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Users Find Some New MacBook Pros Suffer From Major Graphics Issues

Since new MacBook Pro models launched last month, an increasing number of early adopters have reported serious graphics issues on Apple's latest notebooks. The glitches and other problems appear to be most prevalent on built-to-order 15-inch models, but standard 13-inch and 15-inch configurations are also affected.

MacRumors reader Jan Becker, for example, said the graphics began to glitch on his new high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro, equipped with built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics, while transcoding video with Adobe Media Encoder in Premiere Pro. The notebook subsequently crashed.


Becker claims when he took his MacBook Pro to an Apple retail store to be replaced, an employee said the graphics issues are likely a hardware problem. He later claimed he received a phone call from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, where it allegedly has a team of engineers looking into the issues.
Apple called me from Cupertino. They put together a group of engineers to get to the root of this. I re-created the incident while I was on the phone with them and sent them the log files of the crash. They also want to "capture" my MacBook Pro with all the files on it to investigate more.
The most common symptoms reported by users include brightly colored flickering, full-screen checkerboard patterns, screen tearing, and other visual artifacts. Affected systems may subsequently experience unresponsiveness or a kernel panic, sometimes resulting in the MacBook Pro crashing.

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15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics with full-screen visual artifacts

The high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics appears to be most commonly afflicted, but several users have reported similar issues on 15-inch models equipped with standard AMD Radeon Pro 450 or AMD Radeon Pro 455 GPUs as well.

MacRumors reader Jayselle recorded his 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics flickering while connected to two external LG displays.


It is not entirely clear if the issues are a hardware or software problem. The graphics appear to act up most when users are completing intensive tasks, such as transcoding video with Adobe Media Encoder, syncing large photo libraries with Photos, or using other Adobe apps such as Photoshop and Lightroom.

It would initially seem the issue is limited to 15-inch MacBook Pro models with dedicated AMD graphics, but there are a few isolated reports of graphics issues on 13-inch models with integrated Intel Iris 540 and Intel Iris 550 graphics — including the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a standard row of function keys.


User complaints extend to the Apple Support Communities and other MacRumors discussion topics, indicating the graphics issues are rather widespread, but not all users are affected. Some speculate the latest macOS Sierra beta may fix the issues, but evidence remains anecdotal.

Separately, a number of users are reporting brief glitches during the boot up process on new MacBook Pro models, particularly along the bottom of the screen. It appears this issue is related to FileVault 2 startup disk encryption, as the glitches go away for many of these users once the feature is disabled.

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As insurance, Apple's extended holiday return policy is currently in effect. MacBook Pros purchased or delivered between November 10 and December 25 are eligible for return until January 8, 2017 in the United States, Australia, and Canada, or January 20 in the United Kingdom and some other European countries.

Select 2011-2013 MacBook Pro models have exhibited similar graphics issues in the past, including distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts. Apple accordingly launched a Repair Extension Program offering free repairs and refunds, but not before facing a class action lawsuit over the matter.

Apple appears to be aware of and is investigating these latest graphics issues, but it has yet to publicly comment on the matter. Apple been actively exchanging MacBook Pros for affected customers, according to users. Schedule a Genius Bar appointment or contact Apple Support to facilitate this process.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

AT&T and Verizon Facing FCC Scrutiny After Exempting Their Own Apps From Data Caps

Both AT&T and Verizon offer apps and streaming services that don't count against the data cap they impose on customers, a practice that the United States Federal Communications Commission does not approve of.

The FCC this week sent letters (via The Verge) to both Verizon and AT&T, claiming that the data cap exemptions, called "zero rating," raise net neutrality concerns and could impact consumers and competition.

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AT&T and Verizon each offer programs that allow content providers to pay a fee to be exempted from customer data caps, programs that they themselves take advantage of with their own apps and services.

DirecTV Now, AT&T's recently introduced streaming television service, does not use data when streamed on the AT&T network, for example. DirecTV Now pays for the data, but as an AT&T subsidiary, AT&T is just paying itself. Verizon, meanwhile, exempts its own Go90 streaming service from using data on the Verizon network and does not pay fees to do so.

