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Apple Expanding App Store Advertisements to ‘Today’ Tab and App Pages

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 19:19

Reports are indicating that Apple is adding two new advertising slots to its App Store, meaning users are about to see more ads than they usually do. The App Store will begin placing an ad on the ‘Today’ page, as well as to individual app pages.

The new ad placements are likely to begin appearing soon for testing, yet currently there are no details on when this will happen exactly.

Apple App Store to Get More Advertising

The new advertising within the App Store allows developers to place ads outside of the Search tab and Search results. The new advertising spot arriving to the ‘Today’ page of the App Store is located within the second slot of the Today page.

In a statement, Cupertino explained that the new advertising placements allow developers an additional way to expand its customer outreach, while still maintaining the standards of Apple’s privacy commitment:

Apple Search Ads provides opportunities for developers of all sizes to grow their business. Like our other advertising offerings, these new ad placements are built upon the same foundation—they will only contain content from apps’ approved App Store product pages, and will adhere to the same rigorous privacy standards.

For Apple, the company notes that the rest of the Today tab will still focus on discovery and curation. Cupertino is making sure that the ads are clearly marked in the App Store by using the same blue banner and background as ads seen in Search. Developers will likely find this ad placement enticing, as it will be one of the first things users see when they open the App Store.

AppleAppStoreAdvertisingInTextOneAug2022

In regards to the second new advertising placement, it will arrive directly to product pages themselves. Meaning that developers will now be able to place ads on on the product pages of other apps. According to reports, the location of the spot is at the bottom of the product page. The new ad is beneath the banner section showing other apps by the developer.

However, developers will not be able to target specific applications when bidding for ad placement on a product page. For example, Twitter will not be able to specifically advertise on Tweetbot’s app page. On the other hand, ads will be relevant to each product page. Meaning that users will likely see ads for direct competitors on app pages.

Concerning Apple and user privacy, users are easily able to opt out of personalized ads. Whenever a user first opens an app, users typically have the option to opt out. Right now, Apple currently shows advertising within the News app, the App Store and the Stocks app.

Apple and Personalized Ads

Earlier this year, Apple indicated that roughly 78% of iOS users forgo personalized ads. This has no impact on conversions of effectiveness, according to Apple. Cupertino explained that advertisers still saw a 62.1% conversion rate from customers who opted in to personalized ads in Q1. This is compared to a conversation rate of 62.5% among users who opted out.

The new ad placement in the App Store will arrive with the same privacy protection as Apple’s other first-party ads. This includes no targeting of individuals or small groups, rather, segments composed of at least 5,000 users. Additionally, Apple does not create individual users profiles across apps and services. Rather, the company relies on random identifiers.

When it comes to Advertising, Apple doesn’t do as much as it could. Thanks to its commitment to protecting user privacy, there’s numerous ways Apple could advertise, and they choose not to. Back in June, JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee noted that Apple’s original decision to only show a single ad in the Search was limiting revenue opportunity. Chatterjee also stated that Apple has likely lost $10 billion in revenue in thanks to App Tracking Transparency.

In short, this seems like an okay middle ground. Advertisements for other apps in the App Store won’t be too distracting for users, and Apple gets to rake in some additional money without compromising user privacy. On paper, this sounds fine. However, seeing how it works in action remains to be seen.

What do you think about Apple expanding App Store advertising? Do you think it will be a good thing or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple TV 4K Gift Card Promo Now Available to Other Countries, U.S. Promo Extended Until August 15

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 19:03

Apple has extended its Apple TV 4K promo to international sites. The gift card promo was previously available in the U.S. only,  It offered customers a gift card worth $50 for every purchase of an Apple TV 4K.

Apple TV 4K Gift Card Promo Extends to Other Countries

On July 31, many online Apple stores went down briefly, returning on August 1, 2022. However, nothing much seemed to have changed except for the announcement about the Apple TV 4K gift card offer. As mentioned, for the U.S. Apple online store, the said promo has been extended until August 15, 2022. Previously, Apple set the deadline as July 14, 2022.

For those who are unaware, the promo offered a $50 Apple gift card for every purchase of an Apple TV 4K. Customers could buy up to two units of the Apple TV 4K. Each purchase received a corresponding free gift card.

Some of the countries we’ve seen that now have the same Apple TV 4K gift card include Australia and the U.K. Most countries where the Apple gift card is available could offer the promo for every purchase of the Apple TV 4K.

As noticed by Apple Insider, the Australian Apple Store stayed up overnight. Surprisingly, the Apple TV 4K gift card still became available without the store going down.

International Apple TV 4K Gift Deal Works the Same as the U.S. Deal

The Apple TV 4K gift card promo for other countries works the same way as it does under the U.S. promo. The only variation is the country’s currency. The same goes for the validity of the offer. While the U.S. and other countries offer it until August 15, 2022, the promotion is valid until August 16 in Australia.

For those who wish to take advantage of the promo but have not used an Apple gift card before, please note that the gift card may not work in the iTunes Music Store or the App Store in some countries. Within countries where the “Everything Apple” gift card is not yet available, it can only be redeemed on Apple’s online store.

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Apple Pay Works on Third-Party Browsers in iOS 16 Beta 4

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 17:56

It seems that Apple is about to make Apple Pay work with third-party browsers such as Chrome, Edge and Firefox. MacRumors contributor Steve Moser found that on iOS 16, Apple Pay works with other browsers beyond Safari.

Apple Works with Third-Party Browsers in iOS 16 Beta

Moser posted a tweet showing a screenshot of Apple Pay working in iOS 16 beta 4 when using third-party browsers such as Edge and Chrome. He got a message that said, “Continue with Apple Pay” when purchasing something online. Previously on iOS, Apple Pay worked only in Safari. Users were not able to use Apple Pay when using third-party browsers.

Other users also noticed that Apple Pay can be used in Firefox under iOS 16 beta 2 and beta 3. Interestingly, Apple kept mum about this. It has never mentioned the feature in the release statements for the iOS 16 betas.

