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Apple reportedly requires Comcast and Charter to sell iPad, Apple TV as part of iPhone deal

 

In a bid to gain access to Apple’s popular iPhone, mobile industry newcomers Charter and Comcast reportedly agreed to somewhat onerous terms that require the cable giants to also sell iPad and Apple TV, some of which are offered with carrier subsidies.

Citing people familiar with the matter, CNBC reports Charter and Comcast agreed to Apple’s stipulations in return for access to iPhone. The deal was inked some two years ago, months prior to the launch of Charter and Comcast’s respective mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services.

Comcast, which operates Xfinity Mobile, needs to sell a preset number of iPads at a subsidized cost, the report said. Along with a quota “in the thousands,” the arrangement sees Comcast eat the difference between iPad’s retail cost and the final subsidized rate.

For example, a 64GB iPad mini with cellular connectivity costs $492.99 through Comcast, while the same device sells for $529 on the online Apple store. Charter’s Spectrum Mobile MVNO does not stock iPad mini, but a 6th generation cellular-enabled 9.7-inch iPad listed on the carrier’s website carries a price tag commensurate with retail.

While Apple reported strong iPad revenue for the first quarter of 2019, the deal with Comcast was made at a time when sales were slumping. The report suggests Apple added terms to Comcast’s iPhone agreement in an attempt to goose sales of the then-struggling tablet line.

Details of Charter’s iPhone arrangement could not be learned, but the company does provide customers the option to add a 32GB Apple TV to their existing Spectrum cable subscription for $7.50 a month. After doling out $180 over a 24-month period, customers can keep the Apple TV. Alternatively, subscribers can lease a Charter set-top box for the same monthly fee, but are not allowed to keep the device when the contract expires.

Sources say the deal has helped Charter become the largest third-party seller of Apple TV units.

Thanks to iPhone’s mass appeal, Apple is able to leverage advantageous deals from the world’s largest wireless carriers. In Japan, for example, market leader NTT DoCoMo reportedly promised a 40 percent quota to get its hands on iPhone after losing marketshare to competitors that had access to the popular handset. A similar scheme in Korea landed Apple in hot water with local antitrust authorities in 2018.

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Here are all the receivers and speakers that are getting AirPlay 2

 

Feature

AirPlay 2 is a small but important addition to Apple’s audio world, allowing sound on multiple devices simultaneously. Here’s a list of the compatible speakers and receivers promised so far, and where available, the dates AirPlay 2 support is expected. Updated on May 29 with new equipment by Savant.

AirPlay 2

Apple

Apple HomePod

Arcam

Arcam rPlay

  • rPlay — May 16 2019

Bang & Olufsen

BeoSound 35

Bluesound

Bluesound Pulse 2i

  • Pulse 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Pulse Flex 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Pulse Mini 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Pulse Soundbar 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Node 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Powernode 2i — Dec. 11 2018
  • Vault 2i — Dec. 11 2018

Bose

Bose Home Speaker 500

  • Home Speaker 500 — April 2019
  • Soundbar 500 — April 2019
  • Soundbar 700 — April 2019
  • SoundTouch speakers —
    Coming soon

Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins

  • Formation Audio
  • Formation Duo

Denon & Marantz

Marantz NR1510

Devialet

Devialet Phantom

Harman Kardon

Harman Kardon Citation

  • Citation speakers — Early 2019

Libratone

Libratone-Zipp

McIntosh

McIntosh RS200

  • RS200 — May 16 2019

Naim

Naim Mu-so

Pioneer

  • VSX-934 7.2-Channel Network AV Receiver — Feb. 2019

Savant

Savant Smart Soundbar

  • Smart Soundbar
  • SmartAmp — Summer 2019

Sonos

Sonos Beam

Yamaha

Yamaha is delivering AirPlay 2 support to 14 products in April 2019.

The company’s MusicCast VINYL 500 turntable will net support in the second half of 2019.

What AirPlay 2 does for you

The headline feature of AirPlay 2 is of course multi-room audio, but it also enables stereo pairing on the HomePod, along with a variety of other improvements. A substantially bigger streaming buffer versus the original AirPlay protocol helps reduce interruptions due to network issues.

There is also tighter sync between speakers. Siri meanwhile can be be asked to play/pause music on any AirPlay 2 speaker, regardless of the manufacturer, or move sound from one room to another. Just ask Siri on the HomePod to “move the music to the living room” and it will.

