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From The Editors Technology

Apple Maps is Getting a Complete Revamp

Apple Maps has long been languishing in the shadows of world-class maps apps like Google Maps and Waze, to name a couple.

It was about time the Cupertino, California-based tech giant did something about it to stay at par with the competition, if not get ahead of it.

Apple, therefore, decided to rebuild Apple Maps from scratch, using first-party data, if the company’s Friday (June 29) announcement is anything to go by.

MacRumors reported that Apple will be “rebuilding its Maps app ‘from the ground up’ with street-level data collected from its fleet of Apple Maps vehicles, high-resolution satellite imagery, and anonymized, random segments of navigation sessions from iPhone users, which Apple refers to as “probe data.”

To many, the “probe data” bit may come across as a creepy proposition because of privacy and data protection concerns.

However, Apple says it’s doing it the ethical way by collecting data anonymously and in parts – all in the interest of user privacy.

“We specifically don’t collect data, even from point A to point B,” explained Cue. “We collect data — when we do it — in an anonymous fashion, in subsections of the whole, so we couldn’t even say that there is a person that went from point A to point B. We’re collecting the segments of it. As you can imagine, that’s always been a key part of doing this. Honestly, we don’t think it buys us anything [to collect more]. We’re not losing any features or capabilities by doing this.”

By the way, iPhone users can always disable “probe data” collection from their device settings by following these simple steps:

Settings >> Privacy >> Location Services >> Maps >> Never

Apple will begin rolling out its new Maps app in the coming weeks, making the updated mapping available to iOS 12 beta users in the San Francisco and the Bay Area, in the first phase of the overhaul.

In the next phase, the company proposes to expand the new-look Apple Maps to cover all of Northern California by fall, this year.

In the final phase, we should be looking at a full-fledged national rollout across all iOS versions, over the next year.

According to Tech Crunch’s Matthew Panzarino, who had a detailed discussion on the subject with Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, the revamped Apple Maps will guarantee a much more enhanced visual experience, featuring “more detailed ground cover, foliage, pools, pedestrian pathways and more” and will be more “responsive to changes in roadways and construction.”

Basically, Apple will rely heavily on its own resources, including its fleet of mapping vehicles, satellite imagery, and probe data, for collecting the requisite data for its app.

This does not mean that the company will totally do away with third-party providers like Amsterdam-based TomTom NV, Apple told Reuters on Friday.

However, what Apple did not tell the London-based news agency was how it would use the third party in its new scheme of things, compared to its previous association with the Dutch company.

Whatever the case, TomTom shares witnessed a drop in the wake of the news.

Panzarino observes that the new Apple Maps will have all the necessary first-party data to “accurately display foliage like grass and trees, pools, parking lots, exact building shapes, sports areas like baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, and pedestrian pathways that are commonly walked but previously unmapped.”

“Since we introduced this six years ago — we won’t rehash all the issues we’ve had when we introduced it — we’ve done a huge investment in getting the map up to par,” Cue told Panzarino.

“When we launched, a lot of it was all about directions and getting to a certain place. Finding the place and getting directions to that place,’ he said.

“We’ve done a huge investment of making millions of changes, adding millions of locations, updating the map and changing the map more frequently. All of those things over the past six years” added the Apple SVP.

Cue also said that further improvements would see Apple Maps reach the next level.
“We wanted to take this to the next level,” he said. “We have been working on trying to create what we hope is going to be the best map app in the world, taking it to the next step. That is building all of our own map data from the ground up.”

Cue is of the opinion that no other company is doing the kind of work that Apple has undertaken, going on to say that his company has maintained a good degree of secrecy about the app project and that the new Maps would be rolled out in the U.S. “section by section”, over the next year.

“We don’t think there’s anybody doing this level of work that we’re doing,” he said. “We haven’t announced this. We haven’t told anybody about this. It’s one of those things that we’ve been able to keep pretty much a secret.

Nobody really knows about it. We’re excited to get it out there. Over the next year, we’ll be rolling it out, section by section in the US,” he added.

Cue’s claim to secrecy is, somewhat, exaggerated when you consider that the conspicuous LiDAR-equipped Apple Maps vehicles have been at it, all over the country since 2015.

They have even surveyed parts of, at least, ten other countries, including Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in pursuance of its global designs for Apple Maps, but we don’t have a timeline, yet.

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From The Editors Technology

Apple Watch Operating System Upgrade “watchOS 5” is Coming Soon

At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018, held earlier this month, Apple took the wraps off the next-generation software for its smartwatches.

They are calling it the watchOS 5, which is not really a surprise for anybody, considering it’s an upgrade of the previous-gen watchOS 4.

The much-improved software, boasting scores of new features, will be made available as a free update, sometime later this year; there’s a good chance that the Cupertino-based company will release it during its traditional September event.

