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Apple debuts its own credit card with a physical version to complement the app

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 8:06pm

At Apple's event on Monday, the company announced that it would partner with Goldman Sachs and MasterCard to offer its own credit card, not only within the Apple Wallet app but also as a physical metal credit card that can be used wherever Apple Pay isn't accepted.

The Apple Card will come without any late fees, annual fees, over-limit fees, or international fees. The company promised a low interest rate, but that rate does not seem to have been made public yet. Instead of offering points, Apple's card will apply cash to the customer's card. Customers receive 2 percent cash back on purchases made with Apple Pay and 3 percent cash back on purchases made on Apple products.

On pure economics, Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said that Apple's cash back terms were OK but not great. Rossman pointed to Citi's Double Cash card, which offers 2 percent cash back on every purchase (not just purchases made with Apple Pay) or US Bank's Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card, which "gives three points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (worth 3 percent cash back or 4.5 percent off travel)."

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Edge-on-Chromium approaches; build leaks, extensions page already live

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 7:45pm

The Edge Insider extension. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's first public release of a Chromium-based version of its Edge browser is fast approaching. Microsoft has published an early version of its extension market for the new browser, and the Windows Store includes a new extension for Edge-on-Chromium. On top of all this, a build of the browser has leaked.

The new build confirms much of what we've seen before: the browser is a minimally changed rebranded version of Chrome, replacing integration with Google's accounts with integration with Microsoft's accounts. This integration is still at an early stage; bookmarks can be synced between systems, but history, passwords, open tabs, autocomplete information, and open tabs don't yet sync.

Google has multiple release channels for Chrome; beyond the Stable channel, there's a Beta channel previewing the next release, the Dev channel previewing the release after that, and the Canary channel, which provides nightly builds. Microsoft's new extension for Edge Insider appears to offer easy switching between channels, announcements, known issues, and asking users for focused testing on particular areas.

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Apple finally enters TV streaming space with new Apple TV+ service

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 7:08pm

Enlarge (credit: Ron Amadeo)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—It's been a long time and many rumors coming, but Apple has finally unveiled its streaming video service. Dubbed Apple TV+, the service combines some aspects of existing players in the space like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

The originals

At the vanguard of Apple TV+ is Apple's own original programming. The company reportedly spent $1 billion developing TV shows and films to include on the service. Upon announcing the streaming service, Apple showed a video featuring the numerous artists it worked with to create original content for the service—filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, as well as actors including Reese Witherspoon and Octavia Spencer.

These creators and actors serve as the foundation for Apple TV+, thanks to all the original content they have created (and will continue to create) for the service. Steven Spielberg took Apple's stage to talk about the reboot of Amazing Stories, a sci-fi anthology series that Spielberg hopes will "transport the audience with every episode."

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Apple unveils Apple Arcade subscription service for iOS, Mac, Apple TV games

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:59pm

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—Apple today announced a new subscription service called Apple Arcade for games on its platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV. The service will debut "this fall." Its exact price has not yet been confirmed.

The paid-subscription service will include games "unavailable on any other mobile service," Apple confirmed, and it will launch with "over 100 new and exclusive games." A sizzle reel of flashy games appeared at today's Apple event, and it largely focused on indie games that haven't yet launched on either traditional or mobile platforms yet. One notable exception: there was a brief shot of an apparently unannounced Sonic the Hedgehog game.

By paying the subscription fee, players will have access to all games for as long as they want with no limits or microtransactions attached. Shared family accounts will have access to the titles and parental controls for no additional charge. And the service's multi-device support extends to letting iOS gamers suspend an Apple Arcade game on their phone, then resume playing it on another device, or vice versa.

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Apple News+: A newsstand of 300 glossy magazines for $9.99/month

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:19pm

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing Apple News+.

CUPERTINO, Calif.—As expected, Apple has announced a magazine subscription service built on top of its acquisition last year of Texture. Called Apple News+, it will offer fully browsable, digital versions of over 300 print magazines and newspapers like Wired, GQ, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The service also includes a number of digital-only publications. The service builds on Apple's free news content, which aggregates content from online publications like Forbes and The Atlantic.

As presented on stage, the service closely resembles what Texture looked like before. There is a heavy emphasis on human curation, with reading lists of articles across publications on certain themes and the like. As a bonus, magazines can offer live covers, turning their splashy photos into miniature videos.

Texture was previously owned jointly by several publishers, but Apple acquired the company, its staff, and its technology for an undisclosed amount in March of 2018. According to reports, publishers make their content available on the platform and share 50 percent of the revenue with Apple. Some publishers have balked at these terms, and some are reportedly grandfathered in from their deal with Texture, meaning that their continued participation in the service is not assured.

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$35 billion in research funding “now at stake” after Trump executive order

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:05pm

Enlarge / A protest near the UC Berkeley campus. (credit: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Imagess)

Over the past several years, college campuses have experienced a number of incidents related to free speech. These have included cases of disruptive protests, controversial speakers being "disinvited," and in rare cases, physical altercations. The speakers who have been the focus of these controversies are often identified with conservative causes. Notably, in early March, a conservative activist was assaulted on the UC Berkeley campus.

