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Arm's Next-Gen v9 Architecture Focuses on Mobile Gaming

Yesterday, 11:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Arm has revealed 2022 Total Compute Solutions (TCS22), its next-generation CPU and GPU designs for mobile devices including phones, with a focus on improved mobile gaming performance. All-around performance of this year's solution is up to 28% better, with up to 16% power reduction. The new second generation Armv9 CPUs are designed to improve performance, efficiency, and scalability across the board, but "especially for gaming". Complementing those are a new range of Arm GPUs for advanced 3D graphics, including a new Immortalis brand for flagship GPUs that are even more powerful than the Mali line. The Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm GPU to offer hardware-based ray tracing support on mobile, while the new Mali-G715 supports Variable Rate Shading. The new Mali-G615 improves on the Mali-G610 and rounds out the lineup. All of the new GPUs offer a 15% performance improvement compared to the previous generation. On the CPU side, the new Arm Cortex-X3 delivers "a 25% performance improvement compared to the latest Android flagship smartphone". The new Cortex-A715 replaces the A710, offering 20% better energy efficiency and 5% better performance. For context, this matches the performance of the Cortex-X1. Meanwhile, an updated Cortex-A510 "little" core offers a 5% power reduction. A newly updated DSU-110 interconnect supports 50% more CPU cores (up to 12) and supports a high number of Cortex-X3 cores. With TCS22, Arm is also introducing two new security technologies to address memory safety vulnerabilities: Asymmetric Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) and Enhanced Privileged Access Never (EPAN). Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and Google all use Arm's designs and technology as a starting point for their own processor chips that power essentially all of today's phones.

iOS 16 Will Let You Skip CAPTCHAs

Jun 21, 2022, 9:50 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple's forthcoming iOS 16 and macOS Ventura will support the new Privacy Pass industry standard for authenticating users as legitimate people and not bots. This new technology can replace annoying CAPTCHAs, allowing web sites and app services to fight fraud in a way that's automatic and invisible for users. Privacy Pass authenticates users as real without identifying them or allowing any kind of tracking. It does this with a multi-step exchange of "blinded" cryptographic keys involving an authentication server that the web site trusts, plus a separate authentication server that the phone (and Apple) trusts. The process verifies that the user is using a trusted, signed app (such as Safari), that they are signed in to a valid Apple ID account, and that they have successfully unlocked their phone using biometric authentication. The browser can then generate signed tokens on demand as part of a new "PrivateToken" HTTP handshake process when connecting to a web server. When using the Safari browser or certain APIs for apps, this happens automatically before a web page loads. If successful, the web page will load without the CAPTCHA that it would normally have. Users do not need to do anything to use the feature. Web site owners that currently use CAPTCHAs will need to update their servers to support Privacy Pass, although CAPTCHA providers may be able to enable the feature through their existing CAPTCHA APIs.

Apple's Move To iOS Tool Now Moves WhatsApp Messages

Jun 14, 2022, 10:36 AM   by Rich Brome

WhatsApp now supports Apple's "Move to iOS" system, making it easy for users to switch from an Android phone to an iPhone without losing their WhatsApp chat histories. Move to iOS consists of an Android app that users can download from Google's Play Store. It moves contacts, text messages, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, and calendars to a new iPhone. It transfers the data over a temporary, private Wi-Fi network between the two phones. WhatsApp is taking advantage of support for third-party data in Move to iOS. WhatsApp data transferred this way is encrypted and unreadable until the user signs in to WhatsApp on their new iPhone.

Apple Intros Weather API for Apps, Even on Android

Jun 9, 2022, 2:05 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has quietly announced WeatherKit, a new API that will let app developers integrate "hyperlocal" weather forecast data into their apps. This is the same kind of specific weather data previously offered by DarkSky, which Apple acquired in 2020. WeatherKit will be available across platforms — including Android — via a standard REST API. A Swift API will also be available on Apple platforms. The data available includes 10-day forecasts as well as a minute-by-minute precipitation forecast for the next hour. Wind and UV data will also be available.

