Apple Shares New ‘Best of 2016’ Video

Apple today added a new video to its YouTube channel, highlighting some of the best apps, songs, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts released during 2016.

The video focuses on all of Apple’s editorial picks for top content, which were first announced in early December, along with some new additions. Content depicted in short clips is organized into categories like “We Celebrate,” “What Mattered Most,” and “The Most Fun,” with a full list available below.



Music:
Drake – Hotline, The Chainsmokers – Don’t Let Me Down, David Bowie – Blackstar, Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better, Maren Morris – My Church

Beats 1: Chance The Rapper – No Problem, Lady Gaga – A-Yo, J Balvin – Safari, Christine And The Queens – Tilted

Movies: La La Land, Moonlight, Deadpool, Sausage Party, American Honey, Kubo and the Two Strings, Sing Street

TV Shows: Steven Universe, This is Us, Atlanta

Podcast: Heavyweight

Apps: Severed, Prisma SketchBook Motion

Books: Yaa Gyasi – Homegoing, Matthew Desmond – Evicted, Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run, Meredith Russo – If I Was Your Girl, Michael Chabon – Moonglow

Apple’s full list of the best Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and Books of 2016 can be found in our dedicated Best Of post. We also did a separate post listing all of Apple’s top App Store picks for the year.
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CES 2017: ‘OWC DEC’ Adds More Storage and Ports to the 2016 MacBook Pro

Other World Computing today announced the OWC DEC, an attachment designed to snap onto the bottom of a 2016 MacBook Pro to add additional functionality to the machine.

The OWC DEC adds 4TB of storage, an SD Card Slot, USB Type-A ports for using standard USB devices, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. According to OWC, additional features will be introduced at a later date.

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OWC has crafted the DEC from aircraft-grade aluminum that’s designed to match with the finish of the MacBook Pro. It attaches flush to the bottom of the MacBook Pro, making it thicker, but doing away with the need for a separate dock. OWC says the DEC will be “as thin as a 2012 MacBook Pro,” which was 0.95 inches thick. The pictures of the OWC DEC appear to be early renderings and do not depict all of the listed ports.

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“We’ve been developing this concept for over three years and feel now is the perfect time for this ground-breaking product,” said O’Connor. “Storage space is always at a premium on a laptop and without the potential to upgrade the factory drive, the OWC DEC gives users that option back in addition to cleanly supporting the legacy gear we all rely on.”

OWC plans to begin shipping the DEC out to customers in the spring of 2017. Pricing has not yet been announced.
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Apple Announces Chinese New Year Event Featuring Free Beats Solo3 Headphones With Mac or iPhone Purchase

Apple today announced an upcoming one-day sale in celebration of Chinese New Year, where the company will provide free Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones in red to all customers who purchase a select Mac or iPhone in various countries around the world.

The sale will kick off on January 6 at 8:00 a.m. local time and will be available in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. A Chinese New Year announcement is available in Malaysia, but the country is not included in the free headphone offer.

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To get the free Beats headphones, customers in eligible countries will need to purchase an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro, but the late 2016 MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar is excluded from the sale. Eligible iPhones include the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus.

Apple’s sale announcement is accompanied by a New Year’s gift guide featuring a range of New Year’s-themed products in red and gold, including a lion dance LionBot kit, a limited edition DJI Phantom 4 drone, and a Chinese New Year iPhone 7 case from Tech21.

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Last year, Apple celebrated Chinese New Year by introducing two exclusive Apple Watch Sport models featuring (PRODUCT)RED Sport Bands.
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Apple’s AI Team Publishes First Research Paper Focused on Advanced Image Recognition

photos-iconEarlier in December, Apple announced that it would begin allowing its artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers to publish and share their work in papers, slightly pulling back the curtain on the company’s famously secretive creation processes. Now, just a few weeks later, the first of those papers has been published, focusing on Apple’s work in the intelligent image recognition field.

Titled “Learning from Simulated and Unsupervised Images through Adversarial Training,” the paper describes a program that can intelligently decipher and understand digital images in a setting similar to the “Siri Intelligence” and facial recognition features introduced in Photos in iOS 10, but more advanced.

In the research, Apple notes the downsides and upsides of using real images compared with that of “synthetic,” or computer images. Annotations must be added to real images, an “expensive and time-consuming task” that requires a human workforce to individually label objects in a picture. On the other hand, computer-generated images help to catalyze this process “because the annotations are automatically available.”

