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2017: Year of the podcast


The year 2017 will likely be remembered for many things across the technology spectrum, from major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and milestone moments in autonomous vehicles to Amazon conceding that a major offline presence in groceries was needed to compete in retail.

But buried within the big headline-grabbing stories of the year were microtrends that sprang up almost by surprise. And one of those relates to the humble podcast.

Podcast push

Though the podcast is far from a new medium, 2017 saw a surge of activity related to the audio broadcast format.

A couple of weeks back, Apple finally launched its podcast analytics feature so creators can garner more data about how their listeners consume podcasts on iOS devices and can gain potentially valuable insights into their listening habits.

This could be a game-changer not only in terms of how podcasters use data to inform their handiwork but in their ability to attract revenue by giving advertisers more information about listeners.

When the feature was quietly announced at WWDC back in June, some of those in the know suggested that Apple’s podcast analytics tool was the biggest thing to have happened to podcasting in quite some time, given that Apple’s mobile platforms still play a pivotal role in the podcast industry.

It may look obscure, but this is the biggest thing to happen to the podcast business since Serial first went nuclear https://t.co/4tWfvckKM9

— Matthew Lieber (@mlieber) June 10, 2017

But Apple’s announcement was really the cherry on the cake for a year that saw interest in podcasting hit new heights in terms of popularity, ad revenue, and investment.

Big bucks

In a one-month period between August and September, New York-based podcast studio and network Gimlet Media raised $20 million, with big-name backers including advertising giant WPP. In August, San Francisco-based podcast hosting and distribution company Art19 closed a $7.5 million series A round from notable New York- and Menlo Park-based VC firms Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) and DCM Ventures. Later in the month, HowStuffWorks revealed it was spinning out from its parent company as an indie podcast network backed by a fresh $15 million series A investment.

Fast-forward to September, and Google investment arm GV led a $10 million investment in Anchor, a New York-based mobile-focused platform that makes it easy for anyone to record audio on the move and transform that audio into a podcast. This came a week after Stockholm-based podcasting platform Acast raised $19.5 million from a group of Swedish investors.

Podcasting platforms haven’t traditionally garnered significant sums of cash, yet over a two-month period five podcasting companies announced more than $70 million in raises. And that’s not including CastBox, a podcasting startup founded by a former Googler last year, which announced $16 million in funding in October — this was a delayed announcement and constituted a series of investments from early 2016 to June 2017.

The upshot of all this is that podcasting has emerged as a hot industry for investment. But why?

Consumers, it seems, are hungry for audio-based entertainment. The proliferation of smartphones is leading to an explosion in digital audio content, and companies such as Amazon and Google are pushing their voice-enabled smart speakers out to the masses — which bodes well for continued growth. “With some of the biggest companies in the world investing in smart speakers, microphones, and content, audio and voice will only become more popular in the coming years,” Anchor cofounder and CEO Mike Mignano told VentureBeat in an interview earlier this year.

Though the major tech firms have increasingly invested in video, audio holds a number of advantages — you can drive to work, cook dinner, or wire your house while listening to podcasts. “Audio is great because it saves you time,” added Mignano. “You can consume it no matter what you’re doing.”

This multitasking is something people would once do while listening to broadcast radio, but on-demand audio could be changing the landscape. Why listen to your local radio news bulletins when you can turn to podcasts to soak up all things boxing or baseball as you decorate your house?

“The content environment is shifting quickly, and as radio becomes less and less relevant, audio-on-demand will take its place,” said Acast cofounder and chief strategy officer Karl Rosander.

report by Edison Research and Triton Digital earlier this year delved into digital media consumption trends, with audio and podcasting featuring prominently. The report found that 67 million Americans, or 24 percent of the population, listen to podcasts each month, which represents a rise of 3 percentage points on the previous year’s 57 million figure.

Additionally, the report found that 60 percent of Americans are now familiar with the term “podcasting,” an increase of 22 percent in two years.

The Apple factor

There is no shortage of channels through which to consume podcasts. Countless cross-platform distribution platforms and apps are available, from SoundCloud and Pocket Casts to Stitcher and beyond, making it easy to subscribe to your favorites. However, reports generally indicate that more than 55 percent of podcast listening takes place through Apple’s native iOS Podcast app or iTunes. This is why Apple’s move to open up data to creators (beyond the number of downloads) could prove crucial for the industry’s continued growth — advertisers love data.

U.S. podcast ad revenues are expected to have grown by around 85 percent for 2017, compared to last year’s $119 million, according to recent data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). And this is something that the ad agencies are noticing, too.

“Our clients’ media spend has increased 300 percent vs. 2016, and I’d say we have 2 to 5 potential clients cold-calling us every week, interested in learning more about podcast advertising,” said Kurt Kaufer, partner and CMO at audio-focused advertising agency Ad Results Media, in an interview with VentureBeat. “Advertisers are really seeing success, which in return is fueling the ecosystem — raising talent, raising content, and raising ad dollars.”

Apple’s analytics service, which is available in beta now, should allow podcasters to track unique devices and playback metrics, including when the audience drops off during a show. Advertisers will surely be more inclined to spend on podcasts if they know exactly how many people are listening to their ads, rather than paying a fee based on a show’s overall number of downloads, for example.

“We’re optimistic about the idea that creators will have access to more data, as we feel it will create more efficiency in the marketplace,” explained Steve Shanks, partner and CRO at Ad Results Media. “This, in turn, will help the entire industry, both on the advertising and content sides. With increased data and insights, we’ll have the ability to better predict the potential winners and losers for our campaigns, which should create even better results for our clients.”

