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Apple Pushes Fourth Round of Developer Betas

Today, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of iOS 11 to application developers. This build is not meant for public beta testers, though Apple typically offers new public betas shortly after it releases developer code. In this beta, Apple continues to refine iOS 11 and add features based on developer feedback. The company did not call out any specific changes concerning iOS 11 Beta 4. The final release of iOS 11 should reach all users this fall. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both platforms gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. Apple today also released new beta builds of watchOS, tvOS 11, macOS High Sierra 10.13, and Xcode 9.


T-Mobile Clearing Out iPhone 7 Inventory

Friday, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today introduced a limited-time offer to save big bucks on the Apple iPhone 7. The Uncarrier will give a $300 credit to those who trade in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus for an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Trade-ins must be owned outright, with no remaining payments or commitments. T-mobile says the value of the trade-in can be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone 7 immediately, with the remainder of the $300 offer to arrive later in the form of a prepaid MasterCard. The offer requires people to finance the new iPhone on an installment plan with a T-Mobile service agreement. Sales tax is due on the full price of the new handset at the point of purchase. T-Mobile says the offer can be combined with its iPhone memory upgrade program, which knocks $100 off the price of the 256 GB iPhone for a potential total savings of $400. The balance of the $300 offer will arrive up to 8 weeks after T-Mobile customers sign up for the promotion on T-Mobile's web site. The offer cannot be combined with T-Mobile's Carrier Freedom program.


Clips, Apple's Video Creation App, Gains Disney Characters

Thursday, 12:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today updated its Clips mobile video application with characters from Disney movies and new graphic overlays and posters. Apple says several classic Disney characters, such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, can be added to videos complete with animations. A handful of Pixar characters are available, too, such as Wooody and Jessie from "Toy Story" and Fear and Sadness from "Inside Out." Along with the characters, new Disney-themed posters and backgrounds are available to enhance videos. Beyond the Disney content, Clips gains 10 new Apple-designed graphics, backgrounds, and animated text options so people can create more expressive and unique videos. Clips is available to more iPhones and iPads. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


YouTube TV Reaches 10 More Markets

Thursday, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made good on its promise to expand the reach of YouTube TV to more markets. YouTube TV is now available in the 10 markets it announced last month, which include Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte. YouTube TV costs $35 per month. The service includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. The service has expanded the selection of content, too, which now stands at about 50 channels. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. YouTube TV is available on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and select television sets. It can be cast from handsets to set-top-box devices such as Apple TV and Chromecast.

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Apple Updates iPhone, Watch, AppleTV Software

Jul 19, 2017, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today pushed out updates to four of its core platforms. iPhone and iPad owners can update their devices to iOS 10.3.3, which Apple has been testing with developers for more than a month. The minor system update, likely the last for iOS 10, includes bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple also released watchOS 3.2.3, tvOS 10.2.2, and macOS Sierra 10.12.6. All the system updates are free to download and install. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with both developers and the public. iOS 11 brings a significant number of updates to the iPhone and iPad, and is expected to arrive in the fall.


Lightroom for Android and iOS Earns More Photo-Tweaking Powers

Jul 18, 2017, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today updated its Lightroom Mobile application for Android and iOS devices. Adobe says it overhauled the Android version from the ground up to give it a more native Android feel. Every screen has a new design that Adobe claims is faster and more efficient to use. The iOS version of Lightroom Mobile received several new features in this update. First, Lightroom for iOS now includes a selective brush tool to selectively pain enhancements into any part of an image. iOS devices that support 3D Touch can use the pressure-sentive screen to apply varied effects through the selective brush. The same functionality is available to the iPad Pro when used with the Apple Pencil. Lightroom Mobile for iOS also gains the ability to selectively erase both linear and radial gradients, and the refreshed details tab allows people to control sharpness and noise reduction over the entire image. Last, Adobe says the iPad version of Lightroom Mobile now takes better advantage of the tablet's screen real estate to make more controls accessible. Lightroom Mobile is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Apple Reveals New iOS, MacOS Emoji

Jul 17, 2017, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today celebrated World Emoji day by showing off some of the new emoji that will be added to iOS, MacOS, and watchOS later this year. Some of the humanesque additions include a woman in a headscarf, a bearded person, and a breastfeeding woman, while food additions include sandwiches and coconuts. Characters such as zebras, T-Rex, zombies, and elves are on deck, as are smileys such as star-struck and exploding head. These emoji are expected to appear in iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, and watchOS 4, which are all slated to reach consumers in the fall.


