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Google Chrome Will Support Dark Mode in macOS Mojave by Early 2019

Google released Chrome 71 earlier this week, but the latest version of the web browser still lacks support for Dark Mode on macOS Mojave. Fortunately, it appears that will change by early next year.

Dark Mode in Canary, a developer build of Chrome

As mentioned on Reddit, a Google developer recently submitted a code change that implements system-level Dark Mode in Chromium, the open source web browser that serves as the foundation of Chrome. The code change passed the review process and will make its way into a future release of Chrome.

For those unaware, there are several different builds of Chrome that Google uses to slowly test and roll out new features. All code changes begin in Chromium and then work their way from Canary to Chrome Dev to Chrome Beta to Chrome, the stable version released to all users roughly every six weeks.

Dark Mode in Canary, a developer build of Chrome

Dark Mode in Chromium remains hidden behind feature flags, which are essentially code-level toggle switches, but we were able to run a Terminal command to force the darker appearance into action and took screenshots.

The system-level Dark Mode applies a dark appearance to much of the Chrome interface, including the omnibox, tabs, menus, bookmark bar, status bar, and dialog boxes. The startup page with Google search and shortcuts will also have a black background when the Dark appearance is enabled in System Preferences.

Most of the current Dark Mode colors in Chromium are placeholders, according to one developer working on the project, so there may be slight changes to come. One challenge the developers face is ensuring that the Dark Mode is distinguishable from Chrome's private-browsing Incognito Mode, which is also dark.

Incognito Mode in Canary, a developer build of Chrome

We're not entirely sure if Dark Mode will make the cut for Chrome 72, which has already been branched and will likely be released in mid-to-late January. Chrome 73 will likely follow in March, so it looks like early 2019 either way.

In the meantime, a variety of third-party dark themes are available for Chrome, but the omnibox always remains white since it is not allowed to be themed. Third-party dark themes are also available for websites such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Gmail, Reddit, and Twitter to complete the experience.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
Tags: Google, Chrome

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Posted on 9 December 2018 | 4:51 pm

Apple Celebrates Holiday Spirit With Live Performance of 'Frozen' Soundtrack 'Let It Go' by Idina Menzel

Apple celebrated the holiday season today with a live performance by award-winning singer Idina Menzel, who sang a handful of songs from the Disney animated film Frozen, including the soundtrack Let It Go.

A big thank-you from our Apple family to the phenomenally talented @idinamenzel. Your voice is a gift — thank you for sharing it with us. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays! ☃️ pic.twitter.com/nc9SOpVmMj

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 8, 2018

"A big thank-you from our Apple family to the phenomenally talented Idina Menzel," tweeted Apple CEO Tim Cook. "Your voice is a gift — thank you for sharing it with us. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays!"

The concert took place at Apple's Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino, California during its recurring Beer Bash employee gathering today.

Idina Menzel performing at Apple Infinite Loop via Elton

Apple today also hosted its annual celebration of Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.

One of my favorite holiday traditions — our annual @ToysForTots_USA celebration. Thanks @USMC for your service to our country and for spreading holiday magic to children in need. pic.twitter.com/P7syRpP14v

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 8, 2018

Last year, Apple's holiday Beer Bash featured a live performance by singer Gwen Stefani.

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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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 8:33 pm

Apple Expected to Release iPhone XS Battery Case Soon, Possibly iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR Versions Too

Apple appears to be readying the release of a new Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XS, and possibly versions for the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR too, based on information uncovered by 9to5Mac's Guilherme Rambo.


Rambo uncovered references to three model identifiers for the case in iOS code, including A2070, A2071 and A2171, suggesting that Apple could release the case in three different sizes for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Another identifier found in the iOS code reportedly points towards a 2018 release.

Apple's first Smart Battery Case was for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, and was equipped with a 1,877 mAh battery that protruded out of the back of the case. Apple later released an iPhone 7 version with a similar design but larger 2,365 mAh battery. Both cost $99 in the United States, with the latter still available.

9to5Mac earlier found an icon in the watchOS 5.1.2 beta that appears to correlate to the new Smart Battery Case. The icon suggests the case will have a Lightning connector, but it's unclear if wireless charging will be supported. It also looks like the new cases might not have a "chin" extending past the bottom of the iPhone.

It's not out of the ordinary for Apple to release new accessories in December, with the original Smart Battery Case launching this month in 2015 and AirPods launching in December 2016 after a multi-month delay.


