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The Verge

Apple added a secret button to your iPhone, and you may not have even noticed

Your iPhone got a new button last month, and you may not have even noticed. No, Apple didn’t sneak into your house and secretly superglue a button onto your smartphone. But it did release iOS 14, the latest version of its iPhone software, which includes a feature called Back Tap. Back Tap adds a fascinating new “button” to your phone that blurs the line between hardware and software. Back Tap turns the entire back of your iPhone into a giant touch-sensitive button that you can double or triple tap to trigger specific functions on your phone. There’s a good chance that you haven’t noticed it yet. Apple slipped the settings for Back Tap into its Accessibility menu. Its intended purpose is to give users more options for interacting with their devices. Most of Back Tap’s options reflect that, with settings to open the app switcher, notification menu, or control center; scroll through an app or webpage; trigger Siri; or take a screenshot. But Back Tap also ties into Apple’s incredibly robust Shortcuts app, which means you can effectively make those new buttons do almost anything you can imagine. It’s a fascinating kind of button: entirely invisible to the naked eye, completely nonfunctional until it’s enabled through software, but can be tasked to open, interact with, or accomplish nearly any task on your smartphone with just a quick tap. Software customization is key here That software customization is key. It’s easy to imagine a world where Apple limited Back Tap to…Continue readingApple added a secret button to your iPhone, and you may not have even noticed

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VentureBeat

Apple reports record $64.7 billion revenue in Q4 2020 despite iPhone delay

While 2020 won’t be remembered fondly in the history books, it has been quite good for Apple, which is ending its fiscal 2020 with record revenues for three of its four quarters. Today, Apple announced record fourth quarter revenues of $64.7 billion, once again citing strength in its growing services business, as well as an all-time record for Mac sales, offset by the atypical absence of first weekend iPhone sales to buoy the numbers. On average, analysts expected Apple’s revenues to be $63.7 billion, a drop of 0.5% from the year-ago quarter, when the company reached a record $64.04 billion in sales despite falling iPhone and Mac earnings. At that point, the company reported accelerated growth in services, as well as healthy sales of iPads and wearables. But Apple beat the predictions by a billion dollars — a 1% increase over the prior year, with earnings per diluted share of $0.73. Apple says it sold $26.444 billion in iPhones, $9.032 billion in Macs, and $6.797 billion in iPads during the quarter, with combined “wearables, home, and accessories” sales of $7.876 billion and services at $14.549 billion. That’s up across most categories from the year-ago quarter, when Macs were at $6.991 billion, iPads at $4.656 billion, wearables at $6.52 billion, and services at $12.511 billion. But it was a sharp drop for iPhones, from $33.362 billion in the same quarter last year, due to COVID-19-related shipping delays. “Despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Apple is in…Continue readingApple reports record $64.7 billion revenue in Q4 2020 despite iPhone delay

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The Verge

Samsung regains top smartphone vendor spot as Xiaomi overtakes Apple

Samsung is back on top as the world’s biggest smartphone vendor one quarter after losing its spot to Huawei, according to reports from IDC, Counterpoint, and Canalys. The news comes just as Samsung posted its highest quarterly revenue figures ever, which the company said was helped by a boost in demand for smartphones. Huawei became the number one vendor for the first time three months ago, benefiting from strong sales in China while much of the rest of the world was operating under constrained retail conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Huawei’s shipments fell 7 percent quarter-on-quarter and 24 percent year-on-year, according to Counterpoint, while Samsung’s shipments increased by 47 percent over the last quarter. Xiaomi was able to regain the number three spot for the first time in several years, overtaking Apple for the first time with year-on-year growth of 46 percent. Apple’s shipments fell 7 percent year-on-year in the July-September quarter, no doubt affected by the fact that its new iPhones this year slipped until October and November release dates. The fifth, sixth, and seventh spots go to BBK brands Oppo, Vivo, and Realme. Counterpoint has Oppo at number five, while IDC and Canalys give that spot to Vivo, but all three firms agree the numbers are close. If the three independent brands’ third-quarter shipments were combined, they would be closer to Samsung in first place than Huawei in second place. Source linkContinue readingSamsung regains top smartphone vendor spot as Xiaomi overtakes Apple

