The Square Cash service added a “virtual debit card” feature back in September, and tonight during the Code Commerce event, CEO Jack Dorsey announced that it’s integrating with Apple Pay. The virtual Visa debit card lets Square Cash users spend their balance anywhere Visa is accepted (legitimately), and starting today, its iPhone app can enable the card for use on Apple Pay too. If you’re not using an iPhone or Apple Watch, Dorsey said that the company does have plans to support other platforms like Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
Tiny Wings is one of the best iPhone games ever. It’s a great example of a developer making something that wouldn’t make sense on any other platform, and it’s a game equally suited to playing quick bursts or for extended sessions as you try to beat your high score. And after more than two years without an update, developer Andreas Illiger has finally released a pretty major update. Tiny Wings is now available for the Apple TV, and the iPhone / iPad version has five new levels.
Unfortunately, the Apple TV app requires a separate $ 2.99 purchase — but if it is as good as the iOS game, that’ll be money well spent. The Apple TV app features split-screen multiplayer; players can either use the Siri remote, a dedicated game controller or an iOS device to control the big-screen action. The Apple TV app uses iCloud to sync progress with your mobile devices, and it feature the same array of game modes and levels as the iOS version — including the five new “flight school” levels.
If you bought the iOS app years ago, you’ll get those new levels, and Illiger also finally upgraded the graphics to support the higher screen resolutions Apple introduced with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. There’s nothing else new here, but if you haven’t tried the game before now’s a perfect time to give it a shot. The adorable graphics, procedurally generated levels and excellent music are all as charming now as they were when the game launched way back in 2011. If you want to give it a shot, the update is live in the App Store now.
A number of iPhone 6 owners and independent repair techs have been complaining for months about something called “touch disease” killing their phones, and now Apple is responding. The problem’s symptoms have been described as a flickering gray bar across the top of the screen and problems with the touchscreen responsiveness, which continue to get worse until it’s addressed or the phone is unusable. Repair techs like Jessa Jones have reported seeing multiple devices per day afflicted by the same problem, with no end in sight.
Going by Apple’s description of its “Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus,” the problem is really the owner’s fault, caused by “being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.” Still, if you have the problem and your screen isn’t cracked, Apple says it will fix the issue for $ 149, and its repair program is available for five years after the original sale date.
That’s less than the usual out of warranty repair price of $ 329, but it’s not free, and it does nothing for people who opted to replace their phone instead of fixing it. Some owners have reportedly filed lawsuits against Apple concerning the issue, and it remains to be seen how this will affect their progress. If you’ve already paid to have an iPhone 6 Plus repaired due to the problem, Apple says it will reimburse the difference between that cost and $ 149, if you used its service or an authorized technician.
While some have reported similar problems with the smaller iPhone 6, there’s no indication of a program for owners of that device. In a blog post on iFixit, Jones noted the larger size of the 6 Plus made it more susceptible to the problem, despite reinforcements implemented to resolve the phone’s tendency to bend. The actual problem seems to come from the touch controller chip separating from the phone’s logic board, which is why twisting the device can sometimes fix it for a short time.
Update: iFixit raised the issue months ago, and tonight issued a statement saying that Apple’s program does not go far enough. According to its CEO Kyle Wiens, Apple’s response confirms “the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components.” But that falls short, he says, because the problem has also been seen on phones that owners claim have never been dropped. In addition, Wiens says an Apple Genius confirmed the company is not repairing the devices at all but simply swapping them out for refurbished phones.
You can read excerpts from his statement below; we’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update this post if there is a response.
Apple responds to touch disease: too little, too late. https://t.co/GJsQNcLi3b
— Kyle Wiens (@kwiens) November 18, 2016
Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit:
“Apple’s statement confirms what the independent repair industry has been saying for a long time: the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components. Apple is correct that dropping the device onto a hard surface could cause this issue. But that’s not the only cause: we have seen this problem on phones that have never been dropped. The underlying problem is insufficient structural support around the logic board.”
“Apple is calling this the “Multi-Touch Repair Program”, but they’re not actually repairing customer’s phones. An Apple Genius confirmed to us that they are swapping customer phones with a refurbished device. The repair service does not transfer your data over to the new device — customers are left on their own to figure out how to backup their important information.
