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Apple increases iTunes movie rental time to 48 hours for US users

Apple has increased the time a user has to finish or rewatch a movie rented from iTunes from 24 hours to 48 hours for U.S. users, according to the company’s updated support document. Users in the U.S. users have 30 days from the time they rent a movie to begin watching it, and now they’ll have twice as much time to finish it. The 48 hour window to watch an iTunes rental has been available since the beginning of iTunes movie rentals in Canada and the U.K. — among other countries — and it’s not entirely clear why the U.S. had a shorter time limit. The company also recently made 4K movies available for rent at the same price as HD movies (but they can’t be downloaded for offline viewing).

iPhone 8, 8 Plus support Enhanced Voice Services, but users reporting static in calls

Takashi Tanaka, President of Japan’s KDDI cellular provider, said the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus support Enhanced Voice Services that provide clearer calls and boost the connection’s reliability, according to Engadget’s Japanese-language site. The codec is the next step in Apple’s HD Voice, which has been around since the iPhone 8. The latest incarnation — which Gizmodo reports is being called “Enhanced HD Voice” in the UK — boosts the upper frequency range of calls from 7kHz to 14.4kHz, but it only works when both users have phones with the capabilities.

Anki launches Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition

Anki has launched Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition ($170), taking the company’s evolved battle-racing game to new levels by blending it with the adrenaline-fueled world of Fast & Furious. Players will be able to challenge Toretto crew A.I. characters, including Dom, Hobbs, Letty, and Tej, as well as battle against their friends and family in two film-inspired robotic supercars — Hobbs’ iconic and tough International MXT and Dom’s super-fast Ice Charger. The modular track pieces also get an upgrade in the new edition, with a new Power Zone track piece that triggers a massive “hack” as players drive through it. The new Fast & Furious Edition is compatible with the existing Anki Overdrive product family, including the already available roster of supercars and expansion kits. Be sure to check back for our full review of the new kit.

iFixit posts teardown of iPhone 8

iFixit has posted its usual complete teardown of the iPhone 8, as usual confirming much of the information that’s already been revealed while discovering a few additional interesting details. The new iPhone 8 model appears very similar to its predecessor on the outside, and is only a fraction of a millimetre larger in its dimensions. The model is identified from the box as A1863, although the report notes that it’s now conspicuously absent from the iPhone 8’s new all-glass back, thanks to a recent law that allows this information to be displayed only in the software.

Apple Watch Series 3 unboxing photos

The new Apple Watch Series 3 has also just arrived, so we’re posting a quick first look at Apple’s latest wearable. The images highlight some of the subtleties of the new model, such as a red circle on the Digital Crown that’s used to distinguish the GPS+Cellular version from the non-cellular version of the Series 3. Otherwise, the Series 3 bears a striking resemblance to last year’s Series 2; Apple noted a very slight thickness increase, but as we’d expect it’s not noticeable to the naked eye. While it looks the same on the outside, the internals have been significantly upgraded, not only adding a cellular radio and eSIM, but also a considerably faster processor, a more power-efficient “W2” wireless chip, and a barometric sensor. The box includes the usual 5W USB power adapter and Apple Watch charging adapter. We’ll be putting the Apple Watch Series 3 through its paces over the next few days so be on the lookout for our full review next week.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus: Unboxing + comparison photos

We’ve just gotten our hands on Apple’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, and we’ve posted a quick first look with some unboxing and comparison photos. Users familiar with past iPhone models will find no real surprises here; despite support for rapid charging, Apple still only bundles its standard 5W power adapter, along with the usual wired EarPods and standard Lightning cable. The new glass backs on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus hearken back to the iPhone 4 era, and make the space gray version look closer to last year’s jet black iPhone 7 than the matte black version. The high gloss glass back on the silver iPhone 7 still isn’t quite as white as the iPhone 4/4s models, but it definitely bears a closer resemblance. The new iPhones both ship with iOS 11. Keep your eyes out for our full, independent, comprehensive review of the new iPhone models next week once we’ve had a chance to put them through their paces.

iPhone X production faces further ‘incremental delay’ to mid-October

Apple’s new iPhone X is experiencing an “incremental delay” in its build plans that will likely delay production until mid-October, according to a new investor note obtained by Barron’s. The note reveals that production of the flagship iPhone doesn’t appear to have started yet, and the mid-October production start represents a one-month delay compared to previous expectations. The investor note primarily concerns itself with aspect of when Apple would be able to realize earnings from the sale of the new iPhone, noting that production would shift more into “the December quarter” and that it relates to the “tone and expectations” for that quarter. It’s not entirely clear, however, whether Apple has already factored in these production delays into its promised Nov. 3 ship date, or whether that date could possibly slip, however the note does seem to make it more likely that availability of the new iPhone X may be more limited than originally anticipated.

