Would Apple dare kill the MacBook? It looks more likely than ever before

What if Apple announced the Mac’s retirement? A huge swathe of the company’s devotees would be furious…but is it truly an impossible scenario?

To many, the MacBook has long been the gold standard for luxury laptop computers. But as Apple’s business interests continue to change over time, the importance of the device’s established user base has become less and less relevant to the company.

Apple has enjoyed incredible success thanks to the iPhone and several other wildly popular products — and as a result, the company is poised to do whatever is deemed best for its long-term future. Few of its rivals would kill off such a cash cow, but Apple has no fear of making bold moves forward, even when it means leaving some of its fans behind.

Competition Hots Up

There was a time when the MacBook was an easy choice for anyone looking to dodge the complexity of the Windows laptop market. It was a luxurious yet reliable choice for anyone from students to professionals. Many purchased it not out of fandom, but because they wanted an extremely capable yet intuitive computer.

In recent years, however, the Mac line has struggled to remain ahead of the curve. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is the perfect example. While it debuted to a muted response, it has quickly established itself as a robust multi-purpose laptop. The fact that it’s fitted with a touchscreen — something Apple seems reticent to explore with its MacBook line — gives it an undeniable advantage over its biggest competitor. Today, the Surface Pro serves as a competent, reliable Mac alternative with features that Apple doesn’t offer for Mac.

Granted, it’s not all doom and gloom for Mac. MacBook sales aren’t in decline, they’re simply holding steady, according to figures posted in February 2017. For a company of Apple’s size, though, holding steady doesn’t count for much. Macs were once Apple’s bread and butter, but now they provide a small slice of the company’s earnings. Macs and MacBooks alike seem to remain in production only as fan-service for longtime followers.

The MacBook keeps only a small group of users happy and brings in a relatively small amount of money. Neither of these benefits are particularly important to a company that serves 700 million iPhone users worldwide, and has $250 billion in the bank. Especially given that the MacBook line puts something of a strain on Apple elsewhere.

Pick Your Battles

At present, Apple serves two distinct groups of people with its hardware. Devices running iOS make up 31.06 percent of the global mobile user base, according to data from NetMarketShare — not bad going, considering that all those smartphones and tablets come from one manufacturer, whereas the 65.19 percent of devices that run Android come from various sources. However, MacOS only commands 6.25 percent of the desktop and laptop market. Worse yet, there’s evidence that the Mac’s market share is shrinking.

Given that iOS devices are very popular among users, and MacOS seems to be serving an increasingly specialist audience, Apple might be prompted to take a good look at what the future holds for its two operating systems. As with any ongoing skirmish, success in the device wars demands that resources are placed where they can have the greatest effect.

MacOS and iOS share a common design language, because Apple likes to make its hardware ecosystem as cohesive as possible. However, in terms of the practicalities of their development, they’re essentially separate products.

If Apple were to discontinue its Mac hardware, it could phase out its support for MacOS.

Apple can’t just design software for its larger group of iOS users and then amend it for MacOS. It uses a completely different input method, the software won’t be presented in anywhere near the same aspect ratio, and the type of applications that a desktop or laptop user wants differ dramatically from the most popular on smartphones and tablets.

No matter the enormous financial resources that Apple has access to, there is a finite amount of top-tier UX designers available to the company, especially with competition from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Samsung. If Apple were to discontinue its Mac hardware, it could phase out its support for MacOS. That would free up personnel to focus exclusively on iOS support.

Of course, there’s another possibility. MacOS could instead be phased out in favor of a version of iOS that’s tailored to desktops and laptops. However, the type of user that’s loyal to the MacBook would likely see this as tantamount to the death of the device in its current form, so Apple would still effectively be discontinuing the MacBook in the eyes of its most ardent admirers.

It might seem a little extreme to get rid of a product that sold more than five million units in the first quarter of 2017, but the company has a history of making these kinds of difficult decisions.

Pull the Plug

In the early 2000s, the iPod was something of a phenomenon. Looking back, it’s been eclipsed somewhat by the subsequent success of the iPhone — but it was a critical product for Apple at the time.

The first generation iPod launched in November 2001, and by 2007 the line had exploded in popularity, selling more than 50 million units worldwide over the course of the year. 2007 also marked the release of the first generation iPhone, the first generation iPod Touch, and the iPod Classic, which would turn out to be the final product in its lineage.

iPod Classic

The iPod and iPhone lines managed to coexist well between 2007 and 2010, with the music player maintaining sales of more than 50 million units worldwide. However, Apple continued to put the focus on touch-based models rather than the Classic edition, and from 2010 onwards sales began to decline.

