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Updated: 17 min 16 sec ago

Microsoft Office Apps Now Support Dark Mode on macOS Mojave

8 hours 17 min ago
Microsoft today updated its suite of Office for Mac apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, with support for Dark Mode on macOS Mojave and several other new features. The updates are available to both Office 365 subscribers and to users who purchased Office 2019 for Mac as a one-time purchase.

The update also makes it easier to insert a photo from an iPhone or iPad into a PowerPoint slide using Apple's new Continuity Camera feature. This allows users to control-click in a PowerPoint window where you want the photo to appear, quickly take a photo on a nearby iPhone or iPad, and import it into a slide.

And with v16.20 some customers will see our Ribbon Visual Refresh with new icons and styling in Office 365 for Mac, as we begin rolling out and getting your feedback! On macOS Mojave, the new icons adapt to Light and Dark Mode as well! #Office365

— Derek Snook (@derek_snook) December 11, 2018
Office for Mac apps can be updated via the Microsoft AutoUpdate mechanism by navigating to Help > Check for Updates in each app. For a full list of new features, read the Office for Mac version 16.20 release notes.

(Thanks, Daniel!)

Tags: Microsoft, Microsoft Office
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Verizon App Now Allows eSIM Activation on iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 22:26
It is now possible to use the My Verizon app to activate eSIM service on an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR in the United States.

The app was updated today to allow Verizon customers to purchase a cellular plan for the eSIM line of an iPhone without needing to visit a Verizon store. The in-app process should be more straightforward and convenient.

"My Verizon" changelog via Gabriel Lewis
Verizon and AT&T rolled out eSIM support last week, while T-Mobile is expected to offer an in-app solution for setting up eSIM later this month.

Other carriers offering eSIM service include Bell, Fido, Rogers, Virgin Mobile, and Lucky Mobile in Canada, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany, T-Mobile in Austria and Czech Republic, Hrvatski Telekom in Croatia, 3 in Denmark and Sweden, Telia in Finland and Estonia, EE in the United Kingdom, and many others.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models have both a physical SIM and an eSIM that allows for dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone.

Update: This process appears to be limited to customers of other carriers who are looking to add Verizon service via the eSIM.

Tags: Verizon, eSIM
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Apple Seeds First Public Betas of iOS 12.1.2, macOS Mojave 10.14.3, and tvOS 12.1.2

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 19:27
Apple today seeded the first beta of iOS 12.1.2 to public beta testers, one day after seeding the same beta to developers and six days after the release of the iOS 12.1.1 update with expanded eSIM support and many other new features.

iPhone and iPad users enrolled in the free Apple Beta Software Program will receive the iOS 12.1.2 beta over-the-air in Settings > General > Software Update after installing the necessary configuration profile from Apple's beta site.

iOS 12.1.2 looks to be a minor update focused on "bug fixes and improvements," according to Apple's release notes.

Apple also seeded the first betas of macOS Mojave 10.14.3 and tvOS 12.1.2 to public beta testers today. The macOS beta can be installed using Apple's macOS Public Beta Access Utility, while the tvOS beta can be installed by navigating to Settings > System > Software Updates > Get Public Beta Updates.

Apple says macOS Mojave 10.14.3 contains "bug fixes and improvements," while the tvOS 12.1.2 is likely a very minor update.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12, macOS Mojave, iOS 12Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)
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Giphy Updates With 'Sticker Maker' Feature for iPhone X Owners, Expands Keyboard Extension Support

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 17:18
Giphy today announced an update for its iOS app, bringing its GIF-sharing keyboard extension to any app that supports multimedia, including Mail, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, and more. The update also introduces a "Sticker Maker" feature exclusive to iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR devices that have Apple's TrueDepth Camera system (via Engadget).

Sticker Maker allows iPhone X owners to turn selfies into custom animated GIF stickers, which you can then share in Apple iMessage and any other texting app. In the Giphy app this feature can be found in the "Plus" symbol tab, tap "Sticker", and then you can take your photo. The image has to be uploaded to a Giphy account so you can use it across Giphy's connected apps and keyboard extension.

Giphy's own GIF features have powered other apps before, including GIF sticker search in Instagram. The company's keyboard extension also works with Apple iMessage, similar to apps like GIF Keyboard. Although Apple's iMessage App Store introduced app-based alternatives, many keyboard extensions like these have remained popular over the years.

Tag: Giphy
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Satechi's USB-C Hub for 2018 iPad Pro Now Available: 4K HDMI, Headphone Jack, USB-C With Power Delivery, and USB-A

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 16:59
Satechi today announced that its new USB-C hub for the 2018 iPad Pro is now available for purchase for $59.99 on the accessory maker's website and Amazon.

