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Apple will give you a $5 iTunes gift card if you use Apple Pay at select retailers

December 15, 2017
Continuing its Apple Pay push, Apple is currently running a special promotion to entice even more people to use its mobile payment service. Available in the US only, and running now through December 21st, Apple will offer a $5 iTunes gift card when shopping at select retailers.
You gotta spend money to make money!
In order to be eligible for a $5 iTunes gift card, a qualifying purchase paid with Apple Pay will have to be made through the website or app of one of Apple’s 20 partners:
As often, the devil is in the details… Apple notes:
Offer valid in the U.S. only, while supplies last. Limit one App Store & iTunes Gift Card per partner. Additional terms and conditions may apply. See the applicable partner website or app for details.
Due to the limited supply of the offer, it’s probably a good idea to get on this as soon as possible. Obviously, there is no reason to go spend money on something you wouldn’t buy otherwise just to get an iTunes gift card. However, if you were planning on purchasing something from one of these merchants, make sure you have Apple Pay set up, and get this deal.
If you do take advantage of this promotion, please let us know how it went and if you were able to score a gift card.

Apple launches Podcast Analytics, giving podcasters basic metrics about their shows

December 15, 2017
Apple launched a new Podcast Analytics service in beta on Thursday, giving podcasters the chance to take a look at basic metrics and trends. Available in beta, this new service was first announced during WWDC 2017.
Podcasters who have seeded their shows to iTunes (that would probably be 99.9% of podcasters out there) can now have a better understanding of their audience by getting access to basic data such as listen times and top countries.
As a podcaster, the most interesting piece of data that Podcast Analytics offers to me is the ability to see the listen time per episode, and have a look at where in an episode people skip (spoiler: they skip ads!), and how much retention we get between the first and last minute of the show. This is something that wasn’t possible up until now.
Apple notes that it is only tracking devices running iOS 11 or iTunes 12.7 or later.
As always, Apple is prioritizing privacy. As Sarah Perez notes on TechCrunch, “It’s tracking unique devices but only offering that data in aggregate to podcasters. That means show creators can understand overall trends about listeners, but can’t drill down to track users on an individual basis.
To access this data, podcasters will have to login to https://podcastsconnect.apple.com/analytics.

iMac Pro’s RAM is upgradeable only by Apple or Authorized Service Providers

December 15, 2017
Although it was initially believed that iMac Pro cannot be upgraded post-purchase due to its completely sealed design, we’ve learned that the machine’s 2,666 MHz ECC RAM is actually upgradeable by Apple itself or one of their Authorized Service Providers.
The small hatch in the back of previous iMac models which permitted customers to get inside and upgrade any RAM is gone now. Still, your nearest Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider can open up your computer and swap out the RAM chips without voiding your warranty.
Rene Ritchie of iMore has learned about this after reaching out to Apple.
“Any service center, Apple or independent, can upgrade the RAM on iMac Pro post-purchase,” he wrote on Twitter. Rene couldn’t tell if customers can bring in their own RAM chips or if the RAM has to be sourced directly from Apple. The latter would spell bad news for cash-strapped buyers.
Apple’s magic RAM has always been prohibitively expensive for no apparent reason: as an example, they charge $800 to upgrade your 32 GB iMac Pro to 64 GB of RAM, or $2,400 to boost the RAM to 128 GB.
Authorized technicians should also offer third-party RAM and some may let you bring in your own RAM.
At any rate, a smart shopper might want to grab the least expensive $4,999 iMac Pro with 32GB of memory and upgrade the RAM at a later date and time.
No other post-purchase upgrades are possible.
For instance, you cannot upgrade the storage, graphics or the main processor in your iMac Pro. That shouldn’t prove particularly problematic given that Thunderbolt 3 and external GPU support in macOS High Sierra let you add more graphical power on demand by purchasing an eGPU enclosure along with a faster graphics card.
Image courtesy of Marques Brownlee

Final Cut Pro X 10.4 launches with support for HDR, HEVC/HEIF, 360-degree VR editing & more

December 15, 2017
Ahead of releasing its new iMac Pro, Apple earlier this morning pushed a long-expected update to its Final Cut Pro X app on Mac App Store.
The new version brought support for high dynamic range (HDR) video, 360-degree video creation, the ability to compress your footage using the efficient H.265 codec, support for Apple’s new HEIF media format in iOS 11 and much, much more.
The new Final Cut Pro X was previewed in October.
The app had two million users as of April 2017. Final Cut Pro creator Randy Ubillos quit Apple two and a half years ago after spending 20 years with the Cupertino company.
The app ranked #10 on Upwork’s list of the top 20 fastest-growing skills.

