How to Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween

Illustration for article titled How to Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween

Photo: Jay Ondreicka (Shutterstock)

A lot of people consider pets to be part of their family, so it makes sense that they’d want to include them in their holiday celebrations. Whether it’s putting some leftover turkey in their bowl after Thanksgiving dinner, or wrapping toys for them to tear open on Christmas morning, these traditions are typically more for humans than their pets (but it’s not as though they’re going to turn down seasonal poultry).

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This also includes Halloween. First, there’s the temptation to put them in a costume (adorable, sure, but if your pet doesn’t appear to appreciate their outfit and it’s stressing them out, it’s probably best to skip it). And beyond that, it’s also a good idea to consider how to keep your pet safe on Halloween night and the rest of the season as well. Here’s what you need to know.

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What to know about pet safety on Halloween

As it turns out, some of the most popular aspects of Halloween can pose safety risks for pets. Here’s what to keep an eye on during trick-or-treating, and the rest of the Halloween season.

Candy

You probably already know that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but it’s also something to keep away from other pets. This is for good reason: it can lead to hyperactivity, heart damage, seizures or even death.

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If your dog does somehow end up eating some chocolate, immediately take them to the vet—provided the office is less than a half hour away, Dr. Mark Magazu, a veterinarian with Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey told Newsradio KYW. If it would take longer than that, Magazu recommends giving your dog hydrogen peroxide to make them vomit—about one teaspoon for every five pounds.

In addition to chocolate, candy containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can also be bad news for pets. “Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, or it can result in seizures or alter mentation or it could even cause liver damage,” Dr. Ken Drobatz, professor of emergency medicine at Penn Vet told Newsradio KYW.

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Pumpkins

They may be a staple of fall decorating, but pumpkins can also be hazardous to pets. New, fresh pumpkins should be fine, but if your pet ingests any that have become rotten and/or moldy, they could be poisonous, thanks to fungal neurotoxins, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

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And if you opt for jack-o’-lanterns, stick with battery-operated candles instead of the real deal, which could be a fire hazard.

Decorations

Make sure any other decorations you have are dog-and-cat-friendly. This means avoiding anything that they could get caught in, wrapped around their neck, or be eaten and cause severe intestinal damage, according to Drobatz.

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xCloud is an unfinished but inspiring glimpse of how we might game in the future

The first time you boot up an Xbox One game on an Android phone can be surreal. Earlier this month, I opened the Game Pass app on a Pixel 3A phone, connected an Xbox One controller via Bluetooth in the device settings, and tapped the “play” button on the page for Halo 5: Guardians. After a somewhat lengthy loading time, there I was on the menu screen, ready to play the exact same Halo 5 campaign that I left unfinished back in 2016.

It surprised me that my save file was intact and accessible in the cloud, letting me pick up right where I left off. The best part: I didn’t even have to unpack the Xbox One where I originally played the game. It’s sitting unplugged in a box, exactly where I left it since moving back to the East Coast at the end of the summer.

I dropped into Halo 5 and began playing once again, the lag a bit noticeable but not game-breaking and the graphics sharp enough for playing on a small Pixel screen. With a $15-a-month Game Pass subscription and a $15 PowerA MOGA controller clip, I now have a comfortable mobile game console I can play anywhere in my apartment — with Halo 5 and dozens of other games, including ones I never owned and some I wasn’t even aware of. It feels like having a work-in-progress version of the future playing out on my phone.

The ease with which Microsoft’s new cloud gaming beta slots into its existing Game Pass service and broader Xbox vision obscures the fact that xCloud is very much a rough draft. It’s a very early version of the kind of state-of-the-art platform the company will need to forge a stronger, more resilient gaming business going forward. In its current state, xCloud works well enough and brings enough unique benefits to convince us Microsoft has a coherent comeback plan after seven years playing catch-up with Sony.

