China Mobile to Begin Large-Scale 5G Testing This Year

Qualcomm, ZTE, and China Mobile have announced plans to start interoperability testing and outdoor trials for the new 5G radio specifications being developed by the 3GPP group (via DigiTimes).
The interoperability testing and trials will launch in China starting in the second half of 2017, with the goal of the trials being to showcase how 5G NR technologies can efficiently achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates at lower latency and better reliability than today's network, Qualcomm stated in a company release.
After large-scale testing of 5G networks in 2017, China Mobile aims to continue with deployment testing in 2018, and commercial operations starting in 2020, according to the report. The trials will use device prototypes from Qualcomm and base station solutions from ZTE, and follow guidelines from China Mobile.

The announcement indicates an acceleration of China Mobile's schedule for 5G development in the country, as the company looks to keep abreast of mobile carriers in the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced it would begin trialing 5G wireless technologies in the U.S. this year and said it anticipated 5G speeds to be 10 to 100 times faster than average 4G LTE connections. However, widespread rollout across AT&T's network isn't expected until 2020.

There's no information as yet on Apple's plans for 5G uptake. Appl supported LTE-Advanced – a faster standard of 4G LTE – fairly rapidly with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but the older 3G and LTE wireless technologies were both available for years before Apple adopted them. Going on AT&T's and 3GPP's timelines, a 5G iPhone is unlikely to be released for at least another three to four years.

Strava Launches Apple Watch App With GPS Support For Series 2 Owners

Popular running app Strava has been updated with support for the Apple Watch Series 2, enabling runners to use Strava on their wrist and leave their iPhone at home.

The new support in version 5.13.0 makes full use of the built-in GPS found in the second-generation Apple Watch, meaning users of the app no longer have to be tethered to iOS to track their workouts. Strava Head of Integration Mateo Ortega said the company saw this as just a "first step" in its plans for supporting the Apple Watch 2.


Research and athlete feedback often drives new Strava features and integrations. We're excited to add to our growing list of compatible devices, and see this as the first step in providing our athletes an excellent Strava experience on the Apple Watch Series 2. Our athletes can look forward to continued updates as we strive to provide the best Watch experience possible.
Users can expect Strava to keep track of a series of metrics which are displayed on their wrist, including heart rate, time, distance, pace, and running speed.

Strava joins a small number of apps that support GPS functionality on the Apple Watch Series 2, which includes the likes of Runkeeper and Nike+ Run Club. Strava users simply need to update their iOS app for the changes to take effect.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Strava
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Apple Shares a Series of AirPods Ads on UK YouTube Channel

Apple recently uploaded four new videos to its United Kingdom YouTube site, all of which focus on highlighting its latest accessory, the AirPods.

Each of the four videos, which are between 16 and 17 seconds long, feature the AirPods positioned as musical notes set to music by UK artists. Featured artists include Lianne La Havas, Craig David, The 1975, and Marian Hill.








Apple's UK specific AirPods ads come as the company is rumored to be shifting towards regionally-focused digital and social media ad campaigns instead of broader TV-focused campaigns translated for global markets.

Apple has been focusing on sharing 15-second videos appropriate for social media in recent weeks, and the company recently released a video unique to its Brazilian YouTube channel, which focuses on showing off the iPhone 7 Plus's photo taking capabilities at Carnival, an annual Brazilian festival.

Tag: Apple ads

The Average iPhone User in the U.S. Spent $40 on Apps in 2016

iPhone owners in the United States spent an average of $40 on premium apps and in-app purchases on each of their devices in 2016, according to new data shared by analytics company Sensor Tower. That's up from an average of $35 in 2015.

Unsurprisingly, most iPhone users are spending their money on games. 80 percent of U.S. App Store revenue in 2016 was generated by games, and on average, iPhone users spent $27 on game-related content.