Europe to Mandate USB-C on Mobile Devices, Including Phones

Jun 9, 2022, 1:47 PM   by Rich Brome

The European Union has all but finalized a new rule that will require mobile devices to include a USB-C port for wired charging. This includes phones, as well as Bluetooth headphones, tablets, cameras, and laptops. The legislation will also require that consumers have the option to buy such devices without an included charger. The goal of the new rule is cut down on e-waste from extra, unnecessary chargers. Apple will be required to comply, potentially forcing the company to abandon its proprietary Lightning connector, at least in the EU. The rules still need to be formally voted on, but it is expected to pass by late summer, with the rule coming into force in fall 2024.

iPhone Will be Able to Double as a Desktop Webcam

Jun 6, 2022, 1:40 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple today announced FaceTime Continuity, a new suite of a features that seamlessly integrates FaceTime across iOS and macOS. Users can now start a FaceTime call on an iPhone, then easily move the call to a Mac. Simply bringing the iPhone near the Mac will bring up a prompt on the Mac to switch the call over. FaceTime Continuity also lets you use your iPhone's main cameras as a higher-quality webcam for your Mac, including for third-party apps. This enables advanced features like Center Stage and Studio Lighting. It also includes a "Desk View" mode that leverages the ultra-wide camera and image processing to produce what looks like an overhead view of your desk.

"Passkeys" are Apple's Replacement for Passwords

Jun 6, 2022, 1:31 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has given a name to its password-free account security solution: Passkeys. With Passkeys, users can log in to web sites and apps without remembering or entering a password. Users log in with biometric authentication such as FaceID or TouchID. A user's Passkeys are automatically synced across Apple devices using Keychain. Passkeys can also be used on non-Apple devices thanks to Apple's use of open industry standards and cooperation with the FIDO Alliance. Google and Microsoft are also working to make this technology standard across the industry.

Apple CarPlay Takes Over Your Car's Dashboard

Jun 6, 2022, 12:57 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has introduced a "next generation" version of CarPlay that is designed to take over all screens in your car and replace the instrument cluster and all controls, including audio and climate control. The solution is essentially an OS for your whole car, but driven by your iPhone. It brings a new level of customization for car interfaces, with multiple style options and custom widgets. iOS developers will be able to create third-party widgets. The first cars using this new CarPlay system are expected to be announced late next year.

iOS 16 Revamps the Lock Screen

Jun 6, 2022, 12:52 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 6, 2022, 1:48 PM

Apple today announced iOS 16, the next version of its core software for iPhones. The new OS features a major revamp of the Lock Screen with new personalization, including font & color options, and widgets that are similar to complications on the Apple Watch. Third-party lock screen widgets will also be available. Custom photo wallpapers now intelligently pull out foreground elements, so the time appears slightly behind your dog's head, for example. Finally, notifications on the lock screen have been re-arranged to take up less space, and can be hidden completely. Apple is also introducing a new type of update-able notification for live activities, so that updates to sports scores or your Uber's location don't trigger a series of separate notifications. An update to Focus lets you designate separate custom lock screens and home screens for work vs. personal modes, etc. A new Focus Filter API will also extend Focus modes into apps, allowing you to designate certain browser tabs as only available in work mode, for example. In Messages, messages can now be unsent, edited after being sent, or marked as unread. Messages also now supports SharePlay, so you can have a text conversation while watching the same media. Dictation now adds punctuation automatically, and works more seamlessly when using both the keyboard and voice for input. Apple has also extended Live Text to video, so you can now copy text from paused video, and easily perform smart actions on that text, like translate language or convert currency. A new Live Text API will allow this feature to work in third-party apps. In Wallet, apps will now be able to request select info from a stored digital driver's license, for things like age verification. Apple is also adding Order Tracking into Wallet. Finally, Apple announced that it's working on making Key Sharing (for digital car and home keys) cross-platform, so digital keys can be shared with Android users from Wallet. Apple Maps now supports multi-stop routing, for up to 15 stops. When navigating while driving, Siri will now lets you add a stop to your current trip using just your voice. Apple has also revamped the Parental Controls setup process, and made it faster to set up a new Apple device for a kid. A new feature called Safety Check makes it easier for people in abusive relationships to make sure an abusive partner can't take advantage of shared accounts or additional signed-in devices when trying to leave that relationship. Finally, Rapid Security Response is a new OS feature that allows Apple to roll out urgent security fixes faster. The first developer beta comes out today. The first public beta will be released in July, with a final release coming in the "fall".