Yet there is much that needs improving if xCloud is going to earn its place in the company’s $15-a-month subscription service and compete with more fully-formed services, like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, both of which are already available on multiple platforms.

Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

How xCloud works, and how well it works

xCloud is a deceptively simple product in its current form. You don’t need much to use it — an Android phone running version 6.0 or later is enough, plus a minimum 10Mbps internet connection and hopefully a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, and you’ll probably want a Bluetooth controller. Touch inputs are currently limited to a single game, Minecraft Dungeons, with plans to support a small slice of the Game Pass library some time in the future. (Also, playing with a touchscreen on a cloud gaming service has generally been a miserable experience.)

You’ll also need to pay $15 a month for a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but xCloud isn’t the only benefit: it gives you access to over 100 games on Xbox and PC in addition to streaming games to your phone. The Game Pass app itself is easy to use, responsive, and well-designed.

There’s a coherent arrangement of lists that are easily maneuverable with a Bluetooth controller, so you don’t need to search for a specific game. There is a dedicated list of flagship games up top like the recently added Doom Eternal, a “jump back in” section for games you’ve played before, a list of recently added games, a “plays great on mobile” collection, and a most popular leaderboard.

Tapping any one game will let you know if it’s able to be played via streaming, or if it can only be downloaded to a paired PC or Xbox. (We have a breakdown of the pricing and various subscription tiers for Game Pass here, as well as an xCloud how-to guide here.)

Microsoft is running the service on custom server blades using Xbox One S hardware, but the company plans to transition the platform to Xbox Series S/X grade hardware to improve performance down the line. We don’t necessarily know exactly what that means, but a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge it’ll include the speedy solid-state drive in the Xbox Series S/X, which could improve load times and provide other performance enhancements.

Right now, however, xCloud load times and lag are quite noticeable, and fall behind those of Stadia and GeForce Now. Even with an upstate New York-based Spectrum download speed of roughly 110Mbps and over a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, games like Gears 5 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection had some noticeable sluggishness to them that needed accounting for when the games required precision and fast reflexes during high-intensity firefights. But I will say that the less graphically intensive a game was, the better it felt to stream. Ori and the Will of the Wisps played almost flawlessly compared to the experience on my PC.

As for load times, with modern Xbox One and PC games like Gears 5 and The Outer Worlds, you’re looking at load times of around one to one and a half minutes to get past the xCloud loading screen, the game’s own loading screen, and to the point when the in-game menu registers an input. That’s a bit awkward on mobile given you can’t do anything else but stare at the screen and wait for the game to load — switching to another app or exiting to the home screen suspends the loading process.

On Google Stadia, we’ve seen games load two to three times faster, with full-fledged console titles like Destiny 2 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider often taking just 20 to 30 seconds on Stadia’s Android mobile app. Mortal Kombat 11, one of the few games available on both services, loads into its menu on Stadia after just 30 to 35 seconds or so, compared with the more than a minute of time it takes to boot up on xCloud. And while Destiny 2 takes about almost the same amount of time to load on both platforms (and retains your PC save file on Stadia), I found playing on xCloud to be much choppier.

I tested xCloud load times with 15 of the most popular Xbox One titles Game Pass subscribers might want to stream, and compiled the results in the chart you’ll find below. Keep in mind these are estimates based on my experiences — your results might vary.

xCloud Beta Performance

Xbox One Games xCloud loading time (minutes)
Xbox One Games xCloud loading time (minutes)
Doom Eternal 1:03
Gears 5 1:24
Ori and the Will of the Wisps 1:25
Halo: Master Chief Collection 0:51
Halo 5: Guardians 1:06
The Outer Worlds 1:42
Forza Horizons 4 0:53
Minecraft Dungeons 1:19
Mortal Kombat X 1:01
No Man’s Sky 0:43
Sea of Thieves 0:49
Ark: Survival Evolved 1:19
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 1:31
Overcooked 2 1:51
Grounded (preview) 1:24

These aren’t awful loading times, but they are a definite delay: I often found myself resting my controller with the Pixel attached to my couch and just browsing on my iPad or laptop while I waited for a game to load. And because different games load at different times, you never quite know what to expect. The inconsistency and inconvenience sounds minor on paper, but it does noticeably detract from the overall experience in a way a full-fledged, non-beta product won’t be able to afford.

Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

Beyond load times and lag

Microsoft has ways to potentially reduce load times and lag, including the servers it’s already promised to upgrade. But arguably a bigger differentiating factor between xCloud, Google Stadia, GeForce Now, and the upcoming Amazon Luna is the business model — how they intend to make money and sustain themselves, what they have to offer game manufacturers to convince them to hop aboard, and which games each can actually offer to players like you.

Google charges Stadia players for individual games, regardless of whether the user is on its free tier or paying for a $10-a-month Stadia Pro subscription, which grants you 4K streaming and access to a library of free titles similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold. GeForce Now only costs $5 a month (it does have a very limited free tier), but only allows you to stream games you already own and purchased via Steam, and only if a publisher has agreed to allow Nvidia to redistribute them over its cloud platform.

PlayStation Now, Sony’s streaming service that has quietly operated since 2014, is the closest to xCloud in theory, providing more than 800 games for a $10 a month subscription. But it doesn’t typically include very recent Sony games, doesn’t let you download every one of its games for offline play like Xbox Game Pass (although it did add the feature for select titles in 2018), and doesn’t have a mobile app, though it is on Mac and Windows PC. PS Now is best designed as a service running on a Sony console you already own, as a way to experience games you’d rather not buy and wait to download.

Those various business models, as well as the fact that neither Google nor Nvidia are publishers with access to their own game catalogs (yet), mean cloud gamers are getting different software libraries with different levels of access. Some game makers, like Destiny developer Bungie, will make their games available via Stadia Pro, while others like Larian Studios (creator of Baldur’s Gate 3) will only sell their titles at full price on Google’s platform. Some game makers like Epic will opt to be a part of GeForce Now, while others like Activision Blizzard won’t let Nvidia stream their titles no matter what.

Depending on who owns what, your access to a cloud game could be revoked at any time, just as movies and TV shows come and go on Netflix, Hulu, and other video streaming services. The same is true for Sony’s PlayStation Now, which has plenty of the company’s first-party titles, but only offers access to whatever third-party games Sony can license.

Microsoft, like Sony, does have the added benefit of owning a large swath of the game industry’s biggest developers, and it most recently added the massive library of Bethesda Softworks to its roster. That gives xCloud a big boost, but the architecture of Game Pass happens to give xCloud a distinct edge over PlayStation Now because Game Pass games can be downloaded and played on an Xbox or PC with the added benefit of carrying your save progress across devices. And unlike Sony, Microsoft has committed to bringing its very latest games to Game Pass instead of limiting the cloud platform to mostly older titles.

That’s where we start to see the true promise of xCloud. You can start playing the hottest new Microsoft game locally on your Xbox, resume playing that same title downloaded to your PC via Game Pass Ultimate, and then stream on-the-go via xCloud on Android. With cross-buy and cross-progression, everything is synced in the cloud.

That’s a scenario you can’t replicate with any other service — and it’s Microsoft’s big selling point for xCloud right now, even if the likelihood of any Game Pass subscriber actually taking advantage of all of those perks remains slim. The promise of what this could mean in the future is still there, and it’s exciting.

Microsoft will no doubt improve the experience as it upgrades its network infrastructure and introduces hardware and software efficiencies to smooth out the process. And no doubt games over xCloud will feel and play much better on a wired connection when the platform does support smart TVs / streaming set-top devices, browsers, and dedicated desktop apps.

