MacRumors

Aqara this week launched the Curtain Driver E1, providing a solution to retrofit traditional curtains with automated motors and HomeKit functionality.

aqara curtain driver e1 main
The Curtain Driver E1 hooks onto curtain rods and uses a motor to push curtains open or pull them closed, also offering Zigbee 3.0 and a 6,000mAh battery that can deliver 12-month battery life. Like Apple's Home app, the Curtain Driver E1 will be updated to support Matter in the future, according to Aqara.

There are two variants of the device, including a rod version for curtain poles and a track version for U-rails and I-rails, and you will need to ensure that you select the correct variant at the point of purchase. The driver can support heavy curtains up to 12kg, but it is worth checking exactly what sort of curtains and rod or track you have against Aqara's exact compatibility requirements. For example, curtain rods must be between 0.98-inches (25mm) and 1.26-inches (32mm) in diameter and cannot be telescopic. It is also important to note two separate curtain drivers are required for pairs of curtains.

Setup

Installing the Curtain Driver E1 is relatively easy. You simply mount the rod hanger over the curtain rod between the last two curtain grommets, extend the driver's hooks by double-pressing the button, hook the motor onto the hanger, and retract the hooks by double-pressing the button again. This ensures that the motor applies the correct amount of pressure to the rod depending on its size.

aqara curtain driver e1 hanger
The driver also comes with set of eight curtain clips and a rubber strip. The instruction manual suggests using the clips and strip along the top of a curtain, presumably to help the motor pull it along uniformly, but I found this fiddly and unsightly, with the clips scraping along my ceiling, so I left them off and this didn't seem to affect the motor's ability to pull the curtain at all.

aqara curtain driver e1 box contents
To connect the driver to the network, open the Aqara app, select the E1 from the list of accessories, and follow the on-screen instructions to set the open and closed positions. If you have two Curtain Driver E1 units, you can bind them together in the app so they operate in sync.

To add the curtains to the Home app, simply select the option in the Aqara app and scan the ‌HomeKit‌ code printed on the curtain driver's base. The Home app then correctly displays the curtains with relevant controls, so it is virtually no longer necessary to use the Aqara app.

Camera Hub G3

The Curtain Driver E1 requires the use of an Aqara home hub. In this case, I used the Camera Hub G3, which doubles as a feature-rich HomeKit-enabled camera, avoiding the need for a dedicated hub to be connected to the router.

aqara camera hub g3
At its core, it is a Zigbee 3.0 hub with support for up to 128 sub-devices and both 2GHz and 5GHz networks, but it also offers a 2K camera, 20 FPS playback, support for two-way conversations, an infrared blaster, 360° rotation with pan and tilt, AI gesture and facial recognition, a built-in privacy mode, local storage, a 1/4-inch tripod mount, a USB-C port, and more.

The camera seems to handle bright, natural sunlight well and nighttime performance is good thanks to its high-resolution. Two-way conversations are possible thanks to a built-in microphone and speaker. It features a privacy mode that rotates the camera inside the body, shows two closed eyes on the front, and provides access to a micro-SD card slot for local storage. If you're not a fan of the camera's look, you can easily push off the silicone hood to remove the "ears."

The camera can locally detect individual faces and can be set to follow people and pets, or be triggered by abnormal sounds, with plenty of conferable settings in the Aqara app. When manually looking around a room or automatically following a person, motor operation is smooth and effectively silent.

Pan and tilt features are not supported natively in the Home app, but if you configure it in the Aqara app, it is displayed perfectly in Apple's Home app. The camera seemed a little reluctant to tilt upwards when necessary and I noticed that it seems to get quite warm, but otherwise it works extremely well, especially in iOS 16's redesigned Home app camera views. The hub functionality of the G3 will support Matter later this year, as Matter will not support cameras in its initial release.

Daily Use

I found that the Curtain Driver E1 opened my curtains quickly and fairly reliably. The driver is heavy owing to its large internal battery and it has a bulky design, but it is very good in terms of build quality, and this is all hidden behind the curtain. It is also easy enough to unhook the driver from the rod hanger and charge it via USB-C.

aqara curtain driver e1 usb c port
For granular controls, you need to use Aqara's app. There, you can mitigate motor noise by slowing it down. There are also options to have curtains open very slowly over the course of a period of time to simulate a natural sunrise. Nevertheless, the Home app can be used for basic functions like opening and closing, checking battery level, or if there are any obstructions to the motor's movement.

