Apple Retail Stores Around the World Now Featuring Red Logos for World AIDS Day

In honor of World AIDS Day, which takes place on December 1, Apple has started turning the Apple Store logos at many of its retail locations around the world red.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shared some photos of the red logos on Twitter this afternoon.


Apple marketing chief Greg Joswiak earlier this week said that Apple plans to turn the logos at 125 stores red, with another 400 stores set to feature red decals over their Apple logos. The red coloring is meant to raise awareness for the global fight against AIDS.

Apple plans to promote World AIDS Day in its retail locations over the course of the next week. From Saturday, December 1 to Friday, December 7, $1 of every Apple Pay purchase made at an Apple Store, through the Apple Store app, or on the Apple website will be donated to (RED), the charity Apple has worked with for years.


(RED) focuses on putting an end to AIDS in Africa through money given to The Global Fund. Yesterday, Apple said it has raised $200 million for (RED) through the exclusive (PRODUCT)RED merchandise that it sells.

When Apple customers purchase a (PRODUCT)RED device or accessory, a portion of the proceeds is donated to (RED).

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Apple Shares New Shot on iPhone Ad Featuring Lavishly Decorated Japanese Trucks

Apple today shared a new video in its long running "Shot on iPhone" ad campaign, this time festuring "decotora," aka extravagantly decorated trucks that are popular in Japan.

The video features a truck driver named Kazuya Sekino who has crated a decotora named "Lady Misaki" that's outfitted with hundreds of LED lights, perfectly showcasing the low light photographic capabilities of the iPhone XS.


Apple has released multiple "Shot on iPhone" videos in the past, and it has used Shot on iPhone for photography campaigns on billboards, social media networks, and more.

To promote the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple previously shared a Shot on iPhone video that showcasing slo-mo, 4K, and time-lapse video modes.

The iPhone XS and XS Max have upgraded two-lens camera setups with improved low light picture and video taking capabilities thanks to larger sensors and better stabilization techniques.


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Make Sure to Get Your $29 iPhone Battery Replacements Soon as Apple’s Discount Program is Set to End on December 31

If you have an iPhone that needs a battery replacement, it's a good idea to get it fixed soon as Apple's $29 battery replacement program is set to end on December 31, 2018.

Apple is still offering $29 battery replacements for the iPhone SE, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X. All of these devices are eligible for a discounted $29 battery following the processor slowdown scandal that Apple faced earlier this year.

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Battery Replacement Cost After Program Ends


After December 31, 2018, replacement iPhone batteries will return to regular price. For most iPhones, replacement batteries will be priced at $49, with the exception of the iPhone X. Apple will charge $69 for an iPhone X battery replacement.

The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR are not eligible for $29 replacement batteries as these devices were released well after the battery issue first came to light and are still under warranty.

How to Initiate a Battery Replacement


To initiate a battery replacement, use Apple's battery support site. You can take your iPhone to an Apple retail store, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or send it in for replacement at an Apple Repair Center.

With both replacement methods, Apple warns that it could take up to five business days, but in-store battery replacements are often completed more quickly. Some mail-in repairs can take as long as nine days.

Any damage that impairs the replacement of the battery, such as a cracked screen, will need to be repaired first before the battery can be swapped out for a new one.

Checking the Health of Your iPhone Battery


You can check on the health of your battery by opening up the Settings app, choosing the Battery section, and selecting "Battery Health."

The Battery Health option will let you know the exact maximum capacity of the battery in your iOS device and whether your iPhone is able to operate at Peak Performance Capability.


If the battery is not operating at Peak Performance Capability, you will see a recommendation for a battery replacement in order to restore the full functionality of the device.

Performance Management and Minimizing Shutdowns


iPhones that are not operating at peak performance can see random shutdowns due to a degrading battery's inability to keep up with processor demands at times of peak usage.

To prevent processor shutdowns, Apple introduced a performance management feature that throttles the processor of the iPhone when the battery cannot provide the power the processor needs.

Performance management does result in slower performance, and while the feature can be disabled by following these steps in an iPhone with a degraded battery, the only permanent fix is a new battery.


Apple initially implemented performance management quietly in the iOS 10.2.1 update in January 2017 and did not let customers know what was going on. The feature was discovered in late 2017, leading to customers who were outraged that Apple did not tell them their devices were being throttled.

