AT&T’s low-band 5G network is now available nationwide – CNET

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AT&T's low-band 5G network is now nationwide. 

Angela Lang/CNET

AT&T's 5G network crossed an important milestone Thursday, with the telecom giant announcing on its second-quarter earnings call that its low-band 5G network is now available to 205 million people.

By crossing the 200 million mark the company now meets the Federal Communication Commission's definition of a nationwide network. 

AT&T joins T-Mobile, which has had a nationwide 5G network since last December when it turned on its low-band 5G service, as the only two US carriers with nationwide 5G. T-Mobile's network currently covers over 225 million people, while rival Verizon plans to launch its own nationwide low-band 5G network later this year.  

In addition to expanding its 5G network, AT&T is also expanding its 5G access on Aug. 7 to include its Unlimited Starter plan. The carrier previously limited 5G only to those who paid for its two priciest unlimited plans, known as Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite. 

Those on Cricket, AT&T's prepaid brand, will be able to get 5G on Aug. 21, though they will need to have the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G phone. 

To get to nationwide status, AT&T says that it has turned on its low-band network in 40 new markets, including Minneapolis, San Antonio, Houston and Jacksonville, Florida. The carrier now offers low-band 5G in 395 markets around the country. 

Low-band is one of three different flavors of 5G airwaves. While not much faster than a good 4G LTE connection (or what AT&T calls "5G E"), it has the best range of the bunch. AT&T's other 5G network uses what's known as millimeter-wave, a higher-frequency technology that has much faster speeds but significantly weaker range, and is largely only available on certain city blocks and can't work indoors. 

AT&T has deployed millimeter-wave 5G, what it calls 5G Plus, in 35 cities around the country. 

Igal Elbaz, AT&T's senior vice president of wireless technologies, tells CNET that the carrier is still expanding its millimeter-wave coverage, though the carrier hasn't announced any targets for the amount of millimeter-wave cities it hopes to cover this year. 

Rival Verizon has said it plans to expand its millimeter-wave 5G network to 60 cities this year. 

The third flavor is known as midband, which has the best mix of speeds and coverage. AT&T has largely been using these airwaves for its 4G LTE network, but it is beginning to share some of that network with its growing 5G service. The company, as well as Verizon, is expected to be an active bidder in an FCC auction for more midband spectrum that started on Thursday.

The 5G expansion arrives ahead of what is expected to be a busy smartphone season for 5G. Earlier this week the carrier announced it would be carrying the LG Velvet 5G and Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5G. Other notable smartphones rumored to feature 5G over the next few months are Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 and Apple's 2020 iPhone lineup.

Elbaz says that the "majority" of the carrier's upcoming 5G devices in 2020, as well as its 5G devices going forward, will support millimeter-wave 5G as well as its low-band and midband 5G networks. 

Read more5G phones in 2020: Galaxy S20, OnePlus Nord, LG Velvet, Motorola Edge Plus and more

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AT&T posts second quarter earnings as coronavirus impact continues – CNET

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AT&T posted its second-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Angela Lang/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

As another quarter of the coronavirus pandemic continued to hang over the economy, AT&T continues to try and ride out the storm. 

In its second-quarter earnings released on Thursday morning, the telecom giant said it had revenues of $41 billion, which is roughly on par with estimates of $41.02 billion according to analysts polled by Yahoo Finance. Earnings per share came in at $0.83, beating analyst expectations of $0.79. 

On the mobile front, the carrier said it had a net loss of 151,000 postpaid mobile phone users though the numbers are a bit more complicated due to the coronavirus. 

AT&T says that 338,000 of the phones it lost were part of the Federal Communication Commission's Keeping America Connected program, a coronavirus related initiative designed to protect those who may not be able to pay their bills due to the pandemic from losing service or being charged late fees. 

The program ran from March 13 through June 30, with the users still connected to AT&T's network. Although they are viewed as disconnected right now because they didn't pay their bills, the company says that if it adds those subscribers back it "would have had 190,000 postpaid phone net adds." 

Postpaid users, or those who pay their phone bills at the end of the month, are valued more highly by the investment community as a key metric for success. 

At the end of the quarter, the telecom giant had 171.4 million wireless subscribers, up from 158.6 million a year ago. During its earnings call the carrier announced that its 5G network is now available nationwide. 

When it comes to traditional television AT&T's struggles continued. While the company says that the addition of the streaming AT&T TV service helped offset losses, the video group continued to lose customers. 

