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20
Aug

Fitbit Announces ‘Charge 3’ Fitness Tracker Launching in October for $150


Fitbit today announced the “Fitbit Charge 3,” its latest fitness tracker that includes improvements to health and workout features, a 7-day battery life, and advanced sleep tracking with an upcoming “Sleep Score” beta. The Charge 3 is completely swimproof and includes a touchscreen display, but is considered a “tracker” and not a “smartwatch,” like the Fitbit Versa or Apple Watch.

The Charge 3 has an aluminum case, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display, and a 40 percent larger OLED display than the Charge 2. Additionally, the company says that the Charge 3 has “the most advanced health and fitness features” on one of its trackers to date, including the addition of a relative SpO2 sensor that can estimate changes in blood oxygen levels to track new health indicators, like sleep apnea.

Other health features include:

Goal-based exercise modes: Choose from 15+ exercise modes like bike, swim, run, weights and yoga; set a goal for calories burned, distance or duration, and see real-time stats, progress and celebrations on device when you reach your goal.

Water resistant to 50M: Wear in the shower, rain, pool or ocean. See real-time duration on your wrist with Swim Mode, or use SmartTrack® automatic exercise recognition to see laps and pace in the Fitbit app post-swim.

Female health tracking: Gain a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle by using the Fitbit app to log your period and ovulation (coming soon), record symptoms and compare cycle trends over time. With all your health and fitness stats in one place, you can better manage your health; easily see where you are in your cycle in the on-device dashboard.

Personalized insights: Know yourself to improve your health with new dynamic insights about your activity, heart rate, nutrition and sleep to help you reach your goals with positive reinforcement and tips to course correct when needed (coming soon in the Fitbit app).

For the Sleep Score beta, the company says that users will be able to access this feature later in the year. Sleep Score will provide users with a nightly score so they can see a “more complete picture” of their overall sleep quality and what factors could be negatively affecting it.


Like other Fitbit trackers, the Charge 3 can also display smartphone notifications for calls, texts, and other apps. Fitbit Pay will be available on the Charge 3 Special Edition, letting users checkout at NFC-compatible locations using the smart tracker.

There is also a new line of accessories for the Charge 3, including classic bands, sports bands, woven bands, and Horween leather bands. These accessories range from $29.95 to $49.95.

The Fitbit Charge 3 itself is available to pre-order today on Fitbit.com (and other retailers tomorrow) for $149.95 in black with a graphite aluminum case or blue gray with a rose gold aluminum case. The Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition with Fitbit Pay will cost $169.95. The tracker will officially launch in stores this October in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Tag: Fitbit
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20
Aug

2018 iPhones May Feature Faster and More Efficient Wireless Charging With Switch to Copper Coil


A translated China Times report today claims that the wireless charging coil on at least one of Apple’s widely rumored trio of 2018 iPhones will be made from copper wire instead of FPC, short for ferrite polymer composite, allowing for both faster and more efficient wireless charging from a technical standpoint.

iPhone X’s wireless charging coil visible under X-ray via iFixit/Creative Electron
Essentially, the report claims that Apple will be switching from thinner FPC coils with higher resistance to thicker copper wire coils with lower resistance for the wireless charging receiver built into iPhones.

Since high power and high efficiency are the trend of wireless charging, it is expected that at least one of the three iPhones in 2018 will abandon the FPC to adopt a copper coil solution to achieve the above goal, and because the copper wire coil resistance is small. It can also offset the thermal effects generated by the increase in power.

The reduced resistance would allow Apple to increase the power threshold that iPhones can safely handle via wireless charging, without overheating, which could result in faster and more efficient charging via Qi-certified mats, although this would still depend on the wattage that a particular mat outputs.

For context, FPC is a mixture of iron, at least one other metal, and plastic, whereas copper is a more pure material. Both have electromagnetic induction properties, making them suitable for wireless charging coils.

The latest iPhones support wireless charging at up to 7.5W, which actually isn’t much faster than wired charging with a 5W power adapter, due to the efficiency limitations of the FPC coil. The switch to copper would yield improvements, assuming that Apple found a way to fit the thicker coil in its next iPhones.