Designed for the new iPad Pro with a USB-C port, the hub features a HDMI output, one USB-C port with Power Delivery, one USB-A port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, enabling the tablet to be connected to a wide variety of peripherals, such as a 4K display via HDMI, a wired keyboard via USB, and wired headphones.

Satechi is currently offering 20 percent off with code MPH20%OFF at checkout, lowering the price of its USB-C hub to $48 for a limited time.

For comparison, accessory maker Hyper has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a USB-C hub that features six connectivity options: a 4K HDMI output, a 3.5mm headphone jack, SD and microSD card slots, one USB-A port, and one USB-C port with Power Delivery. The early bird price is $49 and the regular price will be $99.

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

Related Roundup: iPad ProTag: SatechiBuyer's Guide: 11" iPad Pro (Buy Now), 12.9" iPad Pro (Buy Now)
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Investigation Into Supermicro's Server Motherboards Finds No Malicious Spy Hardware

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 15:19
In October, a report by Bloomberg claimed that spies working for the Chinese government had inserted microchips on Supermicro server motherboards to spy on customers, which Bloomberg reported as affecting Apple and nearly 30 companies in total. Today, the outside investigations firm hired by Supermicro reported its findings, confirming that there is no evidence of any malicious hardware in current or old Supermicro server motherboards, including those used by Apple for iCloud (via Reuters).

Supermicro denied the allegations made in the Bloomberg report when it came out, and in today's letter to its customers said it was not surprised by the new findings. The investigation was performed by global firm Nardello & Co., which tested samples of motherboards in current production, as well as versions that were specifically sold to Apple and Amazon since both of those companies were mentioned directly by Bloomberg.

Nardello & Co. also examined software and design files, and didn't find any unauthorized components or signals being sent out from Supermicro. Customers interested will be able to ask for more details about the investigation, and Supermicro as of now is still reviewing its legal options following the investigation.

The day that "The Big Hack" article came out, Apple quickly released a statement, denying all claims made about the microchips spying on customers. "On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations" or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server," Apple said in its statement.

Eventually both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Supermicro CEO Charles Liang called on Bloomberg to retract the story. Talking to BuzzFeed News, Cook said there is "no truth" to Bloomberg's claims about Apple. As of today, the story remains online.

Tag: The Big Hack
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iPhone Suppliers TSMC and Foxconn Report Strong November Revenue

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 13:08
Two of Apple's largest suppliers have reported healthy jumps in monthly revenue, suggesting fears of weak iPhone demand may be overblown (via Bloomberg).

Asian firms TSMC and Foxconn (Hon Hai) both posted a 5.6 percent rise in November sales, reversing a recent trend of Apple suppliers reducing production or revenue outlooks to reflect lowering demand for Apple's smartphones.

Foxconn posted NT$601.4 billion ($19.5 billion) in revenue, a record for the month of November, which puts the iPhone assembler on track for its fastest pace of annual growth in years.

TSMC, maker of Apple's system-on-chips like the A12 processor, reported revenue of $3.1 billion, a lower figure than the previous month but still considered strong overall. Executives at the chipmaker have said they expect demand for premium devices to help offset lethargy in the crypto-mining market, which it has heavily invested in.

Apple accounts for close to half of main iPhone-assembler Hon Hai's revenue and about a fifth of TSMC's, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The figures offer something of a riposte to the narrative that sales of Apple's iPhone XR and XS have been weaker than expected. For example, last week it was reported that Apple moved marketing staff off other projects to focus on bolstering sales of the latest iPhone lineup in late October.

Apple's next earnings call is in January, when investors will get an idea of how the company did over the holiday season, although Apple recently stopped reporting real unit numbers for its major product categories, so investors will have to rely on revenue and gross margin figures alone to assess performance.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XRTags: TSMC, FoxconnBuyer's Guide: iPhone XS (Buy Now), iPhone XR (Buy Now)
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Apple Pay Launches in Germany

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 05:51
Apple Pay made its long-awaited debut in Germany this evening, allowing iPhone and Apple Watch users in the country to finally take advantage of the contactless mobile payments service if their card issuer supports it.

At launch, Apple Pay partners in Germany include American Express, Deutsche Bank, Hanseatic Bank, HypoVereinsbank, Edenred, Comdirect, Fidor Bank, and mobile banks and payment services o2, N26, boon, bunq, and VIMpay. It may take until the end of the day before the rollout is fully completed.

MacRumors readers and Twitter users are starting to share screenshots of their Apple Pay cards in the Wallet app on iPhone.