The group, which also includes DirecTV and the streaming option AT&T TV Now,  posted a loss of 886,000 subscribers in the quarter with 91,000 attributed to Keeping America Connected programs. 

At the end of the quarter, the company had 17.7 million "premium TV" subscribers. 

For WarnerMedia, AT&T's division that oversees HBO Max and its other entertainment properties including Warner Bros. film and TV studios and cable channels like CNN, TNT and TBS, the telecom giant reported operating revenues of $6.8 billion, down 22.9% compared to 2019. 

While HBO Max and HBO subscriptions are now at a combined 36.3 million users (up from 34.6 million at the end of 2019), the HBO Max service remains absent on two the largest streaming platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, which make the bulk of the smart TV market. 

Although WarnerMedia says it has apps ready for both platforms, it remains to be seen if and when AT&T will be able to reach an agreement with either Roku or Amazon. 

Overall, the quarter was a busy one for AT&T. 

In addition to dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on its businesses, including the continued closing of US theaters for its Warner Bros. division, the past three months also saw the carrier launch its HBO Max streaming service and continue to expand its 5G wireless network. 

The company also saw the transition of John Stankey into the CEO spot, taking over for Randall Stephenson who announced his retirement in April after 13 years as AT&T's chairman and CEO. 

Although he stepped down as CEO on July 1, Stephenson, 60, will remain executive chairman of AT&T's board until January 2021.

Stankey is expected to provide an update on HBO Max during the company's earnings call Thursday morning.

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T-Mobile adds new 5G Essentials plan that offers four lines for $100 – CNET

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T-Mobile has new plans. 

Angela Lang/CNET

T-Mobile has new plans for 5G. After teasing the news during its latest "un-carrier" event last week, on Wednesday the company unveiled its newest offer of four lines of unlimited talk, text and 5G data for $25 per line, per month so long as you pay with AutoPay automatic payments. 

The new plan, which is available on July 24 to new and existing Sprint and T-Mobile customers as well as small businesses, allows for up to six lines with additional lines running $20 per month each. A minimum of four lines is required to get the new plan.

A T-Mobile spokesman says the offer is a "limited time promotion" though the carrier is not currently putting an end date on it. All prior T-Mobile plans are already able to tap into 5G, so long as you had a compatible 5G device. 

In addition to the cheaper rate, T-Mobile is also offering those who want to upgrade to a 5G device the ability to get a Samsung Galaxy A71 5G for an additional $5 per month, per line though you will need to trade in an "eligible" phone to get that deal. 

Those who don't want to pay with AutoPay will pay an extra $5 per line per month, bring the total for four lines to $120 per month (not including taxes and fees). 

While a lower rate than the $30 per month that the company currently charges for its current Essentials plan, a few trademark T-Mobile features will not be included for those who decide to switch to the new plan. 

Taxes and fees are not included as they are with the carrier's pricier Magenta plans and there also is no international data roaming outside of Mexico and Canada or bundled Netflix. Hotspot data is also limited to "3G speeds" (600 Kbps). 

You are, however, able to tap into T-Mobile features including its T-Mobile Tuesdays perks program and its new Scam Shield spam blocking tools the carrier announced last week. 

The new plan comes as T-Mobile sets to "unify" its brand with Sprint's following the completion of their merger earlier this year. Beginning Aug. 2, the company will be rebranding Sprint stores to T-Mobile as well as stop accepting new Sprint customers, pushing them to sign up for T-Mobile plans instead.

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Historic antitrust hearing kicks off, with Big Tech in the hot seat – CNET

A historic antitrust hearing kicked off early Wednesday afternoon, with the CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google parent Alphabet appearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee to defend the business practices of their companies.

The hearing, held virtually amid the coronavirus outbreak, is the culmination of a 13-month investigation by a House antitrust subcommittee into Big Tech's dominance. The four CEOs  -- Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai -- are speaking before Congress for the first time as a group, and Bezos is attending his first ever public hearing. A report from the committee, which will synthesize the results of six hearings and more than 1.3 million documents, was delayed due to the pandemic but is expected sometime this year. 

In his opening statement, US Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat of Rhode Island, raised concerns that Big Tech could consolidate power even more that it has now during the coronavirus pandemic, as smaller businesses have been left reeling. He said it was important to confront monopoly power so it doesn't crush other businesses.

"Our founders would not bow before a king, nor should we bow before the emperors of an online economy," said Cicilline, the chairman of the subcommittee.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican of Ohio, raised concerns about alleged anti-conservative bias by major tech platforms, including Twitter censoring President Trump's tweets. "I'll just cut to the chase," he said. "Big Tech is out to get conservatives."