Apple is expected to unveil its 2018 iPhones at Steve Jobs Theater in September, but the company has yet to announce a date for the event.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhonesTag: chinatimes.com
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20
Aug

Dark Sky Updates iOS App With New Design, Unified Timeline, and Improved Notifications


Popular iOS and Android weather app Dark Sky has updated with “one of the biggest overhauls” to date, according to a new blog post that the company shared online today.

The update introduces a new visual look and the home screen now has a “unified timeline,” which combines various aspects of your local forecast onto one page instead of separating them into multiple areas. Now, you can view the current conditions, next hour rain, next 24 hours, and next week forecasts in one scrollable tab.

At the top of the Forecast tab Dark Sky now has a precipitation map below the current temperature and next-hour graph. This should “provide more context” to forecasts when quickly launching the app, according to the developers.

For the next 24 hours forecast, you can tap between the temperature, “feels-like” temperature, precipitation, wind, wind gust, humidity, dew point, UV index, and cloud cover by scrolling through the red text under the graph. This updates the graph with the relevant information, and is also available to look at for days in the upcoming week.

At the bottom of this tab is a “Time Machine” feature that shows the weather going back decades, and can also provide seasonal average weather for days beyond the next week. Grossman points out that this can be useful for planning trips and vacations.

The previous Dark Sky (left) compared to the new (right)
The next major addition is a saved locations feature, which is a standard addition to many weather apps that Dark Sky has lacked over the years. Now, you can save multiple locations in the app to check the weather in different cities by swiping the forecast left or right.

Notifications have been improved, with custom notifications that let you create your own weather alerts for the conditions you care about. Instead of alerts solely tied to precipitation, now you can create push notifications that warn you about high UV indexes and more. To do this, you will have to set location access to “always” for Dark Sky in the iOS settings app and allow notifications.

There are also new updates to the app’s iconography and completely rewritten internals:

We’re incredibly grateful to The Iconfactory for redesigning our set of weather icons. Gone are the stark black-and-white glyphs, having been replaced with more easily recognizable — and colorful — icons and buttons.

This update isn’t just a visual refresh: On iOS, we’ve completely rewritten the internals of the app from scratch. It is, effectively, an entirely new app. This means it should be far more stable and responsive, it loads faster, and it sets us up to much more easily incorporate new features and enhancements in the future.

Dark Sky has been a popular third-party alternative to Apple’s own Weather iOS app for a few years now, particularly for its ability to warn you about impending bad weather. Apple has highlighted the Dark Sky app and its useful features in the past, particularly in a short Apple Watch commercial titled “Rain” from 2016.


Grossman says that with the launch of the new update, users can expect to see “more frequent” updates as well from now on, with new features already in the works. Dark Sky users on iOS and Android can get the new update for free starting today, and those who haven’t downloaded the app yet can do so for $3.99.

Tag: Dark Sky
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20
Aug

2018 iPhone Pre-orders to Take Place on September 14 According to German Carriers


Pre-orders for Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup will take place on Friday, September 14, according to information Macerkopf sourced from German carriers.

German mobile service providers are said to be planning for pre-orders that will take place on September 14, which would suggest an announcement earlier in the week, perhaps on September 11 or 12.

Apple often announces new iPhones during the second week of September, so we have been counting on an event right around September 12. A September 14 pre-order date is in line with past pre-order and event dates, which are listed below:

  • 2010 – Monday, June 7
  • 2011 – Tuesday, October 4
  • 2012 – Wednesday, September 12
  • 2013 – Tuesday, September 10
  • 2014 – Tuesday, September 9
  • 2015 – Wednesday, September 9
  • 2016 – Wednesday, September 7
  • 2017 – Tuesday, September 12

Apple typically unveils new iPhones on Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays, but because Tuesday falls on September 11, there has been some speculation that Apple will avoid holding an event on that day.

Back in 2012, when September 11 also fell on a Tuesday, Apple opted to hold its event on Wednesday, September 12 instead, and it’s believed Apple will do the same thing this year.

Following the September 14 pre-order date, iPhones will begin delivering to customers the following Friday, September 21, which will probably be the official launch date for the device.

Apple is expected to send out media invites for its event at the end of August, which is when the date will be confirmed. This year’s event is likely to be held at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple Park campus.