Sprint to Open Up Leasing to All Phones

Jul 14, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 14, 2017, 9:33 AM

Sprint plans to expand its phone leasing program to all the handsets in its lineup. Until now, Sprint has reserved its leasing program for Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. The new program, called Sprint Flex, provides customers with several options. The iPhone Forever and Galaxy Forever leasing programs remain in place as-is and offer annual upgrades at no extra cost. For every other device, Sprint will allow customers to upgrade after 12 consecutive on-time lease payments for an extra fee of $5 per month. Those who don't want or need to upgrade each 12 months can revisit their phone lease at the 18-month mark when they can return the device for a new one, pay the phone off in a lump sum to own it, or make six more payments to own it. Sprint is also rolling out a program called Sprint Deals, which offers low-cost monthly payments on Sprint's selection of affordable phones. This program lets people finance handset costs with or without a credit check. Entry-level devices require a $25 down payment and $5 payments per month, while pricer phones will require a $30 down payment and $10 per month. Those with poor or no credit can score a discount on some of these phones if activated on a Sprint Forward prepaid plan. Sprint hopes affordable lease rates on its handsets will entice customers to sign up. "We want to give full flexibility to our customers because you don’t want to get stuck with an old phone," said Sprint SVP of Leasing Robert Hackl in an interview with Reuters. Sprint is the nation's fourth-largest carrier in terms of customers. It has rolled out a number of promotions and changes to its service plans in an effort to gain more subscribers.


Apple Makes Second Public Beta of iOS 11 Available

Jul 12, 2017, 3:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11 Public Beta 2 to those testing the platform. The release follows closely that of a new build for developers, which was made available earlier this week. This second beta should be a bit more stable than the first. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both devices gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected until the fall.


iPhone Owners Can Now Make Payments via PayPal

Jul 12, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

PayPal today announced that it has added support for Apple accounts. The change means people who use the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and other Apple devices will be able to make purchases from the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks using their PayPal account. Customers need only add PayPal as their payment method in order to take advantage of the service. PayPal says the new payment option is simple to setup and use, and can be set as the default service for making purchases across Apple devices and services. Support for PayPal is hitting Canada and Mexico today, and will reach the U.S. soon.


Apple Pushes New iOS 11 Beta to Developers

Jul 10, 2017, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today seeded the third beta of iOS 11 to application developers. This beta is not yet available to public beta testers, though Apple typically releases new public betas shortly after it updates the developer code. Apple continues to refine iOS 11 and add features based on developer feedback. The company did not call out any specific changes concerning iOS 11 Beta 3. Apple will release more betas, generally once every other week, ahead of the expected final release in September. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both platforms gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. Apple today also released new beta builds of tvOS 11, macOS High Sierra 10.13, and Xcode 9.


Qualcomm Seeks to Ban Intel-Powered iPhones in U.S.

