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CUPERTINO, Sept 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Whenever the new iPhones launch, the inevitable question is: are they worth it? Here’s my quick impressions after a short time with the phones as well as the Apple Watch series 4.

Super-sized iPhone X, anyone?

Apple got into the larger phone craze a little late, but bigger models such as the iPhone Plus models have proven steady sellers, not just for the larger display but the impressive battery life.

Now that the top-of-the-line iPhone X range has a super-sized option, will fans switch over? From enthused Internet reactions, I would say yes.

The previous Plus models have had impressive battery life and the XS Max promises at least one and a half hours more battery life than the standard XS.

The previous gen phones (iPhone 7 and 8) are still available for cheaper but for those who have held off upgrading for years, the iPhone X range might be the better bet.

Why? These phones are the direction Apple is heading. Touch gestures, no more home button and of course, Face ID.

To be truthful, I can’t really tell at first glance how much better the updated display is on the iPhone XS and XS Max — but let’s just say they remain as impressive as the iPhone X.

Build-wise, the phones still have that solid heft that comes from metal and glass while not being too bulky. Apple has also upped the sturdiness — these phones are less easy to damage but glass being glass, get a phone case and screen protector. Please.

The sound has improved a lot in iPhones over the last few generations, from the 7 models upwards. But Apple has made further improvements with stereo wide sound to the point you will likely never need one of those tiny Bluetooth speakers to amplify sound.

What will really sell the phone for many people is the camera. With a 12MP telephoto as well as 12MP wide-angle lens combo, Apple promises even better photos as well as the ability to adjust depth-of-field for that pleasing blurred background Instagrammers love so much.

If you want the best iPhones money can buy, these are of course the ones to get. But are they worth the hefty price tag? It depends on how you look at it.

Apple iPhones have a far longer software support cycle — you could, at the very least, keep your phone around for three years. Five-year-old iPhones aren’t unheard of either.

Android support cycles tend not to go beyond two years — paying more for an iPhone is really not just paying for premium materials and 5-year-long software support. It also means being able to buy accessories and get it repaired almost anywhere in the world.

Already on an iPhone X? You can hold onto your device as the improvements are still more incremental than that big a leap, unless you really want a bigger iPhone X.

The iPhone XR is the cheaper, but not cheap alternative to the iPhone XS. Camera-wise it has the same 12MP wide-angle sensor, minus the second 12MP telephoto lens on the XS models.

What the iPhone XS also has is more choices colour-wise. Why on the iPhone XR and not the iPhone XS? The simpler reason is that the space-grade aluminium on the iPhone XR is cheaper to mass produce in different colours than the iPhone XS expensive metal and glass chassis.

The phone has a slightly thicker bezel than the sleek one you get on the XS pair but the Liquid Retina display is still very impressive. You get the Touch ID features, speedy new processor, a very good camera — all without paying the extra US$200 (RM827) for the iPhone XS.

And like its pricier siblings, the XR will have the same software support and access to Apple’s huge ecosystem.

Apple Watch gets a redesign

While some clamour for a more traditional, circular watch design for the Apple Watch, I think the square design makes sense. It’s easier to display text, for one and I find it a pleasant display for photos.

The new watches get a new larger display and putting the old and new watches side by side, you can see that the new watches aren’t at all bulky despite the bigger displays.

You get more screen size as well as zippier performance — I found that scrolling through apps was discernibly smoother than the previous gen.

Despite the more powerful processor, Apple promises that battery life for the new watch will not be compromised. Faster, yes, but less battery life? No.

For previous Apple Watch users, you can still use your older bands though some of the newer ones are worth looking at if you think your band selection needs a refresh.

Only sad thing is that the cellular watch is taking its time coming to Malaysian shores thanks to Malaysia’s telcos being slow to offer eSIMs, unlike neighbouring Singapore’s Singtel.

I’d say it’s worth the upgrade to get the new watch if you’re still on the original or second series. Series 3, however, is still very good value, with the only thing you need to live without being the new heart sensors as well as the fall detection feature. The fall detection might make an Apple Watch series 4 a great gift for your gran and other elderly relatives.

To buy or not to buy?

The good (or bad, depending on how you see it) news is the devices will probably take at least a month to arrive on Malaysian shores so you can have a good mull over whether they’re worth it.

iPhone X users can skip the upgrade but if you’re on a 6 or older, it might be time to look at the cheaper 8 models or maybe the iPhone XR.

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.

WASHINGTON, August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple Inc told US lawmakers that its iPhones do not listen to users without their consent and do not allow third-party apps to do so either, after lawmakers asked the company if its devices were invading users’ privacy.

