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Apple apologizes for secretly slowing down iPhones, will offer $29 battery fix

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Tim Cook Billionth iPhone

In an open letter today, Apple apologized for secretly throttling CPU performance in iPhones with older batteries. The letter is also a clarification to a lot of misunderstanding among customers regarding iPhone performance, followed by a discounted price on battery replacement on older iPhones.

While the purpose of slowing down older iPhones isn’t aimed at forced device upgrades, according to Apple, the act is inclined towards managing the lithium-ion battery efficiency, which is consumed as part of battery’s chemical aging process.

Apple explains the chemical aging process of a lithium-ion battery, which is common across the industry, in the letter as follows.

All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical aging process.

Device use also affects the performance of a battery over its lifespan. For example, leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause a battery to age faster. These are characteristics of battery chemistry, common to lithium-ion batteries across the industry.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

A new support article, iPhone Battery and Performance, does its best at explaining iPhone’s battery and the factors affecting its performance.

Apple also admitted that in iOS 10.2.1 it improved the power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns from ruining the entire user experience on iPhone SE, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6s devices. As a result, the slow down in performance.

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

The same update was issued to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2, says Apple.

The Big A also mentioned that it will be offering battery replacement for out-of-warranty iPhones at a very reduced price, starting late January 2018. Customers with iPhone 6 or later will be eligible to replace their batteries for as low as $29, which is $50 less than the actual $79 price point. This is valid worldwide until December 2018, though.

In addition, Apple also announced that it will be issuing a software update that will provide users with more transparency to the iPhone’s battery health, early next year.

/ Apple

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Blocks modular smartwatch is finally available to purchase

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Blocks SmartWatch

Blocks has begun selling the modular smartwatch, which the company launched on Kickstarter in 2015. True to its name, the Blocks modular smartwatch is a full add-on gear, powered by a proprietary OS, and works with both iOS and Android.

Once upon a time back in 2015, when Apple Watch had just launched, Android Wear was still a good deal to bet on. Meanwhile, Blocks launched on Kickstarter, and also made its trip to CES in Vegas. The company promised to ship the product in May of 2016, however, constant delays made it possible today. The company has begun shipping the watch to Kickstarter backers, and is using CES to tell the world that it is now ready for everyone.

Blocks SmartWatch Module

Blocks’ Core smartwatch has fitness tracking, Amazon Alexa, notification support, alongside some modular add-ons. Of course, the Blocks smartwatch can display time.

Blocks says it will continue developing new modules, including a fingerprint sensor, extra batteries, if things go well with the ecosystem.

The Core comes in either black or silver finish, with black and red straps on offer. The add-on modules cost $35 each on top of $259 for the Core base unit. Even after years of delays, Blocks isn’t confirming an exact date yet, saying that the devices should ship sometime in Q1 of 2018.

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Oculus partners with Xiaomi to launch Oculus Go and Mi VR Standalone

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Oculus Go
Image Credit / Facebook

Oculus announced partnerships with Xiaomi and Qualcomm at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. As part of the new partnerships, the company also revealed details about the upcoming Oculus Go along with a new Mi VR Standalone headset.

Oculus Go, which the company announced at last year’s Oculus Connect, will be manufactured by Xiaomi, in partnership with Qualcomm to power the headset. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 Mobile VR Platform is what powers Oculus Go and Mi VR Standalone.

Mi VR Standalone and Oculus Go

We’ve worked closely with Qualcomm to deliver the highest possible level of performance to meet the high computing demands of the standalone VR product category.

The Go and Standalone both share the same core hardware technology and features, sporting same design aesthetics (except the logo). While the Oculus Go headset will be available worldwide, the Mi VR Standalone will be available exclusively for the Chinese market. The Oculus Mobile SDK support will allow developers to easily port their content to the platform in China. Plus, the company says Xiaomi is working directly with Oculus developers to localize popular content from the Oculus Store.

No word on the availability of the devices yet!

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Google Pay brings Android Pay and Google Wallet together

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Google Pay
Look for Google Pay at checkout in Google apps, online, and in stores

Google has announced that it is merging Android Pay and Google Wallet into a new brand name, Google Pay. Sounds familiar? Well, it has now been a common naming convention in the industry — especially in the payment space.

After Google launched Wallet in 2011, the service once supported NFC payments for goods and services. However, the company later launched Android Pay in 2015 for online and real-world payments, making Google Wallet a person-to-person payment system. All that now has changed to Google Pay.

Google Pay Logo

For current Android Pay and Google Wallet users, it is just a change of name and logo. Google says it will be easier to use payment information saved to Google Account, speeding up the entire checkout with peace of mind. Plus, the new Google Pay logo will be visible online, in-store, and across Google products in the coming weeks. In fact, Google Pay is already available on Airbnb, Dice, Fandango, HungryHouse, and Instacart. The company is also offering promotional offers to the users.

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