Eric Slivka

Eric is Editor in Chief of MacRumors, swimmer, and former biophysicist. Enjoys reading and chasing after two rambunctious boys when he's not playing with the latest gadgets.



Apple Launches New iPhone XS Case and Apple Watch Band Color Options

Apple today quietly released new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max silicone cases, as well as Apple Watch Sport Bands, in three new colors: Hibiscus, Mellow Yellow, and Pacific Green. In addition, Apple has begun selling the new Nike Sport Loop and Sport Band options that debuted on nike.com earlier this month in Celestial Teal, Olive Flak, and Smokey Mauve. iPhone Silicone Cases ($39): - Hibiscus: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max - Mellow Yellow: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max - Pacific Green: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max Apple Watch Sport Bands ($49): - Hibiscus: 40mm, 44mm - Mellow Yellow: 40mm, 44mm - Pacific Green: 40mm, 44mm Apple Watch Nike Sport Bands ($49): - Celestial Teal/Black: 40mm, 44mm - Olive Flak/Black: 40mm, 44mm - Smokey Mauve/Particle Beige: 40mm, 44mm Apple Watch Nike Sport Loops ($49): - Celestial Teal: 40mm, 44mm - Olive Flak: 40mm, 44mm - Smokey Mauve: 40mm, 44mm The new cases and bands are generally available for delivery as soon as next Monday, with in-store availability estimated for next Tuesday. Despite the introduction of new case colors for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, there is still no sign of Apple-branded iPhone XR

AirPlay 2 and Dolby Atmos Help Apple Make Inroads as a Hub of Your Home Entertainment Ecosystem

With the release of AirPlay 2 earlier this year and the follow-up addition of Dolby Atmos support for Apple TV with tvOS 12, there have been significant improvements in the home entertainment experience for Apple users. While AirPlay 2 support initially launched for HomePod with other speaker and receiver brands to come, the rollout has taken a bit of a time, and in fact there are still only a few brands that support the standard. Sound United's Denon and Marantz brands were the first standalone receivers to gain AirPlay 2 support back in August, and I've had a chance to test out the setup using a Denon AVR-X3500H receiver. Denon AVR-X3500H For those unfamiliar with component home theater systems, the AV receiver acts as the center of your entire system, managing both audio and video to connect all of your various content sources to outputs like your television and speakers. They've become increasingly packed with technology over time depending on how much you're willing to spend, offering support for such features as decoding various surround sound formats, driving an ever larger number of speakers, accepting direct wireless audio streaming via Bluetooth or AirPlay, connecting to Internet services via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and more. I've paired the Denon receiver with Focal's Sib Evo 5.1.2 system that includes Dolby Atmos support, giving me the opportunity to check out both of the recent technological additions to the Apple ecosystem for a quick overview. Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 speaker system with Cub Evo subwoofer The Sib Evo 5.1.2 includes two front

iPhone XR Now Available SIM-Free in the United States

Apple has made the iPhone XR available SIM-free in the United States, allowing customers to purchase the phone unlocked and unassociated with any carrier. Customers can then choose to obtain a SIM from any carrier of their choice. SIM-free iPhone models typically debut in the United States up to several months after the initial product launch as Apple prioritizes supplies for upgrade users already tied in with its carrier partners. The iPhone XS was a bit unusual in that SIM-free models were available from launch day, but that was not the case with the iPhone XR. SIM-free iPhone XR models are compatible with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers. The iPhone XR starts at $749 for 64 GB models available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral, and (PRODUCT)RED. Higher-capacity models are available for $799 (128 GB) and $899 (256

15-Inch MacBook Pro AMD Radeon Pro Vega Graphics Options Now Available to Order

Following its October 30 media event, Apple quietly announced in its MacBook Air press release that new AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics would be coming to the 15-inch MacBook Pro as of November 14, and the new options have just gone live in Apple's online store. The high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro can now be custom configured with with Radeon Pro Vega 16 graphics for an additional $250 or Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics for an additional $350. Configuring a MacBook Pro with the new Vega graphics pushes delivery estimates to November 20 at the earliest, which is a fairly standard timeframe for custom

