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Google Fit now Available for iOS

Today, 1:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Google's basic activity-tracking app, Google Fit, is now available for iPhone and other iOS devices. Because it supports Apple Health, it can automatically import activity data captured by Apple Watch. It can also sync with smartwatches powered by Wear OS by Google. Like the Android version of the app, it tracks two key metrics: Move Minutes for basic movement, and Heart Points for more strenuous exercise. It also imports and logs more detailed exercise data. The app encourages you to reach activity goals recommended by the American Heart Association and World Health Organization. Google Fit is available now for free from the Apple App Store.


Samsung Testing 5nm Chips for 2020 Phones

Yesterday, 2:45 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 8:46 AM

Samsung has successfully manufactured and is testing chips for future phones that use a cutting-edge 5nm process. These chips have smaller transistors, resulting in chips that are more power-efficient and/or faster than today's chips based on 7nm and larger processes. Samsung makes processor chips for itself, and has made processor chips for Qualcomm and Apple in the past. Samsung's memory chips are popular in high-end phones. Samsung expects the new 5nm chips to reach phones in 2020. Rival TMSC, which currently manufactures processor chips for Qualcomm and Apple, also started testing 5nm chips recently.


Intel Quits Phone Modem Biz Following Apple/Qualcomm Deal

Apr 16, 2019, 8:03 PM   by Rich Brome

Intel has confirmed that it has cancelled its 5G modem project intended for phones such as a future iPhone, and will focus its modem business instead on products for devices other than phones, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple currently uses both Intel and Qualcomm modems in its iPhones. Earlier today, Apple and Qualcomm announced an agreement to end a years-long, ugly patent dispute. The agreement included a new commitment by Apple to use Qualcomm chips – perhaps exclusively – at the expense of Intel. Without its largest customer (Apple), Intel was left with no path to profitability for its phone modem business.


Apple, Qualcomm Finally Find Patent Peace

Apr 16, 2019, 3:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm and Apple have reached an agreement to end all ongoing litigation over patents, including that extending to Apple's contact manufacturers. The companies have reached a six-year intellectual property agreement, with an option to extend for two years. As part of the agreement, Apple will pay Qualcomm an undisclosed sum, and has entered into a new agreement to buy chips from Qualcomm.


Beats Earbuds Go Full Wireless With PowerBeats Pro

Apr 3, 2019, 2:24 PM   by Rich Brome

The new Powerbeats Pro from Beats use technology borrowed from Apple's latest AirPods to create the first Powerbeats without a wire between the two earbuds. Optimized for workouts, they have redesigned, adjustable rubber loops that hook over the ear like other Powerbeats. Despite being fully wireless, they're 23% smaller and 17% lighter than the Powerbeats3. Like AirPods, they automatically pause when removed from the ear. They also use the same Apple H1 chip as the latest AirPods, which enables them to respond to "Hey Siri" commands. Beam-forming microphones help filter out background noise during calls. Each bud has a full set of identical controls, allowing either one to be used without the other. Beats claims that each bud will last for 9 hours of music, and the included charging case brings that up to 24 hours total. Quick charging provides 1.5 hours of music playback with just five minutes of charging. Powerbeats Pro are compatible with both iOS and Android phones. Apple will sell the Powerbeats Pro in May for $250. They will be available in Black, Navy, Moss, and Ivory.


New Apple TV App Supports Paid Channels, Including Apple's Own

Mar 25, 2019, 1:36 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple today announced an updated version of its Apple TV app that supports paid channels within the app. It will be available on iOS, tvOS, macOS, Roku, Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio. It will be available in May in over 100 countries. Paid channels available in the US include Apple's new "Apple tv+" channel with its own original content, as well as HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, CBS All Access, Comedy Central, and more. The new Apple TV app supports offline viewing and family sharing.

