Merriam-Webster’s idea of ‘sheeple’ are Apple fanboys

I’ll admit it: I’m an unabashed Apple fanboy. I spent far too much on a Macbook Pro with specs that would cost half as much in the Windows world, I love my pair of ridiculous-looking and easily misplaced AirPods and I may or may not have a box full of old Newtons and Mac 512K parts. There’s a term for folks like me, and Merriam-Webster just made it official: “Sheeple.” The dictionary’s editors just added the term, calling out its sick burn to Apple fans in a tweet.


The new entry says that sheeple are those “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced: People likened to sheep.” Which sounds fine until you read the final contextual sentence. “Apple’s debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone — an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $ 99 for.” This lovely quote comes from CNN’s Doug Criss back in 2015 as part of his “5 Things” column. Thanks, Doug. The word sheeple itself, though, has been in use since 1945, according to the dictionary page.

Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account has become a surprise hit with the shade it keeps throwing at Trump and his administration. It’s subtweeted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ use of the word “historical,” confronted Kellyanne Conway’s use of “alternative facts” and schooled Sean Spicer with an explanation tweet defining “claquer,” or a group of people paid to applaud a speaker.

Being a fan of Apple’s well-designed consumer devices isn’t too tough a row to hoe, of course, but it is a little grating to know that even the dictionary thinks you’re too easily influenced by Apple’s shiny gadgets. I’ll just have to console myself by grabbing one of those neat Smart Battery Cases.

Via: MacRumors

Source: Mirriam-Webster/Twitter

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Apple and Qualcomm’s license dispute is getting nasty

Qualcomm’s ongoing legal dispute with Apple today took a new turn after the chipmaker accused its device-making partner of further withholding patent royalties. According to a statement, Apple recently stopped paying licensing revenue to manufacturers of the iPhone because it believes it’s been overpaying for important 3G and 4G patents.

The legal battle started back in January when Apple sued Qualcomm for $ 1 billion for “abusing its clout” in the industry. Because the semiconductor giant enjoys a monopoly over important modem chips that connect devices to cellular or WiFi networks, it’s required to licence them under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms. Apple argues it hasn’t done that, going as far as to claim that Qualcomm charges five times more than all of its other licensors combined.

Qualcomm hasn’t taken the issue lightly. Earlier this month, it responded to Apple’s lawsuits with one of its own, accusing the iPhone-maker of underutilizing its modem chips in the iPhone 7 and misrepresenting the performance disparity between Qualcomm basebands and those of its rivals.

Now, Apple is holding back money it owes to manufacturers of the iPhone. Qualcomm, for the most part, directly licenses its patents with partners, but Apple does things a little differently and pays partners like Foxconn that have their own agreements. It now expects to get no royalties during its current quarter.

“Apple is improperly interfering with Qualcomm’s long-standing agreements with Qualcomm’s licensees,” said Don Rosenberg, EVP and general counsel of Qualcomm. “These license agreements remain valid and enforceable. While Apple has acknowledged that payment is owed for the use of Qualcomm’s valuable intellectual property, it nevertheless continues to interfere with our contracts. Apple has now unilaterally declared the contract terms unacceptable; the same terms that have applied to iPhones and cellular-enabled iPads for a decade.”

The move has forced Qualcomm to amend financial estimates it published only last week. The company now sees third quarter revenue reaching between $ 4.8 billion and $ 5.6 billion, instead of $ 5.3 billion to $ 6.1 billion.

Source: Qualcomm (PDF)

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Google iOS search now finds streaming movies, music and TV

Finding streaming content on your iPhone is getting easier. Google announced on Wednesday that the newest update to its search app on iOS devices will enable users to find TV shows, movies and songs on streaming services. That includes iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube and Spotify.

The feature, which is already available on Android and the desktop, displays the icons of streaming services that currently offer the content you’re searching for. So, for example, if you look for Zootopia, the app will pop the “Knowledge Box” at the top of the search results. Below the screenshots, movie ratings and synopsis, you’ll now find links to Netflix, Hulu and wherever else it’s streaming. The same goes for music, though you’ll find links to Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora instead. The app will also show how much you’ll have to pay to rent or buy the content.

It’s not a huge addition, but a helpful one. As mobile culture moves from surfing the web to working within apps, this new feature will help users find what they’re looking for more efficiently, regardless of which service the content resides on.

