How to remedy the very slow import of AVCHD media into Final Cut Pro 10.4

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Are you having an issue importing AVCHD video in Final Cut Pro X? Here’s something that can help!

I’ve been testing and prepping my camera gear to take on my Overlanding excursions this coming spring. In my testing I’ve encountered a very annoying and head scratching error that would cause any imports of AVCHD video files to hang at 0% while importing and then finally make Final Cut Pro X crash. Luckily I found the cause to my troubles and hopefully it will help you out as well.

Old Software Cruft

I’m not a big fan of starting from scratch when getting a new Mac system and as such I usually import all of my settings and applications from my previous system. This time, however, I was bitten by this practice. My issue was the presence of the open source software “Perian”.

Perian was a software bundle that allowed earlier versions of QuickTime on macOS to play video formats not directly supported by the OS. Perian has not been maintained since 2012, so as you can see, my applications can go way back.

Perian was competing with my Final Cut Pro X install (since QuickTime and FCP on macOS are very tightly integrated) while importing my AVCHD files. Prior to this I was using MP4 files and as such I never encounter the error.

Removing Perian

Luckily, even though Perian hooked deeply into macOS, removing it was very simple.

  1. Shut down Final Cut Pro.
  2. Open System Preferences.
  3. Click for Perian. (It looks like a Swiss army knife)
  4. Select the General tab.
  5. Under the Installation header, click Remove Perian.

  6. Click the < to go back to the main System Preferences panel.
  7. Option-click or two finger click the Perian icon.
  8. Select Remove “Perian” Preferences Pane.

  9. Done! Once completed, I started up Final Cut Pro X and tested an AVCHD import and it functioned quickly and without issue. Problem solved!

Comments

When I first encountered this issue I googled my usual tech haunts for a solution but I was met with a variety of suggestions from downgrading Final Cut Pro X to wiping my macOS completely! Thankfully, I didn’t have to go that route. Do you have a fix or a solution to a Mac related problem? let us know in the comments on how you solved it!

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Latios and Latias: How to catch the Eon Duo in Pokémon Go

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These delightful little dragons are no joke in a battle, so make sure you come prepared!

Pokémon Go has made Latios and Latias, known originally as the Eon Duo, available in different places across the world from April 3 to May 8, where they will switch places and be available everywhere else for until June5. If you want them, you’re going to have to beat ’em and catch ’em!

What is Latios and Latias in Pokémon Go?

Latios and Latias are Legendary Pokemon from the Hoenn region, making them Generation 3 Pokemon. These Dragon/Psychic creatures has shown up in several episodes of the show and movies, usually show up together. In Pokemon Go, you’ll be battling them individually like you would any other Legendary raid.

Here’s the official description from Pokemon:

Latios has the ability to make others see an image of what it has seen or imagines in its head. This Pokémon is intelligent and understands human speech.

And from Bulbapedia:

Latios is a bird-like, dragon Pokémon with an aerodynamic body. The lower half of its body is blue with jet-plane wings and fin-like feet. It has a red triangular marking on its chest. By tucking its wings and forelimbs, it can fly faster than a jet. It has white and blue arms that can be tucked into its body. The upper-half of its body is white. It has triangular ears and a blue face with a white oval in the middle. Latios is a male only species; Latias is the female counterpart.

How do you beat the Legendary Latios and Latias Raid Bosses in Pokémon Go?

Since Latios and Latias are Dragon and Phychic hybrid types, the list of true weaknesses is actually a little on the slim side. Broadly speaking, the kinds of attacks you want to use are:

  • Bug
  • Dark
  • Fairy
  • Dragon
  • Ghost
  • Ice

You should avoid using Pokemon these two are strong against, which includes:

  • Electric
  • Fire
  • Grass
  • Fighting
  • Psychic
  • Water

The Pokemon/Move combinations to use against these kinds of opponents are:

Pokémon Fast Move Charge Move
Dragonite Dragon Tail Outrage/Draco Meteor
Rayquaza Dragon Tail Outrage
Tyranitar Bite Crunch
Scizor Fury Cutter X-Scissor
Gengar Shadow Claw Shadow Ball
Absol Snarl Dark Pulse

There aren’t a ton of differences between fighting Latios and Latias, but the one big difference is access to the Charge Move Solar Beam. Some versions of Latios will have it, but no versions of Latias will have it. This means you can use different anchor Pokemon to fight the Eon Duo depending on what your full complement of team members looks like. For example, Kyogre and Groudon can typically absorb quite a bit of damage but Solar Beam will tear right through them both.