Of course, the data revealed by the analytics may have the opposite effect — if it turns out that one million people download a podcast but only 5 percent bother listening to the ads, this could deter potential advertisers. But the data arms everyone with the right tools to tackle whatever needs tackling — even if it means rethinking how advertising is delivered through podcasts.

“While some might see this as a complete game-changer for podcast advertising, we still have a ‘wait and see’ mindset,” added Shanks. “While results are everything for us, and we’re excited to see Apple’s interest in developing its analytics platform, it’s still anyone’s guess what exact data will be provided and how this may shift the perceived performance of each individual podcast.”

When U.S. presidential candidates kick off their campaigns with a podcast and online language-learning platforms branch into podcasts to help you learn Spanish, you know there is probably something major bubbling under the surface.

If 2017 was big, 2018 could prove a particularly pivotal year for podcasting as a business.

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The Samsung Galaxy S9 is about to hit the production line

Good news for fans of finely crafted, exquisitely detailed smartphones – sources in South Korea say production is about to start on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, putting them on course for an official unveiling at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona at the end of February.

ETNews reports that as soon as the New Year celebrations are ended, the wheels are going to begin to turn in earnest as far as cranking out the Galaxy S9 phones goes. In other words, everything’s right on course as Samsung looks to wow us with its 2018 offerings.

One of the upgrades that parts suppliers are hinting at this year is an upgraded, ‘stacked’ motherboard, similar to the one used in the iPhone X. As well as enabling the usual speed and efficiency improvements we’ve come to expect each year, the board also means there’s more room inside the phone for a bigger battery.

Those rumors in full

With the S9 and S9 Plus reveal now probably less than two months away, we’ve heard plenty about what to expect from Samsung’s next top-end handsets. Apparently the 3.5mm audio headphone jack has again made the cut, while the Snapdragon 845 will be powering the phones (in some countries at least).

We’ve also seen leaked renders of the Galaxy S9, which may even manage to embed a fingerprint reader under the front display, if the rumor mill is to be believed. As for that 18.5:9 Infinity Display, supply chain sources say the visible bezels are going to be shrunk even further for a screen-to-body ratio of around 90%.

All of which leaves us eagerly awaiting Mobile World Congress, which kicks off with a press day on February 25. Samsung has a history of launching flagships at the event, although the Galaxy S8 was an exception.

Via SlashGear

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Samsung and LG say they don’t slow down older phones, either

Following Apple’s admission that it deliberately slowed down older phones to allow the battery to continue to power the processor, the list of rival smartphone manufacturers announcing they don’t follow the same practice continues to grow.

Yesterday we saw statements from both Moto and HTC affirming that they don’t throttle their smartphones, and today Samsung and LG Electronics have both chimed in to report that they don’t either, reports PhoneArena.

LG kept it brief, saying, “Never have, never will! We care what our customers think.”

Samsung was more chatty, saying, “Product quality has been and will always be Samsung Mobile’s top priority. We ensure extended battery life of Samsung mobile devices through multi-layer safety measures, which include software algorithms that govern the battery charging current and charging duration. We do not reduce CPU performance through software updates over the lifecycles of the phone.”

Revenge of the quick fix

Good to know, but these statements probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that Apple’s practice grew out of a very specific response to the iPhone 6 last January after customers noticed that their devices were shutting down without warning. 

With iOS Patch 10.2.1, Apple announced that it had “improved” the issue, but wasn’t upfront about the nature of that improvement, leading to the current backlash. It was a “quick fix” that unfortunately apparently became standard practice.

Apple has since penned a letter of apology, and also announced that it will start offering battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and above throughout all of 2018 for just $29/£25. That’s a significant drop down from the usual price of $79/£79.

The tech giant has also stated that an iPhone’s batteries drain significantly after 500 charge cycles, and that it plans to introduce more tools to better keep track of your iPhone’s battery life in iOS in 2018.

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10 big issues Apple should address in 2018


OPINION:

For Apple-focused writers, no subject is as thankless as a “what should Apple do” article. Why should any mere journalist presume to offer guidance to a company that has weathered decades of second-guessing, only to emerge at the very top of the heap? Some of Apple’s more… devoted fans treat even light criticism of the company as heresy.

I believe that even wildly successful companies can get better, and that for all of its financial acumen, Apple could clearly benefit from some outside perspective to improve in 2018. In that spirit, here are 10 topics for consideration and discussion; I hope they inspire Apple to “think different” next year.

10. Let iOS devices automatically adjust to cars, offices, and homes

Two years ago, Apple introduced a new feature called Proactive that was supposed to use time or location information to help surface apps and information — a narrower version of Google Now. iOS devices need to be smarter and more capable than that.

Between location services, Bluetooth pairing, and Wi-Fi/cellular connections, your iPhone should know when it’s in your car and be able to follow predefined “car rules,” like “don’t start randomly playing a song from my music library just because you connected to my car stereo.” (Seriously, why does it still do that?) Similarly, a “home” profile might tell an iPad to automatically connect to a favorite speaker system or a bedroom TV, while an “office” profile could route all audio to AirPods and automatically open a specific work app. You could create profiles for the specific scenarios that fit your life, triggered by location, time, or pairing with certain accessories, and your iOS device would behave accordingly.

