Facebook has begun rolling out support for further 3D Touch actions on compatible iPhones in the latest update to its primary iOS app.
The newest iteration in the social media company’s series of weekly app updates allows iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus owners to use “peek” and “pop” gestures directly from within a Facebook timeline. A light press or “peek” on a profile, link, page, group or photo triggers a preview of the content in question, while a harder press or “pop” opens the link, photo, profile or group.
A new “Quick Action” also comes to the Facebook app icon, with a homescreen shortcut that takes users directly to their account’s profile page.
Original Quick Actions (left); a new Action takes users to their Facebook profile (right).
The introduction of new 3D Touch features follows support for several Quick Actions that Facebook brought to its app back in October. However, unlike the first 3D Touch-equipped update, the company is limiting access to the latest features to “a small group of people,” before rolling them out globally “over the coming months,” reports The Verge.
Despite the potential for frustrating some of its users, Facebook’s gradual rollout strategy is in line with last month’s muted announcement of staggered support for Live Photos, which allows Facebook users to share motion-enabled pictures taken on iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices with followers running iOS 9.
Increased support for 3D Touch comes on the heels of similar features introduced in other Facebook-owned apps, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, while other third-party developers continue to implement and deploy their own support for the pressure-sensitive technology following Apple’s own encouragement to do so.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook traveled to Europe this week to meet with European Commission antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in Brussels on Thursday, before heading to Rome on Friday to meet Pope Francis and Italian developers.
Cook first met with Vestager to lobby against an European tax investigation that could force the iPhone and iPad maker to pay more than $8 billion in back taxes on overseas earnings, according to Bloomberg.
European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Image: Hungary Today)
Apple is accused of operating multiple subsidiaries in Ireland to avoid paying higher taxes outside the United States, where it earns just under 60% of its revenue. Apple books its taxes in Ireland using low operating costs, allowing it to pay a foreign tax rate of only 1.8%, according to the report.
If the European Commission finds wrongdoing with Apple’s corporate arrangement in Ireland, the company’s $64.1 billion in profit generated from 2004 to 2012 could be subject to a higher 12.5% corporate tax rate — just over $8 billion in back taxes.
A decision in the probe could be made by March, but may take longer due to additional information requested by European regulators. Apple continues to deny any wrongdoing, and vows to take the European Commission to court over any negative verdict.
Meanwhile, the agenda of Cook’s meeting with Pope Francis remains private. The 15-minute discussion was held at 11:30 a.m. local time.
Pope Francis is known to incorporate technology into his position and takes to Twitter fairly regularly to share messages, and his old iPad was auctioned for $30,500 last year.
On Thursday, Cook tweeted about Apple’s newly announced iOS development center in Italy, and said the company has created over 1.4 million jobs across Europe.
Apple has created over 1.4m jobs across Europe 🇪🇺 and we're announcing a center for aspiring iOS developers in Italy https://t.co/v9RLYX6u6u
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 21, 2016
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 22, 2016
http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsCook met some of those iOS developers on Friday alongside Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.
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.
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For the past couple of months, Twitter users who click shortened “t.co” links with an HTTPS URL have noticed a frequent, irritating bug that prevents content from loading. Oftentimes, when a “t.co” link is clicked, it opens up a blank web page and hangs at a loading screen for several minutes before giving an error message.
Aside from reloading the t.co URL several times, removing the “https” from the URL, or switching to a different browser, there’s no way to fix the link loading issue. Clearing Safari’s cached files also helps, but only temporarily. Chrome and Firefox aren’t affected, nor are links that do not use HTTPS.
In a recent post on the issue, The Verge uncovered a January 14 tweet from Timothy Hatcher, a WebKit Developer Experience Manager at Apple. Hatcher says the problem is lower level than WebKit (Safari is built on WebKit) and that Apple has a fix identified.
Hatcher did not specify when the fix might be implemented, and it is unclear if it could come in a standalone Safari update or if a full OS X update will be required.
