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Plex joins forces with Tidal to provide access to over 60 million high-quality tracks

Popular media platform Plex is taking another step towards solidifying its position as a one-stop media hub with announcement that it has partnered with the global music streaming platform Tidal. The new deal will give Plex members access to more than 60 million high-quality music tracks and over 244,000 videos, along with unique editorial content. Plex users will be able to access Tidal content directly from the Plex app through an exclusive subscription deal that will enhance the user of both services. Plex users will continue to be able to enjoy their own personal music collections alongside Tidal’s catalog, with everything seamlessly blended together within the Plex app, allowing users to search out their favourite music and other content regardless of where it’s located.

V-Moda releases SpeakEasy DAC/AMP Lightning cable, V-Man headphone stand

V-Moda has just announced a new set of accessories for its lineup of high-fidelity headphones and IEMs, starting with the new SpeakEasy DAC/AMP Lightning cable ($99.99), which allows owners of all V-MODA over-ear and on-ear headphones to swap out their analog 3.5mm cable for a direct Lighting connection for modern iOS devices with a high-performance DAC and amplifier that promises to deliver high-resolution sound well beyond most wireless headphones or even Apple’s own 3.5mm to Lightning adapter. The 24-bit DAC is Apple MFi-certified and features a signal-to-noise ratio of 114dB, along with a headphone amp that can deliver 31 mW of output power, while not deplete power consumption and more than a standard 3.5mm analog cable.

ECG feature reportedly coming to Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.1.2

The new Apple Watch Series 4 will be getting its promised ECG feature as part of the upcoming watchOS 5.1.2 update, according to documents obtained by MacRumors. While the version of watchOS 5.1.2 that is currently in developer beta testing has not shown any indications of the ECG feature as of yet, internal Apple Store training documents have revealed that an ECG app will be included with the final public release of watchOS 5.1.2. As promised, the app is designed to provide basic ECG functionality to allow users to determine whether their heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation, thereby suggesting that they should consult a doctor for more comprehensive tests to determine if a heart condition actually exists.

Apple Pay comes to Belgium

Apple Pay has launched in Belgium, according to a report by 9to5Mac, although it appears to have only landed at a single banking conglomerate thus far, Fortis, which comprises BNP Paribas, Fintro and Hello Bank. Other big banks in Belgium have yet to get on board, nor have there been any announcements as to when that might happen. Apple Pay has been gradually rolling out worldwide since its debut in 2016, and has apparently landed in Kazakhstan this week as well, along with Apple promising that a German rollout of the mobile payment service is also expected to come by the end of the year.

Apple updates iCloud for Windows to resolve Windows 10 update compatibility problems

Following news last week of compatibility problems between Apple’s iCloud for Windows and Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 updates, Apple has quietly pushed out an update to iCloud for Windows that resolves the issues, allowing Microsoft users to update to the October release of Windows 10 (version 1809) without needing to first remove iCloud for Windows from their system. Earlier this month, Windows 10 users with the iCloud components installed found that they weren’t being offered the latest update to Windows 10, which Microsoft later acknowledged was due to “an incompatibility with iCloud for Windows (version 7.7.0.27) that may cause users to have issues updating or synching Shared Albums.” Microsoft had blocked the Windows 10 update “to ensure a seamless experience for users” and reported that it was working with Apple to resolve the issue. This has now reportedly been resolved in iCloud for Windows 7.8.1, released yesterday, and although Apple has not officially confirmed that the issues are fixed, the updated system requirements would seem to suggest that this is the case, with Apple now simply noting “Windows 7 or later” as opposed to the prior release notes which specified “Windows 7 through Windows 10 April 2018 Update.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple offering up to $100 extra credit on iPhone trade-ins

Apple has launched a limited time promotion for its GiveBack trade-in program, offering customers upgrading to a current iPhone up to $100 of additional trade-in value for their old iPhones. For example, customers trading in an iPhone 6 Plus will receive $200 in credit, an increase of $100 over the usual trade-in value, while the iPhone 8 can be traded in at $300, only $25 more than the usual $275 credit. The bonus appears to be limited to purchasing only the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR, and is not available for customers who may only be looking to upgrade to an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 series model. [via MacRumors]