9. Make iPods relevant again

Apple killed the iPod Shuffle, Nano, and Classic, but the iPod Touch is still alive. The iPod name is still a solid brand, and in the hands of the right dedicated marketing and third-party software team, the Touch could easily be refocused and pitched as a viable competitor to Nintendo’s Switch — which has been deemed a mega hit on the strength of selling 10 million units in a year. Heck, if Apple doesn’t know what to do with the iPad Mini (kids still love it), the smaller tablet could fall into the iPod family, too.

Alternatively, Apple could simply repurpose the iPod Touch in a new housing as a $150 desktop-tethered competitor to Amazon’s video-capable Echo models. The OS, apps, and chips are all there — all that’s needed is a new screen and housing. Again, using the iPod name for a product that’s not meant for computing would be fitting.

8. Streamline the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch families

Thanks to competing 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch devices in the middle of the iPad family, as well as Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of every iPad at every capacity, the iPad lineup has become too big. Similarly, the iPhone family now includes eight different devices, six of which (iPhone 6s, 7, and 8) don’t all need to exist — they stand out like a repetitive sore thumb in the image above. And there are too many versions of the Apple Watch to count, thanks to multiple series, sizes, materials, straps, and branded strap bundles. These product lines are a mess, just like Apple’s 1990s Mac lineup was before Steve Jobs took an axe to it.

Solution: Streamline every product line. Keep three iPads (say, 9-inch/11-inch/13-inch without Home Buttons) in regular and Pro versions, the latter with higher capacities and integrated cellular as an option. Launch two iPhones — iPhone 11 and iPhone 9 — each in three screen sizes (S/M/L), with the 11 a year ahead of the 9 in processor speed, camera performance, and materials.

And sell two Apple Watches — Series 4 and Series 3 — each in two sizes, in aluminum/steel/ceramic materials, always with an Apple sport band included. Since Apple Watches are supposed to be personal and customizable, users should be able to download new Faces from a Watch-specific store, and customize any Watch to look the way they prefer. Buy a Nike or Hermès band separately and get a download code for a special watch face.

7. Get real already with the Apple TV

It’s unfortunate but not surprising that the Apple TV business remains disappointing for Apple — every generation, it somehow finds ways to lag behind smaller competitors in everything from pricing to apps. It currently sells 3 Apple TV models at $149-$199 prices that don’t make much sense, given that Roku’s most powerful 4K device sells for under $100, and the market has largely shifted to sub-$70 streaming sticks.

Apple blew its chance to get people to buy Apple TV apps and games (the latter over a stupid joystick policy), so a $99 Apple TV 4K with 16GB would be fine for most people; unless something huge is going to change with developers this year, the Apple TV only exists to stream videos and music. Support for 4K or better-than-720p streaming from iOS devices with 4K video cameras is overdue, too.

6. Improve MacBook Pro battery performance

Owners of the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros know that the machines radically underperform Apple’s marketed longevity estimates under most conditions. A Bloomberg report late last year suggested that Apple knew as much when it shipped the 2016 Pros, as a more capacious battery solution flunked testing at the last minute, leaving the Macs underequipped.

These machines simply cannot be used for “Pro” purposes as long as users would expect, and Apple should provide a solution, perhaps a working version of the tiered battery originally planned for the machines. If iPhone 6-like class action suits are necessary to make MacBook Pro buyers whole on this, so be it.

5. Whip Siri into shape and release affordable Siri Speakers

I discussed this topic in a separate article yesterday — to sum it up, Apple needs to improve and expand Siri’s capabilities to match its best AI assistant rivals, as well as to offer Siri devices that can be placed all throughout a home. Amazon (Echo Dot) and Google (Google Home Mini) have figured this out, and are being rewarded for it with record hardware sales and chart-topping app downloads.

There is no way Apple’s upcoming $349 HomePod is going to have the same impact. It’s time to adjust course, now.

4. Reinvigorate the Apple accessory market

Apple’s pitch to accessory developers for the past 13 years has been “pay us fees, follow our rules, make exclusive accessories for us, and gather money from our customers.” For users, Apple’s pitch has been “Apple-approved accessories cost more because they’re tested to be safe and device-compatible.”

But as Apple’s recent HomeKit security debacle, prior failures with AirPlay speakers, and botched transition to Lightning connectors demonstrated, the company’s “do it our way” approach isn’t working so well for consumers or developers. Over the past decade, Apple has reduced a once thriving accessory market to rubble, and turned millions of customers towards more reasonably priced alternatives from no-name brands and cloners. As AR, VR, AI, and other disruptive technologies gain steam, it’s time for Apple to overhaul its accessory licensing business and start working with the next generation of hardware developers rather than trying to control them.

3. Merge Mac and iOS apps with a cross-platform focus on touch input

Bloomberg confirmed this month what (most) Apple fans have wanted for years: Macs will soon be able to run iOS apps. Apple could deliberately try to keep forcing people to buy separate laptops and tablets, but it needs to look at the bigger picture and embrace what customers want.

Step one: Let any iPad and iPhone app run in a window just like Xcode’s iOS development tool Simulator, with the trackpad or mouse handling as much interaction as possible, and enable developers to choose alternate Mac UIs if they want. That will pave the way for Apple to…

2. Release touchscreen Macs, already

Apple has been embarrassingly, completely wrong on this one; people want touchscreen Macs, and it’s crazy that you can walk into a Microsoft Store today and find many Mac-like laptops and desktops that allow seamless touch and stylus input… at lower-than-Mac prices.