In 2014, Apple officially discontinued the iPod Classic, citing a lack of consumer interest. However, in the wake of its demise, the device was selling for well above its retail price on sites like eBay. It’s clear that there was still an audience for the music player. It just wasn’t an audience that the company was interested in serving.

This isn’t the only instance of Apple employing such a strategy. In recent years, we’ve seen the company exit the standalone display business, and cease its production of wireless routers. Both product lines were popular enough among users, but not popular enough by Apple’s metrics.

It would certainly be an extreme move for Apple to drop the MacBook. However, it would only be a bit more extreme than retiring the iPod Classic, a truly iconic product that would likely have sold steadily for years if the company wasn’t in the midst of pushing touch interfaces.

At Your Service

Speaking on an earnings call in January 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company’s services division had become the fastest-growing element of its portfolio, according to a report from CNBC. Cook went on to state that he expected revenue from services to double by 2020.

The company’s services division had become the fastest-growing element of its portfolio

Since then, we’ve seen plenty of evidence that Apple is keen to beef up its services. The company is set to debut more video content as part of Apple Music before the end of the year, and rumors continue to circulate that it might use some of its considerable war chest to purchase Netflix outright.

Many the services that Apple offers straddle both its iOS and MacOS devices, but the heavy hitters like iCloud, Apple Pay, and the App Store are far more popular on mobile devices. Apple has tried to adapt them to the Mac, but it often seems more trouble than its worth. Even the Mac App Store still seems an awkward fit, and it’s several years old.

Going out in a blaze of glory

For those that love the MacBook, it’s more than just a laptop. It’s a symbol of creative types that hang out in coffee shops to edit photographs and work on their novel, and students who moonlight as DJs and bedroom producers. It’s a system that defined itself against the business laptops that shepherded portable computing into the public conscious in the 1990s.

If Apple does decide to sunset the MacBook line, expect to see a final version along the lines of the iPod Classic. Something to appease the most ardent users, who would rather lose a limb than switch over to the Surface Pro.

Yet it takes more than rabid fans to keep a product alive at Apple, and the Mac is struggling to find its identify in a post-iPhone, post-iPad world. The MacBook’s purpose is not entirely clear — and because of that, its number may soon be up.

You can have your own social media team for just $25,000 a month

Tom Bilyeu has a vision. It’s of a world in which Tom Bilyeu’s wisdom is available to you, aspiring business leader bereft of foresight, at any time, on any platform, in any medium, always and forever. “My product is educational content that changes your life,” says Bilyeu, 41, whose social media feeds are a never-ending stream of positivity. “Blast through ‘good enough’ and become capable of the extraordinary,” one Instagram post reads, the text running below a soft-focus photo of Bilyeu staring off into the distance. Another says, “Human potential is nearly limitless.”

For seven years, Bilyeu was, as he puts it, “the protein bar guy,” the co-founder and president of Quest Nutrition LLC, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of low-carb snacks that reached a $1 billion valuation in 2015. Last fall he left Quest and founded Impact Theory, an entertainment company that he says will be a 21st century equivalent of Walt Disney Co., making its money on long-running franchises. It’s a lofty goal. For now, Impact Theory’s main property is a YouTube talk show Bilyeu hosts from his living room, which averages about 45,000 viewers per episode.

Traditionally, people in his position might try to shop their idea to distributors. But Bilyeu opted for a different route after reading a blog post in November about a new service from VaynerMedia LLC, a New York-based media and marketing agency known for making viral videos for Budweiser and Toyota Motor Corp. Vayner normally works with corporate brands, but last fall it began offering its services to wealthy individuals, mostly businesspeople hungry for exposure, through VaynerTalent. Bilyeu signed up.

“The whole goal entirely is to build my personal brand.”

Today, Bilyeu still looks the part of a nutrition executive—athletic build, intense demeanor. Two to three times a week, Mason Tompkins, a 19-year-old videographer who works for Vayner, follows Bilyeu from meeting to meeting videotaping him. Then, with the help of Vayner’s 750-person staff, which includes producers, social media experts, designers, and copywriters, Tompkins edits the footage into a five-minute reality show broadcast on YouTube and Facebook that runs separate from Bilyeu’s talk show. Later, Vayner reedits it into smaller tidbits to run as clips or stills on other sites, which is how Bilyeu winds up with those gauzy Instagram posts. A Vayner brand director runs his social media feeds, posting almost everything that appears, though Bilyeu approves each quote.