The FCC first sent a warning to AT&T in early November, but was not pleased with the response it received from the company. In this week's letter, the FCC says that it has come to the "preliminary" conclusion that the Sponsored Data program inhibits competition, harms consumers, and violates Open Internet rules. It asks AT&T to answer a series of questions about its Sponsored Data practices.
We find that those responses fail to alleviate the serious concerns expressed in our November 9 letter regarding the potential anti-competitive impacts of a wholesale Sponsored Data program for zero-rated mobile video services. Indeed, your submission tends to confirm our initial view that the Sponsored Data program strongly favors AT&T's own video offerings while unreasonably discriminating against unaffiliated edge providers and limiting their ability to offer competing video services to AT&T's broadband subscribers on a level playing field.
A similar letter sent to Verizon expresses concern over the "FreeBee Data 360" program and says it has the potential to "hinder competition and harm consumers" because Verizon does not need to pay to participate in the Sponsored Data program when it exempts its own app, but competing content providers do.
The position that the participation of Go90 in FreeBee Data 360 is the same as that of third parties, however, fails to take account of the notably different financial impact on unaffiliated edge providers. For example, while there is no cash cost on a consolidated basis for Verizon to zero-rate its own affiliated edge service, an unaffiliated edge provider's FreeBee Data 360 payment to Verizon is a true cash cost that could be significant.
AT&T and Verizon have responded to the letters sent by the FCC in statements given to the media. AT&T says the government should not take away a service that's saving customers money, while Verizon says its practices are good for consumers, non-discriminatory, and consistent with the rules.

The two carriers have been given a December 15 deadline to respond to the FCC's concerns.

Tags: FCC, AT&T, Verizon

Apple Seeds Fifth Beta of iOS 10.2 to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the fifth beta of an upcoming iOS 10.2 update to developers and public beta testers, four days after seeding the fourth beta of iOS 10.2 and more than a month after releasing iOS 10.1, the first major update to iOS 10.

Registered developers can download the iOS 10.2 beta 5 from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed.

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iOS 10.2 introduces new emoji, such as clown face, drooling face, selfie, face palm, fox face, owl, shark, butterfly, avocado, pancakes, croissant, and more. There are more than a hundred new emoji, including several profession emoji available in both male and female genders, such as firefighter, mechanic, lawyer, doctor, scientist, and more. Apple has also redesigned many existing emoji, adding more detail to make them look much more realistic.

Along with new emoji, iOS 10.2 includes new wallpaper, new Music sorting options and buttons for Repeat and Shuffle, new "Celebrate" and "Send with Love" Screen Effects, an option for preserving camera settings, Single-Sign On support for watching live TV via apps, and the official "TV" app that was first introduced at Apple's October 27 event.

The TV app serves as an Apple-designed TV guide that aims to simplify the television watching experience and allow users to discover new TV shows and movies to watch.

The TV app is available on iOS devices and the Apple TV, and in iOS 10.2, the "Videos" app has been replaced entirely with the new "TV" app, which will now serve as the iOS TV and movie hub.

Apple has called iOS 10 its "biggest release ever" for iOS users, with a revamped lock screen, a Siri SDK for developers, an overhauled Messages app, a dedicated "Home" app for HomeKit users, new facial and object recognition capabilities in Photos, and redesigned Maps and Apple Music apps.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

Apple Says iPhone 6s Shutdowns Result of Manufacturing Issue Causing Batteries to Degrade Faster

Apple has posted a message on its Chinese website to address unexpected battery shutdowns affecting some iPhone 6s models, noting the issue is related to some batteries having been overexposed to "controlled ambient air" during the manufacturing process (via Business Insider).

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We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs. As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur. It's important to note, this is not a safety issue.
Apple added that iPhones are designed to shut down automatically under certain conditions, such as extremely cold temperature. In this case, some iPhone 6s models are shutting down with around 30% battery percentage remaining to protect the device's internal components from low voltage.

Apple said it has investigated other factors that could potentially cause an iPhone to shut down unexpectedly, but it has not identified any new factors. Nevertheless, the company said it will continue to monitor and analyze customer reports. Apple reiterated the battery issues are not a safety concern.

