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Updated: 51 min 11 sec ago

Apple Music Launches New 'Behind the Songs' Hub Focusing on Songwriters and Producers

1 hour 7 min ago
Apple today is rolling out a new hub focused on songwriters, producers, and session musicians. Similar to previous content hubs, "Behind the Songs" is a curated collection of playlists, videos, interviews, and radio shows (via Engadget).


You can find the hub by searching "songwriter" or "songwriters" in Apple Music, although it does still appear to be rolling out and isn't yet available to all users.

In the hub, ‌Apple Music‌ is highlighting its existing playlists like "Song Book" and "Behind the Boards," which are made to showcase specific songwriters and producers in popular music. A series of videos called "Lyrics to Live By" has artists like Dua Lipa and Halsey discussing some of their own songwriting.

Apple's new hub follows a few months after Spotify debuted its own songwriter-focused section, which elevates the people who write and produce the music in every playlist.Tag: Apple Music
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Apple Says iOS 14 Now Installed on 86% of iPhones Introduced in Last Four Years

1 hour 33 min ago
Apple this week provided updated iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 adoption numbers, indicating that iOS 14 is installed on 80% of all active iPhones and on 86% of iPhones introduced in the last four years, as measured by the App Store on February 24.


By comparison, Apple indicated that iOS 14 was installed on 72% of all active iPhones and on 81% of iPhones introduced in the last four years as of December 15.

The adoption numbers also reveal that iPadOS 14 is installed on 70% of all active iPads and on 84% of iPads introduced in the last four years, as measured by the App Store on February 24.


By comparison, Apple indicated that iPadOS 14 was installed on 61% of all active iPads and on 75% of iPads introduced in the last four years as of December 15.

Apple says 12% of all active iPhones are still running iOS 13, and 2% are running even older iOS versions, as of February 24. 14% of all active iPads are still running iPadOS 13, while 16% remain on an even older software version.Related Roundups: iOS 14, iPadOS 14Tag: iOS adoption
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Apple Arcade February 2021 Roundup: 'Lumen' and 'Survival Z'

3 hours 2 min ago
This month, "Lumen" and "Survival Z" arrived on Apple Arcade, joining the expanding library of 146 games already on Apple's exclusive-based mobile gaming subscription service.



Last month, ‌Apple Arcade‌ gained three games: "Oceanhorn: Chronos Dungeon," "NUTS - A Surveillance Mystery," and "Spire Blast." In February, just two new games joined the platform in the puzzle and action genres.

February 5: lumen.
Lumen was the first new game to arrive on ‌Apple Arcade‌ this month, offering a series of mysterious light-based puzzles.



Lumen comes from developer Lykke Studios, which also brought the color-mixing puzzle game "Tint" to ‌‌Apple Arcade‌‌ last year. Lumen encourages players to use light sources, lenses, and mirrors to solve puzzles.

lumen. is a puzzle game with unique mechanics, where you have to solve levels by using lights, mirrors, and lenses.

You will find yourself in the old attic of Olivia McLumen and discover her mysterious vintage lumen box. Olivia McLumen lived in Scotland over 100 years ago and was a great inventor of her time. Solve puzzles to recreate the stories of her inventions!

With carefully considered visual feedback, animations, and music, Lumen creates a distinctive atmosphere and challenges players to solve hundreds of unique puzzles.

February 19: Survival Z
Survival Z is a tower defense survival game from Ember Entertainment, where players start out as a survivor trying to save humanity.



Players can place traps and obstacles to increase their chances of survival, collecting and upgrading equipment to power up their character as they play, and bring other survivors into the fold to fight alongside them.

After the event, humanity lies on the brink while zombies dominate the landscape! You are a survivor. Armed with your wits and bravado, you are determined to save all who remain.

Your goal is clear: find survivors and seek out a way to exterminate the undead menace. Choose your way along randomly generated routes to build and battle your way through environments crawling with zombies.

Survival Z boasts simple controls as players plan out their trap and weapon placement before waves of zombies arrive.