Many 27-Inch iMac SSD Configurations Disappear From Apple's Online Store, Likely Due to a Bug [Updated]

In what is likely the result of a bug, a number of SSD custom-built configuration options have disappeared from Apple's 27-inch iMac lineup in its online store, with 1 TB and 2 TB options now missing entirely. On the 27-inch iMac, available storage upgrades have varied depending on which stock configuration is used as the starting point, with the low-end and middle-tier models allowing customers to select from 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB of SSD storage as upgrades from the standard 1 TB Fusion Drives, while the high-end model allowed for upgrading to 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB of SSD storage from the standard 2 TB Fusion Drive. As of today, however, the available SSD options on the 27-inch iMac lineup in Apple's online store are much more limited and somewhat conflicting depending on the starting configuration. On the low-end model, 256 GB is now the only SSD upgrade option available, while on the middle-tier model Apple is showing no SSD options at all. For the high-end configuration, only a 512 GB SSD option is available. While the change is consistent across Apple's online stores in multiple countries, the Apple Store iOS app continues to show all of the usual SSD options. The 21-inch iMac is also unaffected in either the online store or the app, with Apple offering up to 512 GB or 1 TB of SSD storage depending on starting configuration, and it makes little sense for the 21-inch model to offer better SSD options than its larger sibling. As a result, this is very likely a bug with Apple's online store that should be fixed relatively shortly. Update 4:15 PM:

Review: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Shows Off Solid CarPlay Integration With Uconnect Infotainment System

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is home to a number of vehicle brands, including Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and of course Chrysler and Fiat. All of these brands include FCA's Uconnect infotainment system, the most recent version of which, version 4, began making its way into vehicles for the 2017 and 2018 model years. Vehicles with Uconnect 4 support both CarPlay and Android Auto, and I recently had an opportunity to test out a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Limited equipped with a Uconnect 4C NAV system that includes built-in navigation. The Pacifica Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid, and really the only such vehicle available in the minivan segment in the United States, so it has a lot going for it in that regard. With a charge that takes just a couple of hours with a 240V level 2 charger or more like 14 hours with a 120V level 1 charger, you get roughly 33 miles of battery-only operation. Otherwise, the Pacifica acts as a traditional hybrid, supplementing the gas engine and recapturing some energy through regenerative braking to recharge itself. Overall, the Pacifica Hybrid is rated at 84 MPGe (32 MPG in gas-only mode) and offers up to 570 miles of range. Overview of center stack infotainment system and other controls Unsurprisingly, my test vehicle was outfitted with lots of bells and whistles, including a 20-speaker Harman Kardon audio system that sounded great and a host of safety features including standard ParkSense sensors to alert of you of obstacles at front and rear, optional parallel and perpendicular parking assist that controls the steering wheel for you, and

Ming-Chi Kuo Cuts iPhone XR Lifecycle Shipment Estimates by 30 Million

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new research note today, cutting his shipment estimates for the iPhone XR due to several factors. He believes that some of the decline will be offset by higher demand for iPhone XS and older "legacy" models, but he is still reducing his overall iPhone shipment forecasts by 15–20 percent for the first quarter of 2019. We have reduced our iPhone XR shipment estimation from 100mn units to 70mn during the new product lifecycle (4Q18–3Q19) for the following reasons: 1) Negative impacts on consumer confidence from the trade war, especially in the Chinese market, 2) expectations from more users for more affordable XR or the dual-camera and narrower bezel design to be provided at the current price level, and 3) competition from Huawei's Mate 20 series. We have reduced our XR shipment estimations for 4Q18, 1Q19, and 2Q19 by 30–35%, 25–30%, and 25–30% to 30–35, 20–25, and 10–15mn units, respectively.Kuo believes that iPhone shipments for the current quarter will be in the same 75–80 million range he previously predicted, while he has lowered his first-quarter estimate to 47–52 million from a previous range of 55–60 million. Kuo's prediction is somewhat curious given that he raised his early iPhone XR estimate a little less than a month ago and cited stronger demand than seen for the iPhone 8 last year with the potential for more stable demand over time. Apple's stock price is down over 4 percent today, outpacing broader market declines and falling to its lowest point since the end of