Visible Moving to "Fully eSIM-based"

May 19, 2022, 11:01 AM   by Rich Brome

Visible has added flagship Samsungs to the list of phones for which it supports activation via eSIM. New customers with a Samsung S22 series, S21 series, or Note20 series Samsung phone can now start mobile service with Visible "in as little as 15 minutes" by simply downloading the Visible app to sign up and activate their phone, with no physical SIM card required. Visible already supports eSIMs on newer Apple iPhones and Google Pixel phones. Visible says it has an "ongoing commitment to become a fully eSIM-based wireless carrier." Visible offers 5G service on the Verizon network, and the company is backed by Verizon.

Apple Announces Upcoming Accessibility Features

May 17, 2022, 9:18 AM   by Rich Brome

For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple is announcing several new accessibility features coming to iOS "later this year", possibly in iOS 16. A new feature called Door Detection uses the camera and LiDAR sensor in higher-end iPhones and iPads to help blind or low vision users "locate a door upon arriving at a new destination, understand how far they are from it, and describe door attributes — including if it is open or closed, and when it’s closed, whether it can be opened by pushing, turning a knob, or pulling a handle." Door Detection will be added to Detection Mode in the Magnifier app. Apple will also be adding system-wide Live Captions for all audio sources, including FaceTime calls. Google has offered a similar feature since 2020. Finally, Apple is Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. This feature helps users who might have difficulty with the smaller touch screen of the Apple Watch.

iOS 15.5 Brings New Features, Important Security Updates

May 17, 2022, 9:08 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released iOS 15.5, which adds the ability for Apple Cash users to send and receive money, as well as automatic storage management for Podcasts. It also patches a long list of potentially serious security vulnerabilities.

Apple, Google, Microsoft Enhance Password-Free Standard for Secure Logins

May 5, 2022, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple, Google, and Microsoft today announced new enhancements to the FIDO standard, as well as a renewed commitment to encouraging the use of the FIDO standard on their respective platforms. FIDO allows easy login to devices, platforms, and apps using methods like a phone's fingerprint reader, for logins that are easier, faster, as well as more secure. The enhanced standard will allow users to automatically access their FIDO credentials "on many of their devices, even new ones, without having to reenroll every account." It will also "Enable users to use FIDO authentication on their mobile device to sign in to an app or website on a nearby device, regardless of the OS platform or browser they are running."

iMovie Makes it Easier to Create Polished Videos

Apr 13, 2022, 2:26 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released iMovie 3.0 for iPhones and iPads. The new version has two major new features: Magic Movie and Storyboards. With Magic Movie, users simply select an album or any group of photos and/or video, and the app will automatically build a video complete with titles, transitions, and music. Styles can be added to change up the look and feel of the entire video. With Storyboards, users start with one of 20 templates, such as a cooking tutorial, Q&A, product review, news report, etc. The template includes a shot list and tips for each part. Users then select existing clips and/or shoot new video to fill the Storyboard with content. Both Magic Movies and Storyboards can then be manually edited further. The resulting videos can be shared from iMovie via Messages, Mail, and on social media. The new iMovie is available now as a free update for devices running iOS 15.2 or later.

Streaming Apps Add Support for Apple's SharePlay

Apr 6, 2022, 9:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Hulu and ESPN have added SharePlay support to their respective apps for iPhones. SharePlay lets users watch the same video content together, remotely, while on a FaceTime call.

Arizona Launches First State ID in Apple Wallet

Mar 24, 2022, 9:10 AM   by Rich Brome

After years of testing across multiple states, Arizona is now the first US state to officially offer a digital driver's license / state ID stored digitally in a phone. Arizona residents can now add their ID to Apple Wallet by scanning their face and physical ID card using the phone's camera, pending state agency approval. The digital ID is currently accepted at "select" TSA airport checkpoints, including in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Apple also announced that Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, and the territory of Puerto Rico plan to support the technology soon, in addition to the previously-announced Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah. The capability was introduced in iOS 15.4 for iPhones, and is also supported in Apple Watch Series 4 or later running watchOS 8.4 or later. The technology provides enhances security and privacy by only sharing information specifically requested, in an encrypted format, and the user can review which information will be shared before granting permission to share it.

