Apple Adds 'Ultimate Rivals' Sports Game Franchise to Apple Arcade

Apple today announced the addition of "Ultimate Rivals" from Bit Fry Game Studios to its Apple Arcade gaming service.

Ultimate Rivals is a sports game franchise that brings athletes from hockey, basketball, football, and soccer into one video game, which Apple says is a first in sports gaming.


The first title in the franchise, "Ultimate Rivals: The Rink," allows players to choose from more than 50 athletes to compete in two-on-two hockey matches. There are licensed athletes from the NHL, NBA, NFL Players Association (NFLPA), MLB, WNBA and the US Women's National Soccer Team Players Association (USWNTPA), plus retired legends like Wayne Gretzky.


Different combinations of players will unlock unique ways to play and win against the AI or other gamers in online multiplayer matches. According to Apple, the game features 60 frames-per-second graphics, tight controls, leading-edge visuals, and sound design.
"With ‌Apple Arcade‌, we are committed to delivering a curated catalog where every title offers players a new, innovative experience that pushes the boundaries of what a game can be. The 'Ultimate Rivals' franchise does just that," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "'Ultimate Rivals: The Rink' is a great new addition to ‌Apple Arcade‌ and we are excited for everyone to try it out."
Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is available today on ‌Apple Arcade‌, and it will be followed by an NBA licensed basketball game "Ultimate Rivals: The Court" in the spring of 2020.

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Apple Avoids iPhone Tariffs as U.S. and China Reach Trade Deal

Apple won't be hit with hefty tariffs on the iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks as U.S. President Donald Trump this afternoon signed off on a trade deal with China.

Speaking in a note to investors shared by Bloomberg, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said that the new tariffs could have added approximately $150 to the price of iPhones during the holiday season.

"Trump delivered an early Christmas present to Apple. If this tariff went through it would have been a major gut punch for semi players/Apple and could have thrown a major wrench into the supply chain and demand for the holiday season."
If Apple absorbed the cost of the tariffs, the company's earnings per share would have shrunk by approximately four percent, according to Ive. Raising prices could have caused ‌iPhone‌ demand to shrink by an estimated six to eight percent in 2020.

Apple is paying tariffs on the Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac components, and HomePod speaker, which could potentially be eliminated now that a deal has been reached. Apple in November also applied for tariff waivers on these items.

The tariffs that were avoided today were originally set to be put in place in August, but were delayed until December 15 to give the U.S. and China more time to reach an agreement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been speaking with Trump about the tariffs, and in August reportedly made a "good case" arguing that tariffs would put Apple at a disadvantage with rivals like Samsung. Apple earlier this year also sent a letter to Apple urging the Trump administration not to proceed with the tariffs.

Cook in late October said that he was confident the United States and China would resolve the trade dispute. "I don't know every chapter of the book, but I think that will eventually happen," said Cook.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Using Voice Control in iOS 13 to Operate an iPhone Hands-Free

Apple in iOS 13 added a Voice Control feature as an Accessibility option designed for those who need to use their iPhones and iPads without their hands. It allows for complete control of the operating system using voice commands.

Voice Control is designed for people who need an alternative to physical control, but it has the potential to be useful even for those can use their devices with their hands. Check out our latest YouTube video below to see Voice Control in action, and read on to see how to enable it and what it can do.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

How to Enable Voice Control


Voice Control can be turned on in the Settings app by following these instructions:
  1. Open up the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Accessibility and tap it.
  3. Select the Voice Control option.
  4. Tap on Set Up Voice Control.
The setup screen for Voice Control will walk you through the different things you can do with your voice, which ranges from opening apps and adjusting settings to tapping buttons and dictating and editing text.

After tapping on Set Up and checking out the various options, Voice Control will be toggled on.

What Voice Control Can Do


With Voice Control enabled, there's a little microphone icon that's active and visible on the iPhone's display. When Voice Control is active, you don't need to invoke Siri or use any other kind of wake word to navigate the ‌iPhone‌.

Simple commands like "Open Settings" work to open up an app, and then you can navigate by saying things like "Go Back." You do need to learn the specific commands for control, which can take some time. Selecting an item in the Settings app, for example, requires saying "Tap Accessibility" rather than "Select" or "Choose."