YouTube now offering discounted Premium and Music student subscriptions

YouTube has announced new discounted student plans for its YouTube Premium and YouTube Music services, providing eligible students with a 40 to 50 percent discount over the normal subscription rates. YouTube Music is being offered for students at $4.99/month, half of the normal $9.99/month price tag, while YouTube Premium for students will be $6.99/month, down from the normal $11.99/month pricing. YouTube is also offering a special promotion for students who sign up before January 31, 2019, enabling them to lock in a $5.99/month rate for the life of their subscription. YouTube Music is Google’s latest response to Spotify and Apple Music, both of which have been offering student plans for some time now. YouTube Premium is an expanded service which combines all of the benefits of YouTube Music while also offering users ad-free video, background playback, offline viewing, and access to all YouTube Originals. The new student plans are currently only available in the U.S., to full-time students at an accredited college or university, although YouTube notes that it will be expanding to more countries in the future.

Transit for iOS now lets you combine public transit and ridehailing

Popular iOS transportation planning app Transit has announced a major new feature in the form of “multimodal” trip support that will allow users to combine public transit and ride-sharing services into single trip itineraries, all in one app. Although transportation apps such as Transit and Google Maps have offered support for services such as Uber for quite some time, ride-sharing services have traditionally been presented as alternatives to taking public transit, rather than allowing users to mix and match then with other transportation types. Transit’s new feature, dubbed Transit+, is a “transit-oriented ridehailing” service that will allow users to plan trips that include a combination of services such as Uber, Lyft, Via, Ola, and Téo, along with local and regional public transit services, feeding rides from these services onto buses and trains.

Further, Transit+ isn’t just about allowing users to choose to use ridehail services as an alternative, but is actually designed to provide recommendations on the most efficient trip, so even in situations where a bus might easily take you to a nearby rail station, transit will let you know if an alternative route if a specific ride-hailing provider like Uber or Lyft can get you there faster, and Transit notes that in many cases, contrary to a common misconception, a combination of ridehail and transit services can actually provide for a faster trip, particularly in congested downtown areas where rail services are frequently much more efficient. The app will also handle the necessary bookings and payments for a seamless travel experience, saving users the hassle of juggling different apps, and Transit has also announced that it is working with transit carriers in various cities to integrate fare payments into the app, with an initial rollout already underway in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The Transit+ service is rolling out in beta with support for ridehail with rail services in all cities, and ridehail with bus services rolling out initially in Kansas City, Silicon Valley, Boston, Detroit, Nashville, Columbus, Cleveland, St. Petersburg, St. Louis, Dayton, Albany, and Las Vegas.

iPhones may face 10 percent import tariff according to Trump

President Donald Trump has suggested to the Wall Street Journal that tariffs may be coming on all Chinese imports if trade negotiations between the two countries don’t soon improve in the U.S.’ favor. A new round of comprehensive tariffs like this would also likely include most of Apple’s products, which have previously managed to avoid being caught up in the fray between the trade giants. Trump mentioned this possibility in the interview, although some of his aides have suggested that mobile phones and laptops could still be exempted from tariff increases, fearing a possible consumer backlash. However, in referring to these product categories, Trump acknowledged the possibility, stating that “I can make it 10% and people could stand that very easily.” Apple naturally declined to comment on the President’s remarks, although the company has previously gone on the record with U.S. trade authorities as saying that tariffs would put the company at a disadvantage against foreign competitors and of course result in higher consumer prices in the U.S.

Apple launching free ‘Hour of Code’ sessions at Apple Stores next week

Apple has announced a new series of coding education sessions coming to all Apple Stores for the first half of December. As part of Apple’s Everyone Can Code program, customers will be able to register for any one of thousands of free “Hour of Code” sessions being held at all Apple Stores worldwide from Dec. 1 to Dec. 14. The sessions form part of Apple’s Today at Apple events, providing opportunities for anybody to learn coding regardless of skill level. Specific Kids Hour sessions will also be held to help aspiring young coders (ages 6–12) get started on coding with robots, while older kids can attend sessions using Swift Playgrounds and iPad to learn more advanced coding concepts.

