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’Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Star Moses Ingram to Join Cast of Apple TV+ Series ‘Lady in the Lake’

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 23:06

The finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi recently aired, and co-star Moses Ingram already has her next role. Producers cast Ingram alongside Natalie Portman in the upcoming Apple TV+ series Lady in the Lake. The series is based on the thriller novel of the same title by Laura Lippman.

Star Wars Veterans Seem the Preferred Actors for ‘Lady in the Lake’

When Apple first announced its plans to adapt the novel into a series, another Star Wars actor was cast in the project along with star Natalie Portman. The series originally planned to feature Lupita Nyongo’o as the co-star. Myongo’o voiced character Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She also starred in Marvel’s Black Panther. Nyongo’o dropped out of the project for unknown reasons.

Lady in the Lake, despite its Camelot myth-sounding title, takes place in Baltimore during the 1960s. Housewife and mother Maddie Schwartz (Portman) must reinvent her life as an investigative journalist after an unsolved murder. Her path collides with the life of Cleo Sherwood, who will now be portrayed by Ingram. Sherwood is a hard-working woman who juggles being a mother and holding down multiple jobs. At the same time, she works to advance Baltimore’s Black progressive agenda.

Moses Ingram, An Actor Plagued By Racist ‘Fans’

During the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ingram made headlines in a very troubling way. Online trolls targeted her after the premiere of the series, spewing hateful racism at her right after the release of the first episode.

Ewan McGregor, who plays Kenobi and is also part of the Apple TV+ family, responded with a video message in which he offered his unwavering support for Ingram. McGregor describes Ingram as “a brilliant actor, she’s a brilliant woman.” McGregor also pointed out that anybody bullying Ingram in such a way was “no Star Wars fan in my mind.”

Of course, Ingram is no stranger to Apple TV+, either. Prior to joining Lady in the Lake, Ingram performed as Lady MacDuff in the Apple Original Film The Tragedy of Macbeth, alongside Denzel Washington.

Lady in the Lake is currently in development. There’s no release date available as of yet.

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Chris Evans Stuns the Internet By Upgrading His iPhone 6

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 22:31

For a bit of weird news today, it turns out Captain America has been using an iPhone 6 this entire time. Chris Evans, the star of Apple TV+’s Defending Jacob series bid a fond goodbye to his iPhone 6 through Instagram.

Chris Evans Says Goodbye to His iPhone 6 and the Home Button

In his Instagram post, Evans expresses particular remorse that he won’t have a home button anymore. However, he also stated “I won’t miss the nightly battle of trying to get you to charge. Or your grainy pictures. Or your sudden drops from 100% battery, to 15%, to completely dead all within minutes.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Chris Evans (@chrisevans)

From the looks of things, it seems Evans chose to go with the iPhone 13. Though he may lament the loss of the Home button, the significant jump from generations may certainly be eye-opening for the actor. Hopefully the seven year wait was worth it.

While the iPhone 6 currently supports the latest iOS, not the same can be said for the new iOS 16 rolling out this September. Additionally, the iPhone 7 and the first-gen iPhone SE will not see the update either.

On Instagram, fans of both the actor and the iPhone 6 came to show support. Several also expressed a loss for the Home button. User frutillaarchitects stated, “I have one with the same issues, but not an iPhone lol, still not giving up on it”. Another user even asked to purchase the phone from the actor. Joking aside, selling the phone for a charity may actually be something Evans should consider.

Getting the Full Experience

Even if he doesn’t sell the phone, hardcore fans still have options. For those that want to live a Chris Evans experience, a fully unlocked iPhone 6 can be found on eBay for around a hundred bucks. Featuring the A8 chip and a Retina HD display, the iPhone 6 came in the colors Silver, Gold and Space Grey.

However, for a truly immersive experience, fans could also purchase a new iPhone 13 immediately after, which currently starts at $699 from the Apple Store. Though for this writer, the smart money may be waiting until the iPhone 14 officially drops.

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Leaks Suggest Next AirPods Pro to Upgraded H1 Chip, Find My, Heart Rate Detection, USB-C and More

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 22:12

We’re mostly expecting Apple to refresh the AirPods Pro sometime in 2022, and rumors have swirled over what changes the Cupertino-based company might make. A recent set of leaks suggest the second-gen AirPods Pro could get heart rate detection, the ability to function as a hearing aid, USB-C charging and more.

Few, If Any, Cosmetic Design Changes For AirPods Pro 2

Some leaks suggested earlier in the year that the second-generation AirPods Pro would ditch the stem. However, information leaked to audiophile blog 52Audio suggests otherwise. The site gathered details from leakers and created a set of renders showing what the unannounced earbuds might look like.

AirPods Pro 2 Render

Over all, the AirPods Pro suggested by the site’s information look almost exactly like the current model and the AirPods 3. The stem is still there, but the case features a USB-C charging port instead of Lightning. This does run contrary to an earlier prediction of the earbuds sticking with Lightning charging.

Inside, though, 52Audio suggests a number of changes.

Adding Hearing Aid Functionality and a Heart Rate Sensor

According to the leaks, Apple will use an updated H1 chip for the AirPods Pro 2. This chip will provide an upgraded SiP packaging system and self-adaptive noise cancellation. It should also better performance and improved power consumption.

In keeping with earlier rumors, the second-gen AirPods Pro could include health sensors. One set would detect the wearer’s heart rate from within the ear. The sensor may also support temperature detection, but 52Audio says this remains unconfirmed.

Find My Support, Hearing Aid Capabilities and More

Reportedly, the next-generation earbuds will fully support Apple’s Find My functionality, allowing users to locate missing earbuds or the case within that app. The case may even include a speaker, allowing it to play a sound when misplaced.

Interestingly, there’s a chance AirPods Pro 2 could serve as a hearing aid. Sound can supposedly be collected through the charging case, then transmitted to the earbuds. From there, the AirPods Pro enhances and plays back the sound to help people with hearing loss better hear sound around them.

