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Why were the PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders so chaotic?

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Buying a new, next-generation console is supposed to be an exciting thing. But this generation, pre-orders for the two upcoming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, were more of a time for frustration and disappointment as the preorder periods for both consoles turned into complete fiascos. So what happened?

The PlayStation 5 pre-orders were the first to launch — prematurely, apparently. While pre-orders were supposed to start on September 17, they actually went live on September 16 with almost no warning. Within minutes, both versions of the PS5 were sold out everywhere, and even those who thought they’d managed to snag one would find it vanishing from their carts. For those who’d made the dreadful mistake of eating dinner because they weren’t expecting the pre-orders to go live (such as myself) they completely missed even the opportunity to buy one.

Sony later apologized for the mess, saying it “could have been a lot smoother” (you don’t say) and promising to release more of the consoles for pre-order. Let’s hope that’s true because, according to Press Start’s Shannon Grixti, at least one retailer has already sold their total 2020 stock. One wonders if the company is having to scramble to make more PS5s, as initial reports said it’d limit supplies at launch.

Microsoft officials were quick to chuckle and say that their launch wouldn’t be quite such a mess, but they were apparently a little too quick to say so. The Xbox Series launch was just as bad, if not worse.

At least two retailers — Best Buy and Amazon, of all places — didn’t launch the preorder option on the consoles until well after the start time. Amazon didn’t even have a page for the Xbox Series X ready to go. In fact, while the report is somewhat dubious, it appears enough buyers were confused about the lack of an Xbox Series X option that they accidentally bought the similarly named Xbox One X (see, this is why names like this are foolish, Microsoft). I’m told that GameStop would put players in a preorder queue and would warn them not to refresh the page lest they lose their place, only to keep them stuck in purgatory while the consoles sold out.

Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked

And in the case of both consoles, we now have scalpers selling their preorders on eBay for ridiculous markups. If I tell you nothing else in this article, let me tell you this: don’t buy one of those.

What the heck happened here? Why did the launch of these consoles, what should have been one of the most meticulously well-planned events from two of the biggest companies in the world, turn into such a shitshow?

Personally, I put at least some of this down to sloppy planning on the part of both companies. I’m not sure if I believe the rumor that both companies were waiting for the other to announce a release date first, but it is worth noting that the first release date was revealed through a leak. The Xbox Series release dates were leaked ahead of time, forcing Microsoft to finally give an official date of release far, far later than they reasonably should have. Sony followed up with the PS5’s release date shortly afterwards. It would make a depressing amount of sense for the launches to be this haphazard if the companies really did wait until the last minute to set the dates.

There’s also another explanation, which would put this outside the companies’ control: scalpers used bots to buy the console specifically for resale before any human customers managed to get in. This theory was expanded upon by Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett, who described the bots as “software that’s able to crawl a site’s store page and complete multiple sales before actual human fingertips have had time to even move a mouse cursor onto the thing they want.” If that’s the case, let me reiterate — do not buy from scalpers. It’s worth waiting a few weeks or even months after launch to hold onto your money and integrity.

Let’s hope both companies can restock. Until then, lots of us who didn’t manage to snag one of the consoles will just have to wait.

 

 

Source: – The Next Web

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Hands on with Apple's MagSafe charger and silicone cases – AppleInsider

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Apple’s MagSafe accessories have started to show up at customers’ doorsteps. We take a look at a few first-party cases, as well as Apple’s MagSafe charger, to see how they work.

A few readers had questions after AppleInsider posted its in-depth look on MagSafe last week. Here, we have an opportunity to answer those queries with a hands-on of Apple’s own accessories.

Apple’s MagSafe charger

As Apple just introduced the standard, the iPhone maker is one of the only manufacturers to currently have MagSafe products on the market. OtterBox has released a few cases, but it won’t be long before countless others flood the market.

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Ahead of the full launch of iPhone 12 — including November’s iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max debuts — we got our hands on Apple’s MagSafe charger and several MagSafe-compatible silicone cases. Apple is still readying a leather sleeve, leather cases, and wallets. The wallets, big enough to house credit cards, are on sale now though they don’t ship until November or December.