Toshiba nears deal to sell chip business to group that includes Apple

Toshiba has chosen a group led by Bain Capital — which includes Apple — to buy its ailing chip business, The Wall Street Journal reports. Toshiba has outlined a plan to stay involved in the business after the estimated $18 billion sale, signing a “nonbinding document saying they intended to reach a deal by September 30.” The deal still has to clear a review from antitrust regulators and objections from Toshiba partner Western Digital, which claims it has the right to veto the sale. Toshiba disputes that claim, and the issue is headed for international arbitration. If the deal ends up going through, Apple would likely find it much easier to secure its chip supply as demand continues to increase. Some Apple products have seen slight price increases in the past few weeks, leading to speculation that rising memory costs could be to blame, so locking down a reliable supply would leave one less thing for Apple to worry about as it continues pushing the limits of its internal components and trying to bring more of its production in-house.

Ikea, Overstock.com, Game Insight, Strava and more launch ARKit apps

With the release of iOS 11, a series of companies are debuting their ARKit apps to the world. Ikea’s Ikea Place app — first revealed at WWDC — allows users to place models of Ikea furniture right in their room to see how it would look at home in real time, and a similar feature in Overstock.com’s app allows the placement of thousands of the site’s products in a similar fashion. SmartPicture Technologies’ PLNAR app will help users measure the dimensions of the room itself, providing digital measurements of any surface by mapping the room’s anchor points. Strava has used the framework to create Fitness AR, an app that lets users see the surroundings from their planned rides, runs and hikes plotted out on a 3D map that shows terrain and elevation. Game Insight’s My Country and Guns of Boom games are both adding new AR capabilities, allowing users a bird’s eye view of the game environments. These are just a few of the ARKit apps popping up so far, so let us know in the comments what you’d like to see or which new apps you find useful and entertaining.

Apple still working bugs out of Apple Watch Series 3 Wi-Fi connectivity, iOS 11 Mail app

While Apple has done extensive hardware and software testing before rolling out its new products, reviewers have found a serious problem with the way the Apple Watch Series 3 handles Wi-Fi connectivity, The Verge reports. The new LTE Apple Watch is supposed to be more of a standalone device than the previous models, able to use cellular data rather than relying solely on Wi-Fi, but the reviewer found that two separate Apple Watches both experienced the same problem of trying to connect to unknown (and potentially dangerous) Wi-Fi connections rather than switching to cellular. With the device set to ship Friday, Apple has admitted that the company has “discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular. We are investigating a fix for a future software release.”

Apple waiting on iPhone X performance to decide if 2018 iPhones all get Face ID

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already turned his focus to next year’s iPhones, claiming that Apple is waiting on the reaction to the iPhone X to see if all the 2018 models should feature Face ID, according to a report seen by 9to5Mac. If the customer reaction proves positive, all of next year’s models could get the TrueDepth front camera that facilitates Face ID. Even if the reaction is mixed, Face ID could still come to all the next iPhones due to difficulties in embedding a fingerprint sensor under the 3D Touch-capable screen to eliminate the home button. But if Face ID is a flop with users, Kuo says it might be worth the effort for Apple to kunckle down and get the fingerprint scanner working after all.

Apple releases iOS 11 with improvements to HomeKit, new App Store, updates to Camera, Siri and more

After months of betas, Apple has released iOS 11 to the general public. Coming mostly as it was advertised at WWDC, the new operating system features a long list of updates, including new HomeKit compatibility thanks to AirPlay 2 capabilities and improved controls for timers, location triggers, speakers and sunrise/sunset times. For devices with cameras that support it, Portrait mode has been expanded to include image stabilization, HDR and True Tone flash, and all photos and videos will take up half as much space thanks to Apple’s new photo and video formats. Maps gain support for indoor details of some larger buildings — like airports and malls — and Apple Music will gain new social features, adding a new “Friends are Listening to” section in the Music app. The Control Center has been completely reimagined and Siri has gained new natural male and female voices built using deep learning along with a new visual interface.

Apple releases tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 to the public

Alongside today’s iOS 11 release, Apple has made tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 available to all users. The tvOS update isn’t quite as flashy as its iOS counterpart, but it does add some cool new features like automatic Dark Mode, iCloud home screen syncing, support for the new AirPlay 2 protocol and tweaks to the interfaces of the Computers, HomeKit and Music apps to streamline the experience. Music also gets an update in watchOS 4, adding support for storing multiple playlists on the Watch itself, as well as automatically saving music from the paired iPhone to the Apple Watch based on a user’s listening habits.