In the past, 52Audio has perfectly nailed some details on Apple’s upcoming audio products. However, the site’s also had some notable misses, sharing highly questionable rumors that never panned out. This mixed track record leads me to take some of these suggestions, like the hearing aid functionality, with a grain of salt. I’d need to see FDA applications or clearances to really believe such a feature is coming anytime soon.

Images credit: 52 Audio

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Rumors Suggest Apple to Announce ‘Game-Changer’ AR/MR Headset January 2023

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 21:06

In a post for Medium, Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Quo stated that Apple is gearing up to be a “game-changer” for AR headsets. Kuo also reconfirmed Apple will likely announce the AR/MR headset in January 2023.

The analyst stated that Apple continues to focus on augmented and mixed reality. He also notes that Apple’s  AR/MR headset may feature “video see-thru support”. He stated this will likely offer an “excellent immersive experience”. The new device from Apple is likely to give immersive gaming a boost in demand. It will also be great for multimedia entertainment experiences.

Apple’s AR/MR Headset Looking to Be a ‘Game-Changer’

Kuo also stated that Apple’s AR/MR headset “would be the most complicated product Apple has ever designed”. Intriguing as this sounds, the analyst goes on to say that many current Cupertino suppliers are also going to find themselves in the supply chain for Apple’s headset.

In terms of the recent news regarding Meta forming the Metaverse Standards Group without the inclusion of Apple, Kuo states that this isn’t much of an issue. The analyst stated that “Apple is an industry leader with significant competitive advantages”. Right now, there is little need for Apple to team with Meta on this issue.

If anything, Kuo suggests that this will bring about rapid growth and healthy competition. He suggests that once Apple releases its headset, many global rivals will attempt to imitate it.

In terms of Apple’s rumored headset, Kuo also stated in a series of tweets that Apple will likely make an announcement sometime in January 2023. While many were expecting news on the headset during WWDC 2022, mum was the word. There were some reports that the device was going to launch as soon as this year. However, Mark Gurman had doubts due to development problems.

Furhermore, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a reference to the device in an an interview with China Daily earlier this week. There is good odds that the company is on track for a January announcement. Additionally, reports from TheElec suggest that LG Display is gunning to help supply MicroOLED panels for Apple’s headset.

Finally, it is also interesting to see that Kuo is continuing with his blog. Traditionally, the analyst typically keeps to Twitter for his predictions. Hopefully more will follow concerning Apple’s AR/MR headset, and whether or not it truly is a game-changer.

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Apple’s Back to School Promo Could Score You a $150 Gift Card

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 21:05

As expected, Apple launched its 2022 Back to School promo on Friday, June 24. In addition to its typical educational discounts, shoppers can score an Apple gift card worth up to $150 and slashed pricing on AppleCare+ coverage for their new purchases.

An Apple Gift Card to Go With That Back to School Mac or iPad

Under the terms of the promotion, education buyers can get an Apple gift card as a bonus when purchasing a qualifying Mac or iPad. In the past, the Cupertino-based company offered free AirPods as part of the promo, but chose to go the gift card route this year.

The gift card is in addition to the already-discounted prices Apple offers for education shoppers. Those buying a fifth-generation iPad Air or an 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro receive a $100 Apple gift card. Purchasing a MacBook Air, 24-inch iMac or 13-, 14-, or 16-inch MacBook Pro nets you a $150 gift card.

Interestingly, there’s no mention in the terms or conditions of the Mac mini, Mac Studio or Mac Pro being qualifying purchases.

Get a Discount on AppleCare+ Coverage, Too

Apple also has a discount available on device protection plans bought during the promotional period. AppleCare+ helps protect that purchase by covering accidental loss or damage. The plan also extends the device warranty and complimentary technical support.

Customers purchasing a qualifying Mac or iPad get 20% off their AppleCare+ plan for that device. The coverage can be paid for all at once or in monthly installments with the Apple Card. Speaking of the Apple Card, consumers also get interest-free payments on their new Mac or iPad along with 3% daily cash back.

Who Qualifies For the Back to School Promo

Apple offers its educational pricing and the bonus gift card to a wide variety of education customers. The promotion discussed here applies to the U.S., but Apple does offer similar deals in other countries. The following faculty, staff, students and parents qualify:

  • Employees of public or private K-12 institutions, including homeschool teachers.
  • School board members serving as elected or appointed members.
  • PTA or PTO executives serving as elected or appointed officers.
  • Faculty and staff of Higher Education institutions such as colleges and universities.
  • Students attending or accepted into a Higher Education institution.
  • Higher Education Parents purchasing on behalf of their child, who is a student currently attending or accepted into a public or private Higher Education institution.

Apple’s Back to School promo began June 24 and ends on September 26, 2022.

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Apple-1 ‘Byte Shop’ Model Goes for $375,000 at Thursday Auction

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 20:21

A rare Apple-1 “Byte Shop” computer hand-numbered by Steve Jobs recently sold at auction this week for a staggering $375,000. The auction, held at RR Auction, closed Thursday according to the auction house’s website. The estimation value for the machine was around $450,000. The auction house also received their usual 25% cut, bringing the total to $468,750.

Original Apple-1 ‘Byte Shop’ Goes to Auction

The device is one of 50 ultra rare “Byte Shop” Apple-1 computers. The computer was given this name due to Steve Jobs approaching the owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California about selling the computers in his shop. The store owner, Paul Terrell, agreed on the condition that the devices were fully assembled. Those that remember know that the original Apple-1 typically was sold as kits in order to be built by electronic hobbyists. Terrell purchased fifty of the computers.

In terms of history, the Apple-1 was the first ever produced made by Apple. Assembled by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak together in the Jobs’ family garage, the duo made close to 200 devices in 10 months. The two were able to sell 175 of them.

