Apple Avoids US$150 Price Hike As The US And China Get To A Trade Agreement

Apple has narrowly avoided taking a hit in the trade war between the US and China. Bloomberg reports that, with a deal being signed between the two countries, the company avoided 15% tariffs on its porducts. This spared the company from having to raise the prices of its popular products, such as the iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, by US$150 (~RM620).
Wedbush Securitues analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note to investors that the new import duties were supposed to take effect on 15 December. If it went through, Apple would have had to either absorb the additional cost, or raise its prices accordingly. Going for the former would’ve hit the company’s earnings per share by about 4%. On the other hand, going for the latter would’ve meant 6% to 8% less demand for its products in 2020.

Fittingly, in the research note, Ives said that “Trump delivered an early Chirstmas present to Apple”. Bloomberg reports that Apple is already paying duties on the Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac and HomePod speakers. Some of these may be rolled back, and officials are also discussing the possibility of reducing existing duties on other Chinese products.
This, then, sounds like good news, for both the company and fans of its products. And likely more so for Apple than any other company. Ives also wrote that the company has more to lose than any company out there “if this tariff war does not see a truce going forward”. And Apple’s products are pricey enough as they are.
(Source: Bloomberg)
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Maxis eSIM Now Supports Apple Watch LTE For Additional RM 18 Per Month

Following our previous report, Maxis today has released more information regarding its support for Apple Watch models that come with cellular feature. Positioned under the telco’s eSIM offering, Maxis customers can activate the feature starting from today onwards.
They can so do by subscribing to the new Maxis Postpaid 18 Watch plan through the Watch app inside their iPhone. Applicable for Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 3, the step is similar to what we have laid down in our guide previously with the exception that it now involves Maxis rather than Digi.
According to the telco’s official website, the Maxis Postpaid 18 Watch can only be obtained by MaxisONE Plan and MaxisONE Share customers. Additionally, the plan costs RM 18 per month although at the moment, subscribers will receive free subscription for 3 months when they signed up.
There was no mention regarding VoLTE in Maxis guide but nevertheless, it is not something you to worry about since the activation process should be quite seamless. For further clarification, head on to Maxis’ official website right here.
(Source: Maxis – 1, 2, 3.)
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Fast & Furious Crossroads Coming May 2020 To Steam, PS4 and Xbox One

Not only are we expecting the tenth film of the Fast & Furious series to be released in May 2020, Bandai Namco and Slightly Mad Studios (of Project Cars fame) have announced that a video game spinoff of the franchise will also be launched around the same time. Fast & Furious Crossroads features several of its cast members, and will ride onto Steam, PS4 and Xbox One.
The game is marketed as a “team-based, vehicular-heist action game” and based on its reveal trailer, Fast & Furious Crossroads features the over-the-top, high-octane action sequences that we’re all familiar with from the franchise. Oh, and cars. Plenty of cars. Although the trailer claims that everything we see is rendered by its in-game engine, there weren’t any actual gameplay footages shown aside from the movie-trailer-worthy action scenes.

According to Bandai Namco, Fast & Furious Crossroads will feature a single-player campaign, a multiplayer mode, racing and stunt challenges, a variety of cars and gadgets, as well as different locations to explore. Slightly Mad Studios Chief Creative Officer Andy Tudor expressed his excitement for his studios’ involvement in Crossroads’ development, and hinted that players should keep an eye out for plenty of easter eggs once they get to play the game.

The game includes the voices and likeness of Fast & Furious stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson as their respective characters. Other well-known talents featured in Crossroads include Sonequa Martin-Green from Star Trek: Discovery and The Walking Dead, and Asia Kate Dillon from John Wick: Parabellum.

As mentioned earlier, gamers can live their lives a quarter mile at a time (hopefully in 60fps and above) when the Fast & Furious Crossroads game is released in May 2020 – alongside the Fast & Furious 9 film.
(Source: Bandai Namco via Business Wire.)
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The Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch Now Available In Malaysia; Retails Up To RM26719

Nearly a month after Apple’s MacBook Pro 16-inch appeared on the local store page, the notebook is finally available for purchase. As you can imagine, the Cupertino giant’s new notebook with a 16-inch Retina Display doesn’t come cheap.
The base model starts off at RM10,499 and at that price, you get a 6-cores 9th generation Intel Core i7 CPU clocked at 2.6GHz (with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz), 16GB DDR4-2666 RAM, 512GB SSD storage, the 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone, and an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB GDDR6 graphics memory. Additionally, you also get the Touch Bar and Touch ID, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports built into the sides.
Of course, if you’re planning to purchase a MacBook Pro 16-inch with a fully decked out specs sheet, understand that you’ll be paying a whopping RM26,719 for the machine. And that’s without Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X pre-installed.

