripper trapped inside.

Pay no attention to the lap dancing woman behind the curtain …

This is the “hologram” that we’d been promised, but it isn’t a hologram at all. As I’d suspected, CamSoda’s “invention” is a take on a parlor trick called Pepper’s Ghost that first appeared in 1862. It employs a series of angled glass panels to give the illusion of a full-color, 3D hologram. It’s the same trick that’s given life to dead celebrities like Elvis and Tupac and given increased visibility to living legends like Al Gore, Mariah Carey and even the prime minister of India.

In order to make your own porno Pepper’s Ghost, you’ll need to shoot your subject from four different angles. Once you have the video, just position your glass pyramid on top of your iPhone and press play.

Illustration by D. Thomas Magee

Anyway, I’d come to Vegas to find the future of porn, and while I was pretty sure this wasn’t it, I was ready for my demo. I was introduced to Alexis Monroe, who would be transformed into my own private hologram performer. She gave me a hug and quickly ran back to a small, makeshift studio outfitted with green fabric and a series of four cameras that would capture her movements in real-time and display them on the four sides of the rotating pyramid on the show floor.

I was placed in front of a microphone, pointed directly at the display, with a vibrating saddle donning a fleshy silicone nub at my feet and a petite fuck machine thrusting into thin air just behind me. The microphone was meant to enable two-way communication but was useless due to the surrounding noise. I stood mostly still as I attempted small talk with Monroe, who writhed around a plastic folding chair. She was like a small, soft-core stripper version of the Wizard of Oz on mute. It was, by far, the most bizarre lap dance I’ve ever experienced.

When pressed Lundeen admits that his holograms are more gimmick than true technological breakthrough—something fun to draw people in. He says the real attraction isn’t the medium but the models, and that his real focus is on simultaneous 2D and 360-degree live video broadcasting. But, he says, the spirit of experimentation that drives CamSoda is exactly why porn has been at the forefront of so many technological trends.

“I think that’s where adult probably has a leg up on most other industries,” Lundeen said. “We can put something like the hologram together very quickly without a whole lot of red tape.”

A quick sweep of the Hard Rock revealed an industry that emerged from a crisis more nimble and focused on the future than I expected. Surviving pioneers like Hustler, Evil Angel and Penthouse bumped up against cam sites like MyFreeCams.com and Chaturbate that were either nonexistent or in their infancy when the industry tanked. Rios points to the growth of virtual reality at the show as a sign of its vitality. VR exhibitors at AEE 2017 were up to more than 20, nearly double the number in 2016, he says. By contrast, CES, the world’s biggest technology showcase, put its official VR exhibitor count at 70. It has seven times the number of attendees.

But the most striking change on display at AEE wasn’t inside a headset: It was everywhere, in the blue glow of a laptop screen. At the Hard Rock hotel, big-name stars like Joanna Angel and Nina Hartley were lost in a sea of fresh young talent. These women, coiffed with every color of neon and pastel hair, giggled into tiny desktop cameras, pursed brightly painted lips and pushed together barely covered breasts. They offered a new face of a business once stuck in a mirror image of mainstream media. Like tech giants Facebook and Twitter, the big names in porn are banking on live streaming video, and like the latest batch of social-media celebrities, there’s no formula for a successful cam model.

Before our interview ends, Lundeen tells me what’s next for CamSoda labs. There’s “the whole T. rex strategy,” which, from what I can tell is a plush mascot that crashes events and cam sessions, and a new character called POV guy, equipped with cameras, battery packs and a cellphone for live video capture and real-time chat. But the least sexy of the three is the one that caught my attention: live, mobile broadcasting. This is the future of porn.

Lundeen knows you have to give people what they want. What they want right now is a connection unencumbered by creative camera angles, cheesy scripts and big-budget sets.

The people want live, frictionless tits. But what’s new?

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Japan Display battles Samsung’s OLED with curved LCD screens

One of Apple’s main screen suppliers, Japan Display Inc. (JDI), has revealed a 5.5-inch LCD smartphone screen that can be bent like OLED displays from Samsung and LG. While not quite as flexible and thin as OLED, the “Full Active Flex” 1080p screen could be used in phones with curved screens like the Galaxy S7 Edge, the company told the Wall Street Journal. LCD is a lot cheaper than OLED, so you could see a lot more curved phone designs when it starts manufacturing the panels in 2018.