AirPlay 2 is now more independent as well. Instead of constantly being interrupted by phone calls, games, or videos, AirPlay 2 can continue to stream.

Speakers with AirPlay 2 compatibility now appear in within the iOS Home app, and can be assigned an individual room like any other accessory. There, speakers can be played or paused, and included within favorites.

Presently, AirPlay 2 speakers cannot be included in HomeKit Scenes.

Where to buy

Multiple retailers carry the receivers and speakers shown above, many with added perks. B&H and Adorama, for instance, will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside New York and New Jersey (Colorado and Vermont residents, see here). Those with a Prime membership can take advantage of free expedited shipping on many audio solutions at Amazon as well.

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Spotify begins testing ‘Car Thing’ voice assistant accessory

 

In the next few weeks Spotify will begin a U.S. test of its first hardware device, an auto accessory offering hands-free music control.

Spotify Car Thing

Dubbed the Car Thing, the device is powered by a 12-volt outlet and links to both a smartphone and car over Bluetooth. A small circular screen shows what’s playing, while buttons offer access to preset playlists.

By saying, “Hey Spotify,” people can make Siri- or Alexa-style requests, such as “play ‘A Flaming Ordeal’ by Raison d’etre” or “shuffle my ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ playlist.”

Spotify is only reaching out to a select group of people for testing, and the company says it’s interested primarily in gauging in-car music and podcast habits. Spotify is concentrating on being “the world’s number one audio platform — not on creating hardware,” it wrote in a blog post.

An anonymous source for the The Verge backed this statement, saying there are no intentions to launch the Car Thing as-is, or even to the general public. Nevertheless the company has trademarked “Car Thing,” “Voice Thing” and “Home Thing,” laying the groundwork for potential commercial products.

Hardware like the Car Thing could get around a key limitation on iPhone, which is Apple’s control over voice commands. While people can ask Siri to play songs if they have an Apple Music subscription, they can’t do the same if they have Spotify Premium or any other on-demand third-party service.

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New photos show ‘beta’ Apple Card with NFC-enabled packaging

 

Newly-published photos are said to show one of the first physical Apple Cards, including its special packaging for quick iPhone pairing.

Apple Card

As anticipated the packaging incorporates an NFC tag, according to well-known leak source Ben Geskin. This should link the physical card with the digital one in the Wallet app.

The leaked card is said to belong to someone in a “semi-private” beta internal to Apple. Geskin’s name was Photoshopped in to protect the real person’s identity.

He noted also that while the card appears gold-like, that’s likely an illusion caused by ambient color temperature. In person, cards should have the same silver hue Apple showcased at its March 25 press event.

The physical Apple Card is notable not just for NFC pairing, but being made of real titanium instead of plastic. For security purposes it lacks visible account or CVV numbers, which instead have to be retrieved from the Wallet app.

Apple Card

Apple is partnering with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard for the initial U.S. launch. It has yet to set a firm date beyond sometime this summer.

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Apple’s latest iPhone privacy ad touts iMessage encryption

 

Apple on Friday published a third installment to an ad series focusing on iPhone privacy, with the latest commercial throwing a spotlight on the company’s end-to-end encrypted iMessage platform.

iPhone

The ad posted to Apple’s YouTube page, titled “Inside Joke,” centers around a woman reading an iMessage conversation on her iPhone XR. Echoing the privacy theme, viewers are not privy to the contents of the conversation which, judging by the woman’s reaction, is immensely humorous.

A majority of the minute-long spot consists of a single uninterrupted shot of the iPhone owner reading incoming texts. Each new message is funnier than the last and what begins as a chuckle soon turns into hysterical laughter.

The ad cuts to a wide shot, showing the woman in a salon getting a pedicure with other customers and staff nearby. A closing shot puts iPhone XR front and center as the woman continues to cackle.

A tagline reads, “iMessage encrypts your conversations [b]ecause not everyone needs to be in on the joke,” and is followed by the campaign’s slogan, “Privacy. That’s iPhone.”

Friday’s commercial is the third in a series touting iPhone’s various privacy features. The first debuted in March and served as a general introduction to Apple’s new iPhone advertising thrust. A second spot, also aired in March, highlighted anti-ad tracking measures in Safari.