The game features ever-changing routes to create "endless" replayability, so no two runs are the same. There are also unique story events with extra rewards, a wide range of enemy types, 15 playable characters, and 50 unique levels.

Next Up on Apple Arcade: SP!NG
SP!NG, from developer SMG Studio, is a classic, arcade-style game that can be played with just a single touch.

Coming Soon to ‌Apple Arcade‌: SP!NG.

Collect gems and avoid hitting the walls in this physics-based action game that's easy to play, but hard to master.

⏰ Click to get a reminder when it's available: https://t.co/DPOMl3oSeI pic.twitter.com/QxThCZhPfs

— ‌Apple Arcade‌ (@AppleArcade) February 2, 2021

The game has more than 180 different levels, five themes, and 40 characters to unlock. Players will receive daily challenges while playing the game, offering in-game rewards. SP!NG arrives on Friday, March 5.

Coming Soon: Cosy Grove, Farm It, and Wonderbox
There are three new games slated to arrive on ‌Apple Arcade‌ soon in the casual, simulation, and adventure genres.

"Cosy Grove" is a game about camping on a haunted, ever-changing island. Players are challenged to navigate the island, discover its hidden secrets, and contact the local ghosts. Over time, players can revitalize the island with crafting and decoration as the narrative unfolds.

"Farm It" contains a series of mini-games to collect resources to build up a farm. Through activities such as fishing or plowing, and with the help of animal companions, players aspire to sell their resources, customize their character, and grow their farm.

Finally, "Wonderbox" is an action-adventure multiplayer game. Players can engage in pre-set adventures filled with challenges, enemies, puzzles, and platforms, or construct their own in Creator Mode. The game revolves around "boxes" used to form a deep chain of interconnected environments.

Lumen and Survival Z are available on the App Store now. Keep an eye out next week for SP!NG and throughout March for more new games.

‌Apple Arcade‌ is priced at $4.99 per month with a one-month free trial available to test it out. Apple also has a one-year subscription option available for $49.99 per year, a savings of $9.89 over the monthly price, and it is also available as part of all tiers of Apple One, starting at $14.95 per month.Tag: Apple Arcade
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Deals: Take Up to $70 Off Brydge's Keyboards for iPad and iPad Pro

3 hours 14 min ago
Brydge has a few ongoing deals happening this week, where you can shop a collection of iPad keyboards for the 9.7-inch iPad, 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and more. Brydge's keyboards have premium aluminum bodies, backlit keys, and up to 180-degree viewing angles. You can connect the keyboards to an iPad via USB-C or Bluetooth.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

In the sales below, prices have been automatically applied and you'll find up to $70 off select keyboards. There is one exception that requires a coupon code: you'll need to enter the code BRYPROSAVE on the Brydge Pro for 11-inch/12.9-inch iPad Pro to get the accessory for $79.99 (originally $149.99).

Head to our full Deals Roundup to get caught up with all of the latest deals and discounts that we've been tracking over the past week. For more iPad deals, our full Best Deals guide for iPad has all of the current best sales for iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Alpine's Latest CarPlay Receiver Has a 9-Inch Display Hovering Over the Dashboard

3 hours 25 min ago
For customers in the market for an aftermarket CarPlay installation, Alpine Electronics this week announced that its new iLX-F409 receiver with a 9-inch capacitive touchscreen is now available at select retailers in the United States.


Alpine says the iLX-F409 receiver has all of the same features as the larger 11-inch iLX-F411 introduced last year, but with a smaller 9-inch display that allows for a lower suggested price of $700 compared to $1,000 for the iLX-F411.

Like the 11-inch receiver, the 9-inch model's display hovers over the dashboard, allowing it to be used in most vehicles without the need for custom installation. The display is attached to an adjustable mount that is connected to a traditional single-DIN chassis for compatibility with a wide range of vehicles, and the display can be tilted at four pre-set angles to better match the tilt and height of the dashboard.

The iLX-F409 is limited to wired CarPlay, but other brands like Pioneer have some wireless CarPlay receivers available.