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AnandTech today published an in-depth iPad Pro review with detailed hardware and software analysis, including an interesting performance comparison between the tablet’s dual-core A9X chip and Intel’s Core M processors.
The test was conducted to determine to what level Apple’s custom ARM chips have caught up to the performance of Intel’s Core M lineup, given Apple’s continued advancements in architecture and manufacturing, compared to Intel’s slower rate of growth over its last few generations of Core processors.
The review pitted the iPad Pro’s A9X chip against various Core M devices, including the Broadwell-based 12-inch Retina MacBook with a low-end Core M chip and ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi with a high-end Core M chip, and Skylake-based ASUS ZenBook UX305CA with a base-tier Core m3 CPU.
The SPECint2006† benchmark results reveal that the iPad Pro is competitive with the Retina MacBook and Asus ZenBook UX305CA in certain tests, winning half of the benchmarks against each device, but the tablet lags behind in overall performance. Meanwhile, the high-end ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi unsurprisingly beat the iPad Pro in every category.
Evidently, Intel’s Core M lineup continues to lead in overall performance, but Apple is quickly closing the gap.
A9X can compete with both Broadwell and Skylake Core M processors, and that’s something Apple couldn’t claim even a generation ago. That it’s only against the likes of Core m3 means that Apple still has a way to go, particularly as A9X still loses by more than it wins, but it’s significant progress in a short period of time and I’ll wager that it’s closer than Intel would like to be, especially if Apple puts A9X into a cheaper iPad Air in the future.
In this scenario, Apple would replace the Intel chips it currently uses in Macs with custom designed A-series chips, allowing the company to better time processor upgrades with new product launches. On multiple occasions, Apple has had to hold off on updating its Mac lineup while waiting for Intel’s latest generations of processors.
In January 2015, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo projected that Apple could begin launching ARM-based Macs within one or two years based on its custom chip designs. As these A9X benchmarks show, however, the use of A-series chips in Macs would very likely be limited to lower-end devices like the 12-inch Retina MacBook at first.
In May 2014, French website MacBidouille reported that Apple has prototyped several ARM-based machines, including an iMac, Mac mini and 13″ notebook with 4-8 64-bit ARM quad-core processors, and new keyboards with large-format Magic Trackpads, but many doubted the feasibility of moving forward with such a plan.
Nearly two years later, the prospect of Apple releasing ARM-based Mac remains questionable, especially for high-end Macs, but the A9X chip is evidence that Apple’s A-series processors are increasingly rivaling the performance of Intel’s entry-level offerings. At the very least, it gives Apple options moving forward.
† SPECint2006 is a CPU-intensive cross-platform benchmark that tests processors based on a wide range of real-life usage scenarios, ranging from video compression to PERL execution to AI. For a detailed technical explanation of the SPEC CPU benchmark and its 12 sub-benchmarks, read the full review.
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Rumors suggesting Apple is working on an updated 4-inch iPhone have been circulating since the launch of the iPhone 6, but information that’s leaked out about the device has varied quite a bit between news sources. While some rumors pointed towards a 4-inch iPhone equivalent in power to the iPhone 6s, others suggested it would be a lower-end device modeled after the iPhone 5s.
New information shared by 9to5Mac and Chinese website MyDrivers [Google Translate] adds to the growing body of evidence pointing towards an iPhone 5s-style device that’s a step down from the iPhone 6s, potentially set to be called the “iPhone 5se” to denote its position as an upgraded version of the iPhone 5s.
With the iPhone 5se, Apple may be aiming to introduce a device that’s going to deliver up-to-date features to customers who prefer smaller devices while still refraining from competing with its flagship 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.
The 4-inch iPhone in development is rumored to look like an iPhone 5s
Recent rumors have suggested the 4-inch iPhone will have a body that’s similar enough to the iPhone 5s that the two devices will be able to share cases and other accessories, but there will be some design differences. The shiny edges that were featured on the iPhone 5s will be replaced with a curved cover glass like the iPhone 6 and 6s.
