United States Justice Department Launching Antitrust Review of Major Tech Companies

The United States Justice Department is launching a broad antitrust review into whether major technology companies are unlawfully stifling competition, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The DoJ will reportedly be examining the practices of online platforms that "dominate internet search, social media and retail services," which will involve Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
The Justice Department will examine issues including how the most dominant tech firms have grown in size and might--and expanded their reach into additional businesses. The Justice Department also is interested in how Big Tech has leveraged the powers that come with having very large networks of users, the officials said.
The antitrust review will seek "extensive input and information" from industry participants and, eventually, the tech firms themselves.

There is no defined goal for the investigation other than to determine whether there are antitrust problems that need addressing, but DoJ officials said that a "broad range of options are on the table." Other company practices that ultimately raise concern about compliance with laws also won't be ignored.

This investigation is separate from a rumored Google probe that will look at whether Google has engaged in unlawful monopolization practices.

The FTC and a House antitrust subcommittee have also been investigating anticompetitive conduct among major tech companies, and last week, executives from Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon testified before Congress.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Releases iOS 9.3.6 and iOS 10.3.4 With GPS Bug Fix for Older iPhones and iPads

Alongside the launch of iOS 12.4, Apple today released new versions of iOS 9.3.6 and iOS 10.3.4 for older iPhones and iPads that aren't able to run iOS 12.4.

The iOS 9.3.6 update is available for cellular models of the original iPad mini, the iPad 2, and the iPad 3, while iOS 10.3.4 is available for the cellular version of the iPad 4 and the iPhone 4.


These updates can be downloaded on eligible devices over-the-air through the Settings app. To access the software, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

Apple released these older software updates to address an issue that could impact GPS location performance and lead to the system date and time being incorrect. Apple recommends all users with eligible devices install the new updates.


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Apple Releases 12.4 Software for HomePod With Support for Taiwan and Japan Launch

Alongside the release of iOS 12.4 with its new data migration tools for iOS devices, Apple today released a new 12.4 software update designed for the HomePod.

The new HomePod software will be installed automatically on the HomePod after you update to iOS 12.4, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in our HomePod software how to.


According to the release notes for the update, the 12.4 software brings support for HomePod to Japan and Taiwan, where the speaker will soon be available for purchase.

There were no other mentions of bug fixes or feature changes in the release notes for the update.


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2020 iPhones Could Feature Fast 120Hz ‘ProMotion’ Displays

Apple's iPhones next year may feature displays capable of up to 120Hz refresh rates, allowing for a smoother on-screen experience, according to one mobile leaker.

"Apple is considering a switchable 60Hz/120Hz refresh rate screen on the iPhone in 2020, and is discussing with Samsung and LG," tweeted Ice Universe on Sunday.

The leaker, who goes by the Twitter handle @UniverseIce, doesn't usually comment on Apple's plans, but is a well-regarded source of Samsung rumors. Samsung has supplied Apple with OLED panels for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.

Apple already uses variable refresh rate technology in its iPad Pro models, but they still use LCD panels rather than OLED. Bringing it to a new breed of OLED iPhones would raise the smartphone performance bar even higher.

Apple markets the iPad Pro-exclusive tech under the moniker "ProMotion," which it says dynamically adjusts the display to the movement of content for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness, and smoother motion. It does all this on the fly, which means it also conserves battery life.

Apple's adaptive ProMotion IAPs also reduce Apple Pencil latency, and reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple Pencil support is a possibility for a future iPhone.

Previous rumors have suggested Apple will complete its transition to an all-OLED iPhone lineup in 2020 with new 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch devices.

But before 2020 comes around, Apple is widely expected to launch a trio of new iPhones this September, including two higher-end 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED models and one lower-end 6.1-inch LCD model.


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Apple Begins Selling Updated Rotor Riot Game Controller With Redesigned D-Pad and Pass-Through Charging

Apple today began selling an updated version of the Rotor Riot wired game controller for iPhone and iPad through its online store. The new model features a redesigned directional pad, a built-in Lightning port for pass-through charging of iOS devices, and an improved device holder with a "zero gravity" effect.


Rotor Riot is the only Apple-certified controller that has clickable L3 and R3 thumbsticks, and it uses a wired connection for zero latency. The device holder is removable, allowing the controller to be used on a standalone basis.

The controller is available for $49.95 from Apple.com as well as Amazon and Best Buy and requires a device running iOS 7 or later.

This is just one of many accessories that Apple has added to its online store over the past few days, alongside new iPhone-connected blood pressure monitors from Withings, the Smart Panda educational playset, new charging accessories from Mophie, Belkin, and Anker, the Netgear Orbi mesh Wi-Fi system, and more.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and Best Buy.


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Trade-In Survey Claims iPhone Loyalty Down to 8-Year Low

iPhone loyalty has hit its lowest level since 2011 and Samsung has been the main benefactor, claims a new survey conducted by trade-in service BankMyCell.

The survey, cited by CNET, tracked 38,000 people who had traded in iPhones since October 2018 and found that 73 percent upgraded to a later model. The finding suggests iPhone retention rate is down 15.2 percent when compared with data from March 2018.

The survey suggests that 26 percent of people trading in their iPhone X moved to another brand of smartphone, whereas just 7.7 percent of Samsung users switched to an iPhone.

Using data from other companies to supplement its own findings, BankMyCell said iPhone loyalty is at its lowest since 2011, while the all-time high for iPhone retention was 92 percent in 2017, according to the survey.