Other features of the iLX-F409 include Android Auto support, hands-free Bluetooth phone calls, SiriusXM readiness, a USB-A port, one HDMI input and one HDMI output, and one rear-view camera input. When not in CarPlay mode, the receiver has a customizable user interface with 22 available widgets. The receiver does not have a built-in CD/DVD drive.

Alpine has offered a few 9-inch CarPlay receivers in the past, but this model has all of the latest features of the 11-inch iLX-F411.Related Roundup: CarPlayTag: Alpine
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AirPods Max in Silver Now Available to Ship on Amazon

5 hours 20 min ago
Following stock at Verizon last week, today we're seeing refreshed stock for the AirPods Max in Silver at Amazon for a price of $549.00. If you have Amazon Prime's two-day shipping option, you can get the AirPods Max in the mail as soon as early next week.


In weeks past, we've seen Silver and Space Gray routinely appear in stock at places like Verizon, Amazon, and B&H Photo. The other three colors have been tougher to find in stock in February, but Sky Blue did appear in stock alongside Silver and Space Gray earlier in the month.

$549Silver AirPods Max In Stock on Amazon

We've been keeping track of ‌‌AirPods Max‌‌ stock at third-party retailers because the headphones still have shipping estimates delayed as far as April on Apple's website. If you're interested in getting the over-ear headphones as soon as possible, one of these retailers will be your best bet for the foreseeable future.

‌AirPods Max‌‌ feature Active Noise Cancellation technology and the same Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ, and spatial audio features that are in the AirPods Pro. If you're hunting for even more AirPods deals, we track sales for every model of the ‌‌AirPods‌‌ in our Best AirPods Deals guide.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Apple Rolls Out Device Repairability Scores in France

5 hours 37 min ago
Apple has begun adding repairability scores to its website and Apple Store app in France to meet the demands of new Right to Repair laws (via MacGeneration).



The scores, displayed on purchase pages for a range of Apple products, give devices a rating out of ten for how easy it is to repair, much like iFixit repairability ratings. The scores are intended to inform customers about "whether this product is repairable, difficult to repair or unrepairable," according to the French Ministry of Ecological Transition.

All of the iPhone 12 models have been given a score of 6.0, while the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro score considerably worse at 4.6. The iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone XR have a score of 4.5, and the iPhone XS and XS Max and have a score of 4.7 and 4.6 respectively.

Better ratings are held by the second-generation iPhone SE with 6.2 and the iPhone 7 Plus, ‌iPhone‌ 8, and ‌iPhone‌ 8 Plus with 6.6. The overall top-rated model is the ‌iPhone‌ 7, with a repairability score of 6.7.

For Macs, the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro has a score of 5.6, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a score of 6.3, and the ‌M1‌ MacBook Air does best at 6.5.

A French Apple Support page sets out the repairability score information for a range of iPhones and MacBooks, with breakdowns justifying why each device has been designated its rating. The criteria include the availability of repair documentation, ease of disassembly, availability and price of spare parts, and software updates.

Apple determines these ratings against a grid offered by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, as opposed to a central regulatory authority, but they are overseen and verified by the Fraud Prevention Directorate (FRCCB).

In November last year, the European Union voted to support a motion on the Right to Repair, including a system of mandatory labeling on consumer electronics to provide explicit information on the repairability and lifespan of products. Laws compelling tech companies to display repairability scores for their devices, much like those in France, could come into effect across the entire EU as a result.Tags: France, Right to Repair
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Dutch Antitrust Watchdog Nears Draft Decision in App Store Probe

6 hours 26 min ago
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM for short, is reportedly nearing a draft decision in its investigation into Apple over rules that require developers to use its in-app payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.


According to Reuters, the ACM revealed that the draft decision was nearing completion in letters sent this month to some of the developers involved in the case. However, the letter didn't divulge how the ACM would rule, nor when its decision will be finalized.

