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iPhone 12 MagSafe accessories: How Apples new snap-on magnets work – CNET

iPhone 12 MagSafe accessories: How Apples new snap-on magnets work - CNET
iPhone 12 Pro silicone coral Magsafe charger

MagSafe centers a compatible charger on new iPhones using an array of magnets.


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

Apple’s four new iPhone 12 models — which are now available to preorderall come with 5G, better cameras and the return of a beloved feature Apple long used on MacBooks: the MagSafe charger

MagSafe for iPhone 12 uses a magnetic connection to attach a wireless charger and a potentially endless supply of magnetic accessories you can snap on, such as cases, docks, mounts and even a wallet.

The iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max represent a bold new direction for Apple and a new way for iPhone owners to use their phones. 

We’ll test MagSafe on the iPhone 12 as soon as possible. In the meantime, here’s a look at what Apple says MagSafe does, how it works and how you might use it once you upgrade. And here’s why MagSafe is Apple’s sleeper feature that’s bigger than you think.

iPhone 12 MagSafe accessories: How Apples new snap-on magnets work - CNET

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How does MagSafe work on the iPhone?

The new iPhone 12 devices are embedded with what Apple describes as “an array of magnets” (Apple says they’re recycled) around a centered charging coil that can pull up to 15 watts of power — twice as powerful as wireless charging on previous iPhones (but on par with phones from other brands). 

When you bring the charging end of the power cord close to the iPhone’s back, those magnets will pull it into place. The same goes for other MagSafe accessories and, depending what you’re clipping on, your iPhone will display a brief animation related to the accessory to confirm that it’s locked on.

iPhone 12 MagSafe accessories: How Apples new snap-on magnets work - CNET

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Will new iPhones come with a MagSafe charging cable?

No, Apple will include only a USB-C-to-Lightning cable (and no power brick or earbuds) in the box with new iPhones. Apple’s two MagSafe charging cables — one standalone and another that also charges an Apple Watch — will be sold separately, but Apple confirmed that at least one other manufacturer, Belkin, will be selling MagSafe-compatible charging cables as well.

How much will Apple’s MagSafe accessories cost and when will they go on sale?

The standalone MagSafe iPhone charger is available for preorder for $39, with shipping listed as two to three weeks. Clear and silicone cases cost $49 with shipping in 7 to 10 business days. The leather wallet costs $59 and ships in five to six weeks. No word yet on the dual iPhone and Apple Watch charger’s price or availability. 


Apple also unveiled a MagSafe-compatible leather wallet that clips on to new iPhones and costs $59.


Which accessories use MagSafe?

Besides the charger, Apple announced a leather wallet as well as an array of leather, silicone and clear cases (the wallet can be added on top of the cases). Wireless charging will be possible using the cases but is unavailable with the wallet attached. 

Beyond that, you can expect third-party accessory makers to use their imaginations in the coming weeks and months. Possibilities include mounts, like for the dash in your car, and docks for your nightstand, table or desk.

Won’t the magnets mess up my bank cards?

Apple says the wallet accessory is specially shielded to prevent damage to credit cards, debit cards and the like.

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Does MagSafe mess up waterproofing?

No, every iPhone 12 is rated IP68, meaning water resistant up to 6 meters for 30 minutes. In fact, MagSafe wireless charging may lead to even greater waterproofing, if Apple ever decides to go portless

Do I have to use MagSafe to charge my iPhone? 

No, every iPhone 12 will come packaged with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable (you’ll need to supply the power brick). The Lightning port on the phone itself will be backward-compatible with the Lightning chargers you already own.

iPhone 12 Magsafe all combinations layoutiPhone 12 Magsafe all combinations layout

MagSafe accessories like chargers and the wallet can be stacked atop others, like cases.


Will my current wireless charger work with the new iPhones?

Yes, the new iPhones are backward-compatible with existing Qi-enabled wireless charging devices. If your old device supplies 7.5 watts of power, that’s how much your new iPhone will draw, but it’s capable of pulling up to 15 watts.

Interestingly, the new MagSafe charger is also backward-compatible with older iPhones (but will only deliver 7.5 watts). 

Didn’t Motorola have magnetic accessories first?

Yes. In 2016, the Moto Z series introduced a phone that connected magnetically to Moto Mods: cases, wireless battery packs, a projector, a mobile gaming console and even a fancy DSLR-like camera rig with optical zoom

While Motorola issued magnetic Moto Z phones for a few more years, the clever modules never caught on (even Motorola didn’t always seem enthusiastic), and neither did the enormous ecosystem of accessories of which Motorola foretold. We’ll see if Apple, with its global status and devoted fans, stands a better chance.


