Sonnet Launches Thunderbolt 3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 Adapter Compatible With Mac

Sonnet Technologies this week launched a Thunderbolt 3 to dual HDMI 2.0 adapter compatible with Mac and Windows PCs.


The plug-and-play adapter enables the connection of up to two 4K Ultra HD displays with HDMI 2.0 to a single Thunderbolt 3 port at 60Hz on computers such as the 2016 and later MacBook Pro.

The adapter is powered by the computer it is plugged into and also supports monitors with lower resolutions such as 1920x1080 and 1920x1200.

The adapter is available now for a suggested price of around $90 in the United States on Sonnet's website and Amazon. By comparison, StarTech and Plugable currently sell equivalent adapters on Amazon for around $110 and $90 respectively.


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Spotify Debuts Up-And-Coming Artist Spotlight ‘RISE’ With Features Similar to Apple Music’s Up Next

Spotify is expanding its music streaming service today with a new section of the mobile app and desktop site called RISE, which is "designed to identify and break the next wave of music superstars." Spotify said that each artist highlighted in RISE will be showcased through multi-tiered marketing and editorial programming, including within the app itself and promotion on social media.

Additionally, RISE artists will receive special, mixed-media playlists for users to listen to, as well as personalized behind-the-scenes audio and video content to share their stories. In the future, Spotify will host "experimental" live events focused on its RISE stars, following in the footsteps of its first live festival in the United Kingdom last month.

Instead of just one artist, RISE will focus on four musicians every few months, each one representing a different genre. To start, there will be pop singer Kim Petras, pop/rock artist Lauv, country singer Russell Dickerson, and hip hop artist Trippie Redd.


RISE will first debut to Spotify users in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and Spotify said its goal is to support a total of 16 up-and-coming artists every calendar year.
By harnessing its unmatched cultural influence and 140+ million music fans, Spotify will launch these artists of exceptional talent into the world through a dynamic combination of multi-tiered marketing and editorial programming on Spotify.

“Spotify is committed to supporting the careers of artists of every level, including the next generation of global superstars” said Troy Carter, Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services. “RISE is a powerful platform and an investment towards the future of emerging artists and the fans who discovered them first.”
Spotify's new RISE program is very similar to Apple Music Up Next, which showcases an artist on the rise every month. Apple's feature launched in April and normally includes episodic video content detailing the artist's personal journey, a live performance, and an interview with one of the Beats 1 radio hosts. The Up Next page also includes the artist's featured songs and albums, as well as playlists related to their work.


In terms of subscribers, Spotify's last reported count hit 60 million paid subscribers at the end of July, and the service has over 140 million total users when accounting for its free tier. Last month, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine gave an interview to Billboard and mentioned that Apple's streaming music service grew from 27 million paid subscribers in June to "well over" 30 million in September.

Tag: Spotify

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Google Follows Apple’s Lead By Reducing Play Store Fee for App Subscriptions

Google revealed on Thursday that it would follow Apple's lead in lowering the amount of money app developers must pay for mobile subscriptions processed through the company's Play Store (via The Verge).

Adoption of the subscription model by iOS developers has increased over recent months, causing some controversy within the app-using community. Apple incentivized developers to sell their apps for a recurring fee instead of a one-time cost when it made changes to its App Store subscription policies in September of last year.


Usually, Apple takes 30 percent of app revenue, but developers who are able to maintain a subscription with a customer longer than a year see Apple's cut drop down to 15 percent.

Google is adopting the same policy for subscriptions in its Play Store – an Android developer selling a subscription service will be eligible for the cut if the customer in question has been subscribed for more than a year. The company plans to bring the change into effect starting January 2018.

As The Verge notes, Google is trying to stay competitive with Apple by offering a reduction in its fees. This way the company ensures that subscription services like Spotify don't try to bypass the Play Store in an effort to avoid paying the fee. But it also encourages developers to work harder to keep users subscribed for longer, given that the free reduction doesn't take effect until 12 months into the initial subscription.


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U.S. Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed From China App Store

Two U.S. senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company removed third-party VPN apps from its App Store in China (via CNBC). Reports that Apple had pulled the VPN apps first arrived in July, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

In the open letter dated October 17, Senators Patrick Leahy and Ted Cruz write that China has an "abysmal" human rights record when it comes to freedom of expression and free access to online and offline information, and say they are "concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet".

Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas, left) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
"While Apple's many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the internet privately does not enable people in China to 'speak up'."

"To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese government it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China's new regulations targeting online anonymity."
The senators go on to note that Cook was awarded the free speech award at Newseum's 2017 Free Expression Awards, where he said: "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves."

In the bipartisan request, the senators then ask Cook to explain Apple's actions by answering a list of questions, including whether Apple was personally asked to remove the VPN apps by Chinese officials, and if the company expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities before the country's anti-freedom laws were enacted.

In addition, the senators question what Apple has done to promote free speech in China and whether it has pushed for human rights and better treatment of oppressed groups in the country.