This year, Apple is rumored to be unveiling three new iPhones, all of which will sport edge-to-edge displays, no Home button, and support for Face ID. There will be a second-generation 5.8-inch OLED iPhone, a larger 6.5-inch OLED iPhone, and a more affordable 6.1-inch LCD iPhone.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones
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20
Aug

Apple Investigating Battery Incident at Amsterdam Store, No Customers or Employees Required Medical Attention


Yesterday afternoon, first responders were called to an Apple Store in Amsterdam, reportedly due to a leaking iPad battery on the premise. Apple has since confirmed that it is investigating the incident, but ensures that the store has been declared safe, and that there were no injuries of any kind reported.

Image Credit: AS Media
MacRumors received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson:

We’re currently investigating the incident that took place at Apple Amsterdam on Sunday. Our staff were able to evacuate customers quickly and safely and the store re-opened shortly afterwards.

Apple says no customers were impacted, nor did any employees end up requiring any medical attention. The local fire department and medical professionals were alerted as a precautionary measure only. Apple says the fire department declared the store and damaged device, safe, shortly afterwards.

At 2:20 p.m. local time on Sunday, the Amsterdam fire department had tweeted that crews were on the scene. The tweet confirmed there was “no smoke” at the store, but three people with possible respiratory issues.

A spokesperson for the fire department cited a “leaking battery pack” as the probable cause of the incident, which reportedly caused panic among customers more than anything. It was an unfortunate situation, for sure, but headlines claiming an iPad battery exploded or burst into smoke and flames are inaccurate.

Our understanding, based on an anonymous but corroborated tip, is that a damaged iPad was sitting on a shelf in a back room, in a queue of devices to be repaired by Genius Bar technicians. At some point, employees noticed that the iPad’s battery was leaking, and took the same precautionary measures as any thermal event.

The fire department reportedly aired out the store by around 3:00 p.m. local time, after which time it re-opened for business as usual.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
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20
Aug

Apple Seeds Eighth Beta of New watchOS 5 Operating System to Developers


Apple today seeded the eighth beta of an upcoming watchOS 5 update to developers, one week after releasing the seventh beta and over two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

To get the beta, you’ll need the proper configuration profile, which can be obtained through the Apple Developer Center. Once the profile is in place, the watchOS 5 beta can be downloaded using the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update.

To install the update, an Apple Watch needs to have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on an Apple Watch charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone. It’s best to install the beta on a secondary device instead of a primary device as betas have bugs to be worked out.

watchOS 5 is a major update to the watchOS operating system, introducing Activity Competitions so you can compete on workouts with friends, Walkie-Talkie with push-to-talk functionality for quickly communicating with the people you talk to most, and auto workout detection to make it easier to start and stop workouts if you forget.

Other new features include an improved Siri watch face with support for third-party apps through Siri Shortcuts, a dedicated Apple Podcasts app, new Workout types that include Yoga and Hiking, new features for runners, WebKit support for viewing some web content on Apple Watch, and enhanced notifications, which will make notifications on the Apple Watch interactive.

watchOS 5 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers (because there’s no way to downgrade Apple Watch software), so non-developers will need to wait until the software is officially released in the fall to try it out.

The watchOS 5 update runs on all Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watch models, but it is not available for the first-generation “Series 0” Apple Watch models.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
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20
Aug

Apple Seeds Eighth Beta of macOS Mojave to Developers


Apple today seeded the eighth beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the seventh beta and more than two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

macOS Mojave introduces a new method of installing software updates, so after you’ve installed the initial beta using the appropriate profile from the Developer Center, additional betas can be downloaded through opening up System Preferences and choosing the “Software Update” icon.

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Apple’s macOS Mojave update introduces a systemwide Dark Mode, with Mojave users able to choose between a light theme or the new dark theme, which changes the color of the dock, menu bar, apps, and other elements. Dark Mode is accompanied by Dynamic Desktops, aka wallpapers that subtly change throughout the day. Additional wallpapers were introduced in the fourth and fifth betas.

Stacks, a new desktop organization system, keeps all of your desktop files neat and organized, while Finder has been enhanced with a Gallery View, a Sidebar, a revamped Quick Look option and Quick Actions, so you can do more in the Finder window than ever before.

Screenshots can now be edited using Markup tools and a new management options that also allow for easy screen recording, while Continuity camera, a new feature, allows you to import photos and document scans directly from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac.


The Apple News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps have been ported from iOS to macOS as part of a multiyear project Apple is working on to make it easier to bring iOS apps to Macs, and Apple has introduced several new privacy protections to keep your data safer than ever.