The Motorola Z3 used magnets to connect to accessories (called “Moto Mods”) all the way back in 2016.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

How did MagSafe work on MacBooks?

The original MagSafe on MacBooks was a way to magnetically attach Apple’s proprietary power cable to the laptop, designed to snap off with a tug. It was included in the name of safety. 

Accidentally tripping over a power cord no longer meant worrying about launching your laptop across the room or falling yourself, since the magnet was powerful enough to connect the cable but still loose enough to pull free in the event of a mishap. On the iPhone, MagSafe seems to be more about mobility, making it easier to connect and disconnect to both power and accessories.

Thinking about upgrading to a new iPhone? Check out the differences between the four iPhone 12 models Apple announced, how to prepare your current iPhone before you upgrade, and everything to know about the 5G included in Apple’s new iPhones.

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How to See Joe Bidens Island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

How to See Joe Bidens Island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The 2020 presidential election was bound to be a weird one, and not only because COVID-19 has made in-person events like rallies and door-to-door canvassing more fraught than ever. Thankfully, there’s always Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Players have been able to show their in-game support for candidates using digital campaign signs, and now players can visit Joe Biden’s official Animal Crossing island by using the Dream Code DA-7286-5710-7478. The charming town is filled with neat photo ops, including a villager version of Joe Biden and links to volunteer opportunities if you’re interested.

Screenwriter Gary Whitta and Greg Miller of Kinda Funny Games were the first Animal Crossing players to visit the official island of the Joe Biden campaign. They unveiled on Kinda Funny’s Twitch channel earlier today as part of Whitta’s popular “Animal Talking” web series where he chats with celebrities, game developers, and other popular figures while playing Animal Crossing.

For those unfamiliar, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a popular video game on the Nintendo Switch, and one of the few bright spots in this murky span of time otherwise known as 2020. The relaxing town management sim lets players create their own personalized island populated with likable animal townsfolk.

The game released back in March 2020, but is already the second best-selling game on the system, having moved almost 23 million copies. It’s also the second best-selling game of all time in Japan. It has a massive following from players of all ages and backgrounds—including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC even guested on Whitta’s “Animal Talking” show after she made headlines by visiting other players in the game—including Lifehacker’s own Senior Technology Editor, David Murphy.


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What to Know About Airbnbs New Halloween Booking Policy

What to Know About Airbnbs New Halloween Booking Policy

Illustration for article titled What to Know About Airbnbs New Halloween Booking Policy

Photo: VGstockstudio (Shutterstock)

Airbnb definitely does not want people to rent properties on their site for the purpose of hosting parties. First, they came out with a global ban on parties in August. Then, they instituted a policy that blocks people from making last-minute bookings in their hometown. Now, Airbnb has issued new guidelines for Halloween rentals, which center on—you guessed it—preventing parties. Here’s what you need to know.

Halloween restrictions

Beginning on October 2nd, Airbnb stopped permitting one-night bookings for entire-home listings on Friday, October 30, and Saturday, October 31, anywhere in the United States or Canada.

If you managed to make an entire-home one-night booking for the 30th or 31st before this new policy kicked in, Airbnb will cancel the reservation and reimburse you. The company has indicted that it will absorb the reimbursement costs, ensuring that hosts still get paid for the canceled bookings.

Here’s the reasoning behind the new policy, per a statement from Airbnb:

The great majority of guests are respectful of our hosts’ homes and neighbors, and we understand that this initiative will disrupt many one-night reservations that might not have led to parties. This action is designed to help protect our hosts and the communities they live in. We will also be introducing additional measures to complement the two-night minimum in an effort to stop as many large gatherings as possible.

Additional Halloween precautions

And that’s not all: Airbnb has also announced the following precautions ahead of the holiday:

  • As the Halloween weekend approaches, we plan to deploy more stringent restrictions on two- and three-night reservations that may pose heightened risk for parties. For example, we will leverage our technology that restricts certain local and last-minute bookings by guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb and also block reservations within an expanded radius.
  • Also as the weekend approaches, we plan to remind guests making successful reservations to take place between October 28 and November 1 that parties are not allowed in listings. They will also be required to attest that they understand that they may be subject to removal from Airbnb or legal action if they violate Airbnb’s rules on parties.
  • In case any individuals are able to avoid Airbnb’s defenses and host parties, trained agents from Airbnb’s neighborhood support line will be on call throughout the weekend to quickly respond to issues raised by neighbors.

