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New iPhones courageously ditch including a free headphone dongle

Apple is under the impression that its “courage” has already paid off and that it no longer needs to ship a headphone dongle with its new phones. Mission accomplished! The new iPhone XS and XR models will not include the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, and users will have to buy it separately for $9. The iPhone 8 will also not include the dongle moving forward, The Verge reported. Courage. On the bright side, the dongle is only $9, and if you’ve been an iPhone owner for the past few years, you’ve got one already. To be clear, a lot of phones have been moving in the headphone jack-less direction and including the dongles with its past models was a nice precedent set by Apple. That said, the Pixel 2 included the dongle, so Apple is again leading the way here with an unpopular move.

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The iPhone Xs and Xs Max get dual-SIM capability

There are many reasons why dual-SIM capabilities make sense. And that’s why many Android smartphones let you insert two SIM cards. Apple is entering the world of dual-SIM capabilities with a physical SIM tray and an eSIM for most of the world, and two physical SIM cards in China. You won’t be able to buy a second SIM card at the airport and put it in the phone. Instead, just like on the iPad, you’ll have to subscribe to a plan using your iPhone. Few telecom companies support eSIM just yet. Apple showed the logos of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Bell, EE, Vodafone, Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Truphone, GigSky and Jio. Let’s hope that this move is going to convince more telecom carriers to switch to eSIM. Being able to sign into your mobile plan just like you would sign into your Spotify account sounds like a dream. If you use two SIM cards, you’ll be able to manage two phone numbers, use two plans and more. This is particularly useful if you live in a fragmented region. For instance, many countries have regional telecom companies. So you need to swap your SIM card if you’re traveling back and forth between two cities. In China, Apple can’t embed an eSIM into its devices. So the company is going to release a special iPhone Xs and Xs Max for China. This model will let you insert two physical SIM cards at once, back-to-back.

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The iPhone Xr is the new budget iPhone

Apple just announced a new budget iPhone to along with the iPhone Xs. It brings many of the goodies found on the new and expensive iPhone Xr but for much less and it’s available in a variety of colors. This phone replaces the iPhone 8 as the least expensive iPhone available. Like the iPhone Xs and the iPhone X before it, the Xr is a full-screen phone minus a notch at the top that houses the phone’s camera and FaceID sensors. Long live the Home Button. It’s no longer available on any iPhone model. The screen is a 6.1-inch LCD screen, unlike the OLED version found in the iPhone XR, and Apple calls it a liquid retina screen with 1792 x 828 with 326 ppi. Even at a 6.1-inch screen, the phone itself is smaller than the previous iPhone 8 Plus. Inside is Apple’s new A12 Bionic chip that supports improved battery life, neural networks and advanced processing. The body is made out of 7000 series aerospace grade aluminum that’s more durable glass and comes in white, black, blue, coral and yellow. The case also has IP 67 protection to keep it safe from dust and water. [gallery ids="1710969,1710955,1710951,1710950,1710949,1710948"] Unlike the iPhone X and iPhone Xs, the iPhone Xr has a single lens camera. It’s a 12mp sensor with a fast 1.8 aperture lens and packs a true tone flash. Even though there’s only one lens, the iPhone Xr can still do portrait mode photos like the iPhone X and iPhone Xs. The iPhone Xr even has adjustable bokah found in the iPhone Xs. Compaired to the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone XR has an hour and a half longer battery life.

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So long then, iPhone home button…