The Curtain Driver E1 can be controlled physically by pressing the buttons or by simply tugging the curtain gently in the direction that you want it to travel. The motor detects this and completes the procedure.

However, I would caution users who seek to use the Curtain Driver E1 with longer curtains. In this instance, the top end of the curtains close seamlessly, but the bottom half can be dragged along the floor and not close fully, so the drivers probably work best with curtains that do not reach the floor. I would also warn people that have curtain rods with a support in the middle that there could be some gap left between curtains, and it is not possible to ensure that pairs of curtains overlap to block out light.

Automations

Below its status LED and button, the Curtain Driver E1 features a built-in ambient light sensor. Unfortunately, the sensor is not exposed to ‌HomeKit‌ and does not provide an exact reading of lux it detects, but it allows curtains to be opened or closed around the thresholds of "weak ambient light" or "strong ambient light" in automations in the Aqara app.

For more accurate and specific light automations, you can always use another sensor and set up an automation in the Home app. There are possibilities to control curtains with pre-set schedules such as sunset and sunrise, local weather, and geofencing, or connect with other accessories and scenes.

Beyond acting as a hub for the Curtain Driver E1, the Camera Hub G3 allows the Curtain Driver E1 to be controlled with hand gestures. While this is contingent on using Aqara's app and being located inside the camera's field of view, there are plenty of other automations possibilities work in Apple's Home app natively.

aqara curtain driver e1 button and light sensor
The Curtain Driver E1 is also easily paired with other accessories for specific automations. For example, Aqara's Motion Sensor P1 can trigger curtains to open upon entering a room for the first time in the morning or when an exact light level is reached outside. The motion sensor has three sensitivity modes, a built-in light sensor, a wide 170° field of view, configurable detection timeout, and support for Matter later this year.

aqara motion sensor p1 2

The Bottom Line

With a large battery capacity, USB-C charging, excellent build quality, manual control options, and built-in light sensor, the Curtain Driver E1 justifies its price, but things can start to get expensive if you need two drivers for a pair of curtains, as well as an Aqara hub. It may be one of the best available solutions for retrofitting existing curtains with motorization and ‌HomeKit‌ integration, but it inevitably falls short of more costly, dedicated motorized curtain rails.

I was still impressed with Aqara's Curtain Driver E1 and it seems to be a great option for customers who want to automate existing curtains in ‌HomeKit‌, especially if they already have just a single curtain or other devices in the Aqara ecosystem, and are willing to put up with a little bit of friction with regards to compatibility, setup, and charging.

aqara curtain driver e1 boxes
For those looking for a hub for the Curtain Driver E1 or a reliable smart home camera, I would also highly recommend the Camera Hub G3. It is by far the most feature-rich and versatile ‌HomeKit‌ camera I have ever used, delivering high image quality and useful object tracking.

How to Buy

The Curtain Driver E1 is Amazon in both North America and Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), as well as via selective Aqara retailers around the world (availability may vary).

Note: Aqara provided MacRumors with a Curtain Driver E1, Camera Hub G3, and Motion Sensor P1 for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: Aqara

Ubiquiti earlier this week announced that it is rolling out firmware version 3.7.0 for its AmpliFi Alien router, which delivers HomeKit support.

amplifi alien hero
‌HomeKit‌ support allows the router to be managed from the Home app across Apple's platforms to adjust security settings for various ‌HomeKit‌ accessories installed in the home. The functionality serves to firewall ‌HomeKit‌ devices by allowing them to communicate only with other approved devices, helping secure potentially sensitive accessories such as cameras from unauthorized access.

Only a few brands such as Linksys and Eero have supported ‌HomeKit‌ on select routers so far, so Ubiquiti is a notable addition.

Ubiquiti says the firmware update is a staged automatic rollout, but instructions for manually updating to the latest version are linked in the announcement. Users will also need the latest version of the AmpliFi WiFi app for iPhone.

(Thanks, Scott!)

Tag: AmpliFi

In the wake of Prime Day we aren't tracking as many discounts as we were earlier in the week, but Amazon is offering a handful of solid markdowns on the 2021 MacBook Pro lineup today. These include multiple all-time low prices on the 14-inch and 16-inch models of the MacBook Pro.

