Apple Teams Up With Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for Siri Movie

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson today announced that he's teamed up with Apple for a movie that co-stars Apple's AI-based personal assistant, Siri.

According to the poster tweeted by Johnson, the movie is called "The ROCKxSIRI Dominate the Day." There are no details on how long the film is or what it's about, but it apparently debuts tomorrow on Apple's YouTube channel.


Based on the image, it appears to feature car chases, space travel, an alien fight, and a concert performance. In a Facebook post, Johnson calls it the "biggest, coolest, craziest, dopest, most over the top, funnest" movie ever.
I partnered with #Apple to make the BIGGEST, COOLEST, CRAZIEST, DOPEST, MOST OVER THE TOP, FUNNEST (is that even a word?) movie ever.

And I have the greatest co-star of all time - #SIRI.

I make movies for the world to enjoy and we also made this one to motivate you to get out there and get the job done.

I want you to watch it, have fun with it and then go LIVE IT.
The film will premiere on Apple's YouTube channel on Monday, July 24, but it's not yet clear what time it will debut.

This is the second time Apple has teamed up with a partner to release a short film. Last month, Apple highlighted "Détour," a film French director Michel Gondry shot on the iPhone in partnership with Apple and in a decidedly more Apple style.

The project with Dwayne Johnson is unusual, but it comes at a time when Apple is preparing to release the Siri-based HomePod, so that may be why the company has decided to promote its personal assistant in a fun and unique way.

Tag: Siri

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Latest Drone Footage Reveals Landscaping Progress in Apple Park’s Inner Circle

Drone videographer Duncan Sinfield posted a new video on his YouTube channel today, offering a "late July" bird's eye view of Apple Park, the company's new headquarters in Cupertino, California.


Sinfield's video reveals landscaping around the campus has picked up momentum in the last few weeks, with a large grove of trees in the inner circle of Apple Park being the clearest sign of progress.

When finished, Apple Park will be surrounded by some 9,000 trees. The landscaping is being overseen by an arborist personally chosen by the late Steve Jobs, who believed trees would be one of the most important parts of the Park and represent a microcosm of the old Silicon Valley, when there were said to be more fruit trees than engineers.


Tantau Avenue, which runs along the east side of the campus, has been closed to vehicle traffic for much of July as Apple works rapidly to finish the Visitor's Center ahead of the official opening day. Apple started hiring employees last month for the Visitor Center, which will include an Apple Store and a public cafe.

Earlier this month we got a glimpse of Apple Park's Glendenning Barn, a historic landmark that the company carefully dismantled piece by piece and relocated to another part of the site, which was formerly a HP campus.


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Apple Stores Getting All-New ‘Lead’ and ‘Schedule Planner’ Positions

Apple today internally announced it is introducing two all-new Apple Store positions named Lead and Schedule Planner. Applications open Monday, July 24 for existing Apple retail employees, although it appears that select stores started interviewing candidates as early as a few weeks ago.


Apple says the Lead position will give team members the chance to learn the ins and outs of running an Apple Store firsthand. The majority of a Lead's time will be spent as the Support Leader on the Floor, responsible for managing employee breaks and zoning in the store, and addressing customer concerns.

Support Leader on the Floor also entails communicating daily objectives, reinforcing store policies, and motivating team members by delivering feedback for career development, according to one employee's LinkedIn profile.

Apple says Leads will also support opening and closing, and perform a number of other administrative responsibilities, suggesting these employees could be key holders, count and balance cash, and be able to perform overrides when necessary. These have typically been duties carried out by the Store Manager.

It appears that Store Managers will continue to perform some of those responsibilities, in addition to HR and store development.

Meanwhile, working closely with Store Leaders, Apple says the majority of a Schedule Planner's time will be spent planning and creating the weekly schedule for the entire store. Schedule Planners will also identify trends and make resourcing recommendations to improve team and customer experiences.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: Apple retail

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Review: Elgato’s $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers a Solid Set of Ports in a Slim Design

Over the past few months, I've taken a look at a number of Thunderbolt 3 docks that all hit the market around the same time, including models from OWC, CalDigit, Belkin, and Kensington. There's at least one more major player in the market, so today I'm sharing my thoughts on Elgato's $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Elgato's dock has a lot in common with many of its competitors, including a slim horizontal design of brushed aluminum and plastic, an array of ports for expanding the capabilities of your Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac, and more.


