Amazon, Apple, and Google have joined forces on a new working group within the ZigBee Alliance to create a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products. The new group, called Project Connected Home over IP, will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of the new protocol, including a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification. By basing the new standard on IP (internet protocol) technology, the need for proprietary smart home "hubs" should be reduced or eliminated, and proven security technologies can be used. The first version of the standard will be designed to work over three different radio types: Wi-Fi (up to and including Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth LE 4.1-5.0, and 802.15.4 (using Google's Thread at 2.4 GHz). The first compatible devices may implement the new protocol over any one (or more than one) of the three radio types, in addition to existing smart home protocols. Rather than starting from scratch, the group intends to accelerate development by leveraging existing, market-tested technology contributed by the founding companies. Google will contribute its Weave and Thread technologies, both of which are used in its Nest products. Apple will contribute HomeKit, Amazon will contribute its Alexa Smart Home technology, and the Zigbee Alliance will contribute its Dotdot data models. Other participating companies include Samsung SmartThings, IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Somfy, Resideo, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, and Wulian. The Working Group has a goal to release a draft specification and a preliminary reference open source implementation in late 2020.
Apple Arcade, the company's subscription service for exclusive, curated games, is now available for $50/year upfront. The monthly price is $5/month, which works out to $60/year.
Apple has released iOS 13.3, which brings new abilities to restrict who your kids can contact and when. It also supports USB security keys that use the FIDO2 standard.
iOS 13.2 is now available from Apple. It adds the previously-announced Deep Fusion feature to the iPhone 11 (and 11 Pro) camera. The update also adds new emoji and Siri privacy settings. Deep Fusion takes multiple exposures with each shot, and uses machine learning to combine the best parts of each exposure, producing photos with "better texture, details, and reduced noise, especially for mid to low light scenes."
Apple AirPods Pro are the company's new premium true wireless earbuds, adding active noise cancellation (ANC) to silence background noise. 200 times a second, the H1 chip uses an outer microphone to detect outside noise and generate a counter-sound. It also uses an inner microphone to cancel any remaining background noise. An optional Transparency Mode allows outside sound in, but "leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active", so users can hear announcements and safety hazards. Unlike standard AirPods, the Pro model is designed to seal against your ear canals. A special vent system equalizes pressure for comfort. Three sizes of silicone ear tips are included and an "Ear Tip Fit Test" feature measures sound levels to tell you whether you're using the correct size. Adaptive EQ automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of music to the shape of an individual’s ear. They're rated IPx4 for basic sweat- and water-resistance. The buds are controlled via new "force sensors" on the stem. Like standard AirPods, the new model responds to Siri requests, supports Audio Sharing, and can be ordered with custom engraving. The buds themselves offer 5 hours of battery life. The included charging case — which supports Qi wireless charging — offers up to 24 hours of total battery life. The AirPods Pro are available to order online today for $249. They will start shipping and be available in stores on October 30th.
The popular Mophie Juice Pack Access battery case accessory is now available for Apple's iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. The cases include a large extra battery that keeps the iPhone topped up via wireless charging, and can themselves be charged wirelessly. Wireless charging leaves the iPhone's Lightning port free. The Juice Pack Access includes its own USB-C port for charging. Pass-through charging will charge the phone first, and then the case. The versions for the 11 and 11 Pro add a 2,000 mAh battery to the phone, while the case for the 11 Pro Max contains a 2,200 mAh battery. All versions are $100. They're available now in black, and coming soon in pink and (PRODUCT)RED.
At launch, Verizon and T-Mobile won't support RCS on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. RCS is an industry-standard messaging protocol designed to replace SMS and MMS, offering many of the features of Apple's iMessage. Verizon supported RCS on the Pixel 3. T-Mobile has been a vocal proponent of RCS, but only supports it on Samsung phones.
Google today launched Play Pass, a new $5/month subscription service for Android users that provides full access to over 350 games and apps, ad-free and without in-app purchases. Google is offering a ten-day free trial as well as special intro pricing of just $2/month for the first 12 months. The collection of games and apps is curated by Google. Games and apps part of Play Pass at launch include Terraria, Monument Valley, Risk, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, AccuWeather, and many more. Google will add new titles every month. Developers are invited to express interest, but Google decides which developers to invite into the program. The service is similar to Apple Arcade, a $5/month subscription games service Apple just launched for devices using its platforms. Google is leveraging existing titles while Apple Arcade games are all exclusive to that service.
