Engadget giveaway: Win an iPhone 7 courtesy of Mint!

The holidays are usually pretty tough on your wallet and there’s enough distraction that bills may go unpaid past their due date. Smart money and account management apps like Intuit’s Mint are essential tools in keeping you on budget and paid up on time. Mint has recently added bill management to its long list features, aggregating them so you can make payments quickly, while keeping an eye on available cash. The free app also provides bill reminders, money management tips, free credit score reports and helps you craft a budget that will work for you. This week, Mint has provided us with an Apple iPhone 7 for one lucky reader, so they can keep track of their cash flow in style during the holiday season and beyond. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) Apple iPhone 7 (MN8Q2LL/A, jet black, 128GB).
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until Dec. 14th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!

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Mixed reality comes to your iPhone thanks to the Bridge headset

There’s something more than a little magical about seeing the world in front of you being devastated by dragons or augmented with arrows pointing you to your next meeting. Alas, while mixing realities like that with our smartphones is already possible, the tech still is a long way off from reaching its potential — just look at early, disappointing efforts like Lenovo’s enormous Tango phone. Luckily, startups are chasing the mixed reality dream too, including one — Occipital — that has a solid track record of solving the tricky problems that pop up when blurring boundaries between worlds. That’s why the team’s new mixed reality, the Bridge, seems so impressive right out of the gate.

Oh, and another thing: it’s specifically for iPhones. For years now, most mobile virtual reality fun has been confined to Android, with cheap Gear VRs and Daydream Views making it easy to see what all the hype was about. While some VR games and apps exist for iPhones, Apple hardware historically hasn’t gotten the same kind of developer love as Android has. To Occipital, that smelled like an opportunity. The Bridge will go one sale to the masses for $ 399 starting in March, but developers and the adventurous can snag their Explorer Editions as soon as next week. To understand what you’ll actually get for your money, we’ll have to rewind a bit.

Three years ago, the company released the Structure sensor, a fascinating bit of depth-sensing tech that was originally meant to bring augmented reality experiences to the iPad. Mixed reality still seemed like a hard sell back then, but there no denying the sensor’s ability to measure the world around it was the real deal. To hear Occipital marketing chief Adam Rodnitzky tell it, the sensor eventually started being used by real estate agents, interior decorators and doctors, and after three years, the Structure was still excellent at its job.

So, with headsets being hawked alongside smartphones all over the place, Occipital decided to make their own — they took a Structure sensor, slapped a five-element wide-angle lens in front of it, and built a sturdy, balanced frame around it. Turning an existing product like the Structure into headset might seem like opportunism at its finest, but the end result has so much potential it almost doesn’t matter.

I played with one of the Explorer Editions recently, and it was more impressive — and elaborate — than I expected. You can pop an iPhone 6 (or newer, but no SEs) into the frame and a magnetically latched door keeps it in place. From there, you place the Bridge on your head as you would a crown, and use a dial in the back to tighten it. Yes, it sounds like a sort of torture device, but the system actually works like a charm. The only real problem I came across was that the lenses sit closer to your eyes than in most other mobile VR headsets — that meant they pushed right up against my glasses most of the time. It could’ve been worse, but Rodnitzky assured me future models wouldn’t smash my frames so noticeably.

Actually using Bridge was a much smoother experience. Occipital doesn’t have any launch titles planned for the Bridge’s debut, but it does come with a demo app that stars at adorable robot pet of sorts named Bridget. With the help of a Wiimote-like Bluetooth controller, I spent a good ten minutes tossing a virtual ball around the office and watching Bridget loop around coffee tables to retrieve it. Her understanding of the world around her was fueled by a depth-scanning session that only lasted a few seconds — once that was done, I had a mapped out a corner of our office with a level of precision that Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro wasn’t able to match.

That might not be the fairest comparison to make, though: for now, the Structure sensor’s software is only tuned to capture spaces of about 10 ft. by 10 ft., while Tango software usually tries to record whole swaths of a room at once. Structure’s scope might be more limited, but it does a much better job within those constraints.

After dropping that ball one time too many, Bridget was tired and needed to charge. The answer? To grab her power cord and connect it to something that lit up, like a lamp. This is what I so sorely missed when I played with Tango — I wanted to badly for someone standing next to a virtual dinosaur to be able to interact with it or to pluck a virtual domino off the ground. This was a pretty basic example, but the sort of object recognition the Structure can pull off was unexpectedly good for a headset.

Don’t think the Bridge is only capable of the usual augmented reality tricks, either: at one point, I was directed to drop a portal on the ground in front of me. Once I stepped into it, I found myself walking around inside a space station with a planet hanging lazily in the dark outside a hatch. A red mesh enveloped real-world obstacles, allowing me to dodge coffee tables and loungers as I (all too briefly) explored the station. After a few more moments of stumbling, that was that — demo over. I was just a little crushed.

With any luck, Occipital gets the sort of support from developers it’s been gunning for. The Bridge system isn’t perfect for a whole host of reasons, like the iPhone’s non-AMOLED display and the potentially big hit on the phone’s battery, but even the unfinished demo software was almost enough to make me toss the Phab 2 Pro in a desk drawer. The right kind of love could turn the Bridge into a must-have down the road — for now, I’ll just have to wait and hope.

