Deals: T-Mobile Launches iPhone/Apple Watch S3 Offer, Belkin Debuts Weekend Sale, and More

T-Mobile's iPhone and Apple Watch offers, announced on Wednesday, have now launched on the carrier's website today. The iPhone deal nets you a $200 rebate when purchasing the iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus, 7, or 7 Plus on an Equipment Installment Plan, received through a prepaid MasterCard card that you'll get in the mail about eight weeks after the order date. Check out our original blog post for more information, and head to T-Mobile's store to browse the available iPhones under the sale.

T-Mobile also shared new information on its Apple Watch deal, which lets you purchase one Apple Watch Series 3 device on an Equipment Installment Plan, with an Apple DIGITS plan on the same line, and get another one for 50 percent off (up to $215). The Apple Watch rebate amount isn't received through a MasterCard like the iPhone offer, but instead via 24 monthly bill credits, which typically begin on your second bill cycle.

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The company said that it's requiring new devices to use its Apple DIGITS wearable plan "specifically because it's the right plan for Apple Watch Series 3," which lets your phone number work on any compatible LTE-enabled smartwatch. The company listed a few of the Apple Watch Series 3 models you can get with the offer, along with the monthly costs and full prices, which you can see below. Head to T-Mobile's Q&A page for more information.
Apple Watch S3 38mm ALM: $0 down and $16.67/mo. x 24, full price $399.99.
Apple Watch S3 38mm SS: $167.99 down and $18/mo. x 24, full price $599.99.
Apple Watch S3 Nike+ 38mm ALM: $0 down and $16.67/mo. x 24, full price $399.99.
Apple Watch S3 42mm ALM: $0 down and $17.92/mo. x 24, full price $429.99.
Apple Watch S3 42mm SS : $217.99 down and $18/mo. x 24, full price $649.99.
Apple Watch S3 Nike+ 42mm ALM: $0 down and $17.92/mo. x 24, full price $429.99.
There are a few other notable discounts going on today and heading into the weekend, including a new sitewide sale over at Belkin. The accessory maker today debuted a trio of savings that will let you save $10 on orders of $50 and over, $25 on orders of $100 and over, and $50 on orders of $150 and over, with no promotional code required.

There are a handful of exclusions in the sale, including Belkin's Boost Up Qi Charger for iPhone, a few USB/Thunderbolt docks, a USB car charger, the QODE Ultime Lite Keyboard Case for iPad, and all Belkin routers, Wemo and NetCam products. Otherwise, compatible products will see the discount applied automatically upon checkout, and you have until Sunday, February 25 at 11:59 p.m. PT to place your order.

Costco members can also get a pair of AirPods for $139.99 today, down from their regular price of $159.99. The members only sale includes free shipping and is expected to last for a limited time only.


At Amazon, you can save up to 40 percent on iXpand's flash drive with combination Lightning connector and USB 3.0, allowing you to easily transfer data from an iPhone/iPad to a Mac or other computer. A collection of iOttie's iPhone compatible car mounts have also been marked down at Amazon, with the savings -- up to 47 percent off -- lasting until Monday, February 26.

Lastly, as part of its Daily Deals today Best Buy has select models of the 12-inch MacBook refresh from last year marked down by $250. There are two models on sale in all colors: Intel Core M3, 8GB RAM, 256GB Flash Storage for $1,049.99, down from $1,299.99; and Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB Flash Storage for $1,349.99, down from $1,599.99. That's some of the best prices for these models online, with retailers like B&H Photo pricing the same MacBooks at $1,219.99 and $1,519.99, respectively.

Head over to our Deals Roundup for even more sales info, including DirecTV Now's ongoing offer for the 32GB Apple TV 4K.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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YouTube App on Apple TV Updated Following User Complaints Over Subscriptions Layout and More

It's been just over two weeks since YouTube updated its Apple TV app with a major redesign, essentially bringing the app in line with YouTube on other products like Android TV, smart TVs, PS4, and Xbox One. While the original YouTube Apple TV app was never widely favored, the new update was met with even more blowback from some users, who referenced laggy controls, poorer playback UI, illogical changes to the subscription tab's channel list, and more.


This week, YouTube pushed out version 1.01.04 of the app for Apple TV 4th and 5th generation devices, and it addresses a few of these user concerns. The major update is a "modified" subscriptions tab that nixes the long horizontal list of subscribed YouTube channels -- which made it take much longer to get to channels at the bottom of the alphabetized list -- and reverts back to a grid layout akin to the original app. YouTube said this was done for "easier channel selection."

