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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 Pay Now Supports ANZ Eftpos Access Cards In Australia

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Apple Pay on iPhone

Apple Pay has expanded to support Eftpos cards from ANZ Bank in Australia. Eftpos (Electronic fund transfer at point of sales) is a popular debit payments network in Australia. The partnership will bring in-store Apple Pay support to 1.6 million ANZ Access cardholders, according to Eftpos.

Apple’s partnership with Eftpos should get more people to use Apple Pay as Eftpos is the most used debit card network in Australia, and offers a much lower processing fee to retailers as well as customers.

High fees have been one of the biggest hindrances for Apple Pay in Australia, but with today’s move things are starting to get better. When a debit card is used via Apple Pay in Australia, there’s about 0.55 percent fee to the merchant; however, Eftpos drops it significantly to 0.15 percent. (Thanks, Business Insider!)

“About 1.6 million ANZ eftpos Access cardholders now have the opportunity to make payments on an iPhone or Apple Watch, many of whom may not have had the opportunity to make in store mobile payments before,” said Eftpos acting CEO Paul Jennings.

“As Australia’s most used debit card network, we are thrilled to be providing ANZ eftpos Access customers with more payment choice, with added benefits of enhanced security and comfort.”

Eftpos ANZ users can switch between a Cheque and Savings account with ease. More details can be found on the Eftpos website. And yes, Apple has also updated its Australian version of Apple Pay website to reflect the Eftpos partnership.

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Google shares first unedited Pixel 2 photos and videos

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Google Pixel 2 Camera Sample

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, which the company unveiled during its October event past week, have a highly rated camera. The cameras in both the Google phones have scored 98, the highest-ever on a smartphone camera in DxOMark’s rating.

Last year’s Pixel line-up scored 88X, which was the highest-ever on a smartphone camera back then, therefore it’s not surprising to see Google focusing more on camera lenses in Pixel phones. No matter how greater the rating figure is, it’s much more important to test the device in real world, and camera samples take a perfect stand to all the pixel-and-lens specs the company had touted during the product announcement.

Thanks to Google’s Isaac Reynold, who shared a bunch of unedited photos taken from the Pixel 2 camera, we now know (to some extent) how amazingly Google has improved Pixel’s camera. Reynold also posted two videos comparing the video stabilization that’s on offer with Pixel 2. Some of the sample photographs are attached in this post, while you can watch Reynold’s entire upload here.

For a quick recap, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both have a 12.2-megapixel camera with f/1.8, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), and laser and dual pixel phase detection autofocus.

/ Pixel User Community 

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Apple TV 4K, iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X Support FLAC Audio Playback

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iPhone X and Tim Cook

Apple has quietly added support for FLAC audio playback to the recently-announced iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple TV 4K. Also included in the audio standard’s support list is the iPhone 7.

In case you’re wondering, FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. It’s an audio format similar to MP3, but it’s lossless. What that means is the audio is compressed without any loss in quality, providing a lossless compression.

iPhone FLAC Audio

In order to listen to FLAC audio files on your iPhone, you’ll need to use the native Files app or a third-party app such as VLC, as Apple’s Music app doesn’t support the FLAC standard just yet. Plus, a Lightning-connected headphone is recommended to listen to FLAC audio files, as it offers more bandwidth than a connection over Bluetooth.

The new iPhones and Apple TV 4K ship with FLAC playback support, whereas the iPhone 7 gets it with the release of iOS 11 on September 19.

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