Apple is also making it harder for websites to track you with a range of new Safari tools, and it’s also easier to make and store secure, hard-to-guess passwords for each and every website.

Apple has added an entirely revamped Mac App Store to macOS Mojave that makes it easier to discover apps with a featured section and specific categories for games, creative apps, productivity apps, apps for developers, and more.


macOS Mojave was initially supposed to include a Group FaceTime feature that includes support for chatting with up to 32 people at one time, but it was removed in macOS Mojave beta 7 and the feature won’t be available until later in the year.

macOS Mojave is available to developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of an upcoming fall public release.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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20
Aug

Eighth Beta of tvOS 12 Now Available for Registered Developers


Apple today seeded the eighth beta of a new tvOS 12 operating system to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the seventh beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV, the tvOS 12 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV using a profile that’s installed through the Xcode software. Subsequent betas can be downloaded via the software update mechanism on the Apple TV.

tvOS 12 introduces support for Dolby Atmos sound, which was activated in the second beta. Apple says that when tvOS 12 launches this fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies. Customers that have previously purchased movies that gain Dolby Atmos support will see free upgrades to their titles, much like the rollout of 4K support.

Building on single sign-on, a new zero sign-on feature will further simplify the cable authentication process. With zero sign-on, the Apple TV can detect a user’s broadband network and automatically sign them into supported apps they receive through their accompanying cable subscription.

Zero sign-on will be available for Charter Communications customers this fall and will expand to additional cable providers in the future.

Aerial screensavers now include location information and there are new screensavers captured in collaboration with the International Space Station.


Other improvements tvOS-related improvements include AutoFill passwords from iPhone, an Apple TV Remote automatically added to Control Center on the iPhone or iPad, and Apple TV support on Home control systems like Control4, Crestron, and Savant.

tvOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of a fall public launch.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)
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20
Aug

Apple Seeds Ninth Beta of iOS 12 to Developers


Apple today seeded the ninth beta of an upcoming iOS 12 update to developers for testing purposes, five days after seeding the eighth beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air after installing the proper certificate.

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iOS 12 introduces several major new features, with Apple revamping the operating system from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads, especially the older models, faster and more responsive.

On the iPhone X, there are new Animoji characters along with “Memoji,” which are customizable, personalized, humanoid Animoji that can be used both in Messages and in FaceTime, and there are new camera effects in both of those apps.

Apple originally planned to introduce Group FaceTime support in iOS 12, but the feature was removed in iOS 12 beta 7 and will not be reintroduced until later this fall in a future update to iOS 12.

Siri is smarter in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature that lets you create multi-step customized automations using first and third-party apps that can be activated with Siri voice commands. Shortcuts can be created through the Shortcuts app, available as a beta from Apple’s Developer Center.

Apple built comprehensive time management and monitoring tools into iOS 12 with Screen Time, allowing you to keep track of how much time you’re spending in apps on your iPhone and iPad. App limits can help you cut back on iOS device usage, and robust parental controls are included for families.


Updated Do Not Disturb options make activating Do Not Disturb more intuitive and simple, and a new Do Not Disturb at Bedtime feature cuts down on nighttime distractions and sleep interruptions.


Grouped Notifications make incoming notifications easier to view and manage, while a new Instant Tuning feature lets you tweak your notification settings right on the Lock screen on a notification-by-notification basis.


Apple News has a new Browse feature, the Stocks app has been redesigned and brought to the iPad, iBooks has been overhauled with a new look and a new name — Apple Books — and Voice Memos has been revamped with iCloud support and an iPad app.

ARKit 2.0 introduces new capabilities like shared experiences that let two people see the same AR environment on separate devices, and persistence, which allows AR experiences to be saved across multiple sessions. There’s also a new Apple-built Measure app for measuring objects using AR capabilities.

iOS 12 includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app that uses a new Apple-designed Maps engine that will display foliage, pools, buildings, pedestrian pathways, and other map elements more accurately. The new Maps also includes significant improvements to traffic, real-time road conditions, construction, and more, plus it will enable Apple to push out changes and fixes more quickly.


The updated Maps app is available in the Northern California area during beta testing. After iOS 12 launches, Apple will continue rolling out the new maps to additional U.S. locations across late 2018 and 2019.

