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NEW YORK, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple and Google want to help you spend less time on their phones - really. Like that time you checked Facebook at 3 a.m. Stats don't lie.

Their new tools for managing screen time will let you see how often you picked up the phone after bedtime or how long you're on Instagram at work (shame on you). Apple's tools also let you control how long your kids spend on their devices, if you're concerned that screens are taking time away from sleep, homework or exercise.

Apple's tools launch Tuesday as part of the free iOS 12 software update for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. Google's controls are being tested on its Pixel-branded Android phones.

Here's how the controls work:

FOR THE KIDS

Apple's new controls for kids let you manage their time on their own devices, such as an iPad or a hand-me-down iPhone. Once you've got them set up, you can use your iPhone to check when your children are on their devices and what apps or websites they're using. You can restrict particular classes of apps and even establish a quiet period when most apps shut down.

That latter "Downtime" feature is promising, though it has a few shortcomings. For one thing, it only lets you choose a single block of time during the day, so if you're blocking late-night hours, you can't set a separate downtime for school hours. Plus, your selection applies seven days a week; you can't set different hours for weekends unless you want to manually change the settings every Friday and Monday.

A new "Screen Time" feature lets you establish time limits for categories of apps, such as entertainment or games. In this case, limits can be different on weekends. You can also set limits app by app, or for specific websites, but it's tricky. From the Screen Time settings, tap the chart at the top to get a list of apps and websites. Tap on an app or site, and look for "Add Limit" at the bottom.

Songs or podcasts playing in the background don't count toward limits. If your kid has both an iPhone and an iPad, Screen Time can track time spent on both devices against your limits.

When apps run out of time, their icons go dark and the apps won't send notifications. You can exempt useful apps, such as e-books or homework sites - or messaging and phone service for emergencies - from the downtime limits.

It's best to configure all this from your own device using Apple's "Family Sharing" feature, although Apple will also let you set up limits directly on your children's devices. Either way, you'll need a passcode specifically for Screen Time. Be sure to pick one that's different from your phone's passcode, which your kids probably already know.

Kids can ask for more time with a few taps. If you ignore or decline the request, Screen Time isn't supposed to let them keep asking. But for the moment, kids can just reopen the app to bug you with another request. Get ready for a digital version of "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

Apple already had parental controls for blocking R-rated movies, adult websites and podcasts with explicit language, but the settings were buried. In iOS 12, they're part of Screen Time. You'll need to them on manually, or your kid can still watch R and NC-17 movies.

What you won't get from Apple is any help in determining what kinds of limits to set. In fact, the clock is initially set to zero, forcing parents to make choices right off the bat instead of working from default limits. Apple says recommendations among experts vary.

Ultimately, it's best to have a conversation with your kids about screen time. But having software block an app can be easier than pulling a device out of a child's hands.

FOR THE ADULTS

You can set the same limits for your own device, but it requires self-discipline. Want more Instagram? No problem - just tap for extra time. If you really need help, ask a friend or family member to set that Screen Time passcode and keep it secret.

Google has similar controls, called Digital Wellbeing, but they're intended for adults (among other things, there's no passcode, which limits their usefulness for setting limits on kids). This feature is currently only available on the company's own Pixel phones , although Google plans to make it more broadly available in a forthcoming Android update called Pie.

ALL ABOUT THE SCREEN

Another Android feature will let you leech the color from your screen after a certain hour. This option, called "Grayscale," turns everything monochrome, rendering apps - and, heck, the entire phone to some extent - less appealing, presumably making it easier to put the phone down. Apple has a similar setting, although it's buried in the Accessibility settings for disabled users.

Google and Apple features also let you turn your screen amber during designated times. That reduces blue light, which can suppress melatonin and make it tougher to go to sleep.

Ultimately, though, technological tweaks can only go so far in helping you resist technology's allure. It's just like your desire to exercise more, eat better or get more sleep: It comes down to priority and discipline. At most, these tools can nudge you in the right direction.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple was expected to unveil new iPhones, playing up eye-grabbing edge-to-edge screens in a bid to strengthen its position in a largely saturated global smartphone market.