Moser also noted that Apple Pay still isn’t available with third-party browsers under the macOS beta. He explained that this could be due to the fact that Chrome, Edge and Firefox use WebKit, Safari’s rendering engine. Apple requires this on iOS. On the other hand, Apple allows third-party browsers to use their own engines on macOS.

Apple’s Response to the Digital Markets Act

As mentioned, Apple seems reluctant to share this information as of yet. However, the move could be the Cupertino-based company’s silent, but partial, response to the Digital Markets Act scheduled to take effect in spring 2023. The EU’s new legislation will go after companies that force app developers to use their own rendering engines. Although Apple has not issued any statement, it seems that the company may concede to abiding by the new rules.

It wouldn’t really be surprising if Apple allows Apple Pay on third-party browsers when it releases iOS 16 officially. Apple has been the target of antitrust violations one after another. The company would certainly not want to further incur fees related to antitrust issues like when it complied with the Netherland’s government directive to allow third-party payment systems in Dutch dating apps. Apple incurred millions in fines for not abiding by that Dutch regulation at first.

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iOS 16 Beta Makes It Even Easier to Manage Your Apple Cash Balance

Sun, 07/31/2022 - 01:06

Over the past few months, Apple has been refining the Apple Cash options in Wallet. In iOS 16 Developer Beta 4, it’s easier than ever to manage your account balance. New options have appeared to add to your Apple Cash balance or transfer money to your bank account.

Making Apple Cash Easier to Use

With later versions of iOS 15, the Cupertino-based tech giant made it easy to send money with Apple Cash straight from the Wallet app. Apple continues to refine how we can use the digital payment method. New controls found in iOS 16 Developer Beta 4 improve once again on managing your Apple Cash account.

Previously, you needed to navigate several levels in Wallet to add money to your Apple Cash card. First, you would tap the settings icon, then “View Card Details” and finally “Add to Balance.” Similarly, you had to dig deep into the app if you wished to transfer money from Apple Cash to your bank account. No more.

Managing Your Apple Cash Balance From a Drop-Down Menu

In the latest beta, Apple has provided drop-down menu options to manage your balance. New options when you tap the circle-with-three-dots icon simplify things. One entry allows you to add money to your Apple Cash balance. Another provides a quick path to transferring your balance to your bank account.

Manage Apple Cash Balance iOS 16

These options should make it even easier for folks to manage their Apple Cash balance when iOS 16 releases in the fall. Clearly, the iPhone maker hopes solidify its financial services offerings. It’s not only adding new features (like the Buy Now, Pay Later service), but streamlining the existing ones.

Since Apple hasn’t officially noted these changes, they could be fleeting. The options aren’t mentioned in the release noted for DB 4. However, it definitely makes sense to allow you to manage your Apple Cash balance straight from this menu. Hopefully, it sticks around when iOS 16 is officially released this fall.

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Apple Beats Wall Street Expectations in 3Q22 Earnings Report

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 23:41

Once again, Apple has beat Wall Street expectations for its quarterly earnings report. The Cupertino-based tech giant reported revenues of $83 billion for the fiscal quarter ending June 25. In its 3Q22 earnings report and conference call, executives also responded to rumors the company would slow hiring and spending growth for some teams.

Another Record-Breaking Quarter

During the 3Q22 earnings conference call on Thursday, July 28, Apple reported total revenue for the quarter of $83 billion. This reflects a year-over-year increase of 2%. The board of directors declared a cash dividend of $0.23 per share of Apple’s common stock, payable on Aug. 11 to all shareholders as of the close of business Aug. 8.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the results “speak to Apple’s constant efforts to innovate, to advance new possibilities, and to enrich the lives of our customers.” He went on to assure shareholders the tech giant would continue with its commitment to lead with its values,

expressing them in everything we build, from new features that are designed to protect user privacy and security, to tools that will enhance accessibility, part of our longstanding commitment to create products for everyone.

The company also reported the company set a new record for the June quarter. Apple CFO Luca Maestri stated the record results demonstrate the iPhone maker’s “ability to manage our business effectively despite the challenging operating environment.”

On top of that, Apple’s market share increased. Maestri said Apple’s number of active devices as a whole reached an “all-time high in every geographic segment and product category.”

Apple Beats Wall Street Expectations…Again

Wall Street analysts mostly expected Apple to post revenues of $82 billion. The notable exception was Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty. In her last Apple analysis before handing the reins over to Erik Woodring, Huberty called for Cupertino to report revenues of just $80 billion.

In fact, Apple beat all Wall Street expectations, posting $83 billion worth of revenue. The tech giant generated $23 billion in operating cash flow. It returned $28 billion to shareholders, even as it continued to invest in long-term plans.

During the earnings call, Cook also responded to rumors the tech giant might be cutting costs soon. Reports had surfaced that Apple planned to reduce its hiring and spending growth for certain teams. Cook claimed that isn’t the case, but that the company is “doing it on a deliberate basis.”

As has become its custom, Apple provided no guidance for the quarter ahead. However, the company does expect revenue to accelerate into the September quarter in spite of some “pockets of softness.”

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North Dakota School Launches Apple Wallet Mobile ID

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 21:50

A university in North Dakota recently launched its Apple Wallet Mobile ID system for students, faculty, and staff. Members of the university can add their IDs to Apple Wallet and present them to campus security using the iPhone or Apple Watch. The digital ID can also be used to access other university services.

Apple Wallet Mobile ID is Safe and Secure

Valley City State University (VSCU) introduced the new mobile ID system ahead of the fall semester. With just a tap, the mobile ID can be used to safely and securely access the campus. In addition, students, faculty, and staff can use the mobile ID to purchase meals and more.

Using mobile IDs instead of physical ones has become popular in schools due to the obvious fact that it’s more sustainable. Physical IDs usually cost at least $25. Not only is the mobile ID free to have but it’s also more convenient to use. This could also lessen the instances when students forget to bring their IDs. Now, they would have no reason to leave their IDs at home. After all, let’s admit it, people don’t usually forget their phones at home.