But it needs to do those things to be competitive, and Microsoft hasn’t yet detailed when and how it’ll make these things happen — though we now know it has plans to bring xCloud to iOS via mobile browsers while it works on a proper PC version, too. For now, the Android-only beta is just a small-scale way to enjoy the benefits of arguably the most forward-thinking cloud gaming service we have to date. But it’s not a compelling enough reason right now to spend $15 a month on Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate all by itself.

But a beta is all xCloud really needs to be at the moment. We’re a month out from the next-gen consoles arriving and ushering in a new, uncertain era for gaming hardware and software distribution. Google, Amazon and others are betting they can entice you away from the prospect of a shiny new box with only a few new games, by letting you play anywhere on any screen using the cloud — but Luna hasn’t launched yet and Stadia is still struggling to build consumer trust nearly a year after launch.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is offering an entire library of games you can play on its new Xbox for $15 a month, and it’s throwing a substantial taste of cloud gaming for free. The company is still trying to earn back the trust of a generation of gamers it lost through a series of corporate misfires, marketing whiffs, and a failure to keep pace with an exclusive-driven console strategy its primary competitor Sony was simply better positioned to pull off.

A lot of lapsed Xbox gamers, myself included, left the Xbox brand and built core networks of friends and a library of games on the PlayStation platform, and it’ll be difficult for Microsoft to win those consumers back.

xCloud and Game Pass could help Microsoft get there, though. These tools mean Microsoft doesn’t have to compete with Sony the way it tried for the last seven years, even if a Bethesda acquisition gives it more resources to play Sony’s game if it likes. I was a devout Xbox fan during the years of the Xbox 360, and I’ve been looking for a reason to return.

Thanks to xCloud, I’m confident Microsoft will forge a path forward in which I can migrate my library and save files to whatever screen I like. That might be reason enough for me to get a new Xbox, if it means my games come with me wherever I go.

Why All the Days Are Running Together, and How to Cope

Illustration for article titled Why All the Days Are Running Together, and How to Cope

Photo: fizkes (Shutterstock)

There has been a lot of talk about burnout during the COVID pandemic, and rightfully so—new working arrangements (or unemployment), coupled with family responsibilities and the stresses of living through this ongoing public health crisis can be overwhelming.

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But that’s not the only type of work-induced exhaustion that could be affecting you right now: you may be experiencing “boreout.” Here’s what you need to know about the concept, and how to deal with it.

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What is ‘boreout’?

What’s “boreout,” you ask? It’s a term coined by Swiss business consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin in 2007 to describe a lack of stimulation, challenge, or tasks at your job. It also manifests in having days feeling like they’re all running together. If you’ve experienced burnout, that may sound like the ideal work scenario, but can also lead to exhaustion and depression.

And like burnout, boreout has been on the rise during the pandemic. “Over the last few months, you’ll have experienced a lot of change to your everyday working life,” Fatmata Kamara, a specialist mental health advisor at a British health insurance company tells Red Magazine. “Whether you’ve swapped your commute to working from home, you’ve been on furlough or you’ve stayed in the office with a reduced team, we’ve all had to adapt. It’s normal for your mental health to have been impacted.”

Along the same lines, your working environment can also impact your mental health, “especially if you have little interaction with your fellow employees,” Kamara adds.

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How to cope with boreout

If what we’ve described sounds familiar, and you’re losing track of the passage of time because you’re being underutilized at work, you may be experiencing boreout. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that could help, Red Magazine reports.

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Talk to your manager

The conversation may be awkward, but if your boreout is a result of your job, it’s a good idea to at least approach the subject with your boss—similarly to how you’d bring up burnout. That doesn’t mean asking for additional work or more difficult tasks, but it should involve coming to the discussion with some ideas for how to improve your situation.

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Set mini-goals throughout the day

To help give your day more structure—and help regain your sense of time—you can also try setting small, achievable goals for yourself throughout the day. Reframing your daily tasks in this way may help you to feel more accomplished.

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Evaluate your bigger goals

This is a good time to take a step back and take a look at your career goals, and figure out what you need to do to achieve them. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of having a job that aligns with their goals, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least think about where you eventually want to end up.