Apple Pay ist nun auch in Deutschland endlich verfügbar!#ApplePay #ApplePayGermany #ApplePayDeutschland #Amex

— Eric Voos (@ericvoos) December 11, 2018
Apple Pay first launched in the United States in October 2014 and has since expanded to many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, China, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Japan, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Ireland, and Ukraine.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Germany
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Samsung Kills Headphone Jack in Latest Smartphone After Years of Mocking Apple

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 04:32
Samsung today introduced its latest smartphone, the Galaxy A8s. It is Samsung's first smartphone with an Infinity-O display, which has a truly edge-to-edge, uninterrupted design beyond a small hole for the front-facing camera.

It is also Samsung's first smartphone without a headphone jack, much to the amusement of iPhone users, as Samsung has mocked Apple for over two years over its decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 in 2016, a trend that has continued through to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

While on stage unveiling the new Galaxy Note7 in 2016, for example, Samsung executive Justin Denison made sure to point out that the device came with a headphone jack. "Want to know what else it comes with?" he asked. "An audio jack. I'm just saying," he answered, smirking as the audience laughed.

And earlier this year, Samsung mocked the iPhone X's lack of a headphone jack in one of its "Ingenius" ads promoting the Galaxy S9.

In the ad, a customer at an Apple Store asks if he can use his wired headphones with the iPhone X, and the employee informs him that he will need a dongle. The customer then inquires about charging at the same time, and the employee says he'll need another dongle. "So, a double dongle," the customer says.

To use wired headphones with the Galaxy A8s, a mid-range device for the Chinese market, users must use a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter.

While rumors suggest Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S10 will continue to feature a headphone jack, it could be the company's last flagship handset to have one. In October, Korean website ETNews said Samsung is considering removing the headphone jack from the Galaxy Note10 in 2019 and Galaxy S11 in 2020.

Samsung isn't the first tech giant to mock Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack, only to follow suit. Google poked fun at the iPhone 7's lack of headphone jack while unveiling its original Pixel smartphone in 2016, and then the Pixel 2 launched without one just a year later. Well, well, well. How the turntables…

Tag: Samsung
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Epic Games Removes 'Infinity Blade' Trilogy From App Store

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:12
Epic Games today announced that its Infinity Blade role-playing game trilogy has been removed from the App Store.

In a blog post, the video game studio said "it has become increasingly difficult for our team to support the Infinity Blade series at a level that meets our standards," adding that the trilogy "will always hold a special place" in its history.

Along with the three Infinity Blade games, all in-app purchase options have been removed, according to Epic Games. iPhone users who already purchased the games will remain able to play them, and re-download them from the App Store using the same Apple ID that was originally used, for the foreseeable future.

The news was first reported by Eli Hodapp at MacRumors sister site TouchArcade, who described the trilogy as "an absolute App Store staple" that "even the harshest critics of mobile gaming could admit were, at minimum, pretty good."

Infinity Blade is a gesture-based fighting game that debuted on the App Store in December 2010 following an on-stage preview at an Apple event three months prior. At the time, TouchArcade reviewed the game's console-like graphics as "the best we've seen so far on the App Store," raising the bar for mobile games.

Infinity Blade II followed in November 2011, while Infinity Blade III was released in September 2013. Both sequels also received stage time at Apple events, and remained critically acclaimed in 2018, despite the latest title being five years old.

"Premium games eventually losing the support of their developers then slowly falling into obscurity before being removed from the App Store isn't really a new phenomenon," said Hodapp, "but for it to happen to Infinity Blade seems like an incredibly terrible signal for the overall health of the App Store."

Epic Games now has a multi-billion-dollar valuation thanks to the success of its smash-hit battle royale game Fortnite, so the company certainly has the cash flow needed to keep the Infinity Blade trilogy alive, but they are evidently moving on.

Over the next month, Epic Games said it will continue to support Infinity Blade III with updated Clash Mobs and other surprises. It has also made its Infinity Blade sticker pack available for free in the App Store for iMessage. And it looks like the Infinity Blade sword will live on as a weapon in Fortnite.

Tag: Infinity Blade
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Hands-On With the iPhone XR Clear Case From Apple

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 21:27
It took nearly two months following the on-sale date for the iPhone XR, but Apple's highly anticipated clear case for the colorful device is now available. We're not entirely sure what the delay was in launching it, and it's currently the only first-party case available for the iPhone XR, so we went hands-on with the new case to see how it stacks up.

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Apple's clear case is intended to show off the colorful rear shell of the iPhone XR, and it does a great job at that, with a crystal clear view of the phone itself all around. The case is a bit firmer than we expected based on our previous experiences with third-party clear cases, so Apple's case holds its shape well while also providing solid protection.