Other Things the Mobile ID Can Do

Aside from accessing the campus, the VSCU mobile ID can also be used to access residence halls, check out books at the library, purchase books from the campus bookstore, and yes, even buy a cup of coffee. For those who fear a breach of data security, the VSCU mobile ID is protected by two-factor authentication.

VSCU Chief Information Officer Joe Tykwinski said, “VCSU continues to provide technology leadership in North Dakota higher education. The latest mobile solutions help ensure students and employees have convenient access to the information and services they need.”

VSCU President Alan LaFave said the mobile ID system is safe and highly secure.

Moving from physical cards to a contactless Viking Mobile ID allows for transactions that are safe, convenient, and highly secure. This also helps students avoid touching the readers or handing their ID cards to someone else. The safety and security of students and employees is a top priority. The Viking Mobile ID is a great addition to the VCSU experience.

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‘Black Bird’ Wins Over Audiences and Critics, Shoots to the Top 10 for Streaming Series

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 21:45

The good news doesn’t stop for Apple TV+ this week, as Apple’s latest show Black Bird has shot to number five on Reelgood’s top 10 titles in streaming. Of course, the series also has the reviews to go with it.

‘Black Bird’ Hits the Top 10 for Streaming Series

According to figures obtained by iMore, Black Bird was this week’s number five show among Reelgood’s 5 million users. Series that surpassed the show include The Gray Man, Better Call Saul, The Old Man and Persuasion.

Additionally, Black Bird is still dominating on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and audiences. At the time of this writing, Black Bird has a 98% critics score and a 94% audience score.

Black Bird stars Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Sepideh Moafi, Greg Kinnear and the late Ray Liotta. The six-part psychological thriller is based on a true crime memoir titles In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene and Hillel Levin.

Inspired by true events, Egerton stars as a high school footballer and son of a decorated police man. Keene finds himself facing a 10 year prison sentence in a minimum security facility, but the young man soon finds himself making a deal to find a dangerous serial killer in a maximum security prison and elicit a confession from the man in order for Keene to earn his parole.

Debuting on July 8, the series finale will air Aug. 5 on Apple TV+.

Taking Flight

I’ve previously written a review for Black Bird, and the series is continuing to deliver. After the first two episodes, it’s incredibly difficult not to be hooked by the grittiness and mystery of the show.

For me, the real star of the series would be Paul Walter Hauser and his role as Larry Hall. The tortured serial killer has a fascination with the Civil War, and his highly-alarming shrill voice will give anyone the creeps. Hailing from a comedic background (Hauser was in both I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, both excellent), Hall plays Hauser in a dead pan delivery.

PaulWalterHauserBlackBirdInTextJuly2022

However, the character still does some dark comedy, though the serious tone of the show often makes for more awkward moments rather than something humorous, which actually enriches the character.

If you haven’t checked out Black Bird yet, you seriously should.

Naturally this news is only a cherry on top of the stellar time Apple TV+ is having. We’ve talked at length about the streaming service’s 52 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, but Apple TV+ also received six News & Documentary nominations, a first for the company.

Are you watching Black Bird on Apple TV+? What are you watching right now? Let us know in the comments.

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U.S. Senators Ask Apple and Google How They Handle Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Apps

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 21:39

A U.S. legislator sent a letter inquiring how two tech giants manage fraudulent cryptocurrency apps in their respective app stores. The senator addressed the letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google. He expects a response by August 10, 2022.

Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Apps Have Been Proliferating

Senator Sherrod Brown wrote the two letters, addressed to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, on July 27. The senator chairs the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. In the letter, Brown asked about the measures being taken by both companies to prevent the proliferation of fraudulent crypto apps in their app stores.

In the letter addressed to Cook, Sen. Brown cited reports about fake crypto apps that have scammed hundreds of investors.

In recent years, crypto trading platforms and exchanges have experienced a surge in popularity with millions of investors downloading mobile apps to trade and invest in digital assets. Millions of Americans use mobile apps to invest in unregulated digital assets, including cryptocurrencies. Crypto mobile apps are available to the public through app stores, including Apple’s App Store. While crypto apps have offered investors easy and convenient ways to trade cryptocurrency, reports have emerged of fake crypto apps that have scammed hundreds of investors.

The senator also mentioned the need for Apple to ensure that the App Store has proper safeguards in place to prevent fraudulent mobile apps. Specifically, the letter asked Apple to respond to five clarificatory points related to how the App Store handles fraudulent crypto apps.

Five Key Points that Apple Needs to Respond To

The senator also requested Apple’s response to the following five points by August 10, 2022:

  • The App Store’s review process before approving crypto apps,
  • The steps the App Store takes to prevent cryptocurrency apps from circumventing policies to facilitate phishing,
  • The systems and processes that Apple has in place for users to report fraudulent apps,
  • The actions that Apple has taken to alert people about actual or potentially fraudulent activity related to cryptocurrency investment apps.
  • Whether the App Store coordinated or shared any actions or activities with other app stores related to the suspension or removal of fraudulent crypto apps.

Ed. Note: the included image is not meant to indicate the apps depicted are in any way fraudulent. It is only representative of the wide range of cryptocurrency apps available on the App Store.

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Three Artists You Need to Check Out On Apple Music

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 21:09

Apple TV+ has been having a fantastic month, so today we’re going to celebrate with three artists on Apple Music. In addition to nabbing 52 primetime Emmy Nominations, the streaming service also announced a plethora of new content this week. Of course, what better way to celebrate than with some music? For today, we’re going to explore three artists you might not be aware of on Apple Music.

Artists to Check Out on Apple Music: Lera Lynn

First up, we have artist Lera Lynn. Making her big break in 2014 when she was cast as a moody troubadour in the dark crime drama True Detective, Lynn is a singer/songwriter that hails from “classic country and literary Americana, creating an ethereal spell from roots music”.

Lynn recently released her new album Something More than Love, which not only features the titular song, but “Black River”, “In a Moment”, and “Golden Sun”. Lynn has a voice that can be downright haunting, with much of her music perfectly suiting the soundtrack for a harsh breakup.