The MacBook “Touch Bar” has turned out to be an expensive distraction for Apple; few developers care about it, and users don’t seem to be using it. So it’s time to embrace touchscreens across as many Macs as possible — combined with trackpads and styluses, they’ll make a lot of users happy. Happier than the Touch Bar does, for sure.

1. Fix your PR department

If Apple outwardly cares about its customers, you’d never know it from its public relations department. Readers generally don’t realize that Apple commonly ignores requests from writers who are covering Apple’s products and events. They also might not know that Apple commonly seeds information to specific “friendly” writers who reprint the company’s statements verbatim, or that Apple limits access to its events and new devices to people who won’t be particularly critical.

In 2018, if Apple is going to claim to be a virtuous company, it needs to clean up its main interface with its customers: its public relations department. Rather than using fanboys and shills to disseminate information, Apple needs a properly functioning PR department that reaches out and responds to a wide array of people. It similarly needs a fair system of extending access to events and new products to journalists with different viewpoints. A more open and responsive Apple will lead to more reasonable coverage from the press, and quite possibly fewer lawsuits from angry, arguably misled customers.

Given how 2017 ended for Apple, wouldn’t that make the new year wonderful?

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What to Expect From Apple in 2018: Three New iPhones and iPad Pro With Face ID, HomePod, Refreshed Macs, and More

Like 2017, 2018 promises to be a major year for Apple, with many new products on the horizon. We’ll get Apple’s first smart speaker — the HomePod — this year, along with a second-generation version of the iPhone X accompanied by a larger-screened version for those who want to go even bigger.

A new iPad Pro with Face ID is said to be in the works, and this is also the year when Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat will debut. Beyond that, we can expect Mac refreshes, new software, a new Apple Watch, and maybe that new modular Mac Pro.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.


Below, we’ve rounded up all of the products we’re expecting to see from Apple in 2018 based on both current rumors that we’ve heard so far and past release information.

HomePod – Early 2018

HomePod is Apple’s first Wi-Fi connected smart speaker, designed to compete with existing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. It was originally meant to debut in December, but Apple delayed its launch to an unspecified date in “early 2018.”

With HomePod, Apple focused on sound quality, with a 7 tweeter array, each with its own driver, and a 4-inch upward-facing woofer for crisp, distortion free sound. An A8 chip powers spatial awareness features, allowing the HomePod to analyze a room and then adjust the sound accordingly.

Siri is built into HomePod, and there’s integration with Apple Music for Apple Music subscribers. Using a six-microphone array, HomePod can detect Siri commands from anywhere in a room, so Siri can be used to play music, answer queries, and more.

We don’t know exactly when HomePod will be released, but it should come out in the first few months of 2018. Apple plans to charge $349 for the speaker.

Read more about HomePod in our HomePod roundup.

Three New iPhones – September 2018

Apple introduced three iPhones in 2017 — the iPhone X, the iPhone 8, and the iPhone 8 Plus — and current rumors suggest we’ll also see three new models in 2018.

The first iPhone we’re expecting will be a followup to the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED display. Rumors suggest it will be accompanied by a second OLED iPhone, this one measuring in at 6.5 inches, which means it can be thought of as an “iPhone X Plus.”

Alongside these two OLED iPhones, Apple is also said to be planning to introduce a 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display, positioned as a more affordable device targeting the low-end and midrange markets with a starting price of $649 to $749 in the United States.

Apple’s planned 2018 iPhone lineup, via Ming-Chi Kuo


According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, all three of these iPhones will feature edge-to-edge displays, Face ID, and TrueDepth camera systems, which means the end of both the Home button and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in new iPhone models for the time being.

Continue reading What to Expect From Apple in 2018: Three New iPhones and iPad Pro With Face ID, HomePod, Refreshed Macs, and More

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The best Boxing Day sales 2017: bringing you the best UK deals right now

We know Boxing Day feels like a lifetime of mince pies, chocolate and leftovers ago, but the Boxing Day sales are still raging on, with barely any of the top deals out of stock, loads of great bargains still to take advantage of, and some still dropping.

So if you’re after something as a little treat for yourself (the TV deals we’ve seen this year have been excellent, for instance) then have a little nose through the deals we’ve got below.

As for the ‘January sales’, we’re seeing fewer decent discounts in those each year nowadays as retailers focus on November and December for their best deals. So, if you see a bargain that looks right for you, now’s the time to treat yourself while you still have a chance.

When did the Boxing Day sales start?

Not a silly question at all. We actually saw loads of retailers push the button (probably with gravy on their fingers) at some point on Christmas Day, and some even before that. We’re still watching all of the usual suspects like a hawk throughout the Christmas break and will bring you the deals when they go live.

As you can imagine, retailers will have put their best deals online already, which is why we’ve been up since the crack of dawn every day to catch the best ones for you, so check out our extensive list of retailers that are having a Boxing Day sale.

Boxing Day sales retailer quick links

So, who’s having a Boxing Day sale?

All the big stores are getting stuck in. With so many keen shoppers going online over the Christmas period in recent years, it’s just too good a chance for them to finish 2017 off with some extra money in the bank. Let’s take a look at the big hitters below and what you can nab from each.

New Currys PC World deals

Currys is offering a new wave of sales from 29 December with loads of codes that can take big money off top categories – you can see the full list here.

However, here’s a selection of the best choices we’ve seen – perfect if you’re thinking of getting a new console or upgrading your TV and missed the Boxing Day sales.