Apple has, however, withdrawn the beta version of the update it launched for developers immediately after the June 4 keynote at the WWDC, reportedly, because it bricked some Apple Watch devices.

For those who may not know, a device is said to be bricked when its software has got corrupted beyond repair.

A corrected beta, however, will be released soon.

So, let’s just go right ahead and check out all the new features and upgrades that the watchOS 5 has in store for Apple Watch users.

ACTIVITY APP

Activity app competitions

The most exciting update to the Activity App is the inclusion of Competitions, a feature that makes fitness more competitive and, hence, more effective.

It will allow you to challenge your friends to “Close the Rings” over a period lasting seven days, throughout which you’ll receive notifications, informing you about your competition’s progress and motivating you to keep at it.

Activity app’s new Awards tab

Whoever manages to accumulate the most points and closes the maximum number of rings in the Activity App, over the seven-day course of the competition, will be declared the winner and awarded a special medal in the new Awards tab of the Activity App.

Start workout/end workout reminder

Another handy feature in the Activity App is the ‘start workout” and “end workout” notifications, especially for the absentminded types, who are likely to forget to start, or even stop, their workouts on their Apple Watch device.

WORKOUTS APP

Addition of 2 new workouts – Hiking and Yoga

The workouts app of the watchOS 5 now has two new exercises, Hiking and Yoga, added to it, taking the total number of workouts in the app to fourteen.

In both the workouts, the app will monitor the number of calories you burn during your exercise minutes.

Automatic workout detection

One of the biggest upgrades to the workouts app is the automatic workout detection feature, which Apple claims is designed for the “most popular workouts on Apple Watch,” including running, walking, rowing, swimming, and elliptical.

Based on your heart rate and movement, the automatic workout detection feature can sense when you are working out and sends you a notification suggesting the correct workout for you.

Many Apple Watch users forget to stop the workout on their Apple Watch after they have completed their regimen; here again, the feature senses the slowing down of your motion and your heart rate and prompts you to end the exercise.

Automatic workout detection also gives you credit for completed workouts.
Rolling miles (splits of preceding miles)

The Rolling miles feature is another brand new metric on the watchOS 5 Workouts App, which keeps track of your pace for your previous mile, as well as your average and current pace.

Pace alerts

The Workout App also boasts a new pace alert for outdoor running that alerts you when you’re ahead or lagging in your pace – a feature that should go down well with outdoor runners.

Cadence

Cadence tracks the number of steps you’ve taken in a minute (steps per minute, or SPM) as you run or walk, both indoors as well as outdoors.

WALKIE –TALKIE

The new Walkie-Talkie feature of the watchOS 5 allows you to add friends, who are also Apple Watch users, to the app.

Once set up, you can communicate with them over Wi-Fi or LTE through voice messages.

While the walkie-talkie is a new inclusion in the upcoming upgrade, it is not a new idea, though, as Apple was supposed to include this feature in the original Apple Watch, all the way back in 2014.

PODCASTS APP

The Podcasts App is making its debut on the watchOS 5 and it’s a complete no-brainer, as it allows you to stream podcasts directly to your wrist with the help of Siri, and even set it up to automatically sync your favorite podcasts with the app.

Also, a new feature will allow developers to sync music, audiobooks and meditation sessions to the Apple Watch so you can enjoy these third-party offerings offline.

SIRI UPDATES

The watchOS 5 brings some improvements to the Siri Apple Watch face, as it will now feature sports scores, maps and heart rate data.

With the help of machine learning, the new Siri watch face will now be able to show you the right cards, based on time, location, and day of the week.

watchOS 5 will also allow you to add third-party Siri cards to the Apple Watch.

Here are some of the other mention-worthy features of the watchOS 5

CONTROL CENTER & NOTIFICATION CENTER

  • Access Notification Center from inside apps
  • Grouped notifications
  • Instant manage notifications
  • Access Control Center from inside apps
  • Rearrange Control Center toggles
  • Airplane mode toggle colors
  • Connect directly to a Wi-Fi network

WORLD CLOCK APP

  • Different location list color scheme
  • Add and remove cities
  • Sunrise and sunset text replace glyphs

MAIL APP

  • New “checking for mail” text on pull to refresh
  • New “last updated” text at top of inbox
  • View web content previously not viewable on watch
  • New Send and cancel buttons when composing new email
  • New redesigned buttons when filling in Mail fields

watchOS 5 COMPATIBILITY

The only apparent downside to the watchOS 5 upgrade is its incompatibility with all generations of Apple Watch devices (it is available only for Apple Watch Series 1).

Plus, you need to have an iPhone 5S, or a later model, with nothing less than iOS 12 onboard, to be able to download the free upgrade.