Final Cut Pro X 10.4 changelog

Here’s what’s new in this edition of Final Cut Pro:

360º VR editing

  • Import and edit 360° equirectangular video in a wide range of formats and frame sizes
  • Output 360° video to a compatible VR headset (requires macOS High Sierra and SteamVR)
  • Open the 360° viewer to simultaneously monitor headset and equirectangular views while editing
  • Option to track movement of a VR headset in the 360° viewer in Final Cut Pro
  • Add 360° effects including blurs, glows and more
  • Share 360° video directly to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo
  • Use the 360° patch to instantly remove cameras and rigs from the scene
  • Use the Horizon overlay to easily change the orientation of 360° video right in the viewer
  • Edit 360° video into a non-360° project and animate the pan, tilt and zoom
  • Place any graphic, still or video into a 360° project, then reposition and resize to fit perfectly into the 360° scene
  • Support for monoscopic and stereoscopic 360° video

Advanced color grading

  • Dedicated color tab in the inspector provides one location for all color controls
  • Powerful new color wheels improve upon traditional wheels with integrated sliders to adjust hue, saturation and brightness
  • Color curves enable ultra-fine adjustments using multiple control points to change color and contrast
  • Hue/saturation curves let you select a specific hue or brightness level to make adjustments while leaving other parts of the image unchanged
  • Use the eye dropper in the color and hue/saturation curves to quickly sample parts of an image for adjustment
  • Balance Color command includes an eye dropper for manual white balance
  • Apply custom LUTs from popular color grading apps and sites
  • Adjust color corrections over time with precise keyframe controls
  • Speed through color correction using new keyboard shortcuts for color adjustments and role-based timeline navigation
  • Color presets are now located in the effects browser for skimmable preview and fast search

High dynamic range (HDR)

  • Import, grade and deliver High Dynamic Range (HDR) video as Rec. 2020 HLG or Rec. 2020 PQ for HDR10
  • Output video to third-party HDR monitors using third-party I/O devices
  • Built-in waveform monitor indicates HDR brightness levels up to 10,000 nits
  • HDR Tools effect lets you easily tone map HDR to Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) output as well as convert between PQ and HLG formats
  • Option to view HDR as raw values when working without an HDR monitor

Additional features

  • Send your iMovie for iOS project directly to Final Cut Pro for advanced editing, audio work and finishing
  • Import, playback and editing of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, also known as H.265) video clips and High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) photos from Apple devices (HEVC and HEIF support requires macOS High Sierra)
  • Send to Compressor to export video projects in the HEVC format
  • Adjust audio using effects plug-ins from Logic Pro X with redesigned, resizable interfaces
  • Support for Canon Cinema RAW Light format with additional software from Canon
  • Faster Optical Flow analysis using Metal 2
  • Support for NFS-based libraries and media
  • XML 1.7 with support for new color grading controls, 360 VR effects and HDR
For the full list of issues fixed in Final Cut Pro X 10.4, see Apple’s support document.
The company also provides some useful guidelines for working with High HDR video in Final Cut Pro X 10.4 and Compressor 4.4.
This update is available free to existing users of the app.
Final Cut Pro X requires macOS 10.12.4 or later, 4 GB of RAM (8 GB is recommended for 4K editing and 3D titles, as well as for 360° video editing), an OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 or later, 256 MB of video memory (1 GB is recommended for 4K editing, 3D titles and 360° video editing) and 4 GB of free disk space.
Discrete graphics card is required for VR headset support. AMD’s Radeon RX 580 8GB graphics card is recommended for best performance.

HBO NOW app updated to fill iPhone X edge-to-edge OLED display

December 15, 2017
If you own an iPhone X and are subscribed to the online-only HBO NOW service, go ahead and update your copy of the app to the latest available version in order to be able to enjoy your favorite shows without ugly black bars at the top and bottom.
Version 2.7 of the official HBO NOW app for iPhone and iPad was updated this morning on App Store with support for the edge-to-edge OLED display on the new iPhone X.
No other changes are mentioned in release notes accompanying the download.
Many of the popular apps and games have picked up support for the native display resolution on iPhone X in the past few weeks, but there are still some notable holdouts.
Apps that have not yet taken advantage of Apple’s new guidelines to fully embrace the notch are rendered with black bars at the top and bottom. They still function normally, but don’t take full advantage of all the pixels (2436 x 1125) that the 5.8-inch Super Retina display offers.
I’m bummed that HBO’s app does not stream high dynamic range video that the OLED panel on iPhone X supports natively. The app also does not currently support 4K streaming.
HBO NOW is available for $15 per month. The service is US-only.