The iPhone XR Clear Case has a design that's very similar to Apple's other iPhone cases like the leather and silicone options for other models, with a raised lip around the front to protect your phone when placed or dropped face down and an open bottom that makes it easy to use gestures such as the Home screen swipe that starts at the very bottom of the screen.

It's not the most protective case on the market, but Apple has never been about providing maximal protection, so you'll have to look for other options if you're expecting to need anything more than protection from the occasional small drops.

The case unsurprisingly fits perfectly around the iPhone XR with ample clearance for the rear camera, although we wish the side button covers provided for a little more movement upon pressing to give the buttons a bit more tactile feel and that the ring/silent switch opening was a bit bigger to make it easier to access.

One common issue with third-party cases is that they tend to yellow over time after long-term light exposure. We obviously haven't had Apple's case long enough to know if that will be an issue, but we'd be surprised if Apple didn't take this phenomenon into account when selecting materials for the case.

The iPhone XR Clear Case is priced at $39, which is in line with Apple's other first-party cases but substantially more expensive than many third-party clear cases, so you'll need to decide for yourself whether the price premium is worth it.

Related Roundup: iPhone XRBuyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)
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Google Accelerating Closure of Google+ Due to API Bug, Will Now End in April 2019

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:42
Google today announced that it is expediting the closure of its Google+ social platform, which was previously set to end in August 2019 and will now be shut down in April 2019.

The company explained that it's doing this because of a discovery that 52.5 million users were impacted by a software update in November that contained a bug affecting Google+ API.

The bug appears to be connected to a certain Google+ API that let apps view information that users added to their profile, even if the user had set this data as private.

This included their name, email address, occupation, age, and more, but not financial data, passwords, or national identification numbers.

While Google discovered and addressed the bug within a week, and promises no third party compromised its systems, it has decided to hasten the closure of the consumer version of Google+ and all Google+ APIs. Ahead of the April 2019 sunsetting of the platform, the network's APIs will be shut down within 90 days from today.

Google explained what it knows about the bug:
- We have confirmed that the bug impacted approximately 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ API.
- With respect to this API, apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile—like their name, email address, occupation, age (full list here)—were granted permission to view profile information about that user even when set to not-public.
- In addition, apps with access to a user's Google+ profile data also had access to the profile data that had been shared with the consenting user by another Google+ user but that was not shared publicly.
- The bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft.
- No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way. Google says that ahead of the closure of the consumer Google+, in the coming months it will provide users with additional information on how to safely and securely download and migrate their data off of the platform. In the end, Google also reiterated on its original reasoning behind the sunsetting of Google+, which is because of "the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage."

The pushed up end date for Google+ comes just under a week after the company announced the closure of Google Allo, which will see many of its features migrated to the main Google Messages app on Android.

Tag: Google
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Apple Seeds First Beta of iOS 12.1.2 to Developers With 'Bug Fixes and Improvements'

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:10
Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming iOS 12.1.2 update to developers, five days after releasing iOS 12.1.1, an update that introduced a revamped FaceTime layout, re-added Live Photos for FaceTime, and brought Haptic Touch for notifications on iPhone XR.

Apple's release notes state that iOS 12.1.2 "contains bug fixes and improvements," so this appears to be a minor update.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12.1.2 beta from Apple's Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center.

We'll update this post if we discover any notable changes.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
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Apple Seeds First Beta of macOS Mojave 10.14.3 Update to Developers

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:09
Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave 10.14.3 update to developers, five days after releasing macOS Mojave 10.14.2, which addressed an issue with external displays and included other bug fixes.

The new macOS High Sierra 10.14.3 beta can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after the proper profile has been installed from Apple's Developer Center.

We don't yet know what improvements the second update to macOS Mojave will bring, but it is likely to include bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that weren't able to be addressed in the macOS 10.14.2 update.

If and when we discover what's new in the 10.14.3 beta, we'll update this post.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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Apple Seeds First Beta of watchOS 5.1.3 to Developers With 'Bug Fixes and Improvements'

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:08
Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming watchOS 5.1.3 update to developers, four days after releasing the watchOS 5.1.2 update with new complications for the Infograph face and ECG functionality for Apple Watch Series 4 owners.

Apple's release notes state that watchOS 5.1.3 "contains bug fixes and improvements," so this appears to be a minor update.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software update.