The iPhone 5se is expected to incorporate the same 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera used in the iPhone 6, along with an improved autofocusing ability, support for larger panoramas, and the ability to capture Live Photos (but no 3D Touch). As has been rumored, it will include an NFC chip to enable Apple Pay, and features like Bluetooth 4.2, VoLTE, and 802.11ac WiFi. It may be available in Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold, or just three of those colors. Rumors are unclear.
According to 9to5Mac, the iPhone 5se will use the same A8 and M8 chips that are in the iPhone 6, while the report from MyDrivers suggests it could come with an A9 chip. Rumors about Apple’s 4-inch iPhone have consistently disagreed on the chip that it will use, split between the A8 and the A9.
MyDrivers supplies additional information on RAM, pricing, and battery life. In a somewhat questionable claim, the site says that Apple is sourcing 1GB and 1.2GB RAM from two suppliers. Previous rumors have said the 4-inch iPhone will include 1GB RAM.
The iPhone 5se may include a 1,624 mAh battery, which would last longer than the battery in the iPhone 5s, and according to MyDrivers, it may only be available in 16 and 64GB capacities at prices that start at 3688 Yuan or $560.
Mass production on the 4-inch screen for iPhone 5se is said to have kicked off this week, and while iPhone 6c/5se rumors have disagreed on many prospective features, all rumors have pointed towards an early 2016 release date. Apple is said to be planning a March event to unveil new products, and it’s possible that could be where Apple is planning to debut its 4-inch iPhone.
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With its lineup of Apple Watch accessories launching since the device’s debut last year, Pad & Quill has been steadily expanding its roster of made-for-Apple products with new bands and docks. I’ve previously gotten my hands on the company’s Classic Watch Band and Timber Catchall and Timber Nightstand Apple Watch docks, and while some of them appealed to me more than others — the Timber Catchall was simply too large for me at the end of the day — the company’s quality was evident in everything I saw.
As a more masculine alternative to the Classic Watch Band, Pad & Quill has also started offering the $129.95 Lowry Leather Cuff for the Apple Watch, exclusively for the larger 42mm models. The design of the band extends slightly beyond the case of the Apple Watch itself, adding a stocky look to Apple’s already thick wearable device. The Lowry Cuff has a few minor quibbles that resurface on a daily basis (mainly centering around the accessory’s overall size), but they never overshadow Pad & Quill’s quality aesthetic, especially for anyone looking for a larger band like this.
Apple is rumored to be planning to host a March event to unveil new products, but exact details on what will be shown off at the event have been in flux. An early December rumor from 9to5Mac suggested Apple would use the event to unveil a second-generation Apple Watch, but a report from TechCrunch indicated that rumor was false – no Apple Watch 2 is in the works for an early 2016 launch.
Instead, TechCrunch shared information indicating something smaller but still watch-related could be introduced in March, perhaps a minor update to add a FaceTime camera or new bands and partnerships similar to Apple’s collaboration with Hermès. In a new report on what may come out at the March event, 9to5Mac backtracks on earlier claims of an Apple Watch 2 and instead agrees with TechCrunch, pointing towards a new Apple Watch lineup with new bands but no hardware changes.
At its September 2015 event, Apple introduced its Hermès partnership and debuted new colors for several Apple Watch bands, and we may see the same kind of update at the March event. New colors for existing bands and bands in new materials may be in the works. Apple is also planning to release watchOS 2.2 at or shortly after the event.
Apple’s March event may also see the debut of the rumored 4-inch iPhone, now thought to be called the “iPhone 5se” to reflect its position as a successor to the iPhone 5s. The device is said to have an iPhone 5s-style exterior with iPhone 6-style curved cover. Internally, it will feature an A8 or A9 processor, NFC support for Apple Pay, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and while it won’t have 3D Touch, it will be capable of taking Live Photos.
Previous rumors have suggested we could also see the next-generation iPad Air at the March event, as it is said to be debuting in the spring of 2016.
