Apple hikes UK App Store prices by 25 percent because Brexit

If you’re an iPhone, iPad or Mac user in the UK, prepare yourself: App Store prices are on the rise. As 9to5Mac reports, developers are being notified that their software will soon be bumped up in price. Apps worth 79 pence before will soon cost 99 pence, while those priced at £1.49 will rise to £1.99. Similar increases will be seen at higher price points too — video games with a £7.99 price-tag, such as Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, will soon shoot up to £9.99, for instance. The reason? Almost certainly Brexit, and the negative impact it’s having on the pound at the moment.

An Apple spokesperson said: “Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business. These factors vary from region to region and over time.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who will announce later today that Britain is leaving the European single market. The pound slipped to a 31-year low against the dollar last week, and today dropped below the euro too. These fluctuations are tied to the ongoing uncertainty around Britain and the trade deals it will be able to negotiate once May triggers Article 50, the political starting pistol for the nation’s exit from the European Union.

Apple isn’t the only technology company adapting to Brexit uncertainty. Last year, the OnePlus 3 and HTC Vive received small, but significant price increases in the UK. Tesla announced a similar move for its electric vehicles in December — the implementation was pushed from January 1st to 15th, however — upping sticker prices by 5 percent to accommodate for the shifting currency. Apple has been doing the same, albeit quietly, for some of its key hardware, including the iPad Pro and iPhone 7. We wouldn’t be surprised if more companies follow their lead in the next few months.

Source: 9to5Mac

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12 iPhone reviews in 3 minutes for its 10th anniversary

The iPhone turned 10 on Monday, forever changing the course of smartphone history. But even game-changing devices, like humans, have good years and bad years. Remember antenna-gate? What about all of those dongles? And that time Apple tried to make the 5c happen. We’ve rounded up all our reviews (listed below) and also summed them up in one short video. Enjoy, and prepare to feel old: Remember when copy-and-paste on iOS was a big deal? Or when we thought the iPhone’s killer app would be making phone calls? Yeah.

  • The One That Started It All: the iPhone (parts 1, 2 and 3 — hey, we had a lot to say)
  • The One With The App Store: the iPhone 3G
  • The One That Looked Like The Last One: the iPhone 3GS
  • The One You Were Holding Wrong: the iPhone 4
  • The One That Made Siri a Thing: the iPhone 4S
  • The One With a Lightning Connector: the iPhone 5
  • The One In All the Colors: the iPhone 5c
  • The One With Touch ID: the iPhone 5S
  • The Ones That Went Big-Screen: the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • The Ones With the Pressure-Sensitive Screens: the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
  • The One Where Apple Decided People Like Small Phones After All: the iPhone SE
  • The One With No Headphone Jack: the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

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Android creator Andy Rubin is building a high-end smartphone

It turns out the rumors were true: Android creator Andy Rubin is returning to phones with his latest company Essential Products Inc. According to a report from Bloomberg, Essential aims to bring together several mobile and smart home products under one platform and the company will release a flagship smartphone around the middle of this year.

In a filing with California regulators, Essential listed tablets, smartphones and mobile software among its products, but according to Bloomberg‘s sources, the company’s first device will be the center of a whole suite of connected products. Essential’s 40-person team was largely poached from both Apple and Google, so the phone will compete directly with the iPhone and Pixel in terms of both specs and price point. Essential’s various prototypes reportedly sport features like a large, bezel-free screen that’s bigger than an iPhone 7 Plus and a ceramic back that requires some finesse to manufacture. The company is also working on a version of Apple’s 3D Touch and developing its own magnetic charging and accessories connector that will allow the device to add aftermarket hardware features. As for the software, Bloomberg says it’s currently “unclear” whether the devices will run on an Android-based operating system.

Essential Products at least partially grew out of Rubin’s Silicon Valley incubator Playground Global, which is focused on quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Foxconn, which is an investor in Playground Global, is reportedly in talks to build the new device.

Source: Bloomberg

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Apple TV app changes pave the way for better gaming

Apple has drastically increased the size of apps that developers can submit to its Apple TV App Store, paving the way for more media-heavy apps, especially games. Up until now the limit was 200 MB, but apps can now be as large 4GB, the same as for iOS devices. The change should provide a “complete, rich user experience upon installation,” Apple says, noting that as before, apps can host up to 20GB of additional content from the App Store.

The change has led some to speculate that a new Apple TV might come along soon with more storage than the current 32 or 64GB offerings. As it stands, downloading a few large apps now would fill up the devices pretty fast, compared to, say, a 256GB iPhone 7.