That shouldn't distract from this survey's small sample size, which consists entirely of people who have used BankMyCell's own online gadget buyback and trade-in service. Claiming that its data reflects overall iPhone retention rates is therefore questionable.

BankMyCell's data also contrasts with a January 2019 CIRP survey which found that 91 percent of iOS users upgraded to another iPhone. On releasing its report, CIRP additionally said that loyalty for both iOS and Android has steadily increased, reaching the highest levels last quarter that it has ever measured.


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‘Sky: Children of the Light’ Now Available on iPhone and iPad

Sky: Children of the Light, by Journey developer thatgamecompany, is now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Its release follows last year's launch of the beta version of the game, titled Sky: Light Awaits.


The title was first unveiled on stage in 2017 during Apple's headline iPhone X event. Originally it was billed as an Apple TV-only game that would support single-finger play using the Siri Remote, but the developers have since focused on getting the game out for iPhone and iPad users first.

According to the Sky website, the game's "coming soon" to Android, Mac, Apple TV, PC, and consoles. Sky was originally supposed to come out for iOS on July 11 but last-minute issues caused a weeklong delay.


Sky: Children of the Light is free to download on the App Store [direct link], and offers a variety of in-app purchases starting at $0.99.


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Plex Gains HDR Support on Apple TV, Face ID/Touch ID Support on iOS

Plex today announced a few updates for its Apple TV and iOS apps, adding notable new features that are worth highlighting.

The Apple TV app now supports HDR video playback, and Plex Pass subscribers can get early access to HDR through the Settings > Advanced section of the app.


According to Plex, HDR support provides sharper video output, better performance, and improved subtitle support.

On iOS devices, the Plex update allows users to log in with either Face ID or Touch ID as an alternative to requiring a passcode for a locked Plex library.

Plex has added new TIDAL features as well, allowing Plex iOS and web app users to listen to 30 second clips from the TIDAL library for the purpose of searching for and sampling songs even without a TIDAL account. Artist TV, a feature for subscribers, is now also available on the web, Smart VS, the PS4, and the Plex Media Player.

Plex for iOS and Apple TV can be downloaded from the App Store for free. A Plex Pass is priced at $5 per month and unlocks extra features including HDR. [Direct Link]


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Apple Renews ‘Carpool Karaoke’ for a Third Season

Apple is renewing its "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" show for a third season, Apple announced on YouTube today via James Corden's YouTube channel. The new season is already in production and will feature an episode with the cast of hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."

First launched in 2017, "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" is based on the "Carpool Karaoke" segment made popular by late night talk show host James Corden.


Apple's version of the show pairs up celebrities, musicians, athletes, and more, putting them in a car together to sing popular songs.

Last season featured pairings like Jason Sudeikis and the Muppets, Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg, Weird Al paired and Andy Samberg, Nick Offerman and his wife Megan Mullally, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, and more.

While "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" was initially developed as a way to promote Apple Music, Apple has been making the episodes available for free through the TV app. Previously, it was limited to Apple Music subscribers.

The second season of "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" began airing in October 2018, so third season episodes could come this fall.


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Apple Highlights Upcoming 2019 Emoji in Celebration of World Emoji Day

In celebration of World Emoji Day tomorrow, Apple has shared details on new emoji that are coming to iOS devices this fall following the Unicode 12 emoji release.

Unicode 12 brings 59 new emoji characters, 75 with gender variations, and 230 total emojis when gender variations and different skin tones are counted.



Orangutan, sloth, otter, skunk, and flamingo are the new animals included in the update, while new food items include garlic, onion, waffle, falafel, butter, oyster, beverage box, maté, and ice cube.

New faces, gestures, and poses include yawning face, pinching hand, person kneeling, person standing, and new people holding hands options that are both gender and skin tone inclusive.

To celebrate World Emoji Day, Apple is previewing a selection of new emoji coming this fall, revealing the newest designs that bring even more diversity to the keyboard, alongside fun and exciting additions to popular categories of food, animals, activities and smiley faces.

In a major update to the Holding Hands emoji typically used to represent couples and relationships, users will now be able to select any combination of skin tone, in addition to gender, to personalize the people holding hands, opening up more than 75 possible combinations.

Several new accessibility-related emojis are included, such as ear with hearing aid, deaf person, mechanical arm/leg, person with cane, person in wheelchair, guide dog, wheelchair (manual and motorized), and probing cane.

Following Apple’s proposal to the Unicode Consortium last year to introduce more disability-themed emoji, a new guide dog, an ear with a hearing aid, wheelchairs, a prosthetic arm and a prosthetic leg will be available in the emoji keyboard. Celebrating diversity in all its many forms is integral to Apple’s values and these new options help fill a significant gap in the emoji keyboard.

Other miscellaneous emoji include Hindu Temple, auto rickshaw, parachute, ringed planet, diving mask, yo-yo, kite, safety vest, sari, one-piece swimsuit, briefs, shorts, ballet shoes, banjo, diya lamp, axe, drop of blood, bandage, stethoscope, chair, razor, white heart, and circles and squares in various new colors.



A full list of the emoji included in Unicode 12 are listed on the Emojipedia site.

Last year, Apple released new emoji in an iOS 12.1 update released in October, and the launch of new 2019 emoji could follow a similar timeline. New emoji won’t be included in iOS 13 at launch, but could come in one of the first major updates to the new operating system.

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