The cost of all this content: $25,000 per month, an investment Gary Vaynerchuk, the company’s namesake and chief executive officer, insists is worth it. “It’s about building attention at scale, which leads to opportunities,” says Vaynerchuk, a YouTube star who parlayed his fame as the host of an irreverent wine-tasting show in the mid-2000s into a career as an advertising executive. He says the offering is designed so clients spend no time creating their own content. Bilyeu chooses to personally respond to followers’ comments and questions, which he says is essential to maintaining the idea that his social media is an authentic extension of himself. As he says, “The whole goal entirely is to build my personal brand.”

Besides Bilyeu, VaynerTalent has signed up executives from General Electric Co. and Microsoft Corp., plus a half-dozen entrepreneurial types. “I get that having somebody follow you around everywhere with a camera is weird,” Vaynerchuk says. He also gets that paying an ad agency more than a quarter million dollars a year to manage your social media feed cuts against the promise of a personalized platform such as Snapchat or Instagram. But he argues that every ambitious businessperson—not to mention actor, musician, and athlete—will eventually be doing something similar. “It’s a new form of PR and communications,” he says.

Bilyeu (center) with staff from Vayner.

Bilyeu (center) with staff from Vayner.

Image: bloomberg/angie smith

Vaynerchuk has dissenters. “If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone,” wrote Cal Newport, a Georgetown University computer science professor, in a New York Times op-ed in November. In the piece, published under the headline “Career Tip: Quit Social Media,” Newport noted that he’d done well for himself despite ignoring Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “Good things will find you,” he wrote.

The argument is appealing, especially at a time when new media consume more and more of our lives, but turning off social networks isn’t realistic for most people. A 2016 study by CareerBuilder LLC and Harris Poll found that about 60 percent of employers use the networks to research candidates, up from 52 percent the year before. And as millennials age and are promoted into management, that percentage is likely to climb. Without social media, says career consultant Miriam Salpeter, “you have to know someone. And even if you have a great contact, they’re going to look at whether you have a LinkedIn profile.” If a hiring manager can’t find you, that’s an obvious red flag.

Most regular people will never hire a social media consultant, of course; the beauty of Facebook and Twitter is that you don’t need one to reap the benefits of exposure, provided you have intelligent and/or funny things to say. But for the super rich and busy, it’s becoming more normal. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook page is maintained by more than a dozen employees, including professional photographers, writers, and community managers who monitor his page for inappropriate comments and spam.

Salpeter offers a scaled-down version of what VaynerTalent promises: For about $2,000 a month, she’ll rewrite your LinkedIn profile and help you become a regular on Facebook and Twitter, where she encourages clients to comment on articles as a way to burnish their credentials as thought leaders. Vaynerchuk designed his service to mimic his own personal social media entourage. Like Zuckerberg, he’s long employed a dozen or so producers—“Team Gary,” as it’s known inside his company—who create a daily reality show, DailyVee, and a weekly interview show, #AskGaryVee. He has more than half a million YouTube subscribers, 2 million Instagram followers, and 1.5 million Twitter followers. Vaynerchuk says at least half the people who buy his package “will make back their investment in their advance on a book deal or on their speaking fees. It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s a deal.”

The promise of a dedicated social media team isn’t just that it will make you look better on popular apps, but that it will help you figure out which platforms matter and spot new opportunities early. “Alexa and Amazon are a high priority right now,” says Lindsay Blum, a vice president at VaynerMedia who runs the talent division, referring to the virtual assistant on Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo device. Any app developer who follows Amazon’s guidelines can create a “skill,” as the company calls it, for the Echo, and Bilyeu has an idea for one: His fans will enable the function, ask Alexa questions, and hear his prerecorded answers. “I want somebody to walk up to Alexa and treat her like she has multiple personalities,” Bilyeu says. “And I’m one of those personalities.”

“If you hit 3 million followers, you’re a force.” 

Sipping a Diet Coke in Vayner’s L.A. headquarters while Tompkins films, Bilyeu says he’ll eventually record answers to fans’ most-asked questions. For now he’ll propose that Amazon recycle sound bites from the dozens of hours of footage Vayner has accumulated. “It’s an experiment. It could be a total flop,” he says. “But chatbots are going to be a big deal.” Bilyeu’s assumption is that one of his devotees in Oakland or Omaha will ask what he thinks about chatbots and hear the same answer, in his voice. If everything goes according to plan, the skill should hit devices this summer, making Bilyeu’s presence that much more ubiquitous. So far, with Vayner’s help, he’s accrued about 120,000 followers across his various platforms, after more or less starting at zero because he’d been posting from Quest corporate accounts that he gave up when he left the company. Even so, he’s a ways from his goal. “If you hit 3 million followers, you’re a force,” he says.