There was a huge public upset, leading Apple to issue an apology and to provide the $29 battery replacement program. Apple has been offering no-questions-asked $29 battery replacements since December of 2017.

The Future of Performance Management


All iPhones will eventually face battery degradation issues due to the nature of lithium ion batteries. While performance management software was initially limited to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE, Apple in iOS 12.1 added it to the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X to prevent future shutdowns should these devices suffer from failing batteries.

In the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, performance management features introduced due to degraded batteries "may be less noticeable" because of their "more advanced hardware and software design."

Future iPhones, such as the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, will also eventually receive performance management software until battery technology improves.


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MacRumors Giveaway: Win an iPad Case From Pad & Quill

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with Pad & Quill to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win one of the company's high-quality carefully crafted iPad cases made from materials like leather, linen, and wood.

Pad & Quill has multiple iPad case options available, including several cases for the new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.


The Oxford Leather iPad Pro case, priced starting at $114.95, is made from full grain bridle leather in chestnut, whiskey, or black. Designed specifically for the latest iPad models, the Oxford case is a folio-style case that can protect both sides of the iPad when closed. One side of the case attaches to the iPad using a strong 3M adhesive material.

When open, the Oxford case has a built-in horizontal viewing stand and it is able to work with the Smart Keyboard Folio that comes with the iPad Pro, so you don't need to sacrifice your keyboard to use this case. There's a spot for the Apple Pencil 2, an interior pocket for documents, and an elastic strap to keep everything safe when it's closed.


Pad & Quill also has a second folio case for the new iPad Pro models, the Contega Thin. Priced starting at $89.95, the Contega, which is one of the thinnest iPad Pro cases from Pad & Quill, is made from an archival linen in a charcoal or gray color. The Contega, like the Oxford, features a built-in horizontal viewing stand when open and attaches to the back of the iPad with 3M adhesive.


It too is compatible with the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio, so you can use the keyboard with the iPad Pro while still having the protection and benefit of the Contega case, and it features space for the Apple Pencil 2 along with a magnetic sleep/wake feature.


Along with cases for the new iPads, Pad & Quill also makes Oxford, Contega, Contega Thin, Heritage, and Traveler cases for older iPad models such as the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and the 6th-generation iPad, all of which can be viewed on the Pad & Quill website.

If you're in the market for an iPad case, this weekend is a good time to buy from Pad & Quill. The site is having a special sale and event, with 15 percent off every order available with the promo code "Family15."

Pad & Quill is also giving away a free small journal to every customer who is able to find the Pad & Quill mascot, Philbert the Chow, on the P&Q website when placing an order. Mention where Philbert was found on the site and you'll get a small journal with your order at no cost.


For our giveaway, Pad & Quill is providing five iPad cases that MacRumors readers can win. Each winner will be able to choose their favorite iPad case from the site. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, following us on Instagram, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (November 30) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on December 7. The winners will be chosen randomly on December 7 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.


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How To Play Music on HomePod When Activating HomeKit Scenes Using Siri Shortcuts

Although HomePod is available in Apple's Home app, the company's smart home speaker as of yet can't be integrated into HomeKit scenes and automations. With such a feature, users would be able to activate their favorite HomeKit scenes, alongside a specific Apple Music playlist, album, or song from their HomePod.


Reddit user Running_In_Space on r/HomeKit explained recently that this is actually possible today, thanks to a helpful (and super simple to create) Siri Shortcut. With the Shortcut, you can tie any Home scene together with any Apple Music playlist. While the Shortcut is limited to playlists, you can choose from your own playlists or those created by Apple Music.

In the example below, we created a holiday themed Siri Shortcut that turns on Christmas tree lights (connected to an iDevices Switch) and shuffles a holiday playlist any time we say, "Hey Siri, Merry Christmas." Also remember that you'll need an Apple Music subscription, HomeKit-enabled lights or other devices of some kind, and the updated Siri Shortcuts iOS app.