Since LCD displays usually have a glass backing, it’s been difficult to curve them until now. Japan Display got around that issue by using plastic for both side of the liquid crystal layer. That allows not only a flexible screen, but could also help “prevent cracking from occurring when the display is dropped,” the company said. It also hopes to adapt the screens for other products, including car displays and laptops.

Japan Display also told the WSJ that it has launch customers for the screens, though it wouldn’t say whether Apple or any other company was among those. Rumors of an OLED iPhone have been bubbling up recently, but some analysts think that all the OLED suppliers combined couldn’t meet Apple’s needs until at least 2018. If Cook and company decided to try curved screens, however, the LCD models from JDI now give them a future option besides OLED.

Source: Japan Display

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Apple wants to make app developers less thirsty for reviews

Apple may finally be putting an end to the annoying slew of review requests that often pop up while you’re using an app. According to Recode, the iPhone maker is working on a mechanism that limits the number of times that developers can ask for reviews and ratings to three per year.

Apple is also working on an option within the phone’s settings to disable all such requests, said Recode, as well as adding a way to let users submit ratings and reviews without leaving the apps they’re in. That convenience should encourage more user feedback, which should assuage the concerns of those who might be worried about the potential new feature. Developers depend on positive ratings to get their apps discovered in Apple’s store.

These updates will be part of an upcoming iOS 10.3 release that will also let developers directly reply to reviews within the app store, under what will reportedly be called the Reviews API. The iOS 10.3 developer beta, made available today, will also include a feature to let you use Find My iPhone to search for your missing AirPods.

Source: Recode

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Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ app will help you locate lost AirPods

When Apple announced its wireless AirPods last fall, there was some anxiety over how easy it would be to lose one of the wireless earbuds. Well, the company is looking to ease that burden a bit. As part of the upcoming iOS 10.3 update, you will be able to use the Find My iPhone app to locate a lost AirPod. Just like the app helps you find a misplaced laptop, iPad or iPhone, it will soon tell you were that earbud fell out of your pocket.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the app uses the AirPods’ wireless tech to locate them. The earbuds don’t have a GPS connection, so Apple employs the iPhone’s GPS tech. The map inside the Find My iPhone app will show you the last place the AirPods were in range of an iOS device connected to your iCloud account. If you happen to lose one out of range, the software will show you a general location of where it was last connected to one one of your gadgets. However, you will have to use your phone to employ this method.

What happens when you drop an AirPod at home and you just can’t see it? The app will also let you play a sound through the earbuds to help you locate them. Here, you have the option beaming a noise through one or both of the audio accessories. Of course, this is dependent on the fact that the AirPods haven’t run out of battery yet. iOS 10.3 was released to developers today, so it shouldn’t be long before it and its earbud-locating tool are available for everyone to use. Hey, at least it might save you $ 69 on a replacement set.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Right to Repair bills introduced in five states

Anyone with a cracked iPhone screen knows what a pain it is to go through Apple to get it repaired. You have to make a Genius Bar appointment, which may or may not still require you to wait around for a service technician. Then it could be hours before you get your precious back into your possession. Or, you could use one of the repair kiosks found in nearly every mall in the United States and be back in business in about 45 minutes.

The problem is that kiosk and other repair shops like it might be running afoul of the law. Apple doesn’t have an “authorized repair” model for its iOS devices. The iPhone maker isn’t alone in this. Other electronics manufacturers only offer repairs via their own stores or workshops. This means individuals and small companies don’t have access to official parts or manuals. So they either have to scavenge what they need from broken devices or purchase them from grey markets and that’s how they get in trouble using counterfeit parts.

To keep small businesses out of trouble and to allow end users the opportunity to actually fix the things they buy, Motherboard reports that five states (Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota,Massachusetts and New York) have introduced “right to repair” bills. It would give shops the ability to buy the parts they need and get access to official manuals from manufacturers. and it’s not just tiny computers you put in your pocket, the bills also would affect large appliances and tractors.