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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 11:42 am

Apple Begins Selling New Beddit 3.5 Sleep Monitor

Apple today began selling a new Beddit sleep monitor on its online store after receiving FCC clearance for the product earlier this week.


The new version has a model number of 3.5 and retails for the same $149.95 price as the previous model 3.0. The new version looks similar to the previous one, but it is ever so slightly smaller and lighter. It remains 2mm thin.

This represents Apple's first update to the sleep monitor since it acquired Beddit in May 2017. It remains an ultra-thin 2mm flexible sensor strip that is designed to be placed under the sheet on top of the mattress and automatically begins tracking sleep-related data when you lie down for sleep.

The data collected includes sleep time and efficiency, heart rate, respiration, temperature, movement, snoring, room temperature, and room humidity. The data can be viewed in the new Beddit 3.5 app or Health app on an iPhone or iPad. The old Beddit app is now designated for model 3.0.

The new version is also listed on Beddit's website. It is compatible with the iPhone 5s or later with iOS 12 or later and all Apple Watch models with watchOS 4.3 or later.

(Thanks, Jordan!)

Tag: Beddit

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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 8:34 am

Bluesound's Generation 2i Speakers and Home Theater Systems to Receive AirPlay 2 Update on December 11

Bluesound today announced that its Generation 2i line of high-fidelity wireless speakers and home theater systems will each receive a software update on December 11 that will enable AirPlay 2, including the Pulse 2i, Pulse Mini 2i, Pulse Flex 2i, Pulse Soundbar 2i, Node 2i, Powernode 2i, and Vault 2i.


With the AirPlay 2 update, multi-room audio playback will be possible between multiple Generation 2i speakers or systems and other AirPlay 2-enabled devices, including the HomePod, Apple TV, select speakers from Sonos, Libratone, and Bang & Olufsen, and select audio receivers from Denon and Marantz.

AirPlay enables users to easily stream audio from Apple devices to Generation 2i speakers, including music, movies, videos, news, podcasts, radio, audiobooks, and more from apps such as iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube on a Mac or iOS device.

AirPlay also allows for Siri control of Apple Music or Podcasts playback via iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, HomePod, and Apple TV.

Generation 2i speakers and systems will appear in the AirPlay Picker within most apps and in Control Center on devices running iOS 11.4 or later. With AirPlay 2, the speakers can also be added to the Home app on iPhone, enabling users to control all of their HomeKit and AirPlay-enabled products from one place.

Using the BluOS Controller app for iPhone or iPad, it will be possible to group older Bluesound speakers and systems with a Generation 2i speaker or system, allowing them to stream the same AirPlay 2 content throughout the home.

AirPlay 2 is Apple's latest wireless streaming protocol, released in May. Apple maintains a list of supported speakers on its website.


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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 8:17 am

Apple Has Reportedly Acquired British Startup 'Platoon' Focused on Discovering Up-and-Coming Music Artists

Apple has acquired Platoon, a London-based A&R startup focused on discovering rising music artists, according to Music Business Worldwide.


Platoon was founded in 2016 by Saul Klein, co-founder of defunct British video-on-demand service LoveFilm, and Denzyl Feigelson, who is a 40-year music industry veteran and has been advisor to Apple about matters related to iTunes and later Apple Music since 2003, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The startup reportedly worked with California singer Billie Eilish before she signed to Interscope in 2017. The 16-year-old recently debuted a new song "Come Out And Play" as the backdrop to Apple's "Share Your Gifts" holiday ad.



Feigelson will lead Platoon's team of 12 full-time employees from its London headquarters, where it has two recording studios, according to the report. Platoon is expected to continue supporting artists across areas including tour support, original content, social media marketing, and global expansion strategies.

A&R, for those unaware, is all about talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters. A&R representatives often act as a liaison between artists and record labels or publishing companies.

Typically when Apple makes an acquisition, it issues a statement that reads "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally don't discuss our purpose or plans." Apple has yet to confirm the Platoon acquisition, however, and some acquisitions turn out to be acqui-hires instead.

If the acquisition did happen, though, it will likely aid the Apple Music team's ability to continue discovering original music from up-and-coming artists. Apple Music already highlights emerging artists through its "Up Next" program.

Update: British newspaper The Telegraph also reports that Apple has acquired Platoon, citing a source close to Apple.