Although it's not mentioned in the update notes, one user on Reddit said that there have also been a few tweaks to video scrubbing, so users can "go through the video with the touchpad again instead of slowly rewinding/fast forwarding." When doing this, thumbnail previews of the video pop up to give you an idea of where to land as you jump through the video, but YouTube still doesn't use Apple's systemwide playback UI and there isn't any support for quick 10-second jumps forward and backward.


Otherwise, YouTube said that the update fixed an issue with the search keyboard when people were using "non-Siri TV remotes," and it includes the usual bug fixes and stability improvements.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: YouTube
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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1Password Integrates With ‘Pwned Passwords’ to Check if Your Passwords Have Been Leaked Online

Password management app 1Password this week got a new feature on the web, and developer AgileBits described it as a way for users to check and make sure that their passwords aren't "pwned passwords," or passwords that have been leaked online. While the launch is web-only right now, AgileBits said it will be coming to 1Password apps in the future.

1Password's new feature integrates with a newly updated service by Troy Hunt -- who previously created a breach notification service called Have I Been Pwned -- and securely and privately checks your passwords against more than 500 million passwords collected from various breaches.

This way, users can further ensure that their passwords saved within 1Password are as secure as possible, and if Hunt's new Pwned Password service surfaces a warning about compromised data, they can change to a new one.


Pwned Passwords originally launched as a feature within Have I Been Pwned last August, but Hunt has now updated it to version two and greatly expanded the amount of passwords indexed, originally starting with 320 million. For 1Password's integration, which is still just a proof of concept as of now, AgileBits said the feature is available today to everyone with a 1Password membership, and shared the following steps:
- Sign in to your account on 1Password.com.

- Click Open Vault to view the items in a vault, then click an item to see its details.

- Enter the magic keyboard sequence Shift-Control-Option-C (or Shift+Ctrl+Alt+C on Windows) to unlock the proof of concept.

- Click the Check Password button that appears next to your password.
Once you click "Check Password," 1Password will communicate with Hunt's service of indexed passwords, letting you know if yours exists in his database. As AgileBits pointed out, "If your password is found, it doesn't necessarily mean that your account was breached. Someone else could have been using the same password." Still, the company encouraged immediate action for any user who sees a confirmation of a password matching to Hunt's service.


In the announcement, AgileBits ensured that this communication with Pwned Password keeps passwords "private and secure" because passwords are "never sent to us or his service." Hunt's service never receives the full password, and only requires the first five characters of each password hash. The developer stated, "we would never add it to 1Password unless it was private and secure."
First, 1Password hashes your password using SHA-1. But sending that full SHA-1 hash to the server would provide too much information and could allow someone to reconstruct your original password. Instead, Troy’s new service only requires the first five characters of the 40-character hash.

To complete the process, the server sends back a list of leaked password hashes that start with those same five characters. 1Password then compares this list locally to see if it contains the full hash of your password. If there is a match then we know this password is known and should be changed.
Hunt goes into more detail about Pwned Passwords in his own announcement post about the update to the service. AgileBits confirmed that it will be adding Pwned Passwords to its own security breach warning feature, called Watchtower, within 1Password apps "in future releases."


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1Password Integrates With ‘Pwned Passwords’ to Check if Your Passwords Have Been Leaked Online

Password management app 1Password this week got a new feature on the web, and developer AgileBits described it as a way for users to check and make sure that their passwords aren't "pwned passwords," or passwords that have been leaked online. While the launch is web-only right now, AgileBits said it will be coming to 1Password apps in the future.

1Password's new feature integrates with a newly updated service by Troy Hunt -- who previously created a breach notification service called Have I Been Pwned -- and securely and privately checks your passwords against more than 500 million passwords collected from various breaches.

This way, users can further ensure that their passwords saved within 1Password are as secure as possible, and if Hunt's new Pwned Password service surfaces a warning about compromised data, they can change to a new one.


Pwned Passwords originally launched as a feature within Have I Been Pwned last August, but Hunt has now updated it to version two and greatly expanded the amount of passwords indexed, originally starting with 320 million. For 1Password's integration, which is still just a proof of concept as of now, AgileBits said the feature is available today to everyone with a 1Password membership, and shared the following steps:
- Sign in to your account on 1Password.com.

- Click Open Vault to view the items in a vault, then click an item to see its details.

