Apple is building its own GPU for the iPhone and iPad

Imagination Technologies is famous for one thing: it’s the company that provides the graphics for the iPhone. But today, Imagination announced that its longstanding relationship with Apple is coming to an abrupt end. In a statement, the outfit has conceded that Apple will replace the PowerVR GPU at the heart of its iOS devices with a graphics chip of its own design.

When Apple started making the iPhone, it used a generic, Samsung-made ARM system that was paired with a PowerVR GPU. Over time, Apple began crafting more and more of its own silicon, thanks to its purchase of various chip design firms. These days, the PowerVR chip on the A10 Fusion is one of very few components that Apple didn’t have entire control over.

The decision to dump Imagination was probably inevitable given the company’s trend towards control, but there may be another story here. Third-party analysts The Linley Group spotted that the iPhone 7 used the same PowerVR GT7600 GPU that was used for the iPhone 6S. That piece of silicon, while powerful, couldn’t sustain its performance for very long and so throttles the component to avoid overheating.

Apple is well-know to be unsentimental when it comes to ditching chip makers when they can’t meet performance targets. After all, the company ditched PowerPC CPUs because — so the legend goes — Intel’s X86 silicon was getting faster while IBM and Motorola dragged their feet.

It’s clearly a massive blow for Imagination, which has already said that it’s planning to take the matter to the courts. After all, building a graphics platform from scratch is likely to involve using technology that other companies like Imagination has already patented. The famously-secretive Apple is also not going to look favorably upon one of its suppliers going public with this licensing dispute.


As TechCrunch explains, the split could spell doom for Imagination, since it relies upon Apple for the bulk of its cash. Even worse, is that the news has already caused Imagination’s stock to freefall, dropping between 60 and 70 percent in the last few hours.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Imagination Technologies

Engadget RSS Feed

SoundCloud brings Chromecast streaming to iOS

With a new subscription tier and a fresh bank loan, SoundCloud is moving right ahead with business as usual. Today’s update brings a sorely missed compatibility so you can now play your SoundCloud mixes through a Google Chromecast from an iOS device.

SoundCloud was already compatible with Sonos devices, and Android folks had Chromecast integration for awhile now too, but Friday’s update means iPhone users with a SoundCloud Go+ subscription can finally stream their entire catalog to a Chromecast connected to a TV or speakers. Multiple users can also control what’s on with a shared playback feature. SoundCloud also says they’ve upgraded their mobile apps across the board and streamlined the whole experience for more consistent playback.

Source: SoundCloud

Engadget RSS Feed

Apple’s ‘we’re sorry we took away your ports’ dongle sale ends today

When Apple rolled out its controversial new MacBook Pro last fall, potential buyers were a bit miffed at the need to buy a host of expensive dongles to make the computer work with their old devices. Apple quickly responded by cutting prices on a host of USB-C cables and accessories, as well as the new LG 4K and 5K displays that are compatible with the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Originally, those discount prices were set to expire at the end of 2016, but Apple extended the deal until the end of March. Well, that day of reckoning is here — the discount on cables, accessories and monitors is set to expire today, March 31st.

So if you’ve been considering buying one of those LG monitors, today is definitely the day to do it. The 21.5-inch 4K display currently sells for $ 524, down from $ 700. The 27-inch 5K screen is priced at $ 924, a pretty notable discount from the $ 1,300 it will cost tomorrow.

You’re not going to save nearly as much cash on cables and adapters, but Apple is still offering pretty steep discounts. The super-helpful USB-C to USB dongle is $ 9 right now, down from $ 19, while you can save $ 5 on USB-C to Lightning cables for your iPhone or iPad. More expensive multiport adapters for outputting video to external displays are $ 49 instead of $ 69. All third-party USB-C accessories are 25 percent off, as well. If you’ve been thinking about buying a new MacBook Pro (or already have one) and have been dragging your feet on getting the cables you need, now’s a good day to go get them.