Voice Control is a powerful tool and it can do almost anything that you can do with physical access. A sample list is below:
  • Swipe left, right, up, or down on the screen
  • Zoom, scroll, rotate, two finger tap, long press, pan up/down, double tap
  • Tap items on the screen
  • Open Control Center
  • Open Notification Center
  • Open third-party apps like Twitter
  • Start a new tweet, add text, and send the tweet
  • Show numbers (to add little numbers to items in a list)
  • Tap number (to tap one of the numbered items - you can also just say the number without tap)
  • Show grid (adds a grid to the screen with numbers so you can tap a specific spot on the screen)
  • Show names (displays app or item names)
  • Open Notes
  • Tap New Note
  • Select that/all/[specific phrase]
  • Copy [text]/Paste [text]
  • Drag and drop
  • Tap and hold
  • Type [phrase]
  • Go Home
  • Go back
  • Open ‌Siri‌
  • Search web for [phrase]
  • Go to sleep
  • Take screenshot
  • Reboot
  • Open Apple Pay

You can do specific sequences within apps for things that would normally require hand control. Here's an example Voice Control sequence in the Messages app:
  1. Open Messages
  2. Tap [person's name]
  3. Tap iMessage
  4. Speak your text (whenever a keyboard is showing on the screen, whatever you speak will be typed in)
  5. Tap emoji
  6. Show numbers
  7. Tap 25 (heart eyes emoji)
  8. Tap Send
That's the entire Voice Control sequence to type out a message with an included emoji and send it out to someone. The "Show numbers" command is super useful in situations where there are a lot of options on the screen (such as the emoji list) and you need to choose one.

Here's a similar sequence in the Notes app, using voice commands:
  1. Open Notes
  2. Tap new Note
  3. Speak your title
  4. Tap return
  5. Speak your text
  6. Period
For editing in Notes:
  1. Select [phrase]
  2. Copy selection
  3. Show grid
  4. Tap number (where the cursor should be)
  5. Paste that
  6. Tap done
  7. Go Home
There are tons of Voice Control commands to work with, which can all be seen by going to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control > Customize Commands or simply saying "Show Commands" with Voice Control turned on. Apple also has a support document that's worth checking out if you want to get deeper into using Voice Control.

It will take some time to learn all of the appropriate commands and then to create custom commands that fill in the missing gaps that are needed when it comes to control, but the effort will be well worth it for those who need this functionality.

Voice Control Options


There are several customization options for Voice Control, located in the Voice Control section of the Settings app as outlined above.

You can create custom commands, selecting an activation phrase, an action such as insert text or run a Shortcut, and an app for that custom phrase to work with. Voice Control integrates with Shortcuts, which means it's highly customizable and extremely powerful for those who need to use it for most ‌iPhone‌ and iPad functions.

For the insert text customization, for example, you can create a "home address" option that enters your home address whenever the phrase is spoken, useful for filling out forms.

There are also options to turn off various functions if something specific needs to be turned off or if you want to enable features not turned on by default such as music controls or making phone calls.

Through the "Vocabulary" section" you can teach Voice Control new words simply by tapping the "+" button and adding a phrase that Voice Control should recognize.

Settings for confirmation, playing sounds when a command is recognized, and showing usage hints can also be toggled on or off, with the latter option being particularly useful for those who are new to Voice Control.

Availability


Voice Control is an ‌iOS 13‌ feature available on iPhones and iPads, but it's also available in macOS Catalina for those who want to control their Macs with their voice.

People who are able to control their iPhones with their hands or another physical manner may find Voice Control to be difficult and tedious to use, but it is an incredibly powerful and thorough option for those who have limited dexterity or mobility.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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Apple Buys UK-Based Company 'Spectral Edge' to Bolster iPhone's Photographic Capabilities

Apple has purchased UK-based photography company Spectral Edge, reports Bloomberg. The Spectral Edge website is now defunct, but the company had developed a mathematical technique for improving photographic imagery in real-time.

Created in 2014 from academic research at the University of East Anglia, Spectral Edge's algorithm is able to enhance low-light smartphone images, something that could be potentially useful for Night Mode and other photographic capabilities in future iPhones.


Spectral Edge's technology captures an infrared shot and then blends it with a standard photo to make images crisper and to improve color accuracy. Bloomberg suggests that Apple could use Spectral Edge's machine learning techniques to further improve the quality of iPhone photos.