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From The Editors Technology

Copying iPhone Features Costs Samsung $539 Million in Damages

In a years-long patent dispute between tech giants Apple and Samsung, a California jury has ruled in favor of the former, ordering Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pay Apple Inc $539 million in damages.

The Thursday verdict came after nearly five days of deliberations, bringing the hard-fought legal battle between the tech rivals to a near conclusion, hopefully.

Back in 2011, Apple had filed a lawsuit against Samsung, accusing the South Korean company of incorporating patented iPhone features into their own products to reap unlawful benefits from copied technology.

Although Samsung was found guilty of infringing on some of Apple’s patents in a 2012 trial, disagreements over the penalty amount of $1.05 billion awarded to Apple led U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to bring the damages down to $548 million.

With no consensus in sight, the matter escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2016, which ruled that a lower court would have to reassess $399 million of the $548 million awarded to Apple.

However, Samsung had already paid Apple the $548 million in December 2015, which included the $399 million that Supreme Court had asked a lower court to re-examine.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Samsung was based on the premise that profits made from a product shouldn’t be awarded in full if the patent infringement is limited to just one component of the product, which is a fair argument according to Sarah Burstein – a patent law professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Burstein, who has predicted that Samsung will take it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, said that the decision seems like a middle path between the companies’ individual contentions and does not really offer much in terms of clarity on the question of awarding full profit for limited infringement.

“This decision just means we are going to have more uncertainty,” Burstein said. “Smart tech industry players are waiting to see what the Federal Circuit does. This is just one jury applying one test.”

The ruling was based on the argument that it was unfair to penalize Samsung for all the profits the company made from its products that had incorporated iPhone technology, when, actually, the infringement may have been limited to a few patents only.

In the course of the deliberations that led to Thursday’s judgment, Apple contended that Samsung was liable to pay the company more than $1 billion but Samsung’s lawyers argued that the $399 being reviewed should be reduced to $28 million.

However, the Thursday ruling took the middle path and held Samsung liable for $533.3 million for copying design patents and $5.3 million for infringement of utility patents, bringing the total damages to be paid by the Korean company to $538.6 million.

The court’s decision, however, didn’t go down well with Samsung, which said that the ruling was against the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in its favor and that the company would reconsider its options.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in favor of Samsung on the scope of design patent damages,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will consider all options to obtain an outcome that does not hinder creativity and fair competition for all companies and consumers.”

Apple, on the other hand, seemed pleased with the verdict, saying that the case was less about money and more about principles and that Samsung had blatantly infringed on its patents.

“We believe deeply in the value of design, and our teams work tirelessly to create innovative products that delight our customers,” Apple said in a statement. “This case has always been about more than money. Apple ignited the smartphone revolution with iPhone and it is a fact that Samsung blatantly copied our design.”

In the earlier trial, Apple’s legal representative Seth Waxman had based his case on the argument that design patent infringement meant the entire smartphone was in question and was not just limited to individual components.

He said that design patent included the entire “thing to which the design is applied” and that “design is not a component.”

Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan’s counter-argument was that “a smartphone is smart because it contains hundreds of thousands of the technologies that make it work.”

Justice Elena Kagan had given the analogy of the Volkswagen Beetle at the time, saying that its design represented “the thing that makes the product distinctive,” but she sort of balanced that out by adding that “the car has to run, and it has to do all the other things that cars do.”

Intellectual property litigator and Goodwin Procter partner, Neel Chatterjee, argues that even though a computer does not work without a power cord, it doesn’t mean that the computer’s primary value depends on it.

“Some people could go to court and say without a power cord it wouldn’t work so I should get a bigger slice of the overall patent royalties due associated with the device. That’s an extreme example. But you can imagine when there are thousands of patents that cover something like a Samsung phone there’s going to be a lot of fight about relative importance, and what factors you look to determine their relative importance to value the patent.”

Before the start of this latest trial, Mark McKenna, a professor at the Notre Dame Law School, told USA TODAY that it wouldn’t be easy for the jury to determine the outcome of the case.

“The Supreme Court decision struck me as obviously right,” McKenna said.

“But it didn’t do anybody a favor by punting on the hard question which is ‘How do I identify those circumstances where this is worth less than the whole?’

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From The Editors Technology

Apple Has a Powerful AR|VR 16K Headset in the Works, Reports Suggest

There are leaks and, then, there are deliberate leaks.

While we may never know to which category this one belongs, the fact remains that Apple is developing a whopping 16K headset that will integrate, both, AR and VR technologies, if Shara Tibken’s April 27 report for CNET is anything to go by.

Codenamed T288, the project is still in its nascent stages but reports have it that it could well see a 2020 release; however, there’s always the likelihood of the program getting scrapped midway.

Meanwhile, Apple has declined to comment in this regard.