It’s also important to know Latios and Latias have access to multiple Fast Moves which truly live up to the name. These Legendaries attack faster than just about anything else you are likely to encounter in this form, and they hit hard. Standard versions of Latios and Latias are 49323 Raid Boss CP and 45704 Raid Boss CP respectively, so not only do the Eon Duo hit hard and fast but they also absorb quite a bit of damage and don’t have a tone of easy to exploit weaknesses. If you are used to taking on a Legendary Raid with 4-5 people, you may want to make sure you have at least one other person to help with these fights.

How do you catch the Legendary Latios and Latias Raid Boss in Pokémon Go?

Legendary Raid Bosses are really hard to catch by design, but Latios and Latias aren’t quite as difficult to hit as some of the others you may have encountered so far. The Eon Duo are the smallest of the Hoenn Legendaries by far, which means they are closer to you and you don’t have to throw the ball quite as far back.

That having been said, these are still hovering dragons which move around quite a bit. For the best results, I recommend:

  1. ABC. Always be curving. Once you can nail Curve Ball every time, you’ll get a 1.7x bonus every time.
  2. Max out your medals. If you have both the Flying and Fire medals, it’s an automatic 1.1x to 1.3x bonus to your catch.
  3. Play patient. Raid bosses defend better than normal Pokémon, so wait until 3/4 of the way through their attack animation and then make your catch. You should hit just as the ring appears.
  4. Consistency counts. Aim for the smallest throw bonus you can nail every time. If that’s Nice, it’s nice. If that’s Great or Excellent, even nicer. But better the bonus you get then one you miss, and every extra 1.3 to 2x counts.
  5. Nanab over nothing. If you have a hard time even hitting the Ho-Oh, use a Nanab. Some chance is better than no chance.
  6. Go Golden: If you have Golden Razz Berries, and the Raid Boss you’re trying to catch is either your first or the higher stats (IV) you’ve encountered, lay them on. Their 2.5x modifiers are the best in the game.
  7. Keep hitting. Your chance to catch with any one Premier Ball is low but your chance to catch with multiple Premier Ball hits over multiple Raids becomes close to a statistical sure thing. So never give up!

How do I know if I caught a good Latios or Latias?

After you’ve caught one or both of the Eon Duo, you can use the Appriase function in your Pokedex to see if you caught a good one. In this case, there are two primary versions of each Pokemon to keep an eye out for.

Latios will show up as a 2083 CP Pokemon at 100% IV in normal catch situations, but if you catch while the weather bonus in-game is Windy you will see 2603 CP at 100% IV.

Latias will show up as a 1929 CP Pokemon at 100% IV in normal catch situations, but when the in-game weather is Windy it will be boosted to 2412 CP.

Basically, you want to go and fight in Eon Duo raids when it is Windy, and you’ll get the best possible versions of these Pokemon.

Now get out there and catch ’em!

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AgileBits introduces 1Password Business for larger teams

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AgileBits just launched an iteration of their famous password manager specifically for businesses, featuring compliance controls, three-factor authentication, and more.

Today, AgileBits — the developing company behind widely-used password manager 1Password — announced the newest addition to its family of password management solutions. Called 1Password Business, the service is a bit like 1Password Teams, but built specifically for managing larger groups, protecting your employees, and securing your data.

With 1Password Business, you can make sure you keep up with GDPR, HIPAA, SOC2, and other compliance regulations by better controlling who has access to what using very meticulous permissions, custom groups, device restrictions, and travel restrictions. And, when you need to share a password with a certain group of employees for a specific situation, you can do that as well. AgileBits themselves even use 1Password Business to stay compliant:

We ourselves are growing quickly and long gone are the days where everyone worked on every project. We are looking to hire another 100 people this year, and 1Password helps us stay compliant with our SOC2 regulations as we grow.