Apple indirectly drops iPhone XR prices in Japan due to low demand

Apple has increased its carrier subsidies in Japan to effectively drop the price of the iPhone XR, 9to5Mac reports. Japanese carrier NTT Docomo is now offering the iPhone XR on a 24-month contract for approximately $100 less than the original price — a move that is widely believed to have been authorized by Apple due to lower than anticipated demand for the new model in that country. While Apple’s iPhone still dominates the smartphone market in general, the iPhone XR does not seem to have been the runaway hit that Apple expected — Japanese customers have instead been flocking toward last year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, resulting in lower sales of both the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. While NTT Docomo is the only carrier to be offering the reduced price thus far, it is expected that other Japanese carriers will soon follow suit.

App Store antitrust case goes before U.S. Supreme Court

A seven-year old antitrust monopoly lawsuit against Apple’s App Store is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court today, Reuters reports, in a case which is expected to answer a bigger question as to whether consumers can sue the intermediate suppliers and distributors in an online economy for damages in antitrust cases. Apple, for its part, is citing a relatively ancient Supreme Court precedent from 1977 in its defence, which limited damages for anti-competitive conduct to those who were overcharged directly, rather than simply those who paid an overcharge passed on by others. On this basic, Apple is arguing that it is simply acting as an agent, and it is the developers that set the prices, which Apple simply passes on through its storefront. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, however, are arguing that Apple’s 30 percent cut for selling apps on the App Store forces developers to charge higher prices than they otherwise would, thereby passing Apple’s costs on directly to the consumers. A competitive landscape, they suggest, would allow for developers to charge lower prices on other App Stores.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 from iLounge!

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and we at iLounge would like to wish you a happy holiday and express how grateful all of us are for your readership and support. We’ll be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday, returning to normal updates on Monday, November 26th. Happy Thanksgiving!

1Password offering a free year for friends and family on Thanksgiving

Current users of 1Password are being given an opportunity to share the love this Thanksgiving with the opportunity to gift friends or family a one-year subscription to the password management service at no charge. Founder Dave Teare announced the offer today on the company’s blog and via e-mail to its customers, noting that the offer is available for any customer who has a license for 1Password 7 or a 1Password.com subscription that continues into 2019; 1Password subscribers can send the gift out directly via e-mail by signing into 1Password.com and looking for the “Happy Thanksgiving” button in the sidebar, while users with a standard 1Password 7 license will need to contact 1Password support. The gift will provide the recipient with a free year of 1Password Families, a $60 value that allows up to five users to have their own personal and shared password vaults, although users will of course need to subscribe to continue using the service once the free year is up. We’ve reached out to 1Password for more information as there’s no indication as to when the offer expires, although it seems like a safe bet that it will be available at least through the Thanksgiving holiday.

Update: 1Password has let us know that the offer will be available until the end of November.

U.K. advocacy group calling on Apple, Google, and Uber to openly share map data

A U.K. based advocacy group, The Open Data Institute (ODI), has published a report calling on the U.K. government “to work with Google, Apple and Uber to publish more map data and support the UK’s emerging technologies,” citing the importance of “geospatial data” — data that “describes places including the address of a building, the boundaries of cities and regions, and the extent of flood plains” — for the planning and decision making necessary to support public services and drive the modern economy. While the report notes that the U.K. government has committed to making its own data more readily available, it adds that getting a hold of this data from both the public and private sectors is difficult, with even government agencies charging high fees, the privatization of things like U.K. address data by Royal Mail, and Google Maps having increased its pricing significantly in recent years. The ODI report suggests that commercial entities having a “monopoly” on specific types of geospatial data assets is stifling innovation and failing to fully take advantage of the possible economic and social benefits.