According to the letter, the regulator is also scrutinizing Apple rules that bar developers from telling users about cheaper payment alternatives outside of the app.
"It's not just that Apple is inflicting economic harm," said David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of software firm Basecamp and one of those who received the letter. "Apple is essentially giving us a gag order."The development comes almost two years since ACM began investigating the App Store to determine whether Apple abuses its position by, for example, giving preferential treatment to its own apps.

ACM launched the investigation after completing a market study that explored the influence of app stores. For numerous apps, the watchdog found that no realistic alternatives to the ‌‌App Store‌‌ and Play Store exist, potentially giving Apple and Google the opportunity to set unfair conditions.

Apple is facing several antitrust investigations into its ‌App Store‌ practices, including a legal dispute with Epic Games over in-app transaction fees and an ongoing probe by the European Commission, prompted by a complaint by Spotify that accused Apple of acting as "both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers."

If the ACM issues a decision soon, Reuters speculates that it could become the first antitrust authority to rule on Apple's app-store payment policies which would set a precedent that could influence other ongoing investigations.

A separate ongoing ACM probe is investigating contactless platforms on smartphones and the access that payment apps have to NFC capabilities.

According to the ACM, the software that's on some smartphones "only allows the developer's own payment app to connect to NFC communication," preventing third-party payment apps from also being able to use NFC capabilities.

On iPhones, Apple Pay is the only payment method able to use NFC. Apple does not permit other financial apps to use NFC, which has resulted in disputes with some banks and financial institutions.Tags: App Store, antitrust, The Netherlands
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Twitter Announces Upcoming 'Super Follow' Feature to Let Users Charge Followers for Content

7 hours 8 min ago
In an attempt to reduce its dependence on advertising to generate revenue, Twitter has announced two new features coming to the social media platform later this year, including a "Super Follow" feature that will let users charge followers for access to exclusive content.


According to Twitter, the additional content could include things like bonus tweets, access to a community group, video, exclusive deals, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating support.

In an example screenshot of the Super Follow feature in action (shown above), Twitter a user being charged $4.99 per month to receive a series of benefits, allowing creators and publishers get paid directly by followers.

"Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves," the company said in a statement.

The other upcoming feature is referred to as Communities, which will work similar Facebook Groups. Communities introduces the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests. Twitter's examples included groups focused on social justice, cats, plants, and surfing.


Twitter also plans to introduce an optional "safety mode" that will be automatically suggested when Twitter's systems pick up that a post appears to be attracting "spammy or abusive" replies. When switched on, it will automatically block accounts that break Twitter's rules.

In a presentation to analysts and investors, Twitter didn't offer a timeline for when the new features will arrive, but said it would have "more to share" in the coming months. Tag: Twitter
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Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone Comes Down to Pre-Installed Software

7 hours 40 min ago
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour.


Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was whether Gates regularly uses an iPhone and whether he prefers iOS over Android.
"I actually use an Android phone," Gates said. "Because I want to keep track of everything, I'll often play around with iPhones, but the one I carry around happens to be Android."

"So Android vs Apple – is this a religious thing?" asked Sorkin.

"Some of the Android manufacturers pre-install Microsoft software in a way that makes it easy for me," Gates replied. "They're more flexible about how the software connects up with the operating system. So that's what I ended up getting used to. You know, a lot of my friends have ‌iPhone‌, so there's no purity."Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison, who was also in the room briefly, told Gates and Sorkin that an Android version of the app is the "top feature" that they're currently working towards and are most excited about.

In a 2019 interview, Gates admitted that Microsoft losing to Android as the standard non-Apple phone platform was "one of one of the greatest mistakes of all time" for the Redmond-based company.

In fairness to Gates, it was Steve Ballmer who served as Microsoft's CEO between 2000 and 2014. Ballmer infamously laughed off the ‌iPhone‌, but Apple had the last laugh, as Windows Phone failed to ever gain any significant market share among mobile operating systems and was ultimately abandoned.