So if you’re hosting a Halloween party, you may want to rethink your plans, whether or not they involve a one-night booking at an Airbnb—we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and gatherings may not be the best decision, from a public health perspective.

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How the Latest COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Apps Actually Work

How the Latest COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Apps Actually Work

At least 21 percent of the U.S. population has access to one of the official COVID-19 contact-tracing apps developed by various state governments, but only a fraction of people actually use them.

And that’s the inherent problem with these kinds of apps: Enough people must use them for them to be at all effective. I get why there’s so much trepidation: There’s still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19; tech companies have a terrible track record with data privacy; government surveillance is a real threat; and America’s current political and social climate is challenging (to put it mildly). People are naturally going to be skeptical in the face of so many questions and concerns.

So let’s focus on what we do know about the latest contact-tracing apps.

The tech protects user privacy

Eleven U.S. states, plus Guam, have official contact-tracing apps available now. Ten more have announced plans to release their own, including California and Arizona, two states with apps currently in beta testing. Most of the state-developed apps use contact-tracing technology that is now built into the latest versions of Android and iOS by default.

Instead of using geographic data or wifi, these apps ping nearby devices using a low-power Bluetooth signal—without sharing any personal data. If one user tests positive, the app sends an alert to all of the devices that were close enough to register each other; none of the tracing or contacting is done based on name, phone number, or other personally-identifying information. 

iPhones and Android phones can do this by default, so developers don’t need to create their own tracing technology. In fact, many contact-tracing apps are open-source, meaning the code is freely available and readable by anyone.

Your phone still needs an app

While its true that Android and iOS now have built-in contact-tracing capabilities, those features are different from the functions of the apps themselves. Your phone still needs a contact-tracing app in order to use those features, and such an app will not just mysteriously show up on your device. No one is forcing you to use them.

Even if you believe that these apps are spying on everyone, the argument falls short given all the information you already surrender to various companies (including Apple and Google) simply by using their hardware, software, and services. Companies (and governments) don’t need to hide their data collection behind a contact-tracing app. They’re already doing it right out in the open.

Scams and malware are a bigger issue

It’s true the initial wave of contact-tracing apps was rife with privacy issues. Some of these security flaws were accidental; others were deliberate. However, most of these occurred before Apple and Google rolled out their contact-tracing APIs, and are entirely unrelated.

There were also reports of “contact-tracing” arrests after protests—which is a serious issue—but it’s more accurate to call those “social-engineering” arrests; the police weren’t using data from contact-tracing apps to make arrests. Low-level Bluetooth tracing can confirm that devices pinged one another, but no useful identifying info can be gleaned from that.

That said, independent developers are still free to use different methods of tracing if they choose, and that’s where things get shady. Coronavirus scams and malicious apps are on the rise. Hackers and identity thieves will definitely try to dupe you into fake contact-tracing apps and websites. As long as you’re using an official open-source app from your state, one that uses the APIs built into your phone for contact-tracing, there’s little to worry about. Or, to frame it differently, the benefits you’ll experience from knowing that you were potentially exposed to a life-threatening disease should far outweigh any other concerns you might have.

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Which iPhone 12 Accessories Should You Wait to Buy?

Which iPhone 12 Accessories Should You Wait to Buy?

While there’s a lot of new technology coming with the iPhone 12, Apple is also making a move to reduce “e-waste” by giving you less stuff in your iPhone box. Taken together, these two facts mean that you’ll probably end up spending anywhere from “a little bit” to “a lot” more money after buying your brand-new iPhone to pick up all the accessories you’ll need—in addition to any other monthly fees you’ll need to cough up for 5G service.

What accessories can you get? What accessories should you get? Let’s take a look at the essentials, and I’ll give a few recommendations for what you should do for each category.

A brand-new case for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new case? Definitely.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? Probably not.

Normally, I’d be on the fence about buying a case for your iPhone. Yes, they can offer extra protection. In fact, I used to use one religiously. One day, though, I wanted to see what a caseless life was like, so I took mine off for a few days. That became a few weeks. And I haven’t used a case with my older iPhone since—and have been lucky enough to not drop it at all.

MagSafe changes the game, though. Now, you can purchase a case that also still allows you to wirelessly charge your device (also one of the many reasons I’d rather not slap a thick hunk of protective material around my device). While I can’t envision any major case manufacturers making something that doesn’t work perfectly with Apple’s new MagSafe technology, I’m sure you’ll still see some iPhone 12 cases that aren’t optimized for the new tech. Avoid them like the plague. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m convinced that MagSafe is one of the iPhone 12’s best new features—even more so than 5G, but that’s just me.