PhoneSoap 3 now available in limited edition Cranberry Red version for the holidays

PhoneSoap, maker of the unique smartphone charger that cleans and sanitizes your devices while it charges, has announced an exclusive limited edition Phonesoap 3 in Cranberry Red for the holiday season. Using UV-C lights, PhoneSoap promises to kill off 99.99% of bacteria growing on your iPhone in only 10 minutes, making it a great gift for health-conscious techies, since just about everybody carries and uses their iPhone in places where they can easily collect harmful bacteria. the Cranberry Red PhoneSoap 3 is available in limited quantities for $59.95 on PhoneSoap.com, and over Thanksgiving (from Nov. 21–27), customers can also use the code “Give20” to get an extra 20% off the Cranberry Red PhoneSoap 3 or any other product on the site, plus free shipping.

Tumblr app’s mysterious disappearance was the result of child pornography getting past filters

Following Tumblr’s mysterious disappearance from the App Store yesterday, CNET’s Download.com has learned from independent sources that the app was pulled from the App Store due to the presence of child pornography content slipping past the social media site’s filters. In speaking with Tumblr, a company spokesperson reiterated the service’s zero tolerance policy with regard to “media featuring child sexual exploitation and abuse” and explained how uploaded content is scanned against “an industry database of known child sexual abuse material.” During a routine audit, however, the company discovered content that had slipped through the filters as a result of it not yet being included in the industry database. Tumblr has also update the article on its support site, explaining the situation and noting that the company is continuing to work on returning the iOS app to the App Store. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple cutting back on production for iPhone XS and iPhone XR

Apple has reduced orders from its manufacturing suppliers for the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, adding weight to other recent reports that have suggested that sales of the latest models have not been going as well as anticipated. According to the report, the new three-model lineup has made it difficult for Apple to predict the balance of demand for the new iPhones, and this has been coupled with an overall slowdown of the smartphone market and possibly weak demand in China. Of course, Apple also continues to sell a number of older iPhone models, and other recent reports have suggested that the iPhone 8 series remains in relatively high demand, and most analysts are predicting that the average selling price of iPhones will continue rising, meaning that Apple can still pull in the same kind of revenue even with weaker unit sales — possibly also suggesting a possible reason for the company’s choice to stop reporting unit sales in the new fiscal year. It also seems likely that Apple’s choice to cut manufacturing orders suggests a longer-term vision of sales moving into early 2019, rather than any anticipation of a holiday sales slump. [via 9to5Mac]

Tim Cook explains Apple’s multi-billion search deal with Google in light of privacy concerns

Tim Cook is standing by Apple’s decision to continue its search engine dealing with Google, despite the two companies’ seemingly conflicting ideas about privacy. In an interview with Axios on HBO (via The Verge), Cook was asked straight out why he is comfortable taking billions of dollars from Google for default search engine placement in light of Apple’s own strong stance on protecting user privacy. Cook responded by emphasizing that Apple builds security and privacy measures directly into its Safari browser, which allows them to be more comfortable about providing users with access to “the best” search engine without compromising privacy:

I think their search engine is the best. Look at what we’ve done with the controls we’ve built in. We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we’ve tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing. I’d be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping.

According to recent research by Goldman Sachs reported by Bloomberg, Apple may be taking in up to $9 billion this year from its deal with Google, and while other analysts place the number at a lower estimate of between $3 billion and $4 billion, there’s no doubt that it’s a significant portion of Apple’s reported $37 billion in services revenue.

Satechi unveils new Qi-certified Wireless Charger

Satechi has just expanded into the wireless charging market with the announcement of its newest product, the Aluminum Type-C PD & QC Wireless Charger ($45), providing another attractive and cost-effective solution for iPhone users to easily charge their devices free from the encumbrance of wires. The new device supports charging speeds of up to 10 watts, allowing for maximum charging performance on all of Apple’s latest iPhones, although users will need to provide their own USB-C PD or Quick Charge compatible power adapter. The Qi-certified charger includes a multi-color LED status light to indicate charging status and speed, along with over-temperature and foreign-object detection safety features. The Aluminum Type-C PD & QC Wireless Charger is available now from Satechi’s web site and other places where Satechi products are sold.

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