Source: Apple Store

Engadget RSS Feed

The Morning After: Thursday, March 30th 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Yesterday we focused on Samsung’s big Galaxy S8 reveal, and it didn’t disappoint. If you need to get up to speed in a hurry, we boiled the entire event down into one nine-minute video that you can watch here.


No more leaksMeet the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Ever since the Galaxy Note 7 recall, Samsung has been waiting to get another flagship device into its customer’s hands. Now that the new Galaxy S8 family is here, we have new devices to talk about with new features like Bluetooth 5.0. Chris Velazco calls the S8+ “the most comfortable big phone I’ve ever held,” while Sean Buckley wants everyone to pump their brakes on the hype — it’s still just a phone. But it’s quite a phone, with Bixby AI, facial recognition and unlocking, and the DeX system that turns your smartphone into a desktop computer.


It’s good.Windows 10 Creators update release date & review

Microsoft finally has an official release date for its big upgrade to Windows 10: April 11th. Devindra Hardawar reviewed the OS, so you’ll know what to expect, which amounts to a series of tweaks and a few welcome new features. The Game Bar, upgraded Edge browser and Paint 3D are all useful additions, even if Windows doesn’t look very different after the update.


New Game+The Xbox One’s new UI is rolling out to everyone

While we wait for the Creators Update on Windows 10, Microsoft is pushing its latest software for the Xbox One. Already available to beta testers, this version brings a faster miniguide that pops up with a single button press, plus streaming with Microsoft’s Twitch competitor Beam. One thing, though, it’s time to say goodbye to the picture-in-picture Snap mode.


Six years after the premiere of ‘L.A. Noire’Hideo Kojima is headlining the inaugural Tribeca Games Festival

On April 28th and 29th the Tribeca Film Festival will have some company, as the Tribeca Games Festival takes place in New York City. Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima will speak, as some of the big names behind games like Bioshock, Max Payne, Firewatch and Overwatch. Also, Telltale Games promises a premiere and “crowd play” event for its upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy game. Tickets start at $ 30 and are available here.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Facebook opens up 360-degree live streaming to everyone
  • Lyft’s latest idea looks familiar because it’s a bus.
  • Take a look at the first interior photos of Blue Origin’s space capsule for tourists
  • Donald Trump is tweeting from an iPhone now
  • Bioware: Expect ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ support info Tuesday

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.
Engadget RSS Feed

All the places you can buy the Galaxy S8 and S8+

If you’re looking to make sure you’re among the first to own Samsung’s swanky new Galaxy S8 but don’t want to line up outside a store on April 21st, you’re in luck. Major and minor carriers alike have announced that they’re running pre-order campaigns (with some hefty incentives) starting as early as tomorrow. Here’s what each has planned:

Inside An AT&T Inc. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures

AT&T will begin taking orders both online and in stores tomorrow, March 30th. If you’re on the AT&T Next program, the $ 750 S8 will cost $ 25 a month for 30 months and the $ 850 S8+ can be had for $ 28.34. For AT&T Next Every Year customers those prices increase to $ 31.25 and $ 35.42, respectively, over 24 months.

The carrier is offering a whole slew of incentives if you do opt to pre-order. First, you’ll receive up to $ 750 in credits towards another Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+. It also comes with a Gear VR headset, controller and some bundled content. You can also pick up a Gear S3 smartwatch for $ 50 (they normally retail for $ 300) with a two-year service agreement. And finally, AT&T will try to unload a Tab E or Gear S2 on your for $ 1 if you go in on a 2 year service agreement.

A Verizon Communications Inc. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures

Verizon Wireless’ offers are a bit more… nuanced. For a limited time with an eligible trade in device and enrollment in the Verizon Unlimited Plan, you can get the S8 or S8+ for as little as $ 15 a month. Otherwise you’ll pay $ 30 for the S8 and $ 35 for the S8+. There are a bunch of restrictions on that offer so make sure you read the fine print before you pull out your wallet.