The best Boxing Day sales deals

TV and video deals

Gaming deals

Laptop and Macbook deals

Computing deals

Smart home deals

Headphone and audio deals

Smartphone deals

iPad and tablet deals

Kitchen and Home deals

Gadgets and other deals

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CES 2018: dates, news, rumors and predictions for tech’s biggest show

CES 2018 is almost here, with the first CES-affiliated events taking place shortly after January 1. That means you’ll want to ring in 2018 (Happy New Year, by the way!), then quickly turn your attention to host city Las Vegas and our coverage of the biggest tech show on Earth.

The official CES 2018 dates are January 9 though January 12, though, as was the case this year, these are preceded by two days of press-only events. January 7 and January 8 are jam-packed with press conferences and previews, meaning there will be a veritable ton of new-tech news washing over you well before the CES show floor even opens.

[Update: Smart speakers are already an early theme of CES 2018 as LG has announced the ThinQ Speaker ahead of the conference. It’s basically a Google Home made by LG, but it may be even better than Google’s own offering. With premium sound touted as a key feature, we’ll get a listen of the ThinQ in when we hit the CES 2018 show floor. Look for pricing and availability details to be revealed then as well.]

CES 2018 will see tech companies from around the world, large and small, flock to the cavernous halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as other locations around Sin City. On stages and in booths so bright they hurt your eyes, the likes of Google, Samsung, LG and Sony will show off their latest innovations and tease new tech to come. That’s not to mention the likes of Lenovo, Toyota and Dell, which also have plans for the show. 

CES, which stands for the Consumer Electronics Show, has lost a bit of its luster in recent years as manufacturers have opted to hold individual press events staggered throughout the year (à la Apple) as opposed to elbowing for exposure at an international trade show. 

But the hustle and bustle is all part of the excitement, and CES 2018 will surely feature must-see gadgets, futuristic self-driving cars and sneak peeks at innovations that could change the tech world as we know it. If you can dream it, chances are there is someone at CES 2018 who has turned it into a reality.

Unfortunately CES isn’t open to the public, but don’t worry. The TechRadar team will be on the ground in Las Vegas to bring you all the latest news and first-look hands on reviews, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out (we promise!)

Read on for the latest CES 2018 news and rumors, as well as our top predictions for what some of the biggest companies will bring to Las Vegas in the New Year.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The biggest consumer technology show on the planet
  • When is it? Jan 9 – Jan 12, with press-only events happening Jan 7 and Jan 8
  • What’s on show? Everything from 8K televisions and connected fridges to laptops and self-driving cars

Google at CES 2018

Will a new Google product join the family in Las Vegas?

Google is apparently planning quite the presence at CES 2018 with a large booth and eight hospitality suites to showcase … well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

As spotted by Chrome Unboxed, Google Inc. will have a big, standalone booth prominently placed in the outdoor Central Plaza of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This is in addition to the eight suites Google Hardware has reserved at the Aria hotel. 

While Google is typically present at CES tangentially via its third-party hardware partners, the company is stepping out from behind the curtain during next year’s show in a big way.

This could mean a couple of things. One, it seems highly likely that Google wants to give conference-goers an up-close look at its products, including the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones, Google Home Mini smart speaker and the new Daydream View VR headset. The whole Made by Google family is gearing up for a Vegas vacay, if you ask us.

But it’s also possible that Google will showoff something new considering it’s going all out for the show. As Chrome Unboxed speculates, we could be in for new Chromebooks to follow up the well-received Google PixelBook. We could even see Chromebooks that take on a whole new form factor, such as ones that transform into tablets with detachable screens. 

Whatever Google has planned, this is an exciting addition to the CES 2018 lineup. When the major players come to Las Vegas, there’s usually pay off in the form of exciting news.

Samsung at CES 2018

Samsung is always a big focus at CES, and for good reason. The tech giant typically unveils a number of devices (not counting its updated line of smart washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers), and sometimes shows off hardware that’s a little bit out there. 

Two years ago, it was a bendable TV. At CES 2018, it could be a bendable phone. 

Whispers are circulating that the Galaxy X, Samsung’s rumored foldable smartphone, could debut at CES 2018. 

As Forbes notes, the timing would be a bit odd since, unlike MWC in February, CES isn’t a major phone show. However, it would also be a prime opportunity to show off a completely new device to an international audience. Samsung did unveil the Galaxy A3 phone at CES 2017, so there’s some precedent. 

What’s more, Samsung originally debuted its bendable display tech at CES 2013, so it’d be fitting to unveil the culmination of five years’ development in a consumer-ready bendable phone at CES 2018. 

Samsung’s mobile boss has said the company is targeting a bendable phone launch in the New Year. Unveiling the Galaxy X in early January could be the first step towards a full-blown release later in 2018. 

The waters were muddied a bit when a leaked model number seemingly belonging to the Galaxy X turned out to be for a different phone. This could mean the Galaxy X won’t launch as soon as we’d hoped.

Something it will be showing off at CES though is its recently announced Samsung Galaxy A8, which appears to be a more affordable Galaxy S8.

Galaxy S9 at CES 2018 – will we see it or not?

Samsung’s potential CES mobile plans don’t end there. We could be in for an early look at the Samsung Galaxy S9 during the show – or not. Let us explain.

Notable leaker Evan Blass reported that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus could make a cameo at CES 2018. That would obviously be big news … even if the design of the new phones is iterative and not innovative.

