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Apple's Beats Brand to Debut New Wire-Free Powerbeats in April

Apple's Beats brand will soon release an entirely wire-free version of its Powerbeats Wireless Earphones designed for workouts, reports CNET. The updated earphones will be similar to the AirPods, in that there will be no wire between them.

Apple won't be cannibalizing its own AirPods sales because Powerbeats are designed for working out, running, and other athletic activities that aren't really meant for AirPods.

Apple's current Powerbeats earphones

The newly updated AirPods that Apple launched this week feature an updated H1 chip that brings faster switching between devices, quicker connections when making phone calls, "Hey Siri" support and longer talk time, and this chip could also be included in updated Powerbeats.

The W1 chip that Apple used in the previous version of the AirPods was also incorporated into its Beats headphones.

CNET says that the information comes from a source that has provided reliable details on Apple's plans in the past, with Apple's Beats brand set to release the new earphones in April. Compared to the AirPods, the upcoming Powerbeats could offer better bass and water resistance, as well as the ability to better stay in the ears during rigorous activity.

There's no word on what the new Powerbeats will cost. Apple priced the new AirPods with Wireless Charging Case at $199, and current Powerbeats also cost $199, so the price could potentially go up.

It's not clear if there are other headphone updates in the works that would be announced at the same time as the wire-free Powerbeats, but Apple's Beats brand has not introduced a significant update since summer 2018 when the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones were updated with a W1 chip.

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AT&T's '5GE' Service No Faster Than LTE From Verizon and T-Mobile

Starting with the iOS 12.2 beta, AT&T began displaying a 5G Evolution or 5GE icon on iPhones, misleading AT&T subscribers into thinking they're getting 5G transfer speeds when in fact, 5G on iPhone is not supported and AT&T has no 5G network as of yet.

AT&T uses the 5GE labeling to describe its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO. These options are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier has chosen to use fake 5G branding.


As should come as no surprise, a recent test from OpenSignal has proven that AT&T's 5GE network is no faster than 4G networks from Verizon and AT&T that have the same speed upgrades.

AT&T users that have a 5GE capable smartphone, which includes modern iPhones and some Android devices, receive a "better experience" than other AT&T users with less capable smartphone models, but those same iPhones and Android devices get similar speeds on other carriers. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all offering the same LTE advancements on iPhones with the newest LTE technology, but only AT&T is confusing customers with 5G branding.
What Opensignal's data shows is the extent to which LTE, or 4G, networks have improved since LTE's original launch. Technologies like carrier aggregation -- where two or more bands are used to simultaneously connect a user's smartphone -- 256 QAM or 4x4 MIMO, which together are normally called LTE Advanced Pro, offer a much faster experience than the initial version of 4G that was launched back in 2009-2011.
AT&T's fake branding has struck a nerve with other carriers, especially Sprint. Sprint has launched a full anti-AT&T campaign, filing a lawsuit against AT&T for its misleading branding and taking out ads in The New York Times.

Sprint rightly claims that AT&T is confusing customers and damaging the understanding of true 5G, which has the potential to impact Sprint's own 5G launch.

5G smartphones are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware. 5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States will become available starting in 2019, but the technology is still new and there will be many bugs and coverage issues to work out.

Tag: AT&T
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AirPower to Launch in 'Late March' According to DigiTimes Sources

Apple plans to release its long-awaited wireless charging mat AirPower in "late March" according to Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. We're in late March now, so if the report is accurate, then a release should be imminent.


The report cites unnamed "industry sources" within Apple's supply chain:
Lite-On Semiconductor, a maker of discrete and analog IC components, is expected to see its second-quarter revenues register a double-digit sequential growth as it will soon kick off volume shipments of GPP (glass passivated package) bridge rectifiers needed for Apple's wireless charger AirPower, according to industry sources.

The sources said that Apple's AirPower wireless charger for iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods is set to be officially launched in late March, which will significantly drive up Lite-On's revenues for the second quarter of 2019.
There are 10 days remaining in March including today.

DigiTimes has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting the timing of Apple product releases. While the publication has sources within Apple's suppliers in Asia, particularly in Taiwan, supply chain sources are typically more privy to what is coming rather than when. In short, we'll see.

There is certainly increasing evidence pointing towards an upcoming release.

Yesterday, after receiving a tip from reader Michael Bateman, MacRumors uncovered what appears to be a new image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS and the new AirPods wireless charging case on it.


MacRumors also uncovered evidence to suggest that Apple has secured the rights to the AirPower trademark in the United States.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier this year, and reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said the AirPower will be released within the first half of 2019.

