New MacBook Pro keyboard design may fix dust problems after all

While Apple’s redesigned keyboards in the new MacBook Pro models are made to be quieter, they also appear to be designed to prevent another problem. According to a document sent to Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors, the new keys have a “membrane” underneath that helps “prevent debris” from getting into the butterfly mechanism.

“The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism,” state the Canadian and European versions of the document. “The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycap parts begin shipping.”

The US version of the document doesn’t mention the membrane specifically. However, it does link to another document entitled Butterfly Mechanism Keycap Replacement MacBook Pro (2018), which references the membrane under the keycaps as a method of stopping debris from entering the keyboard.

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‘Doppler’ Music Player Now Lets Users Import Tracks From Safari and Edit Album Info

Doppler received a significant update today, bringing some notable track and album features to the increasingly popular third-party music playing app for iPhone.

For those unfamiliar, Doppler offers mobile users an alternative way to experience their music library, sporting an adaptive minimalist interface with an emphasis on reliable offline playback, and built-in support for importing MP3, FLAC, AAC, and WAV file formats without ever having to connect your iPhone to a computer.



On first opening the app, any existing iTunes music library tracks and playlists are imported into Doppler. Thereafter, users have several additional import options at their disposal, including via iTunes, AirDrop, the Files app, and now Safari (see below).

The interface supports full library search by song, artist or album, provides quick access to the editable playing queue, and includes options to create and edit new playlists, as well as stream music to AirPlay and Bluetooth devices.



Today’s update, version 1.2, adds support for editing the album information and artwork for any music imported into Doppler (excluding iTunes library tracks). The app is now able to search for and download artwork, or you can opt to set artwork using images from your Photo Library or clipboard.

Doppler 1.2 also comes with an iOS Share Sheet extension for Safari, enabling you to easily import non-commercial music tracks discovered online (mixtapes available from music blogs, for example).

Next time you open a song hosted on the web, bring up the Share Sheet and tap “Add to Doppler”, and the track is automatically imported into the app, allowing you to listen to it offline alongside the rest of your music library.



Lastly, this update brings Last.fm integration, so it’s now possible to sign into your Last.fm account, and Doppler will automatically post (scrobble) what you’re listening to. The integration also works offline, with playback history saved and sent to Last.fm when your data connection is restored.

Doppler costs $3.99 and is available to download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]
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Faster 18W USB-C Charger Expected to Be Bundled With 2018 iPhones Might Not Be Sold Separately Initially

Rumors suggest Apple will bundle a faster 18-watt USB-C power adapter with its 2018 iPhones, but it might not be sold separately for a while.



Japanese blog Mac Otakara reports that Apple’s suppliers are likely only able to manufacture enough chargers for inclusion with 2018 iPhones, suggesting that Apple may hold off on selling them as a standalone accessory until some point after the smartphones launch, although exactly when remains to be seen.

Earlier this month, photos of an alleged prototype of the new power adapter surfaced, revealing its slightly bulkier, rounder shaped plastic casing compared to the current 5W power adapter. The design in the photos is mostly consistent with CAD drawings and renders of the adapter that surfaced earlier this year.



The charger would connect to iPhones with a USB-C to Lightning cable, also expected to be included in the box. At 18W, it would be able to charge compatible iPhones at least twice as fast as the 5W adapter.

MacRumors tested the iPhone X with various third-party 18W wired chargers last year, for example, and found that the device reached a 79 percent charge after one hour. With a 5W charger, the iPhone X only reached a 39 percent charge in that time. We explained our methodology in detail in that article.

Apple sells its 5W power adapter, which has a USB-A port, for $19 as a standalone product in the United States.
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Apple’s iCloud user data in China is now handled by a state-owned mobile operator

If you’re an Apple customer living in China who didn’t already opt out of having your iCloud data stored locally, here’s a good reason to do so now. That information, the data belonging to China-based iCloud users which includes emails and text messages, is now being stored by a division of China Telecom, the state-owned telco.

The operator’s Tianyi cloud storage business unit has taken the reins for iCloud China, according to a WeChat post from China Telecom. Apple separately confirmed the change to TechCrunch.