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As you revisit what were once your primary aims in life, if there’s something that causes you to immediately tense up when you think about it, it may be time to reconsider whether it belongs on your list.

Stock Up on Essential Fall Flannels With 60% Off Jachs NY Premium Picks

Premium Flannel Shirts | $39 | Jachs NY | F39

Premium Flannel Shirts (Select three) | $100 | Jachs NY | 3FL

Jachs NY is offering 60% off of its premium flannel shirts in a sale made for the fall. I don’t know about you, but my fall wardrobe is about 50% flannel shirts, so I am always on the lookout for a great deal.

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You can get one of Jachs’s premium flannels for $39 with code F39. If you want to stock up a bit (a wise choice) you can get three shirts for $100 and free shipping with code 3FL.

They have some great color options— I’m personally a fan of the classic red and black buffalo plaid. Check them out below!

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Have Peace of Mind Wherever You Go With 30% Off an Audew Car Jump Starter

Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Audew Upgraded Car Jump Starter 20000mAh | $68 | Amazon | Clip coupon

I think I feel most like an adult when I spend my money on things I really don’t want, but instead on items a responsible human needs to own.

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One such purchase is a car jump starter— for sure, this is the kind of thing you would rather have and never have to use than the opposite situation. Thankfully, you can get an Audew upgraded car jump starter for 30% off when you clip the coupon on Amazon’s website. That brings this slick, LCD screened device down to $68.

As an added bonus, this 2000mAh capacity device can also recharge your smaller devices and has three different flashlight modes to help you find your way in the dark.

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Better safe than sorry and better 30% off than 0% off— get it at this price while you can!


Hopefully, the iPhone 12 launch has a nod to the gigafire raging in Apple’s home state – CNET

apple-apple-event-keynote-tim-09152020-big-jpg-large-2x

Tim Cook kicks off Apple’s virtual launch event in September from the company’s Cupertino, California, campus.

Apple

The camera for Apple’s iPad and Watch event last month zoomed around the spaceship-shaped headquarters, inspirational, thumping orchestral music playing as it rose up to meet the clear blue sky and shining sun before dropping down to a transition shot to find CEO Tim Cook walking the glass-lined halls of the corporate HQ. A large free-standing rainbow sculpture could be seen off on the right, in the center of Apple Park. With the invites for Apple’s Oct. 13 event out, you can anticipate the same kind of spectacle for the upcoming iPhone 12

In other words, picture perfect. 

It’s the kind of polish you’d expect from Apple, which spares no expense when it comes to presenting the image of flawlessness, whether in its devices or its product launches. The kind of cinematic approach Apple takes with its virtual product unveilings, which before the coronavirus were more-standard, keynote-on-stage affairs, has redefined what these online events should look like in the age of COVID-19. 

Heck, the zippy presentations and slick transitions even raise the question of whether we need in-person events at all (to be clear, I’m a firm believer that we still do). 

But the downside of committing to such slick presentations, which are often created days if not weeks in advance, is missing out on more-current events. That clear blue sky in the livestream was anything but at the time, with wildfires that have raged along the West Coast of the US, killing at least 35 people and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes amid haunting scenes of red and orange skies and air heavy with ash and smoke. 

In California, the blazes now qualify for the designation “gigafire,” because they’ve burned at least a million acres. That’s a step above “megafire,” which is 100,000 acres. 

Apple notably didn’t mention this disaster during its September event, despite its headquarters being based in Cupertino, California, a few miles from two wildfires that are still raging — one in Portola Redwoods State Park and another in Big Basin State Park, according to the nonprofit Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center. Here’s hoping that at its iPhone event, Apple offers a nod to the work still being done to fight this disaster. 