Spending on apps in the entertainment category - such as Netflix and Hulu - was at $2.30 on average, compared to $1.00 in 2015, perhaps due to Netflix starting to offer in-app subscription options at the end of 2015. According to Sensor Tower, Netflix contributed over $58 million in gross revenue to the entertainment category in 2016, up from $7.9 million in 2015.

Average spending on music also rose slightly in 2016, from $3.40 to $3.60, and social networking went from $1.80 to $2.00. Spending on apps in the photo and video category jumped from $0.30 to $0.70 during 2016.

While spending on apps is up across the board, Sensor Tower saw a decline in the average number of apps installed on each iPhone - 33, down from 35 in 2015. Games continues to be the most popular app category, with an average of 10 games installed on each iPhone.


According to Sensor Tower, its estimates are based on data pulled from 132 million active iPhones in the United States during the 2016 calendar year (January 1 to December 31). The numbers use estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and the company's own Store Intelligence platform.

All revenue estimates included in the report are gross amounts spent by consumers before deducting Apple's 30 percent revenue cut.

News Organizations Refocus FBI Lawsuit to Question Cost of San Bernardino iPhone Hack Tool

A trio of news organizations -- consisting of the Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett -- have petitioned a judge in the United States to force the FBI to reveal the exact amount of money it paid for the technology used to crack open an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook (via BBC).

The same group of news organizations sued the FBI last September to gain more information about how exactly the FBI entered the iPhone, what "outside party" helped with the process, and how much the government paid for it. The new filing appears to tone down that original lawsuit with a focus on the amount spent on the hack tool, and not how it works or who exactly provided it.


Although the FBI never confirmed the rumors, it was widely reported that Israeli mobile software developer Cellebrite was hired to get into Farook's iPhone 5c. A price for the developer's services has only ever been speculated upon.

According to the court filing acquired by the BBC, the three news organizations claim that there is "no adequate justification" for the FBI to continue to withhold the information related to the cost of opening the iPhone. The information they ask for is also specified as not a risk to national security if it does become public, as they simply want "to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the event."
"While it is undisputed that the vendor developed the iPhone access tool, the government has identified no rational reason why knowing the vendor's identity is linked in any way to the substance of the tool, much less how such knowledge would reveal any information about the tool's application," lawyers for the news organisations wrote in the filing to the US District Court in Washington.

"Release of this information goes to the very heart of the Freedom of Information Act's purpose, allowing the public to assess government activity - here, the decision to pay public funds to an outside entity in possession of a tool that can compromise the digital security of millions of Americans."
Back in the midst of the story's development, the identity of the contractors for the iPhone hack was said to be a closely held secret within the FBI, with FBI director James Comey even in the dark as to who exactly was hired to break into the iPhone. While many reports referenced Cellebrite, another suggested it was instead done with the help of "professional hackers," consisting of a "gray hat" researcher who sells flaws to governments, black market groups, or companies that create surveillance tools.

Even though the case is still one of interest among both parties, towards the end of the drama last year the FBI claimed that it found "nothing of real significance" in Farook's iPhone, stating that it answered a few questions about the San Bernardino shooting but provided no new leads.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues 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.

Tag: Apple-FBI

Apple Patents Avatar Creation App That Can Place Digital Versions of You in Messages and FaceTime

Apple today has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office regarding an "avatar editing environment," which is the company's patent terminology for a Mii-like app that users can visit to craft a digitized likeness of themselves to use throughout the Apple ecosystem. The patent was originally filed back in October 2011 but was just published by the USPTO today (via Patently Apple).

Apple's patent explains that its avatar editing environment would let users create "a representation of their alter ego." This includes a collection of editing features such as different eyes, ears, mouth, skin color, hair, teeth, smile, facial expressions, eyebrows, hair, beard, glasses, hats, and even more items related to the expression of each person's unique identity and fashion.


While Apple's new patent sounds like a basic Avatar editing system, the company's wording goes into deeper detail about how far and wide the digital personalities might be implemented across its services. The editor would primarily be its own application on iOS devices, but the patent also notes that Apple could add it as an online addition to its website and give its API to developers so they could implement the avatars into games, social networks, and more.

