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Apple has done a good job closing the gap between Spotify and its own music streaming service. But the former still maintains some advantages, a list that until recently included a robust web interface. As a Spotify user myself, I find myself frequently using the browser interface on different devices.

Apple’s been working on its own version of course, but for the past six months, it’s only been available as a beta. The interface dropped that tag today, officially going live sans-beta URL. As noted by MacRumors, the interface looks nearly identical to the desktop app, but bringing it to browsers allows for a lot more cross-platform flexibility.

Once logged in with an Apple ID, your music library should be visible. The news also comes as Apple prepares for tonight’s One World: Together at Home concert, co-hosted by three late-night comedians and featuring everyone from Paul McCartney and Elton John to Lady Gaga and Lizzo.

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Apple is readying a new iPhone for fall to replace the iPhone 11 Pro this fall, Bloomberg reports, as well as follow-ups to the iPhone 11, a new smaller HomePod and a locator tag accessory. The top-end iPhone 11 Pro successors at least will have a new industrial design that more closely resembles the iPad Pro, with flat screens and sides instead of the current rounded edge design, and they’ll also include the 3D LIDAR sensing system that Apple introduced with the most recent iPad Pro refresh in March.

The new high-end iPhone design will look more like the iPhone 5, Bloomberg says, with “flat stainless steel edges,” and the screen on the larger version will be slightly bigger than the 6.5-inch display found on the current iPhone 11 Pro Max. It could also feature a smaller version of the current ‘notch’ camera cutout in at the top end of the display, the report claims.

Meanwhile, the LIDAR tracking system added to the rear camera array will be combined with processor speed and performance improvements, which should add up to significant improvements in augmented reality (AR) performance. The processor improvements are also designed to help boost on-device AI performance, the report notes.

These phones are still planned for a fall launch and release, though some of them could be available “multiple weeks later than normal,” Bloomberg claims, owing to disruptions caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Other updates to the company’s product line on the horizon include a new smaller HomePod that’s around 50 percent smaller than the current version, with a planned launch sometime later this year. It’ll offer a price advantage versus the current model, and the report claims it’ll also come alongside Siri improvements and expansion of music streaming service support beyond Apple’s own. There’s also Apple Tags, which Apple itself has accidentally tipped as coming – a Tile-like Bluetooth location tracking accessory. Bloomberg says that could come out this year.

Finally, the report says there are updates to the MacBook Pro, Apple TV, lower-end iPads and iMac on the way, which is not surprising given Apple’s usual hardware update cadence. There’s no timeline for release on any of those, and it remains to be seen how the COVID-19 situation impacts these plans.

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Updated processors, a price drop and an excellent new keyboard only add to this fantastic traditional laptop

Apples latest MacBook Air has a new, fixed and more satisfying keyboard, improved processors and gets a price drop.

From the outside essentially nothing has changed. The new 2020 MacBook Air looks just like the revamped machine launched in 2018, except it costs 200 less than its predecessor, with the base model starting at 999.

In a world filled with convertibles, 2-in-1s and fancy tablet computers, the MacBook Air stands apart as an attractive design that is the pinnacle of the traditional laptop form. An instant classic.

The MacBook Air remains one of the sleekest premium-looking laptops available. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

If you had a pair of callipers you might be able to tell that the new MacBook Air is 0.5mm thicker and 40g heavier than the old one, but theres a good reason for that: a new keyboard thats just a smidgen thicker. More on that in a moment.

The 13.3in screen is crisp and beautiful, now supporting Apples True Tone technology, which adjusts the screens colours depending on ambient light. It was a feature restricted to the MacBook Pro in Apples laptop line until now.

The 1.29kg MacBook Air compares favourably with rivals, but is heavier than tablet PCs such as Microsofts 775g Surface Pro 7 (1.13g with keyboard attached).


  • Screen: 13.3in LCD 2560×1600 (227 ppi) True Tone

  • Processor: 10th-generation dual-core Intel Core i3, quad-core Core i5 or i7

  • RAM: 8 or 16GB

  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD

  • Graphics: Intel Iris Plus

  • Operating system: macOS Catalina

  • Camera: 720p FaceTime HD camera

  • Connectivity: Wifi ac, Bluetooth 5, 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, headphones

  • Dimensions: 212.4 x 304.1 x 16.1mm

  • Weight: 1.29kg

Magic Keyboard and trackpad

The new Magic Keyboard should relegate the issues of the butterfly keyboard to the past while providing more key travel. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The important new addition is the Magic Keyboard, which is the name Apple gave to the scissor switch mechanism used in its external keyboard.