The dock looks nice on a desk, with a black matte plastic front and back wrapped by a brushed aluminum enclosure that's rounded around the sides. A small Elgato wordmark is printed in the front left corner of the dock's top, but it doesn't mar the overall look of the accessory, which remains rather unobtrusive. Measuring just under 8 inches wide, Elgato's dock is slightly narrower than some of the other docks, which to my eye makes it look a bit better sitting on the foot of my LG UltraFine 5K display. Belkin's dock at a little over 8 inches also fits pretty well, but wider docks like OWC's and Kensington's overhang a bit.

Of course, everyone's desk setup is different so variations of around an inch in the width of all of these docks may not be a deal-breaker, but it's worth noting this is the narrowest of the horizontal designs I've tested. At about 3.15 inches deep and an inch high, Elgato's dock is otherwise pretty much on par with competing docks in terms of size.
Continue reading Review: Elgato’s $300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers a Solid Set of Ports in a Slim Design

TouchArcade iOS Gaming Roundup: RuneScape, Layton’s Mystery Journey, Full Throttle Remastered, and More

This week I'm finally allowed to talk about what should be some pretty massive news for iOS gamers who are also old-school MMORPG players: RuneScape for mobile was announced, and it's coming in late 2017 / early 2018 for Android and iOS. If the name RuneScape doesn't ring a bell, it's a browser-based MMORPG that was first released back in 2001. Like EverQuest and Ultima Online, players who were into RuneScape were really into RuneScape. It has even earned Guinness records for the world's largest free MMORPG and the most updated game.


In addition to the RuneScape that has been updated over the years, Old School RuneScape, which is a modern reboot of (as the title might indicate) the old version of the game, is also coming to mobile. For whatever reason, the Old School iteration is far more popular on Reddit than the modern version. I'm ultra-excited for these mobile ports, as RuneScape is deep in the category of games I've heard a lot about, but never really had the time to sit down and play. Being able to get into the game on my phone really lowers that barrier of entry, and better yet, it's totally cross platform and mobile players will be playing the same game on the same servers as the "real" browser and PC client.


Meanwhile, we've continued to follow the puzzling drama of Honor of Kings versus the Chinese government. It's a scuffle that seems hard to believe as a thing that's really happening. If this is the first you've heard of Honor of Kings, the basic gist is that it's a MOBA by Tencent that is absolutely on fire in China. They've got 200 million active players, and the game accounts for 40 percent of Tencent's total mobile games revenue, which amounted to $883 million generated by the game just in Q1 this year. People play it so much that Tencent has actually put restrictions on just how long you can play it in a single day.

However, amidst legitimate fears of children becoming addicted to such massively online releases, the Chinese government has this week labeled Honor of Kings as 'poison' in the state-run People's Daily paper, and has threatened further action against Tencent to crack down on the influence such games have over vulnerable young gamers. It's a reality that's hard to believe. I typically write off describing games as "addictive" as marketing hyperbole, but in the case of Honor of Kings, this seems to be something the Chinese government is genuinely concerned about.


In other news, San Diego Comic Con is happening right now. While mobile gaming-relevant announcements at the event are typically few and far between, Telltale came out swinging by announcing a whole slew of sequels to existing popular series. Batman is gaining a second season titled Batman: The Enemy Within, which will be released on August 8 for PC and consoles with mobile coming at some point in the future. Additionally, the fabulous The Walking Dead by Telltale is moving on to a third and final season cleverly titled The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The game will follow the conclusion of Clementine's story, who throughout the series has evolved from a child side-character into the primary protagonist. Last, but not least, The Wolf Among Us is also getting a second season, although no details exist beyond the fact that it's coming.