In addition to compliance controls, 1Password Business features automated provisioning for when your business is growing so quickly that onboarding is a real pain:

Active Directory Integration – automate provisioning and de-provisioning.
Okta Integration – allow Okta to manage your team for you.
Command line Integration – integrate 1Password into your custom business flows.

On top of both of those huge features, 1Password Business offers third-factor identification, advanced auditing and reporting, and free family accounts. For more information you can check out AgileBits’ blog post.

If you’d like to sign up for 1Password Business, you can do so by heading to the 1Password sign up page and choosing the plan that’s right for you — a Business subscription is priced at $ 7.99 a month. If you’re uncertain, you can even get a 30-day free trial to make sure 1Password gels with your business practices.

Questions?

Share any questions in the comments below!

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Apple hires Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence

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Apple has hired Google’s former chief of search and artificial intelligence. He will be in charge of Apple’s machine learning and A.I. technologies.

According to a new report from The New York Times, Apple has hired John Giannandrea, Google’s now-former chief of search and artificial intelligence. He will reportedly take over the company’s efforts in machine learning and A.I.

Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.

Perhaps sensing the concern some might have for an artificial intelligence expert from Google joining the famously privacy-focused company, Tim Cook seemed to quell concerns in an email to Apple employees:

“Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear. John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”

Apple’s balance between customer data protection and advances in A.I. and machine learning is a common topic among pundits. The company has been criticized for not placing enough focus on advances in artificial intelligence. Hiring the guy in charge of A.I. at a company that regularly receives props for its A.I. and machine learning features is quite the move.

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How to stop Apple Pay from pestering you into signing up

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Some can feel pestered by the constant notification badge reminding them to sign up for Apple Pay. Here’s how to get rid of it.

If you’ve set up a new iOS device in recent years, you’ll have come across a prompt to set up Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment solution. If you’ve ever opted to perform that task later and then didn’t do so, you’ll also likely have seen a red notification badge on your Settings app and opened it only to discover not a new update, but a message urging you to set up Apple Pay.

Maybe you think you can’t get rid of that badge. Maybe somebody told you that you can’t. But here’s the thing: you definitely can. I’m going to tell you how.

How to stop Apple Pay from pestering you into signing up.

If you don’t want to sign up for Apple Pay when you’re setting up a new device, just tap Set up Later in Settings when you get to that screen in the setup process. But if you’ve gotten the notification badge, here’s what you need to do to get rid of it.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Finish Setting Up Your iPhone/iPad

  3. Tap Set Up Apple Pay.
  4. Tap Cancel.

That’s all you need to do. The badge should disappear after a moment, and you shouldn’t hear about it again. Of course, if you want, you can always sign up for Apple Pay.

Questions?

If you have any questions about how to prevent Apple Pay from pestering you, let us know in the comments.

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When is the next Nintendo Direct?

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Here’s a recap of the last few Directs and when the next one will be.

Nintendo Direct is Nintendo’s newest way to update you on what is coming to their consoles, but they have changed routes and made it mostly Nintendo Switch content. With these updates, Nintendo tells us about what plans they have for future games and about any updates that may be coming sometime soon. Here is a recap of the past Directs and when we expect the new one to come.

Nintendo Direct- 4-12-2017

In April of last year, we witnessed one of the first Nintendo Directs that had information about the Nintendo Switch as well as amiibos. There were game announcements and advancements announced last April, and it was only the start of the improvements we would see for the Nintendo Switch.