As developer Steve Troughton-Smith points out, apps that large are generally games, so future Apple TV models might soon be more console-like. “Fun thought: If Apple TV gets a modern A-series CPU/GPU upgrade [like the A10 fusion chip used in the iPhone 7], it’ll be more powerful than one of the ‘real’ games consoles in the market,” he tweeted, referring to Nintendo’s new Switch.

Via: Steve Troughton-Smith (Twitter)

Source: Apple

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Apple faces a price-fixing suit over App Store purchases

Apple is in court once again. This time, the company is part of an anti-trust lawsuit over the strict limitations over where users can buy iOS applications. Specifically, the requirement that all apps be purchased through the Cupertino company’s App Store. The suit alleges that by not allowing customers to buy apps from third-party services, Apple was price fixing and that customers could sue as a result, according to Bloomberg.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was originally filed back in 2011. Apple’s defense is that it isn’t directly selling software to consumers, but that its 30 percent cut of an app’s price amounts to renting space on its digital storefront, Reuters writes.

The US Appeals Court thinks otherwise. “Apple’s analogy is unconvincing,” it said. “In the case before us, third-party developers of iPhone apps do not have their own stores.”

Currently, the suit covers apps purchased from 2007 to 2013. Attorney Mark Rifkin says that while the case hasn’t hit class-action status yet he might expand the scope of it to anyone who’s bought iPhone apps to this day. All of which could cost Apple a boatload of cash; “hundreds of millions” of dollars in damages by Bloomberg‘s estimate.

Rifkin says that if the court sides with users that Apple should let people buy apps from anywhere they desire, a move that could lower the price on apps. However, that doesn’t take into account that third-party app stores (and folks with jail-broken iPhones) often have to contend with rafts of malware, or the risk of compromising their phones and security.

Source: Bloomberg

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Apple is looking to make its own Netflix-beating TV shows

Apple is planning on investing in original TV shows, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. With iPhone sales on the decline, people close to the company have revealed that it will attempt to gain Apple Music subscribers by adding original video content to the service. While this move has been rumoured since the relaunch of Apple TV, the company has apparently now started reaching out to Holywood producers, planning to offer original video content by the end of 2017.

Instead of investing in a full library of scripted content, however, Apple is initially setting its sights on a few high-quality original concepts. The same sources claim that Apple is seeking to rival the quality of shows like HBO’s Westworld and Netflix’s Stranger Things, with original movies possibly coming further down the line.

The report claims that Apple is still yet to buy any scripts due to internal debates about how to handle its business model. While Netflix refuses to share any kind of viewer figures or demographic data, Holywood producers believe that Apple will be far more open about how its original content performs.

While surprising, this wouldn’t be Apple’s first foray into publishing video content. Seeing the phenomenal success of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, Apple Music recently bought the rights to broadcast its own 30 minute version of the series. The company also revealed that it’s creating a semi-autobiographical documentary series called ‘Vital Signs’ starring Dr. Dre, due to premiere on Apple Music later this year.

While significant, both confirmed shows are firmly rooted in music. This rumoured expansion could mark Apple’s first step into non-music-related video content. Despite that, this seems to be a way to lure subscribers away from Apple Music competitor Spotify, rather than serving as a rival to purely video streaming services like Netflix. At last count, Apple Music had 20 million subscribers and Spotify double that.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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Hacker’s unofficial ‘Watch Dogs 2’ app is incredibly appropriate

After successfully linking GTA V to an iPhone, the same Hungarian hacker has now developed software that allows users to manipulate Watch Dogs 2 from their smartphone. Using the programming language, Python, YouTuber Planetleak DIY Projects has managed to recreate the game’s Dedsec app on his iPhone — and the irony of creating an iPhone hack for a game about hacking probably wasn’t lost on him.

Thanks to clever keypress emulation and screenshots mimicking the look of the game’s smartphone, the custom app instantly navigates a convincing replica of Watch Dogs 2’s in-game menu via the iPhone’s touchscreen.

It’s certainly a step-up from the hacker’s GTA V app. While his 2015 effort required an Arduino in order to recreate GTA‘s button presses, he claims this new software-only solution has resulted in a far smoother and less laggy experience. When the YouTuber contacted Ubisoft, the company expressed interest in the project, giving him permission to share the app’s source files. These means that anyone can modify the software (or simply use it as is) by downloading the source code for the Python server.

A couple of years ago, hackers didn’t need to bother creating these kind of solutions. After the Wii U launched, many publishers initially responded by releasing companion apps for Xbox 360 and PS3 games, offering non-Nintendo gamers a second screen experience of their own. While these apps were pretty useful, they were largely seen as a gimmick and after declining public interest, publishers quickly stopped developing them.