To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Seeds First Beta of Upcoming tvOS 12.1.2 Update to Developers

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 19:07
Apple this morning seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 12.1.2 update to developers for testing purposes, five days after releasing the tvOS 12.1.1 update.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models, the new tvOS 12.1.2 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV via a profile that's installed using Xcode.

tvOS updates have historically been minor in scale, focusing on under-the-hood bug fixes and improvements rather than outward-facing changes. Apple unfortunately provides little to no information on what's included in tvOS updates, so we may not discover anything new after installing the new beta.

Though we don't often know what's included in tvOS updates, we share when new software is available so developers and public beta testers are able to download it upon release.

If there are noticeable changes in the tvOS 12.1.2 beta, we'll update this post with details.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)
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Review: 2018 Accord Hybrid Offers Honda's Quality Display Audio Infotainment System With Sensible CarPlay Integration

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:41
Honda consistently ranks as a top five best-selling car brand in the United States, so it's worth taking a look at the company's Display Audio infotainment system and how well it works with CarPlay.

Honda was one of the first car brands to support CarPlay, starting in late 2015 with the 2016 Accord, and the company has since expanded support across nearly its entire lineup. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid, which offered me a chance to try out Display Audio, CarPlay, and some of Honda's slick hybrid technology.

My Accord Hybrid came in the high-end Touring trim, which tops out at a little over $35,000. It includes all of the bells and whistles you might expect from a top-level trim on a mid-range car, including a heads-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, built-in navigation, rain-sensing wipers, and even a wireless phone charger that'll talk a bit more about later.

Honda has been at the forefront of driver safety technology, and every Accord trim comes with Honda Sensing standard. The suite includes a collision mitigation braking system, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane-keeping assist, and, newly standard in 2019, traffic sign recognition.

The two-motor hybrid system Honda is using in the Accord delivers an EPA rating of 47 MPG and offers a remarkably smooth ride that feels like an all-electric vehicle much of the time. That's because at most speeds (up to about 50 mph), only the electric drive motor is connected to the wheels and providing the drive force. When the gas engine kicks in, initially it's solely being used to generate electricity for the hybrid system.

Only as you approach highway speeds or briskly accelerate and power demand increases beyond what the electric drive motor can provide does the gas engine connect to the front wheels to provide drive power. As a result, the Accord Hybrid doesn't have a traditional transmission and instead has only a single gear that's the equivalent of sixth gear in a six-speed manual transmission to provide "direct drive" power.

Digital driver's display
CarPlay is available on all but the entry-level LX and base Hybrid trims, as they have the basic 7-inch LCD infotainment screen. Sport and higher trims come with an 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen, and all of these trims support CarPlay with no additional packages, options, or fees required.

Display Audio
In addition to the generously sized 8-inch capacitive touchscreen, Honda has also equipped its Display Audio system with a number of hardware controls, including volume and tune/scroll knobs and a series of buttons along each side of the display for jumping directly to specific functions. It's a handy combination that combines the tactility of buttons to help keep your eyes on the road with the flexibility of a touchscreen.

Main screen of Display Audio system
The screen itself has a matte finish, so glare and fingerprints are thankfully minimized, and it supports touch and swipe gestures, but not multi-touch, so you'll have to use +/- buttons rather than pinches to zoom in navigation apps, for example.

Second page of main screen tiles
The Display Audio's home screen is centered around pages of tiles for various functions, all color-coded to make it easy to identify their categories. For example, the navigation tile has a red hue, while phone functions are green, audio tiles are blue, and system tiles are yellow. It's a somewhat subtle shading, with a band or bright color across the top and a gentle fade down through the tile. The design helps the tiles stand out without being too colorful. The home screen layout can be customized by tapping and holding on the screen, which enters an edit mode where you can add, hide, and rearrange tiles however you see fit.

In a strip along the top of the screen, you'll see a persistent set of icons that lets you jump directly to commonly used functions. Like the main tiles, these shortcut icons can be customized to make it easy to access phone, navigation, audio, or other apps from anywhere else in the Display Audio system. The strip also displays current audio information, the time, and small icons representing such data as signal strength of a paired phone, Bluetooth and USB connections, hotspot signal strength, and more.

Customizing app tiles and shortcut icons
To the left of the screen, you'll find hardware buttons for returning the Display Audio home screen, going back a screen in the hierarchy, adjusting display brightness, and changing audio tracks, as well a volume knob. To the right of the screen are quick-access buttons for jumping to navigation, phone, and audio apps, as well as a source button that takes you directly to a menu to switch among AM/FM, Sirius XM, CarPlay, USB, and other audio sources. There's also a tune/scroll knob to help navigate options or change radio/SiriusXM stations.

SiriusXM screen
The 8-inch screen is a nice palette for Honda's navigation system, which offers a helpful "3D" perspective view that shows a good amount of your surroundings to help orient you. The display's location high on the center stack makes it easy to glance over, and it's bright and crisp with a solid combination of detail and easy-to-tap interface elements.

