Chicago votes to choose between two black women for mayor

Chicago voters went to the polls on Tuesday to choose between two African-American women running for mayor, with the winner of the historic vote inheriting a city steeped in violent crime and wracked by fiscal woes.

Over 200,000 People Subscribed to Apple News+ in First 48 Hours After Launch

Upwards of 200,000 iPhone, iPad, and Mac users signed up for an Apple News+ subscription following the service’s March 25 launch, reports The New York Times.

The number comes from two unnamed sources who provided the figures to The New York Times and asked not to be named.

That’s more than Texture, the service Apple News+ was based on, had during its peak. Apple purchased Texture in 2018 and is shutting it down at the end of May now that Apple News+ has launched.

Apple News+ provides access to more than 200 magazines as well as paywalled news from The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and a few other news publications.

Apple is going to be charging $9.99 per month for Apple News+, but those who subscribed following the event have a 30-day free trial. There are still more than three weeks before customers will be charged, and many may be planning to cancel ahead of when the trial expires.

It’s still not clear how popular Apple News+ will be once that trial period runs out, but many magazines are hoping for the best. Pamela Wassserstein, CEO of New York Media, said that she felt Apple News+ would allow New York magazine, The Cut, and Vulture to reach a “new audience” in an environment that “feels right.”

Apple takes 50 percent of the subscription price from Apple News+, and will be providing the rest to its publishing partners. Media companies will receive an amount based on the amount of time readers are devoting to their content.

This revenue split has been controversial and while many magazines have signed up because Texture worked in a similar way, Apple has been unable to woo major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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Explainer: Can Democratic subpoenas force the release of Mueller’s Trump-Russia report?

Democrats in the House of Representatives are gearing up to issue subpoenas to try to obtain Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and President Donald Trump’s actions related to the inquiry.

Foursnap? Snapchat tries ‘Status’ location check-ins

Today’s teens missed the Foursquare era, so Snapchat is giving them another shot with a new feature to aid in-person meetups. Snapchat is now testing Status, an option to share to the Snap Map a Bitmoji depicting what you’re up to at a certain place. You could show your little avatar playing video games, watching TV, asking friends to hit you up and more. And Snapchat will compile these into a private diary of what you’ve been doing, called Passport

This fixes the biggest problem with Snap Map and many other location check-in apps. Just because someone is down the street doesn’t mean they want you to drop in on them. They could working, in a meeting or on a date. Snapchat Status lets people convey their activity and intention so you can tell the difference between “I’m nearby but stuck with my parents” and “I’m nearby and want to hang out!” As Snapchat refocuses on messaging after Instagram stole its Stories thunder, Status could ensure there’s more to see that makes Snap Map worth opening.

Snapchat Status and Passport were first spotted by reverse-engineering expert and frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong. “Share the Moment with Status,” the introduction to the feature explains. “You can now share where you are or what you’re up to. Your Status will only be visible to friends you share your location with.” To see your status, you choose from reams of poses for your Bitmoji ranging from them reading a book to holding a sign saying “text me?”

Meanwhile, “Passport is Just For You: Passport helps you keep track of the Places you’ve been. Places you set your Status at will be added to your Passport along with who you were there with. Only you ca see your Passport, and you can delete a Place from your history at any time.” Your Status only lasts until you leave a place, but it’s tallied along with the number of countries and cities you’ve check into on your Passport.

A Snap spokesperson confirms that “Yes, we are currently testing new ways for Snapchatters to better communicate on the Snap Map with their friends. This test is running with a percentage of Snapchatters in Australia.” Previously, special Bitmoji were only displayed on the Snap Map involuntarily, like when you were road tripping or flying to a new place; visited somewhere special like a beach, mall or major event; or if there was a breaking news moment.

If you don’t want to use Status or even show up on Snap Map, you can go into ghost mode at any time, plus all your location-based content disappears if you don’t open the app for eight hours. And if you do want to be found, you can check who’s viewed your location or Status in case you need to know who’s blowing you off.

Snap launched Snap Map back in June 2017, basing the idea off its acquisition of French location startup Zenly that it bought for $213 million in cash plus bonuses. Beyond spurring real-world interaction, Snap has also made Snap Map an embeddable way to explore breaking news events or hotspots around the world. Status could provide structured data about your behavior, which could beef up Snapchat’s scrawny repository of ad-targeting information. The app could even try surfacing nearby businesses or discounts.