To sweeten the deal, Verizon will throw in one of two Samsung Gear VR bundles. You can get the Controller Bundle ($ 180 value) for free, which includes a Gear VR with controller and Oculus content. Or you can splurge on the Experience Box ($ 550 value) for $ 100, which includes the Controller Bundle plus a pair of Harman Kardon headphones and a 256GB micro SD card. These bonuses are only available before April 21st and must be redeemed at the Samsung promotions site before May 21st.

Inside A T-Mobile US Inc. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures

T-Mobile isn’t one to be left out. In addition to opening its pre-order window at 9:01 PT tonight, the company will offer the S8 for $ 30 a month on its Equipment Installment Plan, though you’ll need to pay $ 30 up front. The S8+ will cost you the same per month but you’ll need to drop $ 130 when you order. Whichever size you go for, you will get a free Gear VR with controller and Oculus content. MetroPCS customers won’t be able to pre-order but they can still score the Gear VR bundle when the phone launches on April 21st.

SPRINT-SOFTBANK/

Sprint’s offer is a cross between AT&T’s and Verizon’s. You can pre-order starting tomorrow. The S8 and S8+ will cost $ 31.25 and $ 35.42 per month, respectively, for 18 months (a half year less than AT&T’s 24-month plan). Plus, if you pay the first 12 installments on the phone, you’ll be able to upgrade to whatever the next Galaxy handset will be. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA customers, however, will have to wait until April 21st to purchase.

Sprint’s bonus bundle is identical to Verizon’s: the $ 180-value Gear VR with Controller with Oculus Bonus Content will be free and the $ 550-value Gear VR, headphone and memory card set will cost you $ 100.

US Cellular has a heck of an offer: Trade in an eligible phone (Galaxy S6 or later; iPhone 5s or later) between March 30th and April 20th and the carrier will give you an S8 or S8+ for free. If you don’t have a phone to trade in, US Cellular will still give you a $ 100 promotional gift card. The company will also throw in the Gear VR with Controller bundle. You will need to be on the Total Plan or Shared Connect plan and subscribe to the company’s Device Protection + program as well.

We also expect Cricket Wireless and Straight Talk Wireless to carry the handsets, however they have yet to release information on bundles and availability. As they do, we’ll update this post.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Samsung’s Galaxy S8 launch event!

Engadget RSS Feed

Google’s iOS app comes with its GIF-friendly keyboard on the side

It’s no secret that Google is hoping to make its own lineup of search, navigation and email apps the go-to services for Apple users. The folks in Mountain View have even gone so far as to introduce new features in iOS apps months before rolling them out to their Android counterparts. Today, Google is trying to strengthen that hold on iPhone users with even deeper integrations of its flagship, search-focused app into Apple’s operating system.

After streamlining the app’s news feed late last year, the main Google app now brings the Gboard iOS keyboard under its wing. In other words, you no longer need the standalone app to get Gboard’s in-keyboard access to search, GIFs and emoji across all your iOS apps. It now comes installed with the Google app and users can set it up inside the Google app settings.

Today’s other big iOS update today is a live-updating “Trending on Google” widget that can be accessed through the app or pinned to your notification center for easy access to current search trends. The big search topics of the moment are displayed in blocks of Google primary colors, and tapping a topic will open a search tab with that subject. Finally, Google has also added or expanded the 3D touch functions throughout the app, so users can preview search results, bring up that trending widget or jump right into an incognito or voice search right from the home screen.

The updated version is live now in the App Store.

Source: Google Blog

Engadget RSS Feed

The Apple TV Remote app is finally optimized for iPads

No, we still don’t have an iPad version of the Instagram app, but another longtime holdout has gotten some big(ger) screen love. Apple has finally given its Apple TV Remote app a refresh tailored for the slate’s display. The iTunes listing says that in addition to the expected visual improvements, there’s also lyrics and “playlists for music and chapters.” That’s in addition to captions section for movies and TV shows.