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Apple Launching Game Bundle Subscription

Mar 25, 2019, 1:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple Arcade will be a monthly subscription service for a series of curated games. It will feature over 100 games at launch, with new games added regularly. A single Arcade subscription buys full access to all Arcade games, none of which have ads. Arcade games will work across iOS, macOS and tvOS, and game state is maintained across different devices. The service will feature games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, LEGO, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games and dozens more. Apple Arcade will launch in fall 2019 in more than 150 countries from a new tab on the App Store. Pricing was not announced.


Apple Card is Apple's New Credit Card

Mar 25, 2019, 12:50 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 25, 2019, 2:10 PM

Apple today launched its own branded credit card: Apple Card. Starting this summer, customers can sign up for the card on their iOS device in minutes, and use it immediately with Apple Pay. It charges no annual fees, international fees, nor late fees. Customers get 2% cash back on all purchases, or 3% on purchases from Apple. The cash back is paid daily, deposited on a separate Apple Cash card, which also lives in the Wallet and works with Apple Pay. Apple uses Apple Maps and machine learning to translate often-cryptic charge descriptions into more obvious line items. An interactive interest calculator helps customers choose the best amount to pay down each month. A built-in spend analyzer helps users see expense categories and trends. Support is provided via iMessage. Apple card works anywhere MasterCard is accepted and is backed by Goldman Sachs.


Apple Adds Premium Content Bundle to News App

Mar 25, 2019, 12:37 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 25, 2019, 12:39 PM

Apple's News app for iOS now offers a $10/month paid subscription option called News+, which includes full access to the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, over 300 magazines, and the premium sections of several major web sites such as TechCrunch. Separate subscriptions to all of these publications would cost over $8,000/year. New content is downloaded automatically. Neither Apple nor advertisers can see what you choose to read. Apple is offering the first month free. News+ is available today in the US via an update to iOS. A similar offering is also launching today in Canada, and coming soon to Australia and Europe, starting with the UK.


Apple Updates AirPods and Adds Wireless Charging Case Option

Mar 20, 2019, 10:16 AM   by Rich Brome

The new Apple AirPods have 50% battery life (talk time) and support "Hey Siri" voice commands to let users quickly change songs, make a call, adjust the volume or get directions. Apple also introduced an optional charging case that can be charged on any Qi-compatible wireless charging pad. The new AirPods are available today with the new wireless charging case for $199, or with the older standard case for $159. The wireless charging case is available separately for $79, for customers with existing AirPods. Apple is also now offering free personalized engraving on AirPods. The new AirPods and case are available online today, and in Apple Stores next week.


Apple Responds to Spotify on App Store Commissions

Mar 15, 2019, 8:47 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple issued a statement today responding to Spotify's claims of unfair competition because Apple takes 30% of in-app purchase revenue, affecting products like a Spotify Premium subscription. In fact, Apple takes only a 15% cut after the first year of each annual subscription.


Apple WWDC 2019 Set for June 3

Mar 14, 2019, 11:27 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple today announced that its next annual developer conference will take place June 3-7, 2019 in San Jose. The company usually reveals details of a new version of its iOS software during the keynote presentation on the first day of the event.


Spotify Asks EU to Rule Apple Competes Unfairly

Mar 13, 2019, 11:30 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple takes a 30% cut of all iOS in-app purchases for digital products and services (but not physical ones). This includes products like a Spotify Premium subscription. Spotify argues that it cannot offer pricing competitive with Apple Music when they have to pay the 30% but Apple does not. Spotify and similar companies can accept payments via other means, but Apple then prevents them from emailing their own customers about updates, etc. Spotify has taken their argument to the European Commission, asking them to rule that these practices constitute unfair competition.


Password-Free, Secure Login Standard Finalized

Mar 4, 2019, 12:57 PM   by Rich Brome

The W3C standards group has certified WebAuthn as an official web standard. WebAuthn enables web site logins that are both easier and more secure than passwords. Multiple authentication methods are supported, including biometric options on mobile devices, such as fingerprint readers. It's already supported in Android, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and the preview version of Apple Safari. The standard enables biometric web site login on both desktop and mobile browsers, and also enables using your phone as an authentication tool to log into web sites on a desktop/laptop.