Main map view
Honda's Display Audio system doesn't yet support natural language input, so you'll need to use trigger phrases to accomplish needed tasks. I didn't find it nearly as clunky as Volvo's system, however, and the system helpfully displays trigger word options for each step as you walk through the hierarchy. For example, to set a destination, you can say "Navigation," then "Find Place," then a business name. Once the system pulls up some results, you'll be able to choose the correct one by line number, confirm, and you're off.

Navigation system search results with addresses almost entirely cut off
One aspect of this process that could be improved is the layout of the destination search results. In some cases, the name of the business is so long that you can't see much other information about the specific location like the address, which makes it a bit difficult to easily identify the location you want just from the list. A compass direction and distance is included for each result, but being able to see the street address right in the list would be much more helpful.

Destination/POI search using the touchscreen
The POI database is generally solid, and the system does a good job of pulling up relevant results, although I did run into one issue where it was unable to find my doctor's office when I searched using only a portion of the practice name. When I used the full name, the office came right up, so I was surprised that my initial search didn't find a hit as a partial match and instead simply yielded no results. Other partial searches like "FedEx" do pull up proper results even when the business name in the database is "FedEx Office Print & Ship Center," so it's not a ubiquitous problem.

Exit sign pop-over
On highways along your route, Honda includes a nice pop-over exit sign view on the right side to help you identify the proper exit.

Hardware climate controls
Honda has wisely kept climate controls out of the Display Audio system, and there is a full set of climate control buttons and knobs within easy reach on the dashboard. All trims come with dual-zone automatic control with temperature knobs that subtly change color as you adjust the settings.

Ports, Wireless Charging, and Connectivity
Honda provides two USB-A ports in the front of the Accord, both offering up to 2.5 amps of charging power and both providing connectivity to the Display Audio system for CarPlay, iPod audio, or other options.

The first USB port is inside what Honda refers to as the center pocket where the center stack meets the center console. There's a USB port and a 12V power port tucked inside this pocket, and it has a garage door-style cover that can be closed to conceal what's inside.

That center pocket also optionally includes a Qi wireless charger, which is a great option although rather pricey at $300. The option is available on all trims with the exception of the high-end Touring where it's included standard.

Center pocket with USB port, 12V port, and Qi charger
The charger includes a power button that lets the charger be left on or off as you desire, and then a pair of status lights: green to signify the charger is on and amber to signify that a device is charging. On supported devices (not iPhones), the light will switch back to green when the device is fully charged. There are also two small rails in the bottom of the pocket to help keep your phone aligned on the charger's sweet spot.

Plus-sized phone on Qi charger
The second USB port is inside the center console compartment, which provides another option for hiding away your phone or other device connected to the Display Audio system. The center console compartment is fairly deep, and there's a removable tray sitting on the top of the rear half that's a convenient place to rest a connected phone.

Phone plugged into center console compartment (left) and console overview (right)
Honda also offers rear USB ports as an option on the Sport trim and higher as a $120 standalone option, but my test vehicle was not equipped with them. They're charging-only ports, so they won't allow you to deliver media to the Display Audio system, but they do provide 2.5 amps of power each, so they're great for keeping iPads charged up.

The Accord also comes with NFC capabilities, but unfortunately this feature currently only works with Android phones using Android Beam. It lets you tap your phone on the NFC N-Mark on the dashboard to more quickly pair your Android phone to the Display Audio system over Bluetooth and also transmit a wallpaper image from your phone to use on the Display Audio system.

N-Mark NFC logo on dashboard
While it's not a big deal to jump through the normal Bluetooth pairing process once when you first get your car, NFC is a simple way for friends with Android phones to get their devices paired up to share music on road trips, for example.

Honda does offer vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities in the Accord and Accord Hybrid through AT&T, but only on the top-of-the-line Touring trim where it's standard. It's not available even as an option on any of the lower trims.

Separate from the hotspot capabilities, Honda also offers several HondaLink connected car packages for the Accord, depending on trim. Entry-level trims have free access to the Basic package that offers a digital owner's manual, recall notifications, service appointment booking, parking location reminders, and roadside assistance during your warranty period. With higher trims, you can also access the free Link package that lets you see dashboard stats like mileage and fuel range from your phone, receive warning and maintenance notifications on your phone, and send destinations from your phone to the in-vehicle navigation system.

HondaLink functions
The high-end Touring trim offers several additional paid HondaLink package options, including the Security package that can automatically connect you to a live agent if a collision is detected and offer enhanced roadside assistance, priced at $89 per year after the first year.