So while most of us won’t be ripping apart electronics on our own any time soon, these bills will make it easier to get our devices fixed by third-party vendors. Even the kiosk folks.

Source: Motherboard

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Apple is reportedly reinventing the iPhone’s fingerprint reader

Future iPhones may revolve around more than just an eye-catching curved display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently (though not always) has a knack for hardware scoops, believes that Apple is designing a whole new Touch ID fingerprint reader for future iPhones and iPads. In order for Apple to virtually eliminate bezels, it needs a reader that sits under the screen — and that means a brand new optical sensor. Development is underway, the analyst says, but development is still early enough that the technology might not be ready in time for the 2017 iPhone.

You might not even need a fingerprint sensor in the future, though. Kuo claims that Apple is looking at using face recognition (not just iris recognition) as a part of the next iPhone’s features, and may even scrap Touch ID in the long run. Face recognition isn’t new (just ask anyone using Android since 4.0), but it would have to be advanced if people are going to ditch fingerprint reading entirely. It couldn’t be fooled by a photo, for instance, and would have to be both very fast and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. You don’t want to have to enter your PIN just because it’s too dark.

Biometrics might not be the only area getting an overhaul thanks to the reported new screen. Kuo understands that the iPhone 7’s existing approach to 3D Touch won’t work with the next iPhone’s curved OLED panel, prompting a switch to a “film sensor.” The change would lead to greater sensitivity and more pressure levels, so you might not have to jab the screen quite so authoritatively as you do today.

As always, it’s important to take these claims with a grain of salt. Analysts can have the inside track on future products thanks to suppliers, but they may have incomplete info or discuss features that are subject to change. Don’t be alarmed if these features don’t make the cut, or if they show up in ways you didn’t expect. If there’s any credibility to the reports, though, unlocking and interacting with your iPhone may be much easier in the near future.

Source: 9to5Mac (1)

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Matterport brings its Virtual Reality Spaces to the iPhone

iPhone users who love exploring the world from the comfort of their couches have a new app to download: Matterport. The Google Street View rival has brought its virtual reality tours of various real-world locations to the iPhone. Matterport originally offered 3D views of everything from popular travel destinations to celebrity homes and historic places like the very first Boeing 737. It started going into VR late last year, though, and even launched a platform called CoreVR that makes it easy for content creators to turn their Street View-like shots into virtual reality experiences.

The company has around 300,000 VR spaces, 150 of which make up a curated premium selection, that you can access through the iOS, Gear VR and Cardboard apps. It also promises to keep converting and adding the rest of its 3D spaces. Take note that the app will only work if you have an iPhone 5s or one of the device’s newer iterations, and only if it’s running iOS 9.1 and higher. In case you’re a business owner looking to show off your place place in VR, though, you’ll also need Matterport’s $ 4,500 camera in addition to a new-ish iPhone.

Source: Matterport, iTunes

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GarageBand on iOS is now a more capable music production suite

Apple’s GarageBand is a good place to get started with recording, but it’s useful for more advanced skill levels as well. The company just revealed an update to the iOS version of the app that gives the software a few more tools for tracking on the go. First, the powerful Alchemy synthesizer from Apple’s pro-grade Logic software is now available as an instrument in the mobile version of GarageBand. It includes over 150 patches capable of producing sounds for a range of genres.

Inside the app, Apple has tweaked the sound browser to make it easier to find the so-called Touch Instruments you want to use on a project. The company made the recording process easier as well, thanks to a new Multi-Take feature. Just like in a studio, you can use the tool to capture multiple takes before auditioning and switching between them to see which one works best.

There’s also an updated audio recorder that allows you to employ vocal effects with a single tap. A few of the widely used options are available here, including pitch correction, distortion and delay. More advanced users can expect some new audio processing tools as well. Those include a graphic EQ that handles sound adjustments with the swipe of a finger and the ability to use third-party Audio Unit plug-ins for even more options.

GarageBand for iOS version 2.2 is a free update for anyone with a new iOS device. If you’re still rocking an older iPhone or iPad, you can download the app from the App Store for $ 5.

GaragBand Video iPad (30 sec) Pro Res 422

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