During an earnings call, Cook spoke about his decision to remove the VPN apps. "We would rather not remove apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law where we do business." Cook went on to say that he hopes China will ease up on the restrictions over time.

Apple has yet to respond to the letter.

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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KGI: iPhone X Production Woes Ending, but Only 2–3 Million Units Available for Launch

With just one week to go until pre-orders for the iPhone X begin, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new report indicating that the "worst [will] soon [be] over" with regards to production difficulties.


According to Kuo, the biggest hurdle has likely been the flexible printed circuit board (FPCB) for the device's antenna, due to increased complexity and initial supply chain partner Murata's inability to meet specifications.
Special materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are required for antenna FPCB, as the specifications for iPhone X antenna (supplied by Amphenol (US)) are higher than those of iPhone 8 and only Murata (JP) and Career Tech (6153 TT, NT$30.1, NR) can meet Apple's requirements. Murata (originally with a 60% order allocation or higher) won't be able to resolve its issues before 2Q18, and thus has been fully replaced by second supplier Career. We believe Career will ramp up in November, as capacity expansion takes time, and its materials, recipes, design, processes, equipments and tests are different from those of Murata.
A secondary bottleneck appears to have been the FPCB for the wide-angle rear camera lens. Unlike competing dual-lens camera smartphones from Samsung and Huawei, the iPhone X's wide-angle and telephoto lenses use separate PCBs, and supplier Interflex has reportedly struggled with quality issues on the part for the wide-angle lens.

The third bottleneck that has received signifcant attention in recent weeks is the TrueDepth camera's infrared dot projector, or the "Romeo" component. According to Kuo, previous design issues that led to poor facial recognition have been addressed and the "worst is behind us."

Overall, Kuo is cutting his iPhone X shipment estimates for the fourth quarter to 25–30 million units, down from 30–35 million, and he expects that 2–3 million units will be shipped into distribution channels ahead of the launch. As a result, initial supplies will be very tight, as has been extensively rumored. Kuo says shipments will "pick up markedly" in the first quarter of 2018.

Related Roundup: iPhone X

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Apple Sued Over ‘Animoji’ Trademark

Apple is facing a lawsuit for infringing on an existing Animoji trademark, reports The Recorder. Animoji is the name Apple chose for the 3D animated emoji-style characters that will be available on the iPhone X.

The lawsuit [PDF] was filed on Thursday by law firm Susman Godfrey LLP on behalf of Enrique Bonansea, a U.S. citizen living in Japan who owns a company called Emonster k.k. Bonansea says he came up with the name Animoji in 2014 and registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2015.


Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store. The lawsuit alleges Apple was aware of the Animoji app and attempted to purchase the Animoji trademark ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X.
This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of Plaintiffs' ANIMOJI mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that "Animoji" was original to Apple. Far from it. Apple knew that Plaintiffs have used the ANIMOJI mark to brand a messaging product available for download on Apple's own App Store.

Indeed, Apple offered to buy Plaintiffs' mark but was rebuffed. Instead of using the creativity on which Apple developed its worldwide reputation, Apple simply plucked the name from a developer on its own App Store. Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realized Plaintiffs already used ANIMOJI for their own product. Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself--regardless of the consequences.
Bonansea's Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store. The app is designed to send animated texts to people.

In the summer of 2017, ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X, Bonansea was allegedly approached by companies with names like The Emoji Law Group LLC who attempted to purchase his Animoji trademark, and he believes these entities were working on behalf of Apple.

He opted not to sell, though he says he was threatened with a cancellation proceeding if he did not. On September 11, just prior to the debut of the iPhone X, Apple did indeed file a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Animoji trademark.

Apple's Animoji

Bonansea originally trademarked the name under a Washington corporation called "emonster, Inc," a company that is now defunct. Apple's petition to cancel argued that the "emonster Inc" company did not exist when the Animoji registration was initially filed, and Bonansea claims that it was a mistake the trademark was not filed under the name of his Japanese company, Emonster k.k. A cancellation proceeding for the trademark appears to still be pending.

The lawsuit suggests that Bonansea planned to release an updated Animoji app at the end of 2017, but had to rush to submit a new app "so that Apple did not further associate the Animoji mark in the public's minds with Apple." He claims this has caused suffering and "irreparable injury" as he has had to rush to market with an unfinished product. Bonansea is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Apple from using the Animoji name along with damages and attorney fees.

Tag: Animoji

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Cortana for iOS Gains New Look, Faster Reminder Creation and Improved Performance

Microsoft today updated its Cortana app for iOS, improving the way the AI assistant works on iOS devices. Designed to compete with Siri, Cortana is a personal assistant that can do things like set reminders, schedule calendar appointments, answer queries, and offer up information you're interested in through machine learning techniques.

Today's iOS app update introduces a revamped look that Microsoft says offers a simpler, better user experience. It's easier and faster to create reminders using the new interface, and there's a redesigned profile and settings page for managing preferences.