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Tech Radar

The best Apple Watch apps we’ve used in 2020

It’s been an interesting year for even the best Apple Watch apps. In mid-2019 it seemed as if the Watch had lost its sparkle, with many big-name apps either languishing or being pulled from the Watch altogether. The problem wasn’t that Apple Watch apps are a bad idea, though. Far from it, as our selection here demonstrates. It was that sometimes, apps were designed to answer the wrong question: “could we make a Watch app?” but not “should we?” Now, watchOS 6 has brought an App Store to your Apple Watch for the very first time. That may encourage app developers to take the Apple Watch more seriously, and with watchOS 7 and the Apple Watch 6 – not to mention the iPhone 12 range – having landed, there’s never been a better time to join the ecosystem. Jump to best Apple Watch apps for… Our favorite apps, the apps that are still here after a bumpy year, both should and could have been made. They exist because they’re useful, or because they’re entertaining, or because they make your life that little bit better.  In this round-up you’ll find apps for podcasting and procrastinating, for getting fit and getting stuff done, for messing around and for sorting stuff out.  So dive in and start getting the most out of your Apple Watch, and make sure to check this article regularly, as we’ll add a new app every couple of weeks, highlighted below. Best new Apple Watch app: iHeart: Radio, Music,…Continue readingThe best Apple Watch apps we’ve used in 2020

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TechCrunch

Epic’s latest argument in its fight against Apple keeps antitrust issues front and center – TechCrunch

Epic Games, the game engine developer and creator of the wildly popular Fortnite game, is keeping the focus squarely on antitrust issues in its lawsuit against Apple as pressures mount to rein in anti-competitive practices of the world’s largest tech companies. Antitrust arguments are gaining ground on both sides of the political spectrum, which could present a more favorable environment for Epic to make its case. Earlier this month the Trump Justice Department filed its antitrust case against Google even as Congress laid out its roadmap for how to limit the monopoly power of a quartet of trillion-dollar companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet (the parent company behind Google). Epic’s lawyers acknowledged in the filing that the company breached its contract with Apple, but said that it only took that step because Apple’s contract restrictions are illegal, according to the company. “When Epic took steps to allow consumers on iOS devices to make those payments directly, it breached some of the contractual restrictions that Apple imposes on iOS developers,” the lawyers wrote. “Epic did so because those contractual restrictions are unlawful. Epic chose to take a stand against Apple’s monopoly to illustrate that competition could exist on iOS, and that consumers would welcome and benefit from it. Epic did so without advance notice to Apple because Apple would otherwise have used its monopoly control to prevent that competition from happening.” Ultimately, the argument comes down to whether Apple can claim ownership of commerce occurring on the phones they make and…Continue readingEpic’s latest argument in its fight against Apple keeps antitrust issues front and center – TechCrunch

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The Verge

Epic says Apple ‘has no rights to the fruits of Epic’s labor’ in latest filing

Epic Games fired back against Apple yet again in a new court filing, saying the iPhone maker “has no rights to the fruits of Epic’s labor,” the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between the two companies. A quick recap: Back in August, Epic introduced a new direct-payment system in its wildly popular Fortnite game to bypass Apple’s 30 percent fee. Apple kicked Fortnite off the App Store for breaking its rules, and Epic responded with a civil lawsuit against Apple, alleging that Apple was violating antitrust law. Epic also revealed that Apple threatened to terminate the developer account used to support the company’s Unreal Engine platform, which would prevent Epic from developing future games for iOS or Mac. Earlier this month, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted an injunction that prevents Apple from retaliating against Unreal Engine, but refused to grant an injunction that would have restored Fortnite in Apple’s App Store. Meanwhile, Apple said it would seek damages against Epic for allegedly breaching its contract with the iOS App Store. The filing included counterclaims for unjust enrichment and tortious interference with Apple’s relationship with its customers. Apple maintains that there were legitimate business reasons for its actions. “At all times, [Apple’s] conduct was reasonable and … its actions were undertaken in good faith to advance legitimate business interests and had the effect of promoting, encouraging, and increasing competition,” the complaint read. “Epic’s flagrant disregard for its contractual commitments and other misconduct has caused significant harm to Apple.”…Continue readingEpic says Apple ‘has no rights to the fruits of Epic’s labor’ in latest filing

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Engadget

Apple will open more Express stores to ease iPhone 12 pickups

Apple will open more walled-off “Express” stores just in time for the holiday shopping season, its retail SVP Deirdre O’Brien told Reuters. The tech giant started testing the format last month in California and has since opened 20 Express stores across the US and Europe. O’Brien told the news organization that Apple will open more until it has 50 Express stores across the regions by the end of October. “It’s a swifter way for us to serve customers. It allows us to maintain all the appropriate social distancing and maintain all of our health protocols within our stores,” she said. Express stores have walled-off facades to prevent customers from walking in. They have small windows protected by plexiglass so staff can assist customers one at a time, and people can also just make their purchase online before picking it up to make interactions even shorter. Source linkContinue readingApple will open more Express stores to ease iPhone 12 pickups