Apple Planning its own Credit Card

Feb 21, 2019, 9:45 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple and Goldman Sachs are working together on an Apple MasterCard credit card that would integrate with Apple Pay and offer 2% cash back. The Wall Street Journal reports that the card would offer unique software features in iPhones, such as setting spending goals, tracking rewards and managing balances from within Apple's Wallet app. Goldman has never offered a credit card before, and is spending $200 million to build the infrastructure to support the new card. The product is about to enter testing with Apple employees. The companies plan to launch it for consumers later this year.


Google Keyboard for iOS Adds Haptic Feedback

Feb 14, 2019, 9:56 AM   by Rich Brome

Google's newest version of Gboard — its keyboard-replacement app for iOS — adds physical feedback when typing. Apple's own iOS keyboard does not offer this popular feature. The haptic feedback feature is available on iPhone 7 and later. Gboard also offers input by word swipe and voice. It includes emoji (with search), GIFs, stickers, and personalized stickers. Google search is built-in and results — such as business listings, videos, images, and articles — can easily be pasted and sent to others. The new version is 1.4 and is available now in the Apple App Store.


Toyota Finally Embraces Android Auto and CarPlay

Feb 8, 2019, 12:07 PM   by Rich Brome

After holding out longer than most auto makers, Toyota's new 2020 lineup includes, for the first time, a variety of models that support both Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. The new models include the 2020 4Runner, Sequoia, Tacoma, and Tundra. Last year's Avalon supported CarPlay, but not Android Auto. The two technologies are comparable, letting the driver sync their phone to the car and display an interface on the dash touchscreen that's driven by the phone, and includes voice control. The interfaces are tailored to driving, with a focus on navigation, music, and basic communication. Other car companies already supporting both CarPlay and Android Auto are: Chrysler (and Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram), Ford (and Lincoln), GM (Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, GMC), Honda (and Acura), Hyundai (and Kia), Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, VW (and Audi), and Volvo.


Apple Releases Fix for Group FaceTime Bug

Feb 7, 2019, 4:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple iOS 12.1.4 is available today, and fixes the major privacy bug discovered last week that enabled FaceTime callers to hear (and sometimes see) people before they picked up the call. Apple turned off Group FaceTime for everyone as its initial response to the issue, and it remains off for everyone without today's update.


Apple Temporarily Disables Group FaceTime to Address Major Privacy Bug

Jan 28, 2019, 11:47 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 1, 2019, 10:23 AM

A massive bug in Apple's new Group FaceTime feature allowed callers to listen in on people before they answered an incoming FaceTime call, and in some cases even see live video. Apple has already moved to prevent the issue from affecting users by turning off the Group FaceTime feature altogether, for all users, apparently with a change to its cloud systems. Before Apple acted, anyone running iOS 12.1 could exploit the bug by initiating a FaceTime video call to their target, then making it a Group FaceTime by adding their own phone number to the call. The caller would then receive audio from the other end, and if the callee pressed the power button to dismiss the incoming call, it would instead trigger live video to be sent to the caller. The issue also affected FaceTime on MacOS. Apple has acknowledged the bug and promised a software update to fix it this next week.


Target, Taco Bell Finally Accepting NFC Payments

Jan 22, 2019, 10:47 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple Pay and Google Pay are closer to being accepted everywhere, with the announcement that Target, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Hy-Vee and Speedway are now rolling out support for NFC payments. Target was one of the last big holdouts in supporting the technology, which lets you simply tap your NFC-equipped phone or smartwatch on the card terminal to pay. Target expects its rollout to all 1,850 locations across the US to be complete in the "coming weeks". Taco Bell and Jack in the Box expect to finish their rollout in the "next few months". Previous holdouts CVS, 7-Eleven, and Costco launched support for NFC payments last year.