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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 5:41 am

DxOMark: iPhone XR is 'Best Single-Cam Smartphone We've Tested'

DxOMark today published the results of its in-depth analysis of the iPhone XR's single-lens rear camera. Apple's flagship smartphone achieved an overall score of 101 points, surpassing Google's Pixel 2 to make it the top-ranked single lens phone in the site's rankings.


In its testing, DxOMark found the iPhone XR to offer "a very similar proposition for image quality as the flagship iPhone XS Max," across key photo attributes like exposure, color, detail, noise, and artifacts.

Both devices also achieved the same overall score for video, but the dual lenses of the iPhone XS Max meant the XR fell behind on zoom and bokeh shots, although DxOMark noted that Apple had managed to improve the flash on the more affordable single-lens iPhone.

Colored panels shot on iPhone XR

The review adds that the iPhone XR has very good exposure and dynamic range in bright light and indoor conditions, while detail is well-preserved in all lighting conditions with "vivid and pleasant colors in most situations."

Apple iPhone XR, HDR test scene

The few cons the review noted included the visibility of fine grain luminance noise in indoor and low-light conditions, while video was criticized for instabilities in white balance when filming indoors.

Apple iPhone XS Max, HDR test scene for comparison

DxOMark concludes that the photographic capabilities of the iPhone XR are "broadly similar to those of the XS/XS Max" which should make the less-expensive model "desirable to many Apple enthusiasts looking to upgrade their smartphone."
"Compared to the Google Pixel 2, which is the best single-cam smartphone we’d tested up until now, the results are very comparable in many areas, but thanks to improved results for noise and particularly for artifacts, the iPhone XR just nudges it out of first place to become our top-ranked single-cam smartphone."

For its scoring and analysis methodology, DxOMark says its engineers capture and evaluate over 1,500 test images and more than two hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera's default settings.

DxO is a well-known French image lab that has been reviewing smartphone cameras for several years, but they aren't immune to criticism, which just goes to show how subjective image quality can sometimes be.

Related Roundup: iPhone XR
Tag: DxOMark
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XR (Buy Now)

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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 4:55 am

Australia Passes Controversial Encryption Bill Despite Opposition From Apple and Other Tech Companies

The Australian parliament on Thursday passed controversial encryption legislation that could result in tech companies being forced to give law enforcement access to encrypted customer messages.

As we reported in October, Apple opposed the legislation in a seven-page letter to the Australian parliament, calling the encryption bill "dangerously ambiguous" and wide open to potential abuse by authorities.


Advocates of the bill, officially titled "Assistance and Access Bill 2018," argue it is essential to national security because encrypted communications are used by terrorist groups and criminals to avoid detection.

CNET provided a breakdown on the Australian bill and the three tiers of law enforcement and state agency assistance it covers:

  • Technical assistance request: A notice to provide "voluntary assistance" to law enforcement for "safeguarding of national security and the enforcement of the law."

  • Technical assistance notice: A notice requiring tech companies to offer decryption "they are already capable of providing that is reasonable, proportionate, practicable and technically feasible" where the company already has the "existing means" to decrypt communications (e.g. where messages aren't end-to-end encrypted).

  • Technical capability notice: A notice issued by the attorney general, requiring tech companies to "build a new capability" to decrypt communications for law enforcement. The bill stipulates this can't include capabilities that "remove electronic protection, such as encryption."
The Australian government insists that the laws don't provide a backdoor into encrypted communications, however Apple says says the language in the bill permits the government to order companies who make smart home speakers to "install persistent eavesdropping capabilities" or require device makers to create a tool to unlock devices.

Likewise, the joint industry lobby group DIGI, which includes Amazon, Facebook, Google, Oath, and Twitter, said they were willing to work with the government to promote public safety, but the laws could "potentially jeopardize the security of the apps and systems that millions of Australians use every day."

Apple has fought against anti-encryption legislation and attempts to weaken device encryption for years, and its most public battle was against the U.S. government in 2016 after Apple was ordered to help the FBI unlock the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

Apple opposed the order and claimed that it would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple ultimately held its ground and the U.S. government backed off after finding an alternate way to access the device, but Apple has continually had to deal with further law enforcement efforts to combat encryption.

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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Posted on 7 December 2018 | 3:36 am

Hands-On With the ECG Feature for Apple Watch Series 4

Apple today released the watchOS 5.1.2 update to the public, and the update implements a much-anticipated ECG feature for all Apple Watch Series 4 users in the United States.

