Belkin Halts Sales of ‘InvisiGlass Ultra’ Screen Protector for iPhone X Following Widespread Customer Complaints

Belkin has temporarily halted sales of its InvisiGlass Ultra screen protector for iPhone X after numerous complaints about it cracking way too easily.


The $39.95 screen protector is no longer available to purchase from Belkin's website or Apple's online store after dozens of customers complained about it cracking in normal usage conditions and without ever dropping their devices. We're told it has also been pulled from shelves at Apple retail stores around the world.

Here's one customer review from Belkin's website:
I purchased this at the Apple Store a little over a month ago and had them install it using their machine. Installation was quick and the fit on my iPhone X was flawless. I loved the glass feel and everything was fine until a couple days ago when I lightly tapped on the top portion of the screen with my pen and it cracked! There are 3 crack lines coming from the initial crack point. I am very disappointed in the durability of this product to say the least.
When we first reached out to Belkin about the InvisiGlass Ultra's many one-star reviews in November, a company spokesperson informed us that it had not identified any issues with the screen protector at the time. It has since changed tune.

"We have been constantly testing this product since we released the first generation of it timed to iPhone X availability and things have evolved since you and I last spoke," a Belkin spokesperson informed MacRumors. "We identified some improvements to be made in the next generation of this product."

A new and hopefully improved version of the InvisiGlass Ultra screen protector for the iPhone X will be available to purchase from Apple in January and from Belkin around January or February, according to the spokesperson.

Belkin said it considers "product quality and consumer feedback of paramount importance" and said that customers who have any questions should contact the company directly or reach out to their local Apple store. Belkin didn't specify if customers will be eligible for a refund, but hopefully it honors these requests.

The original InvisiGlass Ultra uses 0.21mm ion-strengthened glass from iPhone display glass manufacturer Corning. Belkin said the screen protector improved the iPhone X's scratch resistance by up to three to five times, with up to a 25 percent increase in protection against cracking and breakage from drops.

The InvisiGlass Ultra was released in late October alongside Belkin's anti-glare and tempered glass screen protectors for iPhone X, which both remain available to purchase for $19.95 and $24.95 respectively.

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Report Claims iPhone X Sales Not as Strong as Expected in the U.S.

Sources in the semiconductor packaging and testing service industry claim that pre-orders for the iPhone X are not as strong as expected in some markets, such as the U.S., Taiwan, and Singapore, although supply remains tight in other markets including Japan (via DigiTimes).

In contrast, Apple Watch sales are said to have been impressive across the board, with shipment estimates reaching 27 million units, which is higher than an earlier forecast putting the number around 23 to 25 million units.

iPhone X shipments are expected to reach 30-35 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017 and level out or dip slightly going into next year, according to the same sources from the upstream supply chain.

Today's report casts a different light on steady improvements in iPhone X supplies which have seen shipping estimates fall to 1 to 2 weeks in several countries. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently shares accurate information from Apple's supply chain, the supply increase is due to better-than-expected improvements in production since the device's launch, rather than weakening demand.

As a result of the improved production, Kuo believes iPhone X shipments in the fourth calendar quarter could be higher than previous estimates, although he too expects the acceleration to cause shipments in the first quarter of 2018 to be flat or slightly lower compared to the fourth quarter.

Apple is rumored to be launching a trio of new iPhone models in 2018, including 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models with OLED displays and a 6.1-inch model with an LCD display.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, iPhone X

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Hulu Drops Price of Commercial Free Plan for Apple Subscribers From $13.99 to $11.99

Customers who signed up for a "No Commercials" Hulu streaming plan via an iOS device or Apple TV have been paying $13.99, a $2 premium over the cost of the subscription plan if purchased via the web.

Starting this week, Hulu has dropped the $13.99 subscription price to $11.99, so customers who subscribe via an Apple device using iTunes billing will now pay the same price as other Hulu customers.