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Wired

How to Use Blood Oxygen Data on Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung

Even if you wear a sensor in the right spot, its readings can be affected by a whole host of factors. That’s especially true for devices that aren’t the standard fingertip readers. “On reflective devices, the performance can be a little worse,” says John Feiner, a respiratory physiology researcher at UC San Francisco. “Anything that shines through the fingertip usually is a little better, but all of these devices can be affected by profusion, cold, blood flow. There are many things that can affect this.” These possible inaccuracies are why companies like Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin are very careful to emphasize that the readings you get from their wearables are not meant to be used for any kind of medical diagnosis. And since we’re talking about measuring color and light, even skin color can possibly affect oximeter readings. If you are in a position where you’d still like to monitor your SpO2 levels, there are some ways to potentially make the readings more consistent. “Personally, one thing that I would do is to put the watch on and put a wristband on top of it—something black to cover it and keep it enclosed,” Morita says. “I would monitor myself only in controlled conditions. So I would go into my bedroom, turn off all the lights, and measure my SpO2, let’s say, once an hour.” If you’re regularly monitoring your levels for the sake of your everyday health, it’s best to do so when your breathing levels are normal, and not…Continue readingHow to Use Blood Oxygen Data on Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung

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Tech Radar

Apple Glasses leak hints at half-inch Sony OLED microdisplay for 2022 launch

The mysterious Apple Glasses have had a rumored 2022 launch date for months, but Wednesday’s Twitter leak offers some of the first concrete spec details we’ve seen regarding how Apple’s wearable AR displays will be manufactured. Displays expert Ross Young tweeted that he has ‘heard from multiple sources that Apple is pursuing AR/VR glasses using Sony microOLEDs. 0.5″, 1280×960 resolution, 1H’22 intro.’ By ‘Sony microOLEDs,’ Young is referring to Sony’s OLED microdisplay technology, which Sony says is built for AR/VR glasses among other applications. It claims these OLED microdisplays have a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, a response speed of 0.01ms or less, and a wide color gamut.  I should clarify that this is AR only. It will use projection optics inside the glasses.October 22, 2020 Young says the half-an-inch (0.5in) display will have a pixels-per-inch count of over 3000. Considering glasses lenses are typically about two inches wide, this suggests that the OLED microdisplays will be embedded inside of larger lenses, which could limit the field of view of the AR HUD. Perhaps the OLED portion of the lens will be able to project its visual data across the entire lens surface. While the leaker initially said that these displays would be used for AR/VR glasses, he then clarified that Apple planned to use them for its AR-only Glasses design. This tracks with rumors we’ve heard that AR Glasses would launch in 2022, followed by a VR/AR hybrid headset in 2023 or later. Young previously predicted the 2021 iPhone 13 lineup…Continue readingApple Glasses leak hints at half-inch Sony OLED microdisplay for 2022 launch

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Wired

Apple iPhone 12 Review: Solid, but Don’t Buy It Just for 5G

You’re probably stressed out as you’re reading this. Most people I know right now are stressed out. Maybe the last thing you’re thinking about is the new iPhone. Or maybe you are thinking about it because you want or need a new iPhone, but you don’t want to spend any more time than you need to deciding which iPhone to buy. This is a review of the new iPhone 12. I’m going to make this as straightforward as possible, so you can get back to the other things you need to do, whether that’s working, relaxing, sleeping, eating, homeschooling, watching, walking, Zooming, distantly socializing, or voting. This should be the least stressful part of your day. It’s an iPhone. If you have last year’s iPhone 11, as I do, or the iPhone 11 Pro, then you probably don’t need to upgrade to the iPhone 12. If your current iPhone is a few years old, you really want a better camera, and you have the disposable income for a new phone, then the iPhone 12 is a good choice. If you are considering upgrading to the iPhone 12 because you think having a 5G phone is going to change your life, you should absolutely not upgrade to the iPhone 12. Playing the Field The iPhone 12 starts at $799 if you choose a wireless carrier at the time of purchase. It’s $829 if you buy the phone unlocked from Apple.com. So we’re back to this bullshit. That’s for 64 gigabytes of…Continue readingApple iPhone 12 Review: Solid, but Don’t Buy It Just for 5G