During the Clubhouse meeting, Gates admitted he had an uneasy relationship with Steve Jobs, but called the former Apple CEO "unique." Other topics that came up in Wednesday's online discussion included the global health crisis, climate change, and Gates' new book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster." The full interview is available on YouTube.Tags: Android, Bill Gates, Clubhouse
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iPhone 12 Series Still Strong Despite Weaker Demand, Says JP Morgan Analyst

8 hours 46 min ago
Quarterly shipments of Apple's iPhone 12 series continue to enjoy a year-on-year increase, despite weakening demand for the devices, according to JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee (via AppleInsider).


In an investor note from the analyst, Chatterjee decreased his 2021 iPhone shipment expectations from 236 million units to 230 million units, but noted that this number was still equivalent to a 13% overall increase in volume shipments for Apple compared to 2020.

Chatterjee's revised expectations are based on a significant cut in iPhone 12 Pro shipments and weaker-than-expected demand for the iPhone 12 mini, both of which make the bank "take note of a weaker demand environment." Chatterjee continues to believe that Apple will discontinue ‌iPhone 12 mini‌ production in the second quarter this year.

A report at the start of the year suggested Apple's ‌‌iPhone 12 mini‌‌, which is the smallest ‌‌iPhone‌‌ that has been released since the 2016 iPhone SE, has not been selling as well as Apple hoped, making up just 6% of ‌iPhone 12‌ sales in the U.S. in October and November. A later report claimed that the ‌‌iPhone 12 mini‌‌ accounted for only 5% of all ‌‌iPhone 12‌‌ sales in the U.S. in the first half of January.

The JP Morgan analyst puts the slowing demand for the ‌iPhone 12‌ series as a whole down to weaker consumer spending in China and a normalization of demand trends following the initial excitement surrounding Apple's adoption of 5G connectivity in the ‌iPhone 12‌ series.

Chatterjee revised his shipment estimate to 52 million units for the March quarter, a 3 million decrease compared to his original expectations. For the June quarter, the analyst revised the number to 42 million units from 36 million units.

"However, at this time we do not see any reason to change our 2H21 volume forecast," said Chatterjee, noting that the supply chain is sticking with its 80 to 90 million build estimate for the first half of this year.Related Roundups: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 ProTag: J.P. MorganBuyer's Guide: iPhone 12 (Neutral), iPhone 12 Pro (Neutral)
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Telegram Gains New Auto-Delete Options, Expiring Invite Links, and More

9 hours 42 min ago
Telegram Messenger is bringing new feature additions to its chat app, including new options for auto-delete messages, expiring invite links, and unlimited group numbers.


Like WhatsApp and Signal, auto-delete messages have been a staple Telegram feature for some time, but with the latest update, uses can enable an auto-delete timer that applies to all Telegram chats, so that messages are automatically erased for all participants either 24 hours or seven days after sending.

To enable the timer, press and hold a message, tap Select -> Clear Chat (top-left) -> Enable Auto-Delete. If you want to know how long is left before a message auto-deletes, simply press and hold it to invoke the contextual menu and look under the Delete option. It's worth noting that auto-delete only applies to messages sent after the timer is set, so earlier messages will stay in the chat history. Unlike in Secret Chats, the countdown starts when messages are sent, not read.

Elsewhere, there's a new Telegram widget for the Home Screen that shows a preview of recent messages, while a smaller widget shows names and profile pictures of Telegram friends that you've recently chatted to.

There are new features for chat groups, too, including a new Broadcast Groups option that allows groups close to the member limit (200,000) to allow unlimited members. When converting to a Broadcast Group, only admins can send messages, but members can still join voice chats. Telegram says the feature should be "ideal for large communities, where people can follow along and catch exclusive interviews, news, or just casual talks."

Also new in this update are expiring invite links, which can be set to expire after a certain number of users, a certain amount of time, or both. Telegram says the links are an ideal way to bring any number of new members into a group; the links can be converted into a scannable QR Code for use in different contexts. They also allow you to see which users joined using each invite link, making it possible to find out where new members came from or which format has been most effective for growth.