Apple launched a repair program earlier this month offering free battery replacements for affected iPhone 6s models. These devices fall within a limited serial number range manufactured between September 2015 and October 2015. Apple has since launched a tool to check if your serial number is affected.

Apple is also offering refunds to customers who previously paid to have their eligible iPhone 6s battery repaired or replaced. Apple recommends customers experiencing iPhone 6s battery issues visit an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or contact Apple Support.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

99 Percent of Fake Apple Chargers Sold Online Fail Safety Tests

New research conducted by a global independent safety firm has revealed that 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold online fail a basic safety test (via BBC).

The tests were commissioned by the U.K.'s Trading Standards and undertaken by Illinois-based global safety specialists UL. The insulation tests applied a high voltage to the chargers, which were bought online from eight different countries, including the U.S., China, and Australia.

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According to the results, only three out of 400 counterfeit chargers were found to have adequate insulation to ensure protection against electric shocks. Leon Livermore, the chief executive of Chartered Trading Standards Institute, described the counterfeit chargers sold online as an "unknown entity" and urged shoppers to buy electrical goods only from trusted suppliers.
"It might cost a few pounds more, but counterfeit and second-hand goods are an unknown entity that could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one," he said.
Earlier this week, Amazon acknowledged a worsening counterfeit problem on its site and said it had made fighting the fake products a "major goal" going forward. The announcement followed a lawsuit filed by Apple last month against a company it accused of selling fake power adapters and cables on Amazon. Apple conducted its own tests and said it found that almost 90 percent of so-called genuine Apple products and accessories it had purchased from Amazon over the last nine months were actually counterfeit.

"Counterfeit electrical goods are likely to be poor quality and in the worst cases unsafe," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of the U.K.'s Citizens Advice. "Look out for tell-tale signs of counterfeiting such as mistakes in brand names or logos, and check plugs for safety marks - all genuine electrical items made in the EU should have a CE mark on them."

Trading Standards included guidelines in its press release to help consumers in the EU spot a fake charger, advising them to check pin size, look for regulation markings, warnings and instructions. In addition, Citizens Advice urged consumers not to overcharge appliances and to never cover devices when charging or use a charger with a cracked case or frayed cable.

Apple Retail Stores Sporting Red Logos for World AIDS Day

Over 400 Apple retail stores around the world have red logos today, in recognition of World AIDS Day. The logos, which Apple has put up at its stores for the last several years on December 1, are meant to raise awareness for the global fight against AIDS.

Earlier this week, Apple announced plans to donate $1 to partner charity (RED) for every Apple Pay purchase made at an Apple Store, on Apple.com, or through the Apple Store app as part of a World AIDS Day campaign. Apple has pledged to donate up to $1 million during the event, which will last until December 6.

Bank of America is also making a donation for every Apple Pay transaction made using its cards from December 1 to December 7, with plans to donate up to $1 million.

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In addition to its Apple Pay promotion, Apple has released several new PRODUCT(RED) items over the course of the last month, including an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, an iPhone SE case, a Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker, and Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones. Throughout the year, a portion of the proceeds from PRODUCT(RED) sales goes to The Global Fund to put a stop to AIDS.

Several App Store apps are also offering limited-edition custom (RED) content for World AIDS Day, and all in-app purchase proceeds will be donated. Participating apps include popular titles like Best Fiends, Boom Beach, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator, Hay Day, Plants vs. Zombies Heroes, and more.


The (RED) initiative has raised more than $365 million to date to stop AIDS in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia. Funds raised by (RED) are donated to The Global Fund, a group that works to end AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics.

Apple is one of (RED)'s biggest contributors and has donated nearly $120 million over the last 10 years.

Apple Now Lets You Check Your iPhone 6s Serial Number to See if You're Eligible for a New Battery

iPhone-6s-ColorsTwo weeks after launching an iPhone 6s battery repair program, Apple has released a tool that allows iPhone 6s owners to check whether their device is affected by the problem.

An updated page for the iPhone 6s program includes an option to enter a serial number to determine whether an iPhone 6s is eligible for a free battery replacement.

A small number of iPhone 6s models manufactured between September and October of 2015 have a faulty battery, which can cause the iPhone 6s to unexpectedly shut down.

