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The TikTok Teens Trying to Meme the Vote

By Arielle Pardes
Groups like Tok the Vote believe viral clips are the best way to get young people to cast their ballots.

How to Watch the Final 2020 Presidential Debate

By Caitlin Kelly
Joe Biden and Donald Trump square off for the second and last time on a debate stage Thursday night in Nashville.

The Horny Internet Wants You to Vote

By Jason Parham
From X-rated Twitter feeds to ErectionSeason.com, sex workers are using their talents to get fans to the polls.

Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: Space 2020

By Darrell Etherington

TC Sessions: Space is happening this December 16 and 17 — our first-ever dedicated space event. This is a live, virtual two-day conference featuring the most important people in the space industry, across public, private and defense.

We’re thrilled to be hosting NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations General Jay Raymond, Lockheed Martin VP and head of civil space programs Lisa Callahan and many more. In addition to the firesides and panel discussions of the virtual stage, the event will also include networking, startup presentations and the chance to connect with attendees from around the world.

Below, you’ll find the official agenda for TC Sessions: Space. It’s a packed two days already, but we’ve got some extra surprises in store, so keep an eye on the agenda over the coming weeks for more great speakers and sessions we’re adding.

If you want to be a part of this event, you can grab a ticket to get exclusive access to watch these sessions live (with access to video on demand), network with the innovators changing the space industry, discover the hottest early-stage companies, learn how to score grants for your space company, recruit talent or even find a job with an early-bird ticket for just $125. And we have discounts available for groups, students, active military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to give their startup some extra visibility.

AGENDA

Wednesday, December 16

Asteroid Rocks and Moon Landings with Lisa Callahan (Lockheed Martin Space)

From robots scooping rockets from the surface of galaxy-traveling asteroids, to preparing for the return of humans to the surface of the moon, we’ll cover all aspects of scientific and civil exploration of the solar system.

From Space Rock Returns to Financial Returns – An investor panel with Chris Boshuizen (DCVC), Mike Collett (Promus Ventures), and Tess Hatch (Bessemer Venture Partners).

Some investors spend a lot of their time looking to the stars for the next venture capital opportunity. It’s a market unlike any other, but does that change the math on equity-based investment?

Building Up a Business Looking Down at Earth with Payam Banazadeh (Capella Space), Peter Platzer (Spire Global), Rafal Modrzewski (ICEYE)

How Earth observation is one of the real moneymakers in the space category and what’s ahead for the industry.

Networking Break

With our virtual platform, attendees can network via video chat, giving folks the chance to make meaningful connections. CrunchMatch, our algorithmic matching product, will be available to ensure you’re meeting the right people at the show, as well as random matching for attendees who are feeling more adventurous.

Sourcing Tech for Securing Space with Lt. General John Thompson (United States Space Force)

Lt. General Thompson is responsible for fostering an ecosystem of non-traditional space startups and the future of Space Force acquisitions, all to the end goal of protecting the global commons of space. He’ll talk about what the U.S. is looking for in startup partnerships and emerging tech, and how it works with these young companies.

Launching a Launch Startup with Tim Ellis (Relativity Space) and Chris Kemp (Astra)

The launch business is booming, but besides SpaceX and Rocket Lab, there isn’t anyone far enough along to truly capitalize in terms of new space startups. We’ll talk to the founders of companies hoping to be next in line.

Taking Entrepreneurship to the Moon, Mars and Beyond with James Bridenstine (NASA)

NASA is going back to the Moon – this time to stay. The agency has made tremendous progress towards this goal under Administrator Bridenstine, who will join us to talk about how they’re taking private partners with them this time around, including a lot of startups.

Thursday, December 17

Public-private Partnerships in the Domain of Space Defense with General Jay Raymond (United States Space Force)

Hear from the head of the U.S. Space Force what it takes to secure an entirely new war-fighting domain, and how the newest branch of the U.S. military will be looking to private industry to make it happen.

The TechCrunch Desk 

Hang with us at the TechCrunch Desk to catch up on what you may have missed from across the show and a preview of what’s to come.

From Idea to Orbit with Peter Beck (Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab has quickly become one of the most sought-after launch providers in the world. Founder and CEO Peter Beck will discuss the company’s approach to making space more accessible, from cheaper, faster launches to its new satellite platform.

Bridging Today and Tomorrow’s Tech with Meagan Crawford (SpaceFund) and J. Christopher Moran (Lockheed Martin Ventures)

Corporate VC funds are a key source of investment for space startups, in part because they often involve partnerships that help generate revenue as well, and because they understand the timelines involved. We’ll talk about how they fit in with more standard venture to power the ecosystem.