In court filings, Apple corporate lawyer Peter Denwood has been named a director of Spectral Edge, with other advisors and board members now terminated. According to Bloomberg, the documents indicate that Apple is now in control of the company.

There is no word on what Apple paid for Spectral Edge, and Apple did not respond to Bloomberg's requests for comment.

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Apple Working on Fix for Screen Time Communication Limits Workaround Exploited by Kids

Apple on Tuesday released iOS 13.3, a new update that includes Communication Limits for Screen Time, designed to allow parents to limit who can contact their children and who children can contact.

As it turns out, though, there's a bug in the feature that's allowing children to communicate with anyone who texts them.


As outlined by CNBC, Communication Limits is designed to prevent children from communicating with people not in their Contacts list (it can be set to Everyone or Contacts Only).

When an unknown number texts a child, there's an option to add that number to the list of Contacts, allowing the child to then text, call, and FaceTime that person even without parental permission.

This particular workaround only works when there is active Screen Time available. In the Downtime mode, when a child is not supposed to be using an iOS device, there is no option to add a number to the Contacts app.

CNBC says that children can also skirt the contact restrictions when there's available Screen Time by using an Apple Watch paired to an iPhone to call or text a phone number, regardless of whether that number is in the contacts list.

Apple told CNBC that a fix for this workaround is in the works, but parents can take the following steps to prevent children from exploiting the bug:
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open Contacts.
  3. Select Default Account.
  4. Change it to iCloud.
Forcing contacts to sync with ‌iCloud‌ apparently prevents the bug from occurring on devices that default to syncing contacts with Gmail or other services.

CNBC suggests Apple can address the bug by removing the "Add Contact" option when a child receives a text from a number that's not already in the address book, or Apple could require a PIN before allowing a contact to be saved.

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Apple Pay With Express Transit Mode Coming to D.C. Metro and More Chinese Cities in 2020

Apple Pay with Express Transit mode is coming to the Washington Metro in 2020, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced today. No specific timeline has been provided yet.

Starting next year, riders in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will be able to add their reloadable SmarTrip fare card to the Wallet app and simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near a contactless payment reader at Metrorail stations or on Metrobus buses to pay their fare.


Express Transit mode allows for tap-and-go payment, eliminating the need to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. The device does not need to be waked or unlocked, either.

This announcement comes less than two weeks after Transport for London rolled out Apple Pay with Express Transit mode across its system. Apple Pay with Express Transit mode is also rolling out to 85 additional MTA stations in New York City this month, including the busy hub of Penn Station.

Express Transit mode is also supported in Portland, Beijing, Shanghai, and Japan.

Update: As noted by the blog Ata Distance, Apple Pay support for the Shenzhen Tong and Lingnan Pass fare cards is also planned for 2020. This will mark a major expansion of Apple Pay across transit systems in Shenzhen and several other cities in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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First Mac Pro Orders Begin Shipping Out to Customers, Delivery Expected on Monday

Just two days after the Mac Pro first became available for purchase, the first orders have begun shipping out and are set to be delivered on Friday.

MacStadium's Brian Stucki ordered a couple of new Mac Pros right when Apple began accepting purchases, and his first ‌Mac Pro‌ is coming in just a few days on December 16, which is earlier than the delivery dates that Apple had listed.


Apple's initial delivery estimates were at one to two weeks after purchase, but orders placed now will not be delivered until December 31 to January 8 due to demand for the machine.

The 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ is the first new ‌Mac Pro‌ we've had in six years, and it's the followup to the 2013 "trash can" ‌Mac Pro‌ that ultimately failed due to thermal limitations. Apple listened to the needs of professional users with this iteration and designed the updated machine to be modular and easily upgradeable.


Pricing on the ‌Mac Pro‌ starts at $5,999, but goes up depending on the configuration. It supports workstation-class Xeon processors with up to 28 cores, up to 1.5TB RAM, eight PCIe slots, 4TB SSD storage (soon to be 8TB) and dual Radeon Pro Vega Duo GPUs.

A fully equipped ‌Mac Pro‌ will cost over $52,000, with the price tag even higher for those who add Apple's $4,999 Pro Display XDR, a 6K display that's being sold alongside the ‌Mac Pro‌.