14-core and 18-core iMac Pro configurations are shipping by February 2018

December 15, 2017
The various iMac Pro configurations with 8-core and 10-core Intel Xeon W processors are available starting today with December 27 in-store pickup, but higher-end models outfitted with 14 or 18 processing cores won’t ship before late January or February 2018.
We know that because:
  • Apple has confirmed to technology YouTube Marques Brownlee earlier this week that higher-end models with 14-core or 18-core Xeon chips won’t ship until early next year.
  • Apple’s online store lists higher-end models with a shipping time of 6-8 weeks.
  • Apple’s official shopping app says the higher-specc’d machines will be available for in-store pickup starting February 20.
Bottom line: If you buy a common configuration with an 8-core or 10-core chip, you’ll get it as soon as December 27, or just two days after Christmas. If you opt for a higher-end model with a 14-core or 18-core Intel chip, your dream desktop computer will ship sometime in February.
A fully loaded iMac Pro can set you back up to upwards of $13,000.

Public betas of iOS 11.2.5 and tvOS 11.2.5 now available

December 15, 2017
Less than 24 hours following the launch of first developer betas for iOS 11.2.5 and tvOS 11.2.5, they’re now available to public beta testers who are enrolled in Apple’s Beta Software Program.
The watchOS 4.2.2 beta, which was also seeded to Apple’s registered developers yesterday afternoon, is not available as part of the public beta program.
Members of Apple’s beta-testing program shall get their iOS 11.2.5 public beta over-the-air after installing a proper Apple configuration profile on their iPhone or iPad. As for the tvOS 11.2.5 public beta, you must first enroll your Apple TV at beta.apple.com.
Then, go to Settings → System → Software Updates and toggle on the Get Public Beta Updates option before you can download and install the latest tvOS beta software.
Neither iOS 11.25 nor tvOS 11.2.5 contain any outward-facing new user features.
Apple’s release notes don’t mention any new features either so it’s entirely possible that both software updates contain security improvements and bug fixes that have been discovered since the release of tvOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2.1.
Are you planning on testing these new betas?
Let us know in the comments section!

Maxing out all the upgrades boosts iMac Pro price to upwards of an eye-watering $13,000

December 15, 2017
Apple started selling iMac Pro on Thursday. It starts at $4,999, but choosing absolutely every single bell and whistle available in the online store increases the computer’s price to $13,348.
All iMac Pro models are outfitted with these standard features:
  • 27-inch Retina 5K display featuring a resolution of 5,120-by-2,880 pixels and support for Apple’s wide color (the P3 Display color profile)
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet for up to 10 times faster networking
  • 1080p front-facing FaceTime HD camera
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Four USB 3 ports
  • Support for two additional 5K displays or four 4K displays
The company provides iMac Pro in the baseline configuration costing $4,999, which gets you the following upgradeable features in terms of the CPU, GPU, RAM and storage:
  • CPU: 3.2 GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.2 GHz
  • GPU: Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics with 8 GB of HBM2 video memory
  • RAM: 32 GB of 2,666MHz ECC memory
  • Storage: 1 TB of flash storage
Aside from the baseline model, the following “recommended” configurations are available:
  • $6,399: 8-core Xeon CPU, Vega 64 GPU, 64 GB of memory and 1 TB of flash storage
  • $7,199: 10-core Xeon CPU, Vega 64 GPU, 64 GB of memory and 1 TB of flash storage
  • $7,999: 10-core Xeon CPU, Vega 64 GPU, 64 GB of memory and 2 TB of flash storage
  • $9,599: 10-core Xeon CPU, Vega 64 GPU, 128 GB of memory and 2 TB of flash storage
And here are the optional upgrades available from Apple’s online store:
Processor
  • +$800: 3.0 GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz
  • +$1,600: 2.5 GHz 14-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.3 GHz
  • +$2,400: 2.3 GHz 18-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.3 GHz
Memory
  • +$800: 64 GB 2,666 MHz DDR4 ECC memory
  • +$2,400: 128 GB 2,666 MHz DDR4 ECC memory
Storage
  • +$800: 2 TB SSD
  • +$2,800: 4 TB SSD
Graphics
  • +$600: Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 16 GB of HBM2 video memory
Magic Mouse or Trackpad
  • +$50: Magic Trackpad 2 — Space Gray
  • +$149: Magic Mouse 2 + Magic Trackpad 2 — Space Gray
Choosing any of the listed upgrades increases the prices of the baseline model beyond $4,999.
If you max out everything and configure your iMac Pro with the fastest CPU, the most RAM and storage, double the video memory and the Magic Mouse 2 + Magic Trackpad 2 combo, you’ll have to pay a cool $13,348 for your beast of a machine.
And if you add a VESA mount adapter kit (+$79) and some pre-installed software, such as Final Cut Pro X (+$300) and Logic Pro X (+$200), you’re looking at nearly $14,000 for the best, fastest Mac the money can buy (to be specific, we’re talking an eye-watering $13,926.98).
Of course, iMac Pro is not really an all-in-one desktop computer for the rest of us.
Aimed at professional photographers, app makers, video/music producers and VR developers, iMac Pro is the ultimate workstation for content producers rather than being a system for folks who just want to surf the web, check email, edit documents and manage photos.
The soonest you can get your standard iMac Pro configuration is December 27, or just two days after Christmas. However, buying a maxed-out iMac Pro configuration yields a 6-8 weeks wait time, meaning your dream desktop won’t ship until sometime in February 2018.
Bottom line: iMac Pro is the best, fastest and most expensive Mac Apple sells.
Is any of you guys planning to order one?
Leave your comment down below!