Apple's Face ID Now Works with Masks

Mar 14, 2022, 1:12 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released the final version of iOS 15.4, which updates Apple's advanced facial recognition to work even while wearing a mask over the mouth and nose. The feature is an optional setting that must be manually activated, since it is somewhat less secure than the full-face option. Apple previously added limited mask compatibility to Face ID, but it required a paired Apple Watch; the new feature does not. iOS 15.4 also adds new emoji.

Major Update to Google Messages Brings iPhone-Compatible Emoji Reactions

Mar 10, 2022, 11:25 AM   by Rich Brome

Google today started rolling out a major update to its Messages app, the default SMS and RCS messaging app on most new Android phones. It includes several major new features, but the biggest for most people may be automatic conversion and tidier display of emoji reactions from iPhone users. When an iPhone user "likes" or "loves" (etc.) a message in a conversation, it will now be displayed as a simple emoji attached to the original message, instead of a whole separate message with the original text repeated. Emoji reactions work between iPhones using Apple's protocol originally known as iMessage. They also work between Android phones using the open, industry-standard RCS protocol. But because iPhones do not support RCS and iMessage is a closed and proprietary, communication between iPhone and Android devices defaults to the outdated SMS/MMS protocols, which do not support newer features like reactions. So reactions are sent in plain text. This is still the case, but Messages will now intercept and "translate" these messages to present them properly. Another new feature is Organized inbox, which automatically sorts your messages into Personal and Business tabs. Messages can now also automatically delete one-time password messages after 24 hours, reducing inbox clutter. It can also help remind you to reply with "gentle nudges" when it detects that you may have stopped in the middle of a conversation for a period of time. Finally, when sharing a video, there will now be an option to share a link to that video on Google Photos instead of sending the video itself. That will enable users to share high-quality videos with iPhone users, instead of sending a very low-quality video via the outdated MMS protocol as before. (RCS allows sharing high-quality videos directly with other Android users.) Google says it will bring the link-sharing feature to photos as well in the future. Most of these features are available first for the English language only, with other languages to follow. The new version of Messages will "roll out over the coming weeks".

Apple Updates iPhone SE

Mar 8, 2022, 1:59 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has announced a new iPhone SE for 2022. The design is identical to the 2020 model, which itself is based on the iPhone 8 from 2017. But the guts have been updated to the Apple's latest and greatest A15 Bionic chip, the same one found in the new iPhone 13 series. Other updates include 5G (but no mmWave) and tougher glass on the front and back. Like the 2020 model, it has a 4.7-inch display and home button with integrated Touch ID fingerprint reader. Color options are "midnight" (black), "starlight" (white), and (Product)Red. The iPhone SE (2022) will start at $429, up from $399 for the 2020 model. That's for the 64 GB model, with 128 and 256 GB options also available. Pre-orders start this Friday, March 11th, and it ships the following Friday, March 18th. Separately, Apple also announced new green color options for the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro.

Apple Refines Anti-Stalking Features of AirTags

Feb 10, 2022, 2:26 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple is making a number of tweaks to the Find My system that powers AirTags. Specifically, Apple is aiming to improve the various features designed to prevent AirTags from being used to stalk people or track other people's belongings without their permission. A refined algorithm will now alert users sooner that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory may be traveling with them. Once a user receives such an alert, a number of changes will help the user quickly find the offending item and determine if it's benign. If the item is a set of AirPods, example, the alert will now say that instead of "Unknown Accessory". Users receiving an alert will be able to use Precision Finding to find the offending AirTag or device. This feature uses AR and UWB to guide an iPhone (11 or better) user directly to the device. Apple will also tweak the sounds an AirTag makes to make them easier to hear. Apple is also updating its pop-up warnings and documentation for users, as well as new documentation for law enforcement. Some of these changes will launch soon, while others will launch later this year.

Google Duo Live Sharing Mimics Apple's SharePlay

Feb 9, 2022, 1:21 PM   by Rich Brome

Google and Samsung have announced a new "live sharing" feature of Duo, Google's video calling app. Much like Apple's new SharePlay in FaceTime, the feature lets people on a video call share specific experiences like watching a video. Live Sharing also supports Samsung Notes, Gallery, Google Maps, and Jamboard, Google's "digital whiteboard" app. The feature will be available first on the new Samsung Galaxy S22 series.