Apple’s transition of the data from its own U.S.-based servers to local servers on Chinese soil has raised significant concern among observers who worry that the change will grant the Chinese government easier access to sensitive information. Before a switch announced earlier this year, all encryption keys for Chinese users were stored in the U.S. which meant authorities needed to go through the U.S. legal system to request access to information. Now the situation is based on Chinese courts and a gatekeeper that’s owned by the government.

Apple itself has said it was compelled to make the move in order to comply with Chinese authorities, and that hardly eases the mind.

It’s ironic that the U.S. government has pursued Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE on account of national security and suspected links to Chinese authorities, and yet one of America’s largest corporates is entrusting user data to a state-owned company in China.

The only plus for Apple users in China is that they can opt out of local data storage by selecting a country other than China for their iCloud account. Since it isn’t clear whether making that change today would see information migrated or deleted from the Chinese server, starting over with a new account is probably the best option at this point.

Hat tip @yuanfenyang

Apple Stops Signing iOS 11.4 Following Launch of iOS 11.4.1

Following the release of iOS 11.4.1 on Monday, July 9, Apple has stopped signing iOS 11.4, the previous version of iOS that was available to consumers.

iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners who have upgraded to iOS 11.4.1 will no longer be able to downgrade to earlier versions of iOS.

Apple routinely stops signing older versions of software updates after new releases come out in order to encourage customers to keep their operating systems up to date.

iOS 11.4.1 is now the only version of iOS 11 that can be installed on iOS devices by the general public, but developers and public beta testers can download iOS 12, the next-generation version of iOS that’s in beta testing ahead of a fall release.
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Apple Increases Share of U.S. Smartphone Activations in Q2

During the second quarter of 2018, spanning from April to June, Apple’s iPhones accounted for 36 percent of total U.S. smartphone activations, an improvement over last year’s numbers where iPhone activations accounted for just over 30 percent of total activations, according to new numbers shared today by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners [PDF].

More customers are choosing iPhone over Samsung devices this year, and Apple’s higher number of activations came at Samsung’s expense. During the quarter, Samsung devices were also responsible for 36 percent of new activations, but for Samsung, that’s a solid decline from last year.

“Apple improved in part at Samsung’s expense, whose share of activations declined relative to both last quarter and last year,” said Mike Levin, Partner and Co-Founder of CIRP. “In a quarter without any significant phone launches, Samsung had market share only equal to Apple’s. A year ago, Samsung had a considerably greater share of sales.”

Apple devices and Samsung devices are the dominant brands, due to ongoing consolidation of the U.S. market. LG and Motorola, for example, have lost ground to Apple and Samsung over the course of the last year.

When it comes to operating systems, iOS and Android are, by far, the dominant operating systems in use. iOS accounted for 36 percent of activations during the quarter, while Android, which runs on an array of different smartphones from multiple manufacturers, accounted for 63 percent of U.S. activations.



Compared to last year, iOS’s share of activations grew, with CIRP citing increased customer loyalty to their operating system of choice. Given the sheer number of Android devices compared to iOS devices, it’s not surprising Android devices are responsible for approximately two thirds of activations.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners regularly shares these surveys to monitor the state of the smartphone market. Findings are based on a survey of 500 subjects who activated new or used phones during the April to June 2018 period.
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Sharecuts is creating a community for sharing Siri Shortcuts

With the upcoming release of iOS 12, Apple is introducing a new app called Shortcuts that will allow users to build custom voice commands for Siri that can be used to kick off a variety of actions in apps. While some apps will directly prompt users to add a Shortcut to Siri, the new Shortcuts app will offer more shortcut suggestions to try, plus the ability to create your own shortcuts and workflows. Now, there’s a new resource for shortcut fans, too – Sharecuts, a directory of shortcuts created and shared by the community.

The site is still very much in the early stages.

Plus, iOS 12 is still in beta testing itself, and the Shortcuts app can only be installed by developers who request access via an invite.

But by the time iOS 12 releases to the public later this fall, Sharecuts’ directory will be filled out and a lot more functional.