AirPower is designed to charge multiple Apple devices at once, including the iPhone 8 and newer, Apple Watch Series 3 and newer, and AirPods when they are placed in the new optional wireless charging case introduced on Wednesday.

Apple introduced new iPads on Monday, new iMacs on Tuesday, and new AirPods on Wednesday of this week.

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Apple Secures Rights to AirPower Trademark Amid Launch Rumors [Update]

Amid launch rumors that Apple is preparing to release the AirPower sometime soon, the Cupertino company has finally secured the rights to the AirPower trademark.

To get the AirPower trademark, Apple had to jump through quite a few hoops over the course of the last few months, ultimately seeming to purchase access from a company that had previously applied for the trademark.


Apple first attempted to trademark the AirPower name in the summer of 2018, but found that a company named Advanced Access Technologies had filed an earlier application to trademark the term.

The AirPower trademark registered by Advanced Access Technologies was then provisionally granted and published for opposition in December 2018. Ahead of when a trademark is officially granted, the USPTO takes opposition filings from anyone who believes the trademark could result in confusion with an existing product.

Apple opposed Advanced Access Technologies' trademark of AirPower in January 2019, claiming that it would interfere with similar trademarked Apple product names, including AirPlay, AirPort, AirPods, and AirPrint.

After fighting to prevent the AirPower trademark from being granted to Advanced Access Technologies for several months with multiple different filings with the USPTO, Apple yesterday suddenly withdrew its opposition and the dispute was terminated.


Just after Apple withdrew opposition on Advanced Access Technologies' trademark of the AirPower name, an Apple lawyer was appointed the attorney of the trademark case, suggesting that Apple purchased rights to the AirPower trademark from Advanced Access Technologies ahead of an imminent AirPower launch that would not give Apple time to secure the trademark through other means.

Advanced Access Technologies is still listed as the owner of the trademark, but Apple appears to be in the process of getting that changed, with Apple lawyer Thomas Perle now named as the attorney on the trademark application.


Apple's acquisition of the AirPower trademark comes amid new rumors suggesting a launch for the long-delayed accessory isn't too far off. There's new code in the iOS 12.2 beta related to charging multiple devices at once, which wasn't there before, indicating Apple may be planning to release the AirPower sometime around when iOS 12.2 comes out.

The Wall Street Journal recently confirmed that Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier this year, and just today, we found an image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS and the new AirPods Wireless Charging Case hidden in the source code on Apple's website in Australia.

It's still not clear when the AirPower is actually going to launch, but with increasing signs of its arrival, it could come at any time. Apple this week released new iPads, iMacs, and updated AirPods on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, leading to speculation the company was gearing up to introduce the AirPower, but there's still no sign of the device.

We could potentially hear word on when we can expect the AirPower at Apple's March event, which will take place next Monday. Apple is using the event to introduce a new Apple News service and streaming TV service. Rumors have, however, suggested the event will not focus on hardware, so we could be waiting until later in the spring for an AirPower update.

Update: According to a new document filed with the USPTO on March 22, [PDF], the AirPower trademark has indeed been transferred to Apple.

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Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions Passwords in Plain Text, Thousands of Employees Had Access

Facebook today announced that during a routine security review it discovered "some user passwords" were stored in a readable format within its internal data storage systems, accessible by employees.

As it turns out, "some user passwords" actually means hundreds of millions of passwords. A Facebook insider told KrebsOnSecurity that between 200 and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text in a database accessible to 20,000 Facebook employees. Some Instagram passwords were also included, and Facebook claims many of the passwords came from Facebook Lite users.


Facebook says that there's no "evidence to date" that anyone within Facebook abused or improperly accessed the passwords, but KrebsOnSecurity's source says 2,000 engineers or developers made around nine million internal queries for data elements that contained plain text user passwords.

Facebook employees reportedly built applications that logged unencrypted password data, which is how the passwords were exposed. Facebook hasn't determined exactly how many passwords were stored in plain text, nor how long they were visible.

Facebook plans to notify users whose passwords were improperly stored, and the company says that it has been looking at the ways certain categories of information, such as access tokens, are stored, and correcting problems as they're found.

"There is nothing more important to us than protecting people's information, and we will continue making improvements as part of our ongoing security efforts at Facebook," reads Facebook's blog post.

Facebook and Instagram users who are concerned about their account security should change their passwords, using unique passwords that are different from passwords used on other sites. Facebook also recommends users enable two-factor authentication.