Now, the computer is incredibly rare, and only a handful are currently known to exist. What makes this one even more rare is that it is still operational. Rarer still is the fact that Steve Jobs personally marked the computer with the stock number 01-0068. The historical device also came with a replica of the operation manual signed by Steve Wozniak. The lot of items came from the personal collection of Roger Wagner, who bought the items in 2002 during California’s Vintage Computer Festival.

The Apple-1 up for auction included:

  • Original Apple-1 board, marked in the hand of Steve Jobs with stock number “01-0068”
  • Original Apple Cassette Interface (ACI) with manual
  • Original Apple II keyboard with Apple-1 cable adapter
  • Apple-1 Basic cassettes
  • Panasonic RQ413S Portable Cassette Tape Recorder/Player
  • Taxan Model KG-12NU-Y 12” Display Monitor
  • CFFA1-CF card adapter for Apple-1
  • Replica Apple-1 Operation Manual signed in black felt tip by Steve Wozniak
Other Apple-1s For Sale

The computer was restored to operational condition in April 2021 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen. The expert rated this machine’s condition a 7.0/10. It is also listed as #12 on the Apple-1 Registry.

It is worth noting that this machine is different from the Apple-1 that went up for sale on eBay. Known as a ‘Schlumberger 2’ Apple-1, the device that came up for auction on eBay also sold for considerably less than expected. Expecting to net $485,000 thanks to the rarity and condition, the Apple-1 on eBay hit $340,100 after 112 bids.

While it is a fascinating piece of history, a more sensible purchase may be a new MacBook Pro instead. Of course, owning one a piece of computing history is certainly monumental bragging rights.

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Code in iOS 16 Betas Hint at New Siri Remote for Apple TV

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 19:22

Folks have been pouring through the code of the first two iOS 16 betas, and it appears that there is references to an unreleased Siri Remote for Apple TV.

While information is currently scarce, the rumor mill suggests that this may be a new remote for a 4K Apple TV system. Said 4K Apple TV may come with an updated prices structure and may arrive as soon as this year.

Code in iOS 16 Beta Hints at New Siri Remote

Evidence of the Siri Remote appears in the first two iOS 16 betas. Meant for developers, the betas include strings for “SiriRemote4” and “WirelessRemoteFirmware.4.” Neither of these match with a Siri Remote currently on the market.

An AppleDB contributor by the name of AaronP613 was the one to spot the code. AppleDB is an online database for Apple software and devices. Concerning the code, the original Siri Remote is identified simply as “SiriRemote”, Aaron stated. He also noted that a new version of the remote with a white circle around it goes by “SiriRemote2”. The silver Siri Remote which saw release in 2021 is “SiriRemote3”.

The iOS 16 IPSW hints at a new Siri Remote that has yet to be released

— Aaron (@aaronp613) June 6, 2022

This highly suggests that “SiriRemote4” is a reference to an upcoming remote. Likely for AppleTV.

Going back to the iOS 16 betas, the code makes no further details concerning “SiriRemote4”. Which means that potential design or feature details are a mystery. Furthermore, a new name within the code does not necessarily guarantee a new device offering.

In May, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that a new version of Apple TV that “improves cost structure” would see a launch in the second half of 2022. Quo suggests that it will likely have a lower price point than the existing Apple TV 4K, which currently starts at $179.

Kuo was hush about any more details, so right now, it isn’t entirely clear if a new Siri Remote may be in the works for a lower-cost Apple TV.

The current Apple TV model saw a release in April 2021. Arriving with a new Siri remote, the design of the TV was more practical than the prior model.

A new tvOS 16 update is currently in beta, and will likely arrive in September.

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Apple’s Long Game in Mobile and Portable Computing; Choice and Versatility

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 14:32

At this year’s WWDC, there was a tell that we are turning a corner in mobile and portable computing. It had less to do with what was said than when during the presentation it was said; the last place, the spot normally reserved for the main event. It was iPadOS.

TLDR/Abstract
  1. iPad was Apple’s productivity answer to netbooks
  2. Toaster fridges vs confluent evolution
  3. What’s a computer: features vs orthodoxy  
  4. Apple was never going to shoehorn macOS into iPad, but code demanded productivity features within iPadOS  
  5. iPad, Apple’s most versatile device, satisfies mobile, portable computing needs for a growing user base, can and likely will dominate that space
  6. Conclusions
First Foray and Misdirection

Before we discuss why that was significant, let’s talk about the iPad. This has been one of Apple’s least understood devices. When SJ debuted the device, he expressly modelled its content consumption capability. He only modestly showcased its potential as a productivity device. Many forget that, at rollout in 2010, Apple unveiled the Apple Keyboard Dock for the iPad along with the iWork suite. This was no accident. As TMO’s former editor in chief, Bryan Chaffin, used to point out, this was Apple’s response to the netbook, a poorly conceived and minimally functional attempt at mobile, ultra-portable computing.  Netbooks were a failure of imagination better suited for the Darwin Awards than they were for productivity. The Street and analysts clamored for Apple’s netbook reposte. It was the iPad. By 2012, two years after the iPad’s release, the netbook was effectively dead, and buried one year later . At inception, the iPad demonstrated its value proposition as a superior, more appealing ultra-portable productivity device to the netbook. Apple was very deliberate in positioning the iPad as its answer to the netbook, a productivity device. Still, many continued using it primarily for content consumption. 

The Cook, the Toaster Fridge and Heat in the Kitchen  

On April 24, 2012, Tim Cook (TC) quipped one of his oft-cited yet most misunderstood phrases when he said, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user”, in response to the question of laptop-tablet hybrids. While that comment confused many, it clearly presented no such confusion for Microsoft. That was evidenced by the company’s marketing response. Microsoft positioned its Surface Pro, not against the iPad, but against the MacBook Air. At the same time, it called out TC and Apple for hypocrisy ahead of the Surface Pro 4 release. At the center of it all was that “toaster-fridge” jibe. Apple positioned the iPad, its keyboard and productivity suite against the netbook. The company was hardly criticizing the use case for tablets in the laptop niche. It had just done that and now was addressing the solutions by which tablet computers entered that niche. 