Personally, I became a fan after her song “Are You Listening?” found its way to my ears. I’ve been a fan ever since, and I think Lynn would be excellently suited for Cupertino’s Apple Music Sessions. Don’t sleep on this artist, Apple!

You can check out Lera Lynn on Apple Music here.

Death’s Dynamic Shroud Delivers Moods on Apple Music

Next up, we have one of my personal favorite bands, Death’s Dynamic Shroud. One of the innovators and early inspirations for Vaporwave, Death’s Dynamic Shroud crosses genres to create wonderfully produced and fabulously rich soundscapes. Often sampling K-Pop artists and reducing the vocals to a bass-heavy warble, the band produces songs that go from overly-sweet and syrupy-pop to heavily dark electronic music.

The band recently released several singles this year, including “Judgement Bolt,” “Neon Memories,” and “Messe de E-102.” In terms of music, “Neon Memories” is simply a must-listen in my book. In terms of past work, I would consider their 2015 record I’ll Try Living Like This essential listening.

While researching for this assignment, I couldn’t help but go back and listen to “I’ll Try Living Like This” once again. The opening track “너 땜에 맘이 맘이 맘이 맘이 괴로워요” is wonderfully haunting, and I find it impossible for anyone not to fall in love with “CD Player Pt III”. The album is incredible, and I think once you give it a listen, you too will find yourself pouring over the small audio details the band likes to include (personally, I love that they blend classic sounds from anime into their music, see if you can find all the samples!).

Death’s Dynamic Shroud has several shows in California and New York in August, I would highly suggest seeing them should you get the chance.

Listen to Death’s Dynamic Shroud on Apple Music here.

U.S. Girls Delivers U.S. Sounds

Last up for today we have U.S. Girls. Starting in Philadelphia in late 2007, U.S. Girls is the name of Meghan Remy’s then solo project. Remy started out with primitive tape recordings and vocal performances, which translated into 2008’s Introducing and 2010’s Go Grey. Eventually, Remy’s act would involve more live band members and less of a focus on samples.

Personally, it was the song “Sororal Feelings” that won me over. With a lo-fi and sardonic music sample, Remy croons throughout the entire track in a way that leaves the listener feeling goosebumps. While the song does come from a pretty good album (Half Free), it was her 2018 release In a Poem Unlimited that really won me over.

Featuring songs “M.A.H.”, “Velvet 4 Sale”, “Incidental Boogie” and “Pearly Gates”, the album is a departure from U.S. Girls’ typical sound, though it still retains much of Remy’s intense lyricism and powerful vocals. Personally, I can’t recommend this album enough and highly suggest you give it at least one listen this weekend.

Furthermore, U.S. Girls also released a single this week for the song “So Typically Now”. The song somehow manages to be even popier than songs on A Poem Unlimited, and seems to be enamored with the sound of the 80’s synthesizer. The bounciness of the song is sure to get any listener dancing.

Listen to U.S. Girls on Apple Music here.

Of course, if music isn’t your thing, maybe you can celebrate Apple TV+’s record-breaking 52 Primetime Emmy Award nominations by rewatching seasons one and two of Ted Lasso.

What are you listening to on Apple Music right now? What bands do you like? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Apple Hires Former Lamborghini Manager to Work On Its Electric Vehicle Project

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 20:49

Apple has nabbed Lamborghini’s former top car-development manager to possibly help push its rumored electric car project. The 20-year veteran worked on chassis and vehicle dynamics while employed at the Italian carmaker.

Apple Electric Vehicle Project Gets Top Lamborghini Executive

Bloomberg reported that Apple enlisted the services of Luigi Taraborrelli. He was most recently the head of chassis and vehicle dynamics at Lamborghini. Citing sources with knowledge of the situation, the report said this could be a new sign that Apple is pushing its electric car production project further. The Cupertino-based company has had some setbacks and upheaval in previous years, but it seems this has been ironed out. Considering his background, Taraborrell is one of the most senior managers on Apple’s supposed electric vehicle team.

While connected with Lamborghini, Taraborrelli worked on various models in the carmaker’s lineup. These include the Urus, Huracan, and Aventador. He also worked with some limited editions including the Huracan Sterrato off-road vehicle and Asterion concept car. In addition, the executive also oversaw the company’s chassis development, car handling, suspension and steering among other aspects of car development.

Apple Beef Up Manpower Requirements of EV Car Project

Although Apple declined to comment on the hire, it’s pretty obvious that this is part of Apple’s different moves to bolster its electric vehicle project. Earlier this year, Apple hired a Ford veteran to take the lead on vehicle safety matters. Apple also enlisted the services of a former lead of BMW’s electric car business last year. Additionally, it hired Stuart Bowers, former chief of Tesla’s Autopilot department. Bowers will work on self-driving technology.

Aside from top executives, Apple has also employed hundreds of former engineers from top car manufacturers. These include engineers from Tesla, Rivian, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. Apple expects to launch its electric vehicle by 2025. According to Bloomberg, the long-rumored Apple electric vehicle may have a limousine-like design. The Cupertino-based company also hopes to launch a car without steering wheels and pedals. But critics believedthat it may take some time before Apple could realize this dream.

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Apple Records its Best Second Quarter Global Smartphone Market Share

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 20:38

A new report says that as the global smartphone market share fell by 7% year-over-year in 2Q22, Apple hit its best second quarter performance over the past ten years. Apple comes in second to Samsung, which had a healthy 22% share.

Causes of Decline in Smartphone Shipment

According to Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments in 2Q22 fell by 7% to 291 million units. This happened to be the fourth consecutive quarter that global smartphone shipments experienced a year-over-year decline. The report cited COVID-19 disruption and geopolitical issues as the culprits in declining global smartphone shipments in 2Q22. It also said that unfavorable economic conditions weakened consumers’ demand for smartphones and other non-essential products.