Apple’s campaign arrives amidst a wider push for data privacy in the tech sector. Over the past few weeks, serial offenders Facebook and Google have attempted to recast their respective public images as born-again reformers, promising transparency and offering user tools to manage collected information. Both, however, continue to operate business strategies reliant on customer data.

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iPhone XR sequel might gain twin-lens rear camera in 2019

 

Rumors suggest Apple’s iPhone XR follow-up will upgrade to a dual-lens rear camera in 2019, potentially delivering the company’s advanced photographic technology to an entry-level smartphone model for the first time.

iPhone XS

As with the iPhone X and XS, one lens would be wide-angle and the other telephoto, Mac Otakara said on Friday, citing information from Chinese suppliers. The current XR has a single wide-angle lens, identical to recent base level iPhone offerings.

Traditionally Apple has used telephoto lenses for two purposes, the first being 2x optical zoom instead of digital enlargement. The second, though, is Portrait Mode photos accomplished in the iOS Camera app — the telephoto becomes the primary lens, while the wide-angle captures depth data used to isolate the subject and simulate DSLR-style bokeh.

The XR employs specialized algorithms to achieve a similar Portrait effect, but the resulting image is zoomed-out and not necessarily as accurate as its XS counterpart.

Multiple reports have pointed to flagship 5.8- and 6.5-inch “XI” and “XI Max” OLED iPhones coming with a triple-lens camera, the third lens possibly being a super-wide unit. Mac Otakara added that two out of three lenses/sensors may be used as common parts to keep costs down.

Separate design changes may include iPad-style mute switches and the use of 3D-molded rear glass, even covering the phones’ larger camera bumps. That same all-glass design is expected with the dual-camera XR successor, which could rely on a familiar 6.1-inch LCD screen, the report said.

It is also possible that the new phones will include USB-C to Lightning cables and 18-watt USB-C power adapters, but keep Lightning as their wired data type.

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3D printed ‘2019 iPhone’ lineup compared to iPhone XS, XS Max and XR

 

Supposed replicas of Apple’s next-generation iPhone lineup are beginning to circulate in Asia ahead of an expected release this fall, offering an opportunity to compare the mockups’ physical dimensions with existing models.

2019 iPhone Mockup

In a report on Thursday, Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara compares and contrasts a set of 3D printed “iPhone XI” mockups obtained from an Alibaba marketplace source with Apple’s existing iPhone XR and XS models. Specifically, the samples depict 6.1- and 6.5-inch OLED-toting handsets rumored to arrive in September as refreshes to the iPhone XR and XS Max.

The dummies were created using supposedly leaked CAD files, though the origin of the data remains undisclosed. Earlier today, graphical mockups of a 5.8-inch OLED model, thought to replace the iPhone XS, hit the web and were based on “final CAD renders of the device.”

Whether the two CAD leaks are related is unknown.

Mac Otakara notes the 6.1-inch version measures in at 143.9mm tall, 71.3mm wide and 7.9 mm thick, which is approximately 0.3mm taller, 0.4mm wider and 0.2mm thicker than the 5.8-inch iPhone XS. That extra space could allow for the inclusion of a larger 6.1-inch display, as claimed in the report, but Apple would likely need to slim down bezel size to make the screen fit. How the supposed change impacts screen ratio is unclear.

Compared to the current iPhone XR, which boasts a 6.1-inch LCD, the 6.1-inch mockup is 6.1mm shorter, 4.3mm more narrow and 0.4mm slimmer.

As for the 6.5-inch version, the mockup comes in at 157.6mm tall, 77.6mm wide and 8.1mm thick, roughly 0.1mm taller, 0.2mm wider and 0.4mm thinner than the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max.

Both mockups incorporate a large square camera “bump” that features three lenses in a triangular layout alongside a single TrueTone flash module.

The publication conducted a similar comparison of mockups from Alibaba last year, a test that yielded largely accurate results and foreshadowed what would become iPhone XR, XS and XS Max.

Apple is expected to refresh its iPhone lineup later this year with so-called “iPhone XI” models. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the smartphones will include camera improvements like a super-wide rear-facing lenser and an improved 12 megapixel front-facing camera. As for displays, Kuo believes Apple to carry over OLED technology for the 5.8- and 6.5-inch versions, while others, namely Mac Otakara, predict a move to OLED for the 6.1-inch model.