Apple has remained mum about revelations planned for the event at its spaceship campus in Silicon Valley, but the timing fits its pattern of annually introducing iPhone updates.

In a first for Apple, the event will be streamed live on Twitter.

Speculation includes talk that Apple will introduce three new iPhone models infused with features from a premium iPhone X that debuted last year with a $1,000 price tag.

Top among those features will likely be edge-to-edge screens that promise to provide about 30 per cent more viewing space without increasing the size of overall handsets.

“I think they are trying to set a new high bar,” analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy said of new iPhones expected to offer more display without increasing the size of the handset.

“The big thing is going to be how they fit such a massive screen into such a small device.”

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple is set to unveil new iPhones, aiming to gain fresh momentum in the premium segment of a global smartphone market showing signs of fatigue.

In its usual secretive style, Apple has remained mum about revelations planned for Wednesday's event at its spaceship campus in Silicon Valley, but the timing fits its pattern of annually introducing new iPhone models.

Speculation includes talk that Apple will introduce three new iPhone models, infusing some with features from a premium iPhone X that debuted last year with a $1,000 price tag.

While the iPhone has made Apple the world's most valuable company worth more than $1 trillion, it has slipped to third place among smartphone makers as Chinese-based Huawei has grabbed the number two spot.

Still, analysts say Apple has a formula that works with a loyal customer base and steady sales.

"There is nothing in their product line-up that isn't working for them in the premium segment of the market, so there is no imperative for them to break that mold," NPD analyst Stephen Baker said of Apple likely sticking with modest improvements in new iPhones this year

"They gobble up most of the profits. I don't think they are under any pressure at all."

Technalysis Research chief analyst Bob O'Donnell agreed that Apple is fine with holding its niche in the market.

"Apple doesn't have to prove anything, other than that they are willing to segment the market more," he said, while pointing out that the company will likely be "offering a wider array of choices."

WASHINGTON, Sept 8, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump called Saturday for Apple to make its products in the US instead of China to avoid suffering the consequences of his trade war with Beijing.

Trump has repeatedly called for companies to move production to the United States, or to keep it there, while pushing aggressive trade actions aimed at narrowing the US trade deficit, which he equates with theft from Americans.

"Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China - but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive," Trump tweeted.

"Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting!"

But the higher cost of wages in the United States could offset the benefits Apple might gain by avoiding tariffs affecting its products manufactured in China.

The Trump administration has placed punitive tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods and threatened to tax all Chinese imports to the United States.

US businesses have become increasingly concerned about the tariffs, which are raising prices for manufacturers and could hurt the economy.

But Trump has been unapologetic, insisting that his tough tactics will work.

 

CUPERTINO, Sept 8, 2018 - Apple Inc plans to create an online tool for police to formally request data about its users and to assemble a team to train police about what data can and cannot be obtained from the iPhone maker, according to a company letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, dated September 4, was from Apple General Counsel Kate Adams to US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

Apple declined to comment beyond the letter.

Apple can and does provide some user data, such as data stored in its iCloud online service, to law enforcement officials if they make a valid legal request.

But Apple has sparred with US law enforcement officials because it encrypts its devices in such a way that Apple cannot access the devices if asked to do so.

The company said in its letter that it had responded to 14,000 US law enforcement requests last year, including 231 “domestic emergency requests,” that it largely addressed within 20 minutes of receipt “regardless of the time of day or night.”

Apple previously handled those requests via email, a company spokesman confirmed. By the end of this year, Apple will provide an online tool for law enforcement officials to make and track requests, according to its letter.

CUPERTINO, Sept 7, 2018 - Apple Inc plans to create an online tool for police to formally request data about its users and to assemble a team to train police about what data can and cannot be obtained from the iPhone maker, according to a company letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, dated September 4, was from Apple General Counsel Kate Adams to US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

Apple declined to comment beyond the letter.

Apple can and does provide some user data, such as data stored in its iCloud online service, to law enforcement officials if they make a valid legal request.

But Apple has sparred with US law enforcement officials because it encrypts its devices in such a way that Apple cannot access the devices if asked to do so.

 

 

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