Following the launch of the new update, we installed the software and went hands-on with the ECG function to see just how it works.

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An ECG, or electrocardiogram, is designed to measure the electrical activity of the heart to detect abnormal rhythms and diagnose serious heart conditions.

The Apple Watch Series 4 allows users to take a single-lead electrocardiogram to keep an eye on heart health. This isn't as informative or as sensitive as the multi-lead ECGs you might get in a doctor's office or hospital, which use several points of contact, but it provides valuable information for those who might not even be aware of a heart condition.

The ECG feature in the Apple Watch uses electrodes built into the sapphire crystal of the Apple Watch (where the heart rate sensor is located) and the Digital Crown that work together to detect the electrical impulses from your heartbeat and route the data to the S4 processor in the device, where it is converted into a signal for Apple's algorithms.


You can take an ECG using the built-in ECG app on the Apple Watch, which walks you through the steps. You'll need to place a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch and wait for approximately 30 seconds while the measurement is taken.


You'll see a countdown on your wrist, which is designed to let you know just how long your finger needs to stay in place before you can move it.


Following the conclusion of the ECG, Apple will provide a heart rhythm classification that can be shared with your doctor. If your heart is beating in a normal rhythm, Apple will let you know that a standard sinus rhythm has been detected. If your heart is not beating normally, however, the app will let you know that atrial fibrillation has been detected.

If atrial fibrillation is detected, Apple will suggest that you get in touch with your doctor for further testing.

All ECG results captured with the Apple Watch Series 4 are stored in the Health app in a format that's easy to export and share with your doctor.


Apple has received de novo FDA clearance for the ECG feature in the Apple Watch Series 4, but FDA clearance is not the same as full FDA approval. The FDA does not recommend that the ECG feature be used by those under 22 or those who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

The Apple Watch Series 4's ECG function is not designed to replace traditional methods of diagnosis or treatment, and Apple intends for it to be used for informational purposes.

At the current time, Apple Watch Series 4 owners in the United States are the only Apple Watch customers who can take an ECG because the feature needs regulatory approval to be made available in other countries. Apple is working to expand the feature to additional countries.

While the ability to take an ECG is limited to Apple Watch Series 4 users, Apple is implementing a secondary feature designed to send Apple Watch Series 1, 2, 3, and 4 users a notification if an irregular heartbeat is detected via the normal heart rate sensor in the device.

What do you think of the ECG option in the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 1:12 pm

Changing Your Apple Watch or iPhone's Region Won't Enable ECG App Outside of United States

Apple today released watchOS 5.1.2, which enables the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 models. However, as Apple made clear, the ECG app is currently only available in the United States and its territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, preventing it from being used internationally at this time.


Many software features on Apple devices are initially limited to the United States, but international users have often been able to simply change their iPhone or Apple Watch region to the United States to gain access.

That's not the case with the the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4, though, as it only functions on models purchased in the United States. Those who live in and bought an Apple Watch in Canada, the UK, or elsewhere abroad can't use the region-switching trick to enable the ECG app — it doesn't work.

Note that the ECG app requires an Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.1.2, paired with an iPhone 5s or newer with iOS 12.1.1.

Both the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications are regulated features on the Apple Watch. Both features have been granted De Novo classification by the FDA for users 22 years and older in the United States. Apple says people already diagnosed with atrial fibrillation should not use the app.

It's unclear when the ECG app will expand to additional countries, but Apple Watch Series 4 models sold internationally do have the necessary electrical heart sensor. Apple is likely in the process of gaining clearance for the ECG app in other countries, but it has yet to comment on wider availability.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Tag: ECG
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 12:00 pm

Apple Hunting for Next 'Breaking Bad', Interested in Violent Drama Starring Richard Gere

Apple is reportedly in negotiations to purchase the rights to Israeli drama series "Nevelot" (or, "Bastards"), which is described as a violent and mature drama series (via CNBC). Richard Gere could star in the adaptation, which is being written and created by "Homeland" creator Howard Gordon and "Law and Order: SVU" showrunner Warren Leight.

Image via Variety / Rex Features

Apple is said to be in a bidding war with Showtime, FX, and Amazon for the show, which revolves around two military veterans who go on a killing spree targeting young people, "because they believe today's kids don’t understand the sacrifices of their generation." Gordon and Leight would reformat the show for the American market, and potentially change the title.