Apple Announces Reverse Apple Pay

Feb 8, 2022, 5:43 PM   by Rich Brome

Later this year, Apple will add "Tap to Pay on iPhone" to iOS. This new feature will let merchants accept contactless (NFC) payments using only an iPhone and a compatible app. The software developer kit (SDK) for this feature will launch to developers "in an upcoming iOS software beta". The Stripe platform and the Shopify Point of Sale app will be first to support the technology "this spring", with additional platforms and apps to follow later this year. The feature will work with iPhone XS and later (including iPhone 11 series and newer.) Previously, the NFC hardware in iPhones was only enabled to make contactless payments, not accept them. Merchants needed a separate NFC accessory (either attached or connected via Bluetooth) to accept payments; this will no longer be necessary. Tap to Pay on iPhone will be able accept all standard contactless payments, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and contactless physical credit cards.

New Phone Insurance Option is $99/Year

Feb 7, 2022, 12:04 PM   by Rich Brome

Zagg has launched a new "phone protection plan" that costs less than competing options from Apple and Samsung. The new "Zagg Protect" runs $99 annually, plus a $49 deductible for repairs. Zagg has traditionally focused on making phone accessories such as cases and chargers. For this product, Zagg has partnered with Safeware, which specializes in technology insurance. The plan covers most hardware failures as well as accidental damage from drops or liquids. Accidental damage claims are limited to two every 12 months, and battery replacement is limited to one per device. Apple currently charges $149–199 for AppleCare+ for a new iPhone, plus a $29 fee for display or glass damage, or $99 fee for other repairs.

Apple Allows Unlisted Apps in App Store

Feb 1, 2022, 12:39 PM   by Rich Brome

A new option allows iOS developers to release apps through official Apple channels without surfacing them to the general public in the App Store interface. Such apps can only be installed using a special direct link that organizations send to invited users. Apple describes the new option as ideal for apps "for specific organizations, special events, or research studies, or apps used as employee resources or sales tools". Organizations have been able to distribute such apps to managed devices using Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager. But distributing such apps to unmanaged devices has been a challenge. In the past, some organizations have used Apple's TestFlight system as a workaround, but that process was clunky, limited, and didn't comply with Apple's policies.

Latest iOS Beta Lets Face ID Work with Masks

Jan 27, 2022, 2:33 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple released a beta version of iOS 15.4 today, and it includes a new feature that lets Face ID work even while the user is wearing a mask. Unlike Apple's previous version of this concept, it does not require a connected Apple Watch. It instead relies solely on "unique features around the eye area". It also lets you specifically train Face ID with each pair of eyeglasses you own. It does not work with sunglasses.) As this version of iOS is still in beta testing, there is no guarantee the feature will make the final version of iOS 15.4.

Apple Releases Android App to Fight AirTag Stalking

Dec 14, 2021, 6:59 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released a new app called Tracker Detect that lets Android users scan for Apple AirTags that are potentially being used for stalking. The app doesn't require an Apple account. It specifically senses nearby AirTags (or similar devices compatible with Apple's Find My network) that have been separated from their owner but are nearby and stay nearby as the app user moves around. Once an AirTag meets the requirements as suspicious, the app user can command the AirTag to play a sound. The app user can then see instructions for how to disable the AirTag. While Apple's Find My network has strong protections to preserve privacy when used as intended, its potential use for stalking and similar illegal behavior has drawn criticism. Apple already has anti-stalking features available for iOS users, but extending this ability to Android is an important step for privacy and security.

Hyatt Launches Apple Wallet Room Keys

Dec 10, 2021, 1:51 PM   by Rich Brome

Hyatt has launched phone-based digital room keys at its first six hotel properties. iPhone and Apple Watch users can now choose to add their hotel room key to Apple Wallet and forego any physical room key. Customers can add the key to Wallet from the World of Hyatt app. Check-in is still required, but once checked in, the key is automatically activated and displays the room number. The feature takes advantage of Wallet's Express Mode, so it can work without unlocking the device, and Power Reserve, so it can continue working for up to five hours after the phone shuts off due to low battery. The key can be updated remotely if the guest needs to change rooms, extend a stay, or access late checkout. On check-out, the key is automatically deactivated and archived. This technology is now available at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa, Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop-Fulton Market, Hyatt House Dallas/Richardson, Hyatt Place Fremont/Silicon Valley, and Hyatt Regency Long Beach. "Looking ahead, this technology is expected to be rolled out across Hyatt's global portfolio."

