Apple introduces iPhone 8 and iPhone X, adds cellular to watch - Axios
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Apple introduces iPhone 8 and iPhone X, adds cellular to watch

screen shot by Axios

Apple's big event matched exactly what had leaked and what we said to expect. Apple has introduced the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, as well as a cellular-equipped Apple Watch and an updated Apple TV.

Here are the highlights:

  • High-end iPhone X model with edge-to-edge screen and dual cameras and Face ID facial recognition. It starts at $999, with orders beginning Oct. 27 and shipping Nov. 3.
  • iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with faster chip, improved camera and speakers and a new glass front and back casing for wireless charging. The iPhone 8 starts at $699 and will be available to order Sept. 15 and in stores on Sept. 22.
  • Apple TV 4K, an update to the company's set top box, starts at $179 will be available Sept. 22
  • An updated Apple Watch, known as Series 3, with a built-in cellular connection, for $399
  • Retail chief Angela Ahrendts showed how Apple is redesigning its biggest stores into "town squares" with open spaces. Among the new spots are redesigned stores in Paris, New York, Washington D.C. and a new store on Chicago's Michigan Avenue.
  • The event kicked off with CEO Tim Cook delivering a tribute to Steve Jobs, details on the company's hurricane relief efforts as well as an overview of the new Apple headquarters.

Apple Watch: Series 3, the new Apple Watch, will have a built-in cellular connection and shares a number with the iPhone.

"This has been our vision from the very beginning." COO Jeff Williams said. A built in cellular connection will let users take calls, stream Apple Music or access Siri without relying on a nearby cell phone.

It has a new dual-core processor, a homegrown Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip and an altimeter, while keeping the size of the watch roughly the same as the prior model and promises "all-day" battery life of up to 8 hours. A cellular version will sell for $399, with a Wi-Fi only version at $329. The original Series 1 will remain in the line at $249.

Orders will start Sept. 15 and the phone will start shipping Sept. 22. The cellular version will work with all four U.S. carriers

More on the Watch: Apple says it is now the No. 1 watch in the world and has 50 percent year-over-year growth, but still hasn't given specific sales figures. Apple is also updating its software to offer more detailed heart rate information, including notifying people when they have abnormally high resting heart beat and tracking irregular heartbeats as part of a new nationwide study in conjunction with Stanford's hospital. Watch OS 4 will be available Sept. 19.

Apple TV 4K: The new set-top box, which includes support for higher resolution 4K images and HDR (High Dynamic Range) and will be available Sept. 22 (pre-orders start Sept. 15). The base model will sell for $179, with a model with more memory priced at $199. It's powered by the same A10X chip in the company's iPad Pro tablet.

Apple says 4K movies on iTunes won't cost more than the HD versions, and that if you have purchased an HD movie before, it will be updated to 4K for free. Live news and sports are being added to the main Apple TV interface, including alerts for close games.

iPhone 8: Apple introduces iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are similar to the iPhone 7 but add improved speakers, a new glass front and back and a new six-core processor, which Apple calls the A11 bionic. It also supports wireless charging (a feature Apple once dismissed as not a big benefit).

The phones will be available in 64GB and 256GB varieties and be available to order Sept. 15 and start shipping Sept. 22. The iOS 11 update for existing phones will be released Sept. 19.

"This is a huge step forward for iPhone," Cook said.

Of note, only the larger iPhone 8 Plus has the dual cameras. That's the same as with the iPhone 7, but there had been hope that Apple might bring the dual camera to the iPhone 8 as well. Apple is expanding the portrait mode on the iPhone 8 Plus to offer new lighting features. The iPhone 8 also has new sensors and cameras designed to be used with augmented reality.

iPhone X: The high-end model features an edge-to-edge screen and what Apple calls a 5.8-inch "super-retina" display using OLED, rather than the LCDs used in past iPhones. As expected, there is no home button, with gestures replacing the functions previously handled by the home button.

There are a number of improvements to the camera, including the fact that the iPhone X's front-facing camera supports portrait-mode selfies. Apple says it has two hours more battery life than the iPhone 7.

As we reported, the phone will go on sale more than a month after the iPhone 8 and may well still be in short supply. It will start at $999 for a 64GB model. Pre-orders start Oct. 27 with general availability Nov. 3.

Face ID, the Apple facial recognition technology we wrote about previously, replaces Touch ID fingerprint recognition to unlock the device. A built in neural processing engine on the A11 bionic chip allows Apple to do the face recognition on the device. Apple is also using the facial recognition for "animoji" - emoji that can match your facial expression.

Unlike rival technologies, it won't be spoofed by a photo, thwarted by glasses and can adjust to newly grown facial hair.

(Also, FYI, Apple pronounces it like the Roman numeral 10, not the letter “X.")

Like the iPhone 8, the iPhone X supports wireless charging.