The new features follow a recent influx of chat app users away from WhatsApp and into the welcoming arms of rival platforms like Telegram and Signal. Many users left WhatsApp after the Facebook-owned platform made a hash of explaining its upcoming privacy policy changes, which many people mistakenly interpreted as an admission from the company that their messages would no longer be completely private on the service.

Like WhatsApp, Telegram chats are encrypted. However, it's worth pointing out a distinction between Secret chats and Cloud chats on Telegram. Secret chats are end-to-end encrypted and never under any circumstances get backed up.

Cloud chats are encrypted in the same way, but they get backed up, which means Telegram's servers do have access to the encryption key, although the company says it has never disclosed private data to third-parties from its cloud. For more information on the differences between the two chats, check out Telegram's detailed explainer.

Telegram is a free download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]Tag: Telegram
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Korean Report Says Kia Partnership With Apple Still Possible

15 hours 50 min ago
Apple and Hyundai subsidiary Kia signed a memorandum of understanding last year, agreeing to pursue cooperation in eight sectors, including electric vehicles, according to a new report from South Korean news site Chosun Biz, cited by Reuters.


Earlier this month, following weeks of rampant "Apple Car" rumors, Hyundai and Kia in regulatory filings said they are not in discussions with Apple to co-operate on development of a self-driving electric vehicle. This came just weeks after Hyundai released a statement indicating that Apple was in talks with a number of automakers, including Hyundai, regarding development of autonomous electric vehicles.

Today's report suggests a partnership may still be possible for Kia, claiming that negotiations with Apple "are not completely canceled," although the talks are said to be "experiencing difficulties." The scope of the negotiations is "wide" with room to grow, according to the report. Apple and Kia could end up partnering on "last mile" transportation with Kia's electric scooters, for example, rather than a full-out vehicle.

In any case, the "‌Apple Car‌" is believed to be years away from release, with estimates ranging from 2024 all the way to 2028.Related Roundup: Apple CarTag: Kia
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Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

16 hours 33 min ago
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual.


For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom configurations are available too, but stock typically fluctuates rapidly on Apple's refurbished store, so those interested should act fast to place their order.

Apple began selling refurbished 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with the M1 chip in select countries earlier this week.

Apple's refurbished products are pre-owned devices that are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and in the case of the Mac mini, repackaged with the power cord in the box. In our view, a refurbished Mac mini is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new model, so this represents a good opportunity for savings. However, keep in mind that third-party resellers may offer better deals over time, so be sure to monitor our deals roundup.

Apple's refurbished Macs are covered by a one-year limited warranty and have a 14-day return policy. AppleCare+ coverage can be purchased as well.

(Thanks, Ryan Gregg!)Related Roundup: Mac miniTags: refurbished, M1Buyer's Guide: Mac Mini (Buy Now)
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Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

18 hours 30 min ago
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company.


Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve customers in the area at its Lynnhaven Mall retail store in nearby Virginia Beach.

"While we have made the difficult decision to close our store at MacArthur Center, we are pleased to be able to offer all of our team members other jobs within Apple," said Apple in a statement shared with MacRumors. "We look forward to helping customers at Apple Lynnhaven Mall, as well as on Apple.com and our popular Apple Store and Support apps."

Apple's statement does not mention a reason for the store closure, but there have been several safety issues at MacArthur Center, including multiple active shooter situations in recent years. A growing number of retailers have already left the mall, including Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Fossil, Pottery Barn, and others.

Apple MacArthur Center first opened in September 2006, and it does not appear that Apple has any immediate plans to open a new store in Norfolk, so customers in the area will have to visit Apple Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach for in-person shopping and support.

A person familiar with the matter informed MacRumors that the store will likely be closed in around 90 days, so the location's final day of business will likely be in May. The person said Apple is working quickly to help all employees find new places within the company, and offering relocation packages if necessary. Some employees may be transferred to Apple's Lynnhaven Mall location, or transition to work-at-home AppleCare positions.Related Roundup: Apple Stores
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Apple Training Siri to Better Understand People With Atypical Speech

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 22:42
Apple is researching how to improve Siri to better understand people who talk with a stutter, according to new details shared by The Wall Street Journal in a piece on how companies train voice assistants to handle atypical speech.


