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Apple’s 2018 iPhones still only bundle 5W charger, drop 3.5mm headphone adapter

As expected, Apple is no longer including its Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter with this year’s iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models, now confirming previous rumours from analysts that the company would be omitting them this year. While Apple’s logic behind the decision isn’t clear, it seems likely that the proliferation of third-party adapters, as well as Lighting and wireless headphones, has made new users less dependent on the adapter, which Apple continues to sell separately for $10. Perhaps more surprisingly, however, is that Apple is continuing to include only basically the same five-watt power adapter that has been bundled with iPhones since the 2008 iPhone 3G, despite rumours that this year would see an 18-watt USB-PD charger and Lightning to USB-C cable bundled instead. It’s uncertain of course whether Apple may still plan to introduce an 18-watt adapter separately, or perhaps even if the company did consider bundling them at one point but ran into delays in light of rumours that Apple’s partners would be running at full capacity to manufacture sufficient quantities.

Apple publishes 108-second recap video of yesterday’s highlights

Apple has posted a quick recap video of yesterday’s iPhone and Apple Watch event, Apple’s big news in 108 seconds, providing a very quick overview of the highlights of the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch Series 4 announced yesterday. The short video is a nice alternative for those who are just interested in seeing the key points on Apple’s newest devices but don’t want to take the time to sift through the full presentation.

AirPower conspicuously absent at today’s Apple event [Update: scrubbed from Apple’s site, too]

In the midst of Apple’s announcement of three new iPhone models, and a new Apple Watch, all of which will of course support wireless charging, one product that was conspicuous by its absence was Apple’s promised AirPower charging pad, or really any mention of wireless charging at all — a bullet point on a features slide fo the new iPhone models indicated “Improved Wireless Charging” but the feature wasn’t specifically mentioned by Apple executives. Apple announced its own wireless charger during last year’s event, saying at the time only that it would be coming sometime in 2018, likely alongside a new AirPods case, that was originally [rumoured] to be coming last December.

Apple announces HomePod Software Update coming Sept. 12

At the close of today’s event, Apple CEO Tim Cook also briefly mentioned Apple’s HomePod speaker, touting the recent addition of AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing, and announcing that Apple will be releasing a new HomePod Software Update that will bring some of the previously-rumoured features such as multiple timers and the ability to place and receive calls directly from HomePod (using a paired iPhone). Cook also noted a few additional features that we previously hadn’t heard of, although they aren’t particularly surprising, and include the ability to search songs by lyrics, ping and locate other devices from HomePod, and trigger the new iOS 12 Siri Shortcuts from the HomePod. Apple has also published a news release detailing the upcoming features.

iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12 to be released Sept. 17

Apple’s upcoming mobile operating systems got little more than anecdotal mentions during today’s Apple event, which focused much more prominently on the new Apple Watch Series 4, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, although Apple executives briefly announced at the end of each hardware unveil that the corresponding watchOS 5 and iOS 12 updates will be released to the public next Monday, Sept. 17, with Tim Cook adding at the end that tvOS 12 would also be released on the same date, along with the corresponding HomePod Software Update

Apple keeps iPhone 7, iPhone 8 in lineup, drops iPhone X

With today’s debut of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, Apple also announced that it will also be continuing to sell the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, with prices on both of the older models being further reduced. The iPhone 7 will now be available starting at $449 for the 32 GB version or $549 for the 128 GB model, with the iPhone 7 Plus versions selling for $569 and $669, respectively. The iPhone 8 now starts at $599 for the 64 GB model, and $749 for the 256 GB version, with the iPhone 8 Plus models selling for $699 and $849, respectively. Notably, last year’s iPhone X has been removed from the lineup in favour of the XS and XR models.

Apple debuts 6.1-inch LCD iPhone XR, coming in October

In addition to today’s launch of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, Apple also debuted an expected lower-cost LCD version. Dubbed the iPhone XR, the new model sits in between the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in size, and features a 6.1-inch advanced LCD screen that the company is calling its “Liquid Retina” display. The iPhone XR surprisingly includes many of the same capabilities as the iPhone XS, with the most significant differences being the LCD display and a single-lens camera system. Rather than stainless steel, the iPhone XR is built from the same type of 7000-series aerospace grade aluminum used on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, although it features more durable glass, and an edge-to-edge LCD display that gives it a similar look and form factor to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max and also features the same iPhone X user experience, with Face ID, tap-to-wake, and gestures, although it omits 3D Touch capabilities, relying instead on a new feature called “haptic touch” which will provide a taptic response when holding a finger on the screen.

Apple unveils iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Apple’s Phil Schiller took the wraps off Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup today, showing off the much-anticipated successors to last year’s iPhone X — the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XS is essentially a direct upgrade from the iPhone X, featuring the same basic size, form factor, and 5.8-inch OLED “Super Retina” display. The iPhone XS Max becomes the modern OLED successor to Apple’s “Plus” models, although in this case it includes all of the same features of its smaller sibling, merely expanding the screen to a 6.5-inch diagonal, in the same general physical dimensions of an iPhone 8 Plus.