The premise, explains Sharecuts’ creator Guilherme Rambo, was to make an easily accessible place where people could share their shortcuts with one another, discover those others have shared, and suggest improvements to existing shortcuts.

“I was talking to a friend [Patrick Balestra] about how cool shortcuts are, and how it should be easier for people to share and discover shortcuts,” says Guilherme. “He mentioned he wanted to build a website for that  – he even had the idea for the name Sharecuts – but he was on vacation without a good internet connection so I decided to just build it myself in one day,” he says.

The site is currently a bare bones, black-and-white page with cards for each shortcut, but an update will bring a more colorful style (see below) and features that will allow users to filter the shortcuts by tags, vote on favorites, among other things.

Above: current site

Guilherme says while the backend is being built to support a larger number of users, only a few people have been invited to upload for the time being. But in the upcoming release, the site will offer a “featured” selection of shortcuts chosen by some well-known members of the Apple community who will serve as curators.

The uploads to the site will also be moderated in the future, to prevent malicious shortcuts and spam from being included in the directory.

The site itself isn’t a new business or startup, Guilherme says, just a side project for now.

It’s written in Swift and open-sourced on GitHub so others can contribute. The page already has a list of ideas for improvements to the Sharecuts site, including the new design, plus more ways to refine, sort, and organize the shortcuts.

It remains to be seen how popular Siri Shortcuts will be with the mainstream iPhone user base.

With iOS 12, Apple is turning its iPhone into an “A.I. phone,” but I believe the Shortcuts app and workflows will remain a power user feature for some time. Mainstream users will gradually warm up to the idea of customizing their Siri interactions by getting prompted to create voice commands by their favorite apps. (E.g. Your coffee shop’s mobile ordering app may push you to add a “Coffee time!” shortcut to Siri.)

Over time, that may lead them to iOS 12’s Shortcuts app to do even more.

But in the near-term, power users will be busy taking advantage of the new Shortcuts app and Siri features to test the powers of Shortcuts. And with Sharecuts, all the other shortcuts enthusiasts can benefit from their enthusiasm and activity, too.

If you already have the beta Shortcuts app installed, you can try out some of the shortcuts featured on Sharecuts today. A couple of the interesting picks include the Siri News Reader which will read you headlines from an RSS feed, the Bitcoin Price checkers, and an always useful tip calculator.

Above: The news reader shortcut, from Federico Viticci

Those interested in contributing to Sharecuts in the future can register here for an invite.

Sonos Beam Now Available for Purchase From Sonos Website and in Retail Stores

The latest Sonos product, the Sonos Beam, is today available for purchase from the Sonos website and from various retailers around the world.

First announced in June, the Sonos Beam has been available for pre-order, but today is its official launch date. The Sonos Beam is a $399 smart, compact sound bar that’s designed for use with TV sets.



Sonos says the Beam offers five Class-D digital amplifiers, four full-range woofers for true playback of mid-range vocal frequencies, one tweeter for creating crisp and clear dialogue, three passive radiators for deep, warm bass, and a five far-field microphone array.

Available in black or white, the Sonos Beam includes features like a dialog clarity speech enhancement to make dialog in TV shows and movies easier to hear, and there’s a night sound mode for watching late night TV without waking the house.



Like the Sonos One, Sonos Playbase, and second-generation Play:5, the Sonos Beam supports Apple’s new AirPlay 2 feature, which allows for Siri control of Apple Music and the ability to play and control multi-room audio on compatible devices.



Along with AirPlay 2 and Siri support, Sonos Beam works with Alexa, and it pairs well with other Sonos speakers.

Sonos is offering limited time discounts on its speaker lineup to complement the beam, including $20 off two Sonos Ones, $100 off an entertainment set that includes a Sonos Sub and a Beam, and $50 off a Sonos Beam set that includes two Play:1 speakers.

Sonos is also today announcing that Audible can now be controlled on Sonos using voice with Amazon Alexa. Sonos devices have supported Audible since earlier this year, but voice control has been added.

The Sonos Beam can be purchased from the Sonos website or from Amazon.com for $399.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Sonos. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
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