It doesn’t really come as a surprise, given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apparent obsession with augmented reality, as has been evident in his uncharacteristic public acknowledgments of the technology’s potential at various forums, even going to the extent of comparing it to the revolutionary, game-changing smartphone concept, with particular reference to the iPhone.

“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone,” Cook told The Independent’s Steven Musil during a Feb. 12 interview.

“I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining. I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology,” he said.

While virtual reality is all about immersing VR-enabled device users into exciting new digital territories, augmented reality, actually, superimposes image and data over real-world situations.

Nintendo’s Pokemon Go is the best AR example that immediately comes to mind, where the game’s characters appear on the smartphone displays of players in real places the player is exploring.

At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, last year, the iPhone maker introduced its ARKit, a tool that helps developers build augmented reality apps for iPhones and iPads.

Despite its penchant for augmented reality, the Cupertino, California-based company is working to bring together the best of both worlds, augmented as well as virtual, in its 16K headset to create an immersive AR|VR reality experience, never seen before.

If sources are to be believed, Apple’s AR|VR-enabled headsets will include an 8K display for each eye, making it a combined 16K headset – the kind of high resolution that even the most advanced television sets, today, are not equipped with.

And, it would be a standalone product connected to a dedicated box powered by a custom 5-nanometer Apple Processor – more powerful than anything currently known – with high-speed, short-range wireless technology, being referred to as 60GHz WiGig.

Reportedly, the AR|VR headset will feature onboard cameras – unlike the HTC Vive headset which requires installation of dedicated external cameras – to capture images and videos of the surroundings in order to make augmented reality, well, a reality.

While both AR and VR may not have yet found their way into the mainstream, yet, the way and the speed with which progress is being made in these areas, it’s just a matter of time before we see them take the world by storm, just like smartphone did, as Cook said.

CCS Insight – a company that specializes in providing market information, analysis, forecasts and much more – predicts that some 22 million VR and AR headsets and glasses will be purchased by consumers in 2018, which is expected to increase 5 times to 120 million by 2022; by then, the AR|VR market could well be worth an incredible $10 billion, CCS Insight estimates.

Other than the rumored AR|VR headset – which is still some distance from becoming a reality, if, at all, it does become one – there is not much in terms of AR and VR hardware that Apple can show to its credit, whereas its competition has introduced several devices in those categories.

Here’s what’s been happening:

Facebook-owned Oculus partnered with Samsung to build VR headsets for South Korean giant’s smartphones.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has work in progress on its Windows 10 mixed reality goggles and HoloLens augmented reality headset.

Magic Leap is expected to unveil its AR system that promises Star Wars-like holograms overlaid on the wearer’s real-world surroundings.

Google has already released “Cardboard” – its DIY VR kit as well as the Daydream View headsets, it introduced two years ago.

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From The Editors Technology

Apple Unveils “Daisy” – The Company’s Newest and Most Advanced iPhone Recycling Robot

Apple’s newest iPhone disassembly robot Daisy, unveiled Thursday by the consumer electronics giant, is the female version of her predecessor Liam, launched in 2016 as the company’s first iPhone dismantling robot.

Years of R&D and lessons learned from Liam make Daisy an extremely efficient disassembly machine, reportedly capable of dismantling nine iPhone variants and salvaging high-quality components from up to 200 devices per hour for recycling purposes.

In addition to Liam’s technology, Daisy also incorporates some of its key components to make her the efficient iPhone-scrapping machine that she is.

The announcement comes ahead of Earth Day (April 22) as part of Apple’s elaborate set of environmental programs, including the company’s new GiveBack endeavor through which it will make a donation to Conservation International for every iPhone device returned or traded-in by customers until the end of this month.

Customers trading in their old iPhones will get credit for an in-store purchase and those handing in their old devices for recycling will receive an Apple Store gift card for future use.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said in a statement.

“In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet,” she added.

However, the company has not revealed exactly how much money it proposes to donate to the non-profit organization for each recycled device.

Apple’s 2018 Environmental Report details how its environment-friendly efforts are focused towards minimizing the company’s impact on climate change by conserving precious resources; by pioneering the use of safer materials in its products and processes; and by using renewable energy sources and driving energy efficiency in its products, facilities, and supply chain.

https://www.apple.com/environment/pdf/Apple_Environmental_Responsibility_Report_2018.pdf

Founded by in 1987 by Spencer Beebe and Peter Seligmann, Arlington, Virginia-based Conservation International is a non-profit organization focussed on addressing environmental issues like climate change, freshwater security, health, biodiversity, and more, with the help of science, policies, and partnerships with key players, including companies and communities across the globe.

With a 1,000-strong workforce, Conservation International has been instrumental in supporting some 1,200 protected areas covering 77 countries, thereby safeguarding more than 601 million hectares of land, marine, and coastal areas.