With ‌Mac Pro‌ orders set to be in the hands of users starting next week, we should see additional impressions and opinions of the new machine. MacRumors has a new ‌Mac Pro‌ on the way, so expect to see some hands-on content as soon as our new device arrives.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Buy Now)
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Orangetheory Fitness Rolling Out Apple Watch Support in Early 2020

Orangetheory Fitness today announced that it will begin rolling out Apple Watch support to its gyms in the first quarter of 2020, eliminating the need to use one of the company's armbands or chest straps for heart rate tracking.


The fitness chain has created a small accessory called the OTbeat Link that attaches to an Apple Watch band, allowing the Apple Watch to sync with the Orangetheory Fitness in-studio heart rate monitoring system. There will also be a new Orangetheory Fitness app for the Apple Watch to accompany the OTbeat Link.

"Now, not only will members be able to view metrics in real time in class with an Apple Watch, they'll also be able to see their Orangetheory Fitness workouts afterward in the Activity app," explains Orangetheory Fitness.

"Apple Watch is designed to help people live a better day by being more active," said Apple fitness director Jay Blahnik. "With workout tracking, Apple Pay and a new membership program, we are thrilled Orangetheory Fitness is integrating Apple Watch into a comprehensive experience for their customers."

Orangetheory Fitness has also developed two new iOS apps called OTassist and OTcoach for improved interactions between staff, coaches, and members.

The new OTbeat Link accessory will be priced at $129 on Apple.com and elsewhere.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Engineers Explain New Mac Pro's Innovative Cooling Features

In an interview with Popular Mechanics, Apple engineers Chris Ligtenberg and John Ternus have detailed some of the innovative cooling features included in the design of the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, both of which launched earlier this week.


In order to let the ridiculous processing power of the ‌Mac Pro‌ reach its potential without melting, Apple engineers had to find new ways to "exploit the laws of thermodynamics," according to the report.

For example, the active internal cooling consists of three axial fans in the front of the case and a blower in the rear, all of which had to be developed in-house because off-the-shelf fans would have been too loud.

"Years ago, we started redistributing the blades," explains Ligtenberg, Apple's senior director of product design. "They're still dynamically balanced, but they're actually randomized in terms of their BPF [blade pass frequency]. So you don't get huge harmonics that tend to be super annoying."


"That [solution is] borrowed almost entirely from automobile tires," Ligtenberg says. "There's a bit of math behind it, but you can create broadband noise instead of total noise with that technique."
Something loud but pleasantly pitched can be more tolerable than something quiet but irritating. "You can have something at a certain SPL [sound pressure level] that sounds really good, but you can have something that's actually at a lower SPL that grates on your nerves and sounds really awful," says John Ternus, VP of Hardware Engineering at Apple and head of the Pro and Pro Display's development. "We want to get really great performance where, you either can't hear it, or if you can hear it, it's kind of a pleasant noise. A ton of analysis goes into figuring out how to optimize for that."
Apple hopes ‌Mac Pro‌ users won't even be aware of the fan activity inside, but it's the conspicuous grids of bored metal divots on the front and back of the case and the rear of the Pro Display that provide the passive cooling. "[The pattern] gives us a lot of surface area, which is hugely beneficial," Ternus says.

The Pro Display has fans for specific components, but the bored metal holes are what keeps that panel of LEDs cool enough to run so bright. It wasn't possible to use a traditional finned enclosure heatsink, because the monitor can be used in both portrait and landscape.

Rotating the display 90 degrees would reduce with the air flow through fins, but the hemispherical holes work the same regardless of which way is up. "[For the Display] we wanted free [air] flow through the channels, no matter the orientation," says Ternus.


According to Apple, the reworked "cheese grater" look achieves around 20 percent more airflow compared to the Power Mac G5 that preceded it.

Apple is accepting orders for the ‌Mac Pro‌ (starting at $5,999) and the Pro Display XDR ($4,999) on its website, with ‌Mac Pro‌ delivery estimates at one to two weeks after an order is placed.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Buy Now)
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Twitter Finally Launches Support for Live Photos, Allowing Them to Be Uploaded as GIFs

Twitter today announced support for Apple's Live Photos, which can now be uploaded to Twitter and shared as GIFs.