Right now, all sides are said to still be in talks, and nothing is finalized. If certain agreements can't be reached -- like the budget -- then it has a risk of falling through.

Apple's interest in such a mature-themed series comes in stark opposition to previous reports we've heard about its upcoming string of TV shows. Most notably, in a September report The Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple would be unlikely to produce original content that contains gratiuitous sex, violence, profanity, or risqué storylines in an effort to avoid tainting its wider brand image.

Unless the entire concept of "Bastards" is changed, it appears like the show would include most, if not all, of those adult pieces of content. CNBC's report today suggests that Apple is on the hunt for its own "Breaking Bad", a show with a Mature Audiences rating that aired on AMC from 2008 through 2013.

Additionally, Apple is said to be looking for "different" content, as long as it has substance and isn't gratuitous. The search is said to be emphasizing unusual formats that won't fit in the traditional 30-minute and 60-minute time slots. The company is also experimenting with more advanced interactive and immersive content of some kind, but these plans are painted as a "long-term vision" for Apple's original content efforts, and not indicative of the more straightforward shows we'll see when everything first launches next year.

In one final tidbit from today's report, the long-in-production morning show drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston is said to be called "Top of the Morning," the same as the book it's based on. For a list of every show coming from Apple, check out our full Apple TV Roundup.


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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 11:45 am

Apple Shares Heartfelt 'Real Stories' From Apple Watch Wearers in Latest Videos

Apple today shared a pair of heartfelt videos titled Real Stories and Real Stories: Michael on its YouTube channel.


The first video focuses on the Apple Watch's potential to save lives, including a man who crashed while kitesurfing and used his Apple Watch to call his son, a 13-year-old boy whose Apple Watch alerted him to an elevated heart rate, a mother in a car crash who called 911 from her Apple Watch, and a man with blood clots.

"People reach out to Apple all the time to share how Apple Watch has become an indispensable part of their lives," said Apple in the Real Stories video description. "Here are some of their stories."


The second video highlights the story of Michael Jackson, from Duluth, Minnesota, who was born with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. One night, he was woken up by an Apple Watch notification about an elevated heart rate, rushed to the emergency room, and found to have sepsis, a potentially fatal condition.

"Many people reach out to Apple to share how receiving heart rate notifications on Apple Watch has helped them recognize and react to serious conditions," the second video description reads. "Here is Michael's story."


The videos coincide with today's release of watchOS 5.1.2, which enables the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 in the United States.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 10:13 am

Apple Releases watchOS 5.1.2 With ECG, New Infograph Complications and Walkie-Talkie Control Center Toggle

Apple today released watchOS 5.1.2, the third update to the watchOS 5 operating system that runs on modern Apple Watch models. watchOS 5.1.2 comes one month after the release of watchOS 5.1.1, an update that introduced new emoji and color watch faces and addressed a bricking bug that had been introduced with watchOS 5.1.

watchOS 5.1.2 can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General --> Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it needs to be placed on a charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone.


watchOS 5.1.2 introduces the long-awaited ECG feature for Apple Watch Series 4 models in the United States. The ECG functionality works through electrodes built into the back of the Apple Watch Series 4 and the Digital Crown, allowing users to take a single-lead electrocardiogram with the wrist-worn device. An ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart and is often used to diagnose heart conditions.

Alongside ECG functionality, watchOS 5.1.2 introduces a new feature that will let you know if the Apple Watch is detecting an abnormal heart rhythm that's indicative of atrial fibrillation, which can be a sign of a serious health problem. The ECG feature is limited to the Series 4, but the irregular heart rhythm notifications will be available on all Apple Watch models able to run watchOS 5 - that's Series 1 or newer.

The watchOS 5.1.2 update also brings new complications for the Infograph watch faces on the Apple Watch Series 4. Complications that have been added include Mail, Messages, Home, Maps, Apple News, Find My Friends, Phone, and Remote, all of which can now be assigned to the available complication slots on the Infograph watch face.


With most of these complications, the icon is designed to provide quick access to opening up an app rather than relaying information like unread messages or emails.

watchOS 5.1.2 also includes a new toggle in Control Center for turning the Walkie-Talkie feature on and off, which makes it a lot easier to disable Walkie-Talkie when it's not in use and turn it back on when it's needed.