See also: 2020 wildfires in California and the west: What we know and how to help

Though the September Apple event was likely recorded ahead of the wildfires, there was still an odd disconnect between the polished scenes at Apple Park and the grimmer reality around California. The event saw Cook and his executive team unveil new iPads, two Apple Watches and the Apple One subscription service

It was a tight event, running to just a little over an hour. And though Cook referenced the impact of COVID-19 on our lives — he’s among a handful of Fortune 500 CEOs who’ve taken public stances on social, political and environmental issues — there was no mention of the other disaster befalling the residents of California, Oregon and Washington.  

The omission contrasted with Cook’s comments in June during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. At WWDC, he spent a few minutes addressing the impact of the coronavirus. He also acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement, including Apple’s commitment to distribute $100 million to “challenge systemic barriers that limit opportunities for communities of color in the critical areas of education, economy equality, and criminal justice.” The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police had happened a month before the conference. 

Even if Apple produced September’s iPad and Watch event ahead of time, it could’ve edited the presentation, and redone a few lines to address the situation. During the iPad segment, for instance, there was a scene set in the redwoods, which were hit hard by the fires. These changes could’ve been made — the wildfires had been raging for roughly a month. 

After all, tech companies have developed a conscience in the last few years, taking stands on more social causes and commenting on social and political issues because so many of their employees — and customers — expect these powerful companies to use their market power for more than just selling us gear.

“It was a miss to not rerecord a portion of the sessions to share empathy for natural tragedies that so many of us are facing, including the tech world,” said Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research.  

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the next presentation would address the wildfires. 

Now playing: Watch this: Every iPhone 12 feature we expect Apple to announce


8:34

Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi noted that despite the damage from the wildfires, the situation may not have been as relevant to the audience outside the US. By contrast, the problems brought up by the BLM controversies and related protests and by the coronavirus are more global in nature. 

It’s not like Cook wasn’t aware of the situation. In mid-August, he tweeted out his intent for Apple to donate to local wildfire relief efforts, and he sent out another tweet on the Friday ahead of the event, noting Apple’s intent to donate to the firefighting and recovery efforts along the West Coast. 

Cook boasts more than 12 million followers on Twitter, so those tweets represented a nice gesture of support. But he missed out on an opportunity to highlight the problem on the grander stage of an Apple launch event, which draws more mainstream eyeballs than a tweet ever could. He could’ve called even more attention to the wildfire problem, including highlighting any other relief initiatives from Apple and setting an example for others. 

Cook gets another chance next week, when he’s expected to unveil the company’s first 5G iPhone. If these virtual events are really our future, how companies juggle products with what’s going on in the world at the moment is critical. And if any company can get the messaging right, it’s Apple. 

Apple just has to WANT to do it and make edits. If it’s unsure how to do that, we’ve heard of some software called Final Cut Pro that might be able to help.  

If you’d like to help, here’s a list of different organizations you can donate to that are providing relief. 

Will Apple announce a new HomePod on Oct. 13? Here’s what we know – CNET

homepod-product-photos-8
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Apple’s HomePod debuted in 2018. It had a $349 price tag, great sound and the risk of putting white rings on your tabletop. Since then, despite some nice iterations on the HomePod’s features via periodic software updates, Apple hasn’t made much progress in the smart home, even as Amazon and Google continue to expand their audiences for Alexa and Google Assistant products across the board.

But according to a Bloomberg report earlier this year, Apple isn’t giving up on the HomePod. According to “people familiar with the plans,” Apple is planning to release a smaller and cheaper HomePod. Details are few, but sources say that the new HomePod will be approximately half the size of the original. It will keep the same design, just on a smaller scale.

Apple didn’t announce the new speaker at its online Worldwide Developers Conference in June as some expected, nor at its September event. With the announcement of an Oct. 13 event, rumors are back in circulation about a possible HomePod Mini. A report from Bloomberg earlier this year tipped the new HomePod for an October release.

Read more: How to watch the Apple event on Oct. 13

Pricing premonitions 

There’s no word on a price for the second-generation HomePod, but a smaller size likely means a smaller price as well. That’s the biggest step Apple can take to compete with the hugely popular (and often on sale) $50 Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini speakers.