- Enter the magic keyboard sequence Shift-Control-Option-C (or Shift+Ctrl+Alt+C on Windows) to unlock the proof of concept.

- Click the Check Password button that appears next to your password.
Once you click "Check Password," 1Password will communicate with Hunt's service of indexed passwords, letting you know if yours exists in his database. As AgileBits pointed out, "If your password is found, it doesn't necessarily mean that your account was breached. Someone else could have been using the same password." Still, the company encouraged immediate action for any user who sees a confirmation of a password matching to Hunt's service.


In the announcement, AgileBits ensured that this communication with Pwned Password keeps passwords "private and secure" because passwords are "never sent to us or his service." Hunt's service never receives the full password, and only requires the first five characters of each password hash. The developer stated, "we would never add it to 1Password unless it was private and secure."
First, 1Password hashes your password using SHA-1. But sending that full SHA-1 hash to the server would provide too much information and could allow someone to reconstruct your original password. Instead, Troy’s new service only requires the first five characters of the 40-character hash.

To complete the process, the server sends back a list of leaked password hashes that start with those same five characters. 1Password then compares this list locally to see if it contains the full hash of your password. If there is a match then we know this password is known and should be changed.
Hunt goes into more detail about Pwned Passwords in his own announcement post about the update to the service. AgileBits confirmed that it will be adding Pwned Passwords to its own security breach warning feature, called Watchtower, within 1Password apps "in future releases."


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iPad App of the Year ‘Affinity Photo’ Updated With RAW Improvements and Limited-Time Free Add-On Brush Packs

Affinity Photo, which Apple named the iPad App of the Year for 2017, was today updated with a suite of "more powerful professional features," according to developer Serif. To celebrate the new update, users can also download three add-on brush and filter packs for free starting today.

Specifically, version 1.6.7 of Affinity Photo lets users shoot direct in RAW or HDR video from within the iPad app, and introduces upgrades for RAW processing so that the clarity of RAW images has improved. There's direct integration from the iOS Files app, enhancements to Drag and Drop, the ability to add personalized fonts, and much more, which you can glimpse in the Version History on the iOS App Store.


We've listed a few updates below:
- Save overwrites back to the same location, without needing to create a copy
- A new ‘Solo Layer View’ mode, allowing you to isolate individual layers instantly
- A new ‘Show Touches’ option to create more detailed screen captures – great for users who create tutorials
- Added ‘Average blur” filter from desktop
- Brand new shadows / highlights algorithm in Develop
- Brand new clarity algorithm in Develop
- New “Solo” layer option in layer properties panel
- New preferences option to show touches - good for screen recording
- Enhanced angle / tilt support for Apple Pencil
- Snapping candidates can be selected by hovering over them whilst in a drag
Starting today and lasting for the next two weeks (expiring March 8), Serif is also offering a trio of packs for free, available for Affinity Photo owners to download on the web. These include the Luminance Brush Pack (normally $9.99) with 13 light effect brushes, the Retouch Brush Pack ($9.99) with 20 retouch brushes, and Live Filters Macro Pack (already free) with 28 "non-destructive" live filter layers.

The base Affinity Photo for iPad app costs $19.99 on the iOS App Store [Direct Link] and is compatible with the 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad from 2017. For users with an iPad Pro, Serif notes that the app has been optimized for use with the Apple Pencil.


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Net Neutrality Repeal Made Official With Entry Into Federal Register

It's been two months since the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of repealing Net Neutrality rules that were put in place by the United States government in 2015. That decision has been made official today by being entered into the Federal Register, and will become law starting April 23, 2018.

Following the vote, lawsuits began to appear in efforts to block the rollback of Net Neutrality, with one multi-state lawsuit being led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 22 other Attorneys General. As pointed out by TechCrunch, now that the Restoring Internet Freedom order "legally exists," every opponent in the U.S., "from citizens to attorney generals to governors and senators," will be able to begin their own lawsuits over the decision.


Prior to today, many actions contemplated and indeed announced by opponents of the rule were technically not possible, since the rule was technically not yet in force. A state can’t, for example, argue that its own laws are infringed upon by a rule until that rule legally exists.

Today is the moment that the net neutrality repeal legally exists, and you’re going to see a lot — a lot — of actions taken against it, all over the country.
The decision was heavily debated leading up to the vote in December, with proponents arguing the internet will now go back to a "light-touch regulatory scheme" it faced prior to 2015 and the advent of Net Neutrality. Opponents of the repeal vocalized fear that internet service providers will now be able to slow down internet speeds -- or block access completely -- to certain websites they see as competitors, among other concerns.