How to Get the Air Force to Buy Your Stuff with Will Roper (United States Air Force)

We’ll be talking about the best ways to understand what the Air Force needs and how to sell it to them.

Ground Control to Major Tom with John Gedmark (Astranis), Ben Longmeir (Swarm Technologies), and Mina Mitry (Kepler Communications)

Data connectivity and communications are key to commercial space monetization and the strategic plans for further space exploration and development. Hear from the key players about the state of play in the industry.

In Space, No One Can Change Your Oil – Yet with Daniel Faber (Orbit Fab) and Ron Lopez (Astroscale)

Once a spacecraft is in orbit, it’s on its own – but what if it could be refueled, repaired, refurbished, and if necessary, retired? OrbitFab founder Daniel Faber and Astroscale U.S President Ron Lopez will discuss how in-space operations could upend today’s engineering and business models.

If you’re interested in a sponsored speaking opportunity to join the stage with these fantastic speakers, contact us here to speak with someone from our sales team!

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck is coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020

By Devin Coldewey

Over the last few years Rocket Lab has gone from its very first orbital launch to regular commercial missions, with the goal of being the most responsive launch provider on the planet. Founder and CEO Peter Beck will join us at our all virtual TC Sessions: Space event happening on December 16 & 17 in December to talk about the new launch ecosystem and building a company to compete with industry giants.

Rocket Lab’s 15th mission, “In Focus,” is scheduled to take off this very afternoon, with 10 Earth observation satellites from Canon Electronics and Planet. It has already put satellites in orbit for NASA, the NRO, and numerous private companies. The company’s launch cadence has slowly increased, though the loss of a mission in July soured its plan to go from months to weeks between launches.

But Beck, who has led the company from its inception in 2006, saw this as just another challenge to take head-on, and within the month Rocket Lab had gotten to the bottom of the issue and was clear to fly again.

“If you’re going to own a rocket company and launch vehicles, you have to be prepared for this kind of thing,” he said at the time. And now Electron is even more reliable than it was before, he pointed out.

Now Rocket Lab is expanding into adjacent businesses as well with the secretive launch of its First Light satellite platform, demonstrating tech that it hoped to share with customers who don’t want to build a satellite from scratch. “It’s just really painful to go from an idea to getting something in orbit,” he said, and by making it easier to actually build a spacecraft, it both democratizes space and creates customers out of thin air.

At TC Sessions: Space, Beck will discuss all of this and more. You can get early-bird tickets right now, and save $100 before prices go up on November 13 — and you can even get a fifth person free if you bring a group of four from your company. Special discounts for current members of the government/military/nonprofit and student tickets are also available directly on the website. And if you are an early-stage space startup looking to get exposure to decision makers, you can even exhibit for the day for just $360.

Is your company interested in presenting your company at TC Sessions: Space 2020Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.

How Online Extremists Could Interfere With the Election

By Emma Grey Ellis
Far-right factions say they're willing to take action to keep President Trump in the White House. The question is whether those actions are viable—or dangerous.

Trump says ‘nobody gets hacked’ but forgot his hotel chain was hacked — twice

By Zack Whittaker

According to President Trump speaking at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday, “nobody gets hacked.” You don’t need someone who covers security day in and day out to call bullshit on this one.

“Nobody gets hacked. To get hacked you need somebody with 197 IQ and he needs about 15 percent of your password,” Trump said, referencing the recent suspension of C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, who admitted falsely claiming his Twitter account was hacked this week after sending a tweet to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

"Nobody gets hacked. To get hacked you need somebody with 197 IQ and he needs about 15 percent of your password."pic.twitter.com/6aR8yU2MVg

— Martin (@mshelton) October 19, 2020

There’s a lot to unpack in those two-dozen words. But aside from the fact that not all hackers are male (and it’s sexist to assume that), and glossing over the two entirely contrasting sentences, Trump also neglected to mention that his hotel chain was hacked twice — once over a year-long period between 2014 and 2015 and again between 2016 and 2017.

We know this because the Trump business was legally required to file notice with state regulators after each breach, which they did.

In both incidents, customers of Trump’s hotels had their credit card data stolen. The second breach was blamed on a third-party booking system, called Sabre, which also exposed guest names, emails, phone numbers and more.

The disclosures didn’t say how many people were affected. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t “nobody.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

It’s easy to ignore what could be considered a throwaway line: To say that “nobody gets hacked” might seem harmless on the face of it, but to claim so is dangerous. It’s as bad as saying something is “unhackable” or “hack-proof.” Ask anyone who works in cybersecurity and they’ll tell you that no person or company can ever make such assurances.