Apple has had chronic issues with Touch Disease on refurbished devices in the past, and this the limited 90-day warranty on this ‘repair’ does not instill confidence that the repaired units will stay fixed.
We appreciate the effort they’re making, but this program doesn’t go nearly far enough. Apple is still charging a lot of money for the device swap. And they’re only replacing iPhone 6 Pluses, even though many iPhone 6 owners have also been affected.
Apple should come clean, admit the manufacturing deficiency, and extend their warranty on this issue to 24 months (the same warranty that iPhones have in Europe) for both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Lawsuits on the matter are still pending.”
If you’ve ever wanted to buy an iPhone straight from Apple but thought that brand new unlocked models were out of your reach, you’re in luck. Apple has started selling refurbished iPhones in its US online store, with hefty discounts depending on what you want to buy. An unlocked 16GB iPhone 6s is selling for $ 449, or $ 80 off the usual price; splurge on a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus and you’ll shell out $ 589, or $ 110 less than usual. The iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are absent, but that’s not surprising given that owners have only had them for several months at best.
This won’t be as big a bargain as you’d get by purchasing an iPhone through a used goods site, an auction or a friend. However, you’ll get both a year-long warranty and the knowledge that there won’t be any rude surprises when you open the box. In short: if the thought of shopping on eBay or Swappa makes you nervous, this is your best bet.
Last week Apple announced its new lineup of MacBook Pros and revealed they include only new USB-C-style connectors, dropping all legacy ports (other than, oddly enough, the headphone jack.) While the aggressive move means owners can charge their laptop through any of the jacks, and have the new capabilities offered, it also means that simple things like plugging in an iPhone to charge will require an adapter of some kind, which is not included.
As my former podcast partner Ben Drawbaugh noted, stocking up on dongles to go with your new laptop gets pricey fast, and Mac buyers have responded angrily online in our comment sections and elsewhere, However, now Apple says it will help them make the switch by “reducing prices on all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables.”
The new prices in the Apple Store:
USB-C to USB Adapter drops from $ 19 to $ 9
Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter drops from $ 49 to $ 29
USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) drops from $ 25 to $ 19
USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m) from $ 35 to $ 29
USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader drops from $ 49 to $ 29
All other third party USB-C peripherals ~25% off
Will not include Apple USB-C power adaptors or the USB-C Charge Cable (2m)
The only hitch remaining? These price drops are temporary. In a statement provided to Engadget on this lovely Friday afternoon, an Apple spokesperson said they would remain in effect through the end of the year, so even if you’re not buying a new laptop immediately, you may want to stock up on new cabling now. The Apple store page confirms this, saying “* Discount reflected in price. Subject to availability and quantity limits apply. Pricing effective October 27 – December 31, 2016.”
There’s also no word on credits for those who have purchased these products already, however as iMore points out, if you bought them since the announcement they should still be within the return period so you can contact Apple about that.
Update: MacRumors points out that prices on the LG 4K and 5K displays announced last week have dropped by about 25 percent. Apparently, they count as third-party USB-C peripherals? The UltraFine 5K Display is down to $ 974 from $ 1,300, while the Ultrafine 4K Display is down to $ 524, from $ 700.
During its “Hello Again” keynote in Cupertino today, Apple debuted its newest MacBook Pro as well as an overhaul of Final Cut Pro X and an all-in-one video entertainment app simply titled, TV. But surprisingly, there was not a word spoken about iPads.
First, a quick recap: The iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 were both released in 2013. They then both received updates the following year with the release of the Air 2 and the tepidly received Mini 3. But in less than a year, Apple had already moved on to something newer, bigger and more expensive. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch dropped in September 2015, along with the iPad Mini 4, and was joined by a retina-enabled 9.7-inch Pro this past March.
That means we haven’t seen a new iPad Air in two years. And while the older models are still receiving OS updates, their A8 processors are decidedly pokey when facing the Pro’s A9x. In fact, benchmark tests indicate that the A9, which is really a desktop chip crammed into a tablet, performs nearly twice as well as the previous version.
So if Thursday’s event is any indication, it would appear that Apple is far more focused on its Pro models than the rest of its products. Just as today’s announcement of three new MacBook Pros — the base model of which offers similar specs to the existing MacBook Air at a slightly higher price — likely spells the eventual end of the MacBook Air line, Apple’s recent release of the 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros could be bad news for the older iPads.
