Apple partners with A24, the studio behind ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Hereditary’

Apple has signed a multi-year agreement with A24, which will see the film studio producing multiple movies for Apple.

Not much else is known about the deal yet — not the number of films, their genres or the talent involved. Still, the deal suggests that Apple is going to be investing seriously in original films, along with TV shows. Over the past year or so, Apple’s been releasing a steady drumbeat of content announcements, for shows like an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels, a drama set in the world of morning TV starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and a series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. What’s less clear is how Apple plans to distribute theses shows and movies, though there have been reports that it will give the content away for free to people who own iOS and tvOS devices. A24, meanwhile, is a relatively
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Apple’s Final Cut Pro X just got a big update — here’s what’s new

Apple’s pro-grade video editing tool Final Cut Pro X is getting a big update today.

While much of FCPX is getting polished up in this release, the biggest change is what it allows for moving forward: workflow extensions. These extensions allow third-party apps and services to hook right into FCPX and build on top of the native interface and functionality. Apple partnered with three companies to build out extensions for launch day:
  • Frame.io: Frame.io lets video producers share in-progress edits, allowing collaborators to view the project as it comes together and drop comments, frame-by-frame annotations and ideas directly into the relevant, time-synced section of your timeline. Frame.io has been building out this functionality within their own app for quite a while now — this new workflow extension just brings all of it right into FCPX to keep you from having to constantly switch back and forth.

MacBook Pro with updated GPU is now available

Apple recently unveiled a bunch of new products during a press event in New York. But the company also quietly shared a press release with new configurations for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Customers can now get a MacBook Pro with an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Vega 20 graphics processing unit.

Before this update, users could only get Radeon Pro 555X or 560X GPUs. Those options are still available, but you can now pay a bit more money to get much better GPUs. As the name suggests, Vega is a new generation of graphics processors. The iMac Pro comes with desktop-class Vega processors — the Vega 56 and Vega 64. The Vega 16 or Vega 20 are less powerful than the iMac Pro GPUs. But they also fit in a laptop and consume much less power. In particular, Radeon Pro GPUs use GDDR5 memory just like the PlayStation 4
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Netflix is testing a mobile-only subscription to make its service more affordable

Netflix is testing a cut-price mobile-only subscription as it explores new packages aimed at widening its appeal in Asia and other emerging markets.

CEO Reed Hastings told Bloomberg last week that the company would test lower-priced packages and it hasn’t taken long for those experiments to come to light. The first reports are from Malaysia, where Netflix quietly rolled out a mobile-only tier priced at RM17, or around $4, each month. That’s half the price of the company’s next cheapest package — ‘Basic’ — which retails for RM33, or around $7.90, per month in Malaysia. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the Malaysia trial. They added that similar trials are “running in a few countries” although they declined to provide details. It remains to be seen if this new subscription tier will roll out to other parts of the world.

Snap is being probed over its IPO because some investors are salty about losing money

Here’s something I didn’t expect to read today. The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Snap for details on its IPO apparently in connection with a lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders who claim the company played down its rivalry with Instagram.

Reuters first reported on the subpoenas which Snap has confirmed. Precise details aren’t clear at this point but Snap told Reuters that the probe is likely “related to the previously disclosed allegations asserted in the class action about our IPO disclosures.” Snap went public last March with sharing popping over 40 percent on its debut to give it a valuation of $30 billion. It’s market cap today is a more modest $8.9 billion due to numerous factors including, most prominently, the efforts of rival Facebook to compete with Instagram, which has rolled out a series of features that mimic Snap’s core user
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Live streaming studio, Culture Genesis, launches its first show, the quiz-based Trivia Mob

A new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging to refashion the Los Angeles studio system for the digital age forming companies that combining live-streamed video, podcasts, and the newfound social media celebrities to craft entertainment for a new breed of consumer.

Two of those startup founders, longtime Apple executive Cedric Rogers and former developer for VEVO and MLB digital Shaun Newsum, are now pulling the curtains back on the first fruit of their production studio, Culture Genesis, with the launch of TriviaMob — a new quiz show targeting urban audiences.

The two creators envision their company as a combination of 106 & Park and Jeopardy with questions aimed at cultural references for the Highsnobiety and Complex set.

TriviaMob banner

TriviaMob players can win up to $10,000 in cash by competing individually or as part of a group (or “mob”) to win collective prizes by tuning in and competing to shows that stream

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Amazon expands its assortment of Apple inventory, including the latest devices

Amazon has signed a new deal with Apple that will allow the retailer to increase the selection of Apple products on its site, according to a report from CNET which Amazon also confirmed. The deal will give Apple-authorized resellers the ability to sell a wide range of devices on Amazon – including Apple’s recently launched iPad Pro, iPhone XS and XR, and Apple Watch Series 4, in addition to Beats headphones.