Squad Adds Screen-Sharing to Group Video Chat

Jan 22, 2019, 9:14 AM   by Rich Brome

A new group video chat app called Squad lets users share what's on their screen, including other apps, in addition to traditional video chat. It's currently available for iOS; an Android version is in internal beta. The Android version also supports picture-in-picture, for sharing both a live selfie and screen sharing at the same time. Squad is designed to let users turn any app, including social media apps, into a shared social experience. In beta testing, users also found it useful for tech help, homework help, and coordinating dining and travel plans.


Verizon Bundles Apple Music with Premium Plans

Jan 15, 2019, 6:07 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon's top two unlimited postpaid plans now include an Apple Music subscription. The most affordable plan, GoUnlimited, still includes just a six-month trial of Apple Music, as the other plans did previously.


Hands On with ToughTested's Wireless Charging Pad for your Car

Jan 9, 2019, 6:59 PM   by Rich Brome

ToughTested has a new Qi wireless charging pad designed primarily for cars. Its grippy all-rubber construction ensures it stays put, and that your phone stays put while charging. It supports wireless fast charging up to 10W, including Apple's 7.5W fast charging mode for iPhones. It's large enough to accommodate the largest phones, but designed so that a phone placed anywhere in the tray will charge; no centering needed. It has foreign object detection and is Qi-certified to ensure it won't overheat the phone. It includes a Quick Charge power supply that plugs into a car's 12V power port. It will go on sale in March for about $50. Read on for photos and first impressions.

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Iconcase Adds Notification Lights to Your iPhone

Jan 8, 2019, 10:39 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jan 10, 2019, 7:08 PM

Do you ever wish your iPhone had a notification light? Do you use the LED flash to notify you of incoming calls, but wish it weren't blindingly bright? Iconcase is an attractive new case for iPhones that adds a large notification light to the back. The newest model charges by sipping a little juice whenever the iPhone is wirelessly charging through the case, so you never have to worry about charging it. It communicates with the iPhone via standards built in to Bluetooth LE, so you only need to pair it; no special app or setting is required. The standard model includes one light-up icon for incoming calls and second for messages. The company is also working on a range of cases with fixed full-color designs that light up, and a skull design with eyes that light up red. The company says they are close to a deal to sell the cases through Apple's online store in the US. Pricing has yet to be determined, but is expected to be roughly $50. Read on for our hands-on impressions and photos.

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German Court Says Apple Infringing Qualcomm Patent, Apple Plans to Pull Some iPhones from Stores

Dec 20, 2018, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today indicated that it will yank at least some versions of the iPhone from store shelves in Germany after a court ruled that Apple is violating patented Qualcomm technology. The court said Apple could not sell devices in Germany that contain a specific part. The part comes from Qorvo and the court says it infringes on a Qualcomm patent pertaining to envelope tracking, a method of saving battery life when sending/receiving wireless signals. "We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. "All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple's 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores." Qualcomm and Apple have been battling one another over patents in court rooms around the world. Apple says Qualcomm uses anti-competitive licensing practices, while Qualcomm says Apple is using its technology without permission. There are currently significant cases in progress in the U.S. and China.


Apple Makes It Possible to Gift In-App Purchases

Dec 20, 2018, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

You may soon be able to send or receive in-app content from the App Store as a gift. Apple recently updated the App Store Review Guidelines and therein gave developers new powers to entice users. The relevant language in the new Guideline says, "Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others. Such gifts may only be refunded to the original purchaser and may not be exchanged." Apple did not spell out how developers should implement this feature, nor did it explain how the feature will work for end users. Before this change, it was only possible for people to gift apps to one another and not the content within.


Qualcomm Says Apple Flouting China Ban

Dec 18, 2018, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple's iPhones continue to infringe on Qualcomm patents even after a recent software update pushed by the company, according to Qualcomm. "Despite Apple's efforts to downplay the significance of the order and its claims of various ways it will address the infringement, Apple apparently continues to flout the legal system by violating the injunctions," said Qualcomm in a statement provided to Reuters. Earlier this month, Apple was found to be violating Qualcomm intellectual property. The Chinese judicial system, in a court order, banned Apple from importing its devices into China, though Apple later suggested a software update would resolve the issue. The update was pushed last week. "Apple's statements following the issuance of the preliminary injunction have been deliberate attempts to obfuscate and misdirect," continued Qualcomm. "They are legally obligated to immediately cease sales, offers for sale and importation of the devices identified in the orders and to prove compliance in court." Apple believes it is complying with the court order and continues to offer its devices for sale in China. Apple and Qualcomm have been locked in a battle over patents and licensing costs for several years.