Specifically, the FCC's vote reclassifies ISPs as "information service" providers -- as they were between February 1996 and February 2015 -- instead of classifying them as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. According to the Federal Register document published today, the decision to do this was made to restore broadband internet services as a "lightly-regulated" market. This means that one of the only major stipulations placed on ISPs like AT&T and Comcast is that if they do throttle a user's internet for any reason, they must disclose it. For its part, AT&T has said it is "committed to an open internet."

A report by Recode in January examined how major technology companies responded to the Net Neutrality debate, with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google spending about $50 million in 2017 lobbying the government on the issue. Apple alone was said to have spent $7 million on lobbying last year with a focus on encryption and immigration as well as Net Neutrality, growing from $4.5 million in 2016.

Apple's push against the repeal of Net Neutrality included a letter from August 2017 urging the FCC not to roll back the rules. Apple's letter discussed internet "fast lanes" and "slow lanes," where paid fast lanes could result in an "internet with distorted competition." Apple ultimately said this ruling could "fundamentally alter the internet as we know it," and if it passed it would be put in place to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.

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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Apple Pay Used on 16% of Active iPhones Worldwide, Widespread Adoption Still Expected in 3-5 Years

This morning, Loup Ventures shared new information on Apple Pay adoption, estimating that there were 127 million global Apple Pay users by the end of 2017, a jump from 62 million the previous year. Given that there are about 795 million active iPhones around the world, this means that about 16 percent of iPhone owners have activated Apple Pay.

Of that 16 percent base, five percent are located in the United States and 11 percent are international users. Loup Ventures broke these numbers down further, pointing out that around 38 million people use Apple Pay in the U.S., and 89 million use Apple's mobile wallet globally.


The Apple Pay review also has a few other tidbits of research, including that the number of banks globally supporting Apple Pay have increased in the past year by 41 percent, to total 2,707 banks. Loup Ventures checked the top 100 retailers in the U.S. for Apple Pay compatibility as well, and found consistent growth of adoption across many online resources. In the last year, Apple Pay adoption in these retailers' apps grew 9 percent, mobile sites grew 85 percent, and desktop sites grew 56 percent.
We completed our annual Apple Pay review and found year over year growth has been impressive with active users more than doubling (source: Apple), transactions more than tripling (source: Apple) and online merchant adoption increasing by ~50% (source: Loup Ventures). That said, we believe only 16% of global iPhone users have turned on Apple Pay. We remain optimistic that Apple Pay will gain widespread adoption over the next 3-5 years given integration OS and iOS makes it the easiest to use digital wallet.
Apple first debuted Apple Pay in the fall of 2014, and although many retailers joined in support of the platform it has faced push back from companies like Target and Walmart as each try to develop their own digital wallet service. Last spring, Apple said it wasn't worried about the slow adoption of Apple Pay because it saw the mobile wallet as on track to soon become its customers' "primary payment system."

In an interview around the same time, Eddy Cue said, "Does it matter if we get there in two years, three years [or] five years? Ultimately, no." Although Apple executives have remained in vocal support of Apple Pay, at the time of the launch consumer reticence to support Apple Pay was said to have permeated within the company, to the point where some executives "were reluctant to promote it." Recent ads for iPhone have been heavily focused on the iPhone X's new features, and the latest Apple Pay-focused commercials date back to 2015.

Despite the slow adoption, Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster said he and the researchers "remain optimistic" that over the next three to five years, Apple Pay will see ongoing, gradual growth and eventually "gain widespread adoption." Although the report doesn't discuss rival mobile wallets specifically, it states that Apple Pay is "the easiest to use digital wallet" because of its deep integration into iOS.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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T-Mobile Announces $200 Rebate Offer for iPhones and BOGO Deal for Apple Watch Series 3

T-Mobile today announced a new iPhone offer for customers thinking about purchasing one of Apple's latest smartphones. Following a BOGO deal from January, T-Mobile is now offering customers the chance to get a $200 rebate when purchasing the iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus, 7, or 7 Plus on a 24-month Equipment Installment Plan, received in the form of a prepaid MasterCard card. That's in addition to the value of an eligible smartphone that users can trade in to T-Mobile.

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The company said that customers can combine this deal with its current free line offer from Valentine's Day, letting them add a line to any T-Mobile ONE family plan and get another for free. T-Mobile's new offer will go live this Friday, February 23, and customers who purchase an eligible iPhone should see their rebate card arrive in the mail within eight weeks. Full details on the new deal can be found on T-Mobile's website, and the carrier is still running its BOGO iPhone sale as well.