Once an avatar is created, the user would then discover the character can be placed -- and even animated -- in a number of iOS locations, including in Messages, Address Book, and FaceTime. In Messages, users could set a specific animation of their avatar to trigger in response to certain events, so while you're waiting for a text from a friend your avatar could be animated on their screen to be tapping its foot in impatience, or sleeping. In execution, some of Apple's avatar features sound similar to the popular Bitmoji app.

The patent also describes a feature where a user's face would be replaced in video chat, likely within FaceTime, by the avatar that they have created with Apple's editing system. The character would then be able to track and replace the user's expressions, eye movements, head, and body language, much like the technology created by Faceshift, which Apple acquired two years ago.

Like all other patents, the avatar editing environment described here is unlikely to see the light of day any time soon, if ever. Although the patent mentions that users could manually and automatically generate an avatar, it never directly specifies if that would include using a future iPhone's advanced camera system to map the user's face and generate a close approximation in digital form.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 8's front camera will be able to fuel experiences just like that, and might lead to gaming-enhanced 3D selfies and even experiences in augmented and virtual reality.

Tag: patent

Overcast 3 Update Brings Redesigned UI to Podcast Player App

Popular podcast player Overcast has reached its long-awaited third iteration on the iOS App Store, with improvements to episode management and a slew of other UI enhancements.

Designed by Instapaper developer Marco Arment, Overcast 3's most obvious change is that it adopts the design language of iOS 10, such as the use of stacked views which Apple introduced in Apple Music, so screens including Now Playing, settings, downloads, and recommendations, now appear as stacks that slide up from the bottom of the interface. There's also a redesigned Now Playing view, in which users swipe right to adjust audio settings, and swipe left to view episode information.


A new episode action tray features in the app, grouping actions that were previously hidden behind swipe gestures or other menus. Tapping an episode in a list now displays buttons to share, star, play, add to queue, and delete the selected podcast episode.

Elsewhere, Peek and Pop 3D Touch gestures are now supported in episode list screens, allowing users to quickly preview episode contents and access play and delete shortcuts by sliding up the Peek card. An Overcast 3 widget for the home screen has also been developed, which allows users to see what's playing, resume playback, and see upcoming episodes in their Up Next queue.


Also included in Overcast 3 is a redesign of its Apple Watch component, with the ability to view upcoming episodes from the wrist.

Overcast 3 is available as a free ad-supported app, while an optional $9.99 in-app purchase gets users a premium ad-free version. Overcast 3 is available for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Amazon Fire TV Stick With Built-In Alexa Coming to the U.K.

Amazon's latest Fire TV stick, with Alexa built in, is coming to the U.K., after launching in the U.S. back in October.

The streaming TV dongle will make its debut in the country on April 6 and have a price tag of £40, with Amazon already taking pre-orders.


The device comes with a quad-core processor that Amazon says makes it 30 percent faster than its predecessor. The dongle also supports 802.11ac WiFi networks, but the biggest difference is the new Alexa remote.

Like the Siri Remote on the Apple TV, a built-in microphone lets users search for content like movies and music, as well as control playback, open apps, and more. Unlike Siri Remote, it also supports third-party Alexa skills, allowing users to control smart home devices, for example.

Apart from the aforementioned online pre-orders, the new Amazon Fire TV stick will be on sale in shops including Dixons, John Lewis, Tesco, and Maplin from April 6.

Tags: Amazon, Alexa

ING and Macquarie Now Support Apple Pay in Australia

Both ING Direct and Macquarie have implemented support for Apple Pay in Australia, according to Apple's updated Apple Pay website in the country. Starting today, both ING Direct and Macquarie customers can use Apple Pay for purchases in participating stores and locations with an eligible device.

Apple Pay support at the two banks comes more than a year after Apple Pay first became available in the country through a partnership with American Express.