Apple Global Smartphone Market Share Remains Positive

Despite the decline in the global shipment of smartphones, Apple managed to ship 48 million units of iPhone worldwide. That represented an increase of 3% year-over-year. Apple got 16% of the global market share in 2Q22. As mentioned, it was Apple’s best performance in the second quarter in the past 10 years. Additionally, the report said that the iPhone 13 continued to sell well in the U.S., China, and other key markets.

In 1Q22, Strategy Analytics reported that Apple was the only manufacturer that did not suffer a decline in shipments. It seems clear Apple’s winning streak should persist once it starts selling the iPhone 14. Even knowing that Apple is about to announce the iPhone 14 come September, many smartphone users still preferred to get the current iPhone 13 models. That is despite the fact that the research firm forecasted that global smartphone shipments will continue to contract year-over-year in the full year 2022.

The report said that geopolitical issues, economic downturn, price inflation, exchange rate volatility, and COVID-19 disruption will continue to affect the global shipment of smartphones. The situation will last through the year and could possibly continue into the first half of 2023.

We forecast global smartphone shipments to contract -7% to -8% YoY in full-year 2022. Geopolitical issues, economic downturn, price inflation, exchange rate volatility, and Covid disruption will continue to weigh on the smartphone market during the second half of 2022. All these headwinds would continue through the first half of next year, before the situation eases in the second half of 2023. Samsung and Apple would continue to outperform and remain top two places. Chinese brands need to stabilize the performance in China market and explore new growth engines to terminate the falling track.

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Apple TV+ Takes the Peanuts Cast Back to Class with Trailer for ‘Lucy’s School’

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 19:39

Today Apple TV+ has unveiled a trailer for Lucy’s School, an all-new Peanuts special that is going to celebrate educators.

The original special will also arrive with all-new episodes of the Apple Original The Snoopy Show season two. Both will premiere globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, Aug. 12.

Apple TV+ Unveils Trailer for ‘Lucy’s School’

According to an Apple TV+ press release,

The Peanuts gang are anxious about starting at a new school in the fall, inspiring Lucy to start her own school instead, but teaching isn’t as easy as it sounds. Lucy’s School is a love letter to teachers, and an appreciation of the impact a teacher can have on a child. It explores the fear of change, and shows how Lucy, supported by her friends, faces and overcomes her own fears.

Lucy’s School is a production for Apple TV+ and WildBrain. The special finds Raymond S. Persi (It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown) directing. The special is written by Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz and Cornelius Uliano. Additionally, Uliano executive produces alongside Paige Braddock, Josh Scherzo, Stephanie Betts, Amir Nasrabadi and Anne Loi. The special is also produced by James Brown and Timothy Jason Smith.

Furthermore, season two of the Apple Original The Snoopy Show is also arriving in thanks to Apple’s partnership with WildBrain.

In terms of Peanuts content, Apple TV+ is making the most of its partnership. In addition to Lucy’s School and season two of The Snoopy Show, specials from Peanuts and WildBrain include Snoopy in Space seasons one and two, It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, For Auld Lang Syne and more.

Apple TV+ is also delivering the goods when it comes to children and family content. The streaming service just recently released Best Foot Forward (which I think is undeniably charming), and Amber Brown, based off the bestselling book series by Paula Danziger.

Of course, it also bears repeating that Apple TV+ has 52 nominations at this year’s Emmy Awards, as well as six more award nominations for its documentaries, a first for the streaming service.

Are you looking forward to Lucy’s School? What are you watching on Apple TV+ right now? Let us know in the comments.

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Instagram Rolls Back TikTok Redesign and Limits Suggested Content, for Now

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 19:11

Instagram is now walking back its controversial TikTok-style redesign changes it recently made. A new interview with Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has him explaining that the company needs to “take a big step back and regroup” following the recent criticism concerning the recent changes.

Instagram Walks Back TikTok-Style Redesign Changes

Over the last couple of weeks Instagram has been receiving a full-scale assault of criticism. Essentially, users were growing annoyed that Instagram was slowly transforming into TikTok. One major feature Instagram attempted to implement was an algorithm that showed users more videos from accounts they do not follow.

Two of the largest critics were Kylie Jenner, with 361 million followers, and her sister Kim Kardashian, with 326 million followers. The two shared a meme that demanded “Make Instagram Instagram Again”. The meme also added, “stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends”.

Even Daily Show host Trevor Noah joined with critics to pan the new redesign. The host stated, “Everything is an ad, and your feed is full of people you don’t follow”. Several critics took to Twitter as well.

Instagram is trying so hard to compete with TikTok that they’re trying to become another TikTok. If I wanted to see video after video from random pages I don’t follow, I wouldn’t be on Instagram. Do what we need from you, and bring back the photos of our actual friends!!!

— TONI TONE (@t0nit0ne) July 24, 2022

Originally, Instagram’s Mosseri doubled down on more videos coming to Instagram. The social media boss responded to the criticism with a video stating that the changes were here to stay.

Doubling Down

Additionally, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated Wednesday that both Instagram and Facebook feeds would continue to show users even more “recommended” posts over the next two years. According to Zuckerberg, the company plans to “more than double” the amount of Instagram feed content that AI recommends.

However, Mosseri stated that Instagram has reversed its decision. Within an interview with Casey Newton for his Platformer newsletter, Mosseri has stated that while Instagram is glad it took the risks, the company is listening to user complaints.

I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said in an interview. But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.

Now, details on what Instagram plans to change or not change is unclear. Mosseri has stated the company plans to “temporarily” reduce the number of recommended posts and accounts users see in their feed. However, Mosseri added that Instagram will likely increase recommended posts once it improves rating and recommendation algorithms.

When you discover something in your field that you didn’t follow before, there should be a high bar — it should just be great, Mosseri said. You should be delighted to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again.” (I’m confident we will, he added.)

Bringing it Back Home

Lastly, Mosseri also stated that Instagram is going to halt the rollout of its controversial redesign. The new design showcased full-screen photos and full-screen videos. Essentially, this made Instagram look and feel a lot like TikTok. However, this new “feature” has only rolled out to a small percentage of users.