A Remote package priced at $110 per year after a three-month trial offers features like remote start and lock/unlock, geofencing and speed alerts that can help keep tabs on teen drivers, security alarm alerts, stolen vehicle locator technology, and more. Finally, a Concierge package priced at $260 per year after a three-month trial gives you to a live assistant who can perform tasks such as making reservations, finding nearby events and more. The Remote package features are also included in the Concierge package.

Unsurprisingly, Honda's CarPlay implementation is a wired one, which is unfortunate considering the company offers convenient Qi wireless charging right in the center pocket. The missed opportunity is made a bit more frustrating by the fact that a Plus/Max-sized iPhone with a Lightning cable sticking out the bottom is just a little bit too long to fit comfortably in the center pocket without sitting oddly or putting strain on the cable.

It's not a deal-breaker, however, and it's great that you also have the option of using the USB port in the center console compartment for CarPlay, either tucking your iPhone away in that compartment or routing the cord out and using a cupholder conveniently shaped with a flat side to accommodate a phone. Most other manufacturers limit CarPlay to working over a single USB port, so I really like that Honda has provided an option here.

Main CarPlay home screen
CarPlay looks nice on the large 8-inch screen, although Display Audio lacks some of the more seamless integration I've seen with other infotainment systems. CarPlay takes up the entire screen, so you can't see any information from Honda's system simultaneously unless you've configured things to show it elsewhere such as navigation directions in the heads-up or driver display.

Apple Maps in CarPlay
It's easy enough to hop out of CarPlay using the Display Audio hardware buttons, which can quickly take you to the Honda home screen, the Display Audio navigation, or the audio display/options. Getting back into CarPlay from Display Audio can, however, take a couple of steps, depending on how you have things laid out, so I recommend setting up one of the persistent icons in the top strip to get you back to CarPlay with a single tap.

Now Playing app in CarPlay
If you want to use Honda's navigation and CarPlay's Apple Music app, for example, you can control some aspects of the CarPlay music playback from the Display Audio system, so once you get your tunes up and running in CarPlay, you can hop back to Display Audio and may not necessarily need to get back into CarPlay.

Voice assistant/Siri button at right side of lower left steering wheel cluster
Siri voice input for CarPlay works similarly to most other manufacturers' systems, with a short press on the steering wheel voice button bringing up Honda's assistant and a long press bringing up Siri. With the exception of the track buttons and the tune/scroll knob being able to change between album or playlist tracks in CarPlay audio apps, none of the other hardware buttons in the Display Audio system can be used to control CarPlay. That's not an issue, however, as voice and the touchscreen are plenty simple to use.

Honda's Display Audio system offers some solid hardware with a quality 8-inch touchscreen that's well-positioned at the top of the center stack and minimizes both fingerprints and glare. The inclusion of hardware buttons and knobs around the display definitely helps with usability, making it easy to quickly access popular functions and make common adjustments by feel.

The software is pretty solid as well, offering a clean interface that's customizable with easy-to-find tiles. I wish the navigation system supported natural language input, but as it stands the voice interface isn't bad. You can move pretty rapidly and intuitively through the various steps to get directions to your destination. I do wish the navigation search results screen was laid out a bit better to make it easier to identify location options at a glance.

CarPlay looks nice on the big display, but I do miss the widescreen displays offered on some other vehicles that let you see some of the native infotainment data in a split-screen view alongside CarPlay. Still, Honda makes it reasonably easy to hop back and forth between Display Audio and CarPlay, particularly if you configure a shortcut icon for CarPlay.

Honda has done a decent job of bringing CarPlay to most Accord buyers, leaving it out of only the LX and base Hybrid trims as those vehicles offer smaller, non-touchscreen infotainment systems. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before the more full-featured Display Audio system becomes standard equipment across the lineup. For those trims that do include Display Audio, Honda doesn't charge extra for CarPlay support.

The 2018 and 2019 Honda Accord models in Sport trim, the lowest one that supports Display Audio and CarPlay, start around $26,000, and you can go up to around $35,000 for the Touring trim, although you can push the price even a bit higher with assorted options, particularly upgraded 19-inch wheel options that can add about $3,000 over the standard 17-inch wheels.

Related Roundup: CarPlayTag: Honda
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Apple Pay Will Reportedly Launch in Germany This Week, Possibly Tomorrow

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:10
Apple Pay will make its long-awaited debut in Germany this week, according to German blog Macerkopf.

The report, citing unnamed sources within German banking circles, says the launch will likely occur on Tuesday with mobile bank N26 and Comdirect expected to be among the initial participating issuers in the country.