Cortana features improved performance when it comes to page transitions and app responsiveness, and there are also general bug fixes.
We are bringing major updates to make Cortana a better assistant for you:
- A fresh new look with a simpler and improved user experience
- It's now easier and faster to create reminders to help you stay on top of things
- Redesigned profile and settings page to easily manage your preferences
- Improved performance particularly faster page transitions and app responsiveness
- Regular bug fixes and performance improvements
The Cortana app for iOS devices first launched in December of 2015. Cortana is built into Windows devices as well, so customers who use Windows and are accustomed to Cortana may prefer to use the iOS app for reminders and other tasks.

Cortana can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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iOS 11 Installed on Almost 55% of Devices One Month After Launch

One month after its official public release, iOS 11 has been installed on 54.49 percent of devices, according to data collected by analytics company Mixpanel.

iOS 11 was first released on September 19, and while adoption has been rather slow compared to iOS 10 adoption, it is steadily picking up. At the one week mark, iOS 11 was installed on 25 percent of devices, and at two weeks, installation climbed to 38.5 percent of devices.


At three weeks, iOS 11 adoption reached 47 percent, successfully overtaking iOS 10, and the gap between the two operating systems has continued to widen. With iOS 11 on nearly 55 percent of devices, iOS 10 is now installed on just 39.17 percent of devices. 6.34 percent of devices continue to run an older version of iOS.

Apple has released three minor updates to iOS 11 so far to address bugs and issues discovered since the launch of the new operating system. The most recent update, iOS 11.0.3, fixed an issue with haptic feedback and unresponsive displays, while iOS 11.0.2 addressed an irritating problem that caused the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus earpiece to crackle on phone calls.

iOS 11 adoption is likely to increase significantly when iOS 11.1 is released, if past iOS launches are any indication. Major .1 releases often spur people to update, and iOS 11.1 introduces new emojis and may include Apple Pay Cash, Apple's peer-to-peer Apple Pay feature. In past years, new emoji have had a noticeable impact on upgrade rates.

The iOS 11.1 update also fixes some lingering bugs, including one that caused Reachability to work improperly, and it addresses a serious WPA2 Wi-Fi vulnerability. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to release iOS 11.1, but there have been three betas thus far.

Related Roundup: iOS 11

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Apple Shares Trailer for ‘Give Me Future’ Documentary Coming to Apple Music Nov. 17

"Give Me Future," a documentary covering the free concert Major Lazer performed in Havana, Cuba in the spring of 2016, is coming to Apple Music on November 17. Apple shared a trailer for the documentary on its YouTube channel yesterday evening.


Directed by Austin Peters, documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Major Lazer concert in addition to exploring Cuban culture and offering up performance footage. From the video description:
In March 2016, following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, electronic dance music trio Major Lazer made history, becoming one of the first major American acts to play in the communist state. Unsure how their descent on Havana would be received and hoping to reach a few tens of thousands, the epic concert unexpectedly drew in close to half a million fans.

Much more than a garden variety music film, "Give Me Future" begins as a behind-the-scenes look at the historic concert and evolves into a masterful exploration of Cuba's inspirational youth movement and its ingenious DIY information culture. Capturing exhilarating performance footage and authentic stories highlighting the country's cultural growth and desire for inclusion in the global community, director Austin Peters conjures a transcendent, rhythm-laced depiction of the powerful catalysts driving a country on the brink of change.
"Give Me Future" debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available exclusively on Apple Music.


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Verizon Delays Streaming TV Service Until 2018

Verizon is working on a streaming television service that was originally meant to debut in 2017, but its launch date has been pushed back to 2018, reports Bloomberg. Verizon is now said to be aiming to launch its online TV service in the spring of 2018, marking yet another delay as the company struggles to find a way to compete with the many existing services on the market.

Staff shuffling, negotiations for streaming rights, and technology reboots are also said to have affected Verizon's timeline. Final deals for the service have not yet been established.
While Verizon has shared its plans with TV networks, the timing of the web-based, live TV service's introduction remains tentative and could be further postponed, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
Rumors about Verizon's streaming TV service first surfaced in March of 2017, and at that time, Verizon was said to be planning to launch it in the summer of 2017. Verizon has been working on establishing deals with TV networks and cable companies head of the service's launch.

Verizon's streaming TV option will compete with myriad other TV services available now, including DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live TV.

Rumors have suggested the service will offer "dozens" of channels and will be a separate offering from Verizon's teen-based go90 video app and FiOS Home TV. Verizon is said to be aiming to hit a starting price point between $20 and $35, but the company has not yet decided if it will offer a standalone service or a partnership.

Verizon sees a television platform as a way to increase revenue from advertising and to support AOL and Yahoo.

Verizon is likely to offer its TV service on a range of platforms that include the Apple TV and iOS devices, but it is not yet clear whether customers will need to have Verizon wireless phone service to sign up for a subscription.

Tag: Verizon

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