Review: 2019 Acura RDX Offers Novel Touchpad Infotainment Controls, but CarPlay Doesn't Fully Support Them

As part of my continuing series of articles looking at how car manufacturers have integrated CarPlay into their infotainment systems, I've taken a look at the 2019 Acura RDX, the popular crossover SUV from Honda's luxury brand. Acura has been gradually rolling out CarPlay support across its lineup over the past few model years, and the new 2019 RDX is the first of this model to support the feature. My test vehicle was a well-equipped RDX with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), Technology package, and an A-Spec trim designed for those who want a bold look. The Technology package adds a premium ELS Studio audio system that offers 12 speakers, Acura's navigation system, two rear USB charging ports, parking sensors, and blind spot and rear cross traffic warning systems. The A-Spec package adds larger 20-inch wheels in "Shark Gray," special exterior accents like a unique front bumper with LED fog lights, dual oval exhaust, and prominent badging. Inside, the A-Spec package adds a sport steering wheel that feels great in the hands, and leather seats in either full black or red with black inserts, including heated and ventilated front seats. Regardless of seating color, red is a prominent highlight color in other areas of the A-Spec cabin, including on the instrument panel and nighttime ambient lighting. The audio system is also upgraded to 16 speakers, including four embedded in the roof of the vehicle. There's an additional Advance package that includes some other nice features such as rain-sensing windshield wipers, a heads-up display, a

Apple's October 2018 Media Event: Spoiler-Free Video Stream [Update: Video Posted]

Apple's "There's more in the making" media event will be kicking off at 10:00 AM Eastern / 7:00 AM Pacific tomorrow, and some MacRumors readers who can't follow the event live are interested in avoiding all of the announcements and waiting until Apple posts the recorded video of the event so as to experience it without already knowing the outcome. For those individuals, we've posted this news story, which will be updated with a direct link to the presentation once it becomes available from Apple. No other news stories or announcements will be displayed alongside this story. Apple has become quicker about making event videos available for replay over the past several years, and videos are now frequently available within an hour of an event's conclusion. Users waiting for the video to be posted are welcome to gather in the thread associated with this news story, and we ask that those who follow the events refrain from making any posts in the thread about Apple's announcements. Update: The full event video is now available on Apple's website.

Review: Eve Aqua Brings HomeKit Automation to Your Irrigation Sprinklers

Just prior to rebranding as Eve Systems to focus on HomeKit devices in late June, Elgato launched its Eve Aqua water controller, a HomeKit-enabled device that attaches to an outdoor water faucet to control and monitor water usage. While Eve Aqua can be used with any hose connection, it's primarily intended for use with sprinklers, which can be set to run automatically on a schedule for optimal watering. I've been testing out an Eve Aqua at my home over the past few months, and I've found it to be a helpful automation tool to assist with irrigation needs. Installation Installation of Eve Aqua is simple, as it comes with two AA batteries needed for power and simply screws onto your existing exterior water faucet. The bottom of the Eve Aqua has a male connector that allows you to screw a hose with female connector directly on, or the Eve Aqua comes with an adapter that can be screwed on to support quick connections. I did have initial issues with some water leaking around the top connection, but after several attempts and making sure things were screwed together quite tightly, I was able to mostly eliminate the problem. I've retightened it a couple of times over the past few months after slight drips have appeared, and that's kept things under control. Once you have the Eve Aqua installed, the Eve app walks you through the rest of the setup process: scanning the HomeKit code, assigning it to a room, giving it a name, and configuring options such as schedules. If you need to change the unit settings such as liters to gallons, you'll find that in the Eve

Review: OWC's Updated Thunderbolt 3 Dock Adds 85W Charging, 10 Gbps USB-C Port, and microSD Slot