Getting a new iPhone? The back may be a lovely honed finish this year, but it's still all glass, so consider getting a case. We took a look at a few options from three established companies offering good protection at affordable prices. And since design is a core part of the iPhone's appeal, we also focused on options that show off or complement the Apple aesthetic, including various types of clear cases. These cases are all shipping now, support wireless charging, and cost $40 or less.
Apple will release iOS version 13.1 on Sept. 24th, a week earlier than originally planned, reports Engadget. Many reviewers and users have reported that iOS version 13.0 is unusually buggy.
The FCC this week granted permission for initial commercial service to commence in the unlicensed part of band 48, also known as CBRS, a radio frequency band spanning the range of 3550 - 3700 MHz. In a new and unique arrangement, consumer phones will be able to cellular technologies like LTE in an unlicensed band that also has incumbent users such as the military and satellite operators. To prevent interference, five companies will operate central databases that coordinate access to the band in real-time. Having proven their systems in certified lab tests, it is these five Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators that have received permission from the FCC to begin "initial commercial deployment", which is both a real-world test phase and a commercial launch. The five approved Administrators are Google, Sony, Federated Wireless, Amdocs, and CommScope. Verizon has been most vocal among the major US carriers about deploying service in band 48 for its customers. The most recent flagship phones from Samsung, Apple, LG, OnePlus, and Razer already support band 48. In mid-2020, the FCC plans to auction a different part of the CBRS band that will be licensed in a more traditional way for deployment of 5G service.
Walmart and Verizon are both offering substantial discounts and offers for customers buying a new iPhone this year. New and existing customers of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint can pre-order the new iPhone 11 models from walmart.com starting this Friday and receive $50 off the usual phone price when choosing a device payment plan and picking up their phone in a Walmart store (starting Sept. 20). Existing customers of Verizon and AT&T can instead opt to have the phone shipped to them with free two-day shipping, and receive the same $50-off pricing. Separately, Verizon is offering deals on iPhones for customers activating new Unlimited lines, and deals on other Apple devices for all customers. Customers activating a new Unlimited line can get up to $700 toward a new iPhone 11 (making the base model iPhone 11 free) with device trade-in. The trade-in credit of up to $500 is applied over 24 months, with the remaining $200 delivered as a prepaid card. Or customers can get a second iPhone Xr for free when purchasing the first iPhone Xr on a payment plan and activating a new Unlimited line. Verizon customers can also get a $250 discount off any iPad when purchasing any iPhone (with both devices on Verizon payment plan; discount applied over 24 months.) Verizon customers purchasing a new Apple Watch can get a second one for up to 50% off.
Apple's new iPhone 11 series of phones includes a new U1 chip, which uses ultra-wideband technology to determine the relative location of other devices with U1 chips nearby. Apple promises "amazing new capabilities" thanks to the new chip. The first new feature to utilize the U1 is AirDrop, which now lets you choose who to send a file to by simply pointing your phone at theirs.
Apple today announced the iPhone 11 Pro, which comes in two sizes. The smaller model has a 5.8-inch screen like the iPhone Xs, while the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 6.5-inch screen, just like the iPhone Xs Max. Both iPhone 11 Pro models have three 12-megapixel cameras on the back: one "wide", one ultra-wide, and one telephoto, together providing a total 4x optical zoom. The matte glass back and camera surround is milled from a single sheet of glass, set into a stainless steel frame. The OLED display has been improved with HDR, Dolby Vision, 1200 nits peak brightness, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, P3 color gamut, 458 ppi, and True Tone. Apple calls the new display "Super Retina XDR". Audio has also been improved with Dolby Atmos and spatial audio. Battery life has also been improved, adding 4 hours for the smaller size and 5 hours for the Max, and a 18W fast charger is now included. Like the cheaper iPhone 11 announced today, the iPhone 11 Pro is powered by Apple's new A13 Bionic chip, which is 20% faster than last year's A12 chip while using less power. It also include Face ID, IPX8 waterproofing, and supports slow-motion video with the selfie camera, which Apple calls a "Slowfie". The main camera now supports portrait mode for pets and objects, and has a new automatic night mode. In the fall, a software update will add a new camera feature called Deep Fusion, which combines multiple quick photos with one long-exposure using computational photography to create a higher-quality photo in lower-light situations. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in Midnight Green, Space Gray, silver, and gold. The smaller model starts at $999, while the Max starts at $1099. Pre-orders begin at 8am Eastern on Friday, September 13th, with full retail launch on September 20th.