Apple Distributes iOS 12.1.2 to Squash Bugs

Dec 17, 2018, 4:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 12.1.2 available to iPhones and iPads. The update targets several bugs related to eSIM activation on the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. It also addresses an issue that could affect cellular connectivity in some markets on those same phones. iOS 12.1.2 is free to download over the air.


T-Mobile Switches On iPhone eSIM Support

Dec 17, 2018, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said owners of the Apple iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max can now take advantage of the embedded eSIM. T-Mobile is allowing unlocked variants of these iPhones to access prepaid T-Mobile service as a secondary line. In order to do so, people will need to download the (free) T-Mobile eSIM app from the iTunes App Store and use it to initiate prepaid service. T-Mobile says its support of the iPhone eSIM is intended for those who travel to the U.S., for existing T-Mobile customers who need a secondary line on their device, and for those who wish to take T-Mobile’s service for a spin before making a longer commitment. T-Mobile will continue to require physical SIM cards for primary lines and family plans. AT&T and Verizon's method for activating the eSIM requires users to visit a store or use a scannable QR code sent via the carrier. Sprint is not likely to support the eSIM until 2019.


Apple Says It Will Update iPhones to Circumvent China Ban

Dec 14, 2018, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple plans to issue a software patch to its iPhones to appease Qualcomm and Chinese authorities. Earlier this week, a Chinese court found Apple to be in violation of two Qualcomm patents pertaining to resizing pictures and managing apps with a touch screen. The court issued a ban against Apple, blocking it from importing a range of phones into China. Though Apple is appealing that decision, it claims it can mitigate the issue via software. "Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. Even so, the company went on to say, "Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case." Apple didn't provide details concerning how the update will resolve the issue. As part of its appeal to the Chinese court, Apple said any ban would impact Chinese suppliers, Chinese consumers, and tax revenue it pays to Chinese authorities. Though the ruling called for an immediate ban, Apple's devices still remain available for sale in China. The patent spat between Apple and Qualcomm is part of a global battle over patent licensing practices and royalty payments.


Qualcomm Targets Newest Apple iPhones In China

Dec 13, 2018, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm is seeking to add the iPhone XR and iPhone XS to the list of devices banned from import into China. Qualcomm won a patent-related victory earlier this week when a Chinese court agreed that Apple violated a Qualcomm patent. The Chinese court banned infringing devices (iPhone 6s/Plus, iPhone 7/Plus, iPhone 8/Plus, and iPhone X) from entering the country. Though that ban has yet to go into effect, Qualcomm wants Apple's newest phones also kept out of the country. Earlier this week Apple said all its devices remain available for sale in China, despite the ruling. Qualcomm and Apple have ongoing patent-related legal skirmishes taking place in courts around the globe.


Apple to Invest $1B In Austin and Hire Thousands Around the US

Dec 13, 2018, 9:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced plans to build a new campus in Austin and expand its presence in a wide range of other markets with new hires. The company will invest $1 billion in the Austin campus, which entails a 133-acre site capable of handling up to 15,000 employees. Apple claims that once the Austin site is fully staffed, it will make Apple the largest private employer in Texas. The Austin campus will include engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales, and customer support jobs. Apple already has 6,200 employees at its existing Austin facility. Apple said it will establish new sites in Culver City, Seattle, and San Diego. Existing Apple sites in Boston, Boulder, New York, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Ore., will add an unspecified number of jobs over the next three years. Apple claims it added 6,000 jobs in the U.S. during 2018 and now employs 90,000 people in all 50 states. Apple said it is on track to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023. The company plans to invest $10 billion in U.S. data centers over the next five years, and expand data centers in Arizona, Nevada, and N. Carolina. The newest data center is being prepared for Waukee, Ida. "Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "Talent, creativity and tomorrow's breakthrough ideas aren't limited by region or zip code."