Jul 7, 2017, 6:58 AM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm this week launched a major new patent dispute with Apple. Qualcomm is filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking to block the importation of iPhones that infringe on six Qualcomm patents loosely related to power efficiency. As Qualcomm-powered iPhones are covered by a patent licensing deal, the complaint only covers iPhones powered by Intel modem chipsets. Qualcomm is also seeking to bar sales of already-imported phones, and is filing suit in a California court on the same matter, seeking damages and injunctive relief. The six patents at issue are not considered "standards essential". The patents were issued in the last four years, and cover a variety of technologies, including varying antenna power, and efficiently connecting circuits of different voltages. Another patent enables "flashless boot" of the device to an internet-connected state. The ITC case will likely be tried in 2018.


iOS 10.3.3 Reaches Beta 6

Jul 5, 2017, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3 beta 6, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and the public. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September. Apple today also released macOS Sierra 10.12.6 beta 6.


iOS 10.3.3 Beta 5 Appears

Jun 28, 2017, 2:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. Developers can download iOS 10.3.3 beta 5 over the air. The update is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any real details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and the public. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September. Apple today also released macOS Sierra 10.12.6 beta 5.


Apple Releases First Public Beta of iOS 11

Jun 26, 2017, 3:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 11 available to public beta testers. Those interested in testing the unfinished operating system can sign up for the program on Apple's web site. This first public beta is likely the same code that Apple released to developers earlier today. Public beta testers are expected to provide feedback on the operating system's performance and Apple installs a feedback app with the beta. Apple strongly recommends beta testers back their devices up before installing the test code. The company also notes that the public beta is not recommended for peoples' main phone or tablet and that it be reserved for a secondary device. iOS 11 targets usability and multitasking on the iPad more than the iPhone, but both the iPad and iPhone will see refreshed control center behaviors, new photo gallery tools, better iMessage app behaviors, and much more. Apple won't release a final version of iOS 11 until the fall.


Apple Drops More Betas

Jun 26, 2017, 1:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a couple of beta builds for developers. The first is a second version of iOS 11 Beta 2. The slightly revised code tackles a handful of bugs. Apple also distributed watchOS 3.2.3 Beta 4. Apple didn't discuss what changes are in the new watchOS build. These betas are not meant for public testers. Apple is expected to release a public beta of iOS 11 next month.


Imagination Technologies Puts Itself Up for Sale

Jun 22, 2017, 12:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Imagination Technologies today said it has put the entire company up for sale following its loss of business with Apple. Earlier this year Apple announced plans to make its own GPU for the iPhone, a part Imagination Technologies has manufactured for Apple for years. Apple was Imagination's largest customer and losing the GPU contract was a huge blow. The company has already listed two business units for sale and today made the entire enterprise available for purchase. Imagination said it already "is engaged in preliminary discussions with potential bidders." Despite these plans, Imagination has filed legal grievances against Apple because it believes the iPhone maker will not be able to create its own GPU without using Imagination's patented technology.


Fourth Beta of iOS 10.3.3 Is Here

Jun 22, 2017, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3 beta 4, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and will soon make a public beta available for general testing. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September. Apple today also released tvOS 10.2.2 beta 4.


Apple Pushes Second iOS 11 Beta to Developers

Jun 21, 2017, 3:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today seeded iOS 11 Beta 2 to developers. It also offered up fresh betas of macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, tvOS 11, and Xcode 9. Apple did not say what new features are included in the fresh builds. The company first announced iOS 11 earlier this month at its Worldwide Developer Conference. The revised mobile platform takes aim at the App Store experience, uses machine learning, makes changes to the camera and control center, adds a file folder, tweaks iMessage, and improves Live Photos. This second beta is still an early build of the platform and is meant only for developers. Apple is expected to make the first public beta available next month.


Virgin Mobile USA Relaunches As An iPhone-Only Carrier

Jun 21, 2017, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 21, 2017, 7:41 PM

