Apple has released a beta version of iOS 14 to the public. Users with a compatible iPhone can choose to install the software for an early look at new features like homescreen widgets, a new App Library screen, redesigned Siri interface, Translate app, and the ability to make a third-party app the default email or web browser app. As a beta version, the software carries an extra risk of bugs, crashes, and perhaps even data loss. Some third-party apps many require a yet-to-be-released update to work properly with the new OS. Beta software should only be installed on non-critical devices where the user is willing to take that extra risk, and only after making sure any important data is backed up. Installing the beta iOS starts with opting in at Apple's Beta Program web site.
Fraunhofer HHI, the institute that has created many of the world's most popular audio/video coding and compression standards, has finalized the next standard for video: H.266, AKA Versatile Video Coding (VVC). The new standard is supposedly twice as efficient as its predecessor, H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). For example, it will be possible to store a 90-minute 4K video in just 5 GB, instead of the 10 GB that would be required with H.265/HEVC, with no loss of visual quality. The new standard can be used for saved as well as streaming video, and supports resolutions from 8K down to SD. It also supports HDR and 360º video. The standard will be licensed by an industry group that includes as its members Apple, Canon, Dolby, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Oppo, Orange, Sony, and Tencent. Companies are already designing chips for hardware-accelerated use of the new standard. Fraunhofer has committed to publishing the first software to support the standard this fall.
Apple's Safari 14 web browser — part of the forthcoming iOS 14 for iPhones — adds support for the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) API, part of the industry-standard FIDO2 specification. This will allow mobile web sites to add an option for users to quickly log in via fingerprint or Face ID instead of entering a username and password. This feature is already available in the Chrome browser on Android, and within full apps on both iOS and Android.
Apple is opening up its "Find My" service — originally launched as Find My iPhone — to third parties, enabling non-Apple devices to be located using the vast network of Apple devices in the world. The functionality is similar to Tile, although Apple's solution would provide more coverage as it would not require installation of the Tile app. It's not clear whether the service could be compatible with Tile, or compete with it. Like Tile, the new Find My service can use Bluetooth to locate devices that lack their own connectivity to the Internet. Also like Tile, the technology is designed to be encrypted, anonymous, and data- and battery-efficient.
Apple has released a full list of new features in iOS 14, which includes many not mentioned in today's WWDC keynote presentation. One notable new feature is a setting that will let users choose which app launches when a user clicks on a web link or email address. For example, in iOS 13, clicking on an email address always launches Apple's Mail app. In iOS 14, you will be able to set this to Gmail instead.
Apple today announced that the 2021 BMW 5-series will support digital car keys, letting owners use their iPhone with Wallet and NFC to unlock and start the car. Users can share key copies with others via iMessage, and choose full or restricted driving profiles. The feature works with iOS 13 and newer.
Apple has revealed iOS 14, which brings a number of new features to the OS for Apple's iPhones:
- Widgets: Apple has promoted Widgets to the main home screen. Just as Android has always allowed, you can now mix re-sizable widgets in with your app icons. A special widget called Smart Stack collects several widgets into one rectangle that lets you scroll through multiple widgets while taking up minimal home screen space.
- App Clips: A new kind of micro-app designed to let you complete a single transaction using a rich app interface, without installing a full app. App Clips are limited to 10 MB so they download quickly. App Clips can be launched from a Maps listing, a message, a QR code, or a new type of physical sticker that includes an NFC tag and a visual code similar to QR codes. App Clips can leverage Sign in with Apple and Apple Pay so users don't need to spend time creating a new account. App Clips can be used to order take-out or delivery, rent a scooter, pay for parking, and more. To help small businesses to take advantage of App Clips, Apple will work with larger services like Yelp to help them create App Clips for individual business listings.
- App Library: A new screen past the right-most home screen with auto-generated folders of apps, including Suggestions, Recently Added, Arcade, Social, etc. To make it easier to access, you can now hide infrequently-used home screens.
- Picture in Picture: Video apps can now display playing video in a floating window over other apps. (Android has supported this since 2017.)
- Translate app: Apple now has its own dedicated app for language translation. In landscape orientation, it switches to a Conversation Mode, for seamless two-way conversation with someone while both people look at the display. It auto-detects the language for each phrase spoken. The app supports English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian.