How to Create the Siri Shortcut


  1. Open the iOS "Shortcuts" app



  2. Tap "Create Shortcut"




  3. In the search bar, type "Get Playlist" and add it into your Shortcut



  4. Next to Playlist, tap "Choose" and pick your desired playlist



  5. Search for "Play Music" and add it (here you can also edit settings for shuffling and/or repeating the playlist)



  6. Search for "Run Home Scene" and add it



  7. Next to Home, tap "Choose" and select your home



  8. Next to Scene, tap "Choose" and select your desired scene


  9. Before you tap "Done," select the toggle icon under the Done button at the top right corner of the screen




  10. Name the Shortcut, and tap "Add to Siri" to record your preferred trigger phrase

  11. Tap "Done" until you're back on the Library screen of the app
Now you will be able to say, "Hey Siri, [Trigger Phrase]" to your HomePod and have the selected Home scene activate along with the chosen Apple Music playlist, connected via AirPlay on your iPhone. Siri typically responds with, "Okay, running your shortcut," and it can take a bit longer than a normal scene activation in HomeKit due to the multiple actions.

There are numerous versions of this Siri Shortcut that could be created, like having a nighttime scene in HomeKit tied to a mellow Apple Music playlist that's triggered when you say, "Hey Siri, goodnight." We tried testing out Home scenes that are activated via geofences, but in the few times we tried we could not get HomePod to turn on and play the specified Apple Music playlist when the arriving home scene in HomeKit was activated.

It's also worth noting that the desired Apple Music playlist will play on whatever device you are talking to Siri with, so in our example if we said, "Hey Siri, Merry Christmas" and HomePod picked it up, then the holiday playlist played on HomePod. If we said the same phrase to our iPhone, the playlist would play there instead. In both scenarios, the Christmas tree lights were still activated regardless of the Apple device used.

Apple introduced Siri Shortcuts as an update to its Workflow iOS app back in September, and although creating Shortcuts can be an arduous task in some cases, there are a few super useful actions that have been shared over the past few months. Do you use Siri Shortcuts and have a favorite one to share? Give us the details in the comments below or Tweet us @MacRumors to let us know your most-used Shortcuts.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple Watch Will Have Extended 45-Day Refund Period Tied to Heart Health Features

While the Apple Watch typically has a 14-day return policy, Apple will honor refund requests related to upcoming heart health features for up to 45 days after purchase, according to an internal document distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers in the United States.


The document, obtained by MacRumors, states that Apple Stores will refer these requests to Apple Support, so customers will need to contact Apple by phone, email, or online chat to initiate a refund beyond the usual two-week period.

Heart health features include the upcoming ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 models and irregular heart rhythm notifications on Apple Watch Series 1 through Series 4 models. A separate Apple document obtained by MacRumors indicates that the ECG app, and likely the notifications, will be enabled in watchOS 5.1.2.

Apple Stores are not required to inspect the Apple Watch if a customer has a heart health-related refund request greater than 14 days after purchase, so it sounds like as long as a customer mentions the ECG app or irregular heart rhythm notifications as the reason for the return, Apple will honor it up to 45 days.

Apple's document does not provide any further details, so it's unclear why this policy exists. While the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications are regulated features, the extended refund policy is not mandated by the FDA, according to a spokesperson for the agency. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Perhaps this is simply more time for customers to try out the heart-related features. Apple cautions 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.

ECG and other heart data will be collected in the Health app on a paired iPhone 5s or newer running iOS 12.1.1 or later.

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

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Apple Music to Launch on Amazon’s Echo Devices the Week of December 17

Apple and Amazon today announced that Apple Music will launch on Echo devices beginning the week of December 17. In a blog post, Amazon explains that Apple Music subscribers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artist, playlists, Beats1 radio stations, and albums, all through an Echo speaker.

One example they give is the command, "Alexa, play Bebe Rexha on Apple Music."


The integration will launch as an Apple Music skill that will need to be enabled within the Alexa app, where users will also be able to link their account to start listening to Apple Music on an Echo speaker. Apple Music will join the ranks of a few other music streaming services already supported on Echo, including Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora.
“Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa—since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices.

“We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services. We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music – one of the most popular music services in the US – to Echo customers this holiday.”
Apple Music is said to have over 56 million total subscribers, including those on the free trial. The company is in a battle with Spotify as each tries to grow their numbers. In November, Spotify reported 87 million paid subscribers on its service, and 191 million monthly active users.

These numbers refer to global paid subscriber users, and in a report over the summer it was suggested that Apple Music is actually ahead of Spotify's paid subscriber count in the United States. Both Apple Music and Spotify were said to have more than 20 million paid subscribers in the U.S. as of July 2018, and at the time Apple was "a hair ahead" of its rival.