Absolute security doesn’t exist. But for those who don’t know any different, it’s an excuse not to think about their own security. Yes, you should use a password manager. Absolutely turn on two-factor authentication whenever you can. Do the basics, because hackers don’t need an IQ score of 197 to break into your accounts. All they need is for you to lower your guard.

If “nobody gets hacked” as Trump claims, it makes you wonder whatever happened to the 400-pound hacker the president mentioned during his first White House run.

Joe Biden Is Very Offline—and That’s OK

By Kate Knibbs
If the former veep wins, it won’t be because he had an online meme army behind him. That’s a good sign for American politics.

Twitter’s ‘Hacked Materials’ Rule Tries to Thread an Impossible Needle

By Andy Greenberg
The company’s flip-flopping on the policy after banning a shady New York Post story highlights the challenges facing social media in 2020.

Google Assistant, Maps and Search can now help you figure out where to vote

By Greg Kumparak

Election Day approaches! Still not sure where the nearest polling place or ballot drop box is? Google wants to help.

This morning the company rolled out a handful of features across Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Search, all meant to kick in when a user seems to be looking for information on voting locations.

On Google Search, for example, a search for “ballot drop boxes near me” will now bring up a dedicated tool for finding just that — punch in the address where you’re registered to vote, and it’ll help you find a drop box or polling place accordingly. The same tool will also pop up when you search for things like “how to find polling place” or “where to vote,” so there’s some flexibility in it.

Or if you’ve got an Assistant-powered device nearby (like a Nest Mini, Nest Hub or an Android phone), you can say “Hey Google, where do I vote?” and Assistant should be able to figure it out accordingly based on your current location (with Assistant assuming, as it’ll note in its response, that your current location is where you’re registered to vote).

The Maps integration is a bit more limited, but it gets the job done. Searching for “where do I vote” in the Google Maps mobile app results in a prompt that will toss you into the above web-based Google Search flow. Once you’ve found your location, tapping the “Directions” button will swing you back into the Maps app.

Google says it’s pulling its polling location information from the Voting Information Project as part of a partnership with Democracy Works. The company says they’ll be adding more polling places leading up until Election Day, expecting to have more than 200,000 in the system when all is said and done.

Don’t want to get your polling place details from Google, or just want to double check things? There’s always sites like Vote.org (which, if you’re curious, is what Siri recommends when prompted with the “Where do I vote?” question), which also provides info on checking your voter registration status, becoming a poll worker, etc.

What the iPhone 12 tells us about the state of the smartphone industry in 2020

By Brian Heater

The smartphone industry was in transition well before COVID-19 was a blip on anyone’s radar. More than 13 years after the launch of the original iPhone, these products have long since transitioned from luxury items to commodities, losing some of their luster in the process. The past several years have seen slower upgrade cycles as consumers grew reluctant to pay $1,000 or more for new devices.

And while the iPhone 12 was no doubt in development long before the current pandemic, the pandemic’s global shutdown has only exacerbated many existing problems for smartphone makers. The clearest representation of Apple’s reaction is in the sheer number of iPhones announced at today’s “Hi Speed” event. Long gone are the days when a company could rest on a single flagship or two.

Today’s event brought a grand total of four new iPhone models, ranging in price from $699 to $1,099: the 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. As with the Apple Watch, the company is keeping last year’s iPhone 11 around and has cut the price to $599. That puts the older model in the high-mid-range for Android devices, but represents a far cheaper entry point than we’re accustomed to for Apple phones.

Lab-grown meat project gets first taste of EU public funds

By Natasha Lomas

A cultured meat research program led by a Spanish biotech firm has been awarded a €2.7M grant under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 R&D funding framework. The consortium project, called ‘Meat4All’, says it’s the first lab-grown meat research effort to get public investment by the EU — which it’s taking as a sign that regional lawmakers are “effectively” committing to cultured meat.

EU president Ursula von der Leyen has made a Green Deal a key plank of her policy plan for the bloc — with the long term aim of the region being “climate-neutral” by 2050. At the same time factory farming remains a massive contributor of greenhouse gases — meaning there’s an imperative to rethink how Europe produces food and what people eat. Boosting investment in renewable energy and improving building insulation (which the Commission has also pledged to do) won’t be enough to meet key climate targets. So there’s growing opportunity for regional businesses to innovate around meat alternatives — whether that’s lab-grown meat or plant-based proteins.

The Meat4All project was awarded the Horizon 2020 grant at the start of August but it’s just being announced now. San Sebastián-based BioTech Foods, which has been producing a slaughter-free pork-cell based product called Ethicameat sicne 2017, is leading the consortium.

French firm Organotechnie, a biotech supplier, is also participating.