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Apple Plans to Sell Bundles of Cable TV Channels Through New Streaming Service

While Apple's new TV streaming service will include its own original content, Apple will also be offering customers access to video streaming subscriptions from third-party services, such as HBO and Showtime.

Part of this effort could potentially include bundles of channels from various content providers, according to new reports from Recode and The Information.


Apple has negotiated rights to bundle streaming services together as part of its deals with media firms, which will allow it to offer packages of channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that's lower than what each service would cost on a standalone basis. From Recode:
That wholesale/retail relationship also means Apple, not the streamers, can set the price for the stuff it sells. Apple isn't likely to sell, say, HBO for less than HBO sells itself on rival platforms like Roku. But it definitely plans to sell bundles of pay tv channels at a discount, just like pay TV operators have always done.
It's not entirely clear when Apple plans to offer bundles like these, but providing discounted access to a group of channels would provide Apple with an edge over Amazon. Amazon, as The Information points out, allows customers to sign up for streaming services like Showtime through their Amazon account, but customers must pay full price.

According to Recode, Apple's service isn't going to be a major Netflix or Hulu competitor because the focus is going to be on selling streaming video subscriptions from other companies and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple is working on original content, but its own shows and movies "should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."

Apple is offering its content partners a revenue share that's similar to Amazon, which keeps 30 to 50 percent of the subscription fee. Apple, however, won't be offering access to as much data as Amazon provides. Still, The Information says publishers find bundling "appealing," and Apple has been touting its huge subscriber base to score deals. Apple's subscription TV content will be made available through its existing TV app which is available on the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad.

There's no word on which channels Apple will include in bundles, but Apple has signed deals with 15 streaming channels for separate subscriptions, including digital only services like Cheddar and Tastemade and TV channels like Showtime and Starz. Apple has not yet inked a deal with HBO.

Apple is going to introduce its streaming service at its upcoming March 25 event, and the service is expected to launch in the United States later in the spring before expanding to additional countries.

Apple is also unveiling an Apple News subscription service at the event, and rumors have suggested that the TV and news services could be bundled with Apple Music as part of one subscription for Apple users. Apple is also going to announce an Apple credit card provided by Goldman Sachs.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)
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Apple's WWDC 2019 Ticket Lottery Ends, Winners Begin Receiving Confirmation Emails

The ticket lottery for Apple's 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference ended yesterday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and following the end of registration, Apple has started sending out confirmation emails to winners.

Developers who scored a ticket to WWDC can expect to see their credit cards charged for the $1,599 over the course of the next few days.


Apple uses a lottery system to provide developers with WWDC tickets and has done so for the last several years due to overwhelming demand. There are approximately 5,000 spots open for developers, but Apple gets many more applications than that.

Developers who receive a WWDC ticket will be able to attend iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS app development sessions and more than 1,000 Apple engineers will be on hand and in labs to provide assistance.

The 2019 event will start on Monday, June 3 and will last through Friday, June 7 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Apple will host a keynote event on Monday to introduce new iOS, tvOS, macOS, and watchOS software. There are sometimes a few hardware surprises, though we haven't heard much detail on what could be included. It's possible we'll see our first glimpse at the new modular Mac Pro Apple has been working on since 2017.

Following the keynote event, Apple will make new software updates available to developers and the rest of the week will be spent in technical sessions and hands-on labs.

Developers not selected to purchase a WWDC ticket will be able to watch the keynote session and follow along with technical sessions through the Apple Developer Website and the WWDC app for iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV.

Related Roundup: WWDC 2019
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Apple Has Reportedly Acquired Italian Startup Stamplay

Apple has acquired Italian startup Stamplay, which offered an API-based back-end development platform, according to Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. The report claims Apple paid around five million euros for the company.


The report does not cite Apple's standard statement for acquisitions, which typically reads "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." We've reached out to Apple for our own confirmation, but we did not immediately hear back.

Nevertheless, one telltale sign of the acquisition or at least an acqui-hire is that Stamplay's website was almost entirely stripped of information within the past few weeks, as is usually the case following Apple acquisitions.

Stamplay describes itself as a "low code workflow automation platform, empowering organizations to streamline manual work by integrating data and business applications used every day." The "API-based development platform" enables developers to build and launch "full-featured cloud-based web apps."

From the startup's LinkedIn page:
The powerful web-based editor includes everything a developer needs to create and run a powerful backend for their app, including popular APIs like Stripe (payments), Sendgrid (email), Twilio (SMS and VoIP), Pusher (realtime notifications) and many more.
The report was brought to our attention by setteBIT:

Stamplay was co-founded by Giuliano Iacobelli and Nicola Mattina.