“We are thrilled to have Apple’s support for Conservation International’s critical work to protect nature for people everywhere,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, who is the CEO at Conservation International.

Dr. Sanjayan said that the non-profit was “proud to partner with Apple in giving consumers a great reason to join our movement.”

“Apple’s efforts to use recycled materials in its products represent the future of sustainable manufacturing,” he said, adding that “Apple is showing the world how it’s done.”

Apple’s other Earth Day efforts include notifying Apple Watch users – which started yesterday – about a special Earth Day Challenge wherein users will be asked to complete a specific 30-minute workout on Sunday (April 22), completing which would earn them a special achievement and unique stickers in iMessage.

Also, effective today, all Apple Stores will display window decals and logos with green leaves in commemoration of Earth Day.

Known for creating unique internal programs to make the company progressively environment-friendly, last year Apple reportedly protected, nourished and created enough sustainable forests to take care of all its paper packaging needs, thereby achieving an impressive net-zero impact on the world’s virgin fiber.

If Apple’s April 9 announcement is anything to go by, the company’s entire operation, including offices and stores across the world, is completely self-sufficient in renewable energy.

Not only that, the Cupertino, California-based company has also managed to commit 23 partner companies in its supply chain to strive towards 100 percent self-sufficiency in renewable energy in the future.

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From The Editors Technology

Apple’s Latest iOS 11.3 Update Has it All: New Animojis, Battery Management Tool, ARKit 1.5, and More

After debuting as recently as September last year, the iOS 11 has already seen a dozen official updates.

While the previous update, introduced last month, was to take care of a bug linked to a character in the Indian Telugu language that caused apps to crash, the latest iOS 11.3 released Thursday (March 29) is a pretty significant update.

It comes with a whole lot of new features, including four brand new Animoji characters, advanced ARKit, and beta versions of a new Battery Health feature, Health Records, Business Chat and a host of other additions.

So, let’s look at each of these features individually and see how they measure up to the overall Apple experience.

Let’s start with the ‘Battery Health’ feature, which is being looked at as the biggest update following the massive criticism and bad press Apple received for intentionally throttling processor performance on older iPhone devices.

Well, to make amends for what was a major breach of customer confidence, if nothing else, Apple has introduced this Battery Health feature in the new update that allows users to completely disable any kind of throttling regardless of how old the battery may be.

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However, there’s a downside to turning off the battery throttling feature, in that phones with older and weakened batteries can shut down if they are unable to handle the power supply for some heavy-duty processor workloads.

While users can keep switching between the throttling on and off feature, installing a new iPhone battery would be the best line of action in such scenarios.

While the on/off toggling option is available only iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as of now, all iPhone 6 and subsequent models will receive a prompt on a new Battery Health interface, informing them that a battery change is recommended.

The new section can be reached under Settings –>  Battery –> Battery Health (Beta).

For iPhone X users, iOS 11.3 is bringing four brand new Animojis, including a lion, a bear, a dragon and a skull, increasing the Animoji strength to sixteen cute characters.

The A11 Bionic chip and the TrudeDepth camera inside the iPhone X, which captures and analyzes 50 different facial muscles before it animates you into the avatar of your choice, will now have 16 instead of 12 Animojis to work with.

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And then we have the ‘Business Chat’ – another seemingly useful addition.

First unveiled as a preview at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June last year, the new beta version ‘Business Chat’ on iOS 11.3 allows users to communicate with Apple-partnered businesses from within the convenience of the Messages app, thereby avoiding relatively lesser friendly options like social media, email, and phones.

Apple is already exploring partnership possibilities with the likes of Wells Fargo, Discover, Lowe’s and Hilton.

Let’s move on to ‘Health Records’ now.

Anyone who updates to the 11.3 iOS can benefit from the new ‘Health Records’ section, which integrates medical records from various hospitals and clinics across America.

The feature allows users to view their health records, get lab notifications, and more from participant providers under the ‘Business Health’ section on their iPhone devices.

Apple assures privacy and security of health-related data through passcode encryption.

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The enhanced ARKit 1.5 will now allow developers to be more creative with augmented reality apps in terms of more immersive AR experiences, such as image and object recognition, placing virtual objects on vertical surfaces, such as walls, doors, tables etc., and more.

The upgraded AR kit will also be able to detect signs and posters in real-world scenarios and incorporate those images in the virtual world of 3D augmented reality on your iPhone device.

“The introduction of ARKit with iOS 11 put augmented reality into the hands of hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, making iOS the world’s biggest AR platform. Apple continues to innovate on this exciting technology, bringing ARKit 1.5 to developers to provide even more immersive AR experiences that better integrate with the world and giving them the tools to power a new generation of AR apps,” says Apple.

The iOS 11.3 also promises enhancements to Apple Music, Apple News, Advanced Mobile Location (AML) and HomeKit.