However, on December 6, a report surfaced quoting a Samsung representative saying “it is unlikely” the company will bring the Galaxy S9 to CES. The wording is a bit vague, and perhaps intentionally so. This could mean we won’t see the Galaxy S9 until a potential launch in March, or perhaps Samsung will decide to bring the next-gen phone after all. Or bet? Samsung will hold off launching the Galaxy S9 until after CES 2018. 

Prepare for Samsung’s latest TV tech at CES 2018

In addition to the potential new Galaxy phone unveilings, Samsung could also show off a gigantic 150-inch TV. This would be no ordinary TV, as TweakTown reports, because it would feature MicroLED tech. 

This screen tech essentially has the LED elements engraved into the silicon substrate, according to the site. The substrate is so small that it acts as individual pixels. MicroLED is said to allow for greater pixel density, less power draw and the elimination of image burn-in. All good things for TV owners.

We also expect Samsung to announce new wearables, either on its own or in partnership with others, new Galaxy Tab tablets, new laptops, and, of course, new TVs. There’s a good chance Samsung will update its QLED TV tech to the next generation (and maybe go for a new name, like QLED+). 

As for other home entertainment tech, Samsung has already shown off one device in the form of the NW7000 Sound+ soundbar, a 53.5mm-deep speaker that comes close to matching the thinness of modern televisions. 

Sony at CES 2018

In recent years Sony has used CES to focus on its audio and office lines, unveiling devices like new headphones and cheaper 4K projectors along with its latest Bravia TVs. 

The Bravia range always dazzles to go along with Sony’s other top-notch goods. So far, there’s nothing to indicate Sony will deviate from this script very much. We expect the next line of Bravias to feature OLED screens, which the Japanese firm only this year started producing again. 

Plus, listen up, audiophiles: there’s a good chance we’ll see a new high-res turntable from Sony at CES 2018. Because Sony is all about turning old-school audio tech into something amazing. 

We’ll find out all during Sony’s CES press conference, which takes place at 5pm PT on Monday, January 8 at the Sony booth.

LG at CES 2018

LG unveiled what might possibly have been the thinnest OLED TV ever at CES 2017. If you don’t remember the OLED W7 Signature Series TV, take a minute to watch the video above.

At CES 2018, look for LG to go for broke once again with its TV tech, which we’ll almost certainly see unveiled during its January 8 press conference at 8am PT. Though these screens are flat out expensive, you can’t deny how visually stunning they are. To put some numbers on it, CES 2018 should play host to LG’s next-gen 8-series OLED screens (B8, C8, G8 and W8).

LG also came to CES 2017 with some low- to mid-range phones, including the LG K10 2017 and LG Stylus 3, so we could be in for a few LG mobile surprises.

What would be even more surprising (but even better for flagship phone fans), is if a recent rumor that the LG G7 could launch in January comes true. The most obvious place for this to take place is CES 2018, and it could set up an interesting dynamic in the (unlikely) event rival Samsung shows off the Galaxy S9 as well.

As is its wont, LG has already spilled some of its CES 2018 news early. It’s unveiled a new smart speaker called the ThinQ, which is basically a Google Home manufactured by LG. One feature that could trump Google’s offering, however, is sound, though we’ll be the judge once we get a listen. Look for pricing and availability details of the Google Assistant-supporting speaker to be revealed during the show proper. 

LG also announced additional audio products, including a new soundbar, Bluetooth speakers and “all-in-one party machines,” which sound perfect for Las Vegas.

Rounding out LG’s CES offerings are likely updates to its home appliances (no brainer), 4K Blu-ray player, gram laptops and even its smart helper robots. In fact, LG has already unveiled its latest gram laptop update in the form of three new laptops

Dell at CES 2018

Dell gave TechRadar an early preview of its next XPS 13 laptop ahead of CES 2018, showing off the 13-inch Ultrabook’s incredibly thin design and pleasing aesthetics.

The laptop now features three USB-C ports, a Micro SD card slot, an Infinity Edge display and two colors – Alpine White and Rose Gold. 

Since a new laptop is typically Dell’s big reveal at the the show, the news we should expect at CES 2018 involves the 2017 Dell XPS 13’s full spec sheet, release date and price.

Lenovo at CES 2018

“Reality has never been so exhilarating.”

That’s the tag line for Lenovo’s CES 2018 event, taking place on Tuesday, January 9 at 11am PT. The company has sent around save the date invites to the gathering, which it’s billing as a launch event. Interestingly, Lenovo says it plans to “announce our latest innovations with Google, Qualcomm and Microsoft.”

Our best guess is that Lenovo plans to launch its Google Daydream headset during CES 2018. Now that HTC has dropped out of making one, Lenovo is the only partner Google has lined up to release a standalone VR headset that runs the Daydream platform. 

Lenovo’s invite says we’ll “see and experience the world in new ways,” which also jibes with the launch of a VR headset that lets you move around unrestricted and doesn’t require a smartphone to run. 

All in all, we’re intrigued to see whatever Lenovo has planned, and we’ll be at the event live to bring you all the latest.

Cars at CES 2018

Observers are already keenly aware that CES has transformed more or less into a car show in recent years, and CES 2018 will only continue the trend. 

Fisker, for one, confirmed to The Street that it will reveal its newest electric car at next year’s show. Called EMotion, the car will cost $129,000 (about £98,000 / AU$165,000) and ships in 2019. Despite its high price, it’s expected to put Tesla on notice, especially since the EMotion has a reported range of over 400 miles.