14-inch MacBook Pro

You can get the 14-inch MacBook Pro (8-Core M1 Pro/512GB) for $1,799.00 in Silver and Space Gray, down from $1,999.00. This is a solid second-best price on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and there's a slight shipping delay with estimated delivery of around July 23 for Silver and August 2 for Space Gray.

14 inch macbook pro deal blueNote: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

For a higher-end model, the 10-Core M1 Pro/1TB 14-inch MacBook Pro is on sale for $2,249.00, down from $2,499.00. This is an all-time low price on this model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and at this time it's only available in Silver.

16-inch MacBook Pro

Moving to the larger 16-inch MacBook Pro, we're tracking an all-time low price on the 10-Core M1 Pro/512GB 16-inch MacBook Pro, priced at $2,249.00, down from $2,499.00. This one is available in both colors, with Space Gray running low on stock as of writing.

16 inch macbook pro deal blue

On the higher end, the 10-Core M1 Pro/1TB 16-inch MacBook Pro is on sale for $2,449.00, down from $2,699.00. At $250 off, this is the best price you'll find online for this version of the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro.

You can find even more discounts on other MacBooks by visiting our Best Deals guide for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. In this guide we track the steepest discounts for the newest MacBook models every week, so be sure to bookmark it and check back often if you're shopping for a new Apple notebook.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Counterfeit cases for the entire iPhone 14 lineup, seeking to imitate official Apple accessories, are already available in China.

iphone 14 lineup cases fake
The cases, shared on Twitter by Majin Bu, are intended to look like official Apple silicone cases for all four of the expected ‌iPhone 14‌ models, including the 6.1-inch ‌iPhone 14‌ and iPhone 14 Pro, and the 6.7-inch ‌iPhone 14‌ Max and ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ Max. Genuine Apple silicone cases feature MagSafe and no longer come in a transparent plastic shell, but the replicas may be stylistically close enough to Apple's offerings to fool some customers.

The ‌iPhone 14‌ lineup is still around two months away from launch, but the proliferation of fake cases coming from China indicates how accessory makers are now certain about the exact design of this year's new devices. Accurate production molds often enter the supply chain well ahead of a new iPhone's launch, allowing companies to work on accessories that will fit the new iPhones correctly when they launch.

The Twitter user known as "DuanRui" today shared one such mold for the ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌, showing how much larger the rear camera array is expected to get this year:

As suppliers prepare to ramp up production before this year's new ‌iPhone‌ models are unveiled, it was reported earlier today that Apple expects the ‌iPhone 14‌ lineup to sell better than the iPhone 13.

Related Roundups: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro

The first embargoed reviews of the new MacBook Air with the M2 chip have now been published. One notable detail confirmed by The Verge is that the $1,199 base model equipped with 256GB of storage has a single NAND chip, which will lead to slower SSD speeds in benchmark testing, but real-world performance may vary.

MacBook Air M2 Chip Purple Feature
Last month, it was discovered that the 256GB model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip has up to 50% slower SSD read speeds and up to 30% slower SSD write speeds compared to the equivalent previous-generation model in benchmarks.

The dilemma arises from the fact that Apple switched to using a single 256GB flash storage chip instead of two 128GB chips in the base models of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Configurations equipped with 512GB of storage or more are equipped with multiple NAND chips, allowing for faster speeds in parallel.

In a statement issued to The Verge, Apple said that while benchmarks of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage "may show a difference" compared to previous-generation models, real-world performance is "even faster":

Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.

It's unclear if Apple's statement refers explicitly to real-world SSD performance or overall system performance. Some tests of the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip showed that SSD speeds were slower even in real-world usage, but results have been mixed. Overall, if the fastest SSD speeds are important to you, we recommend configuring the new MacBook Air with at least 512GB of storage to avoid any potential impact.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Nanoleaf, known for its unique HomeKit-enabled lighting panels, today announced the launch of new limited edition Shapes Ultra Black Triangles. The new Ultra Black panels are debuting to celebrate Nanoleaf's 10th anniversary, or "Nanoversary."

nanoleaf black panels 1
Lighting panels that are available in black have been a frequent customer request that Nanoleaf decided to deliver on for its anniversary. The Shapes Ultra Black Triangles have a 360-degree black finish that's quite unlike Nanoleaf's previous white plastic panels that some have criticized for the design when not activated.

nanoleaf black panels 2
We were able to take a look at the Shapes Ultra Black Triangles ahead of their launch, and the design should appease those who have always hoped for a darker, less stark color. Nanoleaf's standard white panels, when off, can look odd on the wall because of the white plastic design, but the black panels have a more natural art-like look when turned off.