Hulu informed subscribers about the change through emails that went out yesterday. Beyond the emails, Hulu offered no explanation for the sudden price drop, which was originally in place because of the cut Apple takes from all App Store purchases, including subscriptions.

Prior to 2016, Apple took a 30 percent cut of all transactions, but in late 2016, Apple cut that in half for video subscription apps. Apple now takes a 15 percent cut of subscription fees for subscriptions for apps like Netflix and Hulu that are purchased via the App Store.

Hulu's App Store description continues to list $13.99 as the price for the No Commercials plan, but when you sign up in app, it's providing the new $11.99 price tag.

Hulu's Limited Commercial plan continues to be priced at $7.99 on Apple devices. $7.99 is the standard price on the Hulu website as well, but at the current time, Hulu is offering a promotion that drops the price to $5.99. That promotion is not available in the Hulu apps for Apple TV and iOS.

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Instagram Adds Live Video Support for Direct Messages

Instagram today announced the addition of live video support for Direct Messages. Instagram users can tap the Direct icon, create a live video, and then send it to a friend or a group of friends. There's also an option to for Instagram users to share a live video they're currently watching with friends.

Live videos sent via Direct Message can only be viewed while the live video is ongoing -i it's not watchable after streaming has concluded.

When you're live, just tap the Direct icon at the bottom of the screen and send your live video to friends. You'll also have this option when going live with a friend. Once sent, the recipient will see your live video in their Direct inbox. Friends can only view your video if you're currently live. If your live video is over, your friend will see a message saying the video has ended.

Those who do not want to send live videos to friends in Direct can disable the option in the stories settings.

Instagram says the new live video feature is designed to make it easier for people to watch and send live videos to friends, and it comes as Instagram tests a standalone direct messaging app with a small number of users in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay.

Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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Apple’s Video Team Gains Three More Former Amazon Studios Executives

Three more former Amazon Studios executives are joining Apple as the company continues to work to build out its video team, reports Variety.

Tara Sorensen, who previously served as the head of Amazon kids programming, is taking on a similar role at Apple. Sorensen will report directly to former Sony executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who are running Apple's video team under iTunes chief Eddy Cue.


Amazon international development executive Carina Walker and business affairs chief Tara Pietri are also leaving Amazon for Apple. Pietri will lead Apple's legal affairs division, while Walker will serve as an international creative executive under Morgan Wandell. Wandell, also from Amazon Studios, leads international creative development at Apple.

Apple started building its new video division in June of 2017 following the hiring of Erlicht and Van Amburg. The company has been making regular hires for its content team since then, and it has started inking deals for television shows.

So far, Apple has purchased a reboot of Steven Spielberg's sci-fi series "Amazing Stories," an untitled "morning show drama" that will star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and an untitled space drama that "explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended" created by Ronald D. Moore, known for Battlestar Galactica.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Apple Being Sued for ‘Purposefully Slowing Down Older iPhone Models’

Apple yesterday confirmed that it has implemented power management features in older iPhones to improve performance and prevent unexpected shutdowns as the battery in the devices starts to degrade, and this admission has now led to a class action lawsuit, which was first noticed by TMZ.

Los Angeles residents Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas, represented by Wilshire Law Firm, this morning filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California accusing Apple of slowing down their older iPhone models when new models come out.

Defendant breached the implied contracts it made with Plaintiffs and Class Members by purposefully slowing down older iPhone models when new models come out and by failing to properly disclose that at the time of that the parties entered into an agreement.
According to the lawsuit, Bogdanovich and Speas have owned the iPhone 7 and several older iPhone models and have noticed that their "older iPhone models slows (sic) down when new models come out." The two say they did not consent to have Apple slow down their devices, nor were they able to "choose whether they preferred to have their iPhones slower than normal."

They're seeking both California and Nationwide class action certification, which would cover all persons residing in the United States who have owned iPhone models older than the iPhone 8.

Apple yesterday addressed speculation that it throttles the performance of older iPhones with degraded batteries, confirming that there are power management features in place to attempt to prolong the life of the iPhone and its battery. Apple implemented these features last year in iOS 10.2.1.