With this console generation seeing fewer and fewer games launching with companion apps, gamers who liked a degree of smartphone integration will have to rely on the work of hackers like this one.

Source: Planetleak DIY Projects

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Teaching the uninterested about headphones

By Aaron Souppouris and Mat Smith

There’s a constant divide at Engadget between those who care about audio and those who don’t. I (that’s Aaron) fall mostly in the first category: I appreciate high-end headphones, but my budget typically leaves me with pairs costing $ 200 to $ 300. My current daily ‘phones are AKG K702s for home and Master & Dynamic MH30s for out and about.

My colleague Mat Smith couldn’t be more different. He uses a mix of unremarkable Sony earbuds and Bluetooth headphones and responds to “audiophile” conversation with a bespoke mixture of groans and eye rolls. This CES, I decided to spend a morning getting him excited about headphones. It went … OK?

The rules were simple and our methodology entirely unscientific. We would travel from booth to booth, listening to a single track over and over. Because we’re mean, the Engadget CES team deemed Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” the perfect fit, despite the holidays being long gone.

After adding a 1411 Kbps (16/44.1 kHz) FLAC file to my iPhone, we headed onto the show floor, stopping at Sennheiser, Audio Technica, HiFiMan, Audeze and Klipsch. In general, I was looking for portable headphones that work well when connected to a phone. For each listen, I had Mat tell me his thoughts before we moved on to the next booth.

Sennheiser HD 4.50BTNC ($ 200)

Mat: It’s my first listen, so there’s nothing to measure against. The track sounds rich, but nothing I can call out explicitly. I don’t really like cans — they’re uncomfortable.

Aaron: We visited Sennheiser first for no reason other than it was closest to the front door. I paired Sennheiser’s latest wireless headphones, the HD4.50BTNC, with my phone, switched off noise cancellation, and gave them to Mat for his first dose of Mariah. They’re fairly functional cans, but don’t excite me massively (their main selling point is noise cancellation, which I have no use for).

Audio Technica ATH-SR9 ($ 450)

Aaron: After Mat’s uninspired response to the Sennheisers, I figured it was a safe bet that Audio Technica’s SR9s would at least sound different than the HD 4.50s. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t sound great on an iPhone, but the Audio Technica rep said they’d be fine, and any fears were allayed by a quick listen. They sounded rich and sharp to my ears.

Mat: Ugh, more cans. The song had both more depth, and the treble stood out a lot more. Mariah even sounded a little hissy. I could hear the components of the track better than the Sennheisers. I think these are better, but I need more. Are these more expensive?

HiFiMan Edition S ($ 250)

Aaron: Now that I’d got Mat at least acknowledging that there were differences between headphones, I wanted him to experience the change between open- and closed-back cans. HiFiMan’s Edition S are portable headphones that switch from closed to open back with the removal of magnetic side plates. In general, open back headphones offer a wider, more neutral sound, at the cost of bass response and noise isolation. We began the test with them closed, and after a couple of minutes I removed the covers, before placing them back in for the song’s finale.

Mat: The difference is almost indistinguishable. The song sounded tinnier with the covers on. When you took them off, it all became richer — somehow airier? Does that make sense? It definitely sounded better open back, but I was afraid of the sound leak. I listen to a lot of embarrassing crap, so this is a concern for me.

Audeze iSine 20 ($ 600)

Aaron: Knowing that Mat has an aversion to over- and on-ear cans, Audeze’s iSines were high up on my list. I tried a pair briefly a few months ago, and they’re like no in-ear monitors (IEMs) I’ve heard before. The planar magnetic drivers inside them result in very low levels of distortion, and a much more crisp sound than you’d expect. They’re also capable of getting ridiculously loud.

Mat: These were confusing. They didn’t sound like any in-ear buds. They sounded very different than what I’d heard so far. I felt the bass was a bit lacking, but maybe that’s because I came from on-ear cans just before. Still the audio was powerful; very strong. The sounds seemed crisper. I was really surprised by power.

Audeze Sine ($ 450)

Aaron: Slightly crestfallen from the “meh” response to the iSines — I’m pretty sure they just weren’t in his ears properly — I took one last shot at impressing Mat. I’ve been weighing up buying a pair of Sines for months now in preparation for owning an iPhone without a headphone jack. All of the Sine series can be bought with Lightning cables, and I took advantage of that for the test, bypassing my iPhone’s audio circuitry in favor of Audeze’s in-cable solution.