Apple and Google have started to make their new, jointly-developed Exposure Notification technology available for public use. The technology automatically tracks which other phones your phones has been near for a certain period of time, using a new, Bluetooth-based system. When one user reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, other users they have come into contact with are automatically alerted, so they can get tested. The system uses anonymous, frequently-changed tokens to preserve privacy. To use the system, users must install an official app from their local public health agency and explicitly opt in to the service. Apple and Google are only allowing one app per geographic region, and have multiple safeguards in place to protect user privacy, including a ban on collecting users' locations. The system is available now for public health agencies to develop and release their apps using the system, although not all governments plan to do so. It requires a new OS version to function. Apple released iOS 13.5 today, which includes Exposure Notification as well as other features specific to the ongoing pandemic. New versions of Android are expected soon that support Exposure Notifications. The two companies have promised a more comprehensive version of Exposure Notification in the coming months that will not require the installation of a special app, although it will remain opt-in.
Mophie's latest external battery for iPhones is the Powerstation Wireless XL, with 10,000 mAh capacity, capable of adding 55 hours of use to an iPhone. It can charge an iPhone or other Qi device wirelessly, and simultaneously fast-charge an iPhone or other USB-PD device via its USB-C port. The battery itself can be charged via Lightning, USB-C, or wirelessly. The Mophie Powerstation Wireless XL is available now for $100, from mophie.com, apple.com, and soon in Apple stores worldwide.
Apple has added a new feature to iOS that can electronically share your "Medical ID" data with emergency dispatchers when you call 911. Apple's Health app already lets you input medical info such as blood type, allergies, medical conditions, and emergency contacts. Users can opt to make this information available on an iPhone's lock screen without unlocking, so first responders can access the info when you might be unresponsive. In the forthcoming iOS version, 13.5, this data can be automatically transmitted to 911 operators in areas where emergency call centers have been upgraded to receive Enhanced Emergency Data. The feature also works in conjunction with the fall detection feature in newer Apple Watches, which automatically calls 911 if you fall and don't move for one minute.
Apple has set a date for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC): June 22nd. The conference will be held online due to the pandemic, and will be free for all developers.
Apple and Google are preparing to launch Exposure Notification, a new technology to address the COVID-19 pandemic based on the principles of contact tracing. The first phase will center around downloadable apps developed by various government public health agencies. These apps will have exclusive access to new Exposure Notification APIs in forthcoming versions of Android and iOS. Apple and Google recently announced special rules that will apply to such apps. The companies will only allow one app per geographic region. The apps can only be used for pandemic response and no other purpose. To protect privacy, the apps must minimize the amount of data they collect, and are barred from collecting location data. The apps must also gain explicit user consent for initiating Exposure Notification technology, which operates using Bluetooth in the background.
Apple today released a beta version of iOS 13.5 to developers. The new software includes two key features specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, FaceID will now detect if you're wearing a face mask and automatically prompt for a passcode as an alternate way to unlock the phone. Second, the update includes the first version of Apple and Google's COVID-19 Exposure Notifications technology, which provides an automated, opt-in alternative to traditional contact tracing. Today's beta release will help public health authorities prepare their own contact-tracing apps that will be able to use the technology when iOS 13.5 is released to everyone. Google is providing Android developers with a similar beta release of Android. Germany has already announced that it will adopt this Apple/Google technology.
A new contact-tracing technology developed by Apple and Google to address the COVID-19 pandemic will see its first release to developers on April 28th, earlier than originally planned. The technology uses Bluetooth to keep a history of which phones come near which other phones for certain periods of time, as an approximation of people who have come into contact, so that when someone tests positive for COVID-19, other people who need to be tested can be identified quickly. The technology is fully interoperable between iOS and Android phones, thanks to a unique collaboration between Google and Apple. The API being released next week will enable verified public health authorities to use the technology in their own apps. Such apps will need to be installed on a large percentage of phones for the technology to be useful in any given population. Later, Apple and Google plan to integrate a more complete contact-tracing technology into both iOS and Android, which would not require an app install. Apple and Google have designed the technology to be anonymous, voluntary, transparent, temporary, secure, and interoperable, and EU regulators are working with the companies to ensure the technology meets their strict standards in those areas.
The popular battle royale game Fortnite is finally available via Google's Play Store on Android phones. Previously, those with Android phones had to jump through hoops to download and install the game, bypassing Google's security warnings. The game's developer has been protesting Google's 30% cut of Play Store purchases, including in-app purchases. Fortnite has been available via Apple's App Store on iOS for some time, even though Apple takes the same 30%.