Representatives Greg Walden, Marsha Blackburn, Gregg Harper and Robert Latta wrote to Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc chief executive Larry Page in July, citing concerns about reports that smartphones could “collect ‘non-triggered’ audio data from users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri.’”

In a letter to Walden, an Oregon Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Apple said iPhones do not record audio while listening for Siri wakeup commands and Siri does not share spoken words.

Apple said it requires users to explicitly approve microphone access and that apps must display a clear signal that they are listening.

The letters, in which lawmakers cited reports suggesting third-party applications had access to and used ‘non-triggered’ data without users’ knowledge, followed congressional hearings in April into Facebook Inc’s privacy practices, which included testimony by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

 

SAN JOSE, Calif., June 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Apple will offer more ways for people to limit the time they spend on iPhones while introducing features designed to make its products even more indispensable – a paradox that emerged Monday as Apple executives previewed new versions of free software due out this fall.

The forthcoming controls are aimed at addressing criticism that devices are becoming increasingly addictive and distracting, especially for children.

Experts worry that all the flashy colors and beeps give users short-term, feel-good rewards while increasing stress in the long run.

Yet Apple made it clear it also hopes to make its devices and services even more alluring – and potentially irresistible – by creating new avenues for its digital assistant, Siri, to serve as a backup brain for users.

The company is also creating more entertainment options and new ways to communicate, including group video chats through FaceTime and more options for the iPhone X’s animated emojis.

People have become so dependent on technology that it’s unlikely any company will be able to solve the addiction problem, but they can help keep it from getting worse, Gartner analyst Brian Blau said.

The best hope, he said, is for technology to help people enjoy life and then get out of the way.

“Apple at least seems to be hearing what people are saying and trying to do something about it,” he said.

Apple’s new controls will expand on the “Do Not Disturb” options on the iPhone and iPad.

The display can also be set to dim automatically just before bedtime. Users can also block app notifications from showing up on the home screen not only based on time of day, which they can do now, but by location, such as when visiting the playground with their kids.

Other features will provide weekly reports on how much time people are spending looking at their screen each month. Users will be able to set daily time limits on specific apps.

Last month, Google revealed plans to force Android phones into “shush” mode when placed facedown and have the screen show only grayscale colors late at night.

Other highlights during Apple’s annual software preview include the following options.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2018 (News Wires) - Get shown news tailored to your preferences with the Google News app, now available for iPhones and iPads.

The new Google News app that was first teased at the company's I/O developer conference last week has just rolled out to iOS; it's also already available for Android and the web in 127 countries.

Google calls it an artificial-intelligence-powered news app, but what do they actually mean?

The world wide web launched nearly 30 years ago, so the amount of content available to searchers is massive; in fact there are over 2 billion websites, not to mention social media posts and video footage.

A blog post from the company describes how AI is a way for them to “find the best of human intelligence - the great reporting done by journalists around the globe,” using AI to help searchers sift through the haystack and find the right needle.

The Google News app is divided into parts. There's “For You”, which is essentially a way for a user to teach the app what interests them.

Five stories that the app thinks you may like will appear; click on websites and articles and Google will increasingly understand what is of interest to you and present that at the top of the feed next time.

“Full Coverage” is a feature that will give a complete overview of what's available regarding a certain headline from “different sources, videos, local news reports, FAQs, social commentary, and a timeline for stories that have played out over time.”

Then there's a more manual approach, the Newsstand tab. Here users can select their favorite news sources and access over a thousand magazine titles, which come in a mobile version.

Furthermore, there's the option of subscribing to these aggregators via a user's Google account, rather than filling in details and credit card numbers each time.

The company also outlines that soon, with the “Subscribe with Google platform (launched as a part of the Google News Initiative), you'll get access to your paid content everywhere - on all platforms and devices, on Google News, Google Search, and on publishers' own websites.”

The app is rolling out across 127 countries through next week.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Late last year, Samsung had released a Galaxy Note8 video that basically tells iPhone users to grow up. Somewhere between the scenes, you’ll notice a guy with a “notch” haircut which is a clear jab at the iPhone X.

Samsung is back again with yet another video to promote the Galaxy S9 and S9+. This time it carries a special message for iPhone users that are affected by Apple’s force throttling issue.

The video shows a woman that’s struggling with her old iPhone 6 that’s slow to load anything. After a series of cumbersome events, she then went to an Apple Store for a quick fix. She was told that she can turn off the “performance management feature“ but it could lead to unexpected shutdowns. The “Apple Genius” then told her that she could just upgrade her phone and you probably know how this video would end.