Though no Apple Watch 2 update is planned for early 2016, a second-generation update is undoubtedly in the works. It’s possible Apple could be planning to release a new Apple Watch in the fall months alongside the iPhone 7.
Apple’s plans for a March event remain tentative, and should products not be ready for release, there’s a possibility that it could be canceled in favor of an online-only unveiling and announcement for the 4-inch iPhone and new Apple Watch bands.
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Google made $31 billion in revenue from Android, according to a court filing by Oracle.
Oracle is engaged in a protracted lawsuit against Google, over its alleged infringement in Android of two of Oracle’s Java-related patents. In a hearing last week, Oracle’s counsel claimed that Google not only makes money off Android, it does so on a large scale: $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit since 2008.
It’s important to note that these figures didn’t come from Google directly. It looks like Oracle calculated the profits based on documents provided by Google. Because Oracle wants compensation from Google, it benefits from a higher estimate, so take it with a grain of salt.
On the other side, Google is in a tricky situation: publicly admitting it makes a lot of money from Android bolsters Oracle’s financial claims, while denying it could spook investors worried that Android is a money sink. That’s why Google has always been tightlipped about Android financial data.
Android is, of course, free to use by any OEM. So how is Google able to make billions in profits from it?
We can only guess, but two sources stand out: mobile advertising and app sales.
Mobile advertising is clearly the main source of revenue when it comes to Android. We know – also thanks to Oracle’s lawyers – that Google paid Apple $1 billion to be the default search engine on iPhones and iPads in 2014. That’s just the tax that Google had to pay for the privilege, so the actual iOS revenue is likely a few times larger.
iOS users are more lucrative compared to Android users from an advertising perspective, because, on average, they have larger incomes and they are more likely to buy stuff online. But Android users are much more numerous than iOS users. In September 2015, Google said there were 1.4 billion Android devices in use worldwide. Even with a lower average revenue per user, the money that Google makes from ads shown on Android devices is probably significantly larger than the iOS revenue. And, there is no Apple tax to pay.
Google makes money from the ads that are displayed when users search via its app and online. Many people also use YouTube, Google Maps, Drive, Gmail, and Google’s many other apps and services. Google shows ads in some of these services, but it also analyzes user data to improve the relevancy of the ads it serves in other places. And, because every phone user has to sign in with their unique account when setting up a phone, the data is accurate and highly personal.
Google also makes a few cents whenever you click one of those ads shown in many ad-supported apps.
Now mobile advertising makes Google less money than computer searches, because the value of a “click” is generally smaller. But mobile usage increases every year, and thanks to Android and its suite of apps, Google has a network of capillaries extracting money out of the entire ecosystem.
Apps are the second big source of money for Google. The company takes a cut from every sale app developers make on the Play Store. And it’s a big store, with over 1.5 million apps, out of which a big chunk are paid apps or apps that offer in-app purchases. Google takes a 30% cut out of every sale, offering in exchange the platform and some of the required infrastructure, including a cloud system for delivering notifications.
Android apps tend to generate less revenue compared to iOS apps, for the same reason iOS users tend to be more valuable from an advertiser’s point of view. Revenue from Apple apps is 70% larger than Android apps revenue, despite the fact that Android apps have twice the number of installs. All that considered, thanks to the sheer size of the Android platform, it’s safe to say that Google makes a decent chunk of money out of its 30% cut of app revenue. That chuck is only getting bigger, as Android app installations continue to grow rapidly.
Google said during Google I/O 2015 that in 2014 alone it paid $7 billion to developers. At a 70% developer share, the revenue from Android apps in 2014 was an impressive $10 billion.
Play Store media
Google also makes some money from the media side of the Play Store. Paid music, movies, books, and subscriptions are just a tap away for hundreds of millions of users, so even with a low usage rate, it’s fair to assume that there’s a steady trickle of money coming in from this source.
Mobile advertising and app sales are the biggest sources of Android revenue for Google. The company sells some hardware, but with the small profit margins that hardware allows, that money is largely insignificant. The same can be said about ventures like Android Pay and Project Fi.