  • Three new Link amiibo that were from the older Zelda games.
  • ARMS was announced for release on June 16th, this included the new Neon Yellow Joy-Con and strap that followed the release.
  • New battery pack attachment for more extended use
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe updated with new tracks, battle modes, and characters, launched April 28th
  • New online modes between Race and Battle mode in Mario Kart, as well as personal online tournaments
  • Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers announced for release on May 26th, ten years since the original game
  • Play in the new HD graphic style or old pixel art style, play as old characters or the two new ones, Evil Ryu and Violent Ken
  • Ultra Street Fighter has online or multiplayer modes, and even a first-person mode, and you can also play co-op with another friend
  • Minecraft was announced for release on the Switch on May 11th, with both creative mode and survival mode
  • Gather up to eight friends to play with you, and you can get the Super Mario texture pack on the same release date
  • Arcade games were coming to the Switch as soon as April 13th
  • Sonic Forces was announced for release in the holiday season of 2017
  • Sonic Mania was announced for release in the summer of 2017, including new and old stages with all of your favorite characters
  • Project Mekuru was announced for release in the summer of 2017
  • Fate/ Extella was announced for release on July 25th
  • Disgaea 5 was announced for release on May 23rd
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris was announced for a demo on the day of the Direct
  • Monopoly was announced for release in the fall of 2017
  • Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition was announced for release in 2017
  • Sina Mora EX and Battle Chasers: Nightwar were announced for release in the summer of 2017
  • Pay Day 2 was announced for release in 2017
  • Namco Museum, home of classic arcade style games, was announced for release in the summer of 2017
  • Purchase of a stand-alone Nintendo Switch Dock was announced for May 19th
  • The official trailer and information for Splatoon 2 was released, as well as official gameplay
  • Splatoon 2 was announced for release on July 21st, along with Splatoon 2 amiibo

Nintendo Direct- 9-13-2017

This is the second Nintendo Direct to include information on the Nintendo Switch, including game releases and amiibo. There was far less to announce this time around since it wasn’t a few mere months since the release of the Switch.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was announced for release on December 1st, also showing original gameplay along with the original trailer
  • Special Edition Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with a CD soundtrack, metal case, and a hardbound artbook as well as a themed Pro controller
  • Splatoon 2 updates including Kelp Down arena, available September 15th, Snapper Canal arena, and the Tenta Brella weapon
  • Fire Emblem Warriors announced for release on October 20th, which includes Lin from the Gameboy version, along with the special edition version of the game and two amiibo
  • Snipperclips announced for release on November 10th, including a new version where you become random shapes to make it more difficult
  • Morphies Law announced for release in the winter of 2017
  • Rocket League announced for release in the holiday season of 2017
  • Arena of Valor Beta announced for release in the winter of 2017
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim announced for release on November 17th
  • DOOM announced for release in the holiday season of 2017, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus announced for release in 2018
  • Flip Wars was announced being available on that day, September 13th
  • Arcade Archives Mario Bros announced for release on September 27th, a way you can play all of your favorite arcade games from Nintendo’s past
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Champion amiibo announced for release on November 10th
  • NBA 2K18, WWE 2K18, FIFA 18, and Pokken Tournament DX were all announced for release. NBA was set for October 17th, WWE would be coming soon, FIFA was set for September 29th, and Pokken was set for September 22nd
  • Project Octopath Traveller was announced for release in 2018
  • ARMS set out an update for its game, with a new character and a new arena as well as control remapping. It was updated on September 13th
  • Dragon Quest Builder was announced for release in the spring of 2018
  • Kirby Star Allies was announced for release in the spring of 2018
  • SteamWorld Dig 2 was announced for release on September 21st
  • Golf Story was announced for September, Nine Parchments was announced for the holiday season of 2017
  • Battle Chef Brigade was announced for the holiday season of 2017
  • Tiny Metal was announced, and Super Meat Boy Forever was announced for release in 2018
  • Lost Sphear was announced for release on January 23rd
  • Sonic Forces was announced for release on November 7th
  • Resident Evil Revelations and Resident Evil Revelations 2 was announced for release on November 28th
  • L.A. Noire was announced for release on November 14th
  • Super Mario Odyssey was announced, following the story of Mario and Cappy as they try to save their beloveds from the grasps of Bowser. This announcement showed new worlds and how travelling from each place works, finding moons in some of the craziest places. It also explains shops and the different outfits you can purchase to match each kingdom or old Mario outfits. You can even purchase stickers to put on your ship, and take pictures of Mario in every Kingdom! It’s release date was announced for October 27th, along with wedding styled amiibo and a Super Mario Odyssey Switch bundle.

Nintendo Direct Mini- 1-11-18

This Nintendo Direct isn’t a full video like we’re used to, but just a small update to keep us in the know with all the new things happening with Nintendo and the Switch. This quick update was all about Nintendo Switch, including all of the games announced to release in 2018.