The new iPhone 11 from Apple sports a new dual-camera system with two 12-megapixel cameras, one "wide" and one "ultra-wide". It replaces the iPhone Xr and has the same 6.1-inch display size. It's the most affordable of today's three new iPhones at just $699. It's powered by Apple's new A13 Bionic chip, which is 20% faster than last year's A12 chip while using less power. It also include Face ID, IPX8 waterproofing, 1 hour extra battery life compared to the iPhone Xr, and Wi-Fi 6. The front camera has also been updated with higher resolution, wider field of view, and the ability to shoot both 4K video and slow-motion video, which Apple calls a "Slowfie". The main camera also now supports portrait mode for pets and objects, and has a new automatic night mode. The iPhone 11 has a milled glass back and comes in six colors: cream, yellow, mint, lavender, Product Red, and black.
Apple today announced Apple Watch Series 5, an update that brings a new always-on display. The new display can stay on in a dim mode all day (18 hours) thanks to LTPO display technology, variable refresh rate, and an ambient light sensor. The new Watch also adds a compass sensor, which works with Maps and third-party apps, and has it own app and complication. The new Watch is otherwise similar to last year's Series 4. Series 5 is available in a variety of materials, including white ceramic, brushed titanium, and black titanium. The base model starts at $399, and the cellular version starts at $499. Pre-orders start today, with retail availability on September 20th. Apple is also keeping the basic Series 3 Watch in its lineup, and dropping the price to $199.
Apple Arcade, the company's game subscription service, will launch next week, on September 19th. It will cost $4.99 per month. One subscription will cover a whole family, and the company will offer a one month free trial. 100 exclusive games will be available "in the coming weeks", with more added over time. The games run across all major Apple platforms, including iOS, tvOS, and macOS.
Apple is opening up its official iPhone repair program to allow independent repair shops of all sizes access to genuine Apple parts, tools, training, repair manuals, and diagnostics. Apple had previously restricted these resources to Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs), which now includes all Best Buy locations. But now any repair shop with an Apple-certified technician on staff can offer Apple-sanctioned service for the most common out-of-warranty iPhone repairs. Employee certification is free of charge. The new program is called the Independent Repair Provider Program. Participating businesses will receive Apple-genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics at the same cost as AASPs. Interested businesses can apply starting today.
GlobalFoundries is going on the attack against TMSC over 16 patents that cover crucial aspects of cutting-edge chips used in a wide range of products, including most phones. Both companies manufacture such chips. TMSC's customers include Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Marvell, and Broadcom. GlobalFoundries is filing lawsuits this week in both the US and Germany — including with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) — seeking orders that will prevent the import of chips produced with the infringing technology, and products containing those chips. If successful, it would essentially block the import of all modern phones to the US.
Apple has updated Apple Wallet to support additional vendors of systems that power contactless student ID cards, enabling a number of new colleges and universities to roll out support for storing a student ID card in Apple Wallet. The feature lets students use their iPhone or Apple Watch to access campus facilities and pay for meals, laundry, and other purchases where a student ID is accepted as payment. The feature supports multiple account balances per card, such as Food, Laundry, Flex, etc. The new card-system vendors supported are CBORD, Allegion, and HID. Previously, only Blackboard Transact was supported. New schools supporting Apple Wallet include Clemson University, Georgetown University, University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, University of Vermont, and Arkansas State University. Schools that already support Apple Wallet include Duke University, University of Oklahoma, University of Alabama, Temple University, and Johns Hopkins University.