Apple first introduced ‌Live Photos‌ in 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, though most social networks still do not support the format and do not allow ‌Live Photos‌ to play when uploaded.


‌Live Photos‌ are designed to add movement to still photos to bring them to life, similar to the moving photos in the Harry Potter films. When you take a photo on an ‌iPhone‌ with ‌Live Photos‌ enabled, the ‌iPhone‌ captures a few seconds of video before and after the shot to enable the movement.

‌Live Photos‌ are primarily able to be viewed from ‌iPhone‌ to ‌iPhone‌, but there are apps that can convert them into formats supported by social networks like GIFs and videos, which is what Twitter is planning to do.


Uploading a Live Photo to Twitter to share in a tweet will convert the Live Photo into a GIF that displays the animation. Users just need to select a Live Photo in the Twitter app on iOS and then tap the GIF button to upload.

Those who want to share a Live Photo but don't want it to be shared as an animated GIF can just avoid tapping the GIF button, which will cause it to be uploaded as a traditional still photo.

‌Live Photos‌ support is rolling out to the Twitter app today.

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Apple Used DMCA Takedown to Temporarily Remove Tweet With iPhone Encryption Key

Apple recently used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to get Twitter to remove a viral tweet that featured an iPhone encryption key, provoking the ire of the security community, reports Motherboard.

On December 7, security researcher "Siguza" on Twitter shared an encryption key that could potentially be used to reverse engineer the ‌iPhone‌'s Secure Enclave, which handles encryption for the device. While it doesn't expose user data stored in the Secure Enclave, it does give researchers the ability to access the Secure Enclave's firmware to investigate how it works.


Just two days later, a law firm that works with Apple sent a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter, requesting that the tweet be removed. Twitter complied, deleting the tweet.

Today, the tweet reappeared, and Siguza said that the DMCA claim was "retracted." Apple confirmed to Motherboard that it sent the takedown notice and then asked Twitter to put the tweet back in place.


Reddit also received several DMCA takedown requests for posts shared on r/jailbreak, a subreddit where security researchers and hackers discuss methods for jailbreaking Apple iPhones. It's not clear if this is also Apple, as the source of the takedown requests was unable to be verified.

Still, security researchers suspect Apple, and according to Motherboard, they see Apple's actions as an attempt to stifle the jailbreaking community.

For many years, there was no available jailbreaking software for modern iPhones, but that changed earlier this year when Checkra1n, a jailbreak for certain devices running iOS 13, was released. Checkra1n doesn't work on iPhones released in 2018 and 2019, but it does work on all older ‌iPhone‌ models, which has likely put Apple on edge.

Apple is also in the middle of a lawsuit against Corellium, a mobile device virtualization company that supports iOS. Corellium's software allows security researchers and hackers to create digital replicas of iOS devices for the purpose of finding and testing vulnerabilities, and the security community has criticized Apple's decision to levy a lawsuit against Corellium.

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Apple Pay Now Accepted at NYC's Penn Station, Coming to 85 More MTA Stations Later This Month

New York City's public transit agency MTA today announced that its tap-and-go fare payment system OMNY is now available at Penn Station, a major hub, with support for both mobile wallets like Apple Pay and contactless credit cards from the likes of Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.

96 OMNY readers are now live at 18 turnstile arrays serving the A, C, E and 1, 2, 3 lines at Penn Station, according to the MTA.


New Yorkers will be able to tap and ride at a total of 85 stations across the MTA system later this month, and the MTA plans to expand contactless payments to all 472 of its subway stations and all of its bus routes by the end of 2020.

Apple Pay will be accepted on MTA-operated buses in Manhattan beginning March 2020, with further plans detailed on the OMNY website.

Apple Pay first became available at select MTA subway stations and on Staten Island buses in May, complete with support for Express Transit mode. Riders can simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near the contactless reader to pay their fare, without needing to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. The device does not need to be tapped on or unlocked, either.

OMNY is currently limited to full-fare, pay-per-ride use, with additional fare options set to become available during future phases of the rollout, such as unlimited ride passes and reduced fares. Keep in mind that free transfers are only available at OMNY-enabled stations, so plan your trip accordingly.

MetroCards will remain available until at least 2023, according to the MTA.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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