The panels look more like a decorative piece when not in use, and the black finish does not at all diminish the bright colors that are available when the lights are turned on. The dark panels are prone to picking up fingerprints, though, so Nanoleaf has included a microfiber cloth. If you use the touch-based features, expect to need to clean them every so often because the fingerprints are noticeable when the panels are turned off.

nanoleaf black panels off
Aside from the color, the Nanoleaf Shapes Ultra Black Triangles are identical to the standard Shapes Triangles, with no notable design changes, so expect the same rounded corners. The panels also include all of the same features, including access in the Nanoleaf app, HomeKit connectivity, and interoperability with Mini Triangles and Hexagons.

nanoleaf black panels blue colors
The Shapes Ultra Black Triangles ship with black mounting plates, power supply, and controller for a streamlined look. The mounting plates were added with the Shapes line, and they make it much easier to get the panels off of the wall without adhesive damage because it's simpler to get to the adhesive pull tabs.

nanoleaf black panels purple
Because the panels feature the same design as the standard Triangles, it's worth noting that there is some light leak in the corners, and with certain colors, the corners can look a bit brighter than the rest of the panel. This isn't super noticeable in day to day use, but it may bother some people.

nanoleaf black panels red
Dark colors look great with the darker panels, with rich dark blues, purples, and greens blending well with the black color. The black panels provide a much different aesthetic with lighting patterns that turn the panels off and on because you get a black triangle thrown into the mix, and it's a sleeker look than you get with the white panels.

nanoleaf black panels green
There are thousands of pre-created community lighting scenes to choose from in the Nanoleaf app, along with built-in options in the app, plus you can create all kinds of light scenes yourself with different colors and light patterns. Schedules and automations are available, and the panels can be linked up with other ‌HomeKit‌ devices and controlled with Siri commands.

nanoleaf black panels colors
Other available features include Screen Mirroring to match content on your display and the Rhythm Music Visualizer for matching the rhythm of the color changing to music that's playing. If you're familiar with Nanoleaf's previous lighting panels, these are the same, just in a new, improved color option. If you want to know more about the available feature set, we have a full review available on the Shapes line.

The Shapes Ultra Black Light Panels can be purchased for $220 starting today, and are available as a limited edition product. The base kit includes nine panels, and an additional three can be purchased in an Expansion Pack for $70.

nanoleaf panels in the box
Nanoleaf is also launching exclusive merchandise, a charity livestream, giveaways, and surprise gift packages that will go out to 100 customers around the world. Nanoleaf merchandise that includes a bottle shaker, hat, pillow, and more can be acquired through Mystery Boxes and Swag Boxes priced starting at $35.

While the new MacBook Air with the M2 chip officially launches this Friday, one lucky customer received delivery of the notebook over a day early. The customer shared some photos on Reddit, offering a closer look at the new MacBook Air in a Silver finish.

MacBook Air M2 Customer 1
Apple redesigned the MacBook Air with a slightly larger 13.6-inch display, a notch, flatter edges, MagSafe charging, an upgraded 1080p camera, and new Starlight and Midnight color options alongside Silver and Space Gray. The notebook is also equipped with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones.

MacBook Air M2 Customer 2
The photos also provide a look at the new MacBook Air's box with manuals, Apple stickers, and a color-matched MagSafe 3 charging cable.

MacBook Air M2 Customer 3
MacBook Air M2 Customer 4
The first reviews of the new MacBook Air were published today ahead of the notebook's launch on Friday, with one describing it as "Apple's near-perfect Mac."

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Rumors have been circulating about Apple bidding on the massive NFL Sunday Ticket package for out-of-market games, with a report just a few weeks ago stating that Apple, Amazon, and Disney were all in the running.

nfl
According to Dylan Byers at Puck News, Apple is now regarded as the "most likely winner" as Disney has dropped out of the bidding that could approach $3 billion per year.