Apple's release notes:

This update includes new features, improvements and bug fixes:

- New ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 (US and US territories only)
* Allows you to take an electrocardiogram similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram
* Can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation—a serious form of irregular heart rhythm—or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern
* Saves ECG waveform, classification and any noted symptoms in a PDF on the Health app on iPhone to share with your doctor

- Adds the ability to receive an alert if an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation is detected (US and US territories only)

- Enables direct access to supported movie tickets, coupons, and rewards cards in Wallet when tapped to a contactless reader

- Receive notifications and animated celebrations when you achieve daily maximum points in a day during an Activity competition

- New Infograph complications for Mail, Maps, Messages, Find My Friends, Home, News, Phone, Remote

- Manage your availability for Walkie-Talkie from Control Center
More details on the features introduced with the watchOS 5 update that came out in September can be found in our watchOS 5 roundup.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Tag: ECG
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 10:02 am

Apple Potentially Working on Smart Battery Case for Latest iPhones

It's been three years since Apple first debuted the $99 Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6, 6s, and eventually 7, which included a rear-facing protrusion that held a 1,877 mAh battery. Apple may be working on a similar accessory for newer iPhone models, according to a discovery made by 9to5Mac in the second beta of watchOS 5.1.2.


In previous versions of watchOS, Apple Watch had an icon that displayed a battery case with a bottom chin and horizontal camera, indicating this as the Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6, 6s, and 7. In the latest beta of watchOS 5.1.2, things have been changed and this icon now displays a battery case with no bottom chin and a vertical camera.

Image via 9to5Mac

While far from a confirmation, this suggests that Apple could be working on a Smart Battery Case for the latest set of iPhones with vertically aligned cameras, which would include iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. For previous generations, Apple never made Smart Battery cases for "Plus" iPhones, presumably because a major selling point for those devices was increased battery life sans battery case.

Unless Apple changes tune, this means we'd likely see a Smart Battery Case for iPhone X/XS. Still, the launch window for such an accessory -- if there even is one -- remains unclear.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
Buyer's Guide: iPhone XS (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 9:54 am

Microsoft Edge Web Browser Coming to the Mac Over 15 Years After Internet Explorer for Mac

Microsoft today announced that it expects to bring its Edge web browser to the Mac, possibly as early as next year.


"Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS," said Microsoft.

The news was revealed as part of Microsoft's larger announcement that Edge will be rebuilt based on the open source Chromium rendering engine, the same engine used by Google Chrome. Microsoft said it expects to have a preview build of the Chromium-based Edge browser ready in early 2019 for users to try.

However, it's unclear if the preview will initially be limited to Windows or extend to the Mac simultaneously.

Edge succeeded Internet Explorer as Microsoft's default web browser on Windows in 2015, with a mobile version later released for iOS and Android. It will be Microsoft's first web browser on Mac since Internet Explorer for Mac received its last feature update over 15 years ago, in June 2003.


Internet Explorer was the default web browser on Mac between 1998 and 2003, when Apple released Safari on Mac OS X Panther.


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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 9:34 am

Apple Watch Chief Jeff Williams Says ECG App is 'Huge Opportunity' to Empower People About Their Health

Apple today announced that its ECG app will be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 today as part of watchOS 5.1.2. Alongside that news, TIME has published a new interview with Apple's CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams.


The article begins with a story about 46-year-old Texas resident Kevin Foley, who was having trouble breathing normally during a movie. Fortunately, since he was wearing an Apple Watch and participating in the recent Apple Heart Study, he was alerted to signs of an irregular heartbeat and went to the emergency room.

At the hospital, doctors hooked Foley up to an ECG machine and found signs of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke and other potentially fatal complications. Foley spent the next few days in the hospital while doctors worked to return him to a normal sinus heart rhythm and is doing fine now.

"Apple's largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people's health and well-being," Cook boldly proclaimed.

"We have tens of millions of watches on people's wrists, and we have hundreds of millions of phones in people's pockets," said Williams. "There's a huge opportunity to empower people with more information about their health. So this is something we view as not only an opportunity, but a responsibility of ours."

Williams also appeared on CBS This Morning today to talk about the ECG app. The YouTube video can only be streamed in the United States.


The report says a traditional hospital ECG is often referred to as a "12-lead" machine, as its 10 different electrodes provide information on 12 different areas of the heart. The new Apple Watch is the equivalent of only a single-lead device, but research suggests the ECG app is still very accurate.