ITC to Weigh Apple/Qualcomm Import Ban Ruling

Dec 13, 2018, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. International Trade Commission plans to review an earlier ruling that found Apple guilty of infringing on a Qualcomm patent, but did not seek to ban iPhone imports. In September, an administrative law judge determined that Apple violated one of three Qualcomm patents pertaining to how smartphones perform without consuming too much power. Qualcomm had asked the ITC to ban Apple from importing the infringing iPhones into the U.S., but the law judge said such a ban was not in the U.S. interest. Now, the full ITC panel will review the earlier decision to determine what steps to take. Qualcomm said it was pleased to see its lawsuit take another step forward. The two companies are battling one another in courts around the world over patents and royalties, with each company seeings wins and losses. Earlier this week, Qualcomm won a case against Apple in China that may see iPhones banned from the People's Republic.


China Bans Import of Some iPhones in Win for Qualcomm

Dec 10, 2018, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today said that a Chinese court has granted two preliminary injunctions against Apple subsidiaries. The ruling orders the subsidiaries to "immediately cease infringing upon two Qualcomm patents through the unlicensed importation, sale and offers for sale in China of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X." Qualcomm alleges that Apple is violating two of its patents, which let people resize and reformat pictures, and to view, navigate, and dismiss apps using a touch screen. Qualcomm says the patents were previously upheld as valid by the Chinese patent office. Qualcomm is seeking similar relief for other patents that it claims Apple is violating in China and other markets. Qualcomm and Apple have been locked in a bitter patent-related feud for nearly two years. Though today's preliminary ruling calls for "immediate" action, it's not clear how soon any sort of ban might actually begin. Apple did not immediately comment on the matter.


AT&T and Verizon Turning On Support for iPhone eSIM

Dec 6, 2018, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have confirmed that the latest system update for iPhones from Apple has made it possible to support the eSIM on their networks. AT&T is activating eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR starting today. It won't cost AT&T subscribers to use the feature. "AT&T does not charge for a SIM Card/eSIM Card for device upgrades or new lines of service," said the company in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Verizon told Fierce that it will initiate support for the eSIM starting tomorrow, December 7. T-Mobile is still working to make eSIM happen, but has not provided a timeline for bringing the feature to its customers. The eSIM in the newer iPhones allows the devices to act as though they have dual SIM cards. Owners can designate one SIM as the primary and use that for calls, messaging, and data. The secondary SIM acts as a separate account and can handle calls and texts.


WatchOS Update Adds ECG App and Heart Rhythm Monitor

Dec 6, 2018, 12:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple said owners of the Apple Watch can expect to see watchOS 5.1.2 arrive later today. This update targets the new Series 4 smartwatch and introduces features Apple first revealed earlier this year. The Series 4 gains an ECG app, which gives people the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). Electrodes built into the back of the Digital Crown support the feature. Watch owners need only launch the app and press and hold the Digital Crown for 30 seconds. In addition to taking the ECG, the app also looks for irregular heart rhythms. The Watch is specifically looking for signs of atrial fibrillation, which is a warning sign of imminent health events such as a stroke. Apple worked with the FDA for years in order make this possible. The results are stored securely in the Health app on the associated iPhone and can be shard in PDF form with health care providers. All Apple Watches gain access to an improved heart rhythm detector. The detector uses the optical heart sensor on the Watch to check the rhythm occasionally. If it detects any abnormalities, it will alert the wearer. This feature was validated by testing hundreds of people. Apple says these new tools will need to be turned on. An onscreen setup flow teaches Apple Watch owners what the features can do, what they cannot do, what types of results they may get, and how to interpret those results and take action if warranted. watchOS 5.1.2 will be available for download today.