As I learned at Sun Valley, and in subsequent conversations this week with sources close to the talks, the deal will likely come in significantly higher than $2 billion a year—some sources with insight into the talks believe it could come in close to $3 billion. This has effectively removed the cautious, ever-disciplined Disney from consideration, since its own bid came in under $2 billion. (Disney declined to comment.) Existing media partners, like Fox, Comcast and CBS, are also not in contention, I’m told. The race for the Ticket has therefore come down to Apple and Amazon, and while nothing has been signed or agreed to, I have been given ample reason to believe that Apple is the most likely winner of the sweepstakes—and not merely because I was told that Apple’s Tim Cook and Eddy Cue met with Goodell in Sun Valley.

Byers says that Apple and Amazon are also considering bids for a domestic package of UEFA Champions League games that could cost up to $2.5 billion over six years.

Apple has just begun dipping its toes into the live sports market, starting with a limited package of Friday night Major League Baseball games this season, and recently announcing a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer for worldwide broadcast rights to all games, but it's clear the company has significant ambitions as it seeks to increase its presence in the competitive market.

Tag: NFL

Amid continued healthy sales for the iPhone 13 lineup, Apple's iPhone 14 models are forecasted to sell even better, Sina Finance reports.

iPhone 14 Lineup Feature Teal
The report claims that Apple has begun trial production of the ‌iPhone 14‌ lineup and plans to begin mass production in August ahead of launch in September. Apple is said to have informed suppliers than the initial sales of the ‌iPhone 14‌ will be higher than those of the ‌iPhone 13‌.

iPhone sales normally slow down in the July-August period as customers anticipate the launch of new models in September, but ‌iPhone 13‌ shipments were reportedly one-third higher this July than at the same time last year, suggesting that the device has ongoing demand.

Meanwhile, ETNews reports that Samsung is expecting to ship as many as 80 million displays for the ‌iPhone 14‌, ‌iPhone 14‌ Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ Max in the third quarter of this year. In 2021, all four ‌iPhone 13‌ models were announced on September 14, became available to pre-order on September 17, and launched on September 24 in the United States and more than 30 other countries, and the ‌iPhone 14‌ lineup is expected to launch in a similar timeframe this year.

Related Roundups: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro

Apple's rumored mixed-reality headset is on schedule to launch in early 2023, but a second-generation model with substantial upgrades is already in development for 2024, ETNews reports.

apple ar headset concept 2Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo

Suppliers are reportedly preparing to kick off mass production for Apple's headset in the fourth quarter of this year ahead of the product's launch early next year, but initial production volume is not expected to be large.

In line with previous reports, Apple's headset is said to feature a micro-OLED display supplied by Sony and LG Display that boasts a thin design and power-efficiency, three 3D-sensing modules from LG Innotek, and a mid- to low-specification camera from a supplier in China.

The headset will focus on entertainment and games, but will effectively serve as a testing device to prepare the market for a better, second-generation product, which the report claims is already in development. The second-generation Apple headset is said to be scheduled to release in 2024 and will tout a lighter design, the ability to make calls, and ultra high-definition cameras from LG Innotek.

Apple purportedly plans to differentiate its augmented-reality and virtual-reality devices from other companies like Meta, Sony, and Google with better usability, content, and portability. Samsung is expected to release a competing device after observing Apple's headset launch and its impact on the market.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

The iPhone 15 Pro Max will be the sole Apple smartphone of 2023 to get a periscope camera lens and benefit from greatly enhanced optical zoom, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

iPhone 13 Pro Light Blue Side Feature
Rumors about the iPhone getting a periscope lens have been circulating since early 2020, when Kuo first mentioned the possibility. The analyst initially said that a periscope lens would be an iPhone 14 Pro feature, but more recently he has said the lens type will debut in a "Pro" model of the ‌iPhone 15‌ series, a prediction that analyst Jeff Pu has also made.

Apple will likely continue to offer four models in 2023: The 6.1-inch ‌iPhone 15‌, the 6.1-inch ‌iPhone 15‌ Pro, the 6.7-inch ‌iPhone 15‌ Max, and the 6.7-inch ‌iPhone 15‌ Pro Max. Writing in his Medium blog, Kuo says he now believes that the periscope lens will be exclusive to the 6.7-inch Pro Max device, with the 6.1-inch Pro model keeping the telephoto lens for optical zoom.