Since launching the HomePod, Apple has reduced the price of its smart speaker from its original $349 to $299, though it periodically goes on sale for $199 in the US. In recent months, reports circulated that Apple is offering employees a 50% discount on the HomePod with a limit of 10 per employee (up from just two). Could these price drops indicate a stock clear-out?  

nest-mini-vs-dot-w-clock-10

Google and Amazon’s popular small smart speakers rule the market. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

New patents from Apple

There are also rumors stirring around Apple’s 2019 filing of a patent for a “Fabric-Covered Electronic Device with Touch Sensor.” The patent’s abstract description reads:

An electronic device such as a speaker device may have a curved housing characterized by a vertical longitudinal axis. A layer of fabric may cover the curved housing. A touch sensor may be used to detect touch input on the layer of fabric. The touch sensor may include capacitive touch sensor electrodes including drive lines and sense lines.

It also goes on to describe light-emitting components to mark where touch sensors are located. That’s quite different from the solid plastic top of the current HomePod, and similar to the current touch fabric design of the Nest Mini and brand new Nest Audio

Even with a slimmer design and better price, Apple still has smart home challenges to overcome. Apple’s narrow selection of music streaming services and shorter list of compatible smart home products make it a tough sell to anyone not exclusively living the Appleverse.

Siri is still a problem

Then there’s the issue of Siri as an assistant. Compared to the ever-evolving and personable voice assistants from Google and Amazon, Siri falls short. Interactions just feel less natural, and often simple requests aren’t handled as seamlessly as Google or Alexa. We’ve spent hours with all three and discovered there are some things Siri just can’t do

Whether they’re rumors or fanboy wish lists, a HomePod sequel would certainly need some combination of wider music service support and serious Siri upgrades — in addition to that presumed price cut — in order to have smart home-savvy shoppers give the Apple speaker a second look.

Bonus rumor: Apple AirTags

If the possibility of a HomePod sequel doesn’t raise your eyebrows, there are other Apple products rumored to be making debuts this year. Besides the perennially rumored Apple TV upgrade, Apple may be getting into the tracker game as well with a product rumored to be called AirTags or Apple Tags.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the tags will allow users to track items like wallets or keys, much like the Tile trackers you can buy today. MacRumors also pointed out an AirTags mention in an Apple support video (subsequently deleted) and screenshots shared with the website depicting AirTag setup. 

apple-event-091019-iphone-11-8600

Typically held at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, the annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be virtual this year.

James Martin/CNET

Even if these products are up next for Apple, coronavirus-related delays could mean a later release. The Wall Street Journal in April reported a delay in Apple’s production of the newest iPhone. With manufacturing across Asia heavily impacted and consumers spending less on big-ticket items, that delay could extend to other Apple products like the HomePod or AirTags.

Last year, there were reports of Apple expanding its HomeKit team and prepping for new products. That gave us hope that Apple had a renewed interest in the connected home. If Apple is indeed planning to press forward into the smart home, it really should start with an improved HomePod. Stay tuned to CNET’s coverage of Tuesday’s event for all things Apple.

More Apple smart home advice

iPhone 12 specs: Everything the rumors say about battery, camera and more – CNET

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We don’t know the iPhone 12 specs yet, but some features will be similar to the iPhone 11. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple will livestream a virtual event on Oct. 13 starting at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST), and all eyes are on the possibility of a new slate of iPhones — rumored to be called the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max and 12 Mini. The company has historically released new phones in September, but amid the COVID-19 outbreak, suppliers in China were forced to shut down or dial back operations. The tech giant confirmed there would be a delay on its flagship phones over the summer. 

What do we know about the new phones? Will there be enough new features to warrant upgrading from the iPhone 11? (Read how the iPhone 11 might compare to the iPhone 12 here.) 