Virgin Mobile USA, which is owned and operated by Sprint, transformed itself today into new provider much more closely aligned with the Virgin brand. Significantly, Virgin Mobile USA is now an iPhone-only carrier, meaning Apple's iPhones are the only phones Virgin will sell moving forward. Further, shoppers will be able to buy and activate an iPhone on Virgin Mobile USA at Apple Stores. Pricing for Virgin Mobile iPhones starts at $279 for the 32 GB iPhone SE and ranges up to $969 for the 256 GB iPhone 7 Plus. According to the company's web site, Virgin Mobile does not offer financing for iPhones and customers will have to pay full price. The company now offers only a single service plan. For $50 per month, Virgin Mobile USA provides unlimited talk, text, and data in the U.S. International roaming add-ons start at $5 per month. There are limitations on Virgin's plan: video playback is capped at 480p, music is streamed at 500Kbps, and gaming is streamed at 1.5Mbps. Virgin says mobile data speeds will be suppressed when the network is congested. For a limited time, Virgin Mobile is offering up to 12 months of service for just $1. The $1 yearly service offer is only available to customers buying a new iPhone and activating it on Virgin's network. Customers will have to sign up by July 31, 2017 to score the $1 deal. At the end of the 12-month service plan for $1, customers will automatically be moved to the $50 plan. Last, the $1 yearly plan and iPhone purchase buy customers access to the Virgin Inner Circle. The Inner Circle is a promotional program that provides benefits with other Virgin-branded properties. For example, Inner Circle members who buy one plane ticket on Virgin Atlantic will be given a second ticket for free. Inner Circle members who book two nights at a Virgin-owned hotel will be able to cash in on a third night for free. Virgin says these offers will be made available to Inner Circle members every few weeks. Customers interested in this package can pre-order one of Virgin Mobile USA's iPhones starting today. The phones and Inner Circle will become available starting June 27. Last, Virgin said it will offer "pre-loved" iPhones starting in the fall, allowing customers to take advantage of more affordable prices.


Apple Files Another Grievance Against Qualcomm

Jun 20, 2017, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple is taking another angle in its patent fight with Qualcomm. The iPhone maker is going after one of Qualcomm's core strategies, which is to demand a percentage of the sale price for every iPhone sold in addition to the cost of the processors, basebands, modems, and other Qualcomm chips that may be inside. The fresh legal framework, seen by Reuters, suggests Apple is relying on a brand new Supreme Court decision (Impression Products v. Lexmark, May 2017) to argue that Qualcomm should only charge for the patent license or the chips, but not both. Apple also asked the court to force Qualcomm to drop its countersuits against Apple's manufacturing partners. Apple is withholding a significant amount of cash from Qualcomm while the legal spat plays out, and Qualcomm, in turn is targeting Foxconn and others to recoup the money. Apple believes the fight should be between Apple and Qualcomm only. Qualcomm is tangled in a web of legal lawsuits strung around the world concerning its licensing practices.


iOS 10.3.3 Reaches Third Beta

Jun 13, 2017, 12:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new beta build of iOS 10 for developers. iOS 10.3.3 beta 3, which developers can download over the air, is a minor, bug-fixing release. Apple hasn't provided any details about what's contained in the new code, nor has it released a version for public beta testers yet. This minor update is likely to be the last for iOS 10 before Apple releases iOS 11. Apple is already beta testing iOS 11 with developers and will soon make a public beta available for general testing. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected to arrive until September.

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Apple to Offer Official Screen Repairs At More Places

Jun 7, 2017, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple plans to make it easier to repair damaged or broken iPhone screens by distributing its proprietary fix-it machine to third-party stores. Apple Stores use a custom device called the Horizon Machine, which is about the size of a microwave oven, to replace cracked iPhone screens. The device contains a suction cup for loosening the display, the needed screw drivers, and other precision parts to complete each repair. Apple has agreed to make this device available to its authorized resellers, including Best Buy in the U.S. Apple has some 500 Horizon Machines already in use at its own stores and mail-in repair centers. It expects to seed about 200 of the Horizon Machines to its reseller partners over the next couple of months and reach a total of 400 by the end of the year. This will almost double the availability of Horizon Machines by the holiday season and should make it much easier for consumers to have their iPhone given a fully compliant repair. "We've been on a quest to expand our reach," said Brian Naumann, senior director of service operations at Apple, in a statement provided to Reuters. Naumann said repair times at its own stores have increased. Apple hopes providing more Horizon Machines will cut down on those repair times. The news from Apple comes as "right to repair" laws gain strength around the U.S. Kiosks and other small shops in malls offer screen repairs, but often do so without official parts or coverage from Apple and other OEMs. An aggressive law moving through the New York State legislature would require Apple to provide such shops with its genuine parts at a minimum. Though many small shops perform perfectly adequate repairs with third-party glass, Apple's official screen part includes the fingerprint sensor and only the Horizon Machine can repair damaged sensors.