Apple is expanding its bug bounty program to solicit security vulnerabilities from security researchers. The program will now be open to all, not just researchers on pre-approved list. The bug bounties have also increased from $200,000 to as much as $1 million for the most serious bugs, such as hacking the kernel — the core of any OS — with zero clicks required by the iPhone owner. Another $500,000 will be given to those who can find a "network attack requiring no user interaction." There’s also a 50% bonus for hackers who can find weaknesses in software before it's released. Apple is also extending the program to watchOS. The announcements were made in a talk by Apple's head of security engineering Ivan Krstić at the annual Black Hat conference. Krstić said the bug bounty program has been a success to date, with 50 serious bugs reported since the 2016 launch.
Google today issued a blog post detailing two key new features of the forthcoming Pixel 4: Face Unlock and Motion Sense mid-air hand gestures. Face Unlock is designed to be faster and more seamless than Apple's implementation. It uses four infrared components: a dot projector, flood illuminator, and two cameras. With these components, it can recognize your face from any angle as you lift it, and fully unlock before you're ready to touch the screen. Face Unlock will also work for secure payments and app authentication. The Pixel 4 will also include a RADAR chip developed by Google as Project Soli. This enables Motion Sense, which can detect mid-air hand gestures made in front of the phone, such as waving your hand to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls. The sensors for these new features take up space above the display, creating a "forehead" instead of the notch or all-screen design that has become standard in high-end phones recently. Both features keep data locally for privacy. Facial recognition data is stored in Google's custom Titan M security chip.
Apple has agreed to pay $1 billion for the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. The deal includes approximately 2,200 Intel employees, along with associated equipment and leases. The deal also includes numerous related patents. Intel will retain access to that intellectual property for non-smartphone applications. Apple's Johny Srouji, senior vice president of Hardware Technologies, said the deal "will help expedite our development on future products and allow Apple to further differentiate moving forward." The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. In April, Apple reached a deal with Qualcomm to use their modem chips exclusively, in order to resolve a long-running patent dispute. At the same time, Intel canceled its 5G modem project, which was intended for future iPhones. Prior to the Qualcomm deal, Apple had used both Qualcomm and Intel modems in its iPhones.
The latest beta version of iOS 13 includes a new feature in FaceTime called Attention Correction, which subtly alters the image of your face in real time to make it look like you're looking into the camera even when you're looking down at the screen to see the other person. It only seems to work on the very newest generation of iPhone models, (Xs, Xs Max, and Xr, but not the original iPhone X,) indicating that the feature may require the A12, Apple's newest processor chip.
Apple has made a public beta available of iOS 13, the next major version of the software that powers iPhones. Major new features include swipe gesture typing, a new version of CarPlay, Dark Mode, richer Maps content, a new Shortcuts app, audio sharing, and smarter AR. Also, apps load faster and Siri has a more natural-sounding voice that's easier to understand. The beta software is available today for users who opt in to Apple's beta testing program. The final version is expected this fall.
An Israeli company that supplies law enforcement agencies worldwide announced that the newest version of its tool to access locked phones can access almost any smartphone, including Apple devices running iOS 7-12.3 and most Android phones. The company, Cellebrite, promises that its new UFED Premium device offers nearly complete access to Apple devices and "flagship Samsung devices", as well as support for accessing the file system on "popular device models from Motorola, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi." The company boasts that its device lets law enforcement "Bypass or determine locks and perform a full file system extraction on any iOS device, or a physical extraction or full file system (File-Based Encryption) extraction on many high-end Android devices.... gain access to 3rd party app data, chat conversations, downloaded emails and email attachments, deleted content and more". Apple has added features to iOS in recent years to thwart this kind of access, and is rolling out iOS 13 this summer and fall.