  • The World Ends With You, originally for the Nintendo DS, was revamped and announced for release in 2018
  • For Pokken Tournament DX. Aegislash and other new Pokemon were announced in the new Battle Pack DLC for the game, Wave One was available on January 31st and Wave Two was available on March 23rd
  • Kirby Star Allies was announced for release on March 16th
  • Dragon Quest Builders demo launched on January 11th
  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition was announced for release in the spring of 2018
  • Mario Tennis Aces was announced for release in the spring of 2018, with an all new Story Mode
  • YS VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA was announced for release in the summer of 2018
  • Super Mario Odyssey got a free update, including Balloon World for after you beat the game and new filters for Snapshot mode, announced for release in February
  • SNK Heroines was announced for release in the summer of 2018
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle announced Donkey Kong joining the ranks this spring
  • Pay Day 2 announced an update with CrimeNet and JOY, a new heister, releasing February 27th
  • Fe was announced for release on February 16th, and Celeste was announced for release on January 25th
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was announced for release on May 4th
  • Dark Souls Remastered was announced for release on May 25th

Nintendo Direct- 3-8-2018

The first official Nintendo Direct of the year is jammed packed with news of goodies for both DS and Switch.

  • Kirby Star Allies was released the week after the Direct video, and it was announced that his allies could also be enemy characters, and more friends would be released on March 28th
  • Okami was announced for release in the summer of 2018
  • Sushi Striker: The Way of the Sushido was announced to release on June 8th
  • Octopath Traveler announced two new characters, jobs within battles, and the release date for July 13th along with a Special Edition version of the game
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes was announced for release later in 2018
  • Dark Souls Remastered announced a network test for players to try the game before launch, as well as an amiibo being launched with the game on May 25th
  • Gold coins can be used to help pay for games on the eShop
  • Mario Tennis Aces is set to launch June 22nd, with new modes to play, different shots, and a pre-launch tournament that will be set on
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was announced for release on July 13th
  • Undertale was announced to release on the Switch with no date
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was announced for release on July 10th
  • Little Nightmares was announced for release on May 18th
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole was announced to release on April 24th, along with Danger Deck DLC Pack one and From Dusk Til Casa Bonita DLC Pack two released with the game and another DLC Pack, Bring the Crunch, will release later in the year
  • Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition was announced for release on May 18th
  • ARMS US and Canada Online Open was announced to start March 8th through the 18th, where the top eight players would then move onto the finals on March 31st.
  • ARMS announced a three-day “testpunch” for people to try out ARMS for free
  • Splatoon 2 announced an update to Version 3.0 later in April as well as the Octo Expansion DLC that launches in the Summer of 2018
  • Super Smash Bros. was announced for release in 2018. The trailer didn’t release a whole lot about this version of the game, but it looks pretty darn awesome.

When is the next Nintendo Direct?

Nintendo doesn’t give out information for the Direct videos in advance, but there is a pattern that seems to be happening with these videos. Every month, around the first week, they send out a video to update on the smaller games and what updates producers have put out. The big videos that highlight new games and big updates tend to come out every three to five months. Make sure to keep an eye open for the next Nintendo Direct within the coming weeks.

What has been your favorite Nintendo Direct announcement?

Let us know down in the comments what your thoughts are!

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How to update the DNS settings on your iPhone

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If you care about privacy and performance, changing your DNS settings may be something you should consider. Here’s how to do it!

Yesterday, web performance and security company Cloudflare launched its latest foray into making the internet better and safer for consumers. Called 1.1.1.1, the project is a DNS service that values privacy and speed above all else. Oh, and it is definitely not an April Fool’s joke.

If you’re not familiar, DNS stands for “Domain Name System” and is essentially, as Cloudflare puts it, “the directory of the internet.” When you click on a link or open an app or type http://imore.com/ into your search bar, your computer needs to resolve that domain into an IP address so it can actually get you to the content you seek. However, according to Cloudflare, most DNS servers aren’t exactly privacy respecting, which is pretty dangerous in an age where internet service providers can sell your browsing data for ad-targeting purposes:

What many Internet users don’t realize is that even if you’re visiting a website that is encrypted — has the little green lock in your browser — that doesn’t keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit. That means, by default, your ISP, every wifi network you’ve connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you’ve visited while using them.