Still, fully switching to synthetic images could lead to a dip in the quality of the program in question. This is because “synthetic data is often not realistic enough” and would lead to an end-user experience that only responded well to details present in the computer-generated images, while being unable to generalize well on any real-world objects and pictures it faced.

This leads to the paper’s central proposition — the combination of using both simulated and real images to work together in “adversarial training,” creating an advanced AI image program:

In this paper, we propose Simulated+Unsupervised (S+U) learning, where the goal is to improve the realism of synthetic images from a simulator using unlabeled real data. The improved realism enables the training of better machine learning models on large datasets without any data collection or human annotation effort.

We show that this enables generation of highly realistic images, which we demonstrate both qualitatively and with a user study.

The rest of the paper goes into the details of Apple’s research on the topic, including experiments that have been run and the math proposed to back up its findings. The paper’s research focused solely on single images, but the team at Apple notes towards the end that it hopes to sometime soon “investigate refining videos” as well.

The credits on the paper go to Apple researchers Ashish Shrivastava, Tomas Pfister, Oncel Tuzel, Josh Susskind, Wenda Wang, and Russ Webb. The team’s research was first submitted on November 15, but it didn’t get published until December 22.

At the AI conference in Barcelona a few weeks ago, Apple head of machine learning Russ Salakhutdinov — and a few other employees — discussed topics including health and vital signs, volumetric detection of LiDAR, prediction with structured outputs, image processing and colorization, intelligent assistant and language modeling, and activity recognition. We’ll likely see papers on a variety of these topics and more in the near future.
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What to Buy With the iTunes Gift Card You Unwrapped Today

itunes-gift-cardiTunes gift cards are a common gift for the tech enthusiast during the holidays. The cards can be used to purchase apps, games, music, movies, TV shows, books, and more, making it difficult to decide what to buy with your freshly unwrapped gift. We’re here to help with some hand-picked recommendations.

Didn’t get an iTunes gift card under the tree? PayPal is offering 10% off iTunes e-gift cards through December 30 in the United States for use on U.S. storefronts only. Available denominations include $25, $50, and $100 for $22.50, $45, and $90 respectively. PayPal is also offering a $50 iTunes e-gift card for $42.50 via eBay in the United States for a limited time. While iTunes gift cards can occasionally be found for 15% off, these are a few of the best deals currently available.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the script for a two-part play based on a new original story J.K. Rowling helped to write. The book was released in July as the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, nearly a decade after the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book was released.

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The story begins 19 years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter is now an overworked Ministry of Magic employee, a husband, and father of three school-aged children, including his youngest son Albus, who struggles with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is available in a digital format for $14.99 on the iBooks Store [Direct Link] for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Texture — Unlimited Access to 200+ Magazines

texture-magazinesTexture is an iPhone and iPad app that provides unlimited access to over 200 of the world’s most popular magazines for $9.99 per month. New users who purchase a subscription as an in-app purchase get a 7-day full trial.

Some of the magazines available include People, Vogue, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, GQ, Sports Illustrated, Wired, Maxim, Men’s Health, GQ, Bloomberg Businessweek, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, and many others.

Magazines can be read on up to five devices per subscription, including offline by tapping download on a specific issue. Both new issues and a searchable archive of over 5000 past issues are available. A full catalog of available magazines, additional details, and sign-up promotions can be found on the Texture website.

Texture is a free download on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone and iPad. The app won a Best of 2016 award on the App Store.

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run launched on the App Store for iPhone and iPad ten days ago, becoming the first official smartphone and tablet game featuring the iconic Nintendo character. The game is free to try for the first three courses, while unlocking all 24 courses in the World Tour requires a one-time $10 in-app purchase.

The game is a timed runner designed for one-handed gameplay. Mario runs forward automatically as players tap to jump, collect coins, pounce on Goombas, avoid obstacles, and reach the flagpole at the end of each course before the timer runs out. In the end, Mario must rescue Princess Peach from Bowser.

A challenge mode called Toad Rally allows players to compete with friends or strangers to see who can obtain the highest score while performing stylish moves. Toad Rally requires Rally Tickets, which can be acquired in a variety of ways, such as clearing worlds or through bonus games in your own kingdom.



Meanwhile, a Kingdom Builder mode enables players to create their own kingdom and customize it using coins and toads gathered in Toad Rally. Super Mario Run has since gained a new Friendly Run mode similar to Toad Rally, but items, coins, or new toads collected do count toward a player’s public totals in this mode.