Instagram has received a swarm of criticism over the redesign, and even Masseri has acknowledged that “the usage data isn’t great”. As such, the company plans to “take a big step back, regroup, and figure out how we want to move forward”.

The full interview with Platformer can be found here.

Personally, I don’t really mind the changes all that much. It gets annoying seeing recommended videos of drummers playing the same rudiments, sure. But I would be willing to make a deal: how about we keep recommended posts around, and Instagram changes my feed back to showing posts in chronological order, deal? Yes, I know it’s an option, but it shouldn’t have to be!

What do you think about the Instagram changes? Is it becoming too much like TikTok? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple Is Now Selling the iPhone 12 Mini in the U.S. Refurbished Store

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 18:34

This week Apple has begun selling the iPhone 12 mini for the first time in it U.S. Refurbished Store. Customers can now purchase an iPhone 12 mini that has been expertly refurbished by Apple for $100 less than the retail price.

Apple has sold iPhone 12 models in the Apple Refurbished Store for some time now, including the iPhone 12 Pro. However, this marks the first occasion that Cupertino begins selling the iPhone 12 mini lineup within the store.

Apple Brings iPhone 12 Mini to the Refurbished Store

Right now, the only available option in the U.S. Apple Refurbished Store is the black 128GB iPhone 12 mini, priced at $579. Additionally, Apple is also selling brand-new models of the iPhone 12 mini, with prices starting at $599 for the 64GB model. For those curious, the new 128GB iPhone 12 mini is $679 in the Apple Store.

First announced in November 2020, the iPhone 12 mini contains essentially the same hardware as the basic iPhone 12. This means the iPhone 12 mini sports the A14 Bionic chip, 5G, MagSafe, dual rear camera and Face ID. The iPhone 12 mini is also more compact than the regular iPhone 12, featuring a 5.4-inch OLED display. The iPhone 12 mini also runs iOS 15 and will receive the iOS 16 update that is arriving in the fall.

Comparing the iPhone 12 mini to the current iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 does feature the faster A15 Bionic chip, a smaller notch on the front screen and a larger battery. With there being rumors that Apple plans to discontinue the mini (perhaps due to low sales in the iPhone 13 mini), this may be a great time to pick one up if you’re a fan.

When it comes to refurbished products, Apple doesn’t play around. Apple Certified Refurbished Products are all pre-owned Apple devices that undergo a stringent refurbishment process before going up for sale. Refurbished devices arrive in a special box and come with original accessories (Lightning to USB-C cable). Apple Refurbished Products also come with a one-year warranty.

Of course, some may want to wait for the iPhone 14, which likely will receive a keynote address sometime in September.

You can find the iPhone 12 mini and other devices in the official Apple Refurbished Store.

Do you own any Apple Certified Refurbished products? Plan on buying any? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple Snags News & Documentary Emmy Award Nominations, A First for the Streaming Service

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 22:34

Today Apple has announced that it has earned six News & Documentary Emmy Award nominations, a first for the company. The six nominations span four titles, including the documentaries, The Line, Fathom, 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room and Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson.

Apple Celebrates Emmy Documentary Nominations

Apple is being recognized by the News & Documentary Emmy Awards featuring nominations for several documentaries. This includes Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Documentary for the modern warfare docuseries The Line.

The groundbreaking nature documentary Fathom is receiving a nomination for Outstanding Science & Technology. While 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room is receiving a nomination for Outstanding Editing: Documentary. Lastly, Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson is receiving a nomination in Outstanding Sound: Documentary.

For Apple, this marks the first News & Documentary Emmy Award nominations, and follows a string of other nominations for Apple Original Films, documentaries and series. So far, Apple has earned 250 wins and 1,121 total award nominations. This includes CODA earning this year’s Oscar Best Picture.

The streaming service is doing phenomenally well concerning this year’s Emmy Awards nominations. For the second consecutive year, Apple has broken records with 52 Primetime Emmy Award nominations across 13 titles. Of course, Ted Lasso brought in 20 Emmy nominations, which marks the most nominations for a comedy series for the second year in a row. Concerning Lasso, the stars themselves saw 10 nominations. Workplace Drama Severance received 14 nominations.

Looking at the Emmys

Concerning the Emmys, the News & Documentary Emmy Awards are presented by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Emmys provides awards “in recognition of excellence in American national news and documentary programming”. Additionally, the winners of the 43 Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be revealed at ceremonies taking place Sept. 28 & 29, 2022.

Apple earned News & Documentary Emmy Award Nominations for:

  • Best Documentary: The Line
  • Outstanding Investigative Documentary: The Line
  • Outstanding Science & Technology Documentary: Fathom
  • Outstanding Editing: Documentary: 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room
  • Outstanding Sound: Documentary: Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson

Concerning Apple TV+, the streaming service is clearly having a phenomenal year at the Emmy’s. Furthermore, in thanks to shows like Surface and Five Days at Memorial, as well as Ted Lasso returning for its likely final season, Apple is looking to sweep at next year’s Emmys as well.

Have you seen any of the documentaries up for an Emmy Award? What are you watching on Apple TV+ right now? Let us know in the comments.

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Taking a Look at Who Owns the Most Stock in Apple

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 21:55

We all know Apple is a massive tech company, but who owns the most stock in Cupertino? If you’re reading this, you are more than likely a fan of Apple and the devices it releases. In 2021 alone, Apple controlled over 25% of the mobile operating system market worldwide.

However, who actually owns Apple? We’re all familiar with CEO Tim Cook, however, the success of Apple relies on a couple of key individuals and organizations for its decision-making process. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of them.

Who Owns the Most Stock in Apple

With Apple being a public company, ownership relies on shareholders. According to a report by Macrotrends, Apple has over 16 billion outstanding shares as of March 2022.

Surprisingly, or perhaps, not so surprisingly, the largest owners of Apple share goes to organizations. A report by Investopedia in February of 2021 stated the largest institutional shareholder goes to the Vanguard Group, which has more than 1.3 billion shares. At the time, this accounted for 7.83% of total shares. Additionally, BlackRock owned 1.11 billion shares, or 6.60% of outstanding shares, and Berkshire Hathway owned more than a billion, or almost 6% of shares outstanding.