Devices that fall into the eligible manufacturing date will be able to receive a new battery from Apple at no charge should they exhibit the unexpected shutdown issue. Devices must be in good working condition to receive a battery replacement -- Apple won't swap it out if there's an issue like a cracked screen that could impair the battery replacement.

iPhone 6s owners with an eligible device can visit an Apple retail store, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or call Apple Support for assistance with the issue. Customers who have already paid to have their iPhone 6s batteries replaced can receive reimbursement from Apple for the repair costs.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

Apple Updates Boot Camp Drivers to Fix Major Issue Causing Blown Speakers on New MacBook Pros [Updated]

Apple has released updated audio drivers to fix a major issue causing blown out speakers on new MacBook Pro models running Windows 10 with Boot Camp.

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Earlier this month, a number of users began noticing crackling or distorted sound coming from the left, right, or both speakers on the new MacBook Pro, oftentimes shortly after installing and running Windows 10 with Boot Camp. These issues persist even when affected users boot back into macOS Sierra.

MacRumors reader tianhuailiu — edited slightly for clarity:
"I used Boot Camp to install Windows and the right speaker started producing crackling sounds. It sounds like something broke inside the speaker. Every time I log in on Windows and try doing something with the speaker driver, either the left or right speaker produce a crackling sound. I have to return the MacBook Pro right now. Right now both my speakers crash both in macOS Sierra and in Windows, and they can only produce half of the original volume.
The damage to the speakers appears to be permanent once it occurs, requiring users to contact Apple to exchange their new MacBook Pro for a replacement unit. Unfortunately, due to limited stock, some of these users are now faced with waiting several weeks for their MacBook Pros to be swapped out.

The new Boot Camp audio drivers are available through Apple Software Update on the Windows side for both 13-inch and 15-inch models, although the issue appears to primarily affect the larger of the two. The new drivers, of course, are of no help to users who have already blown out their speakers.


While new drivers are available, late 2016 MacBook Pro users should exercise caution when running Windows 10 with Boot Camp due to the severe nature of the problem. As a temporary workaround, some users have plugged in headphones during the booting process until installing the updated drivers.

After installing the updated drivers, some MacBook Pro users appear to be experiencing issues with low volume on both Windows 10 and macOS Sierra, but the underlying problem remains unclear. Affected users should contact Apple or schedule a Genius Bar appointment for further support.

The issue does not affect older MacBook Pro models or Windows virtualization software such as VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac.

Update: Apple has released a support document confirming the problem and advising users to update to the new drivers to avoid speaker issues.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: Windows 10, Boot Camp
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

Apple Plans to Use Data-Collecting Drones in Order to 'Catch Up' With Google Maps

Apple_maps_ios-9Apple is putting together a team of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones, and "new indoor navigation features," to bolster and further improve the quality of Apple Maps. The move is said to be positioned as a method to catch up with Google, the longtime leader in the mapping field (via Bloomberg).

The drones will be able to capture and update Apple Maps at a far quicker rate than Apple's collection of GPS data-collecting minivans, which began appearing in the United States in early 2015.

In addition, a new feature is said to be coming to Maps that will let users view the insides of buildings, thanks to its Indoor.io and WifiSLAM acquisitions, and overall improvements will be made to navigation within the app.
Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.
According to documents gathered by Bloomberg News, Apple already filed for an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to fly drones for commercial purposes, and was granted approval to "operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography." According to current rules, Apple's drone fleet would be restricted from flying over people and buildings, would be designated to operate only in daytime, and could only be flown by licensed pilots.

One of the pilots is said to have already been hired from Amazon's fledgling Prime Air program, and they will join the Apple Maps drone team at its base in Seattle, Washington. The indoor mapping initiative is said to be moving forward at the same pace as the drone fleet, with Apple's hope being to help customers navigate airports "and other high-traffic buildings like museums" using their iPhones. This feature, along with a Maps update that will provide users "better guidance for changing lanes while driving," is believed to launch next year.

Apple Pay Launches in Spain for American Express and Banco de Santander Customers

Apple Pay today launched in Spain, marking the 13th country where the mobile wallet service is available for Apple customers. The news follows a report published yesterday by Spanish website Applesfera that said Apple Pay would launch in the country on December 1.