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Sprint, AT&T reach settlement in lawsuit over rebranding 4G as ‘5G E’

 

A settlement has emerged in Sprint’s lawsuit against AT&T, which accused the rival carrier of “blatantly misleading consumers” with its use of the term “5G E” to market high-speed 4G connections.

AT&T 5G E on iPhone

“We have amicably settled this matter,” an AT&T spokesperson explained to the Dallas Business Journal. The exact terms of the agreement haven’t been made public.

AT&T will, however, get to keep using “5G E,” according to other Journal sources. If true, that would suggest Sprint was compensated or simply decided to drop legal action.

AT&T first began using “5G E” around early January, for instance showing the label on connected iPhones. That drew an outcry not just from Sprint but T-Mobile and Verizon, all of which have held off on the 5G label outside of authentic networks.

U.S. 5G is still in its earliest phases. Verizon has marginal coverage in Chicago and Minneapolis, and while AT&T did launch real 5G in December, that’s only in the form of a portable hotspot — phone support is still in progress.

iPhones aren’t expected to include 5G modems until 2020. That may be a result the now-ended Apple v. Qualcomm battle, as well as slow development by Intel. Indeed Intel dropped out of the 5G race shortly after the Qualcomm settlement.

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‘iPhone XI’ and ‘iPhone XI Max’ case manufacturing dummies pop up on Chinese social media

 

A pair of images of an “iPhone XI” dummy for manufacturing purposes purports to show accurate dimensions of the 2019 iPhone lineup, including a square camera extrusion.

The images appear to be 3d prints or milled units from a CAD file. Discussion of the dummies suspects them to be iPhone “blanks” matching the dimensions of a future iPhone, used to engineer protective third-party cases.

Little can be gleaned from the blanks that hasn’t already been rumored. The camera penetration is square, with three areas where a camera lens would be located. A fourth smaller cutout in the camera extrusion suggests where the flash may end up on the final unit.

The second image shows that Apple may be planning to retain the notch. The notch shows four sensor penetrations, and a speaker hole.

The provenance of the images isn’t clear. They may in fact be dummies generated from leaked specifications, in much the same way that accurate enclosure dummies were available for the iPhone X and iPhone XS families in late April of 2017 and 2018, respectively. Notably, at the corresponding times, the names for the products were not accurate. However, they may also be pure speculation based on previous rumors.

Previous predictions about the 2019 iPhone lineup speculate that the rear cameras of the expected 6.5-inch OLED, 5.8-inch OLED, and 6.1- inch LCD 2019 iPhone models will likely upgrade to triple-camera and dual-camera, respectively. More specifically, a Sony-provided super-wide camera will be added to the model. A new black coating will be used to make the camera “inconspicuous,” but what precisely that entails is not presently known.

Ming-Chi Kuo has also speculated that the 2019 iPhone lineup will retain a Lightning connector rather than adopt USB-C, as the iPad Pro range has. iPhones are also expected to keep Apple’s TrueDepth camera and an associated display notch. All or part of the lineup is slated to get UWB (ultra-wide band) for indoor positioning and navigation, a frosted glass casing, and larger batteries. One interesting addition is so-called “bilateral” wireless charging, which would allow the phone to charge other devices wirelessly, acting as a charging pad of sorts.

TrueDepth may see an update with a higher-power flood illuminator for better Face ID recognition, Kuo said, while a new 6.1-inch LCD model might be upgraded to incorporate 4GB of RAM, up from the current 3GB in the iPhone XR.

The Slashleaks post on Saturday was sourced from social media venue Weibo.

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Apple offers four more iPhone tip videos covering Apple Pay Cash, Find my iPhone, Dual SIM

 

Apple has published four more videos to its official YouTube channel in its “iPhone Can Do What?” series, promoting the processing performance, Find my iPhone, Apple Pay Cash, and Dual SIM functionality of the company’s smartphones.

The quartet of videos were released on Tuesday afternoon, following the same style as other iPhone videos published to the channel over the last two weeks. Each video lasts just 15 seconds, but provides a quick illustration of how each feature functions.

The four videos are titled “A chip that lets you work and play faster,” “Find your missing devices,” Send and receive money through iMessage with Apple Pay on iPhone,” and “Have two phone numbers on the same phone with Dual SIM for iPhone.”

Apple frequently places video guides to functions and features of its hardware on its YouTube channels. Recently the Apple website launched a new features page that aims to provide quick overviews of key features, which is similar in concept to the recent videos.