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Instagram Launches ‘Close Friends’ List for Sharing Stories

Instagram today announced the launch of a new Stories feature called "Close Friends" that allows you to share stories with a select group of people rather than all your followers.

Starting today, you can make a close friends list on Stories and share with just the people you've added. Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn't for everyone. With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.
The feature works through follower suggestions based on who you interact with most, or via a contact search, from which you can then build the list for sharing Stories with fewer people.

You can find the list by going to your Instagram profile and tapping Close Friends in the side menu. When you go to share a Story, a new option appears to share it with only the people on your close friends list.

It's worth noting that Close Friends is a private list, so other users can't see it in your profile or request to be added to it, so you can switch up your selection at any time without the risk of retaliatory unfriending.

The only indication that your part of someone's Close Friends list is that you'll see a green badge when viewing stories shared to the list. There's also a green ring around the user's profile in the Stories tray.

As TechCrunch notes, the feature plays on the idea of "Finstagrams," or fake Instagram accounts that teens sometimes create to share posts to select friends without having to worry about about being judged by their wider peer group.

This latest addition to the Facebook-owned photo-based social network comes at a time when more and more people are moving from Facebook, which has come in for sustained criticism for its poor user privacy safeguards as well as a perceived lack of effort to protect user data, combat social media addiction, and prevent the spread of fake news.

Close Friends is rolling out globally today on the latest version of the Instagram app for iOS. [Direct Link]


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How to Get Unique Alerts for VIP Emails Received on Your Mac

In the last installment of our regular how-to series, we showed how you can set up an iOS device to get unique alerts when emails are received from your VIP contacts. In this article, we're going to show you how to do the same thing on your Mac.

In the native Mail application in macOS, the standard way of ensuring you receive new message notifications from VIPs is to go into Mail's Preferences and select VIPs in the New message notifications dropdown list.

Setting up VIP alerts this way is all well and good, but it prevents you from receiving notifications for all other messages coming into your inbox.


A better solution would be to set up a rule in Mail that plays a specific sound or bounces the Dock icon when a message is received and the sender is in your VIP list. Here's how to do it.

How to Get a Unique Alert for VIP Emails


  1. Launch the Mail app on your Mac.

  2. Select Preferences... from the Mail menu bar.

  3. Select the Rules tab.

  4. Click Add Rule.

  5. Give your rule a name in the Description field.

  6. For If, select Any.

  7. For the first condition, select Sender is VIP from the first dropdown list.

  8. Under Perform the following actions: select Play Sound from the first dropdown list. (Another option available here is Bounce Icon in Dock.)

  9. Under Perform the following actions: choose a sound to play from the second dropdown list.

  10. Click OK.

  11. Click Apply.
With the rule set up, you'll now get a unique alert for every VIP mail you receive that you'll be able to distinguish from regular new message notifications as they come through.


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New Details on Apple’s Negotiations With iHeartMedia Surface

Earlier this month, Financial Times reported that Apple had held talks with U.S. radio company iHeartMedia regarding the possibility of Apple taking a financial stake in the struggling radio company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Despite its financial troubles, iHeartMedia remains the largest radio station owner in the country with over 850 AM and FM stations.


Financial Times has followed up with a new report today outlining some additional details on the negotiations between Apple and iHeartMedia, and while no deal has been struck, it appears Apple is considering several options that would help it leverage iHeartMedia's expertise in terrestrial radio and promote Apple Music and Beats 1 to millions of potential customers.
According to people familiar with the negotiations, Apple has considered buying a stake in the radio group, as well as signing a marketing or promotional partnership.

Another option under consideration is for Apple to acquire iHeartRadio’s streaming platform, which would be a relatively cheap way to reach the service’s 120m registered users.
One unnamed music executive quoted in the story notes that the millions of radio listeners around the world will "inevitably migrate" to online options over time, and Apple undoubtedly would love to make Apple Music the destination for those users as it continues to compete with the likes of Spotify.

The report also notes that Apple Music's user base has grown to 56 million subscribers, up from 50 million as of May. While the increase has pushed Apple past Spotify to become the largest music streaming service in the U.S., Spotify is still growing at a faster pace globally, adding 12 million users over the past six months to reach a total of 87 million subscribers.


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