Apple has built a bank of 28,000 audio clips from podcasts featuring people who stutter, which could be used to train ‌Siri‌. The data that Apple has collected will improve voice recognition systems for atypical speech patterns, according to an Apple spokesperson.

Along with improving how ‌Siri‌ understands people with atypical speech patterns, Apple has also implemented a Hold to Talk feature for ‌Siri‌ that allows users to control how long they want ‌Siri‌ to listen for. This prevents ‌Siri‌ from interrupting users with a stutter before they're finished speaking.

‌Siri‌ can also be used without voice all together, through a Type to Siri feature that was first introduced in iOS 11.

Apple plans to outline its work to improve ‌Siri‌ in a research paper set to be published this week, which will provide more details on the company's efforts.

Google and Amazon are also working to train Google Assistant and Alexa to better understand all users, including those who have trouble using their voices. Google is collecting atypical speech data, and Amazon in December launched the Alexa Fund to let people who have speech impairments train an algorithm to recognize their unique vocal patterns.Tag: Siri
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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 121 With Bug Fixes and Performance Improvements

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 22:32
Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced in March 2016. Apple designed the ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.


‌Safari Technology Preview‌ release 121 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for Web Inspector, CSS, GPU Process, Media, Web API, JavaScript, WebAssembly, Accessibility, and Speech Recognition.

The current ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ release is the built on the new Safari 14 update included in macOS Big Sur with support for Safari Web Extensions imported from other browsers, tab previews, password breach notifications, web authentication with Touch ID, and more.

The new ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ update is available for both macOS Catalina and ‌macOS Big Sur‌, the newest version of the Mac operating system.

The ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ update is available through the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's aim with ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. ‌Safari Technology Preview‌ can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.

This article, "Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 121 With Bug Fixes and Performance Improvements" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:07
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the ‌macOS Big Sur‌ operating system that launched in November. ‌macOS Big Sur‌ 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update.


The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences.

According to Apple's release notes, the ‌macOS Big Sur‌ update prevents 2019 or later MacBook Pro models and 2020 or later MacBook Air models from being damaged when connected to certain third-party, non-compliant powered USB-C hubs and docks.

There have been several reports on Reddit from Mac users who have connected USB-C hubs and docks to their machines, resulting in the machine becoming non-functional. Affected Macs appear to go blank and unresponsive shortly after connecting the dock. Many of the users who experienced issues were using hubs and docks not purchased from reputable companies.

Many of the complaints were from M1 Mac users who had a MacBook Pro or a ‌MacBook Air‌, but Apple's release notes suggest other models were affected as well.
This article, "Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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21.5-Inch iMac Currently Unavailable to Order With Upgraded 512GB or 1TB SSD

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 18:18
For the past few days, the 21.5-inch 4K iMac with either 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage configuration has been unavailable for order on Apple's website. Other configurations, such as the lowest-end 256GB SSD option or 1TB Fusion Drive storage option remain available, however.



While there are rumors of an updated ‌iMac‌ launching this year, the current lack of availability for the higher-end storage options is likely due to a component shortage rather than a sign of an imminent launch. Both the 512GB and 1TB SSD storage options are popular upgrade items as well, which makes for a significant inconvenience for buyers looking to purchase an ‌iMac‌ right now.

Timing for a launch of the redesigned ‌iMac‌ remains unclear, so we'll have to hold tight to see whether we get an update or Apple's component shortage is resolved for the current models. It's quite rare for Mac configurations to be completely unavailable for ordering, with Apple usually just pushing shipping estimates out significantly in cases of component shortages or stock drawdowns ahead of updates.Related Roundup: iMacBuyer's Guide: iMac (Caution)
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Rumored Finger-Mounted Control Device for Apple AR/VR Headset Surfaces in Patent Application

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 17:21
Apple is researching a finger-mounted device with an array of sensors and haptic feedback, to be used as a control device for a mixed-reality headset, according to patent filings.