Now playing: Watch this: Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google to be grilled by Congress

5:33

An hour into the hearing, these different perspectives were repeated as Republicans pushed concerns about online censorship, particularly of conservative voices, and Democrats complain about potential monopolistic practices. Republicans have repeatedly expressed support for business, saying big and successful companies aren't necessarily bad.

Bipartisanship -- hard to come by in Washington -- was clearly evident. Both Cicilline and Republican Ken Buck of Colorado, accused Google of stealing digital content from smaller companies, such as Yelp and Genius. In the case of Yelp, Cicilline said Google threatened to delist it when Yelp raised concerns.

"The choice Google gave Yelp was let us steal your content or effectively disappear from the web site isn't that anti competitive?" Cicilline asked in a pointed and forceful line of questioning.

Somewhat sheepishly, Pichai avoided a direct answer, saying: "When I run the company, I'm really focused on giving users what they want. We conduct ourselves to the highest standard. Happy to engage, understand the specifics, and answer your questions further."

While each CEO faces different sets of concerns, their prepared opening remarks, which were published Tuesday night, provide strikingly similar defenses of their organizations. The CEOs said their companies face many competitors, create American jobs and benefit small businesses and consumers.

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In an unprecedented hearing during coronavirus, all four tech CEOs appeared remotely via Cisco Webex for the event.

Via House Judiciary

Bezos offered a defense of massive companies, saying they are uniquely able to do big, complex tasks. "I don't care how good an entrepreneur you are," he wrote, "you're not going to build an all-fiber Boeing 787 in your garage."

And even with Facebook's current dominance, Zuckerberg wrote that he expects another service will eventually become more popular. "I've long believed that the nature of our industry is that someday a product will replace Facebook," he said. "I want us to be the ones that build it, because if we don't, someone else will."

The event, delayed by about an hour because an earlier hearing ran long, is a rare public interrogation of Big Tech's most influential leaders at a point of great upheaval. The pandemic has changed how many Americans live, forcing them to lean on the companies to work and shop from home, as well as communicate with loved ones. The hearing will likely touch on Big Tech's ability to shape public opinion, a topic that has taken on new urgency with a contentious presidential election roughly three months away and continued protests over racial injustice. 

The committee worries the four companies have become so powerful that they can stifle competition and prevent innovation by acquiring or copying rivals. The committee could recommend new regulations of Big Tech or, in an unlikely outcome, breaking up the companies.

The committee isn't alone in its concerns. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly claimed Silicon Valley stifles conservative voices, tweeted that he would take action to curb Big Tech's power if Congress didn't.

"If Congress doesn't bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders," Trump tweeted.

Trump has already issued an executive order that is widely seen to target Twitter, which isn't testifying at the hearing, and threatened to ban TikTok, a popular Chinese video app. (On Wednesday, Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, said that TikTok was under a national security review.)

By any measure, the power of the four companies, which are worth roughly $5 trillion combined, is vast. Facebook, the world's largest social network, has roughly the same number of users as the populations of the two largest countries, China and India, combined. Amazon controls 38% of US online sales, more than six times the size of Walmart's US web business, its nearest competitor. Apple's App Store is the only way for most developers to get their software onto the huge iPhone and iPad customer base, and Apple takes a cut of those installations. Google has a lock on search, processing about 90% of all web searches around the world.

The CEOs are expected to address separate antitrust concerns. With Facebook, regulators are looking into the company's acquisitions of competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp. For Amazon, Congress has largely focused on the company's private-label business, which sells Amazon brands of clothing, food and diapers. Apple has seen scrutiny over the cut it takes from software developers on its app store. For Google, regulators are focused mainly on the search giant's dominance in digital advertising.

The tech leaders and their companies also represent staggering personal wealth. Bezos is the world's richest man with a personal fortune estimated at $181 billion. Zuckerberg is the fourth wealthiest, with $86 billion. Though not testifying, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are $68 and $66 billion each.



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PlayStation 5’s new DualSense 5 controller gets detailed in new hands-on – CNET

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The DualSense 5 got the hands-on treatment on Friday from game industry veteran Geoff Keighley. 

Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

The PlayStation 5 is set to be released this holiday season, and while we still don't know when or for how much, Friday gave us another look at Sony's new console in action. 

As part of his Summer Game Fest, Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards, shared a stream of the new DualSense 5 controller and the PlayStation 5 in action while demoing the game Astro's Playroom. Watch the video below:

Keighley says the "multihour game" will be preinstalled on the PS5 when it ships. 