Scheduled iTunes app launch on Windows Store has been delayed

December 15, 2017
Apple’s iTunes app won’t be making its scheduled debut on Windows Store this year after all.
iTunes was supposed to launch on Windows Store before the end of this year, with the Redmond giant event teasing its arrival with a Windows Store banner as far back as May 2017.
Apple has now confirmed to ZDNet that iTunes won’t make it into Windows Store this year, as originally promised during Microsoft’s Build conference in May this year.
“We have been working with Microsoft to deliver the full iTunes experience to our customers and we need a little more time to get it right,” said an Apple spokesperson via an emailed statement without revealing what specifically is holding this up.
According to author Mary Jo Foley, the plans still remain for iTunes to hit Microsoft’s app store at some point, but neither Apple nor Microsoft provided any updated timing.
This is bad news for both companies, even more so considering iTunes’ popularity and the fact that Windows 10 S runs only sanctioned Windows Store apps. iTunes is one of the apps Windows 10 S users search for on Microsoft’s store most frequently.
Of course, users of regular Windows editions can manually download iTunes from Apple at any time, something their Windows 10 S counterparts are unable to do because Windows 10 S is a slimmed-down version of Windows that can only run apps available in Microsoft Store.
Hosting iTunes on Windows Store would also make it easier for Windows users to find the app

Facebook is rolling out a Snooze button

December 15, 2017
Facebook on Friday announced it’s begun rolling out a brand new Snooze button in users’ News Feed following a period of testing in September.
Not unlike the Unfollow and Hide options, the Snooze feature makes it easy to mute a friend, page or group for 30 days. To get started, simply choose the new Snooze option from the top-right menu of a post.
Snoozing a friend temporarily stops their updates without unfollowing or unfriending them permanently. The people, pages and groups you snooze will not be notified.
If you find friends’ answers to those personality questions introduced a week ago flooding your News Feed, and you’re not interested in them, you can now mute them for a month.
Facebook will notify you before the snooze period is about to end and the setting can also be reversed at any time.
This is a staggered release happening over the next week.

Apple to produce an unnamed sci-fi space drama from a Star Trek veteran

December 15, 2017
Apple has picked up an unnamed sci-fi space drama from a Star Trek veteran.
The untitled series explores what would’ve happened if the global space race had never ended.
According to Deadline, the project will be led by Ronald D. Moore, who is the showrunner for “Outlander” on Starz and previously worked on “Star Trek” and the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot.
The project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore’s studio-based Tall Ship Productions. It was created and written by Moore, along with Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi. All three will also executive produce along with Maril Davis of Moore’s Tall Ship Productions.
This is is the third original scripted series ordered by the Cupertino firm.
It has also ordered a reboot of “Amazing Stories” from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and executive producer Bryan Fuller, as well as a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
Apple has been doubling down on its original content strategy this year by building a worldwide video team led by Sony Television hires Jamie Ehrlicht and Zack Van Amburg.

Siri may someday detect the difference between a whisper and regular speech

December 15, 2017
Apple’s personal digital assistant Siri may someday be able to detect the difference between a whispered and regular speech, as well as whisper back when you need quiet.
Gizmodo yesterday highlighted a new patent application by the Cupertino technology giant which outlines a personal digital assistant that is capable of detecting a whispered speech input and providing a whispered speech response.
The filing describes the ability for Siri to detect the difference between a whisper and regular speech, as determined by measuring an input’s amplitude and frequency patterns.
Upon detecting that a user is whispering at her rather than using regular speech, Siri would also whisper back all of its replies. Note that Apple itself is using the term “whisper.” This feature could even identify the tone of your voice in order to respond in a similar tone.
This could be useful in a number of situations when you want to keep the noise level low by whispering, like conversing with Siri in a library, a movie theater or other places where speaking loudly may be prohibited or socially unacceptable.
The filing mentions whispering at Siri could even help protect your privacy and respect your coworkers while “working at a cubicle.”
Apple originally filed for this patent in 2016.
Let us know how you like this potential Siri feature down below in the comments!