Last February, Apple’s Eddie Cue and Craig Federighi said that with the then-forthcoming app that it would be a “full replacement” for the Apple TV remote. At the time, he was speaking directly about how an iPhone armed with the app can be a second controller for games. Now, the same functionality (with Siri voice commands, no less) on a more substantial screen is a reality. Don’t have an iPad? Well, then you’ll have to settle for the usual “general performance and stability improvements.”

Source: iTunes

Engadget RSS Feed

Android creator Andy Rubin teases his new smartphone

The creator of Android, Andy Rubin, is building a new smartphone — and today, he shared the first image of his mysterious hardware. It’s just a tease, revealing only the corner of the phone, where battery, time and network information is displayed in tiny white text.


The new device comes from Rubin’s company, Essential Products Inc., which is focused on creating tablets, smartphones and mobile software. Essential’s flagship phone will serve as the foundation for a lineup of connected products, according to early reports about the company’s movements. A handful of its smartphone prototypes are larger than an iPhone 7 Plus, featuring bezel-free screens and ceramic backings. Rubin and co. are apparently working on a proprietary version of Apple’s 3D Touch and they’re playing around with magnetic charging accessories.

The image Rubin shared today is reminiscent of Xiaomi’s Mi MIX concept phone, which has an edge-to-edge 1080p LCD and a ceramic body. However, with such a small portion of the hardware exposed in this single tweet, it’s hard to say where the similarities truly begin (and end).

Essential’s flagship smartphone is expected to drop in mid-2017.

Source: @Arubin

Engadget RSS Feed

The best hair dryer

By Shannon Palus

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After more than 20 hours of research and interviews, more than five hours of putting seven dryers to speed, heat, and time tests, and a holiday season’s worth of hair styling, we worked our way through all the marketing claims to find out that no hair dryer is going to make your hair look better or dry faster than the leading competition. The Xtava Peony tied for second-lightest of all the dryers we tested, has a curved handle and a long cord, and will make your hair look just as good as a dryer that costs 10 times the price. We’ve now used our top two picks for a year, and even after pitting them against a $ 400 luxury dryer, we still like them just as much.

Who should get this

If you have a hair dryer that’s 1,800 or more watts, not too heavy, and in possession of a long-enough cord, and—if you prefer a curly or wavy hairstyle—a diffuser attachment, you can stick with what you have now.

However, if you have a cheaper hair dryer that tires your wrists or is slowing down in its old age and you blow-dry your hair frequently, you might consider switching to our pick before your current one bites the dust. A good hair dryer isn’t just competent at getting the water off your hair: It’s light enough for you to hold above your head for several minutes, the buttons are easy to push without getting in your way, the handle fits easily in your hand, and the plastic’s finish feels nice.

How we picked and tested

An armful of the dryers we considered. Photo: Michael Hession

Most of the buzzwords and specs on hair dryer boxes are useless at best and pseudoscience at worst. No clinical studies say one type of hair dryer is better for your hair than another—at least, none that we, nor the dermatologists that we interviewed, could find. After speaking to experts, I looked for hair dryers that were hot and fast. A few qualities that don’t have anything to do with speed or heat helped us narrow down what to test: multiple heat settings, a cool-shot button, a nozzle that’s compatible with attachments, and an intake filter that’s removable so that you can clean out debris. I also considered cord length, diffuser attachments, and how a dryer felt to hold. See more about hair dryer claims and the features that matter in our full guide.

To test, I looked at the basic stats of seven hair dryers (plus the Dyson Supersonic, a luxury dryer released after the initial round of testing), using a weather meter to test speed and heat, an iPhone app to test volume in decibels, and a postage scale to weigh them.