Source: TechCrunch

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It looks like Apple is resurrecting its Venmo competitor

Apple began considering its own peer-to-peer payment system back in 2015. Since then, however, nothing seems to have come of it. Today, however, Recode reports that Apple is again in negotiations to launch its own money-transfer system to rival competing services like PayPal’s wildly popular Venmo. Apple’s new service, likely a feature for Apple Pay, could enable you to send money to a friend’s iPhone from your own.

Apple Pay is doing well for the tech giant, but extending its influence into the peer-to-peer space could encourage more consumers to actually use it. Mobile payments between peers are hot right now, with companies like PayPal, Square, and even Facebook getting into the act. While businesses like Square aren’t making much from peer-to-peer payment systems, the ease of sending money to friends and local service providers is bound to become more ubiquitous as more people try it out. Venmo itself continues to grow rapidly, with a reported $ 6.8 billion in transactions through its app. US banks have also launched their own competing service, Zelle, thereby cutting out third-party middlemen.

While one source told Recode that Apple may announce its new payment service this year, another noted that the launch date and announcement may not be set as of yet. Whatever the timeline for the new Apple service, having the ability to pay rent or split a dinner bill with just your iPhone could be just the thing to convince many of us to use it.

Source: Recode

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Samsung’s chip business kept things looking up to start 2017

Samsung’s Q1 2017 earnings are in, showing the company’s highest quarterly profit since Q3 2013. That’s despite the Galaxy Note 7 recall, and a markdown in the price of its Galaxy Note 7, apparently because the company’s chip business (making memory, processors and camera sensors for phones) is booming. As a company, it brought home the $ 8.75 billion in operating profit expected, and looks forward to better results next quarter, since it will include sales of the new Galaxy S8 phones.

On a call with reporters, execs reaffirmed that reports of a reddish tint on some S8s are a “natural difference” in the OLED technology that it will let users tweak after a software update. Samsung also mentioned “the launch of a new flagship smartphone in the second half,” but didn’t tag the Galaxy Note name to whatever that presumably large-screened device will be. It also did not play into any expectations for an OLED iPhone that it could supply screens for, simply saying that “YoY revenue growth in the OLED business is forecast on the back of increased flexible panel shipments in the second half.”

Source: Samsung

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Apple sees its redesigned retail stores as community spaces

Apple’s retail stores have long had a social side. You might not visit just to hang out, but the combination of free workshops and an abundance of connected devices gives you a reason to stay besides gawking at the latest products… if just to check up on Facebook. And now, Apple is banking on that social aspect as a selling point. The company is both redesigning its 100 largest stores and launching new “Today at Apple” workshops to turn its stores into community spaces of sorts. The shops are still very much geared toward sales, but you’ll have more reasons to swing by on a frequent basis.

The bigger stores are now changing their Genius Bars into “Genius Groves,” complete with lines of trees. We doubt the flora will help you feel better when your iPhone is broken, but they’re at least more inviting. You’ll also see new conference and meeting spaces alongside new video screens.

The workshops, meanwhile, revolve around new in-store Creative Pros who host free sessions based around Apple tools and Apple-friendly devices. There are 90-minute Studio Hours that let you bring in your own project for advice (or simply work outside of your usual space), music and photography labs, a Kids’ Hour with programmable Sphero robots and pro-specific sessions. You’ll even see photo and sketch walks that take you outside of the store. All stores are getting new mobile screens to help present “Today at Apple” sessions, as well as the seating and sound systems to match.

The new workshops will be available by the end of May. As for the larger stores’ upgrades? That’s likely to vary by location, but it’ll likely be impossible to miss.

Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts tells CBS that this isn’t so much a reinvention as a logical extension of what the tech giant has already been doing in its stores. And yes, she imagines that people might soon decide to meet at Apple instead of the nearby coffee shop. That may be a tad optimistic when the workshops are clearly tailored to rookies and niche pros. However, the shift is still important — it suggests that Apple will fight retail competition from Microsoft and even Amazon by turning stores into regular destinations rather than strictly functional shopping hubs. If you keep coming back, after all, it increases the odds that you’ll buy an iPhone or Mac for your next tech upgrade.