Apple Doubles Top-Tier iCloud Storage Plan to 2 TB

Jun 6, 2017, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has improved its high-capacity cloud storage option from 1 TB to 2 TB while keeping the monthly cost the same at $10. Apple did not change the storage allotment nor the cost of its other two storage plans, which cost $1 per month for 50 GB and $3 per month for 200 GB. All iPhone/iPad users receive free access to 5 GB of online iCloud storage. Apple says subscribers to the 1 TB plan will be upgraded automatically to the new 2 TB plan.


First Look: Apple iOS 11

Jun 6, 2017, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple debuted iOS 11 during the June 5 keynote of its annual developer conference. The refreshed mobile operating system is primed to hit iPhones and iPads later this year with improvements to the App Store, Apple Maps, the camera, Control Center, Files, keyboard, iMessage, Live Photos, Siri, screenshots, and much more. iOS 11 is only available to developers, but here is a first look at the initial beta from Apple.

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iPhone 5 and 5c Won't Run iOS 11, 32-Bit Apps Going Away

Jun 6, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Some older iPhones will not be part of the iOS 11 party scheduled to arrive this fall. According to Apple's web site, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5c, and the fourth-generation iPad cannot handle iOS 11's 64-bit app requirements, so they will not be receiving the updated operating system. Devices that can run iOS 11 include the iPhone 5s and SE, 6 and 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus, and the 7 and 7 Plus. On the tablet front, iOS 11 is compatible with the iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4, the iPad Air and Air 2, the newer iPad, as well as the big and small iPad Pros. The older iPhones in question use 32-bit processors, while every iPhone and iPad released since 2013 uses 64-bit processors (with 32-bit backward compatibility built in.) One of the under-the-hood changes in iOS 11 is dropped support for 32-bit apps, moving all apps to 64-bits. Since the iPhone 5 and 5c can only run 32-bit apps, iOS 11 simply won't work as intended. Apple has been warning developers to update their apps with 64-bit compatibility for some time. Starting some point later this year, Apple will entirely drop 32-bit apps from the App Store. Such apps have likely not been updated by their developers in years. iOS 11 is available to developers in beta. The final version for consumers isn't expected to arrive until the fall.


iOS 11 to Let Developers Access the iPhone 7's NFC Radio

Jun 5, 2017, 5:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple is about to let iPhone owners use their handsets' NFC radios for more than just Apple Pay. Apple today introduced the CoreNFC API, which will permit the iPhone's NFC radio to detect NFC tags and read the information contained therein. Though several iPhone models include NFC radios (6, 6 Plus 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus), functionality is restricted to Apple Pay. The new API gives developers access to the NFC radio so their own apps "can read tags to give users more information about their physical environment and the real-world objects in it. For example, your app might give users information about products they find in a store or exhibits they visit in a museum." Based on the documentation published on Apple's developer web site, only the iPhone 7 and Phone 7 Plus will gain the ability to interact with external NFC tags. Android devices have long been able to use NFC radios and tags for varying purposes. The CoreNFC API is part of iOS 11, which dictates that the expanded NFC functionality for the iPhone 7/7 Plus won't arrive until later this year when Apple releases the final version of iOS 11.