Speaking of wireless charging: Apple showed a sneak peek at a charging pad that can simultaneously charge a new iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods (with a new wireless case). Apple calls it AirPower and says it should be coming next year.

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Trump administration backs Obama-led climate effort

Obama and Trump meet at the White House after Trump's election. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A career State Department official speaking at a conference Thursday on behalf of the Trump administration backed a climate policy then-President Obama pursued shortly before he left office.

The policy phases down powerful greenhouse gases found in a range of everyday appliances. This is the most explicit and public the Trump administration has been about supporting it.

The big picture: The conference, held this week in Montreal, is about a recent amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty created 30 years ago to fix the hole in the Earth's ozone layer, which is now it's achieving its goal. World leaders, led by the Obama administration, agreed in October 2016 to the Kigali amendment, which would phase down emissions of powerful greenhouse gases in refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are used in many appliances from air conditioners to refrigerators.

Quoted: "The United States believes the Kigali Amendment represents a pragmatic and balanced approach to phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs, and therefore we support the goals and approach of the Amendment," said Judith Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

What's next: Rhetorical backing for the amendment is one thing, but to have it actually take effect, the administration needs to send it over to the Senate so it can vote on its official ratification, as the Senate has done on other amendments and the original treaty 30 years ago. "There is no timeline currently determined for these steps, but we have initiated the process to consider U.S. ratification of the Amendment," Garber said.

Fast facts: The Montreal Protocol is a treaty about the ozone layer, but this latest amendment from Kigali represents an evolution to concerns about climate change. The 2015 Paris climate deal, which is a non-binding treaty that didn't require congressional input, is mostly about cutting other greenhouse gases from energy and land use. It's wholly separate from the Montreal Protocol.

Bottom line: Process matters a lot here. One of the biggest complaints of Trump administration officials about the Paris deal is that Obama circumvented Congress (because he knew he wouldn't get support from the GOP-controlled Senate). The Kigali amendment backers, which include chemical makers like Honeywell and Chemours, are emphasizing how this is a collaborative process with Congress and is about the Montreal Protocol, not climate change per se.

My thought bubble: If/when you see this process unfold further, don't expect congressional Republicans and the administration to focus at all about the climate change angle. It'll be all about collaboration and protecting the environment and creating business opportunities for industry.


Go deeper:

  • Read my two Harder Line columns on this topic: Why industry is backing the policy, and how your air conditioner is caught up in all this.
  • The amendment is set to go into force (for those that have officially signed onto it) in January 2019, thanks to Sweden just recently signing on and meeting the ratification threshold, per the NYT.
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A new bird species is seen emerging in real-time

A medium ground finch, one of the two Galapagos finches that led to the new lineage.

Photo: Uwe-Bergwitz / iStock

Scientists have directly documented a new species evolving in the wild for the first time, according to the BBC. Fittingly, the event was seen in Galapagos Island finches, the same group of birds that helped Darwin solidify his theory of evolution. The research, published Thursday in the journal Science, started in 1981, when a single male from a different finch species came to the tiny island of Daphne Major.

Why it matters: This is the first time the formation of a new species has been observed in real-time in the wild. More than that, it shows how just a single individual can breed with one from another species, leading to the creation of a new species.

For several decades, scientists have been meticulously documenting minute changes in different finch species on the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago that's been referred to as a "natural laboratory for evolution."

How it started: The initial hybridization event happened in 1981 on the Galapagos island of Daphne Major, where evolutionary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant conducted most of their research. They studied the group so closely that they noticed when a male large cactus finch, native to a different island 65 miles away, arrived on the island and began breeding with a local population.

What happened: Native females didn't recognize the songs of the new hybrid males, so instead of breeding with the local population as expected, the hybrids bred within their population. This paper shows that after just two generations, they stopped breeding with other populations and have remained reproductively isolated ever since.

Taking off: "In most cases, the offspring of cross-species matings are poorly adapted to their environment," writes Rory Galloway for the BBC. But the large size of these hybrids has allowed them to exploit resources the native birds weren't using, so the birds have flourished.

Go deeper: It just so happens that Darwin's personally annotated copy of The Origin of Species is up for auction. The Guardian has the story.

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Swedish power plant burning H&M clothes instead of coal

Frenzied customers grab clothes, shortly after H&M opened a new store in Los Angeles. Photo: Damian Dovarganes / AP

A Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothing as a way to move closer to becoming "a fossil-fuel free facility by 2020," according to Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Per Bloomberg, Sweden runs on "an almost entirely emission free-power system," and moving plants to burning only trash and biofuels will hopefully "edge out the last of its fossil fuel units."