Microsoft was correct that Apple was critical of its solution. That solution, remember, was to shoehorn Windows into a tablet and layer it with a touchscreen skin. In effect, it was hobbling both the keyboard OS and the touchscreen with an inferior user experience with either. Microsoft designed Windows for the keyboard. Engineers designed tablets as a touchscreen. Simply grafting one atop the other was never going to be how Apple would solve that problem.

Apple Places Use Case Scenarios at the Forefront of Designing Its Ultra-Portable Computing Device

Rather, TC’s point was that the iPad, a tablet, had to remain true to its conceptual origins. It needed to evolve into a more versatile productivity device as a touchscreen computer. The iPad would acquire these features de novo, coded into its touchscreen core.  Apple would no more port macOS into the iPad than it would port iOS or iPadOS into a Mac. Yes, all three systems would adopt many of each other’s most popular features. Nevertheless, they did so consistent with their native code and form factor. Only by this means would there be no compromise in performance. 

This is “convergent evolution” in computing, the independent development of similar features by different species in separate epochs. The Surface, by comparison, was a chimera, a composite of two distinct lineages, and as such, inferior to either in performance. Over time, while the Surface Pro has become a better device, it remains firmly positioned not against any variant of the iPad, but against the MacBook Air, which Microsoft delights in pointing out still lacks touchscreen capability despite its SoC chipset, and derides the Touch Bar. This is clever misdirection. The truth is, Apple will likely never make macOS touchscreen-enabled. Microsoft knows this. Rather, it seeks to forestall comparing the Surface Pro to the iPad Pro. After all, the Surface compares unfavorably against the iPad Pro as a touchscreen computer. 

What’s a Computer? The Clash Between Imperfect Messaging and Conceptual Orthodoxy 

In 2018, Apple ran an advert in which a kid asks, “What’s a computer?” Business Insider was not alone in taking a concrete interpretation of this comment. The kid is seen as “insolent.” Like many, the youth are so reliant on the iPad that they “no longer know what a traditional computer is.”

My take has always been that this was one of Apple’s most misunderstood attempts at challenging orthodoxy. This is something Apple regularly does. Recall this quote from Apple’s Think Different campaign, “We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, you must look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try. Dare to strike out and find new ground.” The thing being looked at differently here was “a computer.”

The 2018 advert was a messaging misfire. Apple, in my view, was pointing out that we limit our concept of a computer to form factor. Simultaneously, we are blind to use case. The world in general adheres to the Gartner computer glossary definition of what is a computer, namely a traditional PC, based on form and a desktop OS, in which Gartner also includes the Microsoft Surface Pro, but not the iPad Pro. We will leave the discussion of IBM PC users in the 1980s arguing that the Mac was not a real computer because it did not use a command line but a GUI for another day, but the use of a GUI is relevant to our discussion. A GUI is input agnostic; a command line requires keyboard input. Apple watchers have noted this before, but failed to connect the dots that Apple laid out in its much-maligned iPad Pro advert. 

Definitions and Labels Do Little to Truly Define What Constitutes a Mobile, Portable Computing Device

Today, monikers continue to mask the many variants of what truly is a computer. That the iPhone and the iPad both use a touchscreen GUI, and one is called a phone and the other a tablet, obscures their true use cases and therefore their functional niche to many observers. The fact that both devices have assumed tasks erstwhile reserved exclusively for PCs has not unblinded these people, despite their performing these tasks at a level superior to older PCs.  

Put another way, a car, a motorcycle and an 18-wheeler are all motorized vehicles. Despite differences in form factor, capability and use case, would anyone argue otherwise? Your local department of motor vehicles would not. Likewise, were one to argue that unless it has a radiator, tailpipe and runs on liquid fuel, it’s not a car, would you agree, or like Mr T, “pity the fool?” The iPhone and the iPad both have far larger, more sophisticated, powerful and stable operating systems than macOS 7 ever was. Would you prefer to have “a computer” that runs macOS 7 on a Motorola 68000 series processor as your only productivity computer for the next six months over either of these? Computers are not defined by form, but by performance and use case. To paraphrase that wise philosopher, Forrest Gump, “A computer is as a computer does.” Amen. 

Untethering the User From a Single Device

Having serviced its ecosystem with cloud computing, Apple has sought to untether the user from any one specific machine to an array of products that best suit users’ needs, providing task “hand-off” between devices as needed. This freedom of choice creates a tension between tradition vs change, between monoculture vs diversity. Apple wants us to know that we are free to move about the product line without restraints. Indeed, the lines between these devices have become blurred not only in hardware capability, but in operating system feature set. If anything, Apple’s iPad advert may simply have been too far ahead of the curve. Apple now appears to acknowledge at this year’s WWDC that when it comes to portable computing, for many users, the iPad already occupies that niche, and as it becomes ever more capable, will likely do so for most users. 

This brings us to the present. 

Whither Goest the iPad?

The iPad is Apple’s most versatile computing device. Though designed for touchscreen interface, it equally accommodates voice, stylus (Apple Pencil), keyboard with mouse or trackpad, as well as third party USB-C and Thunderbolt (M1 iPads) devices and storage media, and an external monitor. The iPad Pro is its most powerful and compelling exponent. When Apple failed to address the rising expectations of the iPad Pro user community with a robust update to iPadOS 15 for the M1 iPads in 2021, sales for this previously fast-growing sector declined across the entire line. Apple noticed.

Thus, at this year’s WWDC, Apple saved this highly anticipated iPadOS 16 update for last. Added were much sought after features, including more robust and efficient multitasking with Stage Manager; an improved file management system; the option to maximise screen content similar to macOS, and improved external monitor support with automatic aspect ratio adjustment for both extended and mirroring options, to name but a few. Apple did this, not by putting macOS into the iPad, but by coding productivity features that pro users like in macOS into iPadOS. Convergent evolution. 