… it was nice pressing you. Well, at least some of the thousands and thousands of times. Apple has finally abandoned a feature that’s been a staple of its smartphones since the very start, over a decade ago: A physical home button. The trio of almost-all-screen iPhones unboxed today at its Cupertino HQ go all in on looks and swipes, with nothing but a sensor-housing notch up top to detract from their smoothly shining faces. Last year Apple only ditched the button on its premium iPhone X handset, retaining physical home buttons on cheaper iPhones. But this year it’s a clean sweep, with buttons dropped across the board. If you want to go home on the new iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max or iPhone Xr (as the trio of new iPhones are confusingly named) well, there’s a gesture for that: An up swipe from the bottom edge of the screen, specifically. Or a look and that gesture if your phone is locked. This is because Apple has also gone all in on its facial biometric authentication system, Face ID, for its next crop of iPhones — throwing out the predecessor Touch ID biometric in the process. “Customer love it!” enthused Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, talking up Face ID from the stage, after CEO Tim Cook had reintroduced the tech by collapsing it all to: “Your phone knows what you look like and your face becomes your password.” “There’s no home button,” confirmed Schiller, going over the details of the last of the three new iPhones to be announced — and also confirming Face ID is indeed on board the least pricey iPhone Xr. “You look at it to unlock it… you look at it to pay with Apple Pay,” he noted. So hey there Face ID, goodbye Touch ID. Like any fingerprint biometric Touch ID is fallible. Having been doing a lot of DIY lately it simply hasn’t worked at all for my battered fingertips for more than a month now. Nor does it work well if you have dry skin or wet hands and so on. It can also be hacked with a bit of effort, such as via silicone spoofs. Still, Touch ID does have its fans — given relative simplicity. And also because you can register multiple digits to share biometric access to a single iPhone with a S.O. (Or, well, your cat.) Apple has mitigated the device sharing issue by adding support for two faces per device being registered with Face ID in iOS 12. (We haven’t tested if it’ll register a cat yet.) However the more major complaint from privacy advocates is that turning a person’s facial features into their security and authentication key normalizes surveillance. That’s certainly harder to workaround or argue against. Apple will be hoping its general pro-privacy stance helps mitigate concerns on that front. But exactly how the millions of third party apps running on its platform make use of the facial biometric feature is a whole other issue, though. Elsewhere, debate has focused on whether Face ID makes an iPhone more vulnerable to being force unlocked against its owner’s will. The technology does require active interaction from the registered face in question for it to function, though — a sort of ‘eyes-on’ check and balance. It’s probably not perfect but neither was a fingerprint biometric — which could arguably be more easily forcibly taken from someone in custody or asleep. But it’s irrefutable that biometrics come with trade-offs. None of these technologies is perfect in security terms. Arguably the biggest problem is there’s no way to change your biometric ‘password’ if your data leaks — having your fingerprints or face surgically swapped is hardly a viable option. Yet despite such concerns the march towards consumer authentication systems that are robust without being hopelessly inconvenient has continued to give biometrics uplift. And fingerprint readers, especially, are now pretty much standard issue across much of the Android device ecosystem (which may also be encouraging Apple to step up and away now, as it seeks to widen the gap with the cheaper competition). In the first year of operation its Face ID system does appear to have been impressively resilient, too — barring a few cases of highly similar looking family members/identical twins. Apple is certainly projecting confidence, now, going all in on the tech across all its iPhones. If you’re inconsolable about the loss of the Home Button it’s not entirely extinct on Apple hardware yet: The iPad retains it, at least for now. And if it’s Touch ID you’re hankering for Apple added the technology to the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar (on 2016 models and later). Yet the days of poking at a physical button as a key crux of mobile computing do now look numbered. Contextual computing — and all it implies — is the name of the game from here on in. Which is going to raise increasingly nuanced questions about the erosion of user agency and control, alongside major privacy considerations and related data ethics issues, at the same time as ramping up technological complexity in the background. So no pressure then! At the end of the day there was something wonderfully simple about having a home button always sitting there — quietly working to take people back to a place they felt comfortable. It was inclusive. Accessible. Reassuring. For some an unnecessary blemish on their rectangle of glass, for sure, but for others an important touchstone to get them where they needed to go. Hopefully Apple won’t forget everything that was wrapped around the home button. It would certainly be a shame if its spirit of inclusiveness also fell by the wayside. Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images

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Apple introduces the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max

Another year, another set of brand spankin’ new iPhones. But this year, little has been left to the imagination as leaks have continued to spring up over the course of the past few months. Today, however, the new iPhone becomes official. Apple has introduced a new models of the premium iPhone, the iPhone Xs, which comes in three finishes, gold, silver and space grey. So let’s take a look at the details. Design The new iPhone doesn’t look all that different from the iPhone X, but that is always the case with the “S” years. The phones come in gold, silver and space grey and are made with surgical grade steel, as well as a new glass formulation for durability. The Apple team has also upgraded the dust and water resistance of the iPhone, bumping it to IP68 rated, with water resistance up to 2 meters deep for several minutes. Schiller added that the phone was tested in many liquids, including orange juice, tea, wine and beer. Display The new display on the iPhone Xs is a Super Retina OLED display, but it has 60 percent greater dynamic range than the previous generation. Displays come in two sizes — 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch — with 458 pixels per inch. The bigger phone is called the iPhone Xs Max. Unfortunately, on both models, that notch is still hanging out at the top of the phone, but not without good reason. Housed in that sliver of bezel is an infrared camera, flood illuminator, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, speaker, microphone, front camera, and dot projector. Much of this, of course, allows for FaceID to continue on this next gen of the iPhones. It has a faster secure enclave and faster algorithms have improved FaceID in the iPhone Xs, with Phil Schiller saying it’s the most secure facial authentication in a smartphone ever. Specs Perhaps the biggest spec upgrade on the iPhone Xs is the new A12 Bionic chip, the industry’s first 7nm chip with 6.9 billion transistors. It has a 6-core CPU, with two high-performance cores that are 15 percent faster and 40 percent lower power than the A11. There’s also a new 4-core GPU in the A12 that’s 50 percent faster with tessellation and multilayer rendering. Plus, there is a new neural engine with an 8-core dedicated machine learning processor. So how does that translate to real-world use? Well, the new iPhone Xs is capable of 30 percent faster app opens thanks to that A12 Bionic chip. As is standard with Apple, the company gave some other examples of how this processor will change the way we operate on our phones, including software upgrades from iOS 12 like AR, Memoji, and Siri shortcuts. Apple also did a demo from Bethesda showing off the A12 powering the new Elder Scrolls Blades game. In the storage department, the iPhone Xs comes with up to 512GB of storage. Developing… Please refresh

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JBL Xtreme 2

The portable JBL Xtreme 2 speaker can be submerged in water and still pump out loud tunes with intense bass depth, making it ideal for outdoor use.