Apple Debuts HomePod, Its Competitor to Google Home and Amazon Echo

Jun 5, 2017, 2:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 5, 2017, 2:23 PM

Apple today announced the HomePod, a new in-home speaker similar to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. It features the Siri voice-based assistant and can act on spoken requests with a focus on music. Apple says Siri on the HomePod is able to handle natural-language requests, such as "who's playing drums on this track", "play more songs like thins" and so on. The HomePod focuses on music and works natively with Apple Music. Apple says it developed the HomePod to sound good, understand where it is, provide a fun experience, and more. It has a seven-tweeter array to drive audio in multiple directions and a 4-inch woofer that's upward facing. It is powered by an A8 processor with real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation. It can sense the size of the room it is in and adjust how it performs in order to fill that space with sound. Apple says HomePod works perfectly with Apple Music, including playlists, artists, albums, and will learn users preferences over time. Some core features include reminders, sports, news, alarms, messages, translations, stocks, traffic, and more. It can also interact with HomeKit devices for adjusting the thermostat, controlling lights, and scenes (which rely on multiple home devices acting together.) The iOS home app can be used to control the HomePod from afar. Apple said it expects to debut the HomePod later this year for $349.


Apple Targets Augmented Reality

Jun 5, 2017, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple says its new mobile platform will soon become the biggest augmented reality platform with the adoption of ARKit, a new way for developer to take advantage of existing iOS hardware and software to generate AR experiences. Apple is already working with game and other content developers to bring AR to the iPhone and iPad. Augmented Reality merges real-world views with computer-generated content (think Pokemon). Like all iOS 11 features, the new AR content is expected to arrive later this year.


Apple iOS 11 Adopts More Machine Learning

Jun 5, 2017, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple says iOS 11 will take advantage of machine learning to a much higher degree than before. The the company has new, specific APIs that developers can use in apps such as the camera for face tracking, face detection, landmarks, text, and so on. Apple says apps like photos and Siri also rely on machine learning to generate a lot of their results. Developers will be able to take advantage of the new machine learning tools via the APIs starting this week. Smarter apps will arrive when iOS 11 does later this year.


Apple iOS 11 Gains a Brand New App Store

Jun 5, 2017, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 5, 2017, 2:33 PM

Apple has totally overhauled the App Store for iOS devices. The App Store now features a new Today screen in order to start the in-store browsing experience. This view will show the newest application or important updates. Each day Apple will highlight an "App of the Day" and "Game of the Day." The Today Tab also provides a quick view of the most important things happening in the App Store. Games will be highlighted in their own tab, complete with charts and data on in-app purchases and other costs. Apps have a distinct tab to separate them from games. Apps and games will have their own product pages with photos, videos, reviews, and more. Apple says moving forward the majority of apps and games are approved by Apple within 24 hours of submission. The new App Store will be available in iOS 11 when it arrives later this year.


Apple Announces iOS 11 with Person-to-Person Apple Pay

Jun 5, 2017, 1:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 5, 2017, 2:34 PM

Apple today debuts iOS 11, its next-generation mobile operating system. Starting with messages, iOS 11 introduces improved discoverability for stickers and emoji. iOS 11 will automatically synchronize conversations across devices (iPhone, iPad, macOS), including deleted messages and threads. Apple says most iMessage content is stored in the cloud, which means it uses less storage on mobile devices. Apple Pay gets a boost in iOS 11, too, with the addition of person-to-person payments. The idea here is to make it easy to send money from one person to another when cash isn't available. Apple was sure to upgrade Siri. Apple used deep learning to create a new voice for Siri, both female and male. The app interface now displays multiple results, and can handle translation. Translations works between English and Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. SiriKit, for developers allows developers to push Siri deeper unto their own applications. The camera application takes advantage of new compression techniques in order to use less on-device storage. The camera roll gains more tools for Live Photos, which allows for video looping and other effects such as bouncing. The Depth API lets developers take advantage of the iPhone 7 Plus's dual-camera array for portrait-style photos The camera roll takes advantage of machine learning to identify the subjects within photos and tag them accordingly. Live Photos now support trimming, shortening, and more. iOS 11 redesigns the Control Center, as well as the lock screen and notifications center in order to make vital controls and data as easy to reach as possible. Apple Maps gains indoor map data, such as mall and airport floor plans, for navigating around within large buidings. A new tool called 'Do No Disturb While Driving' will essentially silence the device and prevent notifications from reaching your iPhone when it senses it is driving. AirPlay 2 brings with it playback controls for multi-room speakers. A separate API will help developers add AirPlay 2 and multi-room functionality to their own speakers. Apple Music lets people see what their friends are listening to. The new MusicKit API for developers will target social sharing for music, too. Apple is offering iOS 11 to developers in beta starting today. Apple expects to kick off the public beta for iOS 11 later this summer. The operating system won't reach all users until the fall.