These high-profile incidents apparently inspired President Trump to issue a rather dramatic threat in early March: campuses that don't protect free speech could see their research funding cut. On Friday, he ostensibly followed through on this, issuing an executive order targeting "free inquiry" at colleges and universities. But the language of the order is vague enough that its consequences for research funding are completely opaque.

Uncertain threats

The order itself actually lumps together two unrelated issues. The first is the cost of education relative to its likely payoff in terms of gainful employment; the order seeks to ensure better disclosure of this by colleges. That has been joined to what the order refers to as "free inquiry" issues, which the order defines as related to First Amendment compliance—meaning free speech on campuses.

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10 years of Grindr: A rocky relationship

BBC Technology News - March 25, 2019 - 5:53pm
A look back at the highs and lows from the first 10 years of dating app Grindr.

Liveblog: Apple unveils its TV service and more at the March 25 “It’s show time” event

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:47pm

Enlarge / The event invite strongly hints at the upcoming video service. (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—At 10am Pacific on Monday, March 25, Apple and its partners will take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., to talk about a new TV-streaming platform, a new magazine-subscription service, and possibly much more. We'll be liveblogging the event as it happens, so join us here a few minutes before the show for all the updates.

Apple has been signaling to investors, partners, and customers for many months that it will increase its focus on services—always-available, ever-growing content and software offerings—more in the future, as that is the part of its business it expects to grow the fastest. Monday's "It's show time" event will be unusual in that it is expected to focus more on those services than any prior Apple event.

Some hardware announcements were strong possibilities due to timing and reports across the Web—namely, new iPads, AirPods, and iMacs, plus a new iPod touch and AirPower charging mat.

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Ethiopian Airlines flight’s stall-prevention software was active at crash, CEO says

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:37pm

Enlarge / BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 11: Parts of an engine and landing gear lie in a pile after being gathered by workers during the continuing recovery efforts at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. (credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published today that he had reason to believe that software intended to prevent Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from stalling in flight had been activated aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly before its crash. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that “to the best of our knowledge,” the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) for stall prevention was active at the time of the crash.

This is the first time anyone connected to the Flight 302 investigation has specifically referenced the flight software as being involved. Ethiopian and French investigators had noted similarities in flight data to that of the ill-fated Lion Air Flight 610, a crash that was determined to be at least partially caused by the MCAS software’s malfunction due to a faulty sensor input. Investigators also cited the Flight 302 crew’s lack of training on how to shut the MCAS system down in the critical moments before the crash.

Gebremariam did not share what details he had received that led to his conclusion. But he did say that it would be difficult for Boeing to restore trust in the 737 MAX aircraft’s safety, and he was critical of Boeing’s failure to do more to inform airlines of the changes in operation related to MCAS when it was introduced. “In retrospect I would have expected them to have been more transparent on the MCAS, the technicalities of the MCAS, what it does and what it doesn’t do,” he told The Wall Street Journal. And after the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia, the CEO said, “more should have been done from the Boeing side in terms of disclosure, in terms of coming up with strong procedures, stronger than what they gave us.”

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Massive Ebola outbreak continues to rage; case count surpasses 1,000

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:28pm

Enlarge / Health workers are seen inside the 'red zone' of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning on March 9, 2019 in Butembo. (credit: Getty | John Wessels)

The tally of deadly Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ticked above 1,000 this weekend as health responders continue to struggle to thwart the disease amid violent conflict.

The outbreak has been raging since August in the country’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which sit on the eastern side of the country, bordering South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda. The World Health Organization reported 1,009 cases (944 confirmed, 65 probable), including 629 deaths (564 confirmed, 65 probable) on Saturday, March 23.

The outbreak is the second largest of all time, surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak, which involved more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

GoFundMe Bans Anti-Vaccine Campaigns

Slashdot - March 25, 2019 - 5:15pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Report: Nintendo planning two new Switch models

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 3:10pm

Enlarge

Nintendo has plans to release two new models of the Nintendo Switch "as early as this summer," according to a Wall Street Journal report citing "parts suppliers and software developers for Nintendo."

One model would be a higher-end system with enhanced hardware akin to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, though not as powerful as either, according to the report. The other would be a "cheaper option" intended to replace the aging Nintendo 3DS, whose sales have finally started to collapse.

This cheaper Switch would reportedly cut costs by losing features such as controller vibration. That's a move which would render portions of games such as 1-2-Switch and Super Mario Party unplayable, but Nintendo "judged the new Switch models won't need the vibration feature because there wouldn't be many games released using the full benefit of it," according to a quoted supplier.

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Britons get 'bad deal' from broadband giants

BBC Technology News - March 25, 2019 - 2:53pm
Slow speeds and poor value for money top lists of complaints about big UK broadband providers.

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