Google does not make money from Android in itself. Anyone can take the Android source code and use it on any device. Likewise, Google doesn’t make money from licensing its suite of mobile Android apps. Apps like Google and YouTube are free, even though manufacturers reportedly have to pay third-party testing companies six-figure sums to ensure that their devices meet Google’s compatibility requirements.
Getting back to the revenues claimed by Oracle, how realistic is the $31 billion figure? Well, we know that in Q3 2012, Google boasted 500 million active Android devices and a mobile revenue run rate of $8 billion (including iOS). In the same quarter of 2011, it was just $2.5 billion.
Since then, the number of Android devices nearly tripled and the number of iOS devices ballooned as well. Plus, in 2016, Android has far more mobile apps and Play Store content. All this considered, the $31 billion lifetime estimate doesn’t look too farfetched. For what is worth, Google did not dispute this figure, it just wanted it to be made confidential. It’s even possible that the sum is actually smaller than reality, depending on how Oracle defines revenues.
At the very least, it’s clear that critics that derided Google for not making any money from Android were terribly wrong.
Someday we might be able to explore Machu Picchu or walk around the plains of New Zealand ourselves. But climb a steep, icy mountain that’s known as the highest peak in the European Union? Yeah, we’ll stick to Google Street View. Google has joined forces with mountaineers, skiers, climbers and alpine photographers to capture the great Mont Blanc on camera. Its Street View page offers four different experiences: you can run up and down the summit, climb ice cliffs and even ski.
If you have absolutely no thirst for adventure (even virtual ones), though, you can check it out for the sake of seeing what Mont Blanc looks like today. The Mer de Glace valley glacier on the northern part of the mountain range where it’s located is melting due to rising temperatures. It’s affecting the mountain itself, and it might not be the same in a few years’ time.
Social media, video streaming and even online gaming, you name it, our smartphones are better connected than ever and we’re consuming more and more data as a result. 4G LTE is the current generation of wireless technology making all of this a reality, and at much faster speeds than the older 3G and 2G standards.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the technical aspects of how LTE works and the hardware associated with it, along with the benefits and how it all relates to the smartphone in your pocket.
How 4G LTE works
The most notable differences from LTE’s predecessors is the change in frequency and bandwidth usage. There are a wide number of 4G LTE bands defined by the standard, the usage of which will vary depending on your country and even your specific carrier’s technology.
These frequencies are split into Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) and Time Division Duplexing (TDD) types. FDD spectrum requires pair bands, one for uplink and one for downlink. TDD uses a single band as uplink and downlink on the same frequency, but these are time separated instead. There are 31 pairs of LTE bands that operate between 452MHz and 3600MHz and an additional 12 TDD bands between 703MHz and 3800MHz. Higher frequencies allow for faster transmission in built up areas, while lower frequencies offer additional coverage distance, but more limited bandwidth. These bands typically offer between 10 and 20MHz of bandwidth for data transfer, although they are also commonly split up into smaller 1.4, 3 and 5MHz chunks too.
FDD is the LTE variation that is regularly seen in North American, European, and some Asian markets. TDD has been implemented in China and India as the wider bandwidth allows for more users per Mhz. This is why you should always be careful to double check LTE bands and carrier compatibility when importing phones from other countries.
LTE uses two different radio links for downlink and uplink, that is, from tower to device, and vice versa. For the downlink, LTE uses an OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access), which requires MIMO. MIMO, which stands for Multiple Input, Multiple Output, uses two or more antennas to reduce latency significantly and boost speeds within a given channel. Standard LTE can accommodate up to a 4×4 arrangement (the first digit is the number of transmit antennas, and the second, the number of receive antennas).
For the uplink (from device to tower), LTE uses a SC-FDMA (single carrier frequency division multiple access) signal. SC-FDMA is better for uplink because it has a better peak-to-average power ratio.