Snapchat’s tighter-knit social graph and stronger track record on privacy lets it offer features that would freak people out if built by Mark Zuckerberg. Given Facebook is aggressively cloning Snap’s whole product philosophy, from its direct copy of Stories to ephemeral messaging to its premium content hubs Watch and IGTV, Snapchat desperately needs to differentiate. Luckily, Facebook has failed to figure out offline meetups, and has yet to roll out the “Your Emoji” status feature that similarly tries to convey what you’re up to visually but within Messenger instead of a map.

Doubling down on Snap Map is a smart move because its one of the few areas where Facebook can’t follow.

Hands-On With Apple’s New 27-Inch 5K 8-Core iMac

Apple in March introduced a refresh for its 21.5 and 27-inch 4K and 5K iMac models, which did not receive an update in 2018. The new iMac models feature the same design as the previous models, but have upgraded internals, including 8th and 9th-generation Coffee Lake processors from Intel.

In our latest video, we checked out the 27-inch 5K iMac with 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics, and the high-end 3.6GHz 8-core 9th-generation Core i9 Coffee Lake processor.

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Apple hasn’t updated the design of the iMac for six years. The slim unibody design that we’re familiar with was first introduced in November 2012, and since then, there haven’t been any design updates (with the exception of some display changes and port refreshes), which is a bit disappointing.

The 2019 21.5 and 27-inch iMacs continue to feature a slim 5mm display, aluminum stand, aluminum border at the bottom of the machine and relatively thick top and side bezels.

Both iMac sizes feature two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, four USB-A ports, an SD card slot, a headphone jack, and an Ethernet port, with support for one 5K display or two 4K displays. On the 27-inch model, RAM is user upgradeable through a slot in the back of the machine, so upgrading the RAM more affordably after purchase is an option.

The specific model that we tested uses Apple’s highest-end iMac processor, the 9th-generation 8-core version from Intel. It’s outfitted with 16GB RAM, a Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics card, and 512GB of storage, making it a higher-end option priced at $3,449 that’s ideal for creatives and professionals who need a lot of processing and graphics power.

For work like video editing, intensive photo editing, 3D modeling, and other tasks, you’re going to want the best processor and graphics card you can get as these elements are not upgradeable after purchase.

Based on benchmarks, Apple’s new 2019 iMac models offer significant speed improvements over the prior 2017 models. Multi-core performance on the machine we tested is up to 66 percent faster, and while single-core gains aren’t quite as impressive, it’s still approximately 6 to 11 percent faster on average.

This particular high-end iMac with 8-core chip is actually comparable to the 2017 iMac Pro with a 10-core chip. In real-world testing, performance was impressive and the iMac was more than capable of handling our video editing workflow.

Whether or not the 2019 iMac is worth the upgrade depends on your current machine. If you’re using a much older model you’re going to see significant speed improvements with the latest processors, but compared to something like a 2017 iMac, it’s probably not worth shelling out the extra cash at this time because the processors are the bulk of what’s new.

The 27-inch iMac that we tested is ideal for system-intensive workflows, but if you just need a machine for browsing the web, light photo editing, sending email, and other tasks, one of the more affordable 27-inch machines or even the smaller 21.5-inch iMacs will be a better pick.

If you’re in the market for a new iMac and are trying to decide which one to get, make sure to check out our iMac Buyer’s Guide.

What do you think of Apple’s 2019 iMac refresh? Are you picking up a new machine? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer’s Guide: iMac (Buy Now)

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iPhones get a price drop in China

Apple this week lowered the price on a number key hardware lines in China, including AirPods, Macs, iPads and, most notably, the iPhone. The move, noted by CNBC, is believed to be the direct results of a three-percent tax cut that took effect in the country yesterday.

In many cases, however, the impacted product have dropped by even more, including a 500 yuan ($74) price cut to the iPhone XS, marking a nearly six-percent drop for the company’s latest flagship.

Along with an adjustment for tax rates, the drop is likely also due, in part, to a lagging demand for products like the iPhone in the world’s largest smartphone market. Early this year, Apple blamed lower than expected earnings on weak demand for the iPhone in China.

The handset’s revenue dropped 15-percent year-over-year in Q1, with China taking center stage. Among the factors are slowed economic growth in the country and flagging global smartphone sales, as users upgrade their devices less frequently.

Apple is also facing increased global competition from Chinese manufacturers like Huawei, which has quickly been rising the sales ranks to be a top competitor alongside the iPhone and Samsung devices.

Green New Deal doesn’t go far enough

The Green New Deal brings much-needed urgency to the national conversation around the climate crisis, which is without a doubt the biggest threat to life on this planet. The recent resolution introduced into Congress by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey rightly calls for a significant overhaul of our economic system that would drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, alongside a Just Transition framework that would create high-quality jobs while correcting historical racial and economic injustices.