This timing — release, update within a year, then nothing for the next two — does not bode well for the iPad Air line, especially with the more recent release of the Pros. What’s more, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro offers superior performance in the same form factor as the Air 2 for just $ 200 more. So why would Apple keep the Air 2 around when it could simply eliminate the model and force consumers to shell out an extra two bills for the Pro? Remember this is a company that recently eliminated the iPhone 7’s headphone jack in favor of selling us $ 180 wireless AirPods and just today rolled out a series of laptops that can’t connect to any peripheral you already own without an adapter.
In the end, there’s no way to confirm that this is the end of the line for the iPad Air. Apple is notoriously secretive when it comes to upcoming product announcements. There are some unsubstantiated rumors that the next Mini could be announced in the spring of 2017, and maybe the Air will be brought along, but we’ll have to wait for March to find out.
Click here to catch all the latest news from Apple’s “Hello Again” event.
The rumored TV guide app for Apple TV is here, just unveiled at the company’s event. It brings TV and movies from the box’s various apps into one browsable location. As demonstrated on stage by designer Jen Folse, pressing play within the guide can immediately start a video stream in an app like HBO Now, without any intervening menus. The main “Watch Now” menu knows which apps you’ve signed into with its unified login feature, and will show options that you have access to. “TV” isn’t just for Apple TV either, as the app is also accessible from iPhone and iPad.
Another new wrinkle for Apple TV, is the ability for Siri to tune into live video streaming apps, and control third-party apps. Live tune-in with Siri is available now, while single sign-on and the TV app will arrive through a software update in December.
Key Features Within the TV App Include:
• Watch Now: Watch Now is where viewers will see their collection of available shows and movies from iTunes® and apps. From Watch Now, viewers can then go to Up Next or Recommended to choose what to watch.
• Up Next: Users can enjoy the shows and movies they are currently watching, including recent iTunes rentals and purchases — all presented in the order they are most likely to watch first. For example, when viewers finish an episode, the next one will automatically appear at the start of the Up Next queue, as will any new episodes as they become available. At any time, users can simply ask Siri to continue watching a show and immediately pick up where they left off.
• Recommended: Viewers can explore a great selection of curated and trending shows and movies, including collections handpicked by Apple’s curators, and dedicated categories and genres such as kids, sci-fi and comedy.
• Library: Viewers can access their entire collection of iTunes movies and TV shows that they have rented or purchased on iTunes.
• Store: If users are looking for something new, they can check out the Store to discover great new content across video services that they have not yet downloaded or are not yet subscribed to, along with the latest releases on iTunes.
Click here to catch all the latest news from Apple’s “Hello again” event.
Mobile payments are all the rage among tech companies, but how successful have they been, really? Quite successful, if you ask Apple. While discussing its latest earnings, the Cupertino firm revealed that Apple Pay purchases were up 500 percent year-over-year in the third quarter. In fact, there were more transactions this September than in all of Apple’s fiscal 2015 — not bad for a tap-to-pay service that’s still unavailable in many parts of the world, not to mention many stores. Apple didn’t say what prompted the spike, but there are a handful of factors beyond any increases in popularity.
One major component: regional expansion. The launch of Apple Pay in China may have played the biggest role, but there was also a steady stream of expansions to key markets like Australia, Canada and swaths of Asia and Europe. Also, there were simply more people with Apple Pay-capable devices. You had to buy one of two high-end iPhones (the 6 and 6 Plus) to use Apple Pay throughout most of fiscal 2015, but the service was an option across all of Apple’s phone lineup by the time the iPhone SE arrived in March of this year. That’s also excluding those people who may have an iPhone 5 or 5s and are using an Apple Watch for their payments.
Whatever is involved, it’s likely that Apple Pay will see continued growth for at least a while. The payment system reached both Japan (as of iOS 10.1) and Russia in October, and there’s still room for both more countries as well as additional cards and stores in existing regions.
The question is whether or not Apple still has a lead in this fledgling industry. The company hasn’t divulged its latest transaction numbers, you see. Samsung was quick to boast about having 100 million transactions for its own service in August, but the lack of context makes it difficult to say whether it’s catching up (Apple is estimated to have racked up $ 10.9 billion in purchases in 2015) or trailing behind. About the only certainty is that Google’s Android Pay will need to grow faster if it’s going to latch on. It only just reached the UK in May, and card support isn’t as broad as you get with its rivals.