In a press release, Apple said the accuracy of its ECG app was validated in a clinical trial with around 600 participants. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying atrial fibrillation:
Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.
"The FDA has been very rigorous, and they should be," said Williams, referring to the Apple Watch's heart health features.

The article goes on to claim that some cardiologists and other experts have raised concerns that the Apple Watch's ECG feature is "unnecessary for the general population" and "could cause problems," including false positives.

"If everybody with an Apple Watch and an alert from an Apple Watch went to a heart-rhythm doctor that was super comfortable with this, then I think it would be O.K.," said Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist. "But there are going to be millions of people going to the doctor that in many cases will be just fine."

Apple responded that no medical test is 100 percent accurate, so some false positives are inevitable, according to the report. Moreover, the Apple Watch will only alert users to a potential heart-related problem if it detects five instances of what it considers a cardiovascular episode, including arrhythmia.

Importantly, in an internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple cautioned that the ECG app is "not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis," and "should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor."

To take an ECG reading from the Apple Watch, users will need to place a finger on the Digital Crown while wearing the watch. The reading is completed in 30 seconds, allowing users to determine whether their hearts are beating in a regular pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation.

Irregular heart rhythm notifications will also be available on Apple Watch Series 1 through Series 4 models in watchOS 5.1.2.

Apple says the setup process for these heart health features will include details about who can use the features, what the features can and cannot do, what results users may get and how to interpret them, and instructions for what to do if users are feeling symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

watchOS 5.1.2 should be available through the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time as usual. At launch, the ECG app will be limited to the U.S., but Apple is likely working to get regulatory clearance elsewhere.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 7:14 am

Apple Says watchOS 5.1.2 Coming Today With ECG App Enabled on Apple Watch Series 4

Apple has announced that watchOS 5.1.2 will be publicly released today and will enable the long-awaited ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 models in the United States. The update will also enable irregular heart rhythm notifications on Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, and Series 4 models.


watchOS 5.1.2 should be available through the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time as usual.

Apple's COO and Apple Watch team head Jeff Williams:

Apple Watch has helped so many people around the world and we are humbled that it has become such an important part of our customers' lives. With the release of these heart features, Apple Watch takes the next step in empowering people with more information about their health.
Last week, MacRumors was first to report that watchOS 5.1.2 will enable the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 models, based on an internal Apple Store training document. ECG data will be available in the Health app and exportable via PDF on an iPhone 5s or newer, after updating to iOS 12.1.1 released yesterday.

watchOS 5.1.2 will feature an Apple-designed ECG app that can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation, a serious form of irregular heart rhythm, or a normal sinus rhythm. This is possible thanks to new electrodes built into the back crystal and Digital Crown on Series 4 models.

Apple Watch Series 4 is capable of generating an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram, according to the FDA. Both the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications are regulated features that have received De Novo classification from the FDA, making them available over the counter.

The ECG app will check heart rhythm every few hours or so, and if there are five consecutive readings that appear to be abnormal, the Apple Watch will alert the user to see a doctor. As for notifications, users will be alerted if an irregular heart rhythm is detected on five checks over a minimum of 65 minutes.

Importantly, in an internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple cautioned that the ECG app is "not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis," and "should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor."

To take an ECG reading from the Apple Watch, users will need to place a finger on the Digital Crown while wearing the watch. The reading is completed in 30 seconds, allowing users to determine whether their hearts are beating in a regular pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation.

Apple says the ECG app's accuracy was validated in a clinical trial of around 600 participants in the United States:
Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.
Apple is making good on its promise of making the ECG app available by year's end. watchOS 5.1.2 has been in beta testing since November 7, but the ECG app was nowhere to be found during the pre-release period.

Apple says the setup process for these heart health features will include details about who can use the features, what the features can and cannot do, what results users may get and how to interpret them, and instructions for what to do if users are feeling symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Tag: ECG
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Posted on 6 December 2018 | 4:55 am

Verizon Expected to Implement eSIM Support for iPhone XR and XS on December 7

Verizon is expected to implement support for the eSIM in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR on December 7, according to an internal employee memo that was shared with MacRumors.

Apple's newest iPhones have supported eSIM functionality since the October release of iOS 12.1, but to use the feature, carriers also needed to add support. At the time iOS 12.1 was released, U.S. carriers that include Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T said that support would not be implemented until later in the year.


