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Bloomberg: Apple is building its own micro-LED displays at a secret plant in California

March 20, 2018
Apple is reportedly designing and producing its own screens for future devices at a secret manufacturing facility in California, based on the emerging micro-LED display technology.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman yesterday, Apple Watch should be the very first product from the Cupertino giant to incorporate Micro-LED technology. The author has learned from plugged-in sources that Tim Cook & Co. made “a significant investment” in the design and development of Micro-LED displays, which use a bunch of tiny chips to create images.
Share prices of display makers nosedived following the report, with Japan Display dropping as much as 4.4%, Sharp tumbling as much as 3.3% and Samsung Display sliding 1.4%.
The California facility is said to be too small for major production, but Apple will likely outsource mass-production to its supply partners in Asia. Of course, it wants to keep the proprietary technology away from its partners as long as possible, one of the people said.
“We put a lot of money into the facility,” this person said. “It’s big enough to get through the engineering builds and lets us keep everything in-house during the development stages.”
None of this will be easy because full commercialization of Micro-LED chips is held back by the slow progress in the development of appropriate mass transfer technology. Actually, the company almost killed the project a year or so ago, said Gurman.
Currently, Apple’s Micro-LEDs are in the “advanced stage” although it will take two years until they start appearing in Apple Watch and three to five years for iPhone.
Micro-LED chips are really tiny: a five-inch 400-by-600 pixel smartphone panel requires nearly one million Micro-LED chips, or 50 million units for a typical 4K TV panel.
Micro-LED displays are said to consume 90 percent less power than their LCD counterparts and half the power of OLEDs, making them a potential OLED replacement. If Apple manages to solve yield and commercialization issues, future Micro-LED-outfitted Apple devices should bring increased battery performance and brighter screens.
In addition to boosting battery life by as much as 300 percent versus LCDs, micro-LEDs allow for higher-resolution screens with improved color gamut and two to three times the brightness of OLED technology under the same power consumption.
Some of the major benefits of Micro-LED technology include:
  • Micro-LEDs could improve battery power by as much as 300 percent.
  • Micro-LEDs eliminate the need for backlighting unlike traditional LCDs.
  • Micro-LEDs allow for higher-resolution screens with improved color gamut than other display technologies.
  • Micro-LEDs provide two to three times the brightness of their OLED counterparts under the same power consumption.
  • Micro-LEDs require much less investment than traditional TFT LCD display panels to reach economies of scale.
Currently, both Apple and Samsung are said to be secretly developing Micro-LEDs. The iPhone maker back in 2014 acquired US-based Micro-LED developers LuxVue Technology.
Image: LuxVue’s Micro-LED patent, now owned by Apple

FastUnlockX makes unlocking your iPhone X with Face ID even faster

March 20, 2018
Anyone sporting an iPhone X should be familiar with how Face ID works by now. After the handset recognizes your face, you’re required to swipe up from the bottom of the display to get to your Home screen. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could skip the second step altogether?
A new free jailbreak tweak dubbed FastUnlockX by iOS developer CPDigitalDarkroom brings this idea to fruition and makes unlocking your iPhone X with Face ID a split second faster.  
After installing FastUnlockX on your jailbroken iPhone X, your device will begin taking you to your Home screen automatically once it distinguishes a recognized face. In other words, you won’t have to swipe up from the bottom of the display to get to your Home screen anymore.
Notably, Apple imposes this two-step process to prevent accidental handset unlocks and hence slightly increase the user’s security. FastUnlockX defeats the purpose of this two-step process, but the trade-off is being able to access your Home screen more quickly.
It’d be laughable to say that FastUnlockX saves time given just how fast the unlock process is on the iPhone X. You probably won’t save much time in the long run, but the tweak certainly adds to the convenience factor and makes accessing your device throughout the day slightly less cumbersome.
FastUnlockX isn’t for everyone, especially those that have come to love the two-step unlock process. On the other hand, a tweak of this nature has been in high demand since iOS 11 first became jailbreakable, and it’s neat that there’s an official solution available in Cydia now.
FastUnlockX works with all jailbroken iPhone X handsets and can be downloaded for free from Cydia’s BigBoss repository. For anyone interested in learning how the tweak works, CPDigitalDarkroom published FastUnlockX’s source code on GitHub.
Do you find swiping up after Face ID recognition on the iPhone X annoying? Share why or why not in the comments section below.