Apple today announced iOS 13 with a long list of new features for iPhones. The Apple text keyboard now supports swipe gesture typing, which Apple calls Quick Path. Users can now grant apps access to location data on an as-needed basis, and prevent apps from gathering location data using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Apple also introduced its own universal sign-in service available to all web sites and apps. Sign in with Apple does not track users across the web like other services. Real names and/or email addresses are only shared with explicit permission, and Apple will optionally generate a unique email address for each app, that forwards to your real email address, keeping your real email address private. iOS 13 includes a dark mode that defaults to dark backgrounds in most apps. A revamped Reminders app supports natural language entry and attachments. An updated Siri uses neural text-to-speech technology to sound more natural and be easier to understand. A new option lets users send spam calls directly to voicemail. The Shortcuts feature now has its own app, which analyzes your usage patterns to create Suggested Automations. Enterprise users can now set up separate iCloud accounts for personal and work use. The latest Maps app supports Collections of favorite locations. It also adds Look Around, which is like Google's Street View, but supports smoother 3D animations when moving around. In Messages, you can now choose to share your name and/or photo when messaging someone for the first time. The camera app supports adjustable studio lighting effects and new Instagram-like editing options for photos and videos. iOS 13 also includes an Audio Sharing feature for sharing whatever you're listening to with another iPhone user wirelessly. When using AirPods, users can now have incoming messages (from any app) read aloud, and reply by voice. iOS 13 also includes performance tweaks such as smaller app updates and faster app launches. The update will be available for iPhones this fall, with a "public seed" version in July, and a developer beta available today.
Apple today announced watchOS 6 for Apple Watches. The update adds a full App Store directly on the watch, offering independent apps, which no longer require a companion app on an iOS device. Apple also added a new streaming audio API for live sports and more as well as support for audiobooks. A new Noise app continuously monitors sounds levels to detect loud levels that could damage your hearing. Also new is a Cycle Tracking app for menstrual cycles and fertility, also coming to the Health app in iOS. A voice memo and calculator app have also been added, including a tip calculator.
A federal judge in San Jose sided with the Federal Trade Commission in its case against Qualcomm, ruling that the company unlawfully suppressed competition in the market for cellphone chips and used its dominant position to exact excessive licensing fees. Several practices were singled out, including: charging royalties on a percentage of a phone's price, threatening to cut off access to its chips when negotiating patent royalties, and exclusive supply agreements with phone makers like Apple that block potential rivals like Intel. The judge said Qualcomm must submit to monitoring for the next seven years to ensure it abides by the remedies. Qualcomm issued a statement saying it will immediately seek a stay of the judgment and an expedited appeal.
ARM has stopped doing business with Huawei, potentially ending Huawei's mobile chip business. Essentially all current processors for mobile phones are based on ARM technology and intellectual property. Crucial processor and SoC chips from Qualcomm and Apple are based on ARM designs. Similarly, Huawei's own Kirin chips rely on ARM intellectual property (IP). All major mobile OSes, such as Android, are designed to work on ARM's architecture. The US government recently barred US companies from doing business with Huawei, cutting off Huawei's access to hardware from Qualcomm and software from Google. Huawei was relying on its own Kirin chips to continue making phones independently of Qualcomm, but Kirin chips face an uncertain future without access to ARM IP. This challenges Huawei's future ability to make phones and sell them outside of China. ARM is headquartered in Cambridge, UK and it owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, but ARM has significant offices in the US and its designs contain "US origin technology".
The Steam Link app — which lets you play Steam games on your PC or Mac remotely on another device such as a phone, tablet, or TV — is now available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Unlike the Android version, it does not support new game purchases within the Steam Link app, to comply with Apple's App Store rules. The app supports Bluetooth game controllers.
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that an antitrust lawsuit can proceed against Apple for the way it runs its App Store. Today's ruling only affirms that the consumers bringing the suit have the right to do so; it does not touch on the merits of the case. The case will now proceed in lower courts, which may take years. At issue is whether Apple can require that apps be purchased through its store, where it takes a 30% cut and imposes rules on pricing that may inflate prices.
A redesigned version of Android Auto will roll out this summer. The biggest change is the ability to control two apps at once, with one taking up the main screen, and the other displaying limited controls and/or info in a widget within the persistent bar at the bottom of the screen. For example, the main screen can show navigation maps while Spotify controls appear in the bottom bar. The bottom bar also swaps out app shortcuts for a new voice assistant button, and a button that summons a new notification center. Android Auto can also now automatically launch navigation and resume your music each time you start your car. An expanded layout will appear on cars with wider displays. Android Auto lets an Android phone power a car's dashboard touch screen with an interface optimized for driving with minimal distraction. It's similar to Apple's CarPlay feature. More than 500 car models from 50 different brands support Android Auto.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.