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Apple announces the glass-backed iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

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iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8

Apple unveiled the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus at the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park. The new iPhones come with similar design language as past year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but refines quite a lot of things — from the interior, of course, to the exterior.

Until this year’s iPhone announcement, Apple continued its S-branded iPhone lineup ever since iPhone 3GS was announced. But the announcement of iPhone 8 after the iPhone 7 has just killed that tradition. Although the upgrades that Apple has made from iPhone 7 to iPhone 8 could be considerably called as an S-branded iPhone (that is, iPhone 7s), Apple dropped the ’S’ and went with iPhone 8.

Hello, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus!

iPhone 8 Charging Dock Pods

Getting started here. Every September, a new iPhone, but now it’s multiple iPhones.

Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus look like past year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, but the notable change here begins from the back of the devices. Apple has returned to glass-backed design (remember iPhone 4/4S!), with both iPhones featuring shinny glass back and aerospace-grade aluminum. Apple says it’s the most durable glass ever in a smartphone.

Need a reason why? It’s because glass-backed design helps enable world-class wireless charging solution, which works with Qi ecosystem. Well, Qi ecosystem is an open wireless standard, which most of us don’t really know but is widely used in phones that support wireless charging. Apple also gave us a sneak peak of AirPower, a wireless charging accessory from Apple that will be launched sometime next year. The Apple-designed AirPower accessory will let you charge up to three devices, including the new iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and a new wireless charging case for AirPods, simultaneously.

The glass finish is made using a seven-layer color process, says Apple, for precise hue and opacity. And yes, the handsets are dust and water resistant.

iPhone 8 Plus Color Selection

The 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus both offer Retina HD displays with True Tone that adjust the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light. Apple says the vibrant wide color gamut Retina HD display offers the best color accuracy in the industry.

What’s inside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus?

With every passing year, we see new iPhone chips that are faster, improved (and sometimes smaller) than the previous one. This time around, Apple’s A11 Bionic takes things even further. The A11 Bionic features a six-core CPU design with two performance cores 25-percent faster and four efficiency cores 70-percent faster than the A10 Fusion. All six cores can work simultaneously as well, thanks to a new, second-generation performance controller. And wait, the battery life remains unaffected. The Bionic integrates the first-ever Apple-designed GPU with a three-core design, delivering up to 30-percent faster graphics performance than the previous generation.

With iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, you get deeper bass, and up to 25-percent louder sound, thanks to the new stereo speakers. TouchID is there where it should be: the faceplate, below the screen. Bluetooth 5.0 support is included as well.

Camera on the new iPhones are improved, too. The 12-megapixel rear unit on the iPhone 8 has a larger and faster sensor, a new color filter and deeper pixels, with optical image stabilization. There’s a new Apple-designed image signal processor that delivers advanced pixel processing, wide color capture, faster autofocus and better HDR photos. Everything stacks up to photos with vibrant, realistic colors and more detail.

Still waiting to read a new fancy name for iPhone’s photography strength?

iPhone 8 Plus sports dual 12-megapixel cameras, with Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting. The latter is Apple’s new terminology for the iPhone 8 Plus’ ability to capture stunning portraits with a shallow depth-of-field effect in five different lighting styles. The Portrait Lighting isn’t just a filter, in fact it’s an application of Machine Learning, where the camera scene is recognized, and a depth map is created to separate the subject from the background. You can add the Lighting even after you’ve clicked the photo.

With better video stabilization, you can now shoot 4K videos up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps. The Apple-designed video encoder provides real-time image and motion analysis for optimal quality.

It’s not just photography that Apple has tuned iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus for. The cameras on the new iPhones are custom tuned for Augmented Reality (AR) as well. Each camera on the new iPhones is calibrated with new gyroscopes and accelerometer for accurate motion tracking. Apple first showed its interest in AR during this year’s WWDC with iOS 11, introducing ARKit for developers.

Available in Space Gray, Silver, and a new Gold finish, Apple’s iPhone 8 line-up starts at $699 for the smaller variant, and $799 for the bigger Plus model, depending on storage configuration. Pre-orders begin September 15, with launch date of September 22.

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Apple Support hits YouTube with iOS tips and tricks

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Apple Pencil iPad Pro Notes

Apple’s brand new YouTube channel has quite a lot to teach you, especially if you’re getting started with your iPhone or iPad. Published under Apple Support banner, the new YouTube channel from Apple provides tips, tricks, and how-tos — straight from Apple.

It has been a day since the channel appeared to the public, with a collection of ten how-to videos (at launch) that teach you how to take screenshots, send attachments in Mail, change the wallpaper, delete call logs, and more. Apple Support how-to videos are under two minutes of length, and provide easy step-by-step instructions, with bullet points on screen.

This isn’t the first time Apple Support became more accessible; Apple expanded the support service to Twitter early last year. And now, YouTube. Apple will continue adding more tips and tricks to this part of YouTube over time, but we’re not sure just how often.

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Apple started woking on HomePod in 2012

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Apple HomePod White

Apple started working on the Siri-powered HomePod smart speaker back in 2012, according to a new report. Well, that’s just a year after Siri’s debut on the iPhone 4S.

The report says HomePod was cancelled and revived several times since then.

Two years later, the project got an official codename (B238), and was moved to Valley Green 1 office (near Apple’s headquarters) under Apple’s accessories division.

Apple designers came up with different prototypes for the speaker; one of which was a 3 feet tall model, while another featured a ‘flat panel with a mesh screen on the front.’ The company also considered different color variants for the device initially, but the finished product ended up being black, and white.

Apple even considered selling the HomePod under Beats brand name, however, it scrapped the idea.

Apple’s HomePod was originally designed to be a superior speaker than the likes of JBL, Bose, and Harman Kardon, the report claims. Perhaps that’s why Apple isn’t allowing app ecosystem for HomePod, unlike Amazon’s Echo, which is a standalone product with over thousands of skills (voice-activated apps). HomePod appears to be more of an accessory than a platform, as it is heavily dependent on iPhone than cloud, with Siri being one of the key selling points.

The company did study Amazon Echo when it launched in 2014, but the inferior sound quality couldn’t impress Apple engineers back then, and they went to work on something that sounded better.

Despite the delay in HomePod’s launch, Apple is reportedly expected to sell 4 million HomePod units next year, according to the source. A holiday season without an actual competitor is definitely a good sales time for Amazon (and Google, too).

/ Bloomberg

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Apple delays HomePod launch until early 2018

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Apple HomePod White

Apple’s new smart-speaker has been delayed until early 2018. HomePod won’t be in Apple’s 2017 product launch list, confirmed the company.

Apple issued a statement to John Paczkowski, which mentioned the company needs ‘a little more time’ to get the smart-speaker ready for customers. The HomePod will not be released this year, rather early next year.

Apple announced HomePod during this year’s WWDC back in June, and is supposed to be one of the biggest product launches in Apple’s space. However, the company didn’t even mention HomePod during its September Special Event. And now we know why!

With holiday season already arrived, it would be a good sales time for rival companies in smart-speaker business (like Amazon and Google) to cover the market, while Apple fans will have to bypass this season to get their hands on the HomePod.

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