It replaces the ill-fated butterfly keyboard and should render troubles with stuck keys a thing of the past. It also has double the key travel at 1mm of depth and a far more satisfying typing experience.

The keys feel solid, depress far enough and are fairly quiet as laptop keyboards go. It is very close to being best-in-class, just behind the keyboard on Microsofts Surface Laptop 3.

Apples Force Touch trackpad continues to be the very best you can buy on a laptop. It is large, precise and smooth: all-round excellent.

A Touch ID fingerprint scanner is built into the power button in the top right corner of the keyboard. It works well as an alternative to passwords, but can only recognise three fingerprints. One day I hope Apple puts its excellent Face ID system in its laptops to match Microsofts excellent Windows Hello system in its computers.

Power and battery life

Two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports in the left side handle power and input, connecting to any number of accessories, drives and displays. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The MacBook Air as tested was the base model costing 999 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

General computing performance was surprisingly good from the Core i3 version, including when connected to a 4K display. Where it struggled was attempting to do fairly complex edits to images in Affinity Photo or perform multiple tasks at once, such as downloading app updates and using relatively complex web apps in Chrome something Ive not noticed with any Core i5-powered machines in the last few years.

If youre a light computer user the Core i3 version will be perfectly adequate. But I would recommend most pay the extra 100 to upgrade to the quad-core Core i5 processor, which is far more capable and will be able to handle demanding programs and extensive multitasking, as you would expect from a computer costing 1,099.

The MacBook Air lasts about eight to nine hours of general work, including using Chrome with about 10 or so tabs open, various chat apps, Typora text editor, Affinity Photo, Apple Mail and a few other bits enough to get a work day done without having to reach for a charger.

Worth noting in these difficult times that a 50-minute video call knocked around two hours off the usual battery life so youll need the charger more often.

Charging the MacBook Air with the included 30W charger took more than two hours 15 minutes, which is pretty slow for a modern laptop with some such as Microsofts Surface Laptop 3 hitting 80% in an hour. Using a 45W charger shaved 40 minutes off the full charge time.


The MacBook Air is one of the most sustainable laptops you can buy. Its battery is rated for 1,000 full charge cycles before diminishing to 80% capacity (most batteries are only rated for 500 charge cycles) and it can be replaced for 129 by Apple.

The computer is generally repairable too, although it was awarded only a 4 out of 10 for repairability by specialists iFixit, with downsides being the inability to upgrade the RAM or SSD.

What makes the MacBook Air stand apart is its use of recycled material, including 100% recycled aluminium in the casing, 100% recycled tin in the solder of its logic board and at least 35% recycled plastic used in multiple components. Apple is also using renewable energy for final assembly of the machine, and breaks down the computers environmental impact in its report.

Apple also offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.

MacOS 10.15 Catalina

The classic wedge shape of the MacBook Air still looks great. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The MacBook Air ships with Apples latest macOS 10.15 Catalina, which continues to be a mature and well-thought-out operating system that makes the most of Apples laptops.

The most useful addition this time round is Sidecar, which turns an iPad into a second screen for your Mac particularly useful if youre stuck working from home and happen to have both a Mac and an iPad. As long as youre on the same wifi network it works wirelessly and effortlessly, or you can use a cable.

Catalina also brought expanded app support for those built using Mac Catalyst, which helps developers take their iPad apps and port them to the Mac. Twitters app is one example, but good ones are thin on the ground right now.

The iTunes app has also been split into three apps: Apple TV, Music and Podcasts, which are generally better and faster.


The 720p webcam is slightly disappointing, particularly compared to those fitted to the iPad Pro, smartphones and competing laptops. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

  • The stereo speakers are quite amazing in volume, sound and stereo separation for such a small laptop.

  • The webcam is not fantastic, but its only something you notice when youre suddenly forced to make lots of video calls.


The Apple MacBook Air is available in silver, space grey and gold starting at 999 with a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Changing the processor to a quad-core Intel Core i5 costs an extra 100, while the version with the Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage costs 1,299.

Various other options are available totalling to a price of 2,249 with everything maxed out.

For comparison, Microsofts Surface Laptop 3 starts at 999, Dells XPS 13 starts at 1,399 and the MacBook Pro starts at 1,299.