Apple Makes iOS 12.1.1 Available with Broader eSIM Support

Dec 5, 2018, 2:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 12.1.1, an update for iPhones and iPads that introduces a handful of new features. To start, iOS 12.1.1 brings dual SIM support, via eSIM, to more carriers for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. The XR gains haptic vibrations for notification previews. The update reinstates the ability to flip between the rear and front-facing cameras during a FaceTime call with a single button tap. The software makes it possible to capture Live Photos during one-to-one FaceTime calls, as well as take advantage of real-time text when using WiFi calling on the iPad. Apple News gives iPad users the option to hide the sidebar when in landscape orientation. As to be expected, a number bug fixes are included in iOS 12.1.1. For example, it makes stability improvements to dictation when using VoiceOver, fixes a Face ID reliability problem, addresses a visual voicemail glitch, and resolves an issue in Messages that sometimes prevented predictive text suggestions when typing in Chinese or Japanese. Other fixes tackle a problem that prevented Voice Memos from backing up to iCloud and a bug that prevented time zones from updating automatically. iOS 12.1.1 is free to download over the air.


Microsoft Redesigns Outlook for iOS to Help Speed Users' Tasks

Dec 5, 2018, 12:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today revealed a wholly redesigned version of Outlook Mobile for iOS devices. Not only did Microsoft give the app a fresh coat of paint, it tweaked many of the tap and swipe actions to help speed up and simplify users' daily routines. For example, when users swipe left or right on an email they'll see changes in color and shape, as well as experience haptic feedback to make it more obvious what action is taking place. Microsoft has animated the calendar icon, which now fans forward or backward as people scroll their agenda, and the app now calls out calendar conflicts more visually. Microsoft has changed the color of the app, which is a bolder shade of blue across the inbox and calendar. Microsoft says this helps people visually identify apps faster as they swipe through the iOS app picker. Microsoft has embraced the native font and typography of iOS, giving the app a look that's more in line with those from Apple. Other changes impact the mechanics of the app, such as the Focused Inbox toggle and message list filtering, which now help people focus on content and account details. The app continues to support multiple accounts, and will now call them out visually with personalized avatars. These are meant to instantly alert the user as to which account they have accessed. Similarly, Outlook adds new avatars for contacts to aid in visibility. The new Microsoft Outlook Mobile for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Apple Music Coming to Alexa Echo Devices December 17

Nov 30, 2018, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today said Apple Music subscribers will soon be able to enjoy their playlists through Alexa-powered devices. Apple Music customers can request that Alexa play songs, artists, albums, and Apple playlists, as well as stream Apple Music radio stations. For example, people can say "Alexa, play Beats 1" to hear Apple's global radio stream. In order to pair Apple Music with Amazon Alexa, customers will need to enable the Apple Music skill in the Alexa app. "Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa — since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before," said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices in a blog post. "We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and we're thrilled to bring Apple Music — one of the most popular music services in the U.S. — to Echo customers this holiday." Amazon says Alexa owners stream tens of millions of hours of radio each month, and have set tens of millions of music alarms in the last year. Apple Music comes to Amazon Alexa and Echo on December 17. Before this announcement, Apple Music was only available to Apple's own HomePod speaker.


Project Fi Earns a New Name, Opens Up to More Phones

Nov 28, 2018, 11:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 28, 2018, 11:50 AM

Google today renamed its MVNO, Project Fi, to Google Fi. Along with the name change comes dramatically expanded compatibility with phones. Moving forward, the service will work with most Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone. The process of activating Fi on Android devices will be straightforward. Google says compatibility with iPhones is in beta and will require people to jump through a few more hoops, including the use of an iOS app. Basic service will be available to the majority of devices. Fi operates on T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and WiFi, dynamically jumping to the strongest connection. Subscribers will need specific phones, listed on the Fi web site, to get this benefit, as proper LTE support is required. Google recently added VPN protection to Fi. The base service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice and text. Google charges $10 per gigabyte of data. People interested in the service will need to order SIM cards from the Google Fi web site. The service does not require contracts.


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