TSMC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of the world's most advanced chips, will bring its newest, most advanced chip production to US soil. The company had already announced plans for a 5-nanometer chip plant in Arizona. (The most advanced chips in Apple and Android phones currently use 4-nanometer technology. In chips, smaller is better.) Now TSMC will also build a next-generation 3-nanometer plant at the same Arizona location. The company is spending $12 billion on the 5nm plant, which is expected to start production in 2024. The company's founder, Morris Chang, made the announcement about the 3nm plant, adding that "the cost of manufacturing chips in the US will be at least 55% higher than in Taiwan". However Apple and other major customers are increasingly looking to diversify their supply chains globally. Regional tensions between Taiwan and China present a risk for companies like Apple and Qualcomm when all of the most advanced chips are made exclusively in Taiwan.
Apple's new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is now available to use in the US and Canada. The feature is exclusive to the new iPhone 14 series. It enables short messages to be sent to local emergency dispatchers where and when cellular and Wi-Fi are unavailable. The feature includes a demo mode that lets users try out the feature connecting to a real satellite, but without bothering emergency services. There is also one non-emergency feature: users can share their location with others while off-grid using the Find My app. Apple promises to launch the service in France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK by December.
The Square Point of Sale app now fully supports Tap to Pay on iPhone, allowing any iPhone (11 or newer) to act as a payment terminal able to accept NFC (tap) payments without any additional hardware. Previously, merchants needed a separate hardware accessory to accept any kind of in-person card or tap payments. Tap to Pay on iPhone is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, as well as physical credit and debit cards with a contactless chip. The feature carries no additional cost to the seller. Apple announced Tap to Pay on iPhone in February. Stripe and Shopify also support the feature.
Apple released iOS 16.0.2 today. It fixes two high-profile bugs: one that cause the camera to loudly "vibrate and cause blurry photos" when using third-party apps on iPhone 14 Pro models, and another that caused excessive security prompts when copying and pasting between apps.
Apple has refreshed its Apple Watch lineup with Series 8, a new Watch SE, and added a larger, more rugged Apple Watch Ultra for athletes and extreme adventurers.
- Apple Watch Series 8 has two main upgrades over Series 7: temperature sensors and Crash Detection. The temperature sensors are primarily for detecting ovulation. Two sensors, (one to compensate for ambient changes,) take readings every five minutes during sleep. This is used to detect biphasic shift, so the watch can provide retrospective alerts about ovulation. It can also detect cycle deviation, which could indicate a serious health issue. Crash Detection uses upgraded sensors to detect a severe car crash and automatically call for help. The features uses an "improved" 3-axis gyroscope, high-g-force accelerometer, and the barometer (to detect airbag deployment). It samples 3000 times per second, but only when it detects you are in a moving car. When it detects a crash, it calls 911, shares your location, and calls your emergency contacts. The design and other features are similar to the Series 7. Color choices (for aluminum) are: Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Product Red. It starts at $399 for the smaller 41mm size, in aluminum, without cellular. Add $30 for the larger 45mm size. Add $100 for cellular. Add $300 for stainless steel. It ships Sept. 16th.
- Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen.) is just $249, or $299 with cellular. It also gains Crash Detection, and it's powered by the same 8th-gen chip as the Series 8, making it 20% faster than the 1st gen. Watch SE. It will be available in Midnight, Starlight, or Silver. Like the Series 8, you can order today and it ships Sept. 16th.
- Apple Watch Ultra (shown) has a flat sapphire crystal face and ultra-rugged titanium body. It adds a new, customizable action button, alongside larger standard controls designed to work with gloves. Improved GPS now supports the L5 band for better performance in challenging areas such as urban races. A new compass app includes waypoints on the face and automatic backtracking. A bigger battery offers 36 hours of battery life. It's twice as waterproof, able to withstand depths of up to 100m, and designed for SCUBA diving at up to 40m. It automatically shows a depth gauge when submerged, and Apple teamed with Huish Outdoors to develop Oceanic+, an app that turns the watch into a dive computer. Its rugged cred includes MIL-STD 810H rating for low pressure (altitude), high temperature, low temperature, temperature shock, rain, humidity, sand and dust, freeze/thaw, ice/freezing rain, shock, vibration, and more. It has three mics and two speakers for clearer calls (cellular is standard). Those speakers can emit an 86 dB emergency siren that can be heard 600 feet away. A software update coming this fall will enable a new 60-hour low-power mode, as well as automatic detection when you arrive at a running track, for more accurate run tracking in that environment. It also includes all of the features of the Series 8. Apple designed three new types of bands for the Ultra, tailored for different activities. The Alpine Loop is for "outdoor adventurers", and is rugged and secure. The Trail Loop is for "endurance athletes", and is light, thin, stretchy, and easy to adjust. The Ocean Band is for "water sports and recreational diving", and has a stretchy design that can fit over a wetsuit, with a titanium buckle to keep it secure. The Apple watch Ultra comes in one size (49mm) and one color (titanium). It costs $799 and ships Sept. 23rd.