Apple has announced a new, second-generation iPhone SE. Just as the first iPhone SE was based on the iPhone 5, the new iPhone SE is based on the iPhone 8, with its rounded metal frame, glass back, 4.7-inch display, and TouchID fingerprint-sensing home button on the front. It has essentially the same camera hardware as the iPhone 8, but updates the processor to the newer A13 Bionic found in the current iPhone 11 series, along with the new camera features the A13 enables, such as advanced portrait modes and Smart HDR. The new iPhone SE also has faster gigabit LTE. Like the iPhone 8, it has Apple Pay, fast charging, wireless charging, an IP67 water rating, and can record 4K video. The new iPhone SE will be available in white, black, and (PRODUCT)RED, all of which have a black glass front. The version with 64 GB of storage will run $399. The new iPhone SE is also available with 128 or 256 GB of storage, for $449 or $549, respectively. Pre-orders start April 17th, with full availability on April 24th.
Apple is collecting information on COVID-19 testing locations to add to its Maps app. Apple is collecting information such as testing hours, whether a referral or appointment is required, and location type, such as drive-through.
Apple and Google will work together to build interoperable contact-tracing technology into both the Android and iOS phone OSes. The technology will use Bluetooth — which has a typical range of about 30 feet — to keep track of everyone you come near, so that public health workers can quickly look for additional new infections when someone is diagnosed with COVID19 (Coronavirus). This new OS-level technology will have an API designed to integrate with official apps offered by public health authorities. Google and Apple have committed to making "user privacy and security central to the design". The technology will roll out in two phases. First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will build a full contact-tracing function into each OS that is opt-in and works without a special app.
Apple has acquired the popular weather app Dark Sky. Dark Sky announced that it is pulling its Android and Wear OS apps from app stores, and existing installations on those platforms will stop working on July 1st, 2020. The company is also phasing out its API service, which is used by other apps and services. Dark Sky won't accept any new applications to use its API going forward, and the API service will shut down at the end of 2021. The iOS version of the Dark Sky app will continue to be sold in Apple's App Store.
Apple has now fully launched Universal Purchase, a new feature of its App Store that lets customers make a single app purchase to gain access to that app across all of Apple's OS platforms, including macOS and iOS. For example, buying an app on your iPhone would automatically give you access to not only the iOS version, but also the macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS versions of that same app, if they exist. Developers need to update their apps and App Store listings to support Universal Purchase.
Apple has updated its rules for iOS apps to now allow push notifications for marketing purposes, as long as users opt in and are allowed to later opt out. The company made several other changes, such as tighter restrictions on dating and fortune-telling apps.
Mophie has a new line of Powerstation portable battery packs that are designed specifically to support the connectors and charging options of the iPhone 11 series. All three of the new Powerstations can charge an iPhone quickly using 18W fast charging. The Powerstations themselves are charged with a built-in Lightning power input, for easy use with existing Apple chargers. The standard Powerstation has a 6,000 mAh battery and outputs power via a USB-C port designed to work with the USB-C-to-Lightning cable included with the newest iPhones. The step-up Powerstation Plus is similar except it has a built-in Lightning cable instead of USB-C port. The larger PowerStation Plus XL is similar to the smaller Powerstation Plus, but has an 8,000 mAh battery and adds Qi wireless charging (at 5W) for charging an additional device. All three new Powerstations also have a full-size USB port for charging other devices using common USB-A cables. All three are available now in black, gray, navy, and pink, from mophie.com, apple.com and in select Apple stores. The Powerstation is priced at $60; the Powerstation Plus at $80; and the Powerstation Plus XL at $100.
Apple's icloud.com web site is now available in a mobile-friendly version with access to four iCloud services: Notes, Photos, Reminders, and Find iPhone. Although it seems designed to work in both Apple an Android mobile web browsers, key features — such as editing notes and uploading photos — are not currently working in Google's Chrome browser on Android. The mobile web site does not yet offer access to other services available in the desktop version of the web site, such as Mail, Contacts, Calendar, iCloud Drive, Pages, and Find Friends.
Apple's WebKit web browser engine team has proposed a new standard for SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) that would allow the process to be automated, requiring no extra user interaction when logging into a web site on a mobile device. Currently, SMS-based 2FA requires that users receive and view a text message containing a one-time passcode (OTP) that is typically a six-digit number, then enter that number on a special login page. In some cases, the process can be automated, but it is not standardized. Mobile OSes have attempted to semi-automate the process by offering one-tap copy-and-paste options for OTPs. Apple's proposed standard would include a special login URL in the text message body. This would allow mobile browsers and/or OSes to complete the login automatically, as well as provide protection against phishing attempts. Google's web browser engine team is also on board with the proposal.
Apple today announced that it has completed the US roll-out of revamped, more-detailed map data for its Maps app. Apple claims the new map data offers "faster and more accurate navigation and comprehensive views of roads, buildings, parks, airports, malls and more". Apple also today added real-time transit information for Miami. The new map data will begin rolling out across Europe in the coming months.
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.