Nearly a year and half ago, OWC was one of the first companies to launch a Thunderbolt 3 dock, offering over a dozen ports of various types to support a variety of accessories. While I loved the sheer number of the ports offered on the original version of the dock, there were some shortcomings, including a lack of any 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and only 60 watts of charging power, which may not be enough for 15-inch MacBook Pro users. Users for whom those two concerns are dealbreakers will be glad to hear that OWC is launching an updated version of its Thunderbolt 3 dock in just a few weeks, addressing these issues. The new OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is exactly the same size and shape as the original, with a horizontal design constructed of an aluminum band (in silver or space gray) wrapping all the way around the sides and glossy black plastic on the top and bottom. All ports are clearly labeled in white, and there is an OWC logo and "Thunderbolt 3 Dock" branding printed on the front of the dock. The dock measures in at a hair over 9 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep and an inch tall. It weighs about 1.2 pounds, although as a desktop dock you're not likely to be moving it around very often so weight shouldn't be much of a factor. Because OWC's new dock is so similar to the original version, I'm not going to walk through all of the features, and I'll instead focus on the differences. But rest assured, the new version continues to have five USB-A ports running at 5 Gbps, a pair of Thunderbolt ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a Mini DisplayPort port, and S/PDIF output

Apple Stores Experiencing 'Global' Issue With iPhone and Apple Watch Reservation Pickups

We're hearing from a number of readers over the past hour or so that Apple's retail stores are having problems completing in-store reservation pickups for the new iPhone and Apple Watch models. Multiple customers have been told there is a "global" issue affecting Apple's systems and we're hearing there are some long lines building up as customers wait for the issues to be resolved. Pickup line at Manhattan Village store in Manhattan Beach, California Some customers have reportedly been told to cancel their existing reservations and make walk-in purchases from available stock, while others are simply being told to wait things out while staff members discuss how to handle the situation. We'll update this post if we hear more about the situation, but if you have an upcoming pickup window, you might want to be prepared for some delays. Update: Apple's systems appear to be coming back online and reservation pickups are now being processed. There is, however, still a backlog of customers to work

Review: Mazda's CarPlay Support a Welcome Addition for iPhone Users

Back in March, Mazda became one of the last major car manufacturers to announce launch plans for CarPlay support. Mazda's first announced vehicle with CarPlay is the 2018 Mazda6, with owners of Touring trim and above able to bring their vehicles to a Mazda dealer for a free upgrade starting this month. CarPlay will be available pre-installed in Mazda6 vehicles with Touring trim and above as of November, while Mazda's 2019 CX-9 is also just starting to roll out with CarPlay available pre-installed. 2018 Mazda6 Signature in Soul Red Crystal While the general CarPlay experience is consistent across car brands, as it's driven by your connected iPhone, there are some differences in how CarPlay interfaces with manufacturers' various infotainment systems and hardware, so it's worth taking a look at the CarPlay experience in a Mazda. I've had a chance to spend some time with a CarPlay-equipped 2018 Mazda6 Signature, and CarPlay is a welcome alternative to the built-in Mazda Connect infotainment system that has garnered mixed reviews over the years. Mazda Connect Before we touch on CarPlay, it pays to take a look at Mazda Connect, as that's the software and hardware CarPlay sits on top of. Mazda has opted for multiple control options in its vehicles, with both an 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard and a commander knob with associated buttons on the center console. A smaller dial next to the commander knob lets you adjust volume without reaching up to the dashboard, or you can adjust the volume from the steering wheel. Voice control through a button on the steering wheel is

Apple's September 2018 Media Event: Spoiler-Free Video Stream [Video Posted]

Apple's "Gather round" media event will be kicking off at 10:00 AM Pacific tomorrow, and as is tradition some MacRumors readers who can't follow the event live are interested in avoiding all of the announcements and waiting until Apple posts the recorded video of the event so as to experience it without already knowing the outcome. For those individuals, we've posted this news story, which will be updated with a direct link to the presentation once it becomes available from Apple. No other news stories or announcements will be displayed alongside this story. Apple has become quicker about making event videos available for replay over the past several years, and videos are now frequently available within an hour of an event's conclusion. Users waiting for the video to be posted are welcome to gather in the thread associated with this news story, and we ask that those who follow the events refrain from making any posts in the thread about Apple's announcements. Video Posted: A direct link to the video file is now available, with no

