Apple doubles the storage of the iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4

The new, limited-edition red iPhone 7/7 Plus and upgraded 9.7-inch iPad aren’t the only things Apple has to share today. The company is also increasing the storage across all iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4 configurations. The lowest-capacity 4-inch iPhone SE is now 32GB, up from 16GB, and the 64GB model has been scrapped in favor of a 128GB version. Basically, Apple has doubled the storage and finally killed off the last 16GB iPhone, but good news: The prices haven’t changed. The new 32GB iPhone SE costs $ 399/£379 (the same price as the old 16GB device), while the 128GB model comes in at $ 499/£479. Both will go on sale this Friday, March 24th.

For the iPad Mini 4, Apple has simply done away with the 32GB and 64GB models, introducing a new, lone 128GB config. You’re getting an even better deal here, since you’re only expected to pay as much as the 32GB was worth for quadruple the storage — though it makes sense customers should get more bang for their buck since the internals of the Mini 4 are lagging behind Apple’s other iPads. The 128GB tablet goes on sale today for $ 399/£419 for the WiFi-only model, and $ 529/£549 if you add LTE connectivity.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

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Russia finds Apple guilty of fixing iPhone prices

Google isn’t the only American company facing regulatory trouble in Russia. The country’s antitrust body has ruled that Apple is guilty of fixing prices for iPhone 5 and 6 variants at 16 local retailers. Reportedly, the company tracked prices at these stores and would ask them to raise the price if it was ever deemed “unsuitable.” If they didn’t comply, Apple supposedly had the authority to terminate their reseller deals without so much as an explanation.

Apple has 3 months to contest the decision once it’s published in full later in March. It’s not clear what the proposed penalty will be, but Google was hit with a relatively modest 438 million ruble (currently $ 7.4 million) fine. Execs aren’t likely to lose sleep over the financial side of the ruling, then. Officials add that Apple has mended its ways with a policy that should prevent future trouble.

We’ve asked Apple for comment. However, a spokesperson tells the Financial Times that the company “worked closely” with the antitrust agency and is “glad to put this matter behind us.” Apple isn’t likely to fight this verdict, in other words — unlike in its e-book case, it’s more interested in moving on (and protecting sales in a major market) than fighting to the bitter end.

Via: Financial Times, 9to5Mac

Source: FAS (translated)

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Apple says it’s already patched ‘many’ Wikileaks iOS exploits

Less than 24 hours ago, Wikileaks published a large cache of documents detailing top secret CIA operations conducted by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. Included in the 8,761 documents and files, referred to was Vault 7, are references to zero-day exploits that were reportedly being used to track and control iPhones but also Android phones and Samsung smart TVs.

While the authenticity of some of Wikileaks’ claims are still in question, Apple has confirmed that some of the threats towards its mobile operating system are very real. In a move to reassure customers, the company issued a statement noting that it has already taken steps to patch “many” of the 14 iOS vulnerabilities listed and is working to “rapidly address” the rest.

An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch: “Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ privacy and security. The technology built into today’s iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we’re constantly working to keep it that way. Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system. While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities. We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates.”

Apple hasn’t specified which exploits it has patched or when it expects the remainder to be fixed, but the statement does stress the importance of keeping your devices updated. Apple has reiterated time and again that it values the privacy of its customers, so it’s likely that upcoming software updates could be expedited to ensure iPhone and iPad users are protected.

Source: TechCrunch

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Report: Apple might be revamping its iPad lineup in March

Japanese website Macotakara reports that Apple’s upcoming March event will see the release of a new line of iPad Pros as well as 128GB iPhone SE and a new bright red color choice for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The company is expected to unveil iPad Pros in 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch models.

That could mean that Apple is replacing the iPad mini 4 with the 7.9-inch Pro, refreshing the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models. and introducing a whole new model, the 10.5. However there have been some conflicting reports as to whether Apple really will do that. Both Barclays and KGI Securities failed to mention the 7.9-inch model in their predictions so it could be that the 10.5-inch will actually replace the mini 4. As DigiTimes points out, the 10.5’s screen width would be the same as the iPad mini’s screen height and, with that rumored edge-to-edge display, would fit in the same overall footprint.

Still, Macotakara is saying that the 7.9-inch will use the Smart Connector, a 12MP iSight camera, True Tone flash and display, just like its larger counterparts. The 10.5 and 12.9 inch versions will reportedly run on A10X chips while the smaller models will use the A9X.

Macotakara’s report also states that Apple plans to release an iPhone SE with 128GB of onboard storage as well as red variants of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, potentially as a licensing tie-in with Product Red. We might see new Watch bands in March as well given that the company similarly refreshed those at last year’s “Loop You In” event.

And while Macotakara is generally trusted as a source for advanced Apple announcements, there is no guarantee that the company will actually announce all of this stuff. We’ll simply have to wait until March to find out.

Via: Macrumors

Source: Macotakara

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Apple reportedly buys an AI-based face recognition startup

Those rumors of Apple exploring facial recognition for sign-ins might just have some merit. Calcalist reports that Apple has acquired RealFace, an Israeli startup that developed deep learning-based face authentication technology. The terms of the deal aren’t public, but it’s estimated at “several million dollars.” Cupertino would mainly be interested in the promise of the technology than pure resources, in other words.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the reported deal and will let you know if it has something to add. However, RealFace recently took its website down and left nothing but a skeleton server behind.

Apple is no stranger to buying companies with some form of facial recognition tech. However, a focus on authentication would be both new and logical. If Apple wants to reduce its dependence on fingerprint readers for password-free iPhone logins, it needs a face detection system that will quickly and consistently sign you in across most situations, not just ideal conditions. RealFace’s AI tech is supposed to be highly accurate, so it might not be as finnicky or easily duped as some implementations.

Via: Times of Israel

Source: Calcalist (translated)

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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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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 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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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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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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