When an iPhone's battery health starts to decline, the battery is not capable of supplying enough power to the iPhone in times of peak processor usage, which can lead to shutdowns, Apple says.
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."
The lawsuit seemingly misrepresents Apple's original statement and suggests the plaintiffs and their lawyers do not understand Apple's explanation for how iPhone power management features work and why they were implemented, given the lawsuit's suggestion that it's tied to the release of new devices. As explained by Apple, when certain iPhone models hit a peak of processor power, a degraded battery is sometimes unable to provide enough juice, leading to a shutdown. Apple says it "smooths out" these peaks by limiting the power draw from the battery or by spreading power requests over several cycles.

Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time by nature, and this eventual wearing out addressed by the power management features is unrelated to the release of new iPhone models.

Apple does not deny that iPhones with older batteries can sometimes see slower performance, but power management is a feature that Apple says has been implemented to improve overall performance by preventing an iPhone from shutting down completely rather than a feature that's been implemented to force users to upgrade by deliberately slowing devices.

As many people have suggested, Apple has done a poor job of explaining why it has implemented these power feature management and how the state of the battery ultimately affects iPhone performance. More transparent information about battery health should be provided, and customers should be better informed when their batteries start to degrade so they can choose whether or not to pay for a replacement. Apple may also need to relax its policies on when customers can pay for a battery replacement, as currently, a battery can't be replaced unless in-store equipment registers it as near failing.

An iPhone's battery is designed to retain 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. A defective battery that does not meet those parameters can be replaced for free for customers who have AppleCare+ or who have devices still under warranty.

For out of warranty customers, Apple offers a battery replacement service, which costs $79 plus $6.95 for shipping.

The lawsuit is demanding the replacement of the old iPhone and compensation for loss of use, loss of value, the purchase of new batteries, ascertainable losses in the form of the deprivation of the value of the iPhone, and overpayments because Plaintiffs and Class Members "did not receive what they paid for" when Apple interfered with the usage of their iPhones.

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14 and 18-Core iMac Pros May Arrive Sooner Than Expected

While deliveries of the first 8 and 10-core iMac Pro orders are set to begin as soon as next week, customers who opted for upgraded 14 or 18-core options were given shipping estimates ranging from 6 to 8 weeks for the machine when ordering.

It appears the 6 to 8 week estimate may not be quite accurate for all orders, as MacRumors reader Adam, who ordered a top-of-the-line machine with an 18-core processor, has received an updated delivery estimate of January 8 to January 9, which will be just a little over three weeks after the iMac Pro was first was ordered.


MacRumors forum member gobluejd has also received a sooner-than-expected shipping estimate for his 14-core iMac Pro, which will arrive on January 9 to 10 instead of the end of January.


Other customers who purchased 14 and 18-core machines may also be seeing updated delivery estimates from Apple, though on Apple's site, iMac Pro orders placed today still list the same 6 to 8 week shipping estimate for high-end iMac Pro configurations.

It's likely that once initial orders go out, Apple will be able to improve those shipping estimates for new orders.

Customers who ordered 8 and 10-core machines will begin receiving their orders in the near future, as some iMac Pro orders started shipping just this morning in the United States and Canada.

The iMac Pro is still listed as unavailable in retail stores. Apple said the new machine would be available in stores by the middle of this week, a deadline that's been missed, but we could still see them in pop up in stores on Friday or Saturday.

Apple's iMac Pro is a workstation-class machine aimed at professional users who have demanding workflows. The iMac Pro supports up to an 18-core Xeon W processor, 128GB ECC RAM, an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics card with 16GB of HBM2 memory, and up to 4TB of SSD storage.

Pricing on the iMac Pro starts at $4,999 and goes up to $13,199 for a fully maxed out model.