  • Head of Communications for H&M in Sweden, Johanna Dahl, told Bloomberg: "H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use...However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed."
  • The Swedish plant has reportedly burned 15 tons of H&M clothing in 2017 thus far.
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More young people are becoming farmers

Photo: LM Otero / AP

"For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest Census of Agriculture," the WashPost's Caitlin Downey reports in a front-pager with the lovely headline, "A growing movement":

  • 69% of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population.
  • Why it matters: "This new generation can't hope to replace the numbers that farming is losing to age. But it is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape."
  • Where it's happening: "In some states, such as California, Nebraska and South Dakota, the number of beginning farmers has grown by 20 percent or more."
  • The millennials are "far more likely than the general farming population to grow organically, limit pesticide and fertilizer use, diversify their crops or animals, and be deeply involved in... farmers markets."
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Uber's data breach cover-up could be the last straw for some riders

Photo: Richard Vogel / AP

Uber's "latest misbehavior involving a data breach cover-up revealed this week could be the impetus for people to ride elsewhere," according to AP's Tom Krisher in Detroit and tech writer Barbara Ortutay:

  • "[R]iders have fled from the service before, but enough have stayed because of the Uber's convenience."
  • "[T]his week the state of Colorado fined Uber $8.9 million for allowing employees with serious criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company. Then came the stolen data, which has touched off more government inquiries."
  • Why it matters: Polling by Brand Keys Inc., a New York-based customer research firm, "found that in 2015 Lyft passed Uber as the most trusted of ride-hailing brands, and trust in Uber has been eroding ever since."
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How Trump risked a key intel relationship

Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador Kislyak at the White House in May. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP

Astonishing reporting from Vanity Fair's The Hive, by Howard Blum ... "What Trump ... told Kisylak after Comey was canned ... During a May 10 meeting in the Oval Office, the president betrayed his intelligence community by leaking the content of a classified, and highly sensitive, Israeli intelligence operation to two high-ranking Russian envoys, Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Lavrov":

  • Israeli spies and counterterrorism forces had discovered that "ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security." That led to new U.S. and British restrictions on flights from abroad.
  • "[T]he Israeli mission was praised by [the American espionage community] as a casebook example of a valued ally's hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use."
  • "Yet this triumph would be overshadowed ... when ... Trump revealed details about the classified mission" to the Russian officials in the Oval.
  • Why it matters: "[F]resh blood was spilled in [Trump's] long-running combative relationship with the nation's clandestine services. Israel ... would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment."
  • Listen in.

P.S. Paul Manafort took at least 138 trips to Ukraine between 2004 and 2015 while consulting for Russian and pro-Russian oligarchs, McClatchy'sPeter Stone and Greg Gordon report:

  • "As the GOP platform committee drew up party positions a week before the Republican National Convention, a plank calling for the United States to provide 'lethal weapons' for Ukraine's defense was altered in a controversial and mysterious move."
  • An "American consultant in Ukraine said that Manafort ... had boasted he played a role in easing the language."
  • "Charlie Black, a onetime partner of Manafort's, says he remains baffled by the change. 'It was inexplicable to me that a majority of platform members would have taken a pro-Russian position on Ukraine.'"
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More than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar

Photo: Bernat Armangue / AP

This aerial photo shows the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, housing Rohingya Muslims who fled across the border to escape violence. More than 620,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when the army began what it called "clearance operations" following an attack on police posts by a group of Rohingya insurgents.

Go deeper: The big picture on the crisis

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Black Friday sales expected to grow due to healthy economy

Antsy shoppers wait for a Best Buy to open on Thanksgiving in Overland Park, Kansas. Photo: Charlie Riedel / AP

"With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of 4.1% and consumer confidence stronger than a year ago, analysts project healthy sales increases ... The National Retail Federation ... expects sales ... to at least match last year's rise of 3.6% and estimates online spending and other non-store sales will rise 11 to 15%," per AP.

  • "Black Friday has morphed from a single day ... into a whole season of deals, so shoppers may feel less need to be out."
  • Stunning stat: "Analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the holiday season's sales growth."
  • AP reports that Hatchimals are hot:
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Franken apologizes over latest claims, cites "warm" personality

Al Franken at The BookExpo2017 in New York City. Photo: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Democratic Sen. Al Franken has issued a statement about the latest allegations that he groped women while posing for photographs, saying he has taken "thousands of photographs" and is a "warm person," but acknowledging he "crossed a line for some women." He says he is sorry he made "some women feel badly."

Why it matters: Franken is in survival mode after four allegations of unwanted contact, and facing an Ethics investigation and some calls to resign. He's walking a tightrope here, not denying the individual accusations while portraying them as rare missteps resulting from his "warm" personality, rather than a pattern of creepy behavior. He says he plans to win back the "trust" of his constituents.

Full statement

"I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many. Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that.

"I've thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations. I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again. And let me say again to Minnesotans that I'm sorry for putting them through this and I'm committed to regaining their trust."

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Trump's morning tweets: NFL protests, Middle East "mess" and golf

President Trump took to Twitter early on the Friday after Thanksgiving:

Worth noting: This White House treats golf as a clandestine operation, never saying whether or not Trump is actually playing, so this is a rare bit of candor.