First iOS 12.1 public beta offers Group FaceTime

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FaceTime group calls iOS 12
Group FaceTime is back! Sort of. You can call 32 friends at once if you're all willing to install iOS 12.1 public beta 1.
Photo: Apple

Anyone who’d like to try out iOS 12.1 can now do so. Apple just seeded the first public beta, a couple of days after the developer-only version.

Be warned: those who are going to trade in their current iPhone for a shiny new iPhone X’s tomorrow absolutely should not install this.

Apple monitors your iPhone usage to assign you a ‘trust score’

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Apple Maps reservation OpenTable
Apple is watching to be sure your device is really being used by you, and has begun giving each an iPhone trust score.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

In an attempt to prevent fraudulent purchases from the iTunes Store, Apple has begun giving each iOS device a “trust score.” Exactly how this is computed isn’t known, but one of the factors is how many phone calls and emails are sent and received by the phone or tablet.

Despite the laudable goal of preventing fraud, an iPhone trust score is something likely to raise the hackles of privacy advocates. Still, Apple promises that it’s not tracking its users.

iPhone XS reveals its secrets in first teardown video

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The first iPhone XS teardown video shows the unusual L-shaped battery.
The first iPhone XS teardown video shows the unusual L-shaped battery.
Photo: FixjeiPhone

The iPhone XS debuts tomorrow, but a video showing this device being disassembled is already available. This not only gives the first look at the internal components but reveals some of the details about this smartphone.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of Apple’s new high-end model is the L-shaped battery.

HomePod kills where it matters most: making money

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Siri Lights
Apple is in business to make a profit, and HomePod sales are bringing in more revenue than any of its rivals.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Weak HomePod sales caused it to fall off of the list of top 5 smartspeakers during the second quarter of this year. But there’s a very important metric where this product is beating all its rivals.

And it’s a category where Apple excels: making money.

Apple completely dominates premium smartphone sales

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iPhone X
Sales of the iPhone X were vastly higher than the equivalently-priced Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Samsung sells more phones than Apple, and its high-end devices like the Galaxy S9 get lots of attention. That means Samsung sells as many top-tier models as Apple, right? Nope, not even close.

Apple sells close to twice as many premium phones as its top rival. In this case, “premium” is any handset costing over $400. Which is a fairly low bar.

DNC urges Democrats to dump Android for iPhone

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GrayKey can bypass iPhone security
iPhone security impresses the new head of information security at the Democratic National Party.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Democratic National Committee has a solution for improving its smartphone security: switch to iPhone. It suggests that Democratic organizations get rid of all their Android devices.

This is especially true if the phones are from ZTE, a company with ties to the Chinese government.

Apple Watch Series 4 reviews: The watch of the future is here today

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Apple
Apple Watch Series 4 is significantly better than the earliest versions of this wearable.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s next-generation wearable launches Friday, so the first batch of Apple Watch Series 4 reviews appeared today. The experts with early access sound quite positive about this device.

They like the new display and the faster performance. The new ECG heart monitor function can’t yet be tested, however.

Apple makes last payment on $16.7 billion in Irish back taxes

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money
Even given Apple's $1 trillion valuation, $16.7 billion in back taxes is a big chunk of money Apple hopes it will get back.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple has now transferred all €14.3 billion it has been ordered to pay Ireland for back taxes. The cash will stay in an escrow fund while Ireland tries to convince the EU that Apple should get its money back.

This is part of an on-going saga with the EU accusing Ireland of being a tax haven, and Apple caught in the middle.

iOS 12.1 confirms new iPads are on the way

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2018 iPad Pro concept art
Looks like the rumored 2018 iPad Pro models are coming after all.
Photo: Álvaro Pabesio

The September Apple event came and went without any mention of the iPad Pro models that had been the stars of so many rumors. But there’s still hope! Buried deep in the just-released iOS 12.1 beta 1 is a clear reference to an iPad on the docket for this fall.

So be patient. The redesigned tablets we’ve heard so much about could be coming soon.

iPhone’s controversial notch may get smaller next year

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Can you spot the change in the 2019 iPhone models?
Can you spot the change in the 2019 iPhone models?
Photo: Ben Geskin

The 2018 iPhones aren’t even out yet and we already have our first rumor about next year’s models. If you’re hoping for big changes in the 2019 iPhones, better temper your expectations. It seems the next-generation of Apple handsets will include displays the same size size as this year’s iPhone XS and XS Max.

But there reportedly will be one significant difference. One that many people will like.