The aim of the project is the “Industrialization and commercialization of a competitive, sustainable and consumer oriented alternative animal protein source”, with their proposal focused on increasing cultured meat production technology; working on market acceptance; and testing to assess safety to bring more cultured meat products to market.

Commenting in a statement, Iñigo Charola, CEO of BioTech Foods, said: “It is hugely satisfying for the entire team at BioTech Foods, and for our partners at Organotechnie, to obtain this backing from the European Union for our ‘Meat4All’ project. This is the first time that Europe has effectively committed to cultured meat. Cultured meat will be a key ingredient of our future diet, and now we have it confirmed also by the institutions.”

Key aims for the consortium include scaling up production of cultured meat from kilograms to tonnes; maintaining the nutritional value for large-scale amounts; obtaining the means to culture cells free from animal serum; and the use of animal cells that have not been genetically modified.

Other stated aims include developing a competitive product and performing taste tests to determine and predict market demand.

“By extending this technology, ‘Meat4All’ will create a new development area which will enable the European industry to leverage the high potential of this market, by fostering competitiveness and creating growth throughout the European Union,” they also write in a press release, adding: “The challenge is none other than to reach the production capacity necessary to supply the meat processing industry.”

PopSockets is working on MagSafe-compatible iPhone accessories

By Sarah Perez

PopSockets will support Apple’s MagSafe technology, TechCrunch has confirmed — meaning you’ll soon be able to pop on and off these ubiquitous iPhone accessories without worrying about the sticker on the back losing its adhesiveness over time and needing a rinse.

MagSafe, Apple’s charging brand, is now the company’s new system for iPhone wireless charging and easy-to-attach accessories, introduced today at Apple’s iPhone event.

Thanks to the new array of magnets positioned around the wireless charging coil, the iPhone will be better aligned when connected with Apple’s MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger — designed for wirelessly charging the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 plus Apple Watch, respectively.

But the system also enables a range of MagSafe accessories that work with iPhone 12.

Apple is introducing its own accessories, with new silicone, leather and clear cases that easily snap on the back of the iPhone 12 models, as well as an attachable iPhone wallet. The company also said on Tuesday that consumers should expect a range of MagSafe accessories from third-party manufacturers.

I’ll admit, my mind was on PopSockets for some reason before the Apple event. Which is why when MagSafe was introduced, my first thought was oh, PopSockets! 

I’m probably not alone.

The company has sold more than 165 million PopSockets Grips since launching in 2014, and has since expanded its grippy-things-on-the-back-of-your-phone product line to include all sorts of variations — like PopSockets with mirrors or lip gloss, tiny versions, PopSockets with wallets, Otter + PopSockets phone cases and even PopSockets that match your nails. (Oh, and they’ve got face masks to match your PopSockets now, too.)

PopSockets Grips can be removed a number of times, but they can lose their stickiness over time. The company says the solution is to give the little dongle a rinse and let it air dry for about 10 minutes, then stick it back on the iPhone and let it set for a couple of hours.

This can be a bit of a tedious process, which is why the company introduced PopSockets Grips with interchangeable covers, aka PopTops.

However, a line of MagSafe-compatible PopSockets line would mean you wouldn’t have to worry about the product’s stickiness wearing off. As a result, users might be induced to buy more of these iPhone dongles — perhaps even accumulating a collection they can swap out at will, to match their outfits or mood.

It also means that users could forgo having to use a case with their iPhone — as iPhone 11 owners currently have to — in order to take advantage of PopSockets Grips.

Conversely, it could open PopSockets to more competition in the accessories market, as companies won’t have to out-engineer the Grips and their patent-protected technology. Instead, rivals could simply expand their existing product lines with MagSafe-compatible items for an upcharge and increase their revenues.

PopSockets says it has MagSafe products in development, but isn’t announcing details at this time.

Note: Image does not show MagSafe-compatible products. 

Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro camera upgrades sharpen focus on serious photographers

By Devin Coldewey

Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro heaps improvements on the already formidable power of its camera system, adding features that will be prized by “serious” photographers — that is to say, the type who like to really mess around with their shots after the fact. Of course, the upgrades will also be noticeable for us “fire and forget” shooters as well.

The most tangible change is the redesign of two of the three lens systems on the rear camera assembly. The Pro Max comes with a new, deeper telephoto camera: a 65 mm-equivalent rather than the 52 mm found on previous phones. This closer optical zoom will be prized by many; after all, 52 mm is still quite wide for portrait shots.

The improved wide-angle lens, common to all the new iPhone 12 models, has had its lens assembly simplified down to seven elements, improving light transmission and getting its equivalent aperture to F/1.6. At this scale, practically every photon counts, especially for the revamped Night Mode.

A disassembled iPhone camera.