Next, I timed them drying a swatch of hair wetted with five grams of water with the dryers on their highest setting. With a few dryers eliminated, I put my four favorites to a few more time tests with the hair swatch and took them home for a couple weeks to use daily. I found few differences in drying time, but I did learn that a number of other features, like button placement and size, cord length, and weight are rarely discussed but are very important to the overall experience of using a hair dryer.

Our pick

The Xtava Peony, our top pick. Photo: Michael Hession

This dryer is as inexpensive as a dryer you’d find at a drugstore, but it will dry your hair just as well as a luxury device. It’s lighter than most we tested, smaller, and by far the easiest one to hold, and has a nicely curved handle. The buttons on this one are all located in a logical position. (Sounds like a small thing, but we disqualified one dryer from our favorites for having buttons that would poke your hand.)

Most important, it gets the job done just as quickly as every other dryer we tested: The Xtava Peony took about the same amount of time to blow-dry a hair swatch in testing trials as the rest, and the same amount of time to blow-dry my head of hair during my morning routine, as nearly every other dryer I tested. It made my hair look just as nice as the $ 300 dryer I tested did.

This dryer’s housing is shiny and sleek. Sure, that’s superficial, but the way the housing looks was the only difference that I noticed between the drugstore dryers and the stuff on sale at Sephora. With its sleek design, this one won’t look cheap sitting in a fancy bathroom.

Runner-up

Our runner-up pick, the Rusk CTC Lite. The cool-shot button is the wide blue one near the top of the handle. Photo: Michael Hession

The Rusk CTC Lite is lighter than almost all dryers we looked at. The buttons were all nicely placed—easy to push but hard to push accidentally—and the cord is long enough (8 feet, 7 inches) to reach distant outlets. The housing is nice: It’s glossy, the logo is understated, and the nozzle is on the shorter side. The sound of the air is smooth. It comes with both a concentrator and a diffuser.

At 0.95 pounds, the Rusk CTC Lite is very, very light. Of the seven dryers we tested, it was second lightest by only 0.04 pounds. Like the Xtava, the buttons are easy to reach. Unlike other dryers, the cool-shot button is wide, so holding it down for several seconds won’t be uncomfortable.

The CTC Lite was originally our top pick, until it doubled in price, making it more expensive than the Xtava. We like the sleek black design and lighter weight a little better than the Xtava’s—but because they do the same thing for your hair, we don’t feel the CTC Lite is worth the extra cost for most people.

Budget pick

The Conair Comfort Touch Tourmaline Ceramic dryer, our budget pick. Photo: Michael Hession

Our pick is already on the inexpensive side for a dryer, but another one we liked is about the same price and includes a diffuser. If you don’t dry your hair often or our top pick is sold out and you want a dryer that comes with a diffuser and you have an outlet near your mirror, the Conair Comfort Touch dryer will do a good job and doesn’t have any hugely annoying design features. What makes this dryer less desirable than our other picks is the clunky and cheap casing: it has a thicker handle and a shorter cord that make it harder to maneuver.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

Engadget RSS Feed

China says Apple isn’t cloning a local phone maker

Did it seem ridiculous to you that Beijing officials ordered a ban on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus over a dubious design patent claim? You’re not the only one. A court has reversed the ban (which was suspended during a dispute process) and declared that Apple isn’t violating the patents of Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services, which insisted that the iPhone 6 riffed on the look of its 100c smartphone. Regulators issued the ban without real proof of wrongdoing, according to the ruling, and the iPhone has traits that “completely change the effect” of its design versus its (frankly very generic-looking) rival. Customers haven’t had a problem telling the difference between the iPhone and 100c, the court says.

This is water under the bridge for Apple given that it stopped selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a while back — it wasn’t going to lose much money even if the court upheld the ban. However, the win could serve as a shot across the bow of other Chinese companies that might try a similar move in the future. If they want future claims to stick, they’ll have to show that there’s more than a passing similarity between devices. Otherwise, they may not get much more than a brief burst of publicity.

Source: SCMP, Reuters

Engadget RSS Feed