AT&T at the time said that there were issues with visual voicemail, while Verizon had to work out some issues that would cause performance problems when its customers activated eSIMs from other carriers.

According to the document seen by MacRumors, Verizon will be implementing dual-SIM support and it will start activating eSIMs on Friday, December 7.

"Verizon will support Dual SIM activations on physical SIMs and eSIMs on select iPhones. Please visit the training portal to learn how to activate," reads the document.

Following today's release of iOS 12.1.1, several additional carriers around the world began rolling out eSIM support, including AT&T in the United States, so it's no surprise that Verizon would will shortly after.

The eSIM, or digital SIM, is a non-physical SIM card slot that pairs with the physical SIM in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR to enable dual-SIM dual-standby, a feature that lets iPhone users have two phone numbers available at once.

With dual-SIM support, iPhone users are supposed to be able to swap between the two phone numbers readily, alleviating the need for a second phone or SIM swapping for work and travel.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR
Tags: Verizon, eSIM

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Posted on 5 December 2018 | 8:54 pm

Siri Shortcuts Not Working Properly For Some iPhone Users [Fixed]

It's not just you: it appears that Siri Shortcuts have not been working properly for some iPhone users since as early as Tuesday.


A small but increasing numbers of users on Twitter and the MacRumors forums claim that they are unable to invoke shortcuts using Siri, including Federico Viticci of MacStories and Rene Ritchie of iMore. The shortcuts still work if executed directly from the Shortcuts app, but not with a Siri voice command.

The issue is not affecting all users, nor is it affecting all apps. Third-party apps appear to be affected more than Apple's apps. It also doesn't appear to be related to today's release of iOS 12.1.1 or Shortcuts version 2.1.2. Your mileage may vary, so leave us a comment in our forums if you are affected.

I’ve been editing an article all day. But yes, none of my Siri shortcuts are working at the moment and this pretty much sucks. https://t.co/uaqfSSzbXp

— Federico Viticci (@viticci) December 5, 2018

Apple seems to be aware and working on a fix.

The tragedy and triumph of Siri triggers being online services… https://t.co/k8c66OgZSX

— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) December 5, 2018

As with any cloud-based service interruption, Apple certainly has engineers working on a server-side fix. With the issue now receiving media attention, a fix shouldn't be far away. We'll update this article when it is implemented.

In the meantime, some users have been able to re-record their Siri Shortcuts phrases to get them working again. To do so, open the Shortcuts app, tap on the three dots on a shortcut, tap on the settings toggle icon below Done in the top-right corner, tap on Siri Phrase, and tap Re-Record Phrase.

Update: Apple has implemented a fix, according to Rene Ritchie.


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Posted on 5 December 2018 | 5:11 pm

AT&T in US, Rogers and Fido in Canada, and Many Other Carriers Rolling Out eSIM Support on Latest iPhones

Coinciding with today's release of iOS 12.1.1, additional carriers around the world are enabling eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, allowing for dual-SIM functionality on those devices.


According to Apple's website, the latest carriers supporting the eSIM feature include AT&T in the United States; Rogers and Fido in Canada; 3 in Denmark and Sweden; Orange in Poland and Spain; Telia in Estonia and Finland; Telenor in Norway; Swisscom and Sunrise in Switzerland; Vodafone in Qatar; and select others.

In Asia, the eSIM feature can now be used with 1010, CSL, China Mobile, and SmarTone in Hong Kong; M1 in Singapore; APT in Taiwan; Airtel and Reliance Jio in India; and AIS, dtac, and True Move in Thailand.

AT&T's website confirms that it supports eSIM on the latest iPhones as of iOS 12.1.1, while Apple's website continues to state that Verizon and T-Mobile will offer eSIM service "later this year." We've heard from a few people that Verizon may enable support on Friday, but this is strictly word of mouth.

It seems that the rollout of eSIM functionality on iPhones is hit or miss at this point, as a MacRumors tipster claims to have set up eSIM with T-Mobile on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, while others have had no luck. The ball is definitely rolling, though, so hopefully eSIM support is more widespread by year's end.

The eSIM, or digital SIM, is a non-physical SIM card slot that pairs with the physical SIM card in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR to enable dual-SIM dual-standby, a feature that lets iPhone users have two phone numbers available at once — useful for travel or both personal and work lines on a single iPhone.

Tags: AT&T, Rogers, eSIM

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Posted on 5 December 2018 | 1:42 pm