Should anyone get impatient, Vaynerchuk need only point to the opportunities his own social media presence has brought him. They include, in addition to his company, a seven-figure, 10-book deal with HarperCollins Publishers and the reality TV show Planet of the Apps, co-hosted by Vaynerchuk, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and Will.i.am, which is slated to premiere on Apple TV this year. None of his customers has seen results like that yet, but, Vaynerchuk says, a client recently landed a consulting gig after a CEO saw one of the videos Vayner created for her. “I’m empathetic to why people think this is vain or narcissistic or self-promotional,” he says. “But my whole life is doing things that people make fun of—and only look better later.”

Https%3a%2f%2fvdist.aws.mashable.com%2fcms%2f2017%2f5%2f5ed3d221 4113 d459%2fthumb%2f00001

This article originally published at Bloomberg
here

Intel’s Plan to Thunderbolt 3 All of the Things

Nearly two years ago, Intel gave a major boost to Thunderbolt, its zippy hardware interface, by embracing USB-C, the do-it-all port that will eventually eat the world. Now, the company’s attempting another kickstart, this time focusing on making Thunderbolt available to anyone who wants it.

That may be more people than you’d think. Thunderbolt 3 comes equipped with transfer speeds of 40Gbps, which roughly works out to a 4K movie in 30 seconds. It can power devices, and connect to 4K peripherals. But Thunderbolt’s had six years to go mainstream, a combination of high cost and low availability have hampered its success.

USB-C helped with that some: 180 Intel Core PCs now offer Thunderbolt 3, with another 30 or so expected by the end of the year. They’re accompanied by over 60 peripherals. Now, though, Intel is taking two steps to push that adoption even further: integrating Thunderbolt 3 into Intel CPUs, and then making the Thunderbolt protocol specification available to third-party chipmakers, royalty-free, later this year.

“We think the first thing is going to drive broader adoption and deployment of Thunderbolt 3 in PCs,” says Jason Ziller, Intel’s lead for Thunderbolt development. “The second will drive also broader adoption in the ecosystem, with a lot of different peripherals and other devices.”

The broader availability also aligns with an increased need for high-rate transfers and versatility. Much of the workload previously handled by USB ports has been offloaded to the cloud. But in a world of 4K drone videos and PC-driven virtual reality experiences, 40Gbps Thunderbolt’s speed offers an essential time-saver. Assuming ports don’t disappear entirely, it makes sense to get the most out of the ones that are left.

As a case study, look at last fall’s MacBook Pro update. It ditched Apple’s MagSafe charging standard in favor of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, allowing users to power their laptops, connect to a Thunderbolt Display, and transfer data all through the same port.

“There always have been and probably will continue to be some wired ports on even the thinnest and lightest computers,” says Ziller. “So having a single port that really do everything that you need is our vision for Thunderbolt 3.”

Making Thunderbolt 3 easier to incorporate may help drive adoption, but lowering the cost would as well. The cheapest Thunderbolt 3 cable in the Apple Store currently costs $30. And Thunderbolt 3 accessories tend to ring up at significantly higher sums than their USB 3.1 counterparts. Yes, they offer better performance, but still. Thirty bucks for any cable makes for a hard sell.

“Cost is always a consideration,” says Ziller. “I think the integration into future CPUs will help reduce the overall solution cost on the computer. And we’re continually working with the industry to lower the cost of the cables and the devices.” He notes, too, that improving USB-C economies of scale should help Thunderbolt 3 drive down costs as well.

Which amounts to a little bit of wait and see, a familiar game in the world of Thunderbolt 3. Then again, the world’s already used to waiting on Thunderbolt 3 to fulfill its very speedy promise. At least now, the journey doesn’t feel quite so uphill.

Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.

How to get rid of unwanted iPhone apps the easy way

Is your iPhone getting a little crowded with apps that you no longer want or need? We’ll show you how to get rid of them, or hide them away, and clear up some welcome new space. Let’s start with a look at how to delete apps on an iPhone.