The Apple Music app will now allow users ad-free streaming of as many music videos they like.

Also, the new music playlist will give you access to your favorite artists, allowing you to watch them back-to-back, non-stop, in addition to top new videos and the classics. Of course, an Apple Music subscription would be necessary.

The Advanced Mobile Location (AML) feature is programmed to send user’s current location by default to emergency services when calls are made to them. The feature will only work in countries that offer AML support.

About the HomeKit feature, Apple claims that it “provides a great new way for developers to add HomeKit support to existing accessories while protecting privacy and security.”

It must be mentioned that the earlier beta versions of Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 have been done away with in this final release of iOS 11.3 – perhaps more work is required on them before they can become mainstream.

What this actually means is that message history still cannot be saved to iCloud, and multi-room playback or stereo pairing will not be an option for the Apple HomePod. It remains to be seen how soon Apple can deliver on these two fronts as well.

The iOS 11.3 comes on the heels of Apple’s newest 9.7-inch iPad – an education-focused tablet unveiled on March 27th at the “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event at the Lane Tech College Prep School in Chicago, IL.

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From The Editors Technology

How Good is Apple’s Newest 9.7-Inch iPad? What’s Different from the 2017 Version?

Apple held its first event of the year – one that was education-focussed and aptly dubbed as the “Let’s Take a Field Trip” event – on March 27th at the Lane Tech College Prep School in Chicago, IL.

Not only did the tech giant come out with several useful software enhancements but also unveiled a refreshed version of last year’s 9.7-inch tablet.

Well, if you were expecting sweeping changes to it, you’d probably be a tad disappointed as it still looks, feels and behaves very much like an iPad – a bit snappier than its predecessor, though; thanks to the stronger A10 Fusion processor – the one we got to see on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

And, of course, the support for the Apple pencil is a great new feature for the tablet. It’s the first time we’re seeing the Apple pencil work with an iPad device outside of the Pro line.

So, go ahead and use it to take notes, draw, as well as use it on apps that offer Apple pencil support, but be prepared to shell out $99 extra for the pencil as it is not included in the box.

The good thing is, you can still use your finger to make those all-important annotations if you are looking to avoid the additional $100 expenditure.

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On a serious note, Apple is aware of this extra burden, because, don’t forget that the new iPad is being touted as an education-friendly product and, therefore, should be made a bit easier on the students’ pockets.

In that regard, the company announced a cheaper Logitech Crayon designed to work equally well with all iPad devices.

The $49 stylus will have an 8-hour battery life, and work with updated apps, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, Microsoft Office and Explain Everything.

The downside to this, however, is the fact that it is being made available only through Apple’s education channels and, hence, won’t be for the general consumer to benefit from.

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“Logitech Crayon is the first digital pencil designed for the new iPad and leverages technology found in Apple Pencil to deliver sub-pixel precision, low latency and support for tilt in a design that’s perfect for students,” the company said in a Monday press release.

“iPad features palm-rejection technology and can tell the difference between Logitech Crayon and a hand resting on the display, so students can write and draw naturally, just as they would with traditional pencil and paper,” added the release.

Apple has made further concessions for students and educators by offering them the new 9.7-inch iPad for $299 – that is $30 less than what the average consumer would be paying for it.

At $329, it still is a pretty good bargain for consumers as it remains unchanged from the previous 9.7-inch iPad price.

The completely revamped iWork suite is pretty impressive and complements this new education-oriented iPad and the Apple pencil very well indeed.

So, go ahead and create great presentations with the help of your upgraded iWork suite, and draw and animate them with the Apple pencil, and do even more.

It has touch ID on the Home button on the portrait chin of the tablet, with a speaker on the bottom portrait edge, and of course the lightning port alongside it.

Then you have your front-facing camera, your rear-facing camera and of course the famous Apple logo on the back. And, because this is an LTE equipped device, you have the panel on the back as well.

A lot of stuff shown during the Apple presentation, such as things related to your class assignments and the likes, do involve a lot of typing.

So, a smart connector on the side-edge (portrait position) would have really been a great addition, because it would have allowed you the flexibility of connecting a smarter, slimmer and easier to use with the iPad keyboard, as opposed to the ungainly looking keyboard case that Logitech is making for the iPad.

The new iPad continues to be relatively light and portable and boasts the same 10-hour battery life as last year’s model.

Apart from the few improvements and additions discussed, most of the features and attributes remain unchanged.

It is fundamentally the same iPad we’ve been seeing for the past couple of years, but with a couple of clever tweaks to it.

While the 9.7-inch Retina display is impressive in itself, a fully laminated screen, like the one seen on iPad Pros, would have been good, but one can understand that it would have made the device costlier, thereby killing the main purpose of keeping it within the reach of students and consumers alike.