The Portrait mode for Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus has been in the works for months, and now it’s ready for the masses… sort of. People with the 7 Plus who are running beta software have been able to shoot photos full of artificial bokeh for over a month now, but Apple just pushed out its iOS 10.1 update, which means Portrait mode is here (along with a bunch of bugfixes and support for transit directions in Japan).
Now, here’s the thing: Even though you don’t need to be enrolled in the iOS beta program to use the feature anymore, the feature itself still isn’t completely done. Once the update is installed, the camera app asks if you’d like to “try the beta” when you swipe into the new Portrait position.
Our professional recommendation? Dive right in. Portrait mode might not be completely complete, but it’s still capable of producing seriously nice headshots. In case you missed it the first time around, the feature uses the iPhone 7 Plus’s two cameras in tandem; the primary 12-megapixel sensor captures the image as normal, but the second, wide-angle sensor is used to determine how far away the subject is.
All of that data gets mashed up into a nine-layer depth map, providing the context needed to artfully blur out backgrounds while keeping faces and subjects closer to the phone remain crisp and intact. Apple’s goal was to build a dead-simple photography experience that yields pictures that look like they were shot on expensive SLR cameras, and for the most part, Apple did an impressive job.
This photo represents well the sort of quality you can expect out of Portrait mode. The focus stays locked on the face and hands, and the windows in the background are blurred pretty dramatically. Thanks to that nine-layer depth map, you can see areas where blurring is very subtle, like the top of the subject’s head and the bottom of her scarf.
You don’t need to take photos of people to get some mileage out of Portrait mode either. Have cats prancing around? Or a sweet new mug you need to share? In my experience, as long as you’re within proper range (the app tells you when you are) and there’s enough contrast between the foreground and background, you’ll get that pleasant background blurring.
It’s when you’re in well-lit environments with lots of similar colors that Portrait mode seems to have trouble — that’s often when you’ll see edges blurred when they shouldn’t be. Just check out this photo of a cactus precariously perched on a railing. The camera didn’t have trouble differentiating between the cool blue of the pot and the trees in the background, but it obviously had some difficulty telling where the cactus ended and the trees began.
These disappointments are rare, though, and will probably become less frequent as people continue to put Portrait mode through its paces. Most of the big problems have been solved — now Apple has to focus on the fine-tuning (which is obviously easier said than done). At this point, Portrait mode is still imperfect, but there’s nonetheless a lot to like about it, starting with how simple it is to use. It’s fast, it’s impressive and it’s only going to get better with time. Interested in taking it for a spin? Jump into your iPhone 7 Plus’s settings and hit that software update button. It’ll show up sooner or later.
It’s been a very, very long time since Apple has updated its Mac lineup — the new Macbook is the only computer that Apple has seen fit to upgrade in 2016. That should all change next week, though: We just received an invite to an event in Cupertino on Thursday, October 27th. With the yearly iPhone refresh in the rearview mirror and macOS Sierra out in the wild, it’s time — well past time, in fact — for some new Mac computers. The event’s tagline — “Hello again” — is a pretty clear nod to the Mac, which debuted with a big old “hello” on its screen way back in 1984.
Headlining the event should be a totally redesigned MacBook Pro, which has existed in its current form for a good four years now. Rumors point to a touch-capable OLED strip on the keyboard above the number row that can adapt to whatever app you’re using. Touch ID might be making its way to the Mac for the first time, as well. Of course, the computers will likely be thinner and lighter and will probably see many of the innovations Apple first rolled out in the MacBook in 2015. The butterfly keyboard mechanism, tiered battery design and reliance on USB-C all seem likely to come on board at this point. We’re hoping the MacBook Pro will be available in a variety of colors for the first time, too.
Beyond that, spec bumps for the iMac and MacBook Air seem like good bets, as does the inclusion of USB-C on those models as well. Looking beyond the Mac line, it’s also possible the iPad will get some love. The iPad Air 2, while still a very capable tablet, is now two years old. And the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is just about a year old and lags behind the smaller iPad Pro in a few key ways. It wouldn’t surprise us to see both of those devices get some updates.
Whatever Apple has to show off, we’ll be there live to bring you all the news as it happens when the event starts at 10AM PT.