For that price, however, you get the 9th generation, 8-core Intel Core i9 CPU with a boost clock of 5GHz, 64GB DDR4-2666 RAM, an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB GDDR6 graphics memory, and 8TB SSD storage. Oh, and the usual Touch Bar, Touch ID and 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone as well.
Regardless of your choice of hardware, it should be noted that the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch is only available in two colour palettes: Space Grey and Silver.
(Source: Apple Malaysia [1] [2])
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Android 10 Beta Enables Google Biometric API For Samsung Galaxy S9 And Note 9; Iris Scanner To See More Use

The current generation of Samsung flagships lack an important feature that the previous generations have, which is the iris scanner. That said, the Korean tech giant is still supporting the feature, at least for the previous generation devices. As part of the Android 10 One UI 2.0 beta, the company has updated the iris scanner for the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 to be compatible with Google’s biometric API.
Users in Reddit have noticed that the beta program allowed them to use the iris scanner with other apps that also use Android 10’s biometrics system. Prior to this, Samsung’s iris scanners mainly worked to unlock the phone or in other Samsung-specific features. Now, it’s a lot more general purpose, which may see increased use of the feature.

Unfortunately, the Android 10 biometric API will likely not make it to the older flagships. According to the company’s Android 10 roadmap, the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 will not be getting the update.
Speaking of which, the Android 10 One UI 2.0 is expected to be released in January next year for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 9. If you’re using the Galaxy S10, you should already have the update. The Galaxy Note 10 hasn’t just yet, but we’d say it will get the update before the previous generation flagships.
(Source: Reddit via Android Police)
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Facebook Messenger Merger May Face Opposition From The US FTC

Earlier in May, Facebook officially announced that it has planned to enable cross-messaging across all the apps it owns. Included in the list is Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Sources to The Wall Street Journal said that the US Federal Trade Commisison (FTC) may file an injuction against the company. The move is meant to keep it from pursiung interoperability between its messaging apps.
The New York Times first broke the news of the cross-messganing pursuit in January. The idea is that all three apps will share the end-to-end encryption used by WhatsApp. You’ll also be able to use Facebook Messenger to send a text to someone using Instagram Direct, for example.

A key reason that the FTC is agaisnt the move is because the integration would make it more difficult to split the company apart. The commission says this is so that, if it finds Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram as anticompetitive, it would be less of a headache to break the companies up. The agrument for the consumer fromt is that cross-messaging will make texting more convenient. But it may also endup being confusing if you want to know which platform each message comes from.
At any rate, the Journal states that if the FTC makes the move to file an injunction, it could happen as early as next month. It does feel a little late, since Facebook has already begun branding Instagram and WhatsApp with the “by Facebook” label.
(Source: Wall Street Journal via TNW, BGR)
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Ghost of Tsushima Finally Gets A Release Window; Set For Summer 2020

For those who still remember the name, Ghost of Tsushima was one of PlayStation’s most highly anticipated exclusives. The first we heard of it was during E3 last year, but it has since been dead silence since. During The Game Awards 2019, developer Sucker Punch Productions finally put out a new trailer, revealing its Summer 2020 release.
The trailer revealed very little that’s new. But of what little was shown, Ghost of Tsushima looks like what the old Tenchu games would look like if they were given the open world treatment. There’s a bit of Uncharted-esque traversing, as well as what appears to be stealth elements that precede combat.

Things in Ghost of Tsushima are as gritty as before, but rather than a samurai, the main character seems to be more of a ninja. He is even referred to as The Ghost in the new trailer. It’s not too big a shift, as there’s still plenty of combat to be had. And should the game be as the trailer shows, you should still have a choice of approaching your foes from the front, or stalking them from the shadows.
At any rate, we now know that Ghost of Tsushima will be out next year. That said, Summer 2020 is till a pretty large window. At the very least, barring any further delays, we can expect the game to be out between late June to the end of September.
(Source: PlayStation / YouTube)
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A Full-Spec Apple Mac Pro in Malaysia Costs More Than RM 230,000

Earlier this week, Apple has revealed the base price for its Mac Pro workstation in Malaysia which starts at RM 25,999 for the tower variant. At that time, the customization option on Apple Malaysia’s was not accessible but that has changed today.
Naturally, I made our way back to the website to configure a Mac Pro with maxed-out hardware options. By doing that, we ended up with a total bill of RM 231,608 which is quite hefty, to say the least.