The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture, HDR, and Full HD video capabilities

is still very much the same we saw on last year’s model.

The front-facing camera is a 1.2-megapixel HD camera designed mainly for video calls.

To sum it up, barring two major differentiating points – which are: one, support for the Apple pencil as well as third-party styluses, and two, it’s relatively more powerful with the beefed-up A10 Fusion chipset and the M10 motion coprocessor – everything else remains almost identical to the old-gen 9.7-inch iPad

The 2018 iPad is being made available in three color options – gold, silver, and space grey, and is available for pre-order with immediate effect, and will start shipping this week itself.

While Apple has made it clear that the $329 tablet will be made available for students and educators at a discounted price of $299, it remains to be seen whether the Apple generosity extends to the UK and other overseas markets as well.

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From The Editors Technology

Apple to Launch Biggest Ever iPhone Codenamed “D33” in 2018

Citing anonymous sources “familiar” with the developments, Bloomberg said in a Monday report that Apple is getting ready to add “a trio of new smartphones” to its iPhone lineup, sometime later this year.

In addition to an iPhone X-sized upgraded version and a cheaper model on the lines of the iPhone X design, the company’s most talked-about release, based on the Bloomberg revelation, will be a ‘biggest ever’ iPhone, boasting a 6.5-inch display.

If Bloomberg is to be believed, Apple is in the process of running production tests with suppliers in regard to the three expected iPhone additions to its already impressive array.

However, on conditions of anonymity, Bloomberg sources have said that there’s always the chance of a change in plans.

While there have been previous reports and rumors concerning the three possible additions to the iPhone family in 2018, none has been as comprehensive about the specification and improvements details of the three phones as Bloomberg’s Monday piece.

The big boy among the three, codenamed D33, will incorporate a 6.5-inch screen on a body the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, made possible by the edge-to-edge design technology used on the iPhone X.

Other features that the D33 is expected to include – according to Bloomberg sources “familiar with the products” – are:

  • Face ID scanner to unlock the device and enable payments
  • It will incorporate a next-generation A12 processor
  • A 1242 x 2688-pixel screen resolution
  • An OLED display like the one on the iPhone X

Also, the upgraded version of the current iPhone X – internally being called the D32 – will also have the A12 processor with the possibility of a gold color choice for both the D32 and the D33 high-end phones, keeping in mind the Asian market where demand for the gold option is especially high. Currently, the iPhone X is available in just two colors, the silver gray and the space gray.

There’s also the likelihood that the D33 will be offered with a dual-SIM option in selected regions where multiple carrier plans are available, allowing customers the flexibility to use two simultaneous plans “without having to swap out cards,” reports Bloomberg.

However, Apple has yet to take a final call on the dual-SIM feature and may well decide to wait it out until the E-SIM technology becomes commonplace on smartphones. When it does happen, the technology will allow users to access multiple networks without the requirement of a removable SIM.

While the company does have the technology on its iPad and Apple Watch, opposition by some carriers as far as incorporating the technology on iPhones is concerned, has been holding the company back.

Both the high-end phones are due to get an upgraded operating system, which has been codenamed “Peace” and is likely to be called iOS 12.

Also, the phones will, reportedly, include “upgraded augmented reality capabilities deeper integration of the Siri digital assistant, digital health monitoring and the ability to use Animojis in FaceTime.”

The third and the cheaper iPhone will be based on the iPhone X design, as aforementioned, but with a few compromises, of course, in order to allow the company to sell it at a relatively lower price.

So, what are the compromises being made on the cheaper model?

Well, Bloomberg says that it will have aluminum edges and a glass back similar to that on the iPhone 8 instead of the more expensive stainless steel used on the iPhone X. It will also include an LCD screen, again similar to the iPhone 8 screen technology.

KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo said in a January report that the cheaper model will have a 6.1-inch display and will do away with the 3D Touch feature available on all iPhones since the iPhone 6S.

Calling the D33 a “big deal,” Loup Ventures co-founder Gene Munster said:

“When you have a measurable upgrade in screen size, people go to update their phone in droves. We saw that with the iPhone 6, and we think this is setting up to be a similar step up in growth.”

He also said that “the market that will see the biggest jump in sales is likely Asia,” because of “the many single-device consumers” who prefer “big phones.”

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From The Editors Technology

Apple’s “Easier than Easy” HomePod is Finally Available for Pre-Order, Ships Feb. 9

Delayed by a month from its original December launch date, Apple is now all set to ship out its much-touted answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers.

Yes, it’s the seven-inch-tall Apple Home Pod we’re talking about, which the company has made available for pre-order from January 26 and will be shipping out effective February 9th.

According to Apple, the HomePod has the ability to adjust sound distribution according to the layout of the room in relation to wherever it is placed. Needless to say, it responds to voice command.