The 2020 MacBook Air has so many things going for it across form, function and sustainability.

Very few machines are made with any recycled material, let alone as much as the MacBook Air. There is still some way to go to truly reduce the impact of consumer electronics on the environment, but Apple should be commended for pushing the industry forward in a similar manner to the Fairphone project.

In form and function the MacBook Air is just a few shades short of the perfect traditional laptop. If you dont want a more modern convertible, youll struggle to find a better consumer machine than this.

The keyboard is finally as great as the trackpad, the battery lasts long enough for a work day, its light but strong and the screen is beautiful, while the little things such as Touch ID work great. You also get two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a long support life.

Sure, the screen could have smaller bezels and the webcam could be better why Apple hasnt put its excellent Face ID into its laptops I have no idea. You cant upgrade the RAM or storage after purchase, theres no wifi 6 support, nor SD card slot or USB-A port, but by now most will have enough USB-C cables and accessories, and if not, now is the time to buy them.

If youre looking for an Apple laptop, this is the one to buy unless you need a beast such as the 16in MacBook Pro. Just spend the extra 100 and buy the MacBook Air with the Intel Core i5 processor, rather than the Core i3, at 1,099.

Pros: great keyboard, great trackpad, great screen, good battery life, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, thin, light, recycled materials, Touch ID, headphones socket

Cons: average webcam, no wifi 6, no SD or USB-A, expensive

The headphones socket remains, something that has long gone from phones and high-end tablets and now seems destined to go from laptops. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Other reviews

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Apple is celebrating International Women’s Day with a full month of events across its retail stores, App Store and other platforms, including Apple TV, plus its Apple Books and Apple Podcasts applications. In March, Apple’s retail stores will host more than 5,000 “She Creates”-branded sessions as part of its “Today at Apple” event series focused on highlighting female leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and creators.

More than 100 sessions in select stores will be led by notable women, including co-chair of the Women’s March Linda Sarsour, as well as musicians Meghan Trainor and Victoria Monét and designer Carla Fernández. Two new sessions featuring the music of Alicia Keys are also now available, including a Music Lab where participants deconstruct her song “Underdog” and remix their own version with GarageBand.

In addition, a new Art Lab session called “Playful Portraits” will draw inspiration from three female artists from New York (artist Jade Purple Brown), Tokyo (illustrator Niky Roehreke) and Warsaw (illustrator Jula Borzucka). In these, participants will transform everyday photos into art using patterns, stickers and colors using the third-party Procreate app on iPad Pro.

Elsewhere across Apple’s platforms, the company will celebrate International Women’s Day with a variety of activities, including curated content on the App Store, Apple TV, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books and Apple Watch.

Notably, the U.S. App Store will feature an App of the Day and Game of the Day highlighting the work of female developers, designers and entrepreneurs every day during the month of March.

So far, Apple has featured titles like female-focused investing platform Ellevest, inspirational podcast network app Seneca Women and female-founded political donations tracker Goods Unite Us, for example. These are labeled with a “Women’s History Month” badge on the App Store’s Today tab. The App Store will also feature editorial content that celebrates women helping build apps and games.

On the Apple TV app, the company is offering an International Women’s Day round-up featuring collections that highlight women’s contributions to movies and TV, including “Bold New Voices,” “Women Directing Women,” “Rebellious Icons” and “Recent Watershed Moments in TV.” It’s also offering extended trials to Starz, BritBox, History Vault and Lifetime Movie Club, where customers can find female-focused shows and movies.

On the actual date of International Women’s Day, March 8, Apple will launch a curated collection of podcasts called “Changing the Narrative,” featuring women podcasters and shows.

Apple Books will showcase famous women’s favorite book picks, and Apple Watch users will be able to earn a special award and sticker set for Messages when they walk, run or wheelchair workout for 20 minutes or more on March 8.

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Two years after getting a $100 million commitment from 21st Century Fox to build a mobile-based live streaming platform that could compete with Twitch, the startup Caffeine has scored another coup by partnering with the biggest name in music — Drake.

With buying power of Fox Sports, a Murdoch on the board (Lachlan), and an exclusive contract with Drake, Caffeine is hoping to take its streaming service beyond gamers and sports and become the platform for live streaming entertainment of all stripes.