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that Apple Pay would launch in Germany by the end of this year back in July. Apple Pay is also listed as "coming soon" on Apple's website in Germany, so a launch is to be expected imminently.

Apple Pay first launched in the United States in October 2014 and has since expanded to many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Japan, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Ireland, and Ukraine.

Apple Pay expanded to Belgium and Kazakhstan in late November.

Related Roundup: Apple PayTag: Germany
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Green Monday Deals: Get Black Friday Prices on HomePod, iPad, Beats Headphones, and More Today Only

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:02
Today is Green Monday, an online shopping event that is similar to Cyber Monday, allowing customers another chance to buy gifts for the holidays at Black Friday prices and get their items shipped before Christmas.

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.

Most major retailers are running Green Monday deals today, and we've rounded up some of the best and most notable deals in this article. These include HomePod for $250 at Target, an iPad mini 4 for $250 at Best Buy, all-new Anker discount codes on Amazon, and more.

Target today has brought back one of the best Black Friday discounts, offering shoppers the chance to get Apple's HomePod for just $249.99, down from $349.99. This is the same price that Best Buy had on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and another great opportunity to buy Apple's smart speaker at its all-time-low price.

Target also has the 9.7-inch iPad from early 2018 (32GB, Wi-Fi only) for $249.99, down from $329.99. Amazon matches this price in Gold and Space Gray color options, and as of today these are the lowest-ever prices for this version of the iPad and the best available online.

Otherwise on Amazon, there are the usual collection of Gold Box deals with some notable inclusions for Green Monday. You can save on a variety of networking products, with the Netgear Orbi Wall Plug Mesh Wi-Fi System for $199.99, down from $299.99.

Another Gold Box offers savings on wireless charging mats from Samsung and iOttie. The main deal here is for iOttie's 7.5W iON Wireless Qi-Certified Charging Pad for $29.95, down from $39.95 in multiple colors.

As usual, one of the best Amazon sales centers upon Anker's accessories, this time including Lightning cables, battery packs, surge protectors, wall chargers, and wireless chargers. We've listed every item part of Anker's Gold Box for Green Monday below:

Lastly, Amazon has Apple's 10.5-inch iPad Pro in multiple sizes and colors at a discount today. You can get the 256GB + Wi-Fi version of the 2017 tablet for $669.99, down from $799.99. 512GB + Wi-Fi is available as well in Silver and Space Gray for $849.99, down from $999.00. Both prices are currently the best available online for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Best Buy
At Best Buy, you can get the iPad mini 4 (128GB, Wi-Fi) for $249.99, down from $399.99 in Gold, Silver, and Space Gray. This is currently the best price available online for Apple's three-year old iPad mini 4, and it's matching the same sale price seen for the tablet during Black Friday at Best Buy and Target.

Best Buy also has the HomePod on sale for $279.99, down from $349.99. This isn't quite as good as Target's current $249.99 sale price on the smart speaker, which we mentioned above.

Even Apple has joined in on Green Monday deal offers today, with a few discounts on Beats by Dre headphones. Although Apple's sales on Beats are typically beaten out by numerous other companies, today marks one of the few times that Apple is actually offering the lowest-possible prices for these headphones available online today, and sometimes matching popular retailers like B&H Photo and Amazon.

B&H Photo
B&H Photo is celebrating Green Monday with discounts on the 2017 models of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. These savings reach to as much as $330 off original prices of both Wi-Fi Only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models, representing the lowest-ever prices for every iPad Pro listed below. One of the best markdowns in this sale is for the 512GB Wi-Fi only model, which has hit its lowest-ever price today of $799.99, down from a previous discount of $899.00, and from an original price of $1,149.00.

Wi-Fi Only

Wi-Fi + Cellular
If you're shopping around for newer Apple products, B&H Photo also has a few small discounts on 2018 Macs and iPads.

To keep track of more sales happening today and into the remainder of the holiday season, be sure to visit our Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Google Maps Expanding 'For You' Recommendations Tab to iOS in Over 40 Countries Today

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 16:47
Google today announced that its Google Maps app for iOS will be updated today with a new "For You" tab in over 40 countries.

"For You" was first announced at Google I/O in May and was initially limited to Android. The feature is designed to "tell you what you need to know about the neighborhoods you care about," such as new restaurants opening nearby, trending spots, and more, based on places you've rated and places you've visited.

The tab is accompanied by a new "Match Score" that predicts which restaurants you're most likely to prefer based on your personal preferences, which is designed to help you to choose between multiple restaurant suggestions.

iPhone users can install the update from the App Store later today. "For You" is also expanding to over 130 countries on Android today.

Tags: Google, Google Maps
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