So, how did we get from RM 25,999 and then shoot up all the way to RM 231,608? Well, here are the costs of the add-on components:
RM 30,800: 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W 28-core 56-thread processor
RM 110,000: 1.5TB DDR4 ECC RAM
RM 47,520: Two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards
RM 6,160: 4TB solid state drive
RM 8,800: Apple Afterburner accelerator card
RM 1,760: Stainless steel frame with wheels
RM 569: Magic Mouse 2 + Magic Trackpad 2
If you add Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X into the list, the total would then become RM 233,707.80. Believe it or not, we don’t think that is the Mac Pro’s full maxed-out price tag since several hardware options are not yet available for it including 8TB solid state drive and dual AMD Radeon Pro W5700X card.

If you want to go even further, add a Pro Display XDR with nano-texture and a Pro Stand for it which would then bring the total cost to RM 264,205.80.
It is a well-known fact that the Mac Pro is aimed at professionals which is why it comes with plenty of powerful and expensive hardware. Then again, I would guess that you or your firm must be working on a very complex kind of work if you found yourself choosing every single add-on option in the list and agree to pay the 6-digit figure for your Mac Pro.
(Source: Apple Malaysia.)
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Ghost of Tsushima Finally Gets A Release Window; Set For Release In Summer 2020

For those who still remember the name, Ghost of Tsushima was one of PlayStation’s most highly anticipated exclusives. The first we heard of it was during E3 last year, but it has since been dead silence since. During The Game Awards 2019, developer Sucker Punch Productions finally put out a new trailer, revealing its Summer 2020 release.
The trailer revealed very little that’s new. But of what little was shown, Ghost of Tsushima looks like what the old Tenchu games would look like if they were given the open world treatment. There’s a bit of Uncharted-esque traversing, as well as what appears to be stealth elements that precede combat.

Things in Ghost of Tsushima are as gritty as before, but rather than a samurai, the main character seems to be more of a ninja. He is even referred to as The Ghost in the new trailer. It’s not too big a shift, as there’s still plenty of combat to be had. And should the game be as the trailer shows, you should still have a choice of approaching your foes from the front, or stalking them from the shadows.
At any rate, we now know that Ghost of Tsushima will be out next year. That said, Summer 2020 is till a pretty large window. At the very least, barring any further delays, we can expect the game to be out between late June to the end of September.
(Source: PlayStation / YouTube)
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This Is The New Xbox Series X: Features Custom AMD Chip, 4K 60FPS, Solid State Drive, and More

Back at E3 this year, Microsoft announced the first set of details regarding their next generation game console which has been code-named Project Scarlett. Scheduled for release towards the end of 2020, we thought that the company would reveal its actual name and design as we get closer to the release date.
As it turns out, we were off the mark. In fact, way off the mark as Microsoft decided to reveal the name and the actual console today during The Game Awards 2019.
Called the Xbox Series X, Microsoft claimed that it is the company’s fastest and most powerful console to date. While the console might seem like it meant to be positioned in vertical manner, the company pointed that it was also designed for horizontal position as well.

While the full technical details of the console have not yet been revealed by Microsoft, the company has stated that the chip is being powered by a custom chip from AMD that is based on Zen 2 and RDNA architecture. Microsoft also claimed that the Xbox Series X supports 4K resolution at 60 fps and able to be pushed further to 120 fps as well as 8K resolution.
Alongside a solid state drive, the console also comes packed with plenty of technical features such as Variable Refresh Rate, Variable Rate Shading, Auto Low Latency Mode, and Dynamic Latency Input. The company has a clip to demonstrate the potential capabilities of Xbox Series X with an in-game footage from the upcoming Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II:

Microsoft has also pointed out that the Xbox Series X will come with a new Xbox Wireless Controller which features a refined size and shape together with a Share button and a directional pad that is based on Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. The console also apparently able to support thousands of older Xbox titles as well as all Xbox One accessories.

The only major detail missing from today’s announcement is the pricing for the console. With that, expect to hear more in-depth details regarding Xbox Series X as we progress closer to its release next year.
(Source: Microsoft.)
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