“The combination of the Caffeine platform with a content studio that benefits from Fox Sports’ expertise in live events and programming will help position Caffeine to deliver compelling experiences in esports, video gaming and entertainment,” said Lachlan Murdoch, in a 2018 statement. “We are excited to partner with Caffeine and build something special for fans in the growing live social streaming esports and gaming space.”

The multi-year collaboration with Drake, terms of which were not disclosed, will debut with the launch of Ultimate Rap League, a battle rap platform which was distributed on its own app as well as through YouTube.

As part of the deal Caffeine will live stream and co-produce new rap battles alongside Ultimate Rap League. It’s the first property that Drake ad Caffeine are jointly bringing to market and presages other live events and content that Drake will shepherd to production, the company said.

“I’ve always loved URL and admired what Smack and his team have been able to create, it just wasn’t accessible. It’s exciting to be in a position where I’m able to bring Caffeine to the table and help provide URL with the tools they need to elevate the viewing experience and make it more accessible to fans,” said Drake in a statement.

Drake has a history with SmackURL. He was called out to battle rap on the platform back in 2015, but declined to show.

Initially created by Troy “Smack White” Mitchell as an event series in New York’s Queens borough, home of hip-hop artists Nas, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Mobb Deep, and A Tribe called Quest, the Ultimate Rap League boasts a roster of boosters including Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Joe Budden, Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Kid Capre, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def and Method Man. 

“We are proud to partner with Drake and support him as he brings his vision and channel to life,” said Ben Keighran, Caffeine’s founder and chief executive, in a statement. “As a platform, Caffeine gives Drake the freedom to pursue his creative ideas and we are excited about the whole slate of fresh content that he will share with his communities.”

Keighran, a former wunderkind product designer at Apple, has grounded Caffeine’s pitch in the technology that the company has developed from its Silicon Valley headquarters to stream live video. The company boasts that its streams are 15 seconds to a minute faster than other streaming platforms. In addition, the company prides itself on its moderation technologies and use of human moderators to ensure a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, hate speech and racism, the company said.

Caffeine bases its appeal to artists on a revenue share model that is more generous than other streaming platforms like Twitch or Mixer — a model based on in-app purchases and tipping.

Drake may be the biggest artist to join the Caffeine platform, but he’s far from the only one. The company’s roster of talent includes the musicians Offset and Doja Cat, athletes like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Collin Sexton, and Kyle Kuzma and gamers including Cartoonz, Ohmwrecker and Crainer.

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Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we look at YouTube TV’s decision to stop revenue-sharing with Apple, another mobile voting app with serious flaws, new Apple launches in coding and AR, Microsoft’s game-streaming service Project xCloud arrival on iOS and other notable app news and trends, including WhatsApp’s big 2 billion user milestone, and more.


YouTube TV fights back against Apple’s cut of in-app subscription revenue

This week, YouTube emailed customers subscribed to its YouTube TV service by way of Apple’s in-app purchases to let them know that this subscription offering will be discontinued starting on March 13, 2020. Current subscribers will have their subscription canceled automatically on their billing date after March 13, the letter said.

This is a pretty severe way for Google to end its subscription revenue-sharing with Apple, however. Most companies that decide to shut off in-app subscriptions still continue to honor those from existing subscribers — they just stop selling to new customers. In YouTube TV’s case, it’s actually ending its relationship with all its customers on Apple devices with the hope they’ll return and resubscribe. That’s quite a risk, given that YouTube TV is not the only streaming TV service out there, and customers getting their subscription canceled may take this opportunity to shop around. The timing is also poorly thought-out, given that YouTube TV just picked up new subs following Sony’s PlayStation Vue shutdown — and now it’s kicking them out.

The move makes Google the latest company to rebel against Apple’s 30% cut of all in-app payments (which drops to 15% in year two). A growing number of app publishers are refusing to share a cut of their revenue with Apple — even saying that Apple’s decision to charge this fee is anti-competitive. For example, Spotify believes Apple’s fee makes it more difficult to compete with Apple’s built-in music service, and has raised the issue repeatedly to regulators. Netflix also stopped paying the “Apple tax” over a year ago.

Mobile voting app Voatz, used by several states, was filled with security flaws

Above: Voatz, via The NYT

Last week, we looked at how a smartphone app meant to tabulate votes from the caucuses really screwed things up in Iowa. This week, MIT researchers took a look at mobile voting app Voatz, which has been used to tally votes for federal elections in parts of West Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Washington as part of various mobile voting pilot programs. The researchers found the app was riddled with security flaws that would let attackers monitor votes or even change ballots or block them without users’ knowledge. Attackers could also create a tainted paper trail, making a reliable audit impossible — despite Voatz’s promise of using blockchain technology to increase security. One security expert, speaking to VICE, called the app “sloppy” and filled with “elementary” mistakes.