Via: The Verge

Source: Apple, CBS

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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 hits sales records despite the Note 7’s flameout

As Samsung was readying the Galaxy S8, everyone wondered if the company would be able to recover from the disastrous, exploding Note 7. From a pure quality of hardware perspective, the S8 appears to be a home run — as long as nothing unexpected happens. The other question is whether customers would reject Samsung after the hit it took last year, but it sounds like that hasn’t happened: Samsung says that pre-orders for the S8 and S8+ were the best it has ever seen.

Specifically, the company says that pre-sales for the two devices were up 30 percent compared to the Galaxy S7 pre-orders from 2016. Samsung said the S7 was the previous best launch it had, but now that title is held by the company’s latest smartphone. Of course, Samsung isn’t giving us any hard numbers so it’s hard to say just how well this launch went compared to how the iPhone 7 went last fall, for example. But in July, Samsung will report its quarterly financials — and we’ll get a better idea of how the S8’s launch affected the company’s bottom line then.

In the meantime, Galaxy S8 owners will have a software update to keep an eye out for. It’s a fix for the first little bug to plague the phone: a screen that looks to be more red-tinted than most would like. Samsung confirmed there’s nothing wrong with the phone’s screen and said that a software update adjusting the screen’s color calibration will be coming this week.

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Apple threatened to drop Uber’s app over iPhone tracking (updated)

Uber is no stranger to trouble, but it may have landed in some especially hot water two years ago. New York Times sources claim that Apple CEO Tim Cook held a face-to-face meeting in early 2015 to call out Uber’s Travis Kalanick (and threaten to remove his app from the App Store) after learning that Uber was not only violating iOS app privacy guidelines, but was trying to cover it up. Reportedly, the ridesharing outfit had been “fingerprinting” iPhones with permanent identities so that it could prevent drivers from cheating by creating fake accounts and accepting rides from these bogus customers. The IDs would last even after the app was deleted or the entire phone was wiped. While this helped keep drivers honest, it was clearly a privacy violation — and it was made worse by Uber’s bid to hide the tracking from App Store reviewers.

Reportedly, Kalanick told staff to “obfuscate” the Uber app’s fingerprinting code for anyone operating from Apple’s current headquarters in Cupertino. As far as the people at Infinite Loop could see, it was business as usual. However, the trick didn’t work for long. Apple workers outside of the headquarters eventually spotted the shady behavior, leading to the meeting with Kalanick. The approach isn’t that uncommon for Uber (it recently admitted that it used location-based techniques to fool regulators), but it’s particularly brazen given the risk of being dropped from the App Store and losing millions of customers.

Apple isn’t commenting on the meeting with Cook, and we’ve reached out to Uber for its take on the allegations. However, it’s safe to say that Uber would like to leave an issue like this in the past. The company is trying to turn a corner, and Kalanick himself is looking for a second-in-command to keep his boundary-pushing tendencies in check. This revelation certainly won’t help matters, though. It reinforces the notion that Uber is all too willing to break rules in the name of money, even if it’s motivated by honest concerns like fraud.

Update: Uber has responded to Engadget, and maintains that its staff “absolutely do not” track individual users after they’ve deleted the app. The company adds that fingerprinting is a “typical way” of preventing people from using stolen phones for joyrides, and otherwise thwarting “known bad actors.” You can read the full statement below. It’s good to hear that the company isn’t tracking people, but the heart of the story revolves around hardware fingerprints — those still violated Apple’s privacy guidelines, even if Uber couldn’t definitively associate phones with specific customers.

“We absolutely do not track individual users or their location if they’ve deleted the app. As the New York Times story notes towards the very end, this is a typical way to prevent fraudsters from loading Uber onto a stolen phone, putting in a stolen credit card, taking an expensive ride and then wiping the phone—over and over again. Similar techniques are also used for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect our users’ accounts. Being able to recognize known bad actors when they try to get back onto our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users.”

Source: New York Times

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With the Galaxy S8, Samsung grabs the smartphone design crown

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit my bias right up front: I have never liked Samsung’s smartphones. The Galaxy and Note series have both been wildly successful — so much so that they basically cemented Samsung’s status as Apple’s equal in the smartphone war, at least here in the US. But the cheap plastic design and overwrought software found in early Galaxy devices turned me off, to the point that I thought I’d never take their phones seriously.