August updates Smart Lock, unveils Smart Lock Pro, Doorbell Cam Pro

August has updated its Smart Lock and created the new Smart Lock Pro, adding an integrated DoorSense sensor that can let users know remotely whether their door is open or closed. The new Smart Lock ditches the large cylindrical look of the original for a more traditional thumb turn, and also shaves the price from $229 to $149. The more upscale Smart Lock Pro ($279) maintains the original look and includes a Connect Wi-Fi Bridge to allow for control through HomeKit, Bluetooth and Z-Wave Plus. The company’s Doorbell Cam Pro has added a flood light to its original design, and the light can be motion triggered to monitor outside the home at night. As soon as we get our hands on the new models we’ll post full reviews, so check back soon.

TV app lands on Apple TV in new countries ahead of tvOS 11; Apple Pay Cash won’t launch with iOS 11

Apple’s TV app has started popping up on Apple TVs outside the US ahead of today’s tvOS 11 release, with users in Canada and Australia reporting they gained access overnight, although some said the app was present but not yet functioning in tvOS 10. Apple also claims that the TV app will arrive in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK by the end of the year, but another feature put on display during last week’s Keynote won’t be making it out today. The Apple Pay Cash feature in iOS 11 and watchOS 4 won’t be coming until “this fall” according to Apple’s latest update. Once functional, the feature will allow users to send cash payments through Messages or command Siri to issue a payment from a credit or debit card stored in Wallet.

Geekbench tests show Apple’s A11 chip is way ahead of the competition

The official Geekbench benchmark tests are out for the A11 Bionic chip powering the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, and the results show Apple’s latest offering standing head and shoulders above the competition. The A11 Bionic turned out to be 25 percent faster than the previous 10 Fusion in single core tests and a whopping 80 percent faster in multicore tests. The multicore scores astoundingly even top out above the 13” MacBook Pro, although AppleInsider is quick to note that a laptop’s CPU is tasked with driving a much larger display. That also likely accounts for why the iPhone 8 tests better than the iPhone 8 Plus, and why the 8 Plus tests better than the X; namely, the higher the screen resolution, the more the processor has to work to run it and the less it will be able to dedicate to other tasks.

Apple defends new stricter Safari ad-tracking blockers

While Apple has taken heat from marketing groups for blocking cross-site tracking in Safari, the company doubled down on its commitment to user privacy and explained the move in comments to 9to5Mac. Safari has historically been tougher on third-party tracking than other browsers — it was the first to block third-party cookies by default — and the company said its Intelligent Tracking Prevention is the next step to keep user data from being misused. “Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history,” Apple said in its statement. “This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet.”

After on-stage failure, Federighi tries to quiet fears about Face ID’s function and security

In its first big moment on stage during last week’s Apple Keynote, Face ID failed to unlock SVP Craig Federighi’s iPhone X, leading to all kinds of speculation that the new authentication system will be a disaster. Sitting down with Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Federighi did his best to assuage those fears, saying the very public failure surprised him because usually the Face ID “just works,” and he’s certain that any fears over the functionality will “melt away” as soon as users have their hands on the iPhone X. “Honestly, we’re just all counting the days that customers can finally get their hands on these. Because I think just like with Touch ID, initially people thought oh, ‘Apple’s done something that’s totally not going to work and I’m not a believer and I’m not gonna use this feature,’” Federighi said. “Now everyone’s worried because they can’t imagine life without Touch ID. We’re going to see exactly the same thing with Face ID.”

Apple gives developers new guidelines for apps using ARKit, Face ID

Apple has updated its App Store guidelines for developers looking to make use of the company’s new Face ID technology and ARKit framework, aiming to ensure that apps are providing a worthwhile experience rather than a single gimmick. In somewhat vague terms, Apple claims it will only approve ARKit-based apps that “provide rich and integrated augmented reality experiences,” likely meaning apps that feature the ability to place a single object into a situation or run a single animation won’t fit the bill. Apple also added in new privacy restrictions, explicitly prohibiting the mining of facial data to identify people, requiring that the use of facial recognition for authentication within the app use Local Authentication rather than ARKit technology, and forcing apps to provide an alternate method of authentication for users under 13.

U.S. Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular models will only work on U.S. carriers

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) models may only work to provide cellular services in the country where they were originally purchased, according to a new report by MacRumors. An Apple support representative told a MacRumors reader that an “Apple Watch purchased in the U.S. online store will only work with the four carriers in the United States.”  While no additional details were provided, it seems that the problem would most likely be due to a limited number of LTE bands supported by the new cellular-capable Apple Watch model. Unlike the iPhone, engineering constraints in the much smaller Apple Watch likely limit the number of frequencies that can be effectively supported, and with carriers in different countries supporting different LTE frequency bands, it seems likely that Apple would optimize each Apple Watch Series 3 for cellular services in the country where it is being sold.

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