Mat: These were really good; the best-sounding headphones so far. It wasn’t only the level richness, but you can really get a sense of distance between you and the various instruments. The sleigh bells were further away. It was almost like listening to a sound system or a soundbar: deep and bassy. Luxurious. So much better than everything else.

3.5mm diversion

Aaron: The breakthrough had happened. Mat was actually excited about a pair of headphones, and now it was time to demonstrate how big a difference Audeze’s in-wire DAC made. I swapped out cables, connected him up to my iPhone’s 3.5mm jack, and let “All I Want For Christmas Is You” play out.

Mat: Yuck. Completely different. Sounds like any pair of loose-fitting cans. I think the downgrade is especially noticeable because I hopped to the 3.5mm jack mid-track. It sounded grayer, flatter. Meh. That test makes a persuasive argument for fair-weather listeners like me to lose the headphone jack.

Klipsch Heritage hp-3 ($ 1,000)

Aaron: I think that last test was a little unfair. The iPhone probably didn’t have the power to make the Sines sound good, as I know from experience that they’re still very good headphones without the Lightning adapter. For our last show-floor test, I gave Mat what should have been a delightful pairing: Klipsch’s new $ 1000 Heritage hp-3, connected to my phone via a tube amplifier. It’s anything but portable, but I figured we’d go out on a high note.

Mat: These look very nice — and feel comfortable too. The track sounds deep and rich, but nothing particularly stands out. I think I was spoiled (or at least distracted) by the planar headphones before.

Mat’s Sony earbuds (~$ 60)

Aaron: Okay, so it turns out Mat actually has good taste. I did the one-two listen on the Sines and Heritage hp-3, and was also way more impressed with Audeze’s cans. To finish off our little adventure, I had Mat go back to the trailer, and listen to the same track on his phone, on his earbuds, using standard Spotify streaming (as he is wont to do).

Mat: These are my regular listening headphones. Treble’s fine; the bass doesn’t feel as rich as the headphones I’ve tried today. The track also doesn’t sound as natural. While punchy, the richer orchestrated parts sounds a bit thinner.

The sound of change

Mat: I know how terrible some headphones sound, but I’m more than happy with my current set. Yes, I expected more expensive headphones to sound better — that was a given. However, I was surprised that I was able to notice differences between headsets at prices way above my usual headphone budget. Will it change how I shop for and buy headphones? I’m not sure. I far prefer in-ear buds to cans (my ears get sweaty) and listening to music through any kind of headphones is something I do when my attention is mostly elsewhere — while working, at the gym, during my commute. That’s why it’s harder to justify spending more on them.

Aaron: I feel thoroughly vindicated here. I’m pretty certain Mat’s not going to run out and buy a pair of $ 500 cans, but I’m at least hopeful he won’t point and laugh if I do.

Mat: There is an aspect of premium headphones that I am intrigued by: Many of them come with lifetime guarantees. I go through my middleweight (or even boxed-with phone) headphones at a rate of about a pair a year. Maybe a pair of more expensive headphones might be worth it in the long run. Even if I change, then, audio quality would be the secondary benefit.

Aaron: Mission… accomplished? Kind of? I’ll take it.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.
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How a smart breast pump won CES

When we previewed CES 2017 last week, none of our editors saw the Willow smart breast pump coming. But the humble device, which slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands-free pumping, won two of our Best of CES awards and generated press coverage across the internet. We were hardly the only outlet that declared the device one of the most innovative things we saw at the show.

It’s hard for a little-known company to make this kind of buzz at CES, where you have to compete against giants like Sony, Samsung, LG, Honda, Toyota and more of the world’s biggest companies. But once and a while the stars align and a gadget from an unknown startup breaks through the clutter. What made Willow such a hit this year?

Willow: Hands-on

We’ve seen devices like Willow become a phenomenon before. Hapifork dominated the CES 2013 conversation with the somewhat absurd premise of tracking how many bites you take, how long you chew and how long you eat. Unfortunately, using the Hapifork was a big letdown. Hapifork is far from the only oddball connected gadget that got a strange amount of attention: The creepy Mother connected home platform and ridiculous Belty smart belt are two more examples of bizarre gadgets that got more attention than they deserved, because that’s what happens at CES.

Willow was also likely helped by the fact that it’s a smart, connected device. While the promise of the Internet of Things has largely gone unrealized thus far, our readers seem to have a fascination with the weirder connected devices that we cover — particularly the devices that have no business being smart in the first place (like this toaster!). It’s not surprising, then, that a smart breast pump garnered so much attention — but the fact that it turned out to be actually useful made it more than just a punch line.