When a few colleagues started talking up the Galaxy S8 after an early preview, I remained skeptical. Yes, the company had been taking big steps forward in industrial design over the past two years, but I just couldn’t imagine how something with screens this large could be comfortable. (We all remember the tragedy that was the massive Nexus 6.)

How wrong I was.

Ever since Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy S8 late in March, I’ve had to eat my words. At first, a phone with a tall, 18.5:9 aspect ratio seemed to be a strange design decision, but it was the right one. Despite its massive screen size, the S8 is basically the same width as phones with much smaller displays. Keeping the S8 relatively narrow was probably the most important design decision Samsung made. The S8 measures 68.1mm wide, a scant 1mm wider than the iPhone 7. This size makes using the S8 with one hand absolutely a reasonable prospect, something I didn’t imagine when hearing about a device with a 5.8-inch screen. It’s something you really need to hold to appreciate.

I can’t overstate how that completely changed my view on the S8. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a Large Phone and not everyone will be able to use it comfortably in one hand. The tall aspect ratio also makes reaching UI elements at the top of the display challenging, for sure — getting to the notification pane is trickier than I’d like. But all told, it’s far more useable than I ever expected. (The S8 Plus manages a similar trick, packing a larger screen into a frame that’s basically the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s not a one-hand device, but it’s still much smaller than it has any right to be.)

Indeed, it’s not just useable — it’s downright enjoyable, more so than any other phone I’ve tried with such a massive screen. There will be some growing pains as app developers adjust to this odd new screen size, but the S8 is both immersive and beautiful. Holding and using the first iPhone was a magical and futuristic experience compared to every other phone that was on the market in 2007. Using the S8 feels the same — it’s the closest we’ve gotten to that sci-fi dream of having a glowing glass slate device to guide us through the universe.

Designing and then manufacturing such a device at scale was likely quite difficult, but it paid off. I’m far from the only one out there who now looks at Samsung as the undisputed hardware design master in the field. Quite a trick, considering most of the media coverage around the company in the last six months has focused on exploding phones. Assuming nothing goes wrong with the S8, I think we can safely say that the company has put its huge misstep behind it.

Even better for Samsung, it now has a good five or six months to bask in the glory. Apple will almost certainly unveil a new iPhone with an overhauled design, and it’s hard to imagine that Google’s next Pixel will keep its surprisingly large bezels, but neither of those phones are expected until the fall. That’s a long time for Samsung to crow about its revolutionary new phone design, and it wouldn’t be surprising if sales ended up reflecting that. Yes, LG’s G6 has a similar bezel-less design, but the fit and finish isn’t quite as excellent, and Samsung has been handily beating LG in terms of smartphone marketshare for a long time now. The S8 will only grow that lead.

Still, the Galaxy S8 isn’t a perfect phone. I’d still vastly prefer the stock Android experience that Google offers on the Pixel, even though the skin formerly known as TouchWiz is now polished and totally usable. Bloatware remains a problem, and Bixby is not at all ready for prime time. Also, what’s up with that fingerprint sensor?

But then again, no smartphone is perfect. And the good news with software issues is that they’re often fixable — particularly when you consider how relatively open and flexible Android has proven to be over the years. Software evolves and changes — but when you buy a phone, you’re usually committing to that hardware for a good two years. For the first time, I’d be willing to make that commitment with a Samsung phone.

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Now Apple’s Live Photos can work on any website

Apple first introduced Live Photos in the iPhone 6S series back in 2015, but the odd photo/video-clip hybrid has taken its time coming to the internet. While Tumblr was the first to integrate Live Photos into its site last September, Apple is finally introducing an official JavaScript API to get its odd photo/video hybrid format out onto the web at large.

Developers will add their Live Photo as a DOM element like any other photo or video. They’ll be able to control how long their media should play, or if they should only play if end users hover over a “LIVE” button in the Live Photo’s top right corner.

Tumblr was the first to fully integrate the format last fall, but Google was the first to store Live Photos online over a year ago with an update to its Google Photos app for iOS. Then it released Motion Stills for Apple devices in June, an app that converted the hybrid media to looping GIFs or movie files so they could be exported and uploaded to the internet at large. After another update last month, Google’s app will likely continue be the most popular method to transfer Live Photos to the web for awhile since Apple’s API will still need developers to build it into apps and sites.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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