'Creative Selection' Offers a Behind-the-Scenes Look Into Some Key Moments in Apple's Design History

Former Apple software engineer Ken Kocienda is releasing a new book entitled Creative Selection today, presenting a look inside Apple's design process through his involvement with a few key features across a variety of platforms and devices. I've had an opportunity to read through the book ahead of its debut, and it offers an interesting perspective on how Apple develops and refines features through an iterative process Kocienda terms "creative selection." Kocienda, who joined Apple in 2001 and spent 15 years with the company, identifies seven "elements" he deems essential to Apple's success in software development, including inspiration, collaboration, craft, diligence, decisiveness, taste, and empathy. He delves a bit into how each of these elements contributes toward Apple's relentless pursuit of innovative ideas and solutions that end up being intuitive and useful to Apple's customers. The process of creative selection is the overarching strategy for Apple's engineers, with small teams highly focused on rapid-fire demos of their work that allow the engineers to quickly iterate on their ideas and designs, saving the best elements of each iteration to rapidly reach levels of refinement required for Apple's final product releases. Back in 2001, Kocienda was part of a team from former Apple engineer Andy Hertzfeld's software company Eazel that went defunct. Following Eazel's shutdown, Kocienda and Don Melton were hired on at Apple to develop Safari for Mac, and a number of other Eazel engineers ultimately joined them on the project. But in the first days of

Review: CalDigit's Thunderbolt 3 Mini Docks Let You Connect to Dual 4K Displays Wherever You Go

Last month, CalDigit debuted a pair of Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks, offering the ability to connect dual 4K 60Hz displays, Ethernet, and USB all from one travel-sized accessory that doesn't require its own external power source. Available in dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI versions, CalDigit's Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks are a convenient way to make sure you can easily connect to multiple high-resolution displays wherever you go. I've had an opportunity to test out both versions of the dock, and I came away impressed with their performance, compactness, and usefulness in making sure you have the connectivity you need available away from your usual workplace. Design Both versions of the Thunderbolt 3 mini Dock have the same primarily aluminum design with plastic on the two long edges where the ports line one side and the short built-in Thunderbolt 3 cable exits the other side. The aluminum is an attractive gray that's significantly darker than Apple's Space Gray shades, and there is a CalDigit logo on the top of the dock. The bottom includes a pair of non-skid strips to help keep the dock stable. Both docks measure just under 5 inches long by about 2.5 inches deep and 0.75 inches thick. That makes them just a bit smaller but considerably thicker than an iPhone 8, and at a little over 5 ounces they're just about the same weight as an iPhone 8 as well. Overall that makes them much smaller and lighter than a desktop Thunderbolt 3 dock, and they don't require a massive power brick (or any external power beyond the Thunderbolt cable), so they're very transportable. The

Review: Koogeek's Light Strip and Door & Window Sensor Offer Solid Low-Cost HomeKit Options

Koogeek is one of the more interesting HomeKit accessory manufacturers, with an array of relatively low-cost and in some cases unusual products that can help users expand their Apple-focused smart home ecosystems. The company offers HomeKit-compatible smart outlets, switches, bulbs, and sockets similar to other manufacturers, but also has some less common products like light strips, door/window sensors, environmental monitors, and even power strips. LS1 Light Strip One of Koogeek's more popular HomeKit accessories is the LS1 Light Strip, a 2-meter string of LED lights that lets you choose from 16 million dimmable colors, whether you're looking for bias lighting behind your television or monitor, accent lighting in a kitchen, or any of a number of other applications. While Koogeek offers its own app for setting up and managing the LS1 Light Strip, HomeKit support means you can access it from the centralized Home app on iOS (and soon macOS Mojave) or Siri, and you can integrate it with other HomeKit devices to activate as part of a scene or other automations. Consisting of 60 LEDs, the LS1 is a 2-meter strip with some additional cord and a single-button controller that allows you to turn the lights on and off manually. The light strip is USB-powered, which can be a benefit as it gives you some interesting flexibility in terms of mounting locations when you can use a USB port on your TV, a computer, a dock, or a power bank to run them. On the downside, Koogeek doesn't provide a power adapter in the box, so you'll need to provide your own if you want to power it

