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Samsung Debuts New Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy Watch, Wireless Charger Duo, and Galaxy Home Smart Speaker

Samsung this morning debuted its latest flagship smartphone, the new Galaxy Note 9. The Galaxy Note 9 is equipped with a 6.4-inch 2960 by 1400 Super AMOLED screen, and like previous Note models, it works with the S Pen stylus. Design wise, it looks quite similar to the Note 8.

Inside, the Galaxy Note 9 features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor, 6 to 8GB RAM, dual AKG speakers, and a 4,000 mAh battery. Samsung is using the same 12-megapixel dual-aperture camera system it used in the Note 8, with the addition of an Intelligent Camera function that's able to detect what you're taking a photo of.


Samsung says that with the Snapdragon 845, it has included "Water Carbon Cooling System" inside the phone for improved performance with processor intensive apps such as Fortnite.

The S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Note 9 introduces new Bluetooth-enabled features that allow it to be used to control the camera of the device for taking selfies and other photos, control video playback, and more. Samsung has created an SDK that will let developers integrate the S Pen into their apps, and that will be available later this year.

The Galaxy Note 9 works with DeX, Samsung's feature that allows a smartphone to be docked to a desktop and used with a mouse and keyboard. The Note 9 DeX implementation does not require a dedicated dock, instead using a USB-C to HDMI adapter.

The smartphone also features a USB-C port, a headphone jack, a front-facing iris scanner, and a fingerprint reader that's centered at the back of the device. Though Google just introduced Android 9 Pie,

Apple Became World's Most Valuable Company Seven Years Ago Today, Two Weeks Before Steve Jobs Resigned as CEO

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Apple passing U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil to become the world's most valuable company for the first time, with a market capitalization of around $341.5 billion at the time.

Apple achieved the milestone on August 9, 2011, just over two weeks before the late Steve Jobs resigned as CEO on August 24, 2011, the same day that he nominated then-COO Tim Cook to succeed him in the position. Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011, following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Apple dropped back below ExxonMobil a few times, and was briefly surpassed by Google parent company Alphabet in market cap at times in 2016, but the iPhone maker has been the world's most valuable company for the better part of the past seven years, and continues to hold that title today.

Apple becoming the world's most valuable company was a remarkable accomplishment given that it flirted with bankruptcy in the mid-to-late 1990s, until Jobs returned and streamlined its product lineup. Under his leadership, Apple introduced several hits, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Apple has continued its success under Cook, becoming the first publicly traded U.S. company worth a trillion dollars last week, shortly after reporting record-breaking $53.3 billion revenue in the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. Apple's stock has appreciated over eight percent since the results came out.

Apple will look to build upon its success by expanding its focus on technologies such as augmented reality, autonomous driving, and artificial intelligence, in addition to services

Apple Details Improvements to Siri's Ability to Recognize Names of Local Businesses and Destinations

In a new entry in its Machine Learning Journal, Apple has detailed how it approached the challenge of improving Siri's ability to recognize names of local points of interest, such as small businesses and restaurants.

In short, Apple says it has built customized language models that incorporate knowledge of the user's geolocation, known as Geo-LMs, improving the accuracy of Siri's automatic speech recognition system. These models enable Siri to better estimate the user's intended sequence of words.

Apple says it built one Geo-LM for each of the 169 Combined Statistical Areas in the United States, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, which encompass 80 percent of the country's population. Apple also built a single global Geo-LM to cover all areas not defined by CSAs around the world.

When a user queries Siri, the system is customized with a Geo-LM based on the user's current location. If the user is outside of a CSA, or if Siri doesn't have access to Location Services, the system defaults to the global Geo-LM.

Apple's journal entry is highly technical, and quite exhaustive, but hopefully this means that Siri should be able to better understand the names of local points of interest, and also be able to better distinguish between a Tom's Restaurant in Iowa and Kansas based on a user's geolocation.

In its testing, Apple found that the customized language models reduced Siri's error rate by between 41.9 and 48.4 percent in eight major U.S. metropolitan regions: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco,

Numerous Apps Caught up in Apple's New App Store Review Policy to Ban Gambling-Related Apps

In an attempt to crack down on gambling-related apps in the App Store, Apple has today implemented a new App Review policy for individual developers, but many apps that are being banned as a result appear to have very little to do with gambling at all.



Apple has been providing affected developers with the following reason for their app's removal from the App Store:
In order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, we are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers. The includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience.

As a result, this app has been removed from the App Store. While you can no longer distribute gambling apps from this account, you may continue to submit and distribute other types of apps to the App Store.
Apple finishes by saying that "only verified accounts from incorporated business entities may submit gambling apps for distribution on the App Store", and advises developers to visit the Enrollment page to learn more about enrolling an organization in the Apple Developer Program.