Of course, many Apple insiders own much of the share of the company as well. Executive employees and those sitting on the board of directors naturally have much stock in the company. As of December 2020, chairman Arthur Levinson had over 4.5 million shares, while CEO Tim Cook owned 800,000 shares. Meanwhile, Investopedia reports that COO Jeff Williams comes close to 500,000 shares.

At the time of this writing, shares in Apple hover around the 156-157 area. This is down from an average of around 170 at the start of the year. However, the stock did see a peak of 178.96 at the end of March. Naturally many businesses have seen a decrease in stock value as the world continues to endure COVID-19 and its after effects.

For Apple, the coming announcement of the highly-anticipated iPhone 14 is sure to help the numbers. Additionally, analyst Mark Gurman predicts that Apple will likely release 14- and 16-inch M2-powered MacBook Pros sometime in fall 2022 or spring 2023. The release of these products should see an upswing in stock prices for Cupertino.

Are you investing in Apple stock? How do you think the market is going to do? Let us know in the comments.

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Yamaha Announces U.S. Launch of ZG Gaming Mixer and Headset

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 21:15

Yamaha has launched its own ZG series gaming mixer and headset. The gaming mixer is the first-ever audio mixer from the company designed exclusively for gaming. The company is also launching the YH-G01 gaming headset and an all-in-one package known as the ZG01 Pack.

Ideally for gamers who use voice chat as well as gaming streamers, the new audio mixer provides a USB interface that gives users full command of game sound, chat and voice levels. The ZG Series gaming mixer also provides 3D surround sound and competitive-gaming focus modes.

Yamaha Introduces ZG Gaming Mixer and Headset

In a press release from Yamaha, the company stated,

Gaming has become more social than ever through voice chat apps and gamers share their experiences more than ever on streaming platforms. In the past, managing the audio for all of this has been a bit complicated, said Alex Sadeghian, director, Consumer Audio, Yamaha Corporation of America. Now, the ZG Series gaming mixer makes it simple and even fun. It provides the optimal combination of connectivity, control and effects in a super easy-to-use layout – all in a compact form factor that fits perfectly into your gaming command center.

The ZG01 gaming mixer is simple enough for any multi-player gamer, yet provides enough power for eSports pros, as well as streamers and broadcasters. The controls are intuitive, and allow users to quickly manage sound levels and effects in real-time. Additionally, Yamaha provides advanced mic settings and voice effects. Effects include compression, limiter, reverb, pitch, radio voice and more.

YamahaZGHeadsetandMixerInTextJuly2022

In addition to mixing and voice effects, the ZG01 also provides a variety of “ZG game processing” effects. This includes:

  • ZG Surround: the ZG01 accepts up to 7.1 channel surround sound from USB or HDMI inputs. The device converts the surround sound into 3D surround sound in thanks to Yamaha’s proprietary ViReal tech. This allows users to experience full immersion with any standard gaming headset or headphones.
  • Focus Mode: This features allows users to customize their soundscape to suit a variety of game titles, scenes and playing styles. For example, suppressing the sound of your own character’s voice, or emphasizing environmental sounds within the game.
  • 3D Chat Space: Users can hear their friends where and when they need them in a virtual space that is capable of avoiding overlap with the game.

For those that stream their play, the multi-channel game audio is converted and processed by the ZG01 to replicate a surround sound experience for those listening in on streams. The ZG01 also supports gaming headsets featuring a built-in mic, or a dedicated mic in thanks to the rear-panel XLR/TRS combo jack.

Additional Features

The ZG01 connects to Windows or Mac via a single USB-C cable. Audio and control is managed via a specialized Steinberg USB driver. The driver recognizes your computer as multiple “virtual devices” for the game, voice chat and streaming apps.

The ZG01 also comes with free companion gaming mixer software, which is the XG Controller software available for Windows and Mac. Downloading the software provides access to deeper settings and customization.

Lastly, alongside the ZG01 gaming mixer, Yamaha is also introducing the YH-G01 gaming headset and the ZG01 Pack that includes both the mixer and the headset. The YH-G01 gaming headset offers studio-quality sound and a high-quality condenser microphone on a gooseneck-style boom mic. The headset is lightweight and comfortable, which makes also makes it useful as an all-purpose headset.

The ZG series is available today through Yamaha’s website. The ZG01 gaming mixer retails for $299.95, whereas the YH-G01 gaming headset goes for $169.95. The XG01 pack featuring both goes for $419.95.

With a host of brand new games arriving to Apple Arcade all the time, no doubt fans of Cupertino and gaming will find a lot of use with the headset and mixer. Being able to control the audio in games can be crucial for at times, especially during intense first-person shooters where hearing your enemy can be crucial. Not to mention this can help shiny hunters in the new Pokémon: Legends Arceus. Yamaha being able to translate the audio to surround sound for those that watch streamers using the device is an excellent feature as well.

Users can find more information on Yamaha’s official website.

Are you looking forward to Yamaha’s new gaming mixer and headset? What are you playing right now? Let us know in the comments.

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Snapchat’s New Game ‘Ghost Phone’ Has Users Hunting the Paranormal Through AR

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 19:43

Today Snapchat has introduced a new augmented reality game called Ghost Phone. Within Ghost Phone, users can discover the secrets of an abandoned phone while solving the supernatural mystery of what happened to the previous owner. Users will then arrive face-to-face with spirits in thanks to augmented reality.

SnapChat Brings ‘Ghost Phone’ For Fans of the Paranormal

Ghost Phone is built by Snap using Lens Studio and the web-first game engine Playcanvas. Featuring surface recognition and world-scan technology, Ghost Phone seamlessly weaves AR ghosts into the players’ real world environment. This means Snapchatters need “to get moving to collect phantom energy.”