Apple Announces WatchOS 4.0

Jun 5, 2017, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 5, 2017, 2:35 PM

Apple today announced watchOS 4.0, a refresh of its wearable platform. One of the fist items to be added to watchOS 4.0 is a new Siri watch face that includes the owner's personalized data, such as commute times, calendar appointments, reminders, photo memories, weather updates, and more. It is rather like the Google Assistant on Android devices, and it even relies on machine learning to gather this data. The kaleidoscope watch face changes over time, and a wider selection of Disney characters are being added a watch faces. Apple says activity notifications will be more personalized, such as goal achievements, and adds monthly challenges with new "celebrations" for hitting milestones. The new workout app makes it quicker to start workouts, such as swims, hikes, runs, and more. Apple Watch will be more compatible with gym equipment for counting reps. The music service now supports multiple playlists and a wider selection of album art for workouts when using Apple EarPods. Moreover, music functionality will be much more accessible within workout apps. Other features include a new flashlight, a blinking light for nighttime visibility, and support for other sensors, such as glucose monitors. WatchOS 4.0 is available in beta to developers today and will reach all consumers in the fall.


Google Uses Machine Learning to Tweak Sheets

Jun 1, 2017, 1:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today rolled out new features for its Sheets spreadsheet application. Most of the new features target the desktop-based version of Sheets. For example, machine learning makes it possible to ask Sheets questions in a natural way to explore the data contained in any given document. For example, users can ask “what is the distribution of products sold?” or “what are average sales on Sundays?” and Sheets' new Explore function will help find the answers. Google also made it easier to share and/or import data from Google Docs and Google Slides. Other new features include improved keyboard shortcuts, printing previews, and chart editing. On the mobile front, the Apple iPhone and iPad will benefit from some of these improvements. Google says iPhone and iPad owners will be able to create and edits charts in a new sidebar. Mobile users will be able to select their own colors for personalization, and add trend lines to highlight data within charts. Last, iPhones and iPads will be able to create more types of charts, including 3D charts. Sheets for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Google didn't say when the machine learning tools might reach its mobile apps.


Amazon Integrates iCloud Calendar with Alexa

Jun 1, 2017, 7:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

People who own an Alexa-enabled device can now interact with their iCloud calendar. Amazon added support for Apple's iCloud calendar service to Alexa this week, making it possible for iPhone owners to access and use their calendar through devices such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and more. In addition to iCloud, Alexa also supports email from G Suite, Gmail, Office 365, and Outlook. Setting up iCloud requires users to use the smartphone-based Alexa app. Two-factor authentication through Apple iCloud is required. Once the link is established, Apple users need only say, “Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?” or “Alexa, add lunch with Sarah at noon to my calendar" in order to interact with their iCloud calendar. The feature is available to Alexa-support devices in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.

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Facebook to Make Its Instant Articles Compatible with Google, Apple Formats

May 26, 2017, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook wants content to be more readable across the web and took steps this week toward that goal by tweaking the SDK for its Instant Articles. Facebook's Instant Articles give publishers a way to streamline content for consumption on mobile devices, but Instant Articles aren't compatible with the mobile-first styles used by Google and Apple. The new Instant Articles SDK includes extensions that will let publishers create content that is compatible with all three formats: Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP, and Apple News. The SDK includes support for AMP immediately, but won't add Apple News for several weeks. Facebook, Google, and Apple all want publishers to adjust their articles, photos, and videos for mobile devices. Doing so improves usability for phone and tablet owners. It will be up to individual publishers to adopt Facebook's new Instant Articles SDK.