Image Credits: Apple

Perhaps a more consequential (and portentous) hardware change is the introduction of sensor-level image stabilization to the wide camera. This system, first used in DSLRs, detects motion and shifts the sensor a tiny bit to compensate for it, thousands of times per second. It’s a simpler, lighter-weight alternative to solutions that shift the lens itself.

Practically every flagship phone out there has some form of image stabilization, but implementations matter, so hands-on testing will determine whether this one is, in Apple’s words, “a game changer.” At any rate, it suggests that this is going to be a feature of the iPhone camera system going forward, and gains we see from it are here to stay; the presenter at today’s virtual event suggested a full F-stop, allowing two-second handheld exposures, but I’d take that with a grain of salt.

An image showing the layers of a picture processed by an iPhone.

Image Credits: Apple

On the software side, the introduction of Apple ProRAW will be a godsend to photographers who use the iPhone either as a primary or secondary camera. When you take a photo, only a fraction of the information the sensor collects ends up on your screen — a huge amount of processing goes into removing redundant data, punching up colors, finding a good tone curve and so on. This produces a good-looking image at the cost of customizability; once you throw away that “extra” information, the colors and tone are restricted to a much narrower range of adjustment.

An iPhone showing the camera app shooting in RAW mode.

Image Credits: Apple

RAW files are the answer to this, as DSLR photographers know — they’re a minimally processed representation of what the sensor collects, letting the user do all the work to make the photo look good. Being able to shoot to a RAW format (or RAW-adjacent; we’ll know more with hands-on testing) frees up photographers who may have felt hemmed in by the iPhone’s default image processing. There were ways of getting around this before, but Apple has an advantage over third-party apps with its low-level access to the camera architecture, so this format will probably be the new standard.

This newfound elasticity at the image format level also enables the iPhone Pros to shoot in Dolby Vision, a grading standard usually applied in editing suites after you shoot your movie or commercial on a digital cinema camera. Shooting directly to it may be helpful to people planning to use the format but shooting with iPhones as B cameras. If cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki approves, it’s good enough for pretty much everyone else on Earth. I sincerely doubt anyone will cut their work together on the phone, though.

These two advances, ProRAW and Dolby, suggest that Apple’s improved silicon has left a lot of wiggle room in the photography backend. As I’ve written before, this is the most important segment of the imaging workflow right now, and the company is probably coming up with all kinds of ways to take advantage of the power offered by the latest chips.

Though larger cameras and lenses still offer advantages that the iPhone can never hope to match, the reverse is true as well. And the closer the iPhone gets to offering cinema-like quality — even if it’s simulated — the greater its advantages of portability and ease of use grow in proportion. Apple has been ruthlessly targeting enthusiast photographers, who aren’t quite sure if they want to buy a DSLR or mirrorless system in addition to a phone with a nice camera. By sweetening the deal on the phone side, Apple surely rakes in more of these users every generation.

Of course the Pro phones come at a significant premium over the normal range of iPhone devices (the Max starts at $1,099), but these improvements aren’t impossible or really even difficult to bring to lower-end models — most of them will probably trickle down next year. Of course, by then a whole new set of features will have been cooked up for the Pro devices. For photographers, however, planned obsolescence is part of the lifestyle.

Snapchat among first to leverage iPhone 12 Pro’s LiDAR Scanner for AR

By Sarah Perez

Apple introduced its latest flagship iPhone models, the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, at its iPhone event on Tuesday. Among other things, the devices sport a new LiDAR Scanner designed to allow for more immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences. Snapchat today confirms it will be among the first to put the new technology to use in its iOS app for a lidar-powered Lens.

As Apple explained during the event, the LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) Scanner measures how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back.

Along with iPhone’s machine learning capabilities and dev frameworks, lidar helps the iPhone understand the world around you.

Apple adapted this technology for its iPhone 12 Pro models, where it’s helping to improve low-light photography, thanks to its ability to “see in the dark.”

Image Credits: Apple presentation, screenshot via TechCrunch

The technology can also be used by app developers to build a precise depth map of the scene, and help speed up AR so it feels more instantaneous, while enabling new app experiences that use AR.

In practice, what this means for app developers is the ability to use lidar to enable things like object and room scanning — think, better AR shopping apps, home design tools or AR games, for example.

It also can enable photo and video effects and a more exact placement of AR objects, as the iPhone is actually able to “see” a depth map of the room.

Image Credits: Apple presentation, screenshot via TechCrunch

That can lead to new AR experiences like what Snapchat is prepared to introduce. Already known for some best-in-class AR photo filters, the company says it will soon launch a lidar-powered lens specifically for the iPhone 12 Pro models.

Apple gave a brief peek at Snapchat’s lidar-powered feature during the lidar portion of the iPhone event today.