For many users, this will be sufficient impetus to migrate their portable computing needs to the iPad. For others, there are still notable gaps, not least of which is a paucity of pro apps. In competitive markets, pro app offerings should follow market share. 

Conclusions on Apple’s Vision for Mobile, Portable Computing

Apple is a data driven company that observes how the community uses its products and services. Based on the iPad’s growing capabilities as Apple’s most versatile computer, the iPad will continue to expand its portable use case. Just as laptops came to dominate the Mac lineup, the iPad may come to dominate that mobile, portable computing space sooner than later. 

It will continue its quiet contribution to a revolution in how we address our computing needs, elevating us beyond “what is a computer,” to “what tools do I need,” and “which tools are most enjoyable and make me most productive.”

We can also anticipate that, as the Apple platform continues to evolve, the iPad will evolve with it, eventually morphing into, or being overtaken by a device as yet unknown, but with the capacity to provide the features a new generation of users require. Perhaps, by then, devices will no longer be judged by form factor, but by the features and options by which they meet our computing needs, and the question, “what’s a computer,” will finally be meaningless. 

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Apple Music Student Plan Gets a Price Increase in US, UK and Canada

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 13:32

Apple has quietly raised the subscription price of its Apple Music student plan in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. The price increase happened one month after Apple raised subscription prices in several other countries.

Apple Music Student Plan Now Costs $5.99 in the US, UK, and Canada

Apple did not announce it, and probably has no plans to do so, but as noted by a user (via 9 to 5 Mac), the subscription charges have been changed to $5.99. Previously, Apple charged $4.99 for the Apple Music student plan in the U.S. Likewise in the U.K., the Apple Music student plan increased to £5.99 from £4.99.

Interestingly, the individual Apple Music subscription plan did not increase its price in the U.S. It’s still priced at $9.99 per month. The Apple Music family plan did not change its price of $14.99 per month, either. The family plan allows up to 6 family members to enjoy Apple Music at the same time.

So, it would seem that Apple only increased the subscription price of the Apple Music student plan, while prices for other plans stayed the same. Apple has not issued any statement about the increase in the cost of subscription to the Apple Music student plan. We can only guess that this could be due to several reasons such as licensing costs, currency challenges, or simply to increase profit.

Aligning Subscription Costs Across Countries

The price increase happened one month after Apple raised the subscription prices for Apple Music in several other countries. These included Australia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Africa. Students in these countries who subscribed to the Apple Music student plan received emails that notified them of the price increase. It remains uncertain whether Apple did or will do the same for student subscribers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Students who would like to subscribe to the Apple Music student plan need to verify that they are indeed in education before they can enjoy the discounted pricing. Apple Music student plan also comes with access to Apple TV+.

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Google Chrome on iOS Gets Five New Features

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 13:03

Google announced five new features in the latest version of Chrome on iOS. One of the features includes enhanced safe browsing, which gives users more proactive and tailored protection from phishing, malware, and other web-based threats.

Enhanced Safe Browsing with Google Chrome on iOS

The latest version of Chrome on iOS introduced enhanced safe browsing. If this is turned on iPhone and iPad,  the Google Chrome browser will predict and warn users of dangerous web pages. Chrome sends information about the websites to Google Safe Browsing for checking. Additionally, if users type in their credentials on a website, Chrome will issue a warning if their usernames and passwords get compromised via a third-party data breach. Google Chrome then suggests changing these compromised usernames and passwords as soon as possible.

Other New Features of Chrome on iOS

Aside from the enhanced safe browsing feature, Chrome on iOS also allows users to set Google Password Manager as the Autofill provider. This will enable users to quickly and securely create, store and fill in passwords on any websites or apps on iOS devices.

Another new feature of Chrome on iOS allows users to easily discover new content or start a fresh search. This is particularly useful when Chrome has not been used for a long time. The feature will allow users to easily browse content or get back to their frequently visited websites quickly.

Google Chrome on iOS also launched an updated language identification model. This will accurately figure out the language of the page that users are visiting. It will also determine whether the website needs to be translated to match the language preference of the user.

Lastly, Google Chrome on iOS will soon be rolling out Chrome Actions. This feature will help users get more things done quickly from the Chrome address bar. It will allow users to type an action’s title into the Chrome address bar. Chrome can also predict if a user will benefit from a Chrome Action based on the words that have been typed. Essentially, Chrome Actions make it faster to do common activities. These include clearing browsing data, opening incognito tab, and setting Chrome as the default browser.

Google also said that there will be more enhancements to Chrome on iOS in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, users may download the latest Chrome on iOS for free from the App Store.

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Using Measurement Conversions in iOS 16

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 23:40

I don’t know about you, but I find myself needing to convert measurements pretty often. Whether it’s switching from the American measurement system to metric, or even just figuring out cups to ounces, it’s almost a daily occurrence. One nice, almost hidden, new feature in iOS 16 makes that easier. You’ll soon be able to do measurement conversions on your iPhone just by highlighting the number.

Buried But Still Easy to Find Measurement Conversions

If you can highlight the text, you can easily find measurement conversions in iOS 16. For the sake of demonstration, I’ve just typed them into Notes. The feature works in any app that lets you highlight text, though. That means your web browser, email apps, or even Facebook.

Once you highlight the measurement you want a conversion for, tap the right-pointing symbol in the contextual menu that pops up. You may have to tap a few pages over, but you’ll eventually see conversions. It works with distance, volume, temperature, mass and weight measurements, and more. It will even convert U.S. dollars to euros.

iOS 16 meausrement conversions

As you can see, iOS 16 will happily convert Fahrenheit to Celsius or Kelvin temperature measurements. Pounds to grams and kilograms works well, and vice versa. Surprisingly, converting miles per hour to kilometers per hour and even meters per second works well.

If you have a measurement of “3 feet,” you can get that translated to meters. You do need to spell out feet, though; the feature won’t currently recognize the apostrophe () shortcut for that unit of measurement.