T-Mobile Goes After Verizon Customers with Latest Promo

May 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile hopes its new "Get Out of the Red" deal will tempt Verizon customers to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is offering to pay the remaining balance on Verizon subscribers' handsets and allow them to use those same handsets on T-Mobile's network. Lots of caveats apply. In order to qualify for the deal, Verizon customers must be in good standing with Big Red and come to T-Mobile with an Apple iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL. These phones have the proper radios to support T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is working to add other devices to the list. Verizon customers will need to port their number to T-Mobile, sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, buy a new T-Mobile SIM card, and sign up for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance plan for $15 per month. Once all these criteria are met, T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on the Verizon iPhone or Pixel, whatever that may be. T-Mobile says customers will be reimbursed for their Verizon iPhone/Pixel balances within 15 to 30 days via prepaid MasterCard. T-Mobile is pitching the idea as an easier way to switch carriers as it doesn't require people to backup or transfer content from one phone to another. The offer works with Verizon handsets because by law Verizon's LTE phones must be unlocked. AT&T and Sprint customers cannot take advantage of this offer precisely because their phones are carrier locked. T-Mobile's Get Out of the Red promotion will be available starting May 31. T-Mobile is, however, throwing a bone to AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile said it will pay off the remaining handset balance and/or early termination fee for AT&T/Sprint customers who port a number to T-Mobile and finance a new device on T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. Last, T-Mobile customers who already have two T-Mobile One plans will be able add two additional lines of service for the price of one. This promo requires autopay.


YouTube TV App for iOS Adds AirPlay Compatibility

May 23, 2017, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently updated its YouTube TV app for iOS and gave it the ability to push content to the Apple TV. The Android version of the mobile app can cast video to Chromecast-enabled TVs, but Apple TV users were left without a way to connect the gap between their iPhone and television set. The new version of YouTube TV for iOS adds AirPlay, allowing iPhone owners to view YouTube TV programming on their television set through the Apple TV. YouTube TV for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store, but the availability of the service is limited to just a handful of markets for the time being.


Apple and Nokia Bury the Patent Hatchet

May 23, 2017, 7:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said it has settled its patent complaints against Nokia and the two have signed a multi-year patent license. The two corporations sued one another in December of last year concerning licensing fees for Nokia's patents. Nokia said Apple refused to pay fair prices, while Apple accused Nokia of antitrust behavior. Nokia had sold its patents to patent-assertion firms that then demanded higher rates. Moving forward, Nokia will provide Apple with network infrastructure products and services, and Apple will resume selling Nokia-owned smart devices (Withings) as the two look at future potential digital health offerings. Apple is set to pay Nokia a significant upfront fee and then on-going payments. Both companies expressed positive sentiments in having the matter behind them. "We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia," said Apple COO Jeff Williams. Companies often use lawsuits as a negotiation tactic.


Small Company Takes Apple to Court Over Apple Pay Patents

May 22, 2017, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Universal Secure Registry, a small firm from Boston, has filed a patent complaint against Apple and Visa over the technology used to create Apple Pay. According to the lawsuit, Kenneth P. Weiss, CEO of Universal Secure Registry, holds 13 patents pertaining to the use of fingerprints and one-time tokens in order to authenticate secure financial transactions. Weiss pitched the technology extensively to Visa in 2010. Visa agreed to a 10-year nondisclosure agreement and even assigned engineers to understand how Universal Secure Registry's process worked. Visa never adopted the technology, but several years later worked with Apple, MasterCard, and American Express to create Apple Pay, which launched in 2014. Apple Pay relies on fingerprints and one-time tokens to facilitate iPhone-based mobile payments. Patent law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan — one that represented Samsung and its fight against Apple over Android patents — suggested Universal Secure Registry take Apple to court over the patented technology. Apple has not yet responded publicly to the lawsuit.


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