Additionally, another deal is launching this Friday at T-Mobile, this one focusing on the Apple Watch Series 3. Anyone who purchases a model of Apple's latest smartwatch will be able to get another one for 50 percent off (up to $125, according to T-Mobile). The company didn't release any more details about the Apple Watch sale yet, so it's unclear which models and collections will be available for the BOGO deal. Once the sale goes live this Friday, we'll update this post with more information.


Head over to our full Deals Roundup for more on the latest deals happening right now, today including an Amazon sale on certified refurbished 12-inch MacBooks from early 2015.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

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Dish Reports Sling TV Has Grown to 2.2M Subscribers as of the End of 2017

Dish Network today reported official numbers for its streaming television service Sling TV, which marks the first time that the company disclosed the service's subscriber numbers separately from its traditional pay TV numbers. According to Dish, Sling TV had 2.212 million subscribers as of the end of 2017, aligning with previous estimates that the service had well over 2 million subscribers (via TechCrunch).

Sling TV was one of the first streaming TV bundles to launch, so its continued high ranking in regards to subscriber numbers makes sense. Following Sling TV remain services like DirecTV Now (1 million subscribers as of December 2017), PlayStation Vue (455,000 as of December 2017), Hulu with Live TV (450,000 as of January 2018), and YouTube TV (300,000 as of January 2018). Sling TV and PlayStation Vue launched in 2015, DirecTV Now launched in 2016, and Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV each debuted in 2017.


Dish further detailed Sling TV's subscriber growth in its 10-K filing this week, stating the service had 623,000 subscribers in its first year on the market, then grew to 1.5 million by 2016, and 2.21 million by the end of 2017. More users switching from traditional TV bundles to streaming services are believed to be impacting Dish's revenue, however, with its total 2017 revenue at $14.39 billion, down year-over-year from $15.21 billion. In total, 1.1 million users were reported as having dropped Dish's pay TV bundles in 2017.

Like other streaming TV services, Sling TV allows users to choose between various tiers, with prices that start at $20/month for a small amount of channels and then increase in price as more channels are added. Sling TV is one of the cheapest services to enter with this price, while rivals like YouTube TV cost $35/month, and Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue start at $39.99/month. DirecTV Now also starts at $35/month, and has an ongoing deal where new subscribers can pay for three months of service at $105 and get a 32GB Apple TV 4K for free.

Although Sling TV has been out for longer and subsequently has more robust features, some of the newer services are still in beta and testing updates that have yet to launch to a wide audience. These include DirecTV Now's beta test of a Cloud DVR, which is now said to be coming this spring, as well as Hulu's decision to add a more traditional channel guide for its users. Earlier in February, YouTube TV launched an app for Apple TV after delaying the initial launch from 2017.


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Facebook Messenger Streamlines Controls for Creating Group Video and Audio Chats

In December 2016, Facebook Messenger rolled out the ability for users to create group video chats with up to six members participating, and today the company has further streamlined the feature. Before today's update, if users were already in a one-on-one video or audio call they had to hang up, start a new conversation, and choose every member to invite to the new group chat.


Now, while in a video chat or voice call, there will be a new "add person" icon so that users can simply scrub through a list of their Facebook Messenger friends, tap who to invite, and wait for them to join -- all without leaving the original call.
With the ability to add more people seamlessly to your calls, you can continue your conversation in the moment, just like if you were together in real life. Never again worry about skipping a beat when sharing your BFF’s spontaneous karaoke performance on Messenger. Sharing moments like these is now a few quick taps away.
Otherwise, the feature remains the same with six total users able to video chat at once and various filters and effects still supported. After the call ends, Facebook Messenger also creates a group chat automatically in each user's inbox, so that members can keep texting one another.


Facebook's refinement to group video chats in Messenger comes as a similar feature has yet to debut in Apple's FaceTime app. The long-requested, multi-person FaceTime call update is now being rumored for a potential launch within iOS 12 later this year, but Bloomberg has stated that it may not be ready for a debut in 2018.

If group video calls don't make it into iOS 12, other improvements to FaceTime are rumored to be coming in the update this fall. Mainly, Apple is planning to integrate Animoji into FaceTime, allowing people to use the animated emoji characters when making a video call.

For Facebook, the company said that the new Messenger update will be available today on iOS and Android devices worldwide.


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