Speeds and LTE-A
With that jargon out of the way, the major benefit for consumers with 4G LTE is faster download speeds. Although the quality and speed for your connection will clearly vary based on the number of users and the strength of the signal, most LTE networks provide between 10 and 20 Mbps download speeds, according to the latest OpenSignal research. The fastest 4G LTE countries boasts up to 50Mbps download speeds, although in reality these top out somewhere around 35Mbps.
For comparison, older 3G networks can vary quite widely in their actual results. HSPA networks can peak at around 14Mbps download and 6Mbps upload, but rarely come close to this. Typically, a good LTE network is at least 3 to 5 times faster than the best 3G coverage.
LTE theoretical speeds can peak at 100 Mbps download and around 50 Mbps upload. If we are to achieve higher speeds, we need to increase the amount of available bandwidth. LTE-Advanced introduces 8×8 MIMO in the Downlink and 4×4 in the Uplink, which allows for multiple carrier bands to be aggregated together, to improve signal strength and bandwidth. Each LTE band has a bandwidth of either 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15 or 20 MHz, giving us a maximum bandwidth of 100MHz with five combined, although this will vary depending on the bandwidth available in your particular area.
Theoretically, these provide a maximum download speed of approximately 3.3Gbps and 1.5 Gbps upload. However, the hardware modem found inside your smartphone probably isn’t quite that fast and network coverage certainly isn’t good enough to meet that criteria yet.
From the perspective of a network carrier, the network architecture for LTE is greatly simplified from its predecessors because LTE is an Internet Protocol (IP) based packet-switched network only. The early trade-off was that these networks didn’t have the capability to handle voice calls and text messages natively, but the introduction of VoIP and LTE-A services has begun bringing these features to customers.
The tech inside your phone
As you have probably figured out, 4G LTE has been an evolving standard and it continues to change as we move towards a future with 5G technology. As such, the hardware inside our smartphones has changed over the years to keep pace with faster LTE networks.
To keep things relatively simple, user equipment is split into a number of different categories, each designed to offer a set of features and speeds based on a specification release. This is often the number that you’ll see listed on a smartphone specification sheet. Release 10 introduced the speed and MIMO improvements that come with LTE-Advanced, but there are a number of newer Release 12 categories on the way too. Here’s a comparison of how some of them break down.
|Max Download||Max Upload||MIMO Config.||Release #|
|Category 6||300Mbps||51Mbps||2 or 4||10|
|Category 9||450Mbps||51Mbps||2 or 4||11|
|Cateogy 10||450Mbps||102Mbps||2 or 4||12|
|Cateogy 12||600Mbps||102Mbps||2 or 4||12|
While not necessary, mobile SoC manufacturers often bundle 4G LTE modems alongside their processing components into the main chip, as it is such an essential technology. This helps save on development time and costs. For example, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 features a the company’s own Cat 9 X10 LTE modem, while the Snapdragon 820 comes with a faster X12 modem with Category 12 support, both with 3 band carrier aggregation.
MediaTek’s top-end Helio X20 features a LTE-A Cat 6 modem, as does the Samsung built Exynos 7420 found inside its Galaxy S6 range of smartphones. While supporting higher speeds is clearly better, remember that most LTE networks aren’t close to pushing these peak speeds yet, so there’s no rush to be right on the cutting edge of modem technology in order to enjoy faster data speeds.
The road to 5G
The roll-out of fast 4G LTE networks isn’t over yet, there are still many more customers to bring online and infrastructure to improve across the globe. Even legacy technologies are set to stick around for a good while yet. 4G adoption is expected to grow from around 7 billion connections in 2015 to almost 9 billion by 2020.
However, that hasn’t stopped us looking forward to the future and the even faster 5G connection standard is already under development. 5G networks will be required to offer sub-1ms latency and downlink speeds greater than 1Gbps in the real world, not just theoretical maximums. The 5G standard is also being designed to accommodate a huge number of smaller IoT connected devices, while simultaneously attempting to address concerns over growing energy consumption.
We’re still a way off from consumer deployment of 5G, but the testing of networks capable of meeting these targets have already begun in South Korea and US carrier Verzion has its own tests planned for later this year.