Sony previously detailed the DualSense 5 in April, with the new controller incorporating haptic feedback to replace the older "rumble" sensation, making it possible to deliver a broader range of sensations, including textures and collisions. There will also be new adaptive triggers, speakers in the controllers and a USB-C port.

Keighley also talked to Eric Lempel, a senior vice president at Sony Interactive Entertainment. Asked about preorders, which were falsely rumored to arrive earlier this week, Lempel said, "We'll let you know when preorders will happen. It's not going to happen at a minute's notice."

As for other colors of controllers, Lempel wouldn't commit but added, "We'll talk about it at some point."

Now playing: Watch this: Sony shows new look at DualSense controller for PS5

1:18

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T-Mobile will stop taking new Sprint customers on Aug. 2, new T-Mobile deals coming soon – CNET

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After merging with Sprint in April, T-Mobile will unify its branding in August.

Angela Lang/CNET

Although T-Mobile focused on its new robocall and spam protection features at its event on Thursday, the self-proclaimed "un-carrier" had some other news to share. Beginning Aug. 2, the carrier will combine its main T-Mobile brand with Sprint's, completing a long process that first began with the companies' merger ananouncement in 2018, before the deal finally closed this past April

As part of this process, a company press release states that T-Mobile's brand will become the main focus, with Sprint stores rebranding "with a fresh coat of magenta paint." 

The carrier also teases that "fresh deals" are "on the way" to coincide with the unification of the company, adding that these "new, aggressive offers" will be announced next week "saving people money, challenging the competition and raising the bar for the industry." 

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert told CNET that Sprint will no longer be accepting new customers after Aug. 2. He adds, however, that while Sprint-branded stores will be going away, the company isn't "sunsetting the brand." 

"We have tens of millions of people who are on Sprint, who chose Sprint on purpose. And they're going to learn, and they are already learning, that that's part of T-Mobile now," Sievert said. "But we're not going to turn off that brand association because it's what they bought and it's still who we are.

"We haven't actually decided whether or not there will be a role for Sprint in some go-to-market way in the future," he added. "But starting on Aug. 2 it certainly won't be our mainstream flagship approach."

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Signing up for Peacock? Use an Android device to get the best deal – CNET

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Alden Ehrenreich stars in Peacock original series Brave New World.

Peacock

Looking to give NBCUniversal's Peacock a try? You'll want to make sure to create your account on an Android phone or tablet or an Android TV device such as the Nvidia Shield.

As part of a prelaunch deal struck with Google, those who sign up for Peacock using an Android device will be able to get three months of Peacock Premium service for free. Normally $4.99 per month, Peacock Premium will offer more than 20,000 hours of content, or nearly double the amount that is available for the free, ad-supported tier.

An ad-free version of Peacock Premium is available for $9.99 per month.

While the app was not appearing Wednesday morning through searches on the Google Play Store, it is live on the platform. Accessing that page from a computer will allow you to install it remotely from the Play Store on your Android phone, tablet or Android TV device. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about Peacock's launch

The Google deal is a significant extension of the regular seven-day free trial that NBCUniversal is offering those who sign up for Peacock through Apple devices, Microsoft's Xbox or in web browsers. Under the deal, Peacock Premium will be available until Oct. 15, at which point users will be charged the regular $4.99 monthly rate.

After making an account on Android, you'll be able to log in and watch on other devices like iPhones, Xboxes or smart TVs from LG and Vizio. The only difference now is that you'll be able to access the Premium content for free until mid-October.

A couple places you might not be able to watch Peacock: Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Like AT&T's HBO Max, as of this writing, Peacock has yet to reach a deal with the two most popular streaming platforms.

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How to watch T-Mobile’s next ‘un-carrier’ event – CNET

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T-Mobile's next "un-carrier" event seems set for Thursday. 

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Since closing its Sprint merger in April, T-Mobile has been fairly quiet when it comes to major announcements. The company has continued to expand its 5G network and rolled out some initiatives such as its promised free service for first responders, but when it comes to its trademark "un-carrier" events, it hasn't made any major waves.

That's set to change this week. On Monday CEO Mike Sievert tweeted out a video teasing that an event is coming soon. While the tweet did not specify what this upcoming event will be focused on, a timestamp in the left corner had the clock set to "7:16" suggesting the news will be shared this Thursday, July 16. 