Read more: Watch iPhone 12 launch: Here’s how to livestream the virtual Apple event

The iPhone 12’s rumored specs are starting to take shape after the latest from leaker Kang on Weibo. Here’s what we know so far. 

Models and size

According to Kang’s leak, we could be getting four new iPhone 12 models that potentially ship at different times. All the models are predicted to have Super Retina XDR displays, more drop-resistant glass, and 5G compatible. 

  • 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini
  • 6.1-inch iPhone 12 
  • 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro
  • 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max

Additionally, the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12 could come in black, white, red, blue and green. The Pro and Pro Max models are expected to be available in gold, silver, graphite and blue.  

Cost and preorder date

The iPhone 11‘s base model stunned at $699 in the US, slimming down $50 from the 2018 iPhone XR. Could the iPhone 12 follow the trend and cost less than the iPhone 11?

The latest leaks suggest the iPhone 12 Mini will start at $699 and the iPhone 12 base model at $799. The higher end iPhone 12 Pro could cost $999, and the Pro Max could cost $1,099. 

Again, Kang is predicting that the phones could ship at different times. The Mini may be available for preorder on Nov. 6 or 7, with a release date of Nov. 12 or 13. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro could start preorders on Oct. 16 or 17 and release Oct. 23 or 24. And the iPhone 12 Pro Max preorder date is rumored to be Nov. 13 or 14, released Nov. 20 or 21.

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Storage

As usual, the new iPhone models will have several storage options to choose from. According to Kang’s leak, the Mini and the iPhone 12 will have the choice between 64, 128 or 256 gigabytes. The Pro and the Pro Max offer a bit more, starting at 128GB and topping off at 512GB. 

Battery

It’s possible that the new line of iPhones could lose the charging port and opt for a MagSafe wireless charger instead.

Read moreWill iPhone 12 have USB-C? We’re guessing no but really hope we’re wrong

Camera 

Apple usually comes out swinging every year with its device’s cameras. These new phones shouldn’t be any different. For starters, Kang said there could be improvements to Deep Fusion and night mode photography.

iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 both have dual rear cameras. Both phones potentially have wide and ultrawide angles.

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max kick it up a notch. These two phones are rumored to include triple rear cameras, telephoto lenses, lidar sensors for depth tracking, and 4x and 5x optical zoom, respectively.

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iPhone 12 got a major leak just before launch day: Details on price and release dates – CNET

iphone-11-home-screen-7793

The iPhone 11 taking advantage of iOS 14’s ability to customize the home page. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple’s official event is Tuesday, but possible leaks about the next iPhone — widely expected to be called the iPhone 12 — continue to come out. Leaker Kang posted on Chinese social media site Weibo that there will be four models of iPhones that range in price from $699 to $1,099, according to The Verge

The models include an iPhone 12 Mini with a 5.4-inch display, which starts at $699 and will be available for preorder on Nov. 6 or 7 with retail availability of Nov. 13 or 14. The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 will start at $799 and be available to preorder on Oct. 16 or 17, with release on Oct. 23 or 24. Both models come with storage options ranging from 64 gigabytes to 256GB. 

The higher-end models include the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, which costs $999 and include a telephoto lens with 4X optical zoom and a lidar sensor for depth tracking, similar to the new iPad Pros. Preorders reportedly begin on Oct. 16 or 17, with release on Oct. 23 or 24. The 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max will start at $1,099, and include the lidar sensor and a telephoto lens with 5X optical zoom. It’ll be available for preorder on Nov. 13 or 14, with a release date on Nov. 20 or 21. Both models will storage options ranging from 128GB to 512GB. 

Kang also notes that Apple will sell a HomePod Mini for $99, as well as introduce a MagSafe charger, using the same branding as the magnetic charging cables found in its older MacBook laptops

An Apple spokesman wasn’t available to respond to a request for comment.

See also: Watch iPhone 12 launch: Here’s how to livestream the virtual Apple event

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