Verizon and Apple Team Up to Offer VZW Unlimited Subscribers Six Free Months of Apple Music

Verizon and Apple today announced a new partnership which will see Verizon Unlimited customers able to sign up to receive six months of Apple Music for free.

Starting on Thursday, August 16, both new and existing customers who have one of Verizon's Unlimited wireless plans can access a special offer for six months of Apple Music at no cost. Following this period, the subscription will be priced at $9.99 per month, the standard cost for an Apple Music subscription.

This is available to both new and existing Apple Music subscribers. According to Verizon, current Apple Music subscribers will get the same six months of free service as new subscribers, but will be required to cancel and reactivate their Apple Music subscriptions.

Verizon says that once registered, its VZW Unlimited customers will have full access to Apple Music on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, CarPlay, PC, and Android devices, and the company has promised additional offers in the future through the Apple partnership.
"This first-of-its-kind offer is just the first step in an exclusive partnership with Apple," said Angie Klein, vice president of marketing, Verizon. "It gives our customers exactly what they want: Apple's best-in-class music streaming experience, paired with an unlimited plan tailored to them, on the network they deserve. And now that you can mix and match our unlimited plans, every person in your family can stream worry-free on the unlimited plan they need, without paying for things they don't - and enjoy all the music they want for six months free with Apple Music

Apple's iOS 'Health Records' Feature Now Works With 75+ Providers

Apple's Health Records feature, introduced in iOS 11.3, now allows iOS users to access their medical records from more than 75 different hospitals and medical providers in the United States.

Apple maintains a list of all of the healthcare institutions that support Health Records on the iPhone, which as VentureBeat points out, was updated in August ahead of a talk from Apple's Clinical and Health Informatics lead Ricky Bloomfield, M.D. given at the ONC 2nd Interoperability Forum (via EHR Intelligence).

When the Health Records feature first launched earlier this year, it worked with just 12 healthcare providers, a number that Apple has been working to improve. Recent additions include Kaiser in Oregon and Washington, Baptist Health, Buffalo Health, Greater Hudson Valley Health System, UC San Diego Health, UCLA Health, and others.

Health record data is available in the Health app, and allows patients who have multiple healthcare providers to access all of their information in one convenient place.

According to Bloomfield, Apple's Health app leverages Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) that were developed to facilitate better data sharing standards. FHIR is in a draft stage and won't be finalized until the end of the year, but Apple's adoption may drive widespread adoption of FHIR in the medical community.

Apple is using an "Argonaut" implementation of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, in fact, because it's simple and will encourage medical providers to adopt it.

The Health Records feature in the Health app is designed

Some 2018 MacBook Pro Owners Experiencing Crackling Speakers

Following the release of 2018 MacBook Pro models last month, some customers have turned to the MacRumors Forums, Apple Support Communities, Reddit, and YouTube to report intermittent crackling from the built-in speakers.

The crackling appears to occur spontaneously during audio playback on both 13-inch and 15-inch models, based on a handful of videos shared by customers. As with many crowdsourced issues, there are a lot of variables involved, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what may be causing the problem.





Some customers appear to experience the issue while playing music in iTunes, while others are affected when using GarageBand, or playing a YouTube video. Some users also hear the crackling when running Windows via Boot Camp. It's unclear if the crackling is limited to specific volumes or frequencies.

MacRumors forum members have speculated about possible causes, including radio interference due to a lack of shielding, audio drivers, and the T2 chip.

A few years ago, some customers experienced similar crackling from the built-in speakers on the 2016 MacBook Pro, oftentimes when running Windows via Boot Camp. The crackling was so loud that it often permanently damaged the speakers, resulting in the MacBook Pro needing to be repaired or replaced.

Within days, Apple acknowledged the issues in a support document, and released updated audio drivers for Boot Camp with a fix:
If you installed Windows 10 using Boot Camp Assistant before November 25, 2016 on a MacBook Pro introduced in October 2016, it's important that you install the Audio Driver

Google Pixel 3 XL Production Unit Leak Reveals Taller iPhone X-Like Notch

Although Google's major fall event is still about two months away, typically occurring in October and ushering in a new generation of Pixel smartphones and other products, today leaked pictures have been shared online highlighting the upcoming Google Pixel 3 XL.

Images from Telegram user @LuchkovCh via Android Police
The images depict an alleged "pre-release" final production unit of the Pixel 3 XL smartphone, sourced from a Russian tech blogger (via Android Police). Images showcase the rear and front of the device, with an iPhone X-like notch at the top of the Pixel 3 XL's display that's not as wide as Apple's, but is noticeably taller.

Previous CAD leaks suggest that a smaller 5.4-inch Pixel 3 will not have a notch, while the larger 6.2-inch Pixel 3 XL is what appears in the images today, notch included. It's believed that Google is using the notch to house improved cameras, including two camera lenses.

Per Bloomberg, from a report in May:
The bigger Pixel will include two camera lenses on the front of the phone inside of the notch, one of the people said.

