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iTunes Trailers Will Host the Trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on Friday

Following news that the upcoming trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens would only be shown before movies in a select group of 30 theaters on the evening of Friday, Nov. 28, today word hit that the trailer will be available on iTunes Movie Trailers as well on the same day. The trailer is said to be 88 seconds long.

That’s a massive turnaround considering the exclusivity of the original arrangement, but it’s apparently legit. The official Star Wars Twitter account tweeted the news this afternoon, and the Twitter account for iTunes Trailers confirmed it shortly after with a tweet of its own. It’s also a bold move for Apple, which up until now hasn’t really used iTunes Trailers for exclusive announcements.

It’s currently unknown if this sort of thing was planned all along, or if the parties involved offered it as an alternative method of viewing the trailer in the wake of protests from fans on social media over the theater screenings. What is certain, however, is that you should be able to watch the trailer for J.J. Abrams’ next film on both the iTunes Movie Trailers app and on Apple’s dedicated website for the service.

Abrams has already finished all filming for the film, although it won’t hit theaters until December 18, 2015.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Users Shifting Away from iPads for Reading

We’ve heard a lot about how consumers love the new screen sizes for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but very little about how that love translates into practical use. The news reading app and service Pocket now has some data to remedy that, and it seems clear that the devices are changing how users are changing their reading habits on their iDevices.

Pocket’s data focuses on 2 million articles and videos that were opened after the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and the team studied how often readers with both an iPad and an iPhone used each respective device to access content saved on Pocket.

Readers who owned an iPhone 5s spent a little more time reading on their iPhones (55 percent of the time), while they used their iPads 45 percent of the time. But those numbers shift dramatically once Apple’s two new large handsets are tossed into the equation. Users with an iPhone 6 started using the device 72 percent of the time, compared to just 28 percent for the iPad.

The numbers jump even higher for the iPhone 6 Plus. Users with both devices read on their iPads with Pocket a mere 20 percent of the time, and the remaining 80 percent of the time was spent gazing at the words displayed on the screen of their gigantic phone. According to the study, video usage among iPhone 6 Plus Pocket users also shot up by 40 percent.

This is well in line with the predictions ahead of the launch of the devices, which argued that large iPhones would eat into the sales of Apple’s famed tablet. The trend may grow even sharper in the coming months, particularly as tablet sales continue to decline and still more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units go out to consumers over the holidays.

You can pick up Pocket for free on App Store.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Morning Report: iPhone 5c on Chopping Block, iOS Search, HandBrake 0.10.0

iPhone 5c

With the extended Thanksgiving weekend upon us here in the U.S., it’s time for one final Morning Report for the month of November. Our Wednesday edition includes details on the fate of iPhone 5c, as well as Google’s coveted deal as the default iOS search engine, plus a swanky new version of HandBrake for Mac has hit the street with new encoders in tow. We’ll be back on Monday, December 1 in time for Cyber Monday — see you then!

iPhone 5c Could Be Axed from Lineup Next Year

MacRumors today reported that Apple appears likely to wind down production of the iPhone 5c by the middle of next year, putting an end to the colorful iPhone 5 variant that received a mixed reception from users and critics alike. Currently available as a budget-priced 8GB model, the report claims Apple is likely to discontinue the device in favor of an all-Touch ID lineup in 2015.

Earlier this week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted the end of the iPhone 5c next year, as well as the iPhone 4S, which would put an end to Cupertino offering devices in the smaller display size altogether.

Yahoo, Microsoft Vying for Default iOS Search Engine Spot

Since the debut of the original iPhone in 2007, Google has been the default search engine for all iOS devices — but that could change in 2015. AppleInsider reported Tuesday that Apple’s current search engine deal with Google is apparently up for renewal next year, which has both Yahoo and Microsoft salivating at the mere thought of becoming the default partner with iOS 9 and later.

According to The Information, both of Google’s rivals have been in contact with Apple SVP Eddy Cue, whose decision is “likely to be based on the quality of the product as much as the potential money made from search ads.”

Google already got kicked to the curb for Siri-based search with the release of iOS 7 last year, with Microsoft-owned Bing stepping up as the default option. iOS users can already change the default search engine for mobile Safari, which includes options for Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.