On the other hand, “12ft” is recognized and a conversion of 3.66 meters shows up in the menu. The same goes for inches to meters or centimeters. You can highlight “12 inches” or “12in” and get a conversion.

Note that to use the two-letter shortcut for the unit of measurement, there cannot be any space between the numbers and unit.

A Feature Still (Hopefully) Being Improved

Right now, there’s no way to copy these conversions and paste them elsewhere. There are also a few common measurement types that aren’t recognized. Considering this is just the second developer beta, I do expect Apple will refine the feature and make it more useful in the future.

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Apple TV+ Series ‘Trying’ Reveals Season 3 Trailer Before July Premiere

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 22:37

Today Apple TV+ shares the first trailer for the highly-anticipated third season of Trying. The British comedy will see its next installment begin streaming from July 22 on Apple TV+.

The hit series will premier the first two episodes of season three on July 22. From there, new episodes will arrive weekly, with the season seeing a conclusion September 2.

Apple TV+ Drops Trailer for Season 3 of ‘Trying’

Many fans are eagerly anticipating what is sure to be a spectacular third season. Now, Apple TV+ gives viewers a glimpse of what’s in store.

In a press release, Apple stated

After a dramatic end to season two, the third season picks up with Nikki (BAFTA nominee Esther Smith) and Jason (SAG Award nominee Rafe Spall) waking up as new parents to two children they are still getting to know. Now they just have to keep hold of them, which proves to be trickier than they initially thought. Thrown straight into the parental deep end, Nikki and Jason’s relationships with each other and with their nearest and dearest are tested as they desperately try to navigate the ups and downs of parenting — while hanging onto their kids, and their sanity.

The series is a creation by Andy Wolton, who also writes and serves as executive producer. The series also sees Jim O’Hanlon (Marvel’s The Punisher) serving as executive producer and director. Additionally, Sam Pinell (Motherland) and Tim Mannion are producing the show, and Josh Cole also serves as executive producer. The series is a production through BBC Studios.

Furthermore, outside of Smith and Spall, the cast also features Eden Togwell, Mickey McAnunlty, Oliver Chris, Sian Brooke, Darren Boyd and Robyn Cara.

Right now, the first two seasons of Trying are available for streaming through Apple TV+.

Other recent Apple TV+ news includes Billy Crystal signing on to star and executive produce the new series Before. Apple has also made an order for the London thriller Criminal Record. The series is set to star Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo.

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Amazon Looks to Give Alexa Capability to Mimic Anybody’s Voice

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 22:17

In the “Oh, that’s not creepy at all” arena, Amazon is trying to give Alexa the capability to mimic anybody’s voice. The online retailer is developing a system for its voice assistant that would allow Alexa to sound like a customer’s favorite grandmother or anyone else.

A Gray Area Whether We Should or Shouldn’t Let Alexa Mimic Voices

This is a segment of technology that’s already under a ton of scrutiny, and for good reason. Several years ago, an energy company CEO thought he was talking to his boss over the phone. It was actually AI software being used to defraud the company.

Microsoft has similar technology, allowing its software to parrot other people’s voices. That company has chosen to restrict which businesses can use the capability.

The goal of this type of tech is to help people with speech impairments or other problems. However, it’s highly open to abuse. Some fear it could be used to propagate political deepfakes. It would allow putting words into rival politicians’ names that were never there in the first place.

A More Innocuous Purpose That’s Still Creepy

In Amazon’s case, the company has other uses in mind (via Reuters). When demonstrating the not-yet-released feature, Amazon portrayed a child asking Alexa, “Can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?” The Echo confirmed the command and then changed its voice to one more soothing and less robotic.

Amazon unveiled the capability during a conference in Las Vegas. Rohit Prasad, an Amazon senior vice president, said the system will let Alexa mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio. Prasad said the goal of the feature is to “make the memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the pandemic.

I’m sure some might find it comforting to hear a loved one’s voice again, but I wouldn’t be the one to have Alexa taking on such mimicry. I can also see far too many opportunities to abuse the capability. Technology can already deceive the general public too easily. Adding the ability to mimic others’ voices is a step too far down that path, in my opinion.

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Apple and MLB Release July Schedule for ‘Friday Night Baseball’

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:35

Apple and the MLB have now revealed the July 2022 schedule for games that will see broadcast on Apple TV+’s Friday Night Baseball. Baseball fans will be able to watch the games for free through Apple’s streaming service.

July’s Schedule for ‘Friday Night Baseball’

Apple stated in its press release,

“The 2022 season is off to a great start, and we’re proud to bring all baseball fans a new way to watch their favorite teams each week, all without local blackout dates or the need for a cable subscription,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services. “Friday Night Baseball brings the best of Apple’s signature design and commitment to the highest-quality experience together with the time-honored traditions of MLB, and we’re looking forward to offering fans more great games to watch throughout the summer.”

Broadcaster assignments will see an announcement on a weekly basis. Fright Night Baseball’s live pre and postgame coverage continues to see host Lauren Gardner alongside a rotating group of analysts as well as former MLB umpire Brian Gorman, who offers rules analysis and interpretation.

Additionally, fans may also access Friday Night Baseball games and additional content. This includes new exclusive programs such as Countdown to First Pitch. This program gives a preview of the weeks matchups. Fans can also check out MLB Daily Recap through the Apple TV app.

Viewers can also follow their favorite teams and watch personalized MLB highlights directly from the Apple News app. Every Friday, fans enjoy a selection of highlights and stories concerning the league. Users can also easily tap in to watch Friday Night Baseball directly in the Apple TV app.