Apple Sues NSO Group for Spyware Targeting iPhones

Nov 24, 2021, 8:29 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group to "hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users." Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group, an Israeli company, from using any Apple software, services, or devices. NSO Group creates spyware and other surveillance technology that allows its customers — including repressive governments around the world — to surveil victims including journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and other government officials. These focused attacks are aimed at a small number of users, and they impact multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. Apple's legal complaint focuses on a specific exploit for iOS devices called FORCEDENTRY, which was used to break into victims' Apple devices and install NSO's "Pegasus" spyware. To deliver FORCEDENTRY, NSO created over a hundred Apple IDs to send malicious data to victim's devices. The legal complaint notes that creating those Apple IDs requires agreeing to Apple's iCloud Terms and Conditions, which gives the Northern California court where the suit was filed jurisdiction. Earlier this month, the US Commerce Department added NSO Group to its to its red-flagged "entity list".

Anker's New MagSafe Chargers Offer New Form Factors

Oct 27, 2021, 12:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Anker has launched MagGo, a new line of wireless chargers compatible with Apple's MagSafe magnetic wireless charging system, introduced with the iPhone 12 series. The MagGo lineup includes several unique new designs.

  • The 623 Magnetic Wireless Charger is a dual charger with a simple, stylish design, ideal for a nightstand. The compact cylinder shape has a top pad that tilts up to 60º and can hold an iPhone 12 or 13 vertically or horizontally while charging it at 7.5 watts. When the top part is tilted, a second charging pad is exposed that can charge a wireless earbuds case at 5 watts. The 623 is available in dark gray, white, Misty Blue, or Lilac Purple. It's available now for $80.
  • The 637 Magnetic Charging Station is a multi-function wireless and wired charging hub designed to live on your desk. Like the 623, it can charge an iPhone wirelessly at 7.5 watts while holding it up an angle. On the back are two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and three AC outlets. The USB-C ports support USB-PD up to 65 watts, for quickly charging devices as large as laptops. It's available now for $100, in dark gray, white, or Misty Blue.
  • The 633 Magnetic Wireless Charger is a 2-in-1 charging stand with removable magnetic battery. Like the other models, it can wirelessly charge an iPhone at 7.5 watts while holding it at an angle, in either vertical or horizontal orientation. A second pad in the base can charge an earbuds case at 5 watts. The main charger can be removed from the stand and used as a portable 5,000 mAh power bank. On the go, it provides magnetic wireless charging as well as USB-C charging at up to 12 watts. It will run $120 when it goes on sale in early December. It will also come in dark gray, white, or Misty Blue.
The new MagGo lineup also includes the 622 wireless power bank with built-in kickstand, and 613 magnetic wireless charger designed to hang down from a car dashboard. Both are available now for under $70.

Apple Intros 3rd Generation AirPods

Oct 18, 2021, 12:28 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple today launched a completely redesigned version of AirPods. The new AirPods 3rd Generation have longer battery life, Spatial Audio (including Dolby Atmos), and a new driver for better sound quality. They also bring the Adaptive EQ feature of the AirPods Pro down to the standard AirPods. Adaptive EQ customizes sound for the unique way your ears hear different frequencies due to differing fit. They are also rated IPx4 for sweat- and water-resistant. The new, shorter buds have six hours of battery life in their own, while the new charging case holds four charges, for 30 hours total. The case can add one hour of battery life to the buds in just five minutes. The case can be charged with MagSafe wireless charging. The new AirPods are available to order today for $179, shipping next Tuesday, Oct. 26th. The old 2nd Generation AirPods will remain available at a new price of $129, down from $160.