Coming on the heels of the Iowa caucus mobile voting disaster, this latest news delivers another huge blow to the promise of mobile voting in the U.S.

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That couch you’re thinking about sure would look good in your living room… or would it?

To drag up a decade-old (!) catchphrase: There’s an app for that. There are a ton of apps for that, really. Seeing what furniture might look like in a room is one of the go-to examples of what augmented reality is good for, and there’s no shortage of retailers doing it in their apps.

But when you’ve already got someone interested in making a purchase and poking around the item in, say, Safari, getting them to stop and download an app is kind of a big ask.

With cases like that in mind, Apple introduced a feature in 2018 that baked the “See this thing, but in your room!” concept right into iOS/iPad OS.

Called “Quick Look,” it allows for instant/one-tap AR experiences right within the apps the user already has, like Safari, Messages, Mail, etc. The retailer provides the 3D model (as a USDZ, a file format built in collaboration with Pixar), and Apple taps ARKit to render it as it would appear in the real world, handling everything from scaling to lighting and shadows.

At first, though, Quick Look was really just for that — looking. You could look at an item in AR, but that was about it.

Apple is expanding upon the concept a bit, allowing developers to bring a customizable button into the mix. It could be a purchase button, triggering an Apple Pay prompt on the spot. Or it can be wired up to do just about any other single action a retailer might want. It could initiate a customer support chat to let a customer ask about color options — or it could point them to local retailers who have it in stock so they can see it in person.

Apple is also quietly rolling support for spatial audio into Quick Look in the latest developer builds of iOS and iPad OS, allowing these 3D models to emanate sound — like, say, the bleeps and bloops of a toy, or music from a speaker — from wherever they’ve been virtually placed in the room. Move around the room, and the sound should shift accordingly.

Bringing more of the user experience directly into the built-in AR tool may seem like a small move, but it’s an interesting one. In 2018, Houzz CEO Adi Tatarko said that users of their AR tools were 11x more likely to make a purchase. found that people who checked out an item in AR were 22% less likely to return it. There are clearly benefits to AR in the mobile purchasing process — but the whole thing only works if it’s easy to use, quick and feels native. The more friction there is in the mix, the more people will drop out along the way.

Apple previewed the feature at WWDC last year; this week, a handful of big retailers — Home Depot, Wayfair, Bang & Olufsen and 1-800-Flowers — are rolling out their implementations. If improved sales/return numbers like the aforementioned hold true here, I’d expect it to become fairly commonplace across major retailers… and just like that, AR takes one big step closer to the mainstream.

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Amazon Alexa can now play podcasts from Apple, making Amazon’s line of Echo devices the first third-party clients to support the Apple Podcasts service without using AirPlay. Before, this level of support was limited to Apple’s HomePod. According to Amazon, the addition brings to Alexa devices Apple’s library of more than 800,000 podcasts. It also allows customers to set Apple Podcasts as their preferred podcast service.

The move is the latest in a series of partnerships between the two rivals, which also included the launch of the Apple TV app on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, as well as the launch of Apple Music on Echo devices and Fire TV. Amazon, in response, has expanded its assortment of Apple inventory to include Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and more.

To get started, Apple users who want to stream from Apple Podcasts will first need to link their Apple ID in the Alexa app. Customers can then ask Alexa to play or resume the podcasts they want to hear. Other player commands, like “next” or “fast forward,” work, too. And as you move between devices, your progress within each episode will also sync, which means you can start listening on Alexa, then pick up where you left off on your iPhone.

In the Alexa app’s Settings, users will also be able to specify Apple Podcasts as their default player, which means any time they ask Alexa for a podcast without indicating a source, it will stream from the Apple Podcasts service.

Not to be outdone, Spotify also today announced its support for streaming podcasts on Alexa in the U.S.

Of course, Spotify Premium users have been able to use Spotify Connect to stream to Echo before today.

But now, Spotify says that both Free and Premium U.S. customers will be able to ask Alexa for podcasts as well as set Spotify as their default player.

Alexa’s support for Spotify podcasts was actually announced in September (alongside other news) at Amazon’s annual Alexa event in Seattle, so it’s less of a surprise than the Apple addition.