Delete a particular app you don’t like

This method is best for those of you who are casually perusing your iPhone and manage to swipe deep into strange and ancient lands filled with apps you had forgotten were ever downloaded. If you’ve come across an app and thought, “Why do I still have this? It’s just taking up space and annoying me,” then this is how you can get rid of them before you’re even finished thinking.

Apps JiggleStep 1: Tap and hold on the icon of the app that you want to get rid of. Hold your thumb or finger directly on the icon for around 2 seconds, until it animates and starts to shake. Here is where a lot of iPhone users get confused, because the newer iPhones (iPhone 7 and onward) respond differently than older iPhone touchscreens. The new touchscreens support 3D Touch, so they can tell the difference between you pressing hard on the icon, and pressing very lightly on it. If you press down too hard — which is a natural reaction — then you will open up the Quick Actions menu for the app instead, which can be frustrating when it happens for the fifth time in a row. Remember to lay your thumb or finger gently on the icon and wait for it to start jiggling.

Step 2: Jiggling apps will show an X mark in the upper left corner of the app icon itself. You will need to tap that X to delete the app. The X is pretty small, so this is some delicate tapping work — take your time and hold your phone steady. When you hit the X, the iPhone will ask you if you really want to delete the app. Say yes, and it will vanish. With a little practice, you can get rid of apps permanently in seconds. This will also typically get rid of any information the app holds, but it will not cancel any subscription you may have through an app (your HBO subscription will still be active without the app, for example).

Deleting Apps

Are these steps not working for you? Sometimes when people try to remove a single app, they can make it “wiggle” but they can’t find the option to delete the app. No worries! That just means that you need to tweak your settings. Head over to the Settings icon (the box of gears), and swipe down to find Restrictions. In here you will find an option named Deleting Apps. Make sure that this capability is turned on, where the slider is green. Now you should be able to go back to your home screen, highlight an app, and have the option to delete it.

Go through your old apps and delete them all

Do you want to delete apps more quickly than just one at a time? There’s a way to do that, too!

Manage Storage Step 1: Head over to Settings and look for the General section up toward the top of the list, and select it.

Step 2: In General, look for Storage and iCloud Usage. The names used for these settings change slightly in different versions of iOS, but they should still be easy to find under Usage or Storage & Backup or a similar name. Once here, choose to Manage Storage for your iPhone.

Step 3: This should bring up a list of all the apps you currently have. Any app that you select will take you to a little app screen that shows what data the app uses, and gives you a very clear option to Delete App. Choose to delete, then confirm. This allows you to quickly go through a list of your apps rather than explore them icon by icon, making mass deletion much easier.

Note about built-in apps

Some iOS apps — known as built-in apps — are included on the iPhone from the beginning and tie into core services, like Contacts, Mail, News, Notes, iBooks, Facetime, Weather, Tips, Stocks and many more.

You cannot permanently delete those apps, but you can get them off your screen. Hold down on the icon until it shakes, and then press X. This will remove the app just like it will with all others, but the data and the capabilities of the app will remain on your iPhone (removing Contacts won’t destroy all your contacts, etc.). You can always re-download these apps and restore them via the App Store if you want.

Alternative: Hide Apps

Hide AppsDo you want more screen real estate, but don’t want to permanently get rid of the apps that you have? There’s a workaround — you can hide the apps that you have downloaded so that they are still there and available via Settings, but their icons won’t show on your screen.

Step 1: Open up the App Store. Once here, go to the Updates tab on the bottom left of the app window.

Step 2: Updates will show you all purchases that you have made that are currently on your iPhone. Find an app that you want to hide, and swipe left on that app. This will bring up a new HIDE button on the right. Tap it, and the app will still be available, but hidden on your home screen.

Samsung’s new Gear 360 camera is way cheaper than the original

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f14493%2f61aed948 cb01 486b 8c3c ce1d654999c2

Get your wallet out because you’ll finally be able to buy Samsung’s new Gear 360 camera starting tomorrow, May 25.

The smaller, more powerful second-generation 360-degree camera will cost $230, which makes it far more affordable than the original’s $350 launch price. You’ll be able to pick up the camera from Samsung, Best Buy, Amazon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. 

Even better is the promotion Samsung’s running: buy a Galaxy S8/S8+ between May 25 and June 19 and you can nab the new camera for only $50. 

Though the new Gear 360 is designed to work best with the Galaxy S8/S8+, Samsung smartly added iOS support this time around, opening the camera up to many more users.

Livestreaming to various platforms (Facebook, YouTube, and Samsung VR), real 4K resolution recording, longer battery life, and the camera’s new handle/body all contribute to a better 360 shooting experience.