Worse yet, DNS servers can be used as a tool of censorship by governments in times of political turmoil:

In March 2014, for instance, the government of Turkey blocked Twitter after recordings showing a government corruption scandal leaked online. The Internet was censored by the country’s ISP’s DNS resolvers blocking DNS requests for twitter.com. People literally spray painted 8.8.8.8, the IP of Google’s DNS resolver service, on walls to help fellow Turks get back online. Google’s DNS resolver is great, but diversity is good and we thought we could do even better.

If these are concerns you have, you may consider manually switching your DNS service to 1.1.1.1, which not only outperforms some of the most popular consumer DNS services in terms of speed (like Google’s 8.8.8.8), but also wipes all transaction logs within 24 hours and never writes your IP addresses to disk. Here’s how!

  1. Launch Settings from your home screen.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi to open your Wi-Fi options.
  3. Next to your selected Wi-Fi network, tap the small “i” icon to open up that network’s information.
  4. Underneath DNS, tap Configure DNS.

  5. At the top of the DNS configuration screen, you should see that Automatic is selected. Tap Manual to make manual changes instead.
  6. Now, little green plus and red minus icons should appear next to each DNS server in your list. Tap Add Server at the bottom.

  7. Type in 1.1.1.1.
  8. Tap Add Server and type in 1.0.0.1 (Cloudflare’s backup server).
  9. If you’d like to use 1.1.1.1 as your only DNS server, you can tap the red minus icons next to any other DNS servers in the list to delete them.
  10. Tap Save. Ta-da! Now you can use the internet more quickly and securely.

For more information on Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1, check out the company’s full announcement here.

Thoughts? Questions?

Did you have any trouble switching DNS services? Give us a shout in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you out.

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ESPN says its new streaming service will debut April 12

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Get even more sports content with the upcoming ESPN+.

Today, ESPN announced that the launch of its new subscription streaming service will officially launch on April 12 as part of a completely reimagined ESPN app designed to be the best all-in-one sports platform. The service, called ESPN+, will be priced at $ 4.99 per month, and will offer a “dynamic lineup” of live sports, original content, and on-demand content.

According to the announcement, the lineup will focus on four key pillars of content: a multitude of live sporting events, original shows and films focusing on sport-related topics, exclusive studio programs, and an “unmatched” on-demand library featuring award-winning programming. This includes MLB, NHL, and MLS games as well as a year-round schedule of boxing matches. ESPN+ will even include college sports, offering multiple sports and thousands of games and events across over two-dozen conferences.

ESPN President and Co-Chair at Disney Media Networks, James Pitaro, shared the company’s hopes for ESPN+ in a statement:

ESPN was built on a belief in innovation and the powerful connection between sports and a remarkable array of fans. That same belief is at the heart of ESPN+ and the new ESPN App. With ESPN+, fans have access to thousands more live games, world class original programs and on-demand sports content, all at a great price. They will get all of that as a part of a completely re-imagined, increasingly personalized ESPN App that provides easy, one-stop access to everything ESPN offers.

Note that if you aren’t interested in sports at all, this news is still meaningful for you, too. Though ESPN+ will be the first streaming service offered by Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, a more actually Disney-focused subscription service is on the horizon as well, and will feature Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies along with steamboat load of other exclusive content. This service is expected to launch in late 2019.

Thoughts?

Are you going to grab an ESPN+ subscription? Share in the comments!

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Samsung Galaxy S9 battery life problems and what it means for Apple

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When done wrong, higher performance hurts power efficiency. When done right, power efficiency enables higher performance.

Lithium-ion batteries are getting a lot of attention these days. Everything from the Galaxy Note 7 recall to, yes, Apple’s discounted battery replacement program for older iPhones, means that it’s top of mind for many customers. So, it’s not surprising the Exynos version of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is making headlines for its battery performance this week, and not in a good way.

From Yonhap News Agency:

The battery performance of Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy S9 smartphone trailed behind rival products, industry watchers said Monday, causing consumers to express discontent.