The service is available in retail stores on iPhone SE, 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and older devices using the Apple Watch. In-app and web purchases can also be made using the aforementioned devices, a supported iPad, or one of Apple's new MacBook Pros.


While ANZ and many smaller banks support Apple Pay in Australia, three of the country's major banks, including Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac, are currently embroiled in an ongoing dispute with Apple that has seen the banks refusing to accept Apple Pay.

The banks have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to give them permission to negotiate with Apple to gain access to the NFC chip in the iPhone, allowing the iPhone to be used with the banks' own NFC-based payment solutions.

Apple does not allow third-party services to access the NFC chips built into its most recent devices for security reasons and has argued that the banks' challenge is harmful to consumers and would stifle innovation in mobile payments.

The ACCC sided with Apple in an initial ruling, but both sides are continuing to submit arguments and the banks recently re-submitted their application asking for permission to work together to make a deal with Apple.

Apple Pay is available in 13 countries, including the United States, UK, China, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Apple Seeds Third Beta of tvOS 10.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming tvOS 10.2 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second tvOS 10.2 update and nearly a month after releasing tvOS 10.1.1, the current release version of tvOS.

Designed for the fourth-generation Apple TV, the third tvOS 10.2 beta can be obtained by connecting the Apple TV to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, downloading and installing the software from a registered developer account via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Once a profile is installed, subsequent betas can be downloaded over the air.

Given the tricky installation requirements, tvOS betas are limited to developers and will not be provided to the public.

tvos-10-2-beta
According to Apple's release notes, tvOS 10.2 introduces improved scrolling behavior, allowing tvOS users to scroll through large lists of information more quickly. A large swipe on the Siri remote automatically activates the new scrolling mode, and a swipe on the far right side of the remote allows users to navigate specific indexes.

It's likely there are other small feature tweaks and bug fixes included in tvOS 10.2, even though additional changes have not been specifically outlined by Apple. We'll update this post should any new content be found in the third tvOS 10.2 beta.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Apple Seeds Third Beta of watchOS 3.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second watchOS 3.2 beta and nearly a month after the release of watchOS 3.1.3, the current public version of the operating system.

The watchOS 3.2 beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software Update after installing the proper configuration profile on the iPhone. To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

watchOS 3.2 requires an iPhone running iOS 10 to install and will only be available to developers. Apple does not make watchOS betas available to the public as there is no way to downgrade the software on an Apple Watch.

watchOS 3.2 includes a "Theater Mode" designed to let customers quickly mute the sound on the Apple Watch and disable Raise to Wake, preventing the screen from lighting up with arm movement.

Theater Mode, originally introduced in watchOS 3.1.3, is being made available in watchOS 3.2. Customers are still able to receive haptic feedback-based notifications, and information can be viewed by either tapping the screen or pressing down on the Digital Crown.

watchOS 3.2 also brings SiriKit to the Apple Watch, allowing customers to ask Siri to do things like send messages, send payments, book a ride, log a workout, make a call, or search through photos. SiriKit has been available on iOS devices since the release of iOS 10, but is new to the Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

WhatsApp Announces New 'Status' Feature for Sharing Videos and Photos That Expire After 24 Hours

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook-owned WhatsApp today announced the launch of "Status," a new feature that's designed to let users share videos, photos, and GIFs that expire each day.

The Status addition to WhatsApp is essentially identical to the "Stories" feature in Instagram and Snapchat, both of which allow users to share daily life updates with friends and family that expire after 24 hours.

With WhatsApp Status, WhatsApp users can use the in-app camera to share photos or videos that can be annotated with emoji, text snippets, and drawings. Status updates can be shared with all contacts, rather than just individuals or specific groups, but there are also options to choose who is able to see what.


Through the new Status tab, WhatsApp users can view all of the updates that their address book contacts have shared on the app and reply privately to updates. All Status updates expire after a 24 hour period.

WhatsApp is launching Status to celebrate its eighth anniversary. The new feature is rolling out to WhatsApp users starting today and should be available soon for all iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone users.

WhatsApp can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]