MagSafe charger

MagSafe for iPhone is what one would expect from a magnetic wireless charger. At first blush it looks like a scaled up version of the Apple Watch charging puck, at least the stainless steel version that comes with the higher-end models. The back of the charger sports a nice matte finish that resists fingerprints. Instead of hard plastic, the white center portion — the part that touches your phone — is soft and feels very similar to Apple’s silicone cases.

Apple MagSafe charger

Apple MagSafe charger

A roughly three-foot USB-C cable is permanently affixed to the charging puck and should anything go bad with the cable the whole thing is bound for a landfill. If you didn’t assume by the slim packaging, no power adapter is included.

Apple MagSafe Charger versus Apple Watch charging puck

Apple MagSafe Charger versus Apple Watch charging puck

Apple says you need at least a 20W USB-C power brick for its MagSafe charger if you want the maximum 15W of wireless power. Apple does offer its own, but we prefer a few third-party choices like the Anker PowerPort Nano III.

Charging iPhone 11 Pro with MagSafe charger

Charging iPhone 11 Pro with MagSafe charger

MagSafe is compatible with the Qi standard, which means that the iPhone 12 be juiced up by Qi chargers, while the MagSafe puck can charge Qi-enabled devices. We tested this ourselves with our AirPods Pro and our iPhone 11 Pro Max — both of which worked without issue. It even charged our Samsung devices we had in the studio.

Charging AirPods Pro with MagSafe charger

Charging AirPods Pro with MagSafe charger

When connected to a Qi phone like our iPhone 11 Pro Max, there is a slight magnetic attraction which does a decent job of keeping the puck in place. It helps align our phone better than normal Qi wireless chargers. We can even sit and use our iPhone while it charges and the puck doesn’t come free. That said, it isn’t a very strong attraction and easily falls off with quick motions. It wasn’t designed to be useful for these phones, but rather the iPhone 12. This is just a nice benefit.

Unfortunately, it does not charge our Apple Watch. Apple Watch still uses a proprietary charging method that is based around Qi, but is not compatible.

Apple silicone MagSafe-enabled cases

The second MagSafe accessory Apple released is an upgraded version of its silicone cases. They have the same feel as before, and the same physical makeup, just a new shape. Unlike OtterBox, which simply glued a MagSafe-compatible insert into their cases and called it a day, Apple sandwiches the magnets in between the case’s back panel and microfiber lining.

To designate the MagSafe location, the inside of the case has a plastic indicator that looks like a sticker. Do not try to peel it off…

Inside of Apple's silicone cases

The inside of Apple’s silicone cases

Aside from the ring in the center, there is an additional magnet array at in the six o’clock position which is used for alignment. The MagSafe charger doesn’t utilize this piece, but it is necessary for accessories like wallets that need to be correctly orientated on the handset to function.

Since we don’t have our iPhone 12 yet, we can’t test charging the phone. We can, however, test connecting the MagSafe puck to our case. One of the most-asked questions was regarding the strength of MagSafe’s magnets. At least to the case, the attraction is substantial but not overpowering.

When you lift your phone off the table, the charger will for sure be taken along. This can be good if you want to charge while holding your phone, but bad if you always want to disconnect as it requires two hands. Of course, there will soon be a slew of MagSafe chargers like stands, docks and other stationary designs.

We put a dummy iPhone 12 into the case and were able to let it dangle without either the phone or case coming free. A vigorous shake did break the bond. Based on early looks, it seems that there will be a slightly stronger connection when a real iPhone 12 is present.

Plum, Pink Citrus, Kumquat, and Product(RED) cases

Apple’s Plum, Pink Citrus, Kumquat, and Product(RED) silicone cases

Another question we heard was whether or not the puck had to be facing any certain way. The puck can, in fact, rotate but not too easily. It doesn’t have a fixed orientation, but the silicone-on-silicone creates enough grip to prevent free rotation. This is great because you can have the cable positioned at any angle.

These accessories are a great first start and we will continue to test them and some other early third-party accessories in the coming days, especially when we get our hands on the new iPhone 12.

There’s been some discussion as to whether or not MagSafe will be iPhone 12’s killer feature, and regardless of where you stand on the matter, chances are you will eventually have some form of MagSafe accessory. From our first look, that’s not a bad thing.