At the time, Amazon said it was adding support for Spotify’s podcast library in the U.S., which would bring “hundreds of thousands” of podcasts to Alexa devices. That also includes Spotify’s numerous exclusive podcasts — something that will give Echo users a reason to set Spotify as their default, perhaps.

Shortly after that announcement, Spotify said its free service would also now stream to Alexa devices, instead of only its paid service for Premium subscribers.

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Nike is the latest company to offer 3% cash back to Apple Card users, when they make an Apple Pay purchase using the card across Nike’s retail platforms, including its stores,, SNKRS, Nike Training Club, Nike Running Club and on the Nike app. The addition is one of what’s still a small number of Apple Pay partners who are offering the top-tier cash back rate of 3% to cardholders — a group that also includes Uber/Uber Eats, Walgreens/Duane Reade, and T-Mobile stores.

When first introduced, Apple had only said purchases from Apple itself would be rewarded with 3% back. Apple Pay transactions would be rewarded with 2% back and use of the physical card offered 1% back.

But when the card launched in August to customers in the U.S., Apple surprised everyone by expanding the 3% back to Uber and Ubers Eats, too, with promises of more to come.

Since then, Apple has been steadily expanding the number of retailers and apps that offer cash back to Apple Card users, giving Apple a larger foothold in online and mobile payments, as well as point-of-sale transactions. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Pay transaction volume was bigger thabn PayPal and was growing 4 times as fast.

Apple’s advances in this area have clearly shaken up the market, as Apple Pay rival PayPal last week announced its largest acquisition to date with a deal to buy browser maker Honey for $4 billion in mostly cash. PayPal plans to use Honey to get ahead of the checkout page by reaching customers as they’re shopping online looking for deals and discovering new products. By capturing the customer at this earlier stage, PayPal can acquire the sale before the customer chooses to simply tap a button to pay with Apple Pay instead.

Nike is an obvious choice as the next Apple Card partner, given the two companies’ close relationship over the years on products which ran from retail partnerships to co-branded products, like the Apple Watch Nike+ edition and Nike sports bands, for example. Nike also last year rolled out Nike+ app membership benefits that included free months of Apple Music, among other perks.

As an Apple Card partner, Nike customers who transact through Apple Pay with their card receive 3% Daily Cash. This is applied to the customer’s Apple Cash Card, then can be used immediately for other Apple Pay purchases, sent to family and friends, or can be put towards the Apple Card balance.

Apple says more Apple Card partners will be added in the months ahead.

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1. MacBook Pro 16” first impressions: Return of the Mack

Over the past few years, Apple’s MacBook game had begun to suffer from complacency — as problems with the models started to mount (unreliable keyboards, low RAM ceilings and anemic graphics offerings), the once insurmountable advantage that the MacBook had compared to the rest of the notebook industry started to show signs of dwindling.

So the new 16” MacBook Pro is an attempt to rectify most, if not all, of the major complaints of its most loyal, and vocal, users.

2. Google to offer checking accounts in partnership with banks starting next year

Google is calling the project “Cache,” and it’ll partner with banks and credit unions to offer the checking accounts, with the banks handling all financial and compliance activities related to the accounts.

3. A US federal court finds suspicionless searches of phones at the border is illegal

A federal court has ruled that the government is not allowed to search travelers’ phones or other electronic devices at the U.S. border without first having reasonable suspicion of a crime. The case was brought by 11 travelers — 10 of whom are U.S. citizens — with support from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

4. Convoy raises $400 million to expand its on-demand trucking platform

Convoy co-founders Dan Lewis and Grant Goodale set out in 2015 to modernize freight brokerage, a fragmented and oftentimes analog business that matches loads from shippers with truckers. The company has gone from hundreds of loads per week in 2016 to tens of thousands per week across the U.S.

5. The AI stack that’s changing retail personalization

To be forward-looking, brands and retailers are turning to startups in image recognition and machine learning to know, at a very deep level, what each consumer’s current context and personal preferences are and how they evolve. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. These sneakers vibrate

Invented by a man named Brock Seiler, and led by former Beats by Dre CEO Susan Paley, DropLabs aims to take audio to a whole new level by syncing music, movies and other audio to shoes that vibrate the soles of your feet.

7. Elon Musk picks Berlin for Tesla’s Europe Gigafactory

Musk said Tesla is also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin because “I think Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”

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