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How to watch the live stream for today’s Apple iPhone keynote

Apple is holding a keynote today on its new and shiny campus in Cupertino, and the company is expected to unveil new iPhones, an updated Apple Watch and maybe some other things. At 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris), you’ll be able to watch the event as the company is streaming it live. Apple’s September is the company’s most anticipated event. And that’s because Apple releases new iPhone models every September. Rumor has it that the company should unveil three new devices, including an updated iPhone X, a bigger version of this phone and a new model to replace the iPhone 8 with a notch design. If you have an Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old events. The app icon has been updated a few days ago for the event. And if you don’t have an Apple TV, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed has always worked in Safari and Microsoft Edge. And just like this year’s WWDC keynote, the video should also work in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. So to recap, here’s how you can watch today’s Apple event: Safari on the Mac or iOS. Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on the Mac or Windows 10. An Apple TV with the Apple Events app in the App Store. Of course, you also can read TechCrunch’s live blog if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a big team in the room this year.

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The best security and privacy features in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

September is Apple hardware season, where we expect new iPhones, a new Apple Watch and more. But what makes the good stuff run is the software within. First revealed earlier this year at the company’s annual WWDC developer event in June, iOS 12 and macOS Mojave focus on a running theme: security and privacy for the masses. Ahead of Wednesday big reveal, here’s all the good stuff to look out for. macOS Mojave macOS Mojave will be the sixth iteration of the Mac operating system, named after a location in California where Apple is based. It comes with dark mode, file stacks, and group FaceTime calls. Safari now prevents browser fingerprinting and cross-site tracking What does it do? Safari will use a new “intelligent tracking prevention” feature to prevent advertisers from following you from site to site. Even social networks like Facebook know which sites you visit because so many embed Facebook’s tools — like the comments section or the “Like” button. Why does it matter? Tracking prevention will prevent ad firms from building a unique “fingerprint” of your browser, making it difficult to serve you targeted ads — even when you’re in incognito mode or private browsing. That’s an automatic boost for personal privacy as these companies will find it more difficult to build up profiles on you. Camera, microphone, backups now require permission What does it do? Just like when an app asks you for access to your contacts and calendar, now Mojave will ask for permission before an app can access your FaceTime camera and microphone, as well as location data, backups and more. Why does it matter? By expanding this feature, it’s much more difficult for apps to switch on your camera without warning or record from your microphone without you noticing. That’s going to prevent surreptitious ultrasonic ad tracking and surveillance by malware that hijack your camera. But also asking permission for access to your backups — often unencrypted — will prevent malware or hackers from quietly stealing your data. iOS 12 iOS 12 lands on more recent iPhones and iPads, but will bring significant performance boosts to older supported devices, new Maps, smarter notifications and updated AIKit . Password manager will warn of password reuse What does it do? iOS 12’s in-built password manager, which stores all your passwords for easy access, will now tell if you’re using the same password across different sites and apps. Why does it matter? Password reuse is a real problem. If you use the same password on every site, it only takes one site breach to grab your password for every other site you use. iOS 12 will let you know if you’re using a weak password or the same password on different sites. Your passwords are easily accessible with your fingerprint or your passcode. Two-factor codes will be auto-filled What does it do? When you are sent a two-factor code — such as a text message or a push notification — iOS 12 will take that code and automatically enter it into the login box. Why does it matter? Two-factor authentication is good for security — it adds an extra layer of protection on top of your username and password. But adoption is low because two-factor is cumbersome and frustrating. This feature keeps the feature security intact while making it more seamless and less annoying. USB Restricted Mode makes hacking more difficult What does it do? This new security feature will lock any accessories out of your device — including USB cables and headphones — when your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour. Why does it matter? This is an optional feature — first added to iOS 11.4.1 but likely to be widely adopted with iOS 12 — will make it more difficult for law enforcement (and hackers) to plug in your device and steal your sensitive data. Because your device is encrypted, not even Apple can get your data, but some devices — like GrayKeys — can brute-force your password. This feature will render these devices largely ineffective. Apple’s event starts Wednesday at 10am PT (1pm ET).

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