While I applaud the direction proposed in the Green New Deal resolution, it simply does not go far enough. The hard truth is that we must keep more fossil fuels in the ground. Not only that, we must redouble our efforts to keep forests standing — a critical yet oft-overlooked factor in the only promising equations to stop climate catastrophe.

There are two promising paths toward a solution: cut off the billions of dollars still flowing into fossil fuel extraction and expansion; and strengthen the rights of indigenous and frontline communities, which has consistently been proven to be one of the most efficient ways to properly manage forests and natural resources.

On October 8, 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report was released — and it did not pull any punches. The report clearly states that if global temperatures rise by 1.5° Celsius, the impacts will be much worse than previously predicted. The report also said that to have a reasonable chance of staying under 1.5° we must immediately embark on an unprecedented global effort to reshape our economic priorities over the next 12 years. As the biggest carbon polluter in history, the U.S. largely owns this problem — therefore we must lead in the solution.

If you’re in a hole and you want to get out, stop digging.

Regrettably, recent remarks by Senator Feinstein and House Speaker Pelosi dismissing the Green New Deal show that even those often considered allies in the fight against catastrophic climate change are unwilling to marry urgency with action. “If we wait until 2050 to make change, then our Earth is going to die. We will quite literally have an apocalypse,” said 16-year-old Isha Clarke, one of the youths who confronted Sen. Feinstein asking for her support of a Green New Deal. The bottom line is that we need politicians to stand up and fight back against the corporate special interest groups that are compromising our future.

The science is clear. Emissions just from the oil, gas and coal reserves already in production would take the world well beyond 1.5° Celsius. And standing forests, particularly tropical forests, are under constant threat of destruction for profit — despite the fact that they are some of the best protection against climate change that we have (intact forests act as critical carbon sinks, keeping carbon out of our atmosphere).

If you’re in a hole and you want to get out, stop digging. We need an immediate end to the expansion of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure and an end to deforestation. In-depth research makes clear that Wall Street banks, insurance companies and other financiers continue to pump trillions of dollars into the same companies that have been shamelessly profiting off climate destruction for decades.

The Green New Deal calls for “achiev[ing] net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” through measures that include “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the U.S. through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” within 10 years, and restoring and protecting natural ecosystems that would remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, support climate resiliency, and enhance biodiversity. The resolution requires “obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous peoples.” This is a solid start to this very necessary conversation.

However, “net zero” could imply a continuation of fossil fuel production and use. For example, if corporations are allowed to cancel out their emissions with wrongheaded geoengineering schemes and tradeable carbon offsets, we will be in the same hole. Without an explicit commitment to keep fossil fuels in the ground, the resolution as currently written falls short.

Achieving the goals of the Green New Deal must also go hand in hand with transforming the financial sector. Banks like JPMorgan Chase must no longer be allowed to profit from financing the construction of tar sands pipelines and the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, endangering the livelihoods of indigenous communities in its wake. They need to be held accountable for the damage done to people and the planet. And they need to rapidly shift their financing to solar and wind power; energy storage and grid modernization; electrification of transport, heating and industrial processes; and energy efficiency, which are all key technologies in achieving the goals of the Green New Deal.

Beating back bears, Bitcoin briefly balloons beyond $4,900

Bitcoin went on a tear in early morning trading earlier today, popping up to above $4,900 and reminding some investors of the good old days of 2017.

The currency is still trading up above 15% at $4,782.60, which is a healthy jump for the cryptocurrency (which had languishing at around $4,000 for the past three months). Indeed the price was up over 25% over the previous month, according to Coinbase .

Bitcoin’s surge also sent the other top cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum and Litecoin soaring.

No one can quite pin down the reason for the currency’s surge, given the string of bad news that has unspooled around the cryptocurrency business in the past few weeks.

Despite an April Fool’s Day article to the contrary, the Securities and Exchange Commission still has not approved an exchange traded fund that would track to the cryptocurrency. And one of the big public offerings which was supposed to showcase the strength of the market seems to be shelved as Bitmain has not renewed its application for a public listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

One analyst had a simple reason for the Bitcoin price surge, a big, $100 million order for the cryptocurrency that was placed overnight and spread across the U.S. exchanges Coinbase and Kraken and Luxembourg’s Bitstamp .

“There has been a single order that has been algorithmically-managed across these three venues, of around 20,000 BTC,” Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie, chief executive of cryptocurrency firm BCB Group, told Reuters in an interview.