July Schedule

The Friday Night Baseball Schedule is as follows,

Friday, July 1
Texas Rangers at New York Mets
7 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros
8 p.m. ET

Friday, July 8
Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers
8 p.m. ET
Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners
10 p.m. ET

Friday, July 15
Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies
8:30 p.m. ET
Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres
9:30 p.m. ET

Friday, July 22
Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
7 p.m. ET
Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox
8 p.m. ET

Friday, July 29
Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
7 p.m. ET
Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants
10 p.m. ET

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Apple Watch SOS Saves Trapped Swimmer’s Life

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 21:23

The Apple Watch has become pretty well known for fitness tracking and saving lives. Recently, an Oregon woman learned both facts about the wearable device. Thanks to the water resistance of the device and the Apple Watch SOS feature, she’s still alive to tell her tale.

Trapped By Rocks in the Columbia River

The woman was swimming in the 56-degree waters of the Columbia River near Dalles, Oregon. Her foot got caught in some rocks, and she was unable to free herself. She was caught up in the river for more than 30 minutes before rescuers freed her.

When first responders arrived, they tried giving her a ladder and prying apart the rocks. That didn’t work, so one of the responding police officers decided he needed to go into the water. He believed he needed to feel how the entrapment was happening. The water was too murky and fast to see from above or from the shore.

Leaving his ballistic vest and duty belt behind, Officer Reams carefully entered the water. When he reached the swimmer, only the officer’s head remained above water. He was able to reach down and feel the swimmer’s foot. Finally, he managed to pull her foot from the rocks and bring her to shore.

The Apple Watch SOS Function To the Rescue

At the outset of the emergency, the swimmer used her Apple Watch to call for help. The Apple Watch SOS feature helps you by calling 911, or the applicable emergency services number for your locale, when needed. In this sort of case, the feature only works if your Apple Watch has a cellular connection and active plan.

First responders said the woman was nearing exhaustion and already showing signs of hypothermia when she was rescued. Had it not been for her Apple Watch and its SOS feature, rescuers may not have known of her plight in time to save her.

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Apple Takes 62% of Global Premium Smartphone Market Thanks to iPhone 13

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 20:45

New data reveals that Apple’s iPhone 13 now dominates 62% of the premium smartphone market in the first quarter of 2022. This news arrives after Counterpoint Research made a revelation that the iPhone 13 continues to be the  best-selling smart phone globally for April.

iPhone 13 Dominates Global Premium Market

The study reveals that Cupertino was able to reach its highest first-quarter share in the premium segment since the first quarter of 2017. Additionally, while the global premium smartphone market sales volume saw an 8% decline year over year during the quarter, the iPhone still made a better performance in the overall smartphone market. However, the market also saw a decline of 10%.

CounterpointResearchGlobalPremiumShares

Apple continues to lead in terms of smartphones. This is the eight consecutive market growth in which the premium market has outperformed overall smartphone market growth. Counterpoint Research also shows that this 62% market share has been driven by the iPhone 13 series. The phone has been the best-selling model globally each month since October 2021.

Counterpoint Research stated,

The volume growth in the ultra-premium segment was driven by Apple and Samsung. The iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro together captured over two-thirds of sales volume within the ultra-premium price segment. This was driven by strong volume growth in the US, China, and Western Europe. In China, the sales in the >US$1000 price segment grew 176% YoY in Q1 2022. The segment alone captured over one-fifth of China’s smartphone market value during the quarter. Apple emerged as the biggest winner from Huawei’s decline in the premium market. The premium market in China still holds potential, and will be driven by upgrades, especially by users from Huawei’s large installed base.

Following in Footsteps

Samsung was the second-best in the premium segment. However, the company has seen a decline in overall share. This is due to a delay in the launch of the Galaxy S22 series. One can compare this to the S21 series launch in 2021. Furthermore, Counterpoint Research stated that “the Galaxy S22 Ultra has been a hit combining the best of the S series and the Note series”.

For Apple, the company jumped from 57% in first quarter of 2021 to 62% in Q1 2022. This is largely in thanks to the iPhone 13. On the other hand, Samsung saw a decline from 18% last year to 16% in 2022. Lastly, Huawei saw a major decline from 9% to 3% in just a year.

Concerning the current generation of Apple smartphones, the iPhone 13 series brought a smaller notch for the first time since the introduction of the iPhone X. The iPhone 13 also brought improvements to the battery and camera. Furthermore, Apple also introduced a new color for both the regular and Pro iPhone models at the beginning of the year to boost sales.

The iPhone 14 is likely to see an introduction to the market in the following months.

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The Magic of Background Removal

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:50

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

For as long as I’ve been using a Mac (nearly 40 years), I’ve considered background removal something akin to magic. In the early days, I found editing individual pixels with the pencil tool in MacPaint magical. Later, Photoshop and other apps with myriad tools for removing backgrounds and unwanted items from photos and drawings felt even more magical.

How it Was

The problem was that performing such magic required skill. And, as the technology improved, performing it well required superior skills. You could (and probably still can) make big bucks if you are a master of manipulating images realistically and removing backgrounds and unwanted objects from photos, drawings, and videos without leaving a trace.

How it Is Today

While you may still need a trained artist with mad skills to achieve spectacular results with difficult subjects, advances in AI (artificial intelligence) have introduced new background removal apps and web services that perform such magic automatically while requiring no skill whatsoever.

If you search the web or your favorite app store for “background removal,” you’ll find there are many options that purport to be free. I checked out several and they all seemed capable of automatically removing backgrounds. Check out remove.bg for an example. Sadly, many (if not most including remove.bg) of these limit you to a single high-resolution download before pestering you for money.

Free Magic from Adobe

Try ‘em if you care to, but if you’re looking for something that’s free and works magically to remove backgrounds, try Adobe Express. Available on the web, iOS, and iPadOS, with the free plan lets you remove unlimited backgrounds (quite nicely) and much more, forever, at no cost.

3 examples of Adobe Express' automatic background removal—(top to bottom) me, a hunk of whitefish, and my lovely wife Lisa.

You also get access to thousands of unique templates, design assets, and Adobe Fonts; a limited collection of royalty-free Adobe Stock photos; basic editing and photo effects including Remove Background and Animate; web and mobile apps; and 2GB of storage, which Adobe says you can for as long as you want at no cost.