Apple Adds News Ways To Integrate iPhones Into Presentations

Sep 29, 2021, 11:32 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple has released new versions of its productivity apps for its platforms, including Keynote, Pages, and Numbers for iOS on iPhones. Keynote now lets you place "live video objects" into presentations, allowing "the presenter to appear alongside the content in their slide — ideal for lectures, how-to videos, and remote presentations through video conferencing apps." The feature can use the front-facing camera on an iPhone or other Apple device. The live video objects can be resized or styled with masks, frames, drop shadows, and reflections. Keynote for Mac can also now "show the screen of a connected iPhone or iPad right on a slide for live, interactive demos." Pages for iPhone has a new Screen View mode that re-arranges page layouts into a single column that's easier to read on a small screen, while supporting full editing tools. Numbers now supports pivot tables, including on iPhone and iPad, making it "the first app to bring full-featured pivot tables to mobile".

iOS 15 Available Now

Sep 20, 2021, 1:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple just released the first non-beta version of iOS 15 as a free update for iPhone models 6s and newer. First announced in June, the update includes revamped notifications, Focus Mode, Live Text, and support for stats ID cards in Wallet.

iPhone 13 Upgrades Cameras, Displays

Sep 14, 2021, 2:18 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 15, 2021, 4:25 PM

Apple today announced the iPhone 13 series. All models feature improved battery life, display, cameras, and processor. Although the model options and designs are similar to the iPhone 12 series, the notch for the TrueDepth camera system that powers Face ID is now 20% smaller, allowing more usable display area. The OLED displays on all models are now more efficient and offer greater peak brightness outdoors, while supporting HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The Pro models gain adaptive refresh of 10–120 Hz. The cameras have been updated to let in much more light for better performance, especially in low light. The main camera features a f/1.6 aperture on the standard models and f/1.5 on the Pro models. Apple has also brought sensor-shift OIS to the standard models, a feature previously exclusive to the Pro Max. On the Pro models, the telephoto camera has been bumped from 2x to 3x, for 6x total optical zoom range. The Pro models also feature an all-new ultra-wide camera with an unprecedented f/1.8 aperture as well as true auto-focus, enabling a new macro mode. All three cameras now support night mode. A new Cinematic Mode in the camera app can automatically change focus based on who is looking where in the scene, and lets the user adjust focus in videos after they have been shot. A new Photographic Styles feature offers greater control over Apple's advanced multi-frame image processing. The Pro models can also now shoot and edit Apple ProRes video at 4K (30 fps). The new A15 Bionic chip powers all four models. Apple claims it's 50% faster than the best competing chip. The A15 variant in the Pro models is slightly more powerful with five GPU cores instead of four. Improved efficiency and larger batteries give the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 13 Pro 1.5 hours more of battery life, while the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max gain 2.5 hours of battery life. iPhone 13 and 13 mini will be available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED in a new entry-level capacity of 128 GB (double last year's starting option), as well as 256 or 512 GB. The standard-size iPhone 13 starts at $799 while the mini starts at $699. iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will be available in graphite, gold, silver, and sierra blue in 128, 256, or 512 GB, plus a new 1 TB option. The iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999 while the Pro Max starts at $1,099. Customers will be able to pre-order all four iPhone 13 models this Friday, with full availability September 24th.

Apple Watch Series 7 has 20% Larger Display

Sep 14, 2021, 1:18 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 14, 2021, 1:28 PM

Apple today announced the Apple Watch Series 7, which features a display with 20% more screen area, in roughly the same size case as previous models. The bezels are now just 1.7mm wide. Apple has tweaked watchOS to take advantage of the larger display, including a new full QWERTY keyboard option for text input, with swipe typing. The new display also fits up to 50% more text, and key buttons have been enlarged. A new modular face fits more, larger complications. The new display is also 70% brighter in idle/always-on mode indoors. The redesigned case has more rounded cover glass (that's more durable) and corners, but still fits all existing interchangeable bands. The new watch also charges 33% faster. New cycling features in watchOS 8 improve Outdoor Cycle workout mode with automatic start, pause, and resume, and now track workouts accurately with e-bikes. There's also a new Fall Detection feature for cycling. Apple Watch Series 7 will come in titanium (2 colors), stainless steel (2 colors) and recycled aluminum (5 colors). It will be available "later this fall" starting at $399. Series 7 replaces Series 6; Series 3 and Apple Watch SE will continue to be available.

iOS 14.8 Patches Nasty Security Flaw

Sep 13, 2021, 3:54 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Sep 13, 2021, 3:55 PM

Apple today released a set of urgent security updates for iOS, watchOS, macOS, and Safari for Mac. The updates fix a previously-unknown zero-day security flaw that enabled "arbitrary code execution" when viewing a maliciously crafted PDF file, which could be transmitted by visiting a web page and/or receiving an iMessage. All versions of iOS prior to today's 14.8 update are vulnerable. The Citizen Lab, which found the issue and reported it to Apple, claims the exploit is already in use in the wild. It was used to silently install NSO Group's Pegasus spyware on the iPhone of a Saudi activist. All users of Apple devices should install the updates immediately.