Microsoft is bringing Xbox party chat to iPhone

December 15, 2017
Software giant Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox party chat functionality to its iPhone app, and you can test the official beta right now ahead of its official debut.
Currently, Xbox Live account holders can chat with one another through their Xbox console.
By bringing the Xbox party chat capability to the iOS and Android platforms, Microsoft is aiming to extend the Xbox Live chat service to the world’s most popular mobile platforms.
The feature could even help the company sign up new users.
This will be great for playing cross-platform titles on other devices. As an example, someone playing Minecraft on their Xbox could easily partake in a party chat session from their iPhone.
You’ll need to hurry up because a limited number of spaces are available. “Our goal is to ensure broad coverage of the app across devices, regions and other criteria,” Microsoft cautions. “We’ll continue to add users as space permits.”
The beta test is run through Apple-owned TestFlight program.
If you are selected for the beta, you’ll receive an invite via TestFlight in your provided email. If you’re not invited to the program immediately, they’ll retain your request for 30 days. If you haven’t been invited within 30 days and are still interested in participating, sign up again.

How to delete multiple pictures at once in iCloud Photo Library from your browser

December 15, 2017
iCloud Photo Library is a handy service that lets you backup your photos and sync them across your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. When enabled on your devices, what you do to a picture on one device, syncs over to your other devices effortlessly. If you edit a photo on your iPhone, for example, this new edit will carry over to the same photo on your iPad, vice versa. Likewise, deleting a picture from iCloud Photo Library on your Mac, deletes it from all your other devices.
While most people manage their iCloud Photo Library directly from the Photos app on their main device, be it an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac, some people might prefer to edit these photos directly from a browser by pointing Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Edge to iCloud.com.
Reader Carl recently asked us how he could select and delete multiple photos at once in iCloud Photo Library, directly from his browser. While the solution may appear simple to many users, I thought we would share it as more readers might benefit from it.

1) Select all the photos you want to delete

The first step when deleting several pictures at once it to first select all the pictures you want to delete. The trick is to use a combination of the mouse and the keyboard.
On your Mac, press the Command key while clicking on the photos you want to delete. I believe the equivalent on a Windows computer is to hold the Control key.
Make sure you press or keep holding the Command key every time you click, or else, it’s going to undo your previous selections.

2) Just hit the Trash icon

Next and final step, simply click on the Trash icon located at the top of the browser window, then confirm you indeed want to delete the selected items.
As I said earlier, it’s not complicated at all, you just got to know the keyboard trick.

Updated iconography, styling & color coding rolling out to Google Maps app

December 14, 2017
Previewed a month ago, Google Maps’ new look began rolling out to iOS users on Wednesday.
Featuring updated colors and styling, Google Maps 4.42 for iPhone and iPad now better highlights the information most relevant to your searches, like gas stations for navigation, train stations for transit and so forth. Google hopes that the updated color scheme, along with the new icons, shall make identifying types of places you’re seeing on the map a lot easier.
As you can see for yourself, points of interest such as a cafe, church, museum or hospital are now nicely color-coded. This helps you find a coffee shop by spotting the nearest orange icon on the map because orange is the color for the Food & Drink section in Google Maps.
Check out the cheat sheet of the new colors and iconography included below to help you get acquainted with the new look in Google Maps for iOS.
Other changes include an easier way to view the impact of your reviews in the Contributions tab and the ability to filter by trains or buses in the app’s “Transit Departures” Today widget.
These changes require Google Maps for iOS version 4.42 or newer.
Google isn’t stopping there, however, because the updated styling will be applied over the course of the next few weeks to all its products that incorporate mapping features, including Google Assistant, Google Search and Google Earth.
“Over time, the new style will also appear in the apps, websites and experiences offered by companies that use Google Maps APIs as well,” noted the search giant.
And because Santa Claus is coming to town in less than ten days, the firm’s taken it upon itself to come up with a nice Santa’s Village webpage where you can play assorted mini-games, access a wealth of useful resources for teachers and parents, tune into Santa Tracker to follow the big guy and his trusty reindeer as they make their way around the globe, and more.
Pro tip: ask your Google Assistant: “Ok Google, where is Santa?”