Previously, these products were only available through Amazon’s third-party marketplace sellers at various price points, or not available at all, CNET noted. Amazon confirmed the deal to TechCrunch in a statement.

“Amazon is constantly working to enhance the customer experience, and one of the ways we do this is by increasing selection of the products we know customers want,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “We look forward to expanding our assortment of Apple and Beats products globally.”

Apple, so
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This magician brings some serious tricks to the iPad Pro

TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino’s more conventional iPad Pro review is a must-read if you’re thinking of forking out for the device — tricks not included.

Sneaker marketplace GOAT announces an AR-centric Black Friday giveaway

Black Friday giveaways have become a tradition for online sneaker marketplace GOAT. Today it’s announcing the details of this year’s campaign, which will be its first to incorporate augmented reality.

Director of Communications Liz Goodno described this as “the largest digital sneaker event of the year.” The company says it will be offering more than 1,000 prizes, including sneakers like the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Shattered Backboard, KAWSx Air Jordan 4 Retro Black, Pharrell x BBC x NMD Human Race Trail Heart/Mind, plus curated sneaker packs and up to $10,000 in GOAT credit. You can enter the drawing anytime between now and 11:59pm Pacific on Thursday, November 22, with the winners notified at noon on Black Friday. All participants will receive 100 tickets, but you can earn bonus tickets by visiting locations on an interactive GOAT map, which will highlight spots around the world that are tied
GOAT
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Oh So Sweet, the iMac Pro

When companies want to send me their products, I mostly say no. I am not a reviewer — never have been. I say yes, only when I can incorporate these products into my daily flow and use them with a refular cadence. And I don’t really form an opinion — up until I have used the product for about six weeks. The new iMac Pro is one of those products that came for review and is going back today. I have not experienced sadness about sending something back, as I have with this iMac Pro. Continue reading "Oh So Sweet, the iMac Pro"

Luminar nabs former Uber executive to lead LiDAR startup’s business development

Luminar, the buzzy LiDAR startup founded by Austin Russell, has added another high-profile executive to its ranks. This time, Luminar has hired Uber executive Brent Schwarz as its head of business development.

Schwarz, who has been at Luminar for about two months now, comes from Uber by way of self-driving truck startup Otto, which acquired his own LiDAR startup. Schwarz is a veteran in the LiDAR sensor industry. He was vice president of sales and marketing at Velodyne from 2009 to 2012 and helped turn it into a startup that was hand-building LiDAR units into a commercial enterprise. Velodyne has become a major supplier of LiDAR sensors to companies testing autonomous vehicles. Before Velodyne, Schwarz worked at Intel and Magellan Navigation. Schwarz would later launch his own company, Tyto LiDAR, which was purchased by self-driving truck company Otto. Uber acquired Otto in 2016. Schwarz stayed on with Uber after the acquisition, and
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MacBook Air review

For three years, the MacBook Air was conspicuously absent. The ultraportable never left Apple’s site, of course, but we finished keynote after keynote wondering why Apple continued to neglect one of its most popular products, all while overhauling the rest of the MacBook line.

At an event last month in Brooklyn, however, Apple finally acquiesced, delivering the largest single update since the product was introduced ten and a half years prior. In an event stuffed to the gills with an enthusiastic audience, the Air got what was easily the biggest applause break — more than the iPad Pro and certainly more than the Mac Mini. The fan base was clearly ready for a new Air. Getting the Air right is a tricky proposition. Not only is it the slimmest model in the line, it’s also the cheapest, a combination that’s made it a popular selection for frequent travelers and those
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Mac Mini review

At last month’s Apple event, the Mac Mini was greeted like a returning hero. Maybe it was the over the top space advert or the fact that the company had packed the seats of the Brooklyn opera house full of local employees.

Most likely, however, it had at least a little to do with the return of an Apple line that had seemingly been forgotten. Like the MacBook Air, the plucky little desktop had been ostensibly abandoned. In the four years since its last meaningful update, the Mini had been encased in amber, seemingly a relic of Apple’s past.

The phrase in science is “Lazarus taxon,” the return of a grouping that had seemingly been lost to history. Granted, Apple continued to stock the Mini, but in the rapidly evolving world of computer components, a four-year system might as well be an artifact from some long-forgotten ancient civilization.