Following up on the world of Hearthstone as we rocket towards the release of the upcoming expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, a new event has kicked off in game that rewards packs of cards for the new set. The Frost Festival gives players various quests to complete in game which revolve around competing in Hearthstone's limited Arena format. Of course these packs can't be opened until the new set launches next month, but much like the previous Midsummer Fire Festival, participating in The Frost Festival is a great way to get a ton of free stuff in game.


Among the many new iOS games which were released this week is a totally new entry in the unbelievably fantastic Professor Layton puzzler series titled Layton's Mystery Journey. If you've never played a Layton game before, it's a franchise that got its start on the Nintendo DS and features various mysteries which are solved via completing increasingly difficult puzzles.

The release of Layton's Mystery Journey on iOS is incredibly significant as the mobile debut actually has arrived before the 3DS version of the game is released outside of Japan. The $15.99 asking price has armchair App Store game pricing economists up in arms, particularly when you consider the inclusion of 15 different IAP unlockable costumes, each coming with their own additional puzzle. In total, with everything unlocked, Layton on iOS will run you just shy of $40, which is the same price as the same game on the 3DS.


A ton of other great games were released this week as well, including a mobile port of Full Throttle Remastered, the bluffing party game Triple Agent, a strange WWE-themed deck building clicker titled WWE Tap Mania, the grand strategy game Realpolitiks Mobile, and tons more. It's weeks like this that makes keeping up with iOS gaming incredibly difficult as there are more great games released on the App Store than anyone realistically even has time to play.


Last, but not least, when I posted that Sorcery! was free a few weeks ago there were a number of comments posted by readers saying how much they enjoyed it. Well, if that was your first taste of interactive fiction on iOS, there's a lot more where that came from. We put together a list of the best five interactive fiction games, which has a much broader definition than you might think. Definitely give that a look if you enjoyed Sorcery!, or like the idea of playing modern versions of games that play a lot like the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels from when you were a kid.

That's all from me this week, and as always if you appreciate these roundups and are hungry for more information surrounding the world of iOS gaming, be sure to check out TouchArcade. We post iOS game news, reviews, previews, guides, and more all week long.


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Verizon Throttling Netflix Traffic as Part of Temporary Video Optimization Test

Some Verizon Wireless users this week began noticing throttled streaming speeds when watching content from streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and Verizon today confirmed to Ars Technica that it has indeed been throttling speeds as "part of a temporary test" of a "new video optimization system."
"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."
Reports of throttled speeds first surfaced on reddit earlier this week, after Verizon users noticed that Netflix's speed test site was returning streaming speeds limited to approximately 10Mb/s, while other speed test tools, like Ookla Speedtest, were returning normal results. Similar throttled speeds were also seen when using YouTube and the actual Netflix service.


It wasn't clear what was going on until this morning, when Verizon told Ars Technica that it was conducting a temporary test of a new optimization system. According to Verizon, the optimization test did not impact actual quality of video, which is true in most cases, but some YouTube users noticed downgraded quality resolved through using a VPN. Other video services, including Verizon's own Go90 video service, are also impacted.

With Netflix, the 10Mb/s limit doesn't impact Netflix video quality when watching on a mobile device, but it has the potential to be an issue when tethering and watching on a device that can stream Netflix's Ultra HD 25Mb/s video. According to Verizon, the video optimization limits are used regardless of whether a user is tethering.
But will that actually harm your Netflix video? Probably not, as long as you're watching on your mobile device and not tethering. Netflix says its Ultra HD quality video can require 25Mbps but that's apparently just for non-mobile devices. For mobile devices, Netflix offers a few quality settings including "Unlimited," which it says "may use 1GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds."
When Verizon introduced its unlimited streaming data plan in February of 2017, the company said it would not throttle video or manipulate data, and Verizon was noncommittal when asked by Ars Technica if the alleged "temporary test" marked a change in policy. "We deliver whatever the content provider gives us," the company said. "We're always looking for ways to optimize our network without impacting our customers' experience."

As The Verge points out, what customers experienced appeared to be more of a hard cap than network optimization, raising some questions about Net Neutrality.

Verizon says its testing should be completed shortly, after which speeds will presumably go back to normal.