Apple announces Apple Watch Series 4 with ECG capabilities

Apple’s Jeff Williams took the stage at Apple’s event this year to introduce the Apple Watch Series 4. The new model is avialable in two larger versions — 40mm and 44mm — which feature displays that are over 30 percent larger in size than all prior Apple Watch models, yet the new versions are actually thinner than the Series 3, resulting in less total volume.

Tim Cook kicks off Apple’s September iPhone event

Apple CEO Tim Cook opened this year’s “Gather Round” iPhone event at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino with a much briefer than usual introduction, providing a quick highlight of the status of Apple’s retail stores — which now welcome over 500 million visitors per year around the world — as well as noting that the company is about to sell its two billionth iOS device. Rather than providing the usual “state of the union” statistics on Apple’s products and services, Cook provided a quick overview of how Apple’s devices enhance users’ lives, and then quickly moved right into handing the stage over to Jeff Williams for an introduction of the Apple Watch Series 4.

Plex to shut down Plex Cloud on Nov. 30

Plex announced today that it will be shutting down its Plex Cloud service as of Nov. 30, 2018, following a struggle with performance and user experience issues with the service. Although Plex has traditionally been focused on allowing users to access media files from their own local computers or network attached storage (NAS) devices, the company introduced Plex Cloud two years ago to provide users with the option to host their media content on cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. After a number of technical challenges with the service, Plex announced last February that they were “pausing new server creation to evaluate the long term plan for the service,” allowing existing users to continue using Plex Cloud while preventing any new users from signing up fro the service. With today’s announcement, the company has made it clear that they’ve been unable to find “a solution capable of delivering a truly first class Plex experience to Plex Cloud users at a reasonable cost” and have therefore had to make the difficult decision to shut down the service entirely. While the shutdown of the service naturally won’t affect media stored in third-party cloud services, users who wish to continue using Plex will need to set up their own Plex Media Server and migrate their content over to it manually.

Apple confirms Twitter live stream of tomorrow’s iPhone event

Apple has confirmed that it will be live streaming tomorrow’s iPhone launch event on Twitter, following speculation that was fuelled by a promoted Tweet that has been making the rounds. While Apple has announced its events via Twitter in the past, this is the first year the company has outright suggested a live stream on the social media service, with the Tweet noting users can “watch the #AppleEvent live on Twitter.” Apple has confirmed both to MacRumors and TechCrunch that this does indeed mean that the entire keynote will be live streamed on Twitter, in addition to Apple’s usual live streams available via its tvOS Apple Events app and Special Events page. The keynote is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the new Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Apple could face iPhone import ban in South Korea as a result of patent dispute

Recent iPhone and iPad models may soon be facing a ban in South Korea due to allegations of patent infringement. According to a report from BusinessKorea, the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, Energy is investigating claims that Apple infringed on a patent belonging a subsidiary company of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST). The investigation period has already been extended twice, and the report suggests that the Korea Trade Commission will most likely find in favour of KAIST, which would result in the import of Apple’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and all current iPad and iPad Pro models from China and Hong Kong. The investigation centres on whether the FinFET patent is valid, and the commission is reportedly focusing on an ongoing case between Samsung Electronics and KAIST in the U.S. as part of its deliberations, where Samsung is attempting to persuade the U.S. courts to declare the FinFET patent invalid. Ironically, should Apple’s rival Samsung win its own case, the precedent of a U.S. court declaring the FinFET patent invalid would likely save Apple. “We cannot but pay attention to the litigation in the U.S. and South Korea involving Samsung Electronics although our current investigation is targeting Apple,” the ministry explained, adding, “This is because Samsung Electronics submitted evidence to refute the novelty of the patent, which is required for the patent to be regarded as being valid.” [via iPhone in Canada]

7-Eleven rolling out Apple Pay support in U.S. stores

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven has announced that Apple Pay will be available in “most” of its U.S. stores by the end of September. The rollout is part of a contactless payment strategy that will also see support added for Google Pay and Samsung Pay, and adds to other recent technology innovations by the company such as its “7-Eleven Now” iOS app that’s being rolled out in “select U.S. markets” to allow on-demand ordering of products from local stores, and also offers Apple Pay as an in-app payment option. “Frictionless experiences are the future, and digital payments are key to such experiences. Consumers prefer shopping at retailers that offer digital payment capabilities,” said Gurmeet Singh CDO and CIO of 7-Eleven in the company’s press release. Although 7-Eleven stores in other countries such as Canada have long allowed for contactless payments — and therefore supported Apple Pay by default as soon as it was available — the deployment of contactless payment terminals in the company’s U.S. stores expands the reach of Apple’s mobile payment service into a U.S. market where a convenient mobile payment service is the most useful.