Here, you can see an AR Lens in the Snapchat app where flowers and grasses cover the table and floor, and birds fly toward the user’s face. The grasses toward the back of the room looked as if they were further away than those closer to the user, and vegetation was even climbing up and around the kitchen cabinets — an indication that it saw where those objects were in the physical space.

The birds in the Snapchat Lens disappear as they move behind the person, out of view, and even land precisely in the person’s hand.

We understand this is the exact Lens Snapchat has in the works, but the company is holding further details for the time being. However, it shows what a lidar-enabled Snapchat experience would feel like.

You can see the Snapchat filter in action at 59:41 in the Apple iPhone Event video.

 

Updated, 10/13/20, 4:47 PM ET with confirmation that the Lens shown during the event is the one that will launch.

Apple’s stock dips and Verizon’s recovers during iPhone event

By Alex Wilhelm

Earlier today Apple announced a slew of new hardware. In case you’ve not yet caught up, there’s a $99 HomePod Mini coming, new iPhones, a new method for shouting at your electronics, the return of MagSafe, some cost-cutting masquerading as environmentalism and, of course, new flagship phones.

And in a move that caused telecom investors to sit up straight and pay attention, Apple trotted out Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg for part of the presentation — which is why we add our parent company’s parent company to our usual post-Apple-event share price reaction roundup.

Market reaction

Shares of Apple were mixed before the event, managing to work their way back to flat during morning trading ahead of the event. Down before Apple kicked off its iPhone shebang, equity in the phone giant dipped and then rallied as the event got underway.

But the partial erasure of losses was short-lived, and Apple wound up losing ground during the presentation (chart via YCharts, annotations via TechCrunch):

For Apple shareholders then, not a day worth writing home about.

The Apple event appeared to have a more electric impact on my employer. See if you can spot the point at which Verizon appeared as part of the event (chart via YCharts, annotations via TechCrunch):

Now that is the sort of reaction that we hope to see from events of this sort. Why? Because it implies that the company on stage has managed to do something so notable that its share price moved; this is another way of saying that investors were surprised by what they learned.

Apple events tend to leak in advance these days, so perhaps the usual lack of share price movement from the company’s equity is to be expected.

Verizon’s news, in contrast, was more of a surprise. The company “announce[d] its nationwide 5G network” in the words of The Verge. Investors liked that, but later sold the company’s shares back down a bit.

Apple’s iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max: what’s the difference?

By Brian Heater

Gone are the days a company like Apple could simply roll out a single flagship handset or two. Consumer demands have evolved quite a bit in the more than 13 years since the company released its first smartphone, and its offerings have had to evolve with it. That means now, more than ever, offering a broad range of choice in terms of feature set, size and price.

Apple actually announced four phones at today’s event: the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Add to that the fact that the company is keeping the 11 around at a lower price point, and that leaves iOS devotees with more options than ever when it comes to purchasing a new handset, with starting prices ranging from $599 to $1,099. And, of course, configurations go up from there.

All of the new devices announced today share some key common features: 5G connectivity, the new magnetic MagSafe connector, OLED displays and the A14 chip, for starters. They also get the new iPad Pro-style design, complete with straight edges that allow for the placement of additional antennas for the next-gen wireless connectivity. From there, however, things get more complicated. There’s a range here in size, cameras and capacity for starters.

Here’s a handy chart to keep it all straight:

chart comparing iPhone 12 models

[click to enlarge]

Apple unveils its flagship 5G phones, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max

By Sarah Perez

At Apple’s iPhone event on Tuesday, the company introduced a range of new phones, led by the just-announced flagships: the iPhone 12 Pro, starting at $999, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, starting at $1099. The new 5G-ready devices sport an all-screen Super Retina XDR display, the A14 Bionic chip, a Ceramic Shield front cover, LiDAR Scanner, and of course, the iPhone line’s best camera system.

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations and four stainless steel finishes, including graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue.

5G, of course, will be one of the bigger selling points for the devices as the new technology will boost speeds, meaning faster downloads and uploads, higher quality streaming, more responsive gaming and faster responses in apps, among other things.

Of course, some of the immediate demand for new 5G phones may be tempered by the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing economic hardships for many — particularly in markets like the U.S. where the virus is still spinning out of control. Work-from-home users may also not feel as strong a need for an immediate upgrade to the technology, as they would have before the pandemic, given that many are now spending a larger portion of their time indoors on their home Wi-Fi.

Image Credits: Apple

In the U.S., Apple says the iPhone 12 Pro models will be able to reach speeds of up to 4Gbps, even in densely populated areas. A “Smart Data” feature will also help with the transition to faster speeds, by intelligently balancing data usage and battery power in real-time.