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Apple Issues Expensive Shock For Millions Of iPhone Buyers – Forbes

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Of all Apple’s new iPhone models, it is the midrange iPhone 12 which is expected to be (by far) the biggest seller. But Apple just confirmed large, stealthy price hikes which may change that.

Spotted by The Verge, Apple has quietly updated its official Repair Page to reveal the iPhone 12 will cost up to 40% more to repair than the iPhone 11. This means it will now cost as much as the iPhone 12 Pro for some repairs, despite using inferior parts. 

Let’s put some numbers on this. The headline change is for screen repairs out of warranty. The charge for an iPhone 11 was $199, but the cost for an iPhone 12 has skyrocketed to $279. This is the same as the iPhone 12 Pro (and iPhone 11 Pro before it), despite the fact the iPhone 12 uses a cheaper OLED panel with lower brightness (800 vs 625 nits). 

It is a similar story if you navigate to Apple’s Other Damage repair page. Here Apple has increased iPhone 12 repair costs for anything it classes as ‘other damage’ (liquid ingress, cracked back, etc) to $449. This is a $50 increase over the iPhone 11. The iPhone 12 Pro costs even more at $549, but this remains the same price as the iPhone 11 Pro. 

All of which (somewhat conveniently) makes Apple’s AppleCarePlus insurance policy borderline essential. For the iPhone 12 this costs $7.99 per month ($149 upfront) or $11.49 per month ($219 upfront) with added Theft and Loss for two years of cover. You still have to pay an excess on top of these plans as well: screen damage $29, accidental damage $99 and (if you have the plan) theft or loss $149. 

And there are further stealth costs to iPhone 12 ownership. If you plan to buy sim-free the phone will cost $30 more at each price point than Apple advertises, because the $799, $849 and $949 price points require you to sign a two year carrier contract. You will also need to pay an extra $40 if you want a wall charger ($20) and EarPods ($20) as they are no longer included in the box this year. 

The end result is, compared to a 64GB iPhone 11 launch price ($699), you’ll need to spend $870 on a 64GB iPhone 12 with the same accessories, while the 40% increase in screen repair charges means taking out an AppleCarePlus plan on top is virtually essential. This brings your total spend for a 64GB iPhone 12 to over $1,000. 

Whether this is cynical exploitation or ingenious business acumen, is likely to divide opinion. But all those iPhone 13 leaked upgrades are suddenly looking better and better.

___

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More On Forbes

First Apple iPhone 13 Leaks Reveal Smaller Notch, ProMotion Display, Touch ID

New Apple Patents Suggest MagSafe AirPods Are In Development

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Adobe brings its misinformation-fighting content attribution tool to the Photoshop beta – TechCrunch

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Adobe’s work on a chain of custody that could link online images back to their origins is inching closer to becoming a reality. The prototype, part of the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), will soon appear in the beta of Photoshop, Adobe’s ubiquitous image editing software.

Adobe says the preview of the new tool will be available to users in the beta release of Photoshop and Behance over the next few weeks. The company calls the CAI implementation “an early version” of the open standard that it will continue to hone.

The project has a few different applications. It aims to make a more robust means of keeping creators’ names attached to the content they create. But its most compelling use case for CAI would see the tool become a “tamper-proof” industry standard aimed at images used to spread misinformation.

Adobe describes the project’s mission as an effort to “increase trust and transparency online with an industry-wide attribution framework that empowers creatives and consumers alike.” The result is a technical solution that could (eventually) limit the spread of deepfakes and other kinds of misleading online content.

“… Eventually you might imagine a social feed or a news site that would allow you to filter out things that are likely to be inauthentic,” Adobe’s director of CAI, Andy Parsons said earlier this year. “But the CAI steers well clear of making judgment calls — we’re just about providing that layer of transparency and verifiable data.”

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The idea sounds like a spin on EXIF data, the embedded opt-in metadata that attaches to an image information like lens type and location. But Adobe says the new attribution standard will be less “brittle” and much more difficult to manipulate. The end result would have more in common with digital fingerprinting systems like the ones that identify child exploitation online than it would with EXIF.

“We believe attribution will create a virtuous cycle,” Allen said. “The more creators distribute content with proper attribution, the more consumers will expect and use that information to make judgement calls, thus minimizing the influence of bad actors and deceptive content.”

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