iTunes carrier billing expands to UK’s EE, Germany’s Telekom, Orange in France & Spain

March 20, 2018
Joining standard payment methods accepted on Apple’s content stores—such as Paypal, plastic money and iTunes credit—customers in some European countries can now have their app and media purchases charged to a monthly mobile phone bill from their carrier.
This feature, dubbed carrier billing, is now available to Apple customers and EE subscribers in the United Kingdom. In Germany, carrier billing is now supported by Telekom. Lastly, carrier Orange has turned carrier billing on for its subscribers in France and Spain.
Carrier billing is especially helpful if you don’t have or are not eligible for a credit or debit card, can’t buy iTunes codes or don’t have a bank account to use with Apple’s content stores.
According to Apple, carrier billing is now available across these markets and carriers:
  • Austria (A1, Drei and T-Mobile)
  • Belgium (BASE-PayByMobile and Proximus)
  • Bulgaria (Telenor)
  • Czech Republic (T-Mobile)
  • Denmark (3 (Hi3G Denmark ApS))
  • Estonia (Tele2)
  • Finland (DNA)
  • France (Bouygues Telecom and Orange)
  • Germany (O2 and partner brands, Telekom and Vodafone)
  • Hong Kong (SmarTone and 3HK)
  • Hungary (Telenor)
  • Italy (Wind Tre)
  • Japan (KDDI, SoftBank and NTT DOCOMO)
  • Latvia (Tele2)
  • Lithuania (Tele2)
  • Malaysia (Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile)
  • Netherlands (KPN)
  • Norway (Telenor)
  • Portugal (Vodafone)
  • Qatar (Ooredoo)
  • Russia (Beeline, Megafon and MTS)
  • Saudi Arabai (Zain)
  • Singapore (M1 Limited)
  • Slovakia (Telekom)
  • South Africa (Vodacom)
  • Spain (Orange and Pagos Online Movistar)
  • Sweden (3 (Hi3G Access AB), Tele2 and Telenor Sverige AB)
  • Switzerland (Swisscom)
  • Taiwan (APTG, FET, Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and T Star)
  • Turkey (Turkcell)
  • United Arab Emirates (Etisalat and Du)
  • United Kingdom (EE)
Our step-by-step tutorial explains the process of setting up direct carrier billing as your preferred payment method for App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store purchases made across your iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV devices.

If you sleep with an Apple Watch on, consider disabling Auto Call in Emergency SOS settings

March 20, 2018
Emergency SOS, a tremendously helpful feature in iOS and watchOS that allows you to quickly and easily place a potentially life-saving call to local emergency services, is apparently causing some unforeseen problems for people who sleep with their Apple Watch on.
First and foremost, why would anyone sleep with their watch on?
Well, if you happen to own an Apple Watch and use it for tracking your health and fitness metrics, chances are you use apps like HeartWatch and others to keep tabs on your sleeping heart rate, which is a simple but effective measure of your current physical state.
The Verge’s Russell Brandon points us to a bunch of Twitter posts complaining about accidentally activating Emergency SOS if you sleep on your Apple Watch the wrong way.
Jason Rowley tweeted about how he accidentally triggered Emergency SOS in sleep by holding down the Digital Crown button. The police showed up in his bedroom at 1am but were thankfully helpful because they’re apparently accustomed to watchOS misdials like this one.
Public service announcement: If you sleep with an Apple Watch on, consider turning off the Emergency SOS feature, or you too may wake up to 3 cops in your bedroom at 1 AM.
“If you sleep with an Apple Watch on, consider turning off the Emergency SOS feature or you too may wake up to three cops in your bedroom at 1am,” he tweeted out.
That’s because Emergency SOS defaults to automatically calling your local emergency number when you press the Side button five times in a quick succession.
Dubbed Auto Call, this setting requires that you press the Side button five times to bring up the shut down screen, then slide across the Emergency SOS slider to place a 911 call.
If you sleep with your watch on and tend to mistakenly trigger a 911 call while asleep, you may want to disable Auto Call in Settings → Emergency SOS to bring back an additional slider step.
I sleep with my watch on but have never experiences this problem because Auto Call is disabled on my devices. I’ll turn it on and see how it goes…
How about you?