Super Mario Run has been downloaded over 40 million times, but some players have criticized the $10 cost to unlock the full game due to limited gameplay. But, in the game’s defense, there are technically 72 courses given players have to collect pink, purple, and black challenge coins on each of the 24 courses.

Super Mario Run is available on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone and iPad. An always-on Wi-Fi or cellular connection is required.

Apps on Sale

A number of popular iPhone and iPad apps are on sale through the holidays, including Day One, Tweetbot, Alto’s Adventure, Byword, djay Pro, Duet Display, NBA 2K17, Limbo, SteamWorld Heist, Severed, Battleheart Legacy, PCalc, Pennies, Drafts, Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition, Broken Age, and many others.

app-store-holiday-sales-2016

More deals, including discounts on Mac apps, can be found on AppShopper or in the App Santa promotion, which runs through December 26. TouchArcade has also finalized its list of the 100 best games available this year. As a reminder, no new or updated apps will appear on the App Store until after December 27.

Apple Music Subscription

iTunes gift cards can be used to pay for an Apple Music subscription, which costs $9.99 per month for individuals, $14.99 per month for families with up to six people, and $4.99 per month for students in the United States and Canada. Prices and student plan availability vary in other countries.



Those looking for a slightly better deal on an annual Apple Music subscription should consider a 12-month Apple Music gift card, which Apple sells for $99. A 12-month subscription to Apple Music normally costs $120 when paying for the service directly with iTunes credit or another form of payment, so you can save $20.

Minecraft for Apple TV

Minecraft for Apple TV launched last week, giving players the familiar task of venturing into a randomly generated world and customizing it to their liking.

minecraft-apple-tv

Minecraft: Apple TV Edition is $19.99 and can be purchased directly from the tvOS App Store on the fourth-generation Apple TV.

Holiday Movies

With the holidays and winter weather upon us in the northern half of the world, now is a better time than ever to snug up on the couch and relax. Apple is offering a wide range of holiday movies in HD for $10 or less in the United States for a limited time, so this may be a good way to spend some iTunes credit.

• Elf

• National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

• Home Alone

• Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

• Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

• The Polar Express

• A Christmas Story

• It’s a Wonderful Life

• Love Actually

• The Night Before

• Mickey’s Christmas Carol

• The Muppet Christmas Carol

• A Christmas Carol (2009)

• A Christmas Carol (1984)

• Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas: The Movie

• Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
• Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

• The Santa Clause

• Bad Santa

• The Holiday

• This Christmas

• The Family Stone

• Last Holiday

• Jingle All the Way

• A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

• Scrooged

• The Best Man Holiday

• The Family Man

• Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights

• Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

• Black Nativity

• Fred Claus

• The Perfect Holiday

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New iPhone, iPad, or AirPods? Get Extra Apple-Certified Lightning Cables for Just $6

anker-lightning-cableFor those lucky enough to find a new iPhone, iPad, or AirPods under the tree today, now is the perfect time to outfit your home, car, work desk, bedside table, or elsewhere with extra Lightning charging cables.

Apple charges $19 for its 1-meter Lightning to USB charging cable, but you can save yourself $13 by purchasing an Apple-certified 0.9-meter Anker Lightning to USB charging cable for just $5.99 on Amazon.

The cable qualifies for free two-day shipping in the United States for Amazon Prime members. Without a Prime membership, free standard 6-8 days shipping in the U.S. is available on orders over $49 in total.

While counterfeit Apple cables and chargers on Amazon are common, and potentially dangerous, Anker claims its cable is certified by Apple under its MFi Program. MFi-certified products have been certified by the developer to meet Apple performance standards. The Wirecutter, owned by The New York Times, said Anker has the best Lightning cable.

This article is not affiliated with Anker, but MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may sometimes get paid if you click one of the above links.
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Apple’s bulletproof Wall Street growth story came to a halt this year

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  The tech giant announced its new iPad Air, a new iPad mini with Retina display, OS X Mavericks and highlighted its Mac Pro.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) This year was an interesting one in a long time for Apple — but not necessarily in a good way. iPhones aren’t selling the way they used to, the Apple Watch isn’t a big hit, and Alphabet is emerging as a bigger and formidable competitor. And that has Wall street asking some serious questions about Apple’s future. At the beginning of the year, Apple experienced a… Read More

Apple is reportedly putting Mac development on the back burner

Apple only released one substantial update to its entire lineup of Mac computers in 2016, and what a controversial update it was. To many outsider observers, the last year made it feel like the Mac is far from a priority at Apple — and a report from…