EcoFlow launches River Rapid

Pioneering portable power company EcoFlow has launched River Rapid ($49), a palm-sized sibling to its River Mobile Power Station, providing 18 watts of USB-C power output and a 5,000 mAh capacity to keep your MacBook, iPad, iPhone, or other USB-C compatible devices powered up on the go. River Rapid comes in at a mere 3.6 ounces and features a USB-C-PD port and USB Quick Charge port, providing an extra 50 minutes of power for a MacBook Pro, or a full additional charge for an iPhone, at maximum charging speeds. River Rapid is available for purchase now on EcoFlow.com and at select retailers.

Apple wins Primetime Emmy Award for Carpool Karaoke

Apple has just won its first Emmy award for original content, Deadline reports. Apple Music’s Carpool Karaoke receiving a Primetime Emmy award, being named Outstanding Short Form Variety Series at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. While Apple has won several technical and engineering Emmy Awards over the years, including a 2011 award for developing FireWire, and another in 2017 for Siri integration on the Apple TV, this represents the company’s first win for actual content, prior to even launching anything from its new Worldwide Video Content division. Apple landed Carpool Karaoke back in 2016, developing it as an Apple Music exclusive offshoot from a segment on CBS’ The Late Late Show With James Corden. The series was renewed for a second season earlier this year, although there’s been no word as of yet when the new season will actually begin, although the company recently produced and released an interim Stars of Tag special episode, in addition to making season one free through its TV app for all Apple TV and iOS users.

Apple urges Trump administration to rethink Chinese tariffs

The U.S. is proposing a new $200 billion tariff on Chinese goods that is expected to affect a wide range of Apple products, according to a letter that the company sent to the U.S. government on Friday, as reported by MacRumors. While the iPhone doesn’t yet appear to be included, Apple said that new tariff would impact the Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, Beats headphones, AirPort routers, Apple Pencil, Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, MacBooks, Mac mini, and a selection of cables, chargers, and adapters, as well as tools used by Apple in its U.S. manufacturing, product repair, research and development facilities, as well as its data centers. In the letter, Apple is urging the Trump administration not to apply the tariff, insisting that it will actually have a negative impact on the U.S. economy, and to instead find “find other, more effective solutions that leave the U.S. economy and U.S. consumer stronger and healthier than ever before.” Apple’s letter did not mention the iPhone.

Apple Music rolling out global “Top 100” charts

Apple is preparing to roll out a new set of “top 100” charts within Apple Music via a software update, Rolling Stone reports. The new feature will expand the top charts available in the Browse section of iTunes and the iOS Music app by offering a top 100 chart for every country in which Apple Music is available, along with a global chart, all grouped together under the Browse tab with a visual appearance similar to a playlist or album. Charts will reflect the top songs streamed daily and be updated as 12 a.m. PST each day. Apple executives demonstrated the feature to Rolling Stone, but did not comment on the timing of the release or the company’s specific reasons for adding the feature; Rolling Stone notes, however, that music charts have become a hot topic within the music business over the past year, with Billboard changing its algorithms to increase the weight of paid streams over free streams in May, and YouTube Music following up with its own set of platform-specific charts, claiming that its own charts offered “the clearest view in what’s happening in music today” due to YouTube’s huge influence as a music destination. Rolling Stone reports that all Apple Music subscribers should be seeing the new charts feature today.

Apple launches new Law Enforcement Support Program

Apple has launched a new Law Enforcement Support Program which will include a number of new tools and initiatives to help law enforcement agencies and their officials deal with data and privacy requests, MacRumors reports. In a new section on Apple’s Government Information Requests page, the company notes that in addition to its commitment to complying with all valid legal processes with a team of professionals dedicated to working with law enforcement agencies, it is also now putting together a team of professionals that will providing training to law enforcement officers around the world in how to handle data requests and other related legal issues. Apple also notes that it plans to launch an online portal by the end of the year that will allow authenticated law enforcement officers around the world to submit data and track data requests. Apple emphasizes its commitment to balance its support of law enforcement while protecting the security and privacy of its users, stating that “We believe that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in keeping our society safe and we’ve always maintained that if we have information we will make it available when presented with valid legal process” and that “Apple is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users. The above developments and the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment.”

Apple’s Worldwide Video chiefs to scope out content at Toronto International Film Festival

The top executives from Apple’s Worldwide Video Content team will be travelling to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this month to shop for new content, Variety reports. According to the report, Zack Van Amburg and/or Jamie Erlicht — the duo that Apple hired last year to head up its video ambitions — are slated to show up at the Canadian film festival fully prepared “with checkbooks in hand” to make content acquisitions for Apple’s streaming entertainment service. Apple execs will face a competitive landscape, however, with top buyers from other streaming services also on-hand at TIFF, including Amazon Studios new head Jennifer Salke, along with execs from Hulu and Netflix, who have been attending various film festivals for years. This year, however, represents Apple’s first foray into film festivals, suggesting that the company may be taking a more serious look at original films for its new content service, after numerous reports of its aggressive push into high-profile television series projects.

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