Related Roundup: iMac Pro
Buyer's Guide: iMac Pro (Buy Now)

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Ring’s Video Doorbell 2 Brings Battery-Powered 1080p Video Security to Your Front Door

Earlier this year, popular smart doorbell and home security company Ring debuted its Video Doorbell 2, equipped with a motion sensing 1080p camera, a removable battery, and two-way audio capabilities. Integration with Ring's mobile app lets you see activity at your door from anywhere, and even communicate with visitors.


The Video Doorbell 2 is priced at $199 and can either replace an existing wired doorbell or be freshly installed in either a wired or a battery-powered configuration.

We've been testing one out over the past month to see how it works on a standalone basis and in conjunction with the Floodlight Cam and Chime Pro accessory we reviewed a couple of months ago, so read on to see what we thought of it.
Continue reading "Ring’s Video Doorbell 2 Brings Battery-Powered 1080p Video Security to Your Front Door"

Apple Working on EKG Heart Monitor for Future Apple Watch Models

Future Apple Watch models could include a sensor that allows for continuous electrocardiograph monitoring to better detect serious heart conditions, reports Bloomberg.

Apple is said to be testing a version of the Apple Watch that records the electrical activity of the heart using two fingers on either side of the device, a test that is known as an electrocardiogram or EKG/ECG. With an EKG, sensors detect electrical changes in the skin caused by the rhythm of your heart beat.

A version being tested requires users to squeeze the frame of the Apple Watch with two fingers from the hand that's not wearing the device, one of the people said. It then passes an imperceptible current across the person's chest to track electrical signals in the heart and detect any abnormalities like irregular heart rates.
EKGs today are most often done in medical offices and hospitals, but there are some continuous-wear EKG monitors on the market for those who need more frequent monitoring. With the ability to detect irregular heart beats and other oddities, the Apple Watch would be able to better predict and monitor serious heart conditions. Such functionality has the potential to allow people to catch and treat heart problems early.

Bloomberg says development is ongoing on the EKG functionality for the Apple Watch, and Apple could still decide to scrap it. With the first Apple Watch, Apple reportedly dropped several sensors because they weren't accurate enough.

Apple has taken a deep interest in heart health in recent months, and in November launched a ResearchKit-based Apple Heart Study app in partnership with Stanford University's School of Medicine. The aim of the study is to determine whether the existing heart rate monitoring functionality of the Apple Watch can accurately detect irregular heart rhythms.

It's not clear if adding EKG functionality to the Apple Watch would require Apple to get FDA approval. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said in the past that he doesn't want to get the FDA involved with the Apple Watch, but Apple is participating in a pilot program for faster approval of digital health tools.

Just this past November, the FDA approved the EKG Kardia Band from AliveCor, the first official medical-grade accessory designed for the Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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‘Sid Meier’s Civilization VI’ Now Available on iPad

Popular turn-based strategy game Civilization VI made its way to the iPad today thanks to Aspyr Media. The sixth game in the Civilization series, Civilization VI was originally released on Mac and PC in October of 2016.

As with all Civilization games, the aim is to lead a newly-established civilization to glory over many hundreds of years to ultimately become a world power.

Civilization VI offers new ways to interact with your world, expand your empire across the map, advance your culture, and compete against history's greatest leaders to build a civilization that will stand the test of time. Play as one of 20 historical leaders including Roosevelt (America) and Victoria (England).

Cities now physically expand across the map, active research in technology and culture unlocks new potential, and competing leaders will pursue their own agendas based on their historical traits as you race for one of five ways to achieve victory in the game.
Civilization VI is compatible with the iPad Air 2, the fifth-generation iPad, and all iPad Pro models. Aspyr has made Civilization VI free to download and has included a sort of in-game trial period.

The first 60 turns of the game can be played for free, but after that, players must purchase the full game for $60, which is likely to be a surprise to many who have come to expect iOS games to cost less than their PC counterparts.

Aspyr is, however, offering a limited time discount, dropping the price from $60 to $30 through January 4. Civilization VI can be downloaded from the App Store. [Direct Link]
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