In a subsequent email Monday afternoon, the company revealed that the virtual event will take place at 8:30 a.m. PT (11:30 a.m. ET) on Thursday and be hosted by actor Anthony Anderson. The Black-ish star, along with his mother Doris, has previously been featured in the company's TV ads, including its 2020 Super Bowl spot

Former CEO John Legere previously teased an un-carrier event during the company's Q4 2019 earnings call in February. Here's how to watch. 

When is the un-carrier event? 

T-Mobile's event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. PT (11:30 a.m. ET) on July 16. 

Where can I watch it? 

Like other recent events, T-Mobile will livestream the event on its website

Why should I care?

In recent years, T-Mobile's un-carrier events have been where the wireless provider decides to reveal major changes or promotions for its plans and services. Past events featured the announcement of free texting and data in over 210 countries, the introduction of the T-Mobile Tuesdays perks program and the return of unlimited data.

Thursday's announcement marks the first official un-carrier event since T-Mobile closed its merger with Sprint.   

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iPhone ‘batterygate’ settlement: There’s still time to claim your $25 – CNET

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If you have an older iPhone like an iPhone 6 or 6S you could be eligible for a settlement from a class-action lawsuit. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Still have your original iPhone SE or an iPhone 6, 6S, 7 or one of the Plus models? If you live in the US, you may be able to get up to $25 back from Apple as part of a class-action settlement. What is "batterygate?" In 2017 Apple revealed that it slows down iPhones as they age in order to preserve battery life. That news didn't sit well with a lot of people, who were unaware that the company's iOS software was doing this automatically. As a result, Apple apologized and made it easier to monitor battery health and, for a time, it also cut the prices for battery replacements. 

It still didn't stop lawsuits, and the iPhone-maker agreed in March to pay up to $500 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against it, though it also denied any wrongdoing in the case. Now, those who qualify are able to submit their claims for their share at a website set up by the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

According to the site, those looking to file need to be, or were, "a United States owner of an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and/or SE device that ran iOS 10.2.1 or later" or an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus owner that "ran iOS 11.2 or later before Dec. 21, 2017." 

Filers will also need to have had "experienced diminished performance on your device(s)." 

Those looking to make a claim, which could be worth roughly $25 per device though the exact number will vary depending on the number of claims filed, will need to do so before Oct. 6, 2020. 

While forms could be submitted online or via mail, you'll need to have your iPhone's serial number to be able to file, which could be challenging if you've since sold, traded in or upgraded your older iPhone. A search tool is available to help look up serial numbers using your Apple ID email address. 

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New Arm-powered MacBook Pro, Air may arrive this year, report suggests – CNET

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Upcoming 13.3-inch MacBook Pros may be among the first computers to run Apple's own processors. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Apple has teased that it will ship the first computers running its own Apple A-series Arm chips later this year. Now, a new report from notable Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo, of TF International Securities, suggests that the first computers packing the new processors could be a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and possibly a new MacBook Air as well. 

In the report, spotted by MacRumors on Friday, Kuo says, "Apple will launch new MacBook models including the new 13.3-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ equipped with the ‌Apple silicon‌" in the fourth quarter of 2020, with the new Apple silicon-powered MacBook Air‌ arriving around the same time or in early 2021. 

Now playing: Watch this: Apple silicon-powered Macs: What to expect

8:23


Beyond the smaller Pro and Air, Kuo also expects "new 14- and 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ models equipped with the ‌Apple silicon‌ and all-new form factor design" late in the second quarter of 2021 or in the third quarter of next year. 

Apple has been rumored to be working on new MacBook Pro's that take advantage of a new display technology known as mini-LED

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The iPhone-maker previously updated its 13.3-inch MacBook Air and 13.3-inch Pro in the spring, giving each machine newly designed keyboards and, in some cases, updated Intel processors. While most of these new machines now run on Intel's 10th-generation chips, the cheaper, entry-level MacBook Pros have remained on older eighth-generation hardware. 

Now playing: Watch this: Here's why you should wait to buy a new MacBook

6:50

Beyond the new MacBooks, Apple has also been rumored to be preparing a new iMac that potentially runs on the new Apple-designed chips. Developers looking to prepare their apps for the transition have been able to order Mac Mini-based developer kits that run MacOS on one of the company's A12Z chips. 

Announced at its WWDC developer conference last month, CEO Tim Cook said during the virtual keynote that Apple's move from Intel is expected to take "about two years," adding that the company plans to ship its first system with an Apple-designed processor "by the end of this year." 

Despite the transition, Intel-based Macs will continue to be supported, with Cook promising new versions of MacOS for these computers "for years to come" and adding that Apple has "some new Intel-based Macs in the pipeline that we're really excited about."  

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