The patent application, first spotted by Patently Apple, was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and resurfaced earlier today. Titled "Finger-Mounted Device With Sensors and Haptics," the filing explains how a finger-mounted device can be used to wirelessly control computers and "head-mounted display systems" that are used for "virtual reality content and/or augmented reality content".

The patent filing appears to align with some rumors surrounding the control-input of Apple's long-awaited headset product. A recent report from The Information said that Apple is developing multiple ways to control its mixed reality headset, including a "thimble-like device to be worn on a person's finger."



In the filing, Apple acknowledges that some implementations of a wearable control device could resemble a glove with sensors to detect hand motions, but says that a finger-mounted device has a number of advantages, such as retaining the ability to feel objects in the user's surroundings and maintain comfort.

In terms of design, the device has two small sidewalls to grip a finger using magnets or springs, and can therefore accommodate a range of different finger sizes. It may be "formed from a deformable material such as metal," but the patent also suggests that other materials such as fabric or polymer may be appropriate.



Apple's finger-mounted device is worn on the tops of a user's fingers and leaves fingertips exposed so that it is still possible to touch surfaces as normal.

To allow the user to feel real-world objects accurately, the finger-mounted device may have a U-shaped cross-sectional profile or other shape that allows underside portions of the user's fingertips to be exposed to the environment.

Apple explains that this configuration allows the user to "touch surfaces with the user's own skin, thereby enhancing the user's sensitivity to the environment in which device is being used," giving the example of how a user will be able to "detect small surface imperfections on a touched surface, slight irregularities in surface texture, and other details that might be obscured in a configuration in which the pads of the user's fingers are covered."

The device forms a shell containing force sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, optical sensors, touch sensors, status indicator lights, and more. These sensors use capacitive sensing techniques and other methods to precisely ascertain the way in which the user is moving their finger and interacting with surfaces. The system is said to be so precise that it can detect how hard a user is pressing on a surface and the exact direction of this force.

The control circuitry may gather finger press input, lateral finger movement input, and finger tap input using the sensors and may provide haptic output using the haptic output device.



In response to interactions virtualized on the external device, the finger-mounted device can deliver haptic feedback to the user, much like the Apple Watch, to "provide clicks and other haptic output."

For example, the control circuitry may supply haptic output to a user's fingers based on wirelessly received information from the external device. The haptic output may correspond to virtual reality or augmented reality haptic output...

Haptic output may be provided to the user to confirm to the user that a light tap input has been recognized or to otherwise provide feedback to the user. The haptic feedback may provide the user with a sensation of tapping on a physical keyboard or other input device with a movable button member even when the user is tapping on a hard flat surface such as a tabletop. The haptic output provided with the wearable electronic device to the user may be virtual reality haptic output or augmented reality haptic output that is provided while a user is wearing a head-mounted display or other device that creates a virtual reality or augmented reality environment for a user.

In practice, Apple says that this could "provide a user with the sensation of interacting on a physical keyboard when the user is making finger taps on a table surface," in alignment with "a virtual keyboard surface that is being displayed in alignment with the table surface using a head-mounted display." Alternatively, the device may "allow a user to supply joystick-type input using only lateral movement of the user's fingertips" for gaming.



Apple suggests that the device may also be worn "on one or more fingers," but it is not clear what difference this would make to interactions or if Apple expects multiple finger-mounted devices to be worn on a single hand.

The general correspondence of Apple patent applications to recent rumors about Apple's mixed reality headset is clear to see, but whether The Information's "thimble-like" control device is depicted in this patent filing is yet to be seen.

While patent applications cannot be taken as concrete evidence of the exact hardware Apple is planning to sell, it is difficult to look past the way in which the company's recent spate of patent filings may fit into the bigger picture surrounding its AR/VR project.Related Roundup: Apple GlassesTag: patent
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