Though its fortunes have turned for the worse, Faraday Future could look to recapture some of its early buzz with a big announcement at CES 2018. Toyota also impressed with its Concept-i self-driving car at the 2017 show, and the likes of Ford, Kia and Hyundai are sure to show up with news.

But it won’t necessarily be cars we see unveiled. Rather, deeper integration with smart speakers, like the Google Home and Amazon Echo, as well as the digital assistants in our mobile phones, could be what car makers have up their sleeves.

More can’t-miss tech at CES 2018

This is just a taste of the hundreds of companies that will travel from near and far to CES 2018. 

Other firms we expect to make a splash include Asus, Baidu, Dolby, HP, HTC, Huawei, Intel, Nikon, Nvidia, Panasonic, Razer, and many more. 

Who knows? We could see the next generation of HTC Vive, a gorgeous snapper from Nikon and new phones from Huawei all at CES 2018. 

Speaking of Huawei, the company’s Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu is scheduled to deliver a keynote address on Tuesday, January 9 at 2pm PT. Huawei is a company on the rise, and Yu will discuss Huawei’s strategies around connectivity, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and smart devices. Chances are, we’re in for a product reveal or two.

Prior to this, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich will deliver the opening keynote address on Monday, January 8 beginning at 6:30pm PT at Monte Carlo’s Park Theater. From the sounds of it, Krzanich’s keynote will focus on next-gen tech, including AI, 5G connectivity, self-driving cars and VR.

Nvidia has sent out invites for its CES 2018 press conference, scheduled for Sunday, January 7 from 8pm – 9:30pm PT at the MGM Grand. Nvidia always kicks off CES with an action-packed keynote, and we expect next year’s edition will be no exception as it dives into AI, self-driving cars and high-powered GPUs.

And a new addition to the upcoming show is the CES Sports Zone. Here, game-day tech will take center stage, from gadgets that boost athlete performance to the latest in fan-experience innovations, including AR and VR. If you’re into sports and tech, or just fitness in general, the Sports Zone will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.

The possibilities are endless, and we’ll keep this page updated as more news and rumors about CES 2018 roll in. 

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Ukraine may soon have world’s largest Apple museum, thanks to MacPaw founder’s obsession


If you want to get a sense of the extent of Apple’s cultural might, glance about 6,200 miles east of the company’s Cupertino headquarters to the capital city of Ukraine. Sometime in 2018, the Eastern European city of Kyiv will somewhat improbably become home to a new museum devoted to Apple products.

While the city that Americans refer to as “Kiev” is hardly a backwater — either culturally or economically — its connection to the world’s most valuable company isn’t so obvious. There is no previously unknown connection to Steve Jobs, no massive Apple facility in the country, no hidden backstory that reveals an unlikely chapter between Ukraine and Apple.

Instead, the answer to the question “Why Ukraine?” is simple: Oleksandr Kosovan.

One of Ukraine’s best-known entrepreneurs, Kosovan is founder and CEO of MacPaw, the company that makes CleanMyMac software and Setapp, a Mac application subscription service. Founded in 2008, the company now has about 100 employees and is one of Eastern Europe’s most successful startups.

The company’s roots lie in Kosovan’s Apple obsession, explained Julia Petryk, MacPaw’s marketing chief. While attending Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Kosovan spotted Apple’s newly released transparent keyboard for the Mac in 2003 and fell head over heels. Though he didn’t own a Mac, he had to have that keyboard.

“That was the only piece he could afford back then,” Petryk said. “He saved a month of salary to buy it.”

Above: The transparent Mac keyboard Kosovan bought in 2003.

Image Credit: MacPaw

Eventually, of course, he did buy his own Mac. Later, he started a company devoted to making Macs run better.

As MacPaw grew, the company reserved a space in the corner of its offices for displays of older Apple products. But early in the summer of 2019, Kosovan heard that the legendary Mac repair store Tekserve in New York was closing. Tekserve was an Apple store before there were Apple stores, but the owners said they simply couldn’t compete anymore.

But in the shutting down, the owners also said they needed to find a new home for 40 Macs that spanned nearly the entire history of Apple: A 128K Macintosh signed by Steve Wozniak; an Apple Lisa; even a NeXTcube from Steve Jobs’ second act. A decision was made to auction them off, but Kosovan put in a bid of $47,000 for the whole collection and won.

Winning presented its own issues, however. Shipping that much computer hardware between the U.S. and Ukraine was going to pose a customs nightmare. So the company enlisted friends and friends of friends to bring the collection over one Mac at a time as they happened to be traveling back and forth.

Eventually, they all landed in MacPaw’s HQ, where a more proper display was constructed for them. The company’s employees were excited, but so were several other local Mac fans who volunteered to come in and get all the Macs back in working in order, Petryk said. The company allows the general public to visit, as well as conducting tours for students.

Above: MacPaw’s current Mac museum in its HQ.

Image Credit: MacPaw

As final touches were being put on the new display last spring, MacPaw got wind of another collection being sold by someone in Poland:

Kosovan acquired that collection too. In addition to even more Macs, this haul included iPads, iPhones, iPods, product posters, and advertising materials — a bounty that was going to be too big to cram into the display space in MacPaw’s office.

So MacPaw recently announced that it has begun looking for a space in Kyiv to create a separate museum for all of these Apple products. The company will celebrate its 10th birthday in July 2018, and the new museum will be among 10 charity projects it plans to focus on this coming year, Petryk said.