In a periscope system, light entering the telephoto lens is reflected by an angled mirror towards the camera's image sensor. The change in direction in which the light travels allows for a longer "folded" telephoto setup inside phones, enabling users to zoom in further without any blurriness. Largan and Genius are expected to be Apple's main suppliers of such a lens in 2023.

There are already some Android smartphones with periscope lenses. Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra for instance features up to 10x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom. With the addition of a periscope lens, the ‌iPhone 15‌ Pro Max would follow suit. Kuo says the 1/3" sensor will have 12-megapixel resolution with f/2.8 aperture and up to 6x optical zoom, with sensor-shift stabilization. For context, iPhone 13 Pro models are limited to 3x optical zoom.

Looking ahead, Kuo also believes both ‌iPhone‌ 16 Pro models in 2024 will use the same or similar periscope lens as the one used in the ‌iPhone 15‌ Pro Max, with Apple continuing its trend of setting apart standard and Pro models by reserving certain higher-end hardware features for the latter.

This year, Apple is expected to introduce improvements to the telephoto and wide-angle lens on its ‌iPhone 14 Pro‌ models. Kuo says that Apple will upgrade the telephoto camera from a 6-element lens to a 7-element lens.

Kuo also believes that the 2022 Pro ‌iPhone‌ models will feature a 48-megapixel Wide camera, which would be a major improvement over the current 12-megapixel camera, and 8K video recording capabilities that will allow iPhone-recorded videos displayed on an 8K display or TV to provide "a better user experience."

Related Roundup: iPhone 15

Apple today continued with the launch of its annual "Back to School" promotion, debuting back to school deals in most countries in Europe, some countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Mexico.

europe back to school
Higher education students and educators in most countries can get an Apple gift card with the purchase of select Macs and iPads, which is the same deal that went live in the United States and Canada in June, while in other countries, Apple is offering AirPods. In the UK, gift cards valued at up to £120 are available, and in other European countries, the amount tops out at €150.

Qualifying devices include the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac, as well as the iPad Pro and iPad Air. Eligible devices include the M2 MacBook Pro and ‌M2‌ ‌MacBook Air‌, which are Apple's latest devices. The highest value gift cards are available with Macs, with slightly lower values accompanying iPads.

In Mexico, Turkey, Czech Republic, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and China, Apple is not providing a gift card, and is instead giving EDU customers a set of AirPods with the purchase of a new iPad or Mac. In countries where AirPods are the Back to School option, Apple is offering second-generation AirPods for free, but customers can upgrade to third-generation AirPods or AirPods Pro for an additional fee.

Apple is providing its standard educational discounts, and students are able to get lower prices on Macs and iPads through the EDU store in each country. Students are also eligible for AppleCare+ at a 20 percent discount.

Apple's Back to School promotion requires verification through UNiDAYS in many countries, with full terms and conditions available on the promotional pages for Apple's country-specific websites.

Back to School deals are available to students and educators in countries that include Mexico, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and China.

Apple's Back to School Promotion will last through October 20, 2022 in most of the above listed countries, but it does end in September in some locations, such as Hong Kong and China.

Netflix today announced that it plans to partner up with Microsoft for its planned ad-supported streaming tier, with Microsoft set to handle ad sales. Netflix says that Microsoft will be able to support all of its advertising needs for the new, more affordable streaming option.

netflix 4

In April we announced that we will introduce a new lower priced ad-supported subscription plan for consumers, in addition to our existing ads-free basic, standard and premium plans. Today we are pleased to announce that we have selected Microsoft as our global advertising technology and sales partner.

Microsoft has the proven ability to support all our advertising needs as we work together to build a new ad-supported offering. More importantly, Microsoft offered the flexibility to innovate over time on both the technology and sales side, as well as strong privacy protections for our members.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed in June that Netflix is planning to implement a cheaper ad-supported tier to draw in customers who do not want to pay the $9.99 per month starting price for an ad-free plan. At the time, Sarandos said that Netflix was in talks with ad-sales partners.