Today, Apple Pay's availability in Spain began through a partnership with Amex and Banco de Santander. Credit and debit cards issued by Carrefour and Ticket Restaurant are also accepted. The full list of Apple Pay retail partners and compatible apps can be found on Apple's Spanish website.

Apple Pay Santander Spain
Banco Santander today brings its customers Apple Pay, an easy, secure and private way to pay that’s fast and convenient. Santander is the first Spanish financial institution to offer Apple Pay to its customers. Redsys and Mastercard collaborated in the initiative. "Apple Pay shows we are committed to collaborate and to bring innovation and new technology to our customers to make their payments easier, faster and more secure," said Rami Aboukhair, country head of Santander Spain. "We are convinced our customers will love it."
At participating retailers, Apple Pay allows customers to pay for meals, clothes, groceries, and other items through a simple one-tap payment solution that uses existing NFC technology, and the service has slowly been adding additional retail partners since its launch in 2014. Apple Pay is also available within some apps, and is now available on the web in iOS 10 and macOS Sierra.

After today, Apple Pay is now available in the U.S., UK, China, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Japan, and New Zealand. Most recently, Apple Pay launched in Japan with the support of the country's widely adopted FeliCa payments standard, meaning only iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 2 models that are sold in the country can be used for Apple Pay transactions there.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Spain

Fitbit Reportedly Close to Acquiring Pebble

Fitbit is closing in on a deal to acquire smart watchmaker Pebble, according to a new report from The Information. While there's no number on the price, The Information says the deal is for a "small amount."

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The deal will see the Pebble brand slowly phased out, with its products shut down over time. Fitbit will largely be acquiring Pebble's assets, which include intellectual property and software. Pebble had reportedly been looking to sell as the company has been experiencing financial troubles over the past year.

Pebble debuted three new smartwatches -- the Pebble 2, Time 2 and Pebble Core -- back in July. In August, it issued a software update that streamlined its interface and redesigned the "Pebble Health" feature. However, the company also laid off 25 perfect of its staff in March.

Last February, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky said the company was unfazed by the Apple Watch, largely because the company was less focused on apps than Apple. The Cupertino company quickly became the leader in the smartwatch category after the launch of the Apple Watch, but last month market research from IDC indicated that the overall smartwatch market declined 51.6 percent in the third quarter.

As for Fitbit, the acquisition could signal that the company is looking to expand beyond fitness wearables. In August, alongside its new Charge 2 and Flex 2, the company announced all-new luxe leather bands and other premium accessories. Fitbit has also seen struggles recently, with the company's shares tumbling 30 percent after announcing mixed third-quarter results and weak guidance for its fourth quarter.

Apple Working to Put a Stop to iCloud Calendar Spam

Over the course of the last week, many iCloud users have been the target of spam that's delivered in the form of an unsolicited Calendar event invitation, and now Apple is working on a way to stop it.

In a statement given to iMore's Rene Ritchie, an Apple spokesperson said the company working to block spam invites.
We are sorry that some of our users are receiving spam calendar invitations. We are actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.
iCloud calendar spam isn't new, but there's been a serious uptick in calendar spam since last week. Because iCloud calendar invites are sent to an iCloud calendar automatically by default and there's no easy way to ignore them, there's no clear way to stop the spam.

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Image via OS X Daily

Declining, accepting, or choosing "Maybe" on an incoming iCloud invite lets an iCloud email address is valid, so until Apple can put a stop to the spam, there are two fixes. First, by logging in to iCloud via a web browser and accessing the Calendar settings (Click the cog, go to Preferences, then choose Advanced), you can choose to receive all event invitations as email. Emails can be more easily ignored and deleted.

Second, you can create a new Calendar, name it Spam, move the spam invitation to the Spam calendar, and then delete the Calendar entirely. This method does not inform spammers that an event has been declined and does not verify an iCloud account's validity. For more detailed instructions, make sure to check out our how to.

Both iOS users that use the default Calendar app and those who use third-party calendar apps like Fantastical are affected by the spam issue, which appears to be fairly widespread.