Leave your comment below.

BoostedWifi augments your iPhone’s Wi-Fi capabilities

March 20, 2018
If you’d like to beef up the Wi-Fi capabilities of your jailbroken iPhone or iPad, then you might take interest in a new free jailbreak tweak called BoostedWifi by iOS developer KingPuffdaddi.
BoostedWifi augments your device’s Wi-Fi capabilities by removing the signal limit levied by Apple and displaying detailed signal levels for every network.
So what does this mean? Basically, iOS has been configured to only display Wi-Fi networks that meet a signal level baseline. If the signal level is too weak, then iOS hides it from the list of networks you can join. BoostedWifi prevents that from happening so you can see all the Wi-Fi networks around you, regardless of their signal level.
But in addition to that, BoostedWifi displays the RSSI (received signal strength indicator) for each network directly inside of iOS’ stock Wi-Fi selector preference pane, as shown above. This is intended to give you an idea of how strong or weak each Wi-Fi signal is in a more detailed manner than the stock Wi-Fi indicator.
Not everyone has a use for such detailed Wi-Fi information, but BoostedWifi should be an obvious addition for anyone takes an interest in Wi-Fi networking, or that might want to know more about the Wi-Fi networks around them.
With no options to configure, merely installing the tweak imposes its effects automatically, and the only way to disable it is to uninstall the tweak through Cydia.
If you’d like to give BoostedWifi a try, then you can grab it for free from Cydia’s BigBoss repository. BoostedWifi is intended to work only on jailbroken iOS 11 devices. For earlier versions of iOS, check out Wi-Fi – The Strongest Link.
Do you have a use for BoostedWifi’s upgraded Wi-Fi stats? Let us know in the comments section below.

How to change the Apple Music account associated with your HomePod

March 20, 2018
You set up your new HomePod for the first time by bringing near an iPhone or iPad, which prompts Apple’s handy Automatic Setup feature to transfer settings from your iOS device, such as saved Wi-Fi passwords and your Apple Music subscription information.
If you would like to associate a different Apple Music account with your HomePod that the one you are currently using on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, you can do that with just a few taps.
Here’s how.

Changing Apple Music account on HomePod

To sign in with a different Apple Music account on your HomePod, do this:
1) Open the Home app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 11.2.5 or later.
2) Press your HomePod in the Home or Rooms tab with 3D Touch or long-tap it.
3) Tap Details in the lower-right corner.
4) Tap Account underneath the Music & Podcasts heading.
5) Tap Sign Out to stop using the Apple Music account shown inside the Apple ID field.
NOTE: This will not sign you out completely on this HomePod. Your existing Apple ID will still be used for other personalizations and settings sync, as evidenced by your HomePod remaining listed as an iCloud device in the Settings app on your iPhone.
6) Now tap the link “Sign In Using a Different Apple ID”.
7) Enter the user name and password of the Apple ID account you wish to use on your HomePod for your Apple Music subscription and the Podcasts app, then tap the Sign Inbutton.
You may be asked to enter a Two-Factor Authentication code displayed as a push notification or texted as an SMS message to one or more of your your trusted devices.
TIP: To tell your HomePod to instead access your Apple Music subscription and Podcasts using the Apple ID account that’s currently signed in to your iPhone or iPad, simply tap Sign Inin step 6 instead of the link “Sign In Using a Different Apple ID”.
8) Go back to the previous screen, then tap Done to save the changes.
Other people who share your home will be able to see your Apple ID user name in the Home app so this is obviously something to keep in mind if you’re concerned about privacy.