As for buying it from Apple, though: Right now, the third-party market is just starting to churn with ideas about MagSafe-friendly cases. Because of that, I might risk an unprotected iPhone for a month or two just to see what else arrives (beyond the OtterBox, unless they’re working on an exclusive with Apple for the time being.) Apple’s asking prices for MagSafe cases are a wee bit too steep at $50—especially that “Clear Case” that’s basically just a hunk of plastic with a magnet slapped in the center. Oof.

A new wireless charger for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new charger? Definitely.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? If you’re impatient, yes

Second verse, same as the first. For your MagSafe-friendly iPhone 12 to properly snap to a wireless charger, that charger is going to have to support MagSafe. This means that you’ll need to buy a new charger—whether that’s something for your desk, something for your car, a nightstand holder for your iPhone 12, etc.

While I would normally suggest waiting for third-party chargers that give you a lot more variety for a lower price than Apple’s, you might be waiting a bit of time for new chargers to arrive—especially given the newness of the MagSafe technology. Only Belkin has an alternative charger right now, and it’s a bit pricey.

Will your existing wireless charger work with your iPhone 12? Sure. Is MagSafe more fun? Absolutely. Will it cost you $40 to get right now? You bet. If you can wait, wait, but I won’t begrudge you for splurging a little to have fun with Apple’s new magnetic tech.

A power adapter for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new power adapter? Potentially
  • Should you buy it from Apple? Definitely not.

If you’ve been buying iPhones for some time, you probably have plenty of tiny “power bricks” you can use to charge your new iPhone 12 via its Lightning connection. You’ll be able to charge it even faster if you have a higher-watt power adapter—everything from an iPad power adapter to your MacBook’s power adapter is fair game.

If an iPhone 12 is your very first iPhone, or you’ve just been lazy about saving those power adapters, you’ll need to purchase one yourself. Apple isn’t including them in the box anymore—just a USB C-to-Lightning cable. While Apple has dropped the price of its 20W USB-C power adapter by $10 (ooh, ahh) to account for this, you can do better than that.

This Anker model is just as good, but cheaper, as is this Aukey charger—both Wirecutter favorites. I love combo chargers myself; they give you speedier USB-C charging for your iPhone along with a USB-A port for all the other devices you own. Oh, and they’ll still be cheaper than Apple’s single-port charger.

A snap-on wallet for your iPhone 12’s case

  • Should you get a new wallet? Eh.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No.

Rounding out our MagSafe coverage is this new leather wallet that you can now snap to the back of your iPhone. If you’re a big Apple fan, sure, go pay $60 for a little magnetic pouch. Otherwise, I’d wait for every other company under the sun to come up with their own snap-to accessories. You can get by using your pocket to store your cash while you wait. It’ll be OK.

A car mount for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new car mount? Someday soon, but not yet.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No.

Honestly, all this talk of MagSafe makes me incredibly thrilled for one particular experience I’ve been waiting for: a car mount that I don’t have to fuss with. I get annoyed having to slide a phone into a mount and tighten the sides so it stays in place—and I imagine whatever other contraption other car mounts use to secure your phone (and ideally charge it, too) are equally aggravating.

I presume MagSafe car mounts like Belkin’s—currently the only one you can purchase—will function kind of like those magnet-based showerheads. In other words: snap on, snap off. No fiddling with clamps. No aligning with Lightning connectors. Just attach your smartphone and go.

I love the concept; now I’m just waiting for someone to make a car mount that also allows the magnetic connector to charge your phone. Belkin’s “magnet on a clip” is close, but not quite. I’ll wait.

Earbuds for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get new earbuds? No.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No way.

How many of Apple fans have drawers full of earbuds? I know I do. The more recent Lightning earbuds—introduced with the iPhone 7—are the only ones that will let you connect to your new iPhone 12 sans dongle, but you won’t find these in the box. Yes, in the name of eco-friendliness, Apple has ditched its earbuds, too. But you can still purchase them directly from Apple for $19.

Were I you, I’d ask any of my Apple-loving friends to borrow (permanently) one of the many pairs of earbuds they’re not using. And if that still doesn’t turn up anything, buy anything but Apple’s earbuds. Go get some AirPods—one of my favorite accessories I never thought I’d actually use, but now love. Get some wired earbuds with the little audio cable add-on that lets you access Siri, start/stop calls, and mess with your volume without taking your iPhone out of your pocket. Or just go buy a pair of high-end headphones. Don’t waste $20 on the most basic earbuds around.

A longer charging cable for your iPhone 12 

  • Should you get a longer charging cable? Sure!.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No, no, no.