Tag: Verizon

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Apple Appoints Deirdre O’Brien to New ‘Vice President of People’ Role

Apple today announced that it is promoting Deirdre O'Brien to a new head HR role, "vice president of People." O'Brien, who previously served as vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations, has been at Apple for nearly 30 years.

According to the news release, O'Brien will lead all HR functions, like talent development, recruiting, benefits, compensation, and business support, plus she'll oversee Apple University, where employees are trained. She will be reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

"As long as I've been at Apple, Deirdre has been the glue that bonds our operations, sales, marketing and finance teams to deliver products to our customers," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "Deirdre deeply understands Apple's unique culture and that people join Apple to do the best work of their lives. She is a superb leader and I'm thrilled she will be bringing her experience and talent to this critical role."
O'Brien first joined Apple in 1988 and has had a "key role" in each Apple hardware product launch over the past 20 years. She will start her new position as vice president of People in the fall.
"I love Apple and, like so many of my colleagues, I'm honored to have made it my life's work," said Deirdre. "I'm excited to begin this new chapter, supporting 120,000 incredibly talented people around the world who are motivated to do amazing things every day. It is a privilege to work among such a diverse and talented team, and to help them thrive here at Apple."
Apple has recently taken to announcing high profile hires and promotions on its news site, most recently sharing the hiring of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony Pictures executives who will lead Apple's original programming efforts, and the promotion of Isabel Ge Mahe to Managing Director of Greater China.
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Apple Has Spent Record $2.2 Million Lobbying Trump Administration Over Past Three Months

Apple spent an all-time high $2.2 million lobbying the Donald Trump administration in Washington D.C. between April 1 and June 30, 2017, according to a disclosure form filed by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Image: Drew Angerer—Getty Images

That amount is by far the most Apple has ever spent on lobbying in a single quarter, eclipsing the previous record of nearly $1.4 million spent during Trump's first three months as President of the United States. Apple has now spent nearly $3.6 million on lobbying during the first six months of his term.

The extra $800,000 that Apple spent between April 1 and June 30 of this year, compared to January 1 to March 31, is its largest ever quarter-over-quarter increase in lobbying expenses. Apple had never increased its lobbying spending by more than $330,000 from one quarter to the next before now.

Apple's surge in spending is perhaps no surprise, as the company has disagreed with Trump on a number of fundamental issues, ranging from his temporary immigration ban to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

"There are clearly areas where we're not nearly on the same page," said Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Nonetheless, Cook has showed a willingness to work with Trump so far.

By comparison, Apple spent $1.12 million lobbying between April 1 and June 30 of 2016, the final year of Barack Obama's administration, meaning it has nearly doubled its spending in just one year. Apple spent around $730,000 during the first six months of Obama's presidency, according to 2009 disclosure forms.

Apple continued to lobby the government about issues related to corporate tax reform, climate change, diversity in the workplace, green technology, patent reform, privacy, education, accessibility, music licensing, and regulation of mobile medical applications, according to the latest disclosure form.

Apple has gradually increased its lobbying spending over the past decade. In 2007, the final year of George W. Bush's administration, the company spent $1.3 million, compared to nearly $4.7 million in 2016. Apple is well on pace to smash that record this year after spending $3.6 million in the first six months alone.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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ARKit Roundup: Turn-by-Turn Directions, Precise Room Measurements, and Pac-Man

Since the announcement of Apple's new augmented reality developer platform at WWDC in June, developers have been sharing interesting new AR experiences on iOS devices, including practical applications like measuring tape apps and basic character model demos.

Today, we've rounded up the newest examples of how ARKit could work in real-world scenarios, starting off with a maps addition that could bolster directions in Apple Maps. As with all ARKit demos, today's examples are not confirmed to be the final launch products for augmented reality apps coming down the line, but they are intriguing glimpses into what users can expect when the AR features debut on iOS 11 this fall.

Images via @AndrewProjDent

Shared by iOS developer Andrew Hart on Twitter, the first example of the AR-enhanced maps software overlays destinations on points of interest when looked at through the camera of your iPhone or iPad, giving an estimation of how far you are from each location.