Sixth beta of tvOS 11.3 now available

March 20, 2018
Apple on Tuesday seeded the sixth beta of tvOS 11.3 to developers. The move follows beta 6 releases of iOS 11.3, watchOS 4.3 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, and the update can be installed on fourth and fifth generation Apple TVs with the appropriate profiles.
tvOS 11.3 doesn’t include a lot of user-facing changes, but it does bring about Match Content support, automatic frame rate switching to 4th gen Apple TVs, and automatic AirPlay switching. Early betas did include support for AirPlay 2, but that has since been pulled.
Given the amount of betas we’ve seen with tvOS 11.3 and Apple’s other platform updates, we’re expecting to see public releases sometime soon. Last week the company announced an event scheduled for March 27, so it’s possible this is a target launch window for them.

Tip: enable the Markup extension so you can annotate stuff from virtually any Mac app

March 16, 2018
The Markup tools in the Preview app that came installed on your Mac allow let you put out something on an image, annotate a PDF file, add some text, sign a document and much more.
But wouldn’t it be great if you could access the Markup tools from virtually any Mac app that lets you edit stuff, like on iOS? Well, Apple has though of that so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that macOS includes a Markup extension that works in most stock and third-party apps.
Here’s how to set it up.

How to enable Markup extension on your Mac

To enable macOS’s built-in Markup extension, do the following:
1) Open the System Preferences app.
2) Click the Extensions icon, then click Actions in the lefthand column.
3) You should now see all extensions you installed on this Mac listed in the righthand column.
Find Markup in the list, then tick its box to enable the extension.
Congratulations, you can now draw on pictures, sign documents, annotate, add text and more in most apps which work with documents, like Mail, TextEdit, Pixelmator and so forth.
Turning Markup’s extension on lets you annotate images from within other apps
Apps that don’t work with documents, like FaceTime, don’t support Markup features at all.

How to use the Markup extension on your Mac

If your favorite app is document-based and support editing, like Microsoft Word, Pages, Notes, to name a few, you can use the Markup extension simply by hovering the mouse pointed over an image or object in an area of the app where you can edit stuff.
As you hover the mouse pointer over the image, you should see a downward-pointed arrow in its top-right corner. Click the arrow, then choose the Markup option from the popup menu.
Now you can annotate the image inline, using Markup, without leaving the app you’re in.
In the example of the stock Mail app, that could be a new email message with an inline image.
In TextEdit, Markup lets you annotate inline images.
Similarly, you could annotate an inline image added to a note in the Notes app.
Keep in mind that some apps may not display a downward-pointed arrow when you hover the mouse pointer over an editable image even though they support Markup.
Examples include stock Apple apps like Preview and Photos.
In Preview, press Shift (⇧)-Command (⌘)-A to show/hide the Markup tools.
In Photos, Markup is available via the app’s extensions interface when editing an image.

Markup on iOS

Markup features are available on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices as well, with rich support for Apple Pencil on compatible iPad models. On iOS 11, Markup is an Action extension accessible through the Share menu.
For instance, you can access Markup through the image-editing interface of the stock Photos app to do things like circle a location on a map or magnify part of an image. In Mail, you can use the Markup tools to add drawings and text to your image attachments.
This super-handy extension also works in the Files app and almost any document-based iOS app. In the Files app, for instance, you can use Markup to add your signature or highlight a sentence in a PDF document.
And with Instant Markup, you can easily annotate a screenshot right after taking it.

Triple-A console title ARK: Survival Evolved is getting a full game on iPhone and iPad