The Basic Netflix plan is priced at $9.99 and it offers 480p streaming, while the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 for 1080p resolution. Netflix's most expensive Premium plan, priced at $19.99 per month, is the sole tier that offers 4K HDR streaming. Netflix continues to be the only streaming service that charges extra for improved streaming quality, and the ad-supported tier will likely offer streaming quality similar to the Basic plan.

Though Netflix said in the past that it would not offer a more affordable tier with ads, the company's plans changed following its disappointing first quarter. Netflix lost subscribers for the first time in 10 years, with revenue growth slowing considerably. Netflix largely blamed the downturn on "a large number of households sharing accounts" and "competition."

An ad-supported tier could help Netflix tap customers that it is not able to reach at the current time, and Sarandos said that he believes Netflix will return to growth with the ad-based tier and the plan to more effectively monetize multi-household sharing through new restrictions that are being tested.

Netflix today said that it's "very early days" and there's "much to work through," but that its long term goal is to offer "more choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers." Netflix is rumored to be aiming to launch its ad-supported tier before the end of 2022, perhaps in the last three months of the year.

Apple's online education store has gone down in many European countries, including the U.K., Ireland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Czech Republic, and others.

2022 back to school apple feature
The store is also down in a few other countries around the world, such as Mexico, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and China.

The downtime likely means that Apple's annual Back to School promotion will be launching in Europe and elsewhere within the next several hours. The promotion first launched in the U.S. and Canada last month, with Apple offering college/university students up to a $150 Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad model.

In the U.S., Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase of any new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac model, and a $100 gift card with the purchase of any new iPad Pro or iPad Air model. The list of eligible devices includes the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models with the M2 chip that Apple announced last month.

Apple's gift card offer can be stacked with the usual educational discount on Macs and iPads that the company provides to students. In some countries, customers must verify they are a higher-education student via UNiDAYS to be eligible.

With the Euro being roughly on par with the U.S. dollar right now, it is possible that Apple's offer in countries that use the Euro will be up to a €150 gift card, but the exact offer remains to be seen. Apple launched its all-in-one gift card in several European countries last month, with the gift card valid for purchases at both the Apple Store and across Apple services like the App Store, iTunes, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and others.

Last month, Apple also launched the promotion in India, Thailand, and Singapore, where it is still offering students free second-generation AirPods with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad. Apple's all-in-one gift card is unavailable in those countries.

Update: Apple has launched its Back to School promotion in Europe.

Set to come out this fall, iOS 16 is the next-generation version of iOS, and it is laden with tons of major changes, such as an all new customizable Lock Screen. There are also a number of smaller, lesser known features, and in our latest YouTube video, we highlight some neat additions that you might not know about.


  • Pinned Safari Tabs - You have been able to pin a Safari tab on Mac for some time, but pinned tabs didn't work with iOS 15 That's changed in ‌iOS 16‌, and now you can have your favorite tabs pinned, including within Tab Groups.
  • Merge Duplicate Contacts - Tired of having multiple contact cards for the same person? In ‌iOS 16‌ you can merge duplicate contacts together right from the Contacts app.
  • Get Rid of Duplicate Photos - The ‌iOS 16‌ Photos app can let you know if you have multiple photos of the same thing, giving you the opportunity to delete the extras to save space. Duplicate photos are listed in a new "Duplicates" album that appears if you have duplicates to deal with.
  • Copy and Paste Photo Edits - Want all of your photos to have the same aesthetic, or have improvements you want to make to an entire batch of images? That's possible with the new copy and paste feature for photo edits, which lets you copy edits from one photo and apply them to another photo with a tap.
  • AirPods Updates - It's simpler to manage AirPods settings in ‌iOS 16‌ with a new dedicated section that pops up in the Settings app when AirPods are connected. ‌iOS 16‌ also adds a new Personalized Spatial Audio feature that uses the TrueDepth camera to scan your ears and the area around you, providing a unique listening experience tuned just to you.
  • Face ID in Landscape Mode - iPhone models running ‌iOS 16‌ support Face ID in landscape mode, making it easier to unlock the ‌iPhone‌ when it's not held in the standard portrait orientation. The feature is limited to the iPhone 13 and later.
  • Notes Passcodes - Rather than creating a new password for a note, you can now simply use your device passcode or Face ID/Touch ID to lock a note, which is much easier.
  • Haptic Feedback for Keyboard - There's a keyboard setting in ‌iOS 16‌ that lets you enable haptic feedback that can be felt when you're typing. The vibrations are for each key tap, offering users a physical confirmation that a letter has been pressed.
  • Hidden and Deleted Photo Protection - In ‌iOS 16‌, you need to authenticate with ‌Face ID‌ or ‌Touch ID‌ before the Hidden and Recently Deleted photo albums can be accessed. This essentially locks these albums from view should someone have your device passcode.
  • WiFi Password - If you've ever been frustrated by an inability to access the WiFi password of the network you're using, that's changing in ‌iOS 16‌. In the ‌iPhone‌'s WiFi settings, you can see the password of the network that you're connected to.