Burrowing deeper into getting directions to a specific location, Hart used ARKit and Apple developer framework Core Location -- which lets developers integrate the geographic location and orientation of a device directly into their software -- to create augmented reality turn-by-turn directions.

Acquisitions of mapping companies and patent filings dating back to 2009 have long suggested that Apple is interested in adding AR features into Apple Maps, but the technology prior to ARKit has likely not been promising enough for such an implementation.


Continuing on the measuring AR app trend, a new tool was shared on the Made With ARKit Twitter account recently, allowing users to perform precise square foot measurements of an entire room. The last few measuring apps detailed in our ARKit roundup in June centered upon AR-enabled measuring tapes that could only provide distance estimates in a straight line.


For those interested in gaming AR apps, developer Kobi Snir shared a real-life version of Pac-Man that uses ARKit to place users directly within the game's maze, filled with dots and ghosts. The players take on the role of Pac-Man, and move around the maze to eat every dot while avoiding the ghosts. Another recent gaming-related ARKit example showcased what Minecraft would look like in the real world.


Games have been a core part of ARKit from the day it was announced, with Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi touting Pokémon Go as one of the first apps that will receive ARKit-related enhancements this fall. "The Pokémon is so real, he's right there on the ground," Federighi said at WWDC. "As the ball bounces, it actually bounces right there in the real environment. It's AR like you've never seen it before."

Of course, these are just a handful of recent examples of ARKit that developers have shared. Others include a graffiti doodling app, a shopping app (similar to IKEA's planned ARKit app), and an inter-dimensional portal. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said AR makes him so excited that he just wants to "yell out and scream," telling Bloomberg Businessweek last month that, "When people begin to see what’s possible, it’s going to get them very excited—like we are, like we’ve been."

Tag: ARKit

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New Editorial Content Begins Appearing Within App Store on iOS 11 Beta

A few testers on the iOS 11 beta have noticed that new editorial content appeared within the App Store this week, related to information about HBO NOW, Pokémon Go, and new App of the Day and Game of the Day cards. MacRumors forum member mariusignorello posted about the new content recently, pointing out other changes as well, like updated carousels on the Apps and Games tabs. Previously, the App Store on iOS 11 remained on the date of Monday, June 26 for many users without any new content added.


One of the major new additions to the App Store's Today tab on the iOS 11 beta is a How To guide for "The Best Way to Binge Game of Thrones." In the article, the editors discuss the popularity of the HBO series, and go on to list four of their favorite moments from the show so far. Each moment gets a description of where users can find it in each season and episode, as well as a spoiler-filled description of what goes down. When they're done reading, the bottom of the card links readers to the HBO NOW app on the App Store.

The second article is gaming-focused, giving App Store browsers a Gaming 101 guide on "How to Game: Pokémon Go." The article includes "tips for leveling up faster," and includes four total tips surrounding Pokémon evolution, capture mechanics, and daily streaks. Like the Game of Thrones card, the bottom of the Pokémon Go tips card links readers to the App Store page for the game, as well as a share sheet to send the story to someone via Messages, e-mail, Twitter, and more.


There's a new "Our Favorites" app collection card, which encourages readers to download a few gaming apps that are focused on playing with friends since they all have in-game chat or work as a Messages app. This story is much shorter than the previous ones, focusing more on providing readers with a straightforward list of apps following a brief description of what the collection is about.

The last pieces of new content include new App of the Day and Game of the Day cards. The App of the Day celebrates the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Comic-Con in San Diego with a digital coloring book app called Marvel: Color Your Own. The editors give a brief description of the app, as well as a promotion for using Apple Pencil to get the most out of coloring in the Marvel characters. The same setup is seen in Game of the Day, which is currently an app called Framed 2.


Apple unveiled the iOS 11 App Store redesign on June 5 during its WWDC keynote, showcasing the new look as a way to unify the App Store's design with other iOS 11 apps, and making it easier for users to browse and find new apps. During the presentation, Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, said that, "We are taking everything we’ve learned from the App Store over the past nine years and putting it into a stunning new design. Every element of the new App Store is richer, more beautiful and more engaging."

Take a closer look at the redesigned App Store on iOS 11 with our hands-on preview.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: App Store

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