March 16, 2018
Yesterday, Studio Wildcard and War Drum Studios officially announced that they’re porting the popular large-scale console survival sandbox game Ark: Survival Evolved to iPhone and iPad.
They also opened up the mobile version to the public in a beta test.
The game challenges you to survive and thrive on a mysterious island, where you start out alone and unarmed. The massive Jurassic-era game world is filled with more than 80 unique dinosaurs and primal creatures for you to capture and tame.
It will provide the full 50-person online multiplayer experience as the PC version of ARK, with all the features of the console edition in unabridged format and the full single-player campaign.
Players will be able to also form tribes and work together to build colonies of survivors, gather resources and craft tools to build shelter and hunt, make new friends online, expand their domain of influence and build mighty structures to defend against jurassic predators.
Here’s the promotional trailer for the mobile version of ARK.
Every single frame of the trailer’s gameplay footage was recorded live using an iPhone 8.
ARK will let you customize virtually everything—visually and functionally—including procedurally-generated RPG statistics for creatures, characters, resources, clothing, gear and weapons (both primitive and modern).
You’ll be using cunning strategies and tactics to befriend, train, ride and breed the dinosaurs and other primeval creatures. Rare blueprints and notes written by the island’s pervious inhabitants provide a nice backstory while the game’s Tribe system encourages cooperation by supporting dynamic parties to share resources and respawn points.
The mobile game will sport a specialized control setup created just for it.
Key highlights include:
  • 80+ dinosaurs: Use cunning strategy and tactics to tame, ride and breed the many dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the dynamic, persistent ecosystems across land, sea, air and even underground.
  • Discover: Explore a massive living and breathing prehistoric landscape as you find the means to survive, thrive and escape on the Ark.
  • Craft and build: Using any means necessary to survive, craft weapons, clothes and items, and build shelters, villages or even large cities.
  • Survive alone or with others: Group up with, or prey on, hundreds of other players in a large-scale online world or choose to go it alone in single-player mode.
  • Join a tribe: The Tribe system encourages cooperation by supporting dynamic parties to share resources, experience points and re-spawn points.
According to the developers, ARK: Survival Evolved will require two gigabytes of free space to download and install. The game will run at 30 frames per second on iPhone 7 devices, featuring the entire island map with most of the creatures.
Devices will require 2 GB of RAM on iOS and 3 GB of RAM on Android. The game will be free-to-play when it arrives with optional In-App Purchases in form of various upgrades.
Beta signups are available through the game’s official website (but first, read the FAQ). There will apparently be day 1 in-game bonuses for those who pre-register.
The game is available on Mac, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Steam.
War Drum is anticipating a full worldwide launch on App Store later this spring.


Google Lens rolling out in iOS via Google Photos app

March 16, 2018
As promised, Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence-powered visual search feature, called Lens, is now rolling out on iOS via the search giant’s free Google Photos app.
Lens is a staggered release so iOS customers can expect to see it in their Google Photos app over the next week. With Lens, the Photos app is able to analyze what’s on your photos and offer quick actions to help you discover more about the world around you.
Before you get started with Lens, be sure that your device language is set to English. Next, open the Google Photos app, select any photo, then tap the Google Lens icon to learn more about landmarks, see ratings, hours, historical facts and more.
If you don’t see the Lens icon, that’s because the feature is now available yet in your country so give it a few days before trying again.

Starting today and rolling out over the next week, those of you on iOS can try the preview of Google Lens to quickly take action from a photo or discover more about the world around you. Make sure you have the latest version (3.15) of the app. 
For instance, you can use Lens to look up a book you’l like to read, check online reviews and get a quick synopsis. Or, Lens makes it easy to recognize text on your photos, allowing you to copy it and take action based on the text, like visit a website, get directions, add an event to your calendar, call a number, copy and paste a recipe and more.
Another great feature is the ability for Lens to automatically create a contact from a business card you photographed or get more info about a famous landmark on your photo.
Here’s everything you can do with Lens if you take a photo of a:
  • Business card: You can save the phone number or address to a contact.
  • Book: You can get reviews and other details about it.
  • Landmark or building: You can get more details about it.
  • Painting in a museum: You can get details about it.
  • A plant or animal: You can learn more about it.
  • A flyer or event billboard:  You can add that event to your calendar.
According to Google, the Lens feature requires the latest version of Google Photos (3.15 or later).
If the Web & App Activity feature is turned on in Google Photo, all your Lens activity—including the image—is saved to your Google Account. To see your Lens activity, visit Google’s My Activity dashboard.
Shown off at Mobile World Congress earlier this month, Lens is currently in preview. Again, Google Lens requires that you set your iOS device’s language to US English in Settings.