There are a number of other reasons that Willow dominated the conversation this year. Crucially, the Willow attempts to solves a real problem in a way that other products don’t. That’s a rarity at CES. New mothers have to pump several times per day for months, and it sounds like the Willow can make that experience easier. For starters, the Willow can be worn under a normal nursing bra, which means frazzled moms can continue to get other things done (or just hold on to their newborn) while pumping. It can also track output for them, and the pump’s bags can be stored right in the freezer and cut open when they need to fill a bottle.

For various reasons, no one on team Engadget was able to actually try out the device, but our research showed that there’s nothing quite like Willow on the market. Yes, other smart pumps exist, but based on our research, Willow appears to be the best option by far. If it delivers on its promises, it could make a tedious activity easier, and that’s worth celebrating.

However, it’s not good enough for Willow to have just made a good product. Thousands of companies exhibit at CES every year, and surely they’re not all selling iPhone cases, backpacks with e-ink screens and similar nonsense. But oftentimes, one of the big companies showing at CES delivers something that ends up being the buzz of the show, sucking much of the oxygen out of the room for the smaller companies with lesser marketing budgets.

Every year, we cover all variety of unconventional devices from unknown creators, but no publication can see everything at CES. And when big announcements from huge companies (such as Sling TV in 2015 or Chevy’s affordable and long-range Bolt EV in 2016) make headlines, it’s harder for offbeat products to get the attention they might deserve.

That wasn’t the case this year. Yes, LG won our Best of CES award with its stunning OLED TV that’s thinner than an iPhone. It’s an amazing TV — but it’s still just a TV. We’ve seen them before, and next CES we’ll see yet another stunner. That’s one thing you can count on at CES like clockwork. But the number of new mothers who could benefit from the $ 429 Willow likely exceeds the number of people who could afford and are in the market for LG’s flagship.

That utility truly set Willow apart this year. One of the biggest downsides of CES is the deluge of gadgets that are not only bad but also inessential, unnecessary, with no real reason for existing. Lots of others have the potential to be great but are still just iterations on existing products already on the market. Willow, on the other hand, is using technology to solve a real problem, something that all too few gadgets at CES do. Here’s hoping this year’s unexpected darling of the big show in Vegas delivers on its promises.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.
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The Morning After: Tuesday, January 10th 2017

CES 2017 has wrapped up and Engadget is back to the relative normality of another week in tech. That said, we have all our Best Of CES winners, Razer says its prototype hardware was stolen at the show, and the iPhone celebrates its 10th birthday.

Simply the best.
Presenting the Best of CES 2017 winners!

We debated. We argued. One of us even yelled. After a long night of going through our list of finalists, our editors settled on our winners for the official Best of CES awards. Winners include LG, Dell, Razer, Honda and, perhaps surprisingly, Fisher-Price.

Industrial espionage or desperate fans?
Razer’s prototype laptops were stolen from its CES booth

Razer’s CEO Min-Liang Tan confirmed that two of its concept products were stolen from its booth on the last day of the show. “I’ve just been informed that two of our prototypes were stolen from our booth at CES today,” said Tan on his Facebook page. “We have filed the necessary reports and are currently working with the show management as well as law enforcement to address this issue.” In a later statement, the company said it was two of its three-screened laptops, currently titled Project Valerie, that were stolen at the show.

A world before smartphone apps.The iPhone’s legacy, 10 years later

On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs gave the world its first glimpse of the iPhone. A decade later, and it’s difficult to overstate the impact it’s had. Associate Editor Jon Fingas looks at all the things that Apple has got right and wrong with its most popular product over the years.

One accidental dollhouse order led to lots of accidental dollhouse orders
Amazon’s Echo attempted a TV-fueled shopping spree

Voice-activated devices can screw up — just ask anyone watching a Microsoft gaming event with a Kinect-equipped Xbox One nearby. However, Amazon’s Echo speaker caused more of that chaos than usual when a 6-year-old girl inadvertently ordered cookies and a dollhouse from Amazon by saying what she wanted. It was a costly goof ($ 170), but nothing too special by itself. Well, until San Diego’s CW6 discussed the snafu on a morning TV show and one of the hosts made the mistake of saying that he liked when the girl said “Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.” The channel then received multiple reports from viewers whose Echo devices tried to order dollhouses when their Echo device heard those magical dollhouse-ordering words from the TV.

But wait, there’s more…

  • OLED TVs will finally take off in 2017
  • MIT’s 3D graphene is ten times stronger than steel
  • Of course I took these eerily detailed 3D selfies at CES

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