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VSCO adds full RAW photo support to its iPhone app

VSCO, smartphone photographers’ image tweaking app of choice, is letting iOS users tap into all the original image data captured on iPhone 6’s and up. Alongside a host of new community features, it’s offering full RAW image support on capture, importing and editing. This means photo editors will be able to access a wider range of colors and tones that are sometimes lost due to compression on typical JPEG photos. RAW support will even work on your must-share DSLR images too.

The update is also the culmination of the VSCO team’s efforts to better showcase its community and editorial team content. This includes a machine-learning engine that surfaces related images of what it spots in images. There’s also a new search and a discovery section specifically for notable community posts.

VSCO has introduced a new (invite-only, subscription-based) membership at an early-access price of $ 20 per year. This will give users monthly updates and early access to filter presets, particularly VSCO’s new Film X interactive presets. These tap into SENS, its new imaging engine, and attempt to offer, according to VSCO CEO and founder Joel Flory: “a physical model of film and not just a static preset.” New presets currently include the Fuji Pro 400H, and Kodak Portra 160 and 400. According to the team, they’ve tried to create a physical mode of film — and that also includes real-time shaders that you can tweak during live capture.

If you’re willing to subscribe, you’ll net the entire preset library (over 100 of those), which total around $ 200 if purchased through the app. RAW support, at least, comes for free in the new update available now. Oh and for that invite-only membership? Add your name to the waitlist here, and get ready to feel exclusive.

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iPhone classic ‘Tiny Wings’ gets new levels and Apple TV app

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.

Via: The Verge

Source: iTunes

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Apple’s renewed fight against AIDS includes new iPhone cases

Apple has made a tradition of marking World AIDS Day with a campaign to donate to the Product (RED) charity, and it’s going the extra mile for its 10th year of support. On top of the company’s existing (RED) gear (which sends a contribution to the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS), it’s launching four new accessories and devices that count toward the charity. You can get red versions of the iPhone 7 Battery Case, the leather iPhone SE case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones and the Beats Pill+ wireless speaker. All of these are available today, and there are other ways to help out even if you have no intentions of buying hardware.

To begin with, purchasing anything at an Apple store (physical or online) through Apple Pay between now and December 6th will donate $ 1 toward (RED), up to a maximum of $ 1 million. Bank of America will match those donations if you buy using one of its cards. You can also buy an album from The Killers (Don’t Waste Your Wishes) on iTunes with all US proceeds heading to the fund. Beyond this, in-app purchases in 20 high-profile iOS games (including Angry Birds 2, Clash of Clans and PewDiePie’s Tuber Simulator) will contribute to the anti-AIDS campaign through December 7th.

These individual efforts may seem like drops in the bucket, but Apple has historically been one of Product (RED)’s strongest contributors — it had raised $ 65 million by 2013. And while a bona fide cure is still years away, the United Nations now believes that you could realistically see the end of AIDS by 2030. You may only make a small difference by yourself, but the combined effort adds up.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

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Apple will fix iPhone 6 Plus ‘touch disease,’ for $149

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.


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.”

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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‘Super Mario Run’ arrives on iPhone and iPad December 15th

At the iPhone 7 event, Apple and Nintendo revealed that Mario would make his way to iOS devices this December. Well, today Nintendo revealed the exact date: December 15th. That’s the day Super Mario Run will be available to play on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app can be downloaded for free, but you’ll only be able to play parts of the game’s three modes without handing over additional funds. To unlock the full game, you’ll have to pay $ 10.

When the time comes, Super Mario Run will be available in 151 countries (full list here) and 10 languages including English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian and traditional Chinese. If you happen to live in one of those locales, you’ll just need to make sure you have a device that runs iOS 8.0 or later in order to leap over obstacles, take on enemies and collect coins in a few weeks.

Don’t worry, Android faithful: Nintendo says you’ll get a chance to play the mobile game as well. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t announced when, just the vague “at some point in the future.”

Source: Nintendo (Business Wire)

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India wants the tech used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone

Israeli forensics company Cellebrite helped the FBI access the contents of a suspect’s iPhone 5c following the shooting in San Bernardino last year. Now India is in talks to buy the company’s tech that will allow it to unlock phones and other devices. The Economic Times reports that India’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) is purchasing the tool and should have it in hand within a month. What’s more, the FSL says India will be “a global hub for cases where law enforcement is unable to break into phones.” In other words, the India government will lend a hand to other countries that need to crack encrypted devices.

The Economic Times reports that the Indian government has already enlisted help from Cellebrite in “a few cases,” but now it will have the encryption cracking tech on hand to use as needed. Details are scarce on if the country will be the exclusive owner of the technology or under what circumstances it will make the resource available to other governments around the world. It’s also not a done deal yet, but FSL officials seem confident the government will complete the purchase soon. There’s no word on how much the transaction will cost, but the FBI paid Cellebrite over $ 1 million for its services in the San Bernardino case.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: The Economic Times

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Apple releases iOS 10.1, adds Portrait mode to the iPhone 7 Plus

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.

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iPhone 7 update fixes your Verizon connection problems

If you recently snagged an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and depend on Verizon for service, you’ll want to check for a software update. Apple has released an iOS 10.0.3 upgrade that that fixes a weeks-long problem where some iPhone 7 and 7 Plus users (particularly Verizon customers) would temporarily lose their cellular connections. If you were affected, your LTE connection would unexpectedly drop out and revert you to pokey 3G speeds. There are no other real improvements, but this could make a big difference if your initial iPhone 7 experience has been defined by flaky access.

Source: Apple

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