From the same report:

Phone Arena, another industry tracker, also said in its report that the battery of the Galaxy S9 lasted 7 hours and 23 minutes in its test, which is an hour below the Galaxy S8’s 8 hours and 22 minutes. Apple Inc.’s iPhone X and LG’s V30 held comparable figures of 8 hours and 41 minutes and 9 hours and 34 minutes, respectively.

AnandTech tests were even more brutal:

The Exynos 9810 Galaxy S9 absolutely fell flat on its face in this test and posted the worst results among our tracking of the latest generation devices, lasting 3 hours less than the Exynos 8895 Galaxy S8. This was such a terrible run that I redid the test and still resulted in the same runtime.

Yonhap theorizes that Samsung Electronics has become more conservative about battery capacity, given the catastrophic failures consumers experienced with the Galaxy Note 7. But capacity alone is seldom, if ever, an issue, as Yonhap itself explains:

 “Although the battery’s capacity is also important, the phone’s optimization algorithm is very crucial,” an industry insider said. “The Galaxy S9 came with various new features, which possibly led to more stand-by power consumption. (Samsung) may have failed to develop power-saving algorithms properly.”

It’s possible there’s something going wrong at the system level that’s just burning power, even when it shouldn’t. That’s the best case scenario for everyone.

Otherwise, it’s a bigger problem, but one that’s probaly simpler than conservatism. At least partially. Samsung recently chose to care about single core performance. It’s something Apple has cared about and architected for for years. Samsung has obviously seen the advantage and is now making it a priority as well. But, drastically increasing single core performance has cost. Absent a dye shrink or previous generations being so inefficient that there was significant room for improvement, that cost is power consumption.

AnandTech put it this way:

This is such a terrible battery performance of the Exynos 9810 variant that it again puts even more clout into the new SoC. My theory as to why this happens is that not only do the higher frequency state require more energy per work done than competing SoCs – because this is a big CPU complex there’s also lots of leakage at play. The DVFS system being so slow might actually be bad for energy here as we might be seeing the opposite of race-to-sleep, walk-to-waste. The fact that Apple’s SoCs don’t have any issues with battery life in this test showcases that it’s not an inherent problem of having a high-power micro-architecture, but rather something specific to the Exynos 9810.

Also, this:

Unfortunately it feels like S.LSI keeps being one generation behind when it comes to efficiency – the A72 beating the M1, the A73 beating the M2 and now the A75 beating the M3. If you were to shift the microarchitectures one year ahead in Samsung’s favour then suddenly we would have had a much better competitive situation. What needs to happen with the M4 is a much larger efficiency boost to remain competitive with ARM’s upcoming designs and actually warrant the use of an internal CPU design team. Currently a 17-22% performance lead does not seem worth a 35-58% efficiency disadvantage along with the 2x higher silicon area cost.

The same feels like it applies to Samsung and Apple. Samsung perpetually feels a generation behind when it comes to efficiency.

Android Central‘s take:

That sort of battery performance is abysmal for a flagship phone like the Galaxy S9.

The truth is, hardware is tough. And silicon is especially tough.

Given infinite time, any good silicon team could design a system-on-a-chip that would achieve maximum performance at maximum efficiency up to the limits of known physics in our universe. Release schedules are the opposite of infinite time, though. You get a few years to plan, but you have to ship every year.

What Apple’s done to meet that demand is to establish a solid foundation and to build and iterate on it each and every year.

Apple A7 was the first 64-bit ARM chip in a phone. Apple A10 Fusion introduced paired efficiency and performance cores, so that reaching higher wouldn’t leave a gap beneath. Apple A11 Bionic increased the performance of the efficiency cores, while also introducing a neural engine and everything required to support Face ID. And all with at least the same, sometimes better battery life.

It’s not just a multi-year plan, it’s a multi-year investment.

To complicate matters, unlike Apple, Samsung has chosen to use two different chipsets for its phones: Exynos, which is made by Samsung’s silicon company, and Snapdragon, which is made by Qualcomm. It’s the Exynos version specifically that’s experiencing these problems.

With Apple and its consistent processor architecture per year per device, everything is a known quantity. This season’s iPhone X and iPhone 8, for example, all run on the same Apple A11 Bionic system-on-a-chip (SoC), on every carrier, in every region.