Inside, the new devices also include the A14 Bionic chip, featuring a 16-core Neural Engine — for an 80% increase in performance, Apple claims. It’s capable of completing 11 trillion operations per second, and is faster and more efficient than prior iterations.

Aesthetically, the new iPhones will look somewhat different too.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max will now have a flat-edge design and an edge-to-edge OLED display with reduced borders. These “squarer” edges give the device a more classic look reminiscent of older model iPhones.

On the Pro Max, iPhone gets its biggest-ever screen and the highest resolution, at neary 3.5M pixels.

The back for these new devices is matte glass and the phone sports at stainless steel band, around the edges. But what’s new is something Apple is calling “Ceramic Shield.” This tougher front cover aims to improve the “shatterability,” so to speak, which Apple claims improves drop performance by 4x compared with iPhone 11 Pro. (Oh, we’ll see!)

Image Credits: Apple

The iPhone 12 Pro models are also water resistant for up to 6 meters for 30 minutes (or the IP68 rating, as it’s known.)

Another key reason people opt for the high-end models is the camera system, of course.

This time around, Apple says it’s aided by a new image signal processor (ISP), the A14 Bionic, and the models will feature “Apple ProRAW” later this year. This format combines Apple’s multiframe image processing and computational photography capabilities with the versatility of the RAW format. In practice, this means users will be able to exert creative control over color, detail and dynamic range both natively on the iPhone and using third-party photo editing tools.

The iPhone 12 Pro features also a new 7-element lens Wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture, the fastest now available in the iPhone line, and promising improvements in low-light video and photos. The Ultra Wide camera has a 12-degree field of view, while the Telephoto camera has a 52 mm focal length, bringing the optical zoom range to 4x.

The iPhone 12 Max ups things further with a 47% larger sensor with 1.7μm pixels for a 87% improvement in low-light conditions, Apple claims. It also has the Ultra Wide camera and a Telephoto camera with a 65 mm focal length, for a 5x optical zoom range.

Night mode has also now been expanded the to TrueDepth and Ultra Wide cameras, and Night mode Time-Lapse promises sharper videos, better light trails, and smoother exposure when used with a tripod.

Deep Fusion is also now faster, and Smart HDR 3 is an update for more true-to-life images, says Apple.

Image Credits: Apple

For video, the new models offer HDR video with Dolby Vision, up to 60 fps, and improved video stabilization. Users can even share their 4K Dolby Vision videos on AirPlay.

Also new is the LiDAR Scanner, which matters for AR (augmented reality).

The improvement here means faster and more realistic AR with an improved autofocus by 6x in low-light scenes. That could lead to some interesting new apps and experiences within apps, like Snapchat filters. (We spotted Snapchat in the demo briefly, though it wasn’t specifically mentioned.)

Another consumer-friendly feature coming to the new iPhone models is MagSafe, which helps with wirelessly charging as well as allowing users to snap on magnetic accessories, like Apple’s new Leather Wallet with MagSafe. These will go on sale along with the MagSafe Charger and iPhone 12 Pro Silicone Case and Clear Case on Oct. 16. Leather Cases will go on sale Nov. 6. A MagSafe Duo Charger and Leather Sleeve will later follow.

Image Credits: Apple

Pre-orders for iPhone 12 Pro begin Friday, October 16 at 5 AM PDT, with availability beginning Friday, October 23. iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order Friday, November 6 at 5 AM PST, and in stores beginning Friday, November 13.

 

Here’s everything Apple announced at its ‘Hi, Speed’ iPhone event

By Greg Kumparak

Just shy of one month after their last event, Apple was back today with another one. Everyone had a pretty good feeling this would be the one where they announced this year’s new iPhone… instead, Apple announced four new iPhones, plus a new HomePod, for good measure.

Didn’t have time to follow along live? Here are the highlights:

HomePod Mini

Image Credits: Apple

Apple kicked things off by announcing the HomePod Mini — which, as you’ve probably gathered from the name, is a smaller version of its HomePod speaker.

Apple’s focus with the HomePod Mini definitely seems to be getting you to buy multiple units and spreading them around your house — they started off by recapping Siri’s smart home capabilities, then introduced a new feature called “Intercom,” which lets you broadcast a message to all of your HomePods from your iPhone, Apple Watch, CarPlay or another HomePod. Put two HomePods in the same room, Apple says, and they’ll automatically become a stereo pair.

HomePod Mini will cost $99, and, like its bigger counterpart, will come in two colors: white and space grey. Pre-orders will start on November 6th, with the first units shipping “the week of November 16th.”