To start the game, follow these instructions:

  • Open Snapchat and find the game in Lens Explorer or by tapping the Rocket icon in Chat.
  • You’ll be prompted with a password to decode and power on the “Ghost Phone” to play.
  • Find clues within text messages and data.
  • Unlock spooky Camera Modes and look around to capture different types of AR ghosts.
  • Level up to uncover apps and data to reveal more clues, Camera Modes and ghosts and discover what happened to Lisa.

In terms of Snap, the company has released several Bitmoji-styled games in the past, but this is one of the first to feature AR. Last month, the social media giant joined forces with game studio HiDef to develop a social dance game. The game is expected to launch in 2023.

SnapChatGhostPhoneInTextJuly2022

After playing around with Ghost Phone for a couple of minutes, the game definitely has potential, and is more fleshed-out then you would expect from a game on social media. While it doesn’t necessarily remind me of Pokémon GO, fighting ghosts in the Snap game feels awfully similar. Furthermore, the storyline itself may also attract those that are a fan of horror and mystery. For those curious, its definitely worth a try.

Do you plan on playing Ghost Phone? Are there any other games you’re playing on Snap? Let us know in the comments.

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Spotify Introduces ‘Friends Mix’ Bringing Even More Personalized Playlists to Users

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 19:05

Today Spotify has announced Friends Mix, a way to personalize playlists based on what your friends are listening to.

Inspiration for the new Friends Mix originally came from Spotify observing that over 11 million playlists feature the word “friend” in the title. Originally, this is why Spotify introduced Blend, which helps two friends combine their favorite songs into one playlist.

Spotify Introduces Friends Mix

Now, Friends Mix takes Blends and allows users to create a new mix among their friends and loved ones. Users that create three two-person Blends will see a new playlist, called Friends Mix, that will show up in your Made For Us shelf within the Made For You Hub.

Those that don’t see Friends Mix on the Made For You Hub can create their own Blends. Users simply need to follow these four steps:

  1. Type “Blend” within the search tab on Spotify. Then, tap “Invite” to select a friend you want to Blend with.
  2. Once your friend has accepted the invite, Spotify will generate your shared Blend playlist, which will include recommended songs that reflect you and your friend’s music preferences and tastes. You’ll even be able to see which songs were added for you and your friend.
  3. After your friend has joined the listening party, you’ll each receive a custom share card that you can use to spread the word on social media. Then, your Blend will continue to update daily.
  4. Once you’ve created three two-person Blends (between you and one other friend), you’ll be able to check out a Friends Mix, our new playlist made just for you, in the Made For Us hub. There, you’ll find music combining your friends’ tastes.

Additionally, Friends Mix featured daily updates. This means users always have something new to discover. Spotify also designed this feature to grow with you and your friends over time, meaning that creating more Friends Mix playlists with your friends means there’s more music to discover.

In other Spotify news, the company also announced that it is discontinuing the Car Thing, a physical accessory for use in vehicles. So for those that have one, the new Friends Mix will be a great addition for the Car Thing.

Do you plan on making Blends with your friends? What are you listening to on Spotify right now? Let us know in the comments.

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WsC Offers a Stylish Apple Watch Band for Any Occasion

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 00:26

One of the almost unsung greatest features of Apple Watch is the ability to quickly and easily change its look with a new watch band. There are lots of choices in that arena, some by Apple and plenty from other manufacturers. I recently found out about London-based WsC, The Watch Strap Co, and gave several of their exclusive bands a try.

For the Touch of Leather On Your Wrist

The first one I tried was the WsC Prowler, a leather strap available in multiple color options. I picked blue, which matches my Apple Watch Series 7 almost perfectly. This band is crafted from crocodile-embossed Italian leather, lined with soft Nubuck so it feels like a dream against your skin.

This leather watch band looks like a standard buckle, but it actually uses WsC’s signature deployment clasp. Setting it up to perfectly fit my wrist couldn’t have been easier, even with the grip and mobility issues I have with my hands. I really enjoy this type of clasp, simply because I can set it once and then quickly put my watch on or take it off with the click of a button.

WsC Prowler Apple Watch Band

WsC offers an extraordinary upgrade for this band, for those so inclined. For a nominal additional fee, you can add an ethically-sourced diamond to the clasp. Each diamond offers VVS+ clarity and is clear, with a round brilliant Excellent Cut.

I didn’t choose the diamond addition for this strap, opting to include it on another band instead. The Prowler is currently priced at $88.50, or $177 with the Diamond Edition upgrade.

The Prowler’s stitching is unwaxed Gütermann thread, and the buckle/clasp is made from 316L stainless steel. It’s available in six different color options for every model and size of the Apple Watch, even going back to the Series 1.

Don’t Be Mad, This Stainless Steel Apple Watch Band Is Only Called the Fury

Next, I tried the stainless steel Fury band. This watch band, crafted from 316L stainless steel, is available in four colors, including a blend of silver and rose gold. I opted for the black version, simply because I wouldn’t have cared for the contrast between the lighter hues and my blue Apple Watch.

WsC Fury Stainless Steel Apple Watch Band

For the Fury, WsC developed a hidden butterfly clasp. The stainless steel links making up the band are staggered, and held in place by pins. The company included a tool to remove and reinsert the pins, which makes it almost trivial to fit the band to your wrist.

Once again, WsC makes the Fury for all versions and sizes of Apple Watch. This one also offers the Diamond Edition upgrade, which I took advantage of. The diamond’s placement is elegantly and discreetly situated on the hidden clasp.

Obviously, this makes the band a bit more luxurious (and pricey), but not overly so. The Fury currently retails for $97.50 without the diamond, or an even $171 with it.

Care for More Choices? WsC Has ‘Em

These aren’t the only two watch bands WsC offers. There are other leather straps to choose from, as well as woven nylon and silicone bands. If a stainless steel mesh loop is your preference, that’s an option, too.

As with the Prowler and Fury, WsC’s other watch bands are available in a wide variety of colors, and for every size and model of the Apple Watch. If you’re looking to stylize your Apple Watch more, this is an excellent place to find new selections.

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