That means every component, from the rest of the hardware to all of the software, is a known quantity, and can work as part of an integrated whole to eek out as much performance while maintaining as much efficiency as possible.

Having two silicon targets just means, as opposed to infinite time, you have half the time to optimize for each.

Meanwhile, customers have come to expect phones that are faster and more battery efficient than ever. Oh, and lighter too.

(Internet experts love to talk about increasing battery size, but lightness is an incredibly important part of usability — never mind thermal insulation and RF interference, no one wants to buy the heaviest phone on the carrier shelf.)

Meeting and exceeding those expectations is a huge challenge. Pack a battery wrong and it burns. Boost performance wrong and it burns out.

But architect it right and the performance doesn’t come at the expense of the efficiency. The efficiency enables the performance.

Not everyone thinks about these things when buying a phone, or when arguing about specs on Twitter.

But it’s clear Apple is thinking about it deeply. And it shows in iPhone X, where the custom silicon drives everything from the machine learning-based biometrics to the display technology to the industry leading performance and, yes, the power efficiency that allows for extended battery life as well.

And it’s absolutely something consumers should think about not just when buying a phone but when investing in platform.

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ClassKit: Everything you need to know

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Apple has announced ClassKit, a framework for educational apps that helps teachers track student progress, assign activities, and personalize their teaching instruction.

ClassKit — like SiriKit, HomeKit, and HealthKit — is a framework that developers can use to add new education-based features to their apps. Adopting ClassKit lets developers create apps that work with Schoolwork, giving teachers the tools they need to assign activities and students the tools they need to report their progress.

Here’s everything you need to know about ClassKit.

April 2, 2018 – Apple releases ClassKit documentation for registered developers.

Registered Apple developers looking to use ClassKit for their educational apps can check out the documentation regarding Apple’s new framework. The company has now published the developer documentation, providing an overview and several topics regarding ClassKit.

You can learn how to incorporate ClassKit, test your ClassKit-enabled app, use the framework’s various classes, and learn how to handle errors.

ClassKit is currently in beta as part of iOS 11.4.

Back up a second — what exactly is ClassKit?

To understand ClassKit, you need to know about Schoolwork, Apple’s new app for education. Schoolwork gives teachers a tool to distribute and collect assignments, track student progress, and collaborate with students. The app gives students a place to turn in assignments, track their own progress, and collaborate with their teachers. ClassKit is a framework that lets developers create apps that work with Schoolwork.

Neat, so what can developers do with ClassKit?

Developers will be able to guide students and teachers through their educational apps by defining and displaying assignable content.

Here’s how that would play out:

  • a teacher assigns an activity from a developer’s app
  • the student sees the assignment in their own Schoolwork app
  • the student taps on the assignment and is taken directly to the activity within the developer’s app

Apps will also be able to track and report student progress. As a student completes an activity, the app may report time spent on the activity, percentage of completion of the activity, scores, etc.

That’s pretty cool! What does that mean for privacy, though?

Apple has baked in privacy protections for Schoolwork and ClassKit. Here’s what the company says regarding student privacy:

Schoolwork only receives and displays student progress data for activities a teacher explicitly assigns, and only when students use the Managed Apple ID that was created for them by their school on their device. If your app already uses a student account to enable certain features, ClassKit does not associate that account with the Managed Apple ID that the student uses.

Got it. So when can developers start using ClassKit?

Soon. Apple says developers will be able to build apps that work with Schoolwork (i.e. adopt the ClassKit framework) with the Xcode 9.4 beta and iOS 11.4 beta. It doesn’t stop there, though. You’ll also need access to Apple School Manager and a beta version of Schoolwork for testing. If you create apps for schools, Apple has a contact form set up where developers can express interest in ClassKit. The company says it will notify developers when resources are available for testing.

Does that mean it could be awhile before we see apps that work with Schoolwork?

Nope! There are already several apps that are using ClassKit. Teachers can assign activities from these apps using Schoolwork and track student progress.

Thoughts? Questions?

Anything else you’d like to know about ClassKit? Be sure to leave your questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to get it answered for you!

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