Apple Must Allow Apps To Steer Customers to Alternative Payment Methods, Rules Federal Judge

Sep 10, 2021, 11:44 AM   by Rich Brome

A US Federal Judge has ruled that Apple must allow app developers to "steer" customers away from Apple's App Store payment service, which collects a fee of up to 30%. The ruling was part of Fortnite maker Epic Games' lawsuit against Apple for anti-competitive behavior. The case did not completely go Epic's way; the court did not find that Apple's App Store constituted a monopoly, as Epic claimed. "Nonetheless, the trial did show that Apple is engaging in anticompetitive conduct under California's competition laws," according to the decision. "The Court concludes that Apple’s anti-steering provisions hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice." Apple recently announced plans to allow specific "reader" apps to steer customers to third-party payments in response to an investigation by the Japanese government. But this new US ruling could force Apple to open up third-party payments for all apps. Apple does have the option to appeal the decision.

Apple Delays CSAM Photo-Scanning Feature

Sep 3, 2021, 10:55 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple will "take additional time to make improvements" before launching its technology to detect and report known child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in users's iCloud photos. The tools, first revealed a month ago, are designed to preserve user privacy by using sophisticated hashing algorithms that run on the user's device. Only once a threshold of at least 30 CSAM images is detected can photos be decrypted by Apple for manual inspection and potential reporting to authorities. Privacy experts have expressed concern over the feature, as some governments may be tempted to force Apple to search for other types of imagery. Privacy advocates also expressed concern that the system could be abused by third parties to implicate innocent people. Apple has responded to these concerns, stating that its database of known CSAM will never include images reported from just one country, and researchers will be able to verify that all Apple devices are using the same database of known CSAM.

Apple Makes Major App Store Concession on Media Subscriptions

Sep 1, 2021, 9:16 PM   by Rich Brome

Starting early next year, Apple will allow media player apps like Spotify and Netflix to direct new users to subscribe via their own web sites and third-party payment systems. Previously, Apple required such apps to use Apple's payment system, where Apples takes a cut of up to 30%. Although Apple will continue to require apps that "sell digital services and subscriptions" to use Apple's in-app payment system, apps that "provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video" are now considered "reader" apps, and will be exempt from that rule. The change comes after an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), and was announced as a deal with the JFTC to close that investigation. However Apple will apply the change globally.

Eight US States to Support Digital Driver’s Licenses in Apple Wallet

Sep 1, 2021, 11:23 AM   by Rich Brome

Residents of Arizona and Georgia will soon be able to add a secure digital version of their driver's license or state ID to the Wallet app on their iPhone and/or Apple Watch. Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah have also announced plans to support Apple's implementation. The first place people will be able to use these digital ID cards will be "select airport security checkpoints and lanes in participating airports". Apple's implementation of this technology is compliant with the ISO 18013-5 mDL (mobile driver's license) standard. Adding a license or ID to Wallet requires taking photos of both the user's physical ID card and themselves, which are sent to the issuing state for verification. Presenting a digital ID is initiated by simply tapping the phone or watch on a reader device, similar to Apple Pay. The user's device then displays what specific information is being requested. Only after the user confirms their identity using Face ID or Touch ID is the requested information securely transferred. Users do not need to unlock, show, or hand over their device to present their ID. Utah launched a pilot program of standard-compliant mDL technology using a standalone app earlier this year.

South Korea Passes Major New Law Targeting In-App Purchases

Aug 31, 2021, 1:48 PM   by Rich Brome

South Korea's National Assembly has passed a new law that will require Apple and Google to open up in-app purchases to third-party payments. Apple and Google currently require the use their own payment systems for in-app purchases, from which the companies extract a cut of up to 30%. The law also regulates approval times for new apps, as well as reasons for removing apps from app stores. The new law is similar to ones being considered in the US and EU, but South Korea will be the first major market to implement such a law. The law will go into effect as soon as the President Moon Jae-in signs it, as he is expected to do.

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