Of course, Adobe would love for you to upgrade to Adobe Express Premium ($9.99 a month or $99.99 a year) and will remind you of it often. While not for me, if you desire such additional features as 160 million royalty-free Adobe Stock collection photos, 20 thousand licensed Adobe Fonts, premium editing features, and 100GB of storage, the price for Express Premium seems reasonable.

For as long as I remember, if I had to remove a background manually in Photoshop (or more recently, Affinity Photo or Pixelmator Pro), it took hours and rarely looked as good as the results I get instantly with today’s AI-aided automatic background removal tools. Adobe Express (and most of the others I tried) provide better results in seconds than I get after hours of editing.

Try it. It’s so easy and so good I’m unlikely to ever remove a background manually again.

Ed: Of course, this feature is also coming in iOS and iPadOS 16. It already works remarkably well in the developer beta.

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Nintendo Switch Online Update Only Supports iOS 14 or Later

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:41

Nintendo Switch owners will need to make sure their iPhone or iPad is up to date, as the company has announced that the newest version of its Nintendo Switch Online app will only be compatible with iOS 14 or later.

Nintendo Switch Online Update Only Supports iOS 14 or Later

In a report from EuroGamer, Nintendo made a tweet from its Japanese account stating that the Switch Online app is going to receive an update in the following months that will have new device requirements. Currently, the app works with iOS 12 or later. The new version will now require iOS 14 and later.

Nintendo Switch Online is an app that allows Switch owners to access game-specific services. Users can also find online friends and use voice chat during online matches through a smartphone or tablet. The app is particularly useful with popular games, such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2. The chat feature makes it especially useful during heated online competition.

While the company has yet to provide a reason for its decision, it is likely due to the fact that less than 4% of iPhones and iPads are currently running something older than iOS 14.

iOS 12 was the the latest update for devices such as iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, the first-generation iPad Air and the iPad mini 3. Users who still rely on these devices to use the Switch Online app will no longer be able to use it with the next update. Nintendo stated that the update is coming “summer of 2022”.

Naturally, those that have a newer device who have yet to install an update for one reason or another still have the option to do so. Users can simply update to the latest version of iOS in order to use the Nintendo Switch Online app.

Users can check which iOS they are running on their iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > General > About.

 

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‘Project Unabom,’ An Apple Original Podcast Premieres on Monday, June 27

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:40

Apple TV+ announced the new Apple Original podcast “Project Unabom”. The podcast will be premiering on Monday, June 27. Apple TV+ just gave a sneak peek of it with a trailer for the eight-part podcast series.

‘Project Unabom’ Tells the Tale of a Madman

As a backgrounder, the Unabomber terrorized the nation for 18 years. During those years, the suspect murdered three people before he finally got arrested in 1996. During the course of his bombing attacks, he also injured dozens of people. On the day of his arrest, the world finally got to see what the serial bomber looked like. The nation also finally learned about Ted Kaczynski, a bearded and disheveled fellow, the serial bomber of the UNABOM case.

The Apple Podcast will feature original reporting from host Eric Benson known for his work in “Suspect” and “Witnessed: Borderlands.” The series will also feature access to thousands of original documents from Kaczynski’s papers and FBI files. There will also be exclusive interviews with his brother, David Kaczynski, as well as some never-before-told stories of the original suspect in the UNABOM case.

“Project Unabom” tells the story of a family coming to grips with what was happening inside a tiny cabin in the Montana woods. It also tells the story of a nation shocked by everything that happened during the UNABOM case. After all, who would have thought that a former mathematics professor could commit such crimes?

Schedule and Where to Listen to the Podcast

Following the premiere episode, new episodes of “Project Unabom” will debut every Monday. It will be available on Apple Podcasts and through an RSS feed. Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios produced the podcast series. Pineapple Street co-founders Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky served as executive producers.

“Project Unabom” adds to the growing collection of podcasts that are streaming now on Apple Podcasts. These include “Run, Bambi, Run,” the DuPont-Columbia Award-winning “The Line,” “Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy,” among other titles.

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Apple Dominates the Top 10 Smartphones in April 2022 with Five iPhone Models Selling Well

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 19:10

A new report says that Apple led the top 10 bestselling smartphones in April 2022 with five iPhone models. The iPhone models accounted for 89% of Apple’s total sales for the month.

Apple Dominates the Top 10 Smartphones List with Five iPhone Models

According to CounterPoint’s Global Monthly Handset Sales Tracker for April 2022, Apple led the top 10 smartphone list with 5 iPhone models selling well. Samsung and Xiaomi followed with four and one smartphone models respectively. The report also said that the top 10 smartphones captured 21% of the total smartphone market sales.

The five iPhone models which made it to the top 10 smartphone list include the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 12, and iPhone SE 2022. Surprisingly, the iPhone 12 got the fourth spot while the relatively new iPhone SE 2022 got the seventh spot. Among the three iPhone 13 models, the iPhone 13 got the most significant share in April with 5.5% of smartphone sales.

The iPhone SE 2022 and iPhone 12 Are Still Selling Well

The report also noted that the iPhone SE 2022 saw a triple-digit month-over-month growth as it made its way to the top 10 smartphones list. Said iPhone model made it pretty well in Japan where it captured 18% of the country’s smartphone sales in April 2022.

Likewise, the iPhone 12 also made it on the list due to its good sales in Japan and India. The iPhone model also made it to the top 10 list in 2021,

There Has Been an Increase in Sales of 5G Smartphones

The report also said that seven of the top 10 smartphones happened to be 5G-enabled smartphones. The number went up from last year when only four 5G-enabled smartphones were on the list. This only goes to show that more consumers preferred to buy 5G smartphones.

The month’s best-sellers list saw an increase in the number of 5G-enabled smartphones, rising to a new high of seven models and up from four in the same month last year. The 5G smartphones on the list represent a third of the total 5G smartphone sales. 5G capability has become a standard offering in flagships and its presence is increasing in lower price bands as well.

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