Despite some shortcomings, we praised the original Gear 360 for its sleek looks and effortless connectivity and recording capabilities. 

A year ago Samsung was one of the first with a consumer 360 camera and the only one to really nail down the basics, but there’s tons of competition now. Every company from Kodak to Garmin have one. And if they don’t yet (like GoPro), they will

The $230 price, however, gives the new Gear 360 an edge; most comparable consumer 360 cameras cost $300 or more.

If you’re new to 360 cameras, here are a few examples of the kind of 360 photos and videos you can shoot with the Gear 360:

[embedded content]
[embedded content]

And here’s a 360 photo:

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f9104%2f7105aa68 d6c2 46b7 ac89 b3db6a393d25

The latest Spider-Man: Homecoming trailers are all about super-tech

Sony has released a pair of new trailers for Spider-Man: Homecoming this morning. Where the first two show off Peter Parker swinging around New York City, fighting low-level crime, dealing with high school, and aspiring to be an Avenger, these two reveal that we’re in for the most technologically focused Spider-Man film yet.

Halfway through Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark pays Peter Parker and his Aunt May a visit at their Queens apartment. He tells Peter that he’s in “dire need of an upgrade,” and designs a new, advanced suit. While we saw it in action, it’s clear we’re going to really see what this new suit can do. Here, the costume tells him that he’s got 576 possible web-shooter combinations, showing off an enhanced heads-up display and voice much like Stark’s Iron Man suit possesses. Later, we see that he’s got a parachute, which activates when he’s pulled high into the sky by the Vulture, as well as the small spider-drone we saw in the last trailer.

We also get the best sense of Parker’s ambition now, as taking on low-level crime around his neighborhood makes him feel constrained. In one scene, he finds that his suit is far more powerful than he knew, except that there’s a governor installed by Stark, preventing him from using most of its functions. He complains to his friend Ned: “I just feel like I can be doing more.”

Sony also released a new international trailer for the film, which goes in a slightly different direction: it highlights Michael Keaton’s Vulture and gives us a good idea of his beef with Stark and the Avengers.

[embedded content]

“We have to pick up after them,” he complains about the rich and the powerful people in the city. We learn that he helped with the cleanup after the New York battle in Avengers. He figures out how to take the Chitauri technology and create his Vulture suit, which he seems to be using to build new weapons and to steal some of Stark’s advanced weapons.

Between the two trailers, Homecoming seems to be the most technologically-advanced Spider-Man film to date. Peter Parker has always been a sort of hobbyist inventor: he built his webshooters, his suit, and a whole bunch of other gadgets in the comics, but the earlier movies never highlighted that aspect of his character to this degree. The two trailers show off just how important superpowered tech is becoming in the MCU. Clearly, with great power and cool gadgets comes great responsibility and parental controls.

Ultimately, this is shaping up to look like a film about the Avengers, much in the same way Captain America: Civil War was, but on a much smaller scale. It might not be an Avengers film, but their presence and the fallout from their existence is certainly felt.

Spider-Man: Homecoming opens on July 7th, 2017.

Robotic toymaker Sphero unveils Ultimate Lightning McQueen — a chatty, smartphone-controlled car


While Sphero has released a whole lineup of robotic, Internet-connected toys, it remains best-known for its BB-8 droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Today it’s launching its next Disney tie-in — Ultimate Lightning McQueen.

This is a car that you can control from your iPhone or Android, based on the Owen Wilson-voiced character from Pixar’s Cars franchise. (Cars 3 is coming out on June 16.) Ultimate Lightning McQueen is available today for a price of $299.

“As our partnership with Disney has evolved, we’ve been able to start to look at further properties within the Disney portfolio,” explained Product Manager Jenica Watts. (Sphero’s initial connection to Disney was as part of the Disney Accelerator.) “One of the teams had the opportunity to build an amazing, lifelike Lightning McQueen.”

The idea of a remote-controlled car from Cars might not seem all that novel, but it looks like Sphero has put a lot of work into bringing the character to life. Probably the first thing you’ll notice is that his front windshield is an LCD screen displaying Lightning’s animated eyes. And he talks, too — Watts said this is the first time a speaker has been built into a Sphero toy, and there’s even an animatronic mouth that moves as he speaks.

There’s also a feature that Sphero calls “emotive suspension.” That means Lightning doesn’t just drive around — his left and right sides also twitch up and down with excitement, and he’ll speak and move in response to taps on his roof, hood and doors.