Four new iPhones

iPhone 12 family lineup

Image Credits: Apple

Why would Apple announce one new iPhone when they could announce four?

With a lineup that will probably lead to a bit of confusion, Apple today announced the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The devices get a little bigger, a little fancier and a bit more expensive as you go down the line. Want a deeper look at how the specs on the four new models compare? Find our side-by-side here.

The big focus here is on improved displays, improved cameras (night mode on the wide and ultra-wide cameras!) and the introduction of 5G support across the lineup. The form factor borrows some angles from iPhones of yesteryear, with flat sides that’ll probably remind you of the iPhone 4 or 5.

The iPhone 12 Mini will start at $699 and come with a 5.4″ display, while the iPhone 12 will start at $799 with a 6.1″ display. The iPhone 12 Pro will start at $999 with a 6.1″ display, but polishes up the spec sheet with a stainless steel body (versus aluminum on the non-pro models) and the addition of a 12MP telephoto lens. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will start at $1,099, but packs a massive 6.7″ display. The Pro models also pack lidar sensors, allowing them to do things like ultra-fast focusing in low-light situations, or 3D room scanning.

The displays on all of the new iPhones will feature a new “Ceramic Shield” technology that Apple built in partnership with Corning, which the company says improves the odds of your device surviving a fall by 4x. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini will come in blue, green, red, white and black; the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, meanwhile, will come in blue, gold, black and white.

All four phones will run on Apple’s A14 Bionic chip — the same one that powers the iPad Air the company just announced last month.

So when will these things actually start shipping? The pre-order/ship dates are a liiiiittle bit tangled — so if you’ve got a model picked out already, make sure you’ve got the right date marked on your calendar: the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro go up for pre-order on 10/16, shipping on 10/23. The iPhone 12 Mini and the 12 Pro Max, meanwhile, go up for pre-order on 11/6 and ship on 11/13.

(Apple also noted that it will continue to sell the iPhone 11, dropping the base price by $100 down to $599.)

MagSafe

iPhone 12 Pro Silicone Case_Leather Wallet with MagSafe

Image Credits: Apple

“MagSafe” is back! Sort of. Well, in name, at least.

Borrowing a name from the charging system of Apple laptops past, the new iPhone’s MagSafe system allows it to automatically snap into the optimal place on a wireless charger, while also allowing for snap-on accessories like magnetic cases or credit card holders.

The company also announced the MagSafe Duo Charger (a folding setup meant to allow you to charge both an iPhone and an Apple Watch) and noted that MagSafe-compatible accessories from third parties like Belkin were on the way.

MagSafe Duo Charger

Image Credits: Apple

No more power adapter or headphones in the box

It’s been rumored for months, but now it’s official: Apple will no longer be including headphones or a wall power adapter with the iPhone. The company cites the potential environmental impact as their reasoning, noting that there are already “billions” of compatible chargers out in the world. The new iPhones will ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable — just not the bit that plugs into the wall.

IPhones won’t come with headphones or power adapters in the box from now on

By Devin Coldewey

That drawer full of bad headphones and extra power adapters for your phone won’t get any more cluttered if you decide to pick up a new iPhone 12. Apple will no longer include those items in the box, part of a redoubled effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

In a segment of its iPhone-centric event today, Apple’s Lisa Jackson explained that the company is hoping to have “net zero climate impact” globally by 2030, meaning everything from manufacturing and assembly to packaging and device recycling will be carbon neutral. Achieving that means relying more on solar power and efficient operations, of course, but also reducing waste.

To that end the company will no longer include the familiar white headphones that have come in the box since the early days of the iPhone, nor the standard outlet adapter for the power cable.

“Customers already have over 700 million Lightning headphones, and many customers have moved to a wireless experience,” said Jackson. “There are also over 2 billion Apple power adapters out in the world, and that’s not counting the billions of third-party adapters.”

Thankfully there will be a power cable in the box: a standard USB-C to Lightning cable that you can plug into your old wall adapter or a laptop. Well, not the old old ones, but the fairly recent ones. To be honest, you might need a dongle.

The result is not just fewer things in the box, but a smaller actual box, letting the company fit more of them into a pallet. That may sound like a bit of a stretch for effect — “really, you’re saving the world by making the box smaller?” — but at the scales Apple operates at, fitting half again as many devices into a shipment means saving thousands of trips. It’s the equivalent, Apple notes, of taking some 450,000 cars off the road per year.

Apple didn’t mention its part in creating an endless yearly cycle of questionably necessary replacements of perfectly good devices, or in making millions of accessories obsolete with choices like removing the headphone jack, but that’s to be expected. They may be part of the problem there, but so is every other major consumer electronics manufacturer, and at least Apple is trying to balance things out a bit.

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