More iOS 16 Coverage

For a full rundown on everything that's new in ‌iOS 16‌, we have a dedicated iOS 16 roundup. Have a favorite ‌iOS 16‌ feature? Let us know what it is in the comments.

Related Roundups: iOS 16, iPadOS 16

Apple's industrial design chief Evans Hankey and VP of hardware engineering Kate Bergeron recently spoke about the redesigned MacBook Air, the former 12-inch MacBook, and more in an interview with British GQ, spotted by 9to5Mac.

M2 MacBook Air Lifestyle
Hankey has fully led Apple's hardware design since Apple's former design chief Jony Ive departed the company in 2019. Ive remained a consultant to Apple through his independent design firm LoveFrom, but on Tuesday it was reported that Apple and Ive mutually agreed not to renew their contract, marking the end of a 30-year partnership.

The new MacBook Air does away with the notebook's iconic wedge-shaped design in favor of a flatter design, which Hankey described as "quite honest and simple."

"We don't really have to play any kind of games with shape or form to make it look thin," said Hankey, regarding the new design. "And I think that's one of the most lovely and remarkable things: it's quite honest and simple."

Hankey said the new MacBook Air was designed alongside the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that launched last year. "It was the first time we ever set out to do a family of products together," she remarked.

Hankey also revealed that the MacBook Air's new Midnight finish "came from the volcanic rock Basalt," adding that her dad was a geologist.

As for the 12-inch MacBook, which Apple discontinued in 2019, Bergeron admitted that the notebook had a "polarizing" design for some people.

"It was ahead of its time, on the cutting edge of the USB-C transition and it didn't have MagSafe," said Bergeron. "There were definitely some things that we weren't able to fit into the product, because of its size."

Introduced in March 2015, the 12-inch MacBook featured a thin and light design that weighed just two pounds, and it was also Apple's first notebook with a fanless design and a USB-C port. The original model was powered by Intel's underwhelming Core M processor and introduced Apple's issue-prone butterfly keyboard design.

The new MacBook Air has some similarities with the 12-inch MacBook, including a fanless design, but the MacBook Air is still larger and heavier.

The new MacBook Air launches this Friday, with embargoed reviews of the notebook expected to be published tomorrow. In the United States, pricing starts at $1,199 for a configuration with the M2 chip, 8GB of unified memory, and a 256GB SSD.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Prime Day 2022 is coming to a close later today, so we're quickly recapping all of the best Apple deals that are still live on Amazon right now. Shipping may be slightly delayed, but all of the products listed below remain at some of the lowest prices we've ever seen.

primeday2022Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Remember that you'll need an Amazon Prime membership to get Prime Day deals. You can sign up for Prime if you don't have it yet on Amazon.

Apple TV 4K

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AirPods Pro with MagSafe

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AirPods Max

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AirTag 4-Pack

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Apple Watch SE

apple watch se prime day

Apple Watch Series 7

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Be sure to visit our full Deals Roundup to shop for even more Apple-related products and accessories.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

The latest release of Minecraft for iPhone and iPad introduces Bluetooth mouse and keyboard support for in-game controls.

Minecraft Banner
To use a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard, update to version 1.19.10 of Minecraft for iOS and iPadOS, released on the App Store on July 12. As noted on Reddit, keys can be remapped in the Settings app under General → Keyboard → Hardware Keyboard → Modifier Keys.

The update also adds music directly to the iOS and iPadOS app, eliminating the need to download music from the marketplace, according to the release notes.

Minecraft is one of the most popular iPhone and iPad games. Priced at $6.99 on the App Store, the game ranks #1 in the "Paid Games" category.