Apple's New 'Just Text Them the Money' Ads Feature Apple Pay Cash

Apple today released a series of new 15-second ads highlighting Apple Pay Cash under the tagline "Just text them the money." One ad shows how roommates can use Apple Pay Cash in Messages to send rent money, while another includes a "lost shirt" scenario that demonstrates the ability to request a specific dollar amount. A third ad highlights two friends discussing and paying for tickets to a game even though it conflicts with another friend's wedding, while the fourth ad covers a mother sending money to her child after receiving a photo of an empty fridge. Apple Pay Cash launched in the United States with iOS 11.2 in early December through a partnership with Green Dot Bank and has yet to expand to any other

Belkin Debuts First MFi-Certified Power Bank With Lightning Input

Belkin today is launching the first power bank with Lightning input to be officially certified under Apple's MFi licensing program, assuring that the product meets Apple's standards for quality and compatibility. Belkin's BOOST↑­CHARGE Power Bank 10K with Lightning Connector, priced at $59.99, offers 10,000 mAh of charging power and is recharged over a Lightning connector using either a USB-to-Lightning cable or a compatible Lightning dock sold separately. On the output side, the Power Bank 10K with Lightning includes a pair of USB-A ports, one at 2.4A for faster charging of iPhones and iPads and one at 1A for slower charging. A button-activated set of four LEDs on the top of the Power Bank shows the current charge level, and the button also lets you toggle between charging input and output modes if needed. While power banks most commonly use micro-USB for charging input and a few are shifting over to USB-C, Lightning offers the benefit of needing only a single cable to both charge the battery pack and use the battery pack to charge your phone. If you've got a Lightning dock on your desk, you may also be able to use that to recharge the power bank, although it is significantly thicker than an iPhone so not all docks will be able to accommodate the power bank. Charging on an Apple Lightning dock The Power Bank 10K measures about 6 inches long, around 2.75 inches wide, and a little under 0.75 inches thick, so it's slightly smaller but substantially thicker than a Plus-sized iPhone. It weighs a little over 8 ounces, about 25 percent more than a Plus-sized

Review: Ring Alarm is a $199 Do-It-Yourself Home Security System That Keeps Things Simple

Last month, Ring began taking pre-orders for its Ring Alarm home security system, and today it begins shipping. I've had a chance to spend some time with Ring Alarm, and I've found it's an easy-to-use security system that's useful with or without professional monitoring. Priced at $199 for the base kit, the Ring Alarm comes with a base station, a separate keypad, one motion detector, one contact sensor for a door or window, and a range extender to help make sure all of your Ring accessories remain connected to your network. Additional contact sensors ($20), motion detectors ($30), keypads ($50), and range extenders ($25) can be purchased separately to expand your system. Other Ring Alarm accessories including a flood and freeze sensor as well as a smoke and CO listener to integrate your existing detectors into the Ring ecosystem are coming later. I'm a Ring user, with a Video Doorbell 2 and a Floodlight Cam already installed at my house, but I don't have any prior experience with home security systems. That made for a bit of a learning curve just in terms of figuring out how I wanted to set things up and remembering to arm/disarm the system at the appropriate times. But Ring Alarm is intended as a simple do-it-yourself system that makes it easy for even novice users to get up and running, so perhaps I'm an ideal candidate for testing things out. Setup Setup of Ring Alarm is quite simple, and the whole process only took me about half an hour, although I used the included adhesive strips to mount sensors and didn't mount the base station and keypad to my