Update: In a press release via setteBIT, the Università Roma Tre in Italy has confirmed that Apple acquired Stamplay.

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New AirPower Image With iPhone XS Appears Within Source Code on Apple's Website

Based on source code from the AirPods page of Apple's website in Australia, MacRumors has uncovered what appears to be a new image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS and the new AirPods wireless charging case on it, providing yet more evidence that Apple still plans to release the wireless charging mat at some point.


Apple updated its AirPods page yesterday after unveiling a second-generation pair, and this image was intended to showcase the new optional wireless charging case on a Qi-enabled charging mat, but Apple never ended up featuring the image publicly. We found it hidden within a CSS stylesheet.

A similar AirPower image with an older iPhone X was removed from the AirPods page yesterday after the wireless AirPods charging case was announced:


While the AirPower might still be coming after all, a specific release date remains unclear. The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier this year and reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said the AirPower will be released within the first half of 2019.

There was some hope that Apple would announce the AirPower today after announcing new iPads on Monday, new iMacs on Tuesday, and new AirPods on Wednesday, but that never materialized. We also didn't get a new iPod touch, although Kuo and other sources have indicated that one is coming at some point this year.

AirPower is designed to charge multiple Apple devices at once, including the iPhone 8 and newer, Apple Watch Series 3 and newer, and AirPods when they are placed in the new optional wireless charging case introduced yesterday. The images on the AirPods page have simply never showed the Apple Watch on the mat.

AirPower was in fact shown with an Apple Watch on it when previewed on stage and on the Apple Watch page earlier last year:


Thanks to Michael Bateman for tipping MacRumors.

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New iPad Mini Reviews: Capable Small Tablet With Nearly All Features of New iPad Air

Early reviews and hands-on impressions of the new iPad mini came out today. Most publications agree that the iPad mini is a great update for fans of the smaller 7.9-inch tablet with almost identical tech specs to the new iPad Air.


That includes the same A12 Bionic chip, 8-megapixel rear camera, 7-megapixel front camera, Touch ID, Lightning connector, 64GB and 256GB storage options, two speakers, headphone jack, Gigabit-class LTE, first-generation Apple Pencil compatibility, and up to 10 hours of battery life.

The new iPad mini's only notable differences versus the new iPad Air are its smaller screen and lack of Smart Keyboard compatibility.

As The Verge's Nilay Patel notes, however, the iPad mini design is now very old:
You're still looking at the exact same external design, which is now nearly seven years old. If you secretly replaced any previous iPad mini with the new one, there's a chance you might not even notice the difference. All the changes to this new mini are on the inside, and they're significant — which they should be, given the amount of time since it was last refreshed.
And while the iPad mini finally supports the Apple Pencil, it comes with all of the downsides of the first-generation version:
…the iPad Pro came out late last year with a new second-gen pencil that magnetically clips onto the side of the iPad and charges wirelessly, but this new mini doesn’t have any of that. Instead, you’ve got Apple’s first-gen Pencil, which has never been a triumph of design or usability. You still pair and charge it by plugging it into the bottom of the iPad, which looks even more ridiculous on the mini, and the cap is still insanely easy to lose.
As for the iPad mini sticking with the Lightning connector, Apple told Patel that it views USB-C as a "pro" feature — aka iPad Pro.

Patel added that "the display is very nice" on the new iPad mini despite not having the iPad Pro's ProMotion variable refresh rate for smooth scrolling, but found that its same old 8-megapixel rear camera "takes at best medium-good photos."

Most reviews conclude that if you want the smallest iPad possible, the new iPad mini is quite capable and at least somewhat reasonably priced at $399. And with little competition from Android tablets, the iPad mini is one of the only small tablets worthy of consideration in the first place.