This was all supervised by Pixar’s Jay Ward, creative director for the Cars franchise, with advice from Bobby Podesta, supervising animator on Cars 3. The end result is that Ultimate Lightning McQueen has a real sense of personality — enough so that after we’d been charging him for a few minutes in the corner of the TechCrunch New York office, we had to put him to sleep because of his constant demands for attention. (To be fair, that’s probably what we should have done in the first place.)

As for his performance on the road, the smartphone app offers an intuitive interface for driving him around at speeds of up to 6 miles per hour, with support for reversing and drifting. I’m not exactly an experienced remote-controlled driver (some of my friends would say that I’m not much better with an actual car), but even so, I enjoyed crashing Ultimate Lightning McQueen around the Sphero demo space, and then around our office.

The only real difficulty I had was in the initial setup, where it took a couple of tries before I successfully paired my phone with Lightning and downloaded all the needed updates.

There other features I haven’t had a chance to test out yet. For one thing, Sphero says you can watch the Cars films with Lightning and he’ll offer his own commentary (his microphone will pick up the movie’s audio). There’s also a Pit Stop Panic game that you can play on your phone. And the company says it has created more than 150 animations for Lightning to perform, which users can connect together into scripts through an “acting studio” in the app.

[embedded content]

How to delete apps on an iPhone

Is your iPhone getting a little crowded with apps that you no longer want or need? We’ll show you how to get rid of them, or hide them away, and clear up some welcome new space. Let’s start with a look at how to delete apps on an iPhone.

Delete a particular app you don’t like

This method is best for those of you who are casually perusing your iPhone and manage to swipe deep into strange and ancient lands filled with apps you had forgotten were ever downloaded. If you’ve come across an app and thought, “Why do I still have this? It’s just taking up space and annoying me,” then this is how you can get rid of them before you’re even finished thinking.

Apps JiggleStep 1: Tap and hold on the icon of the app that you want to get rid of. Hold your thumb or finger directly on the icon for around 2 seconds, until it animates and starts to shake. Here is where a lot of iPhone users get confused, because the newer iPhones (iPhone 7 and onward) respond differently than older iPhone touchscreens. The new touchscreens support 3D Touch, so they can tell the difference between you pressing hard on the icon, and pressing very lightly on it. If you press down too hard — which is a natural reaction — then you will open up the Quick Actions menu for the app instead, which can be frustrating when it happens for the fifth time in a row. Remember to lay your thumb or finger gently on the icon and wait for it to start jiggling.

Step 2: Jiggling apps will show an X mark in the upper left corner of the app icon itself. You will need to tap that X to delete the app. The X is pretty small, so this is some delicate tapping work — take your time and hold your phone steady. When you hit the X, the iPhone will ask you if you really want to delete the app. Say yes, and it will vanish. With a little practice, you can get rid of apps permanently in seconds. This will also typically get rid of any information the app holds, but it will not cancel any subscription you may have through an app (your HBO subscription will still be active without the app, for example).

Deleting Apps

Are these steps not working for you? Sometimes when people try to remove a single app, they can make it “wiggle” but they can’t find the option to delete the app. No worries! That just means that you need to tweak your settings. Head over to the Settings icon (the box of gears), and swipe down to find Restrictions. In here you will find an option named Deleting Apps. Make sure that this capability is turned on, where the slider is green. Now you should be able to go back to your home screen, highlight an app, and have the option to delete it.

Go through your old apps and delete them all

Do you want to delete apps more quickly than just one at a time? There’s a way to do that, too!

Manage Storage Step 1: Head over to Settings and look for the General section up toward the top of the list, and select it.

Step 2: In General, look for Storage and iCloud Usage. The names used for these settings change slightly in different versions of iOS, but they should still be easy to find under Usage or Storage & Backup or a similar name. Once here, choose to Manage Storage for your iPhone.

Step 3: This should bring up a list of all the apps you currently have. Any app that you select will take you to a little app screen that shows what data the app uses, and gives you a very clear option to Delete App. Choose to delete, then confirm. This allows you to quickly go through a list of your apps rather than explore them icon by icon, making mass deletion much easier.

Note about built-in apps

Some iOS apps — known as built-in apps — are included on the iPhone from the beginning and tie into core services, like Contacts, Mail, News, Notes, iBooks, Facetime, Weather, Tips, Stocks and many more.