Tons of other small tweaks and features have been added to iOS 12, so make sure to check out our dedicated roundup for additional detail on what’s new in iOS 12.

New betas of upcoming operating system updates always introduce tweaked features and new functionality, and we’ll be outlining what’s new in the seventh beta below. We also rounded up all of the changes that were introduced in the previous betas: beta 2 and beta 3, beta 4, beta 5, beta 6, and beta 7.

We’re on beta 9 rather than beta 8 because Apple last week was forced to release an extra iOS beta to address issues in the seventh beta that were causing slow app launch times.

iOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers, with a public launch planned for September alongside new iPhones.

What’s new in iOS 12 beta 9: According to Apple’s release notes, traffic data might not be displayed properly in iOS 12 beta 9. Apple suggests affected customers Tap the ‘i’ button to reveal Maps Settings and toggle the Traffic switch on.

Start and stop times for Downtime might unexpectedly change if they were configured prior to installing the ninth beta, so Downtime start and stop times will need to be reset after updating.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
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20
Aug

Should you buy the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo?


The undisputed champion of wireless charging has something new for you to check out.

samsung-wireless-charger-duo-white.jpg?i

When it comes to wireless chargers, there’s Samsung and then there’s everything else. Samsung chargers are just plain better, from the way they look to the amount of power they dispense, these things are a great addition to any desk or bedside table.

But with the launch of the Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Watch, Samsung took its wireless charging ambitions to the next level. A wireless charger designed to power a watch and a phone at the same time, thanks to multiple sections on the platter to place your devices. It’s not a new idea, and unlike Apple’s version of a multi-device charger it is actually available to purchase immediately after announcement, but should you grab one for yourself?

See at Amazon

Charge all the things

samsung-wireless-charger-duo-note.jpg?it

The cool thing about Samsung’s chargers is the way they follow a global spec, which means you don’t need to have a Samsung-specific device to use it. Like its predecessors, the Wireless Charger Duo will charge anything which also follows the standard Qi charging spec. This applies to the phone side as well as the watch side, in fact you can even charge a phone on the watch side if you really wanted to. Aside from the groove designed to keep a watch from sliding off the pad, the only difference between the left and right side of the pad is the left has a pair of charging coils so you can charge your phone vertically or horizontally. As the right side lays flat, that’s obviously unnecessary.

Unlike its predecessors, you have no control over the angle your phone sits at when charging.

That faster charging side is almost the same as the Fast Charge pad Samsung started selling earlier this year. It charges your phone a little faster than most other wireless chargers, but not quite as fast as a Fast Charge power adapter or a USB-C PD adapter. These are good bedside or desk chargers, but not what you would lean on if you needed a quick top up.

samsung-wireless-charger-duo-size.jpg?it

And if you’re a fan of using a wireless charger on your bedside table, the increased size of the Wireless Charger Duo may be a concern for you. Samsung’s usual chargers are about six inches wide and three inches long, but this Duo charger measures up to be a noticeably larger eight and a half inches wide. And unlike its predecessors, you have no control over the angle your phone sits at when charging.

One very cool thing you’re not going to find with most of the wireless chargers Samsung has made in the past is multiple color options. In the past, these chargers have been a matte black or a dark blue with grippy surfaces everywhere, but the Wireless Charger Duo is available in both a glossy black and a glassy white. This isn’t a huge deal, but the choice is nice if you’re looking for something that won’t stick out terribly in a well-designed room.

Should you buy the Wireless Charger Duo? Probably not

samsung-wireless-charger-duo-box.jpg?ito

If you’ve got a phone and a watch with wireless charging capabilities, the Wireless Charger Duo is a great way to save a power outlet. And it looks nice, especially compared to some of the other chargers out there with multi-device support.

But like anything else, you’re going to pay quite a bit for the privilege. This charger is $120 currently, which is a lot to ask for something that charges your phone. It’s not a huge price leap from the $90 9W fast charger released earlier this year, but even that charger has come down substantially over the last couple of months. In most stores you can find it for $50, which is way less than the cost of a Wireless Charger Duo.

An expensive option

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo

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$120 at Amazon

The Samsung Wireless Charger Duo is nicely-designed and easy to use, but its $120 is way more than twice the price of two excellent high-speed wireless chargers.

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