Patel's closing paragraph:
But the decision to get an iPad mini is simple: do you want a small, capable tablet? If you do, the mini is obviously worth $399, especially when you consider how long Apple has supported iPads for in the past. There’s just nothing else like it. Let’s just hope that next time we don’t have to wait four years for Apple to remember it exists again.
Lauren Goode of Wired:
I haven't fallen in love with the new Mini, just as I never felt the need to buy one before. But I could see why people would. It's less burdensome than a lot of other things we carry. It's not quite pocketable, but it's close. Again, I can't hold it in one hand, but some people can, I'm sure. The Mini feels personal in a way that other devices no longer do. Not because of its actual newness, but because it is still here, and slightly reinvented once again.
Harry McCracken of Fast Company:
It still looks like an iPad Mini–complete with home button and headphone jack. But after three loooooong years, Apple’s little tablet is finally getting the features it needs to qualify as a modern iPad.
Chris Velazco of Engadget:
I'd actually argue it's perhaps the best small tablet out there right now. There's more than enough power here for most people, and if portability is your biggest concern, there's no denying the mini is more convenient to lug around.
Raymond Wong of Mashable:
There simply isn't a tablet as powerful as the new iPad mini with the same or similar dimensions. You can get a 7-inch Kindle Fire for $50, but it's demonstrably inferior in every way from the construction, to the app selection, to the performance, to the storage, to display, and etc.
Scott Stein of CNET:
An iPad Mini with a faster processor and Pencil support is filling a specific need not everyone will have. It's like a specifically sized screw, or a particular TV size. As Apple keeps splitting its iPad line into more variants, the Mini feels far less essential than ever, particularly as the iPhone screens creep to six inches or more. But if you need an efficient iPad this size and don't want a bigger iPhone for the job... well, this is what you're looking for.

Videos




Other Reviews and Hands-On Impressions

The new iPad mini can be ordered now on Apple.com and will be available in Apple Stores starting next week.

Related Roundup: iPad mini 5
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: iPad Mini (Buy Now)
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AltConf 2019 Offers San Jose Alternative for Developers Unable to Attend WWDC, Plus Satellite Events for Keynote Viewing

AltConf, a popular alternative conference that takes place at the same time as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, is returning in 2019. Developers unable to get a ticket to WWDC can instead attend AltConf to meet and mingle with others in the iOS and macOS communities.

This year's AltConf event will take place at the Marriott San Jose, located close to the McEnery Conference Center where WWDC will be held. AltConf will kick off on Monday, June 3, and will last through Thursday, June 6.


There will be speakers at AltConf, along with a community labs feature where attendees can get expert advice on their apps, discuss ideas, and more. On Monday, AltConf will kick off with viewings of Apple's keynote event and State of the Union for developers, with the venue able to accommodate more than 900 attendees.

New to AltConf this year is an Apple-themed escape room that will require attendees to use their "Apple skills and knowledge" to save a doomed Apple keynote from failure. Tickets are priced at $5.

AltConf is free to attend, but there is an option to become a Hero Supporter to show support for the event.

For developers unable to make it to San Jose who still want to attend a developer-centric event, AltConf is hosting a number of satellite events in Europe that will be all-day conferences.

AltConf satellite events will take place in London, Madrid, Paris, and Berlin, with each hosted and curated by local community volunteers. There will be speakers and events, which will be followed by a viewing of Apple's keynote event at night.

Tickets to the satellite conference events will range in price from 29 to 50 pounds based on location, though keynote viewing in the evening will be available for free.

Related Roundup: WWDC 2019
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Wall Street Journal to Join Apple's News Subscription Service, but NYT and Washington Post Not Participating

The Wall Street Journal plans to join Apple's subscription news service that's set to be announced Monday, reports The New York Times. Other publications like the Washington Post and The New York Times itself are not on board, however, due to the revenue split Apple has requested.

Apple and The Wall Street Journal plan to announce the partnership at Apple's planned media event on March 25. Apple's subscription service for Apple News will provide readers with access to news articles and magazines from "hundreds" of participating publishers for one monthly fee, thought to be $9.99 per month.


Rumors have suggested that Apple has been having trouble securing deals with news sites like The New York Times and the Washington Post because Apple wants to keep 50 percent of all subscription revenue, splitting the other 50 percent of the revenue between publishers according to the amount of time users spend engaged with their articles.

Major paywalled news sites offer their own subscription access to articles, with revenue that does not need to be shared with Apple. Participating in Apple's service could cause current subscribers to swap over, leading to overall lower revenue.

Apple is also declining to provide credit card information or email addresses to publishers, details that news sites use to create customer databases and market their products, and they're asking partners to provide unlimited access to content.

To lure publishers to join its Apple News service, Apple executives are citing the scale of Apple News, which is installed on all iOS devices out of the box. Apple is telling publishers that millions of new customers could be introduced to their content, but some are not convinced.

Many magazine publishers are on board with Apple's proposed revenue terms, but most magazines have no existing online revenue streams. Magazine publishers have also already been working with the 50/50 revenue split following Apple's acquisition of Texture, the magazine subscription service Apple is basing its new offering on.

Apple will debut its new subscription service for Apple News at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Monday, March 25. Apple will also use the same event to unveil its rumored streaming video service.

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