You cannot permanently delete those apps, but you can get them off your screen. Hold down on the icon until it shakes, and then press X. This will remove the app just like it will with all others, but the data and the capabilities of the app will remain on your iPhone (removing Contacts won’t destroy all your contacts, etc.). You can always re-download these apps and restore them via the App Store if you want.

Alternative: Hide Apps

Hide AppsDo you want more screen real estate, but don’t want to permanently get rid of the apps that you have? There’s a workaround — you can hide the apps that you have downloaded so that they are still there and available via Settings, but their icons won’t show on your screen.

Step 1: Open up the App Store. Once here, go to the Updates tab on the bottom left of the app window.

Step 2: Updates will show you all purchases that you have made that are currently on your iPhone. Find an app that you want to hide, and swipe left on that app. This will bring up a new HIDE button on the right. Tap it, and the app will still be available, but hidden on your home screen.

Facebook’s personal fundraisers exit beta, now support raising money for sports teams & communities


Facebook announced today it’s expanding its online fundraising tools – basically, Facebook’s own take on a GoFundMe-type service – to include support for community fundraisers as well as those for sports teams. The company had first launched its personal fundraising tools in March of this year, allowing users to raise money for educational, medical or pet medical needs, public crises, natural disasters, personal emergencies, and funerals or loss.

That launch, however, was considered a beta test. Today, Facebook says the product is publicly available for all users in the U.S. who are over 18 years of age.

With the new supported categories, Facebook users are now able to raise money for things like  neighborhood services, community improvements, or environmental improvements, Facebook explains. Or, in the case of sports teams, people can raise money for equipment, competitions or team fees.

All fundraisers have to first go through a review process to ensure they meet Facebook’s policy and guidelines. Afterwards, users can promote their fundraising campaign by inviting friends to join and donate, or by posting the campaign to Facebook.

The launch of personal fundraisers follows a series of other efforts Facebook has made in the fundraising space. The company rolled out a Kickstarter-like feature in 2015 aimed at nonprofits, which allowed the organizations to set up a campaign page, explain their goals and collect cash. And in 2016, Facebook expanded its fundraising tools so individuals could collect funds on behalf of nonprofit organizations, too.

The company then moved directly into GoFundMe’s space this March, even undercutting its rival on the fee structure. Facebook’s personal fundraisers have a 6.9 percent + $.30 fee that goes to payment processing, fundraiser vetting, and security and fraud protection. GoFundMe, meanwhile, takes 7.9 percent + $.30 for personal or charity campaigns.

Facebook touts its lower price point as coming from a desire to encourage giving and good works on its network.

“Facebook’s goal is to create a platform for good that’s sustainable over the long-term, and not to make a profit from our charitable giving tools,” the company said in today’s announcement.

However, the fundraisers have another advantage for the social network. By giving to fundraisers, Facebook is encouraging more payment transactions among its user base – and payments is an area of its business that’s still under-developed today, despite Facebook having added support for person-to-person payments in Messenger.

Access to personal fundraisers are open to all as of now, and can be found via facebook.com/fundraisers on the desktop, or from the “Fundraisers” menu on mobile devices.

Facebook Live viewers can now chime in with private chats — or their own video stream

Why it matters to you

Now, you can share a live-stream with a friend without chatting publicly, or even create your own live-stream together.

As live video continues to grow, Facebook is making the feature even more social. Tuesday, May 23, the social media giant announced two new Facebook Live features with the ability to chat privately with a friend or the option to invite another user to stream with you.

The first feature makes live videos more social by opening up an avenue to chat outside of the public stream of comments. With Live Chat With Friends, users can invite a friend, whether they are already watching or not, to a private chat. These messages are only accessible by invited users, unlike the public comments, which Facebook says already number ten times the remarks on videos that are not posted live.

Facebook is first testing the feature on mobile, but the social media platform expects to add the feature to more outlets this summer.

For users streaming their own live broadcast, friends can now be invited and added using their own camera. The result is a sort of picture-in-picture video coming from two different sources. The feature is a continuation of a similar option that was launched last year but was only accessible to public figure Pages.

Live stream guests can be added by accessing the Live Viewers section or by tapping on comments from viewers. The feature works whether you’re holding your phone horizontally, which puts the video side-by-side, or vertically, which adds a picture-in-picture for the second stream in the corner.

Both features add more social features to live-streaming, with one feature allowing for private chats and another allowing a viewer to chime in themselves during the stream. Facebook is continuing to refine the ability to go live, last week altering algorithms so that videos pushed out as live that are just animations and polls show up lower in the news feed.