The idea is to create a richer experience, with interactive exhibits that tell the story of Apple, in addition to displays of the Apple products. There’s no firm price tag on the project. But for Kosovan, the museum is a way to pay homage to a company that changed his life, as well as to hopefully inspire a new generation.

“He was always grateful for the inspiration that Apple gave him,” Petryk said. “We hope it will be interesting not only for geeks, but for anyone who is looking for inspiration in creative work.”

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MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Pair of Nova True Wireless Earbuds From TRNDlabs

For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with TRNDlabs to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a pair of NOVA True Wireless Earbuds, which are a wireless alternative to the AirPods.

Available for $70 as part of a New Year sale, the NOVA True Wireless Earbuds connect to an iPhone or other Apple device using Bluetooth 4.1, and there are no wires connecting the two earbuds together. Several different tips are available for the NOVA to ensure a comfortable fit.



Like other earbuds of this type, the NOVA Earbuds come with a Power Case for storage and charging purposes. With the built-in battery, the earbuds offer three hours of continuous music playback, with another 60 hours provided by the Power Case.


It takes about an hour to charge the earbuds using the case, and the case itself is charged using a microUSB cable, which comes in the box. As an added bonus, the Power Case can be used as a backup battery for your phone as well.


With an included microphone, the NOVA can be used to make phone calls, and there are touch controls for playing/pausing music, ending a call, and redialing a phone number.

We have five of the NOVA True Wireless Earbuds to give away to MacRumors readers. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (December 29) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on January 5. The winners will be chosen randomly on January 5 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.

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Apple’s iPhone Easily Named ‘Best-Selling Tech Product of 2017’

The iPhone has been named the “best-selling tech product of 2017” by analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights (via USA Today).

Apple’s smartphone achieved the same ranking in 2016, and Ives said that the company will sell a total of 223 million iPhones in 2017, increasing from 211 million sold in 2016.

The iPhone was followed by Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 (33 million), Amazon Echo Dot (24 million), Apple Watch (20 million), and Nintendo Switch (15 million).

The rankings include all models of iPhone grouped together, explaining why the gap is so large between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8.

But all in all, Apple sold more iPhones total, although less than the peak year of 2015, when it moved 230 million units. (That was the year of the iPhone 6, a redesign that brought a bigger iPhone to consumers for the first time and enthralled the public.)

Ives thinks Apple will have an even bigger 2018, with a spring update to its compact SE iPhone and more new phones in the fall. Out of the billion-plus consumer base of the iPhone, “350 million of them will upgrade next year,” says Ives.

In the fourth spot, Ives described Apple Watch as a product that’s now “found its niche” in the wearables market, thanks to the LTE Series 3 update that makes it less reliant on the iPhone. The analyst also cited ongoing discounts for older models, improved battery life on the Series 3, and Apple’s pivot away from marketing the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory to one mainly used for fitness and working out.

Earlier this week, data shared by mobile analytics firm Flurry described the iPhone and iPad as the most popular items gifted around the world for the holidays. Flurry looked at device activations from December 19 to December 25 and noted that 44 percent of new device activations were for Apple products, with the iPhone 7 leading the pack at 15.1 percent of Apple product activations. For the newer models, the iPhone X was at 14.7 percent while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sat at 8.1 and 8.7 percent, respectively.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, iPhone 8, iPhone X

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iFixit cuts the prices on its battery replacement kits to one up Apple’s $29 offer

iFixit, the internet’s most popular repository of guides for repairing Apple devices, has announced that it’s cutting prices for all of its iPhone battery replacement kits down to $29 or less. They usually sell for between $39 to $49, depending on how recent your phone is.

The news comes after Apple announced yesterday that it would be cutting the price of its own battery replacements to $29 for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later, starting in late January and running through December 2018 (a $50 discount off the usual price). The decision came in response to the uproar over Apple slowing down devices with aging batteries to try to preserve performance.

iFixit’s offer outdoes Apple’s in a few ways, offering kits for phones as old as the…

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iFixit Reduces Price of All DIY iPhone Battery Replacement Kits to $29 or Less

Yesterday, Apple responded to customer complaints about how the company handles power management features in older iPhone models and decided to reduce the price for out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements from $79 to $29, beginning in late January and lasting through December 2018. In response, iFixit has decided to match that price point and lower the cost of every DIY iPhone battery fix kit to $29 or less.

iFixit’s kits include every tool that you need to open up an iPhone and swap out an old battery for a new one, and includes coverage for the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 6, 6 Plus, SE, 5, 5c, 5s, and 4s. Apple’s lowered price covers “anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced,” so iFixit’s fix kits also include coverage for older iPhone models excluded from Apple’s new program.

The difference with iFixit is that you’ll have to upgrade and swap out the battery on your own — unlike paying Apple to do it for you — but iFixit explained a few benefits that its DIY fix kits offer.

When we ask our customers why they do the repair themselves rather than take it to Apple, they give us a few reasons:

– Convenience. No need to drive anywhere or wait in line; replace your battery from your kitchen.

– Availability. Many people don’t live near an Apple Store, and don’t have another option for same-day repair.

– Privacy. Some people aren’t comfortable giving their device to someone else.

– Fun. It’s interesting to open up your stuff, find out how it works, and make it function better.

iFixit mentioned that over the last week it has noticed a 3x increase in customers using the site to replace their batteries, and in the last month just over 170,000 people specifically used the iFixit iPhone 6 battery install guide. For all iPhone models, nearly 510,000 people learned how to replace their device’s battery in the last month.

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