Among other

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Apple rolls out watchOS 5.1.1 after earlier Apple Watch bricking issues

Apple has rolled out watchOS 5.1.1, less than a week after the company pulled its immediate predecessor, watchOS 5.1, following reports that the software was bricking some Apple Watches. The update also includes bug fixes for the Walkie-Talkie app and an additional issue where some Activity rewards were not displayed. watchOS 5.1 initially went out Tuesday alongside iOS 12.1 but was quickly withdrawn after some complained that their Apple Watch failed to load after installing the software update. Apple confirmed the buggy update affected a “small number” of customers — without elaborating — but that, “any customers impacted should contact AppleCare, but no action is required if the update installed successfully.” watchOS 5.1.1 comes with all the trimmings of watchOS 5.1 — but with some new additions, including Group FaceTime audio calls, new emoji and a range of new watch face
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The iPhone is reportedly getting 5G in 2020

The first 5G phones are set to start arriving next year. Motorola plans to bring next-gen connectivity via a Mod for the Z3, and companies like LG and OnePlus have promised to deliver the tech baked into handsets at some point in 2019. iPhone users, on the other hand, may have to wait a bit longer.

The technology is, of course, an inevitability for Apple (along with everyone else, really), so it’s just a question of when. A new report from Fast Company (via the Verge) puts the timing around a year and half out.

The “source with knowledge of Apple’s plans” put the 5G iPhone’s arrival at some point in 2020, with Intel supplying the tech this time out. Apparently Apple and Intel are going through a bit of a rough patch of late, courtesy of heat/battery issues with the 8060 5G modem. Of course, things aren’t rough

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Apple News will launch a real-time election results hub on November 6

Apple is preparing to launch a new way for its customers to track election results. The company, on 8 PM ET on November 6, will swap out the existing Midterm Elections section in the Apple News app, and replace it with a new Election Night section instead. This section will also replace Apple News’ Digest tab at the bottom-center of the app, in order to lead users directly to the special section where they’ll be able to track the live results, updates on key races, latest developments and more.

The company is partnering with the Associated Press for its real-time election results, as do many news organizations thanks to AP’s history and experience with verifying results. Here, Apple will use that AP data to inform a number of dynamic infographics as well as offer a complete list of federal election results in every state, including House and Senate seats. These
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Apple beats on Q4 earnings thanks to price hikes, stock still falls 7% after-hours

Despite a beat on its Q4 quarterly earnings, Apple shares still managed to take a beating Thursday.

Shares are down 7 percent in after-hours trading after the company released its Q4 quarterly earnings report, detailing $62.90 billion in revenue beating analyst expectations of $61.57 billion, with earnings per share hitting $2.91 beating an expected $2.78 EPS. The results represent a 20 percent year-over-year growth in revenues at the company. The reason for the after-hours drop? Apple forecasted weaker than expected earnings for the holiday quarter. While analysts were expecting revenue guidance to hit $93 million, Apple forecasts between $89M and $93M with a midpoint of $91 million according to Reuters. Apple shipped 46.89 million iPhones this quarter with unit sales staying flat but revenue jumping 29 percent, a result of Apple’s strategy this past year to hike prices of their most high-end devices. The average price of each
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Fitbit earnings beat expectations on strength of smartwatch sales

Fitbit is slowly righting its financial ship, courtesy of a successful push into smartwatch category. The wearable company reported a profit (when adjusted for items such as stock-based compensation) thanks to growing sales in the new category.   

Total revenues rose slightly to $393.6 million in the third quarter compared with the same period last year. The company did report a loss this quarter under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). But it was rosier than in previous quarters and showed that Fitbit is moving in the right direction. Net losses narrowed considerably to $2.1 million from $113.4 million this time last year. A good deal of the company’s revenue is being driven by the shift to smartwatches, which now comprise around half of Fitbit’s total revenue.

It’s a gamble that’s finally starting to pay off for the company. Fitbit launched its first smartwatch in August of last

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How the Apple Watch changed the world

In 2015 Switzerland was fucked. This blunt belief, grunted out by Apple’s Jony Ive and repeated by the media as a death knell for the watch industry, seemed to define a sad truth: that the Swiss watch was dead and Apple pulled the trigger.

Now, three years and four Apple Watches later, was Ive right? Did Apple change the world? And, most importantly, did Switzerland survive?

Yes, but…

As you might have noticed the Swiss watch industry is still standing. The major Swiss houses – LVMH, Richemont, and Swatch Group – are seeing a major uptick in sales, especially in the US. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, sales are up 5.5% year-over-year, a bit of news that was, amusingly, almost buried by the onslaught of Apple Watch Series 4 reviews. This increase of US sales bucked a major trend this year and one
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