HandBrake 0.10.0 Adds New Encoders, Filters

Although optical media may be on the decline, there’s still a large contingent of movie and TV fans who prefer to buy DVDs or Blu-rays and rip them for personal viewing on mobile devices or media servers such as Plex. Those users will be happy to learn that open source video transcoder HandBrake released version 0.10.0 this week, with “hundreds of new features, changes, and bug fixes” in tow.

In addition to updating core x264 and libav libraries, HandBrake has added support for next-generation encoders Intel QuickSync, H.265, VP8, and LibFaac, as well as a new Denoise filter and OpenCL scaler for Windows users. The release also brings parity to the user interface across all supported platforms, along with an overhaul to default audio and subtitle settings. HandBrake 0.10.0 is a free download for Mac OS X, available now from the link above.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



Onecue Brings Kinect-Like Motion Controls to Apple TV, Other Devices

We’re still waiting on Apple to start implementing its own motion controls into Apple TV (if they ever come at all), but in the meantime, other companies are already stepping in to fill the gap with third-party devices. Among the most notable is Onecue, which will let you control your Apple TV and other devices with simple gestures of your hands when it’s released in early 2015.

Much like the Kinect that accompanies Microsoft’s Xbox entertainment system, Onecue is a sleek black device that sits in the general vicinity of your television and reads the room for movement. Once it finds it, it picks up on specialized gestures for commands such as changing the channel or lowering the volume (and the video below even shows it going so far as to open the blinds into the narrator’s techy house).

Judging from the video, there’s a huge range of Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled devices the Onecue can connect to, although there’s enough commands on display that learning how to use the thing must feel like participating in a beginner’s sign language course. It’s a universal remote at heart, but it points to a future where we may not need little plastic planks covered in buttons to control the various units in our entertainment centers.

Again, seeing something like this built into Apple TV isn’t far beyond the realm of imagination. Exactly a year ago today, we reported that Apple confirmed that it had purchased PrimeSense, the Israeli company responsible for designing the technology behind Microsoft’s original Kinect. Apple hasn’t incorporated the tech into any of its recent releases, but it’s possible we could see some form of it in the long-rumored upcoming refresh for Apple’s diminutive entertainment system.

Tired of waiting for a rumor? You can pre-order Onecue for your existing Apple TV for 9.99.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Apple’s Market Cap Reaches $700 Billion Milestone

Another day, another story about Apple breaking records for its market value. But this time, it’s really, really impressive. Today the Cupertino company’s market capitalization shot over 0 billion for the first time before slipping a bit in after-hours trading. The current share price stands at 9.65 at the time of writing, which translates into around 7 if Apple’s stock split from earlier in the year is taken out of the equation.

Only a few days ago, Apple reached a market capitalization of 3.2 billion, leading Bloomberg to point out that the iPhone maker was now worth more than the entire Russian stock market. That’s an increase of roughly billion within the span of only two weeks. The company has seen an almost 60 percent boost in the valuation of its stock over the last year alone, and the stock has jumped up by 24 percent in the weeks since the company’s October 16 iPhone reveal event.

That’s a big turn of events considering that so much of 2013 was filled with stories of investors fretting that Apple wasn’t doing enough to introduce new categories and that new CEO Tim Cook perhaps wasn’t the man that should have succeeded Steve Jobs. (In fact, Apple stock has now doubled in value since Cook took the helm.) Apple stock tumbled deeply after reaching a previous market cap of 8 billion in 2012, but the record-breaking sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have pushed it far past that.

And with the holidays just around the corner, Apple’s market cap could rise further still. Apple Pay and the buzz surrounding the upcoming Apple Watch have also attracted the attention of investors, who should find their stockings stuffed with a lot of a green if Apple maintains its current pace.

The Wall Street Journal has compiled a list of 17 facts that put Apple’s 0 billion market capitalization in perspective, and several of them reveal just how far the Cupertino company’s come in just a few years. During the dot-com boom, for instance, Microsoft’s value was a full 26 times larger than Apple; today, Tim Cook’s company is 1.78 percent larger than its Redmond rival.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


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