The notch, or cutout, at the top of the new larger Pixel’s screen won’t be as wide as a similar feature on the iPhone X, but is noticeably taller, according to the people. Google aims to eventually remove the bezels completely in a future Pixel, but is retaining the notch and chin this year to keep stereo speakers on the front of the phone, the people said
Additionally, the images suggest that customers will get "Pixel Bud-esque" wired USB-C earphones with the Pixel 3 XL. There also appears to be a

Apple Again Promotes Apple Pay Cash in New 'Just Text Them the Money' Ad

Apple today shared a new ad in its recent "Just Text Them the Money" ad campaign for Apple Pay Cash, this time focusing on how easy it is to sent cash to other people following a group dinner.


Like other ads in this series, the "Dinner" video features a text-only conversation where one participant uses the Apple Pay Cash feature to send another money. In this funny little spot, two people send the same $55 back and forth to one another, fighting over who gets to pay for dinner.

Today's 18-second ad is the fifth in the "Just Text Them the Money" campaign, with Apple having introduced the first four ads in mid-July. These short ads will be used on TV and on social media sites like Instagram and YouTube.

Apple first introduced Apple Pay Cash in iOS 11.2, allowing iPhone and iPad users to send peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments to one another using the Messages app. Money received via Apple Pay Cash can be used for Apple Pay payments or deposited in a bank account, much like other mobile peer-to-peer payment services like Venmo.

At the current time, Apple Pay Cash is a feature that's limited to the United States, and Apple has not provided details on when it will expand to other

Apple Responds to U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce: 'The Customer is Not Our Product'

Last month, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters to Apple and Google parent company Alphabet with 16 multi-part questions about how the companies handle customer data.

Apple has since responded to the letter, reiterating the company's belief that "privacy is a fundamental human right" and that it purposely designs its products and services to minimize its collection of customer data.

Timothy Powderly, Director of Federal Government Affairs at Apple, responded on behalf of Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Dear Mr. Chairman:

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the capabilities of Apple iPhone devices. Not all technology companies operate in the same manner— in fact, the business models and data collection and use practices are often radically different from one another. Apple’s philosophy and approach to customer data differs from many other companies on these important issues.

We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data. When we do collect data, we’re transparent about it and work to disassociate it from the user. We utilize on device processing to minimize data collection by Apple. The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on collecting vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.

Because we strongly believe the customer should control their personal information and the way it’s used, we provide a number of easily accessible resources on our website so

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Apple Music: 'We Worry About the Humanity Being Drained Out of Music'

In an extensive profile of Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek, Fast Company's Robert Safian recently sat down to speak for a few minutes with Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.

The topic was, of course, Spotify and Apple Music, two of the major players in the streaming music market and fierce competitors. Cook said that he looks to music as inspiration and motivation, a philosophy that's shared at Apple and has guided its focus on human-based music curation.

"Music inspires, it motivates. It's also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it's better than any medicine," Cook said.

While he declined to mention Spotify by name, Cook told Fast Company that Apple worries about streaming music losing the human touch, alluding to Spotify's more algorithmic approach to highlighting content.
Cook's words embody Apple's longstanding critique of Spotify, which is that its algorithms are eroding music's spiritual role in our lives. Cook doesn't mention Spotify by name but says, "We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft."
Despite launching just three years ago, Apple Music has 50 million paid subscribers and free trial members, with the company slowly catching up to Spotify. At last count, Spotify said that it had 83 million paid subscribers around the world.

Apple has always had an edge over Spotify due to its massive 1.3 billion active installed base, and the fact that it's never needed to worry about profitability like Spotify has. "We're

Apple Developing New TV Show Based on Bestselling Novel 'Pachinko'

Apple has secured the rights to create a new TV series based on Min Jin Lee's bestselling 2017 novel "Pachinko," reports Variety.

"Pachinko," a National Book Award finalist, chronicles the lives of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they migrate to and establish a life in Japan.

The story begins in 1911 with the birth of Sunja, who becomes involved with a married yakuza, falling pregnant and facing ruin in her small village. The town's minister offers her a new life in Japan as his wife, where she is alone, lost, and unable to speak the language. The book then follows the Sunja's family through eight decades and four generations.

The TV adaptation of "Pachinko" will be written and produced by Soo Hugh, who will also serve as showrunner. Hugh has previously worked on "The Terror," "The Whispers," "Under the Dome," and "The Killing."

"Pachinko" is just one of more than a dozen original television shows Apple has in the works, several of which are based on novels.

It's not yet clear how Apple will distribute its TV shows, but the Cupertino company is rumored to be considering launching a new streaming video service that would perhaps be bundled with an Apple Music subscription and a digital magazine and news subscription.

Rumors have suggested the first of Apple's TV shows could debut in March 2019, and several of them are indeed in the casting phase and could begin filming in the near