I don’t have an iPhone 12, nor have reviews dropped as of this writing (the embargo lifts tomorrow), so I can’t tell you how long the included USB-C-to-Lightning cable is. Odds are good, though, that you’d probably benefit from something a bit longer, especially if you need to wrap a cable around some furniture to charge your iPhone exactly where you’re most likely to use it.

If, or when, you opt to buy a longer cable, avoid Apple’s store like the plague. A two-meter (6.5-foot) cable will set you back $29. You can find a cable that’s just as good and quite a bit cheaper from a number of other retailers—including Amazon itself, as well as sites like Monoprice (great prices if you’re buying a few). Don’t buy cables from Apple.

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How to Save Your Samsung Motion Photos From That Google Photos Error

How to Save Your Samsung Motion Photos From That Google Photos Error


Screenshot: David Murphy

Isn’t it fun when one platform’s technology won’t play nicely with another? Owners of various Samsung Androids are experiencing this joy firsthand, as the Samsung Camera’s motion photos don’t appear to be working with Google Photos—a popular, free, wonderful photo backup solution.

The strange thing, as Android Police reports, is that this wasn’t previously a problem. Samsung’s motion photos aren’t exactly new technology, and Google Photos started supporting them as of mid-2019 or so. Try to upload one now to Google Photos, however, and you might run into issues.

I tested this out myself using a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (running One UI 2.5, which incorporates sound into motion photos), and I can confirm that Google Photos is not a fan of Samsung’s moving images. They upload to Google Photos just fine—or, at least, appear to at first. I let Google “process” them for nearly an hour, and it was never able to display the “movement” portion of the image. I can download the still image just fine, but motion doesn’t work, nor can I download a video of the moving image.

Illustration for article titled How to Save Your Samsung Motion Photos From That Google Photos Error

Screenshot: David Murphy

While I suspect that most people don’t care that much about photos with an arbitrary few seconds of motion before them, it’s worth knowing that Google currently won’t be able to process these. In other words, if some catastrophe hits and you need to access these photos again—with motion—Google won’t be able to help you out. What should you do, then?

Try a backup alternative that preserves Samsung’s motion photos

The easiest solution is to switch to using your Samsung’s built-in Gallery app, which lets you sync your photos to OneDrive. You can then install OneDrive on your desktop or laptop, find the photos, and store them wherever you want—including another cloud service entirely, if you’re so inclined. If you go this route though, make sure you’re picking a service that just stores raw files (like a Dropbox or Google One), rather than one that converts or processes the images in any fashion.

Why? As long as the raw .JPG file is saved somewhere unbothered, the file still contains all the saved motion preceding the still image. That sounds weird, but hear me out: Your operating system won’t be able to show you the moving image, nor will any cloud service I’ve found, but as long as the file isn’t messed with in any way, you’d be able to redownload it again, drop it on your Samsung phone, and see the image—with motion.

I tried this by copying the .JPGs containing video motion from my Samsung phone to my desktop via Windows 10’s File Explorer. I then deleted the files from my Samsung phone, checked the Gallery app to make sure they were gone, and copied them back to my phone. I checked the Gallery app again, and there they were, motion and all.

Microsoft’s OneDrive gives you five gigabytes of free storage, a decent amount of space to at least get your motion-filled images up in the cloud. From there, what you do with them is your business. To get this set up, pull up the Samsung Gallery app and tap on the triple-dot icon in the middle-right. Tap on “Settings,” and then tap on “Cloud Sync” to begin the process of connecting your Microsoft account to your Samsung phone.


Screenshot: David Murphy

Once you’ve gone through the login process, head back to that same screen and make sure “Sync with OneDrive” is enabled. Next, tap on that option, and then tap on “Sync now” in the subsequent screen. (It’ll change to “Tap here to stop syncing” once it starts.)


Screenshot: David Murphy

Your images should now be copying over to OneDrive. Sit back and enjoy the wait, depending on how much you’ve been using your device’s camera. And, yes, the process is going to sync all of your images. You can’t just choose “motion-only” or something.

You can save your motion photo videos separately, too

If you don’t want to fiddle with this option, convenient as it is, you have one other choice. Pull up a motion photo in Gallery, tap “view motion photo” at the bottom, tap the video when it starts playing, and tap “Save video” in the upper-right corner. This will copy the video portion of your image to a separate .MP4 file, which you can then back up on a service like Google Photos as you would any other video.

It’s an inelegant solution, sure, since you’ve now split off the motion from the original image (which still has this motion integrated, in case you want to keep viewing it on your Samsung). It’ll at least tidy you over for a bit while Google hopefully works on a fix.

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