Apple has revealed its 2nd-generation AirPods Pro, now with ANC (active noise cancellation) that can cancel 2x the noise. It has has a revamped transparency mode called Adaptive Transparency, which samples outside sound 48,000 times per second so it can react quickly to dampen sudden loud noises. These features are thanks to a new Apple H2 chip, which also improves battery life 33%, to 6 hours of listening time. You can now adjust volume by swiping up or down on the stalk. The case is also upgraded, offering 6 more hours of battery life (for 30 total), precision finding when lost thanks to a U1 UWB chip, and a speaker that can also help locate the case when lost. The case can also now charge from a Apple Watch charger. A Personalized Spatial Audio feature uses the TrueDepth camera on your iPhone to create a 3D map of your unique ears, enabling more personalized sound. Finally, a new XS ear tip size enables a better fit for some users. The AirPods Pro 2nd Gen. will run $249 and ship Sept. 23rd.
Apple has revealed the iPhone 14 series, with new features, improved specs, and new size options. In place of a Mini option, the iPhone 14 will come in the same 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screen size options as the Pro models. The larger model is called the iPhone 14 Plus, while the Pro models keep the same screen sizes and naming scheme (Pro and Pro Max) as last year. All of the new iPhone 14 models include at least 2x better low-light performance on all cameras, including front cameras. They also include Emergency SOS via Satellite and Crash Detection, and move completely to eSIM, eliminating physical SIM cards. The Pro models move from a notched display design to a "pill" shape for the TrueDepth camera-and-sensor system, which changes shape via software in a feature Apple calls Dynamic Island. Emergency SOS via Satellite uses a low-bandwidth satellite data network. It requires you to point the phone at the satellite, which the interface guides you through. It only supports short messages sent at low speed, even using 3x compression. Messages may take 15 seconds or up to a few minutes to send. The interface guides you through creating a concise message that contains the info emergency responders will need to provide help. For 911 call centers that can't receive text messages directly, Apple will call that center and relay your message. The service also supports non-emergency usage, but only in the form of location sharing. The feature will be available first in the US and Canada starting in November, and will be free for the first two years. Crash Detection utilizes a new high dynamic range gyroscope and dual-core accelerometer to automatically detect a car crash and alert emergency services. The new dual eSIM works with all major US carriers and can be set up even without Wi-Fi. The 12 megapixel main camera has a larger sensor and faster lens for 49% better low-light performance in low light via hardware alone, while Deep Fusion has been improved and renamed Photonic Engine, boosting low-light performance 2x on all cameras, for a total boost of 2.5x on the main camera. The front camera is also improved and now has auto-focus. A new Action Mode provides gimbal-like stabilization for video. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus do not feature an all-new chip like the Pro models, instead using an A15 Bionic chip like last year's models. However, Apple has redesigned the aluminum body to provide better thermals, which may improve peak chip performance. Apple says the iPhone 14 Plus has the best battery life ever for an iPhone. The 14 series will come in five colors: blue, purple, Midnight, Starlight, and Product Red. The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have all the features of the standard iPhone 14 models, plus the new Dynamic Island display design, always-on display, better display specs, better cameras, a new A16 Bionic chip, and stainless steel bodies. The Dynamic Island takes up 30% less space than Apple's notch. Via software, the black pill area can expand a little to the sides to show background activity status, or split in two to show two different activities. For more important alerts or interactive controls, it can expand vertically as well. An API will allow third-party apps to access the Dynamic Island display area, such as a sports app showing a live-updating game score. The always-on display uses LPTO dimming and refresh down to 1 Hz to keep battery life in check. Unlike some always-on displays, it supports widgets and can show wallpaper over the whole display. The display also has thinner bezels and is (Apple claims) the brightest display on any smartphone, offering up to 2,000 nits peak brightness outdoors. The main camera is now 48 megapixel, enabling a high-quality 2x tele mode while leaving the dedicated telephoto camera to 3x. The camera also offers a 48-megapixel ProRAW mode. The wide camera offers 3x better low-light performance, while the other cameras offer 2x better. A sophisticated new LED flash offers nine discrete LEDS shining through a special lens that lets it effectively "zoom" to match the current focal length. The new A16 Bionic chip engages the whole chip for photography, able to perform 4 trillion operations per photo. It uses a 4nm manufacturing process that improves power efficiency. The Pro and Pro Max will be available in black, silver, gold, and purple. The iPhone 14 will start at $799, the iPhone 14 Plus: $899, the iPhone 14 Pro: $999, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,099. All models will be available with 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage, while the Pro series also gets a 1 TB option. Pre-orders start Friday, September 9th. Most models ship September 16th, except the 14 Plus which will ship October 7th.
A potentially serious security flaw has been found in iOS and Apple's WebKit web browser software. It is recommended that all iPhone users update to iOS 15.6.1 immediately to fix the issue. The same issues affect most Apple software, including iPadOS and macOS. Apple hasn't released many details, giving users time to update before more bad actors get details they could use to exploit it. But Apple says it "is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited." Presumably this means an advanced attacker, such as a state, may have already used this zero-day exploit on a high-profile target. Most users are not at risk yet, but that could change quickly as details emerge. The issue is an "out-of-bounds [memory] write issue" that gives an application the ability "to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges". Basically, it's one of the more serious security issues you can find in modern software. The issue was reported to Apple by an anonymous researcher.
Apple has released the fourth beta version of iOS 16, and it makes significant changes to the way Edit and Unsend work in the Messages app. There is now just a two-minute window to unsend an iMessage, down from 15 before. There is also now a full edit history available to all parties. Further, iMessage editing is now limited to five edits. As before, editing is only available for 15 minutes after the initial iMessage is sent. The final version of iOS 16 is expected to be released this fall.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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, 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."
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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."