“Siri, now actively used on over half a billion devices, has developed a deep knowledge of music and understands your preferences and tastes,” says Apple.

“HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple. It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use,” said Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller.

He also said: “We’re so excited for people to get HomePod into their homes, apartments and businesses to hear it for themselves. We think they will be blown away by the audio quality. The team has worked to give Siri a deeper knowledge of music so that you can ask to play virtually anything from your personal favorites to the latest chart-topping releases, simply by saying ‘Hey Siri’.”

When Apple announced its smartspeaker in June last year, it said that two or more HomePods could be used simultaneously in homes and explained two scenarios.

Here they are:

Scenario One: Use two HomePods in the same room and allow them to configure themselves into a left and a right speaker for a quality stereo effect

Scenario Two: Use multiple speakers in different rooms of your home. The speakers will synch up with each other to play the same music wherever they are placed.

However, these two features are not available as of now but will be made available as a software update sometime later this year.

So, if you have already placed your order for more than one HomePod, you will have to wait for the update before you can pair or synch your speakers. Meanwhile, you can use them as individual devices.

Also, the HomePod will, most likely, not support third-party music streaming, restricting you to just Apple Music. That said, Apple claims that Apple Music will allow you “access to virtually all the world’s songs, it’s like having your very own musicologist who learns and plays what you like, and helps you discover music you love.”

While the Siri-enabled device is pretty adept at streaming music, you can ask it to perform a number of other tasks as well, including sending messages, reading out the news, checking sports, weather and traffic updates, as well as allowing you to control your smarthome devices.

However, experts say that Siri has its limitations when it comes to the range of tasks it can execute and is not in the same league as Alexa.

In all probability, Apple is aware of this reality and, perhaps, that’s the reason why the company is marketing the device primarily as an audio device, harping more about its sound and music streaming capabilities than anything else – as is evident from Schiller’s statement above.

What’s impressive about the HomePod, though, is the A8 Fusion Chip, the same one that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are equipped with, which gives it a slight edge over its competition. Slight because the difference comes at a price!

Apple’s foray into the world of smart speakers may have ruffled a few Amazon and Google feathers, but working against the HomePod is its $349 price tag and the cult status that Echo enjoys.

Add to that the Siri-enabled HomePod’s inability to stream third-party music like Spotify, for instance, plus its task limitations, and you don’t see much cause for concern for Google or Amazon, or even Sonos One, for now.

Sonos One, by the way, not only offers two speakers for the price of the single-speaker HomePod at $349 but is also Alexa-enabled, with Google Assistant compatibility expected soon.

Just for comparison, the much larger and powerful Google Home Max sells for $399 while the Google Home costs $129. Amazon Echo is available for $99.99.

And, here’s another indicator that it may not be the hot cake, as Apple may have been anticipating:

In the past, we have seen a number of iPhones selling out within a matter of minutes after they became available for pre-order, but not so with the HomePod, with both versions of the color still available.

This is how Apple describes some of the specs and features of the HomePod

  • Beautiful design with a purpose
  • Wrapped in a seamless mesh fabric designed for both aesthetic and acoustic performance – available in white and space gray
  • It’s easier than easy. It’s automatic. Equipped with spatial awareness, HomePod automatically adjusts to give you optimal sound — wherever it’s placed
  • Senses the room and tunes the music. All by itself
  • Seven tweeters create amazing sound from every angle
  • High-excursion woofer
  • Six-microphone array
  • Apple-designedA8 chip – the biggest brain ever in a speaker
  • Deep bass – engineered to lower the boom
  • Create stereo sound with a second HomePod (feature coming later this year)
  • Add HomePod to more rooms (feature coming later this year)
  • HomePod is built to bring out the best in Apple Music. With the intelligence of Siri and access to virtually all the world’s songs
  • Over 45 million songs in your home
  • Learns what you love. And what you don’t
Categories
From The Editors Technology

iPhone X Launches to Mixed Reviews, More Good than Bad – Here’s What We Think

iPhone X Launches to Mixed Reviews, More Good than Bad – Here’s What We Think

Launched on November 3, 2017, the much-hyped iPhone X has, generally, been received well, not that there hasn’t been the odd complaint doing the rounds amid an overall good response.

So, let’s go ahead and check out what’s so good and what’s not so good about the new Apple phone. But before we get into all that, let’s first talk about its specifications with iPhone 8 Plus as the benchmark.

The notably different OLED screen with HRD support and a much higher resolution of 2436X1125 pixels as compared to the 1920X1080-pixel display of the iPhone 8 Plus, is one of the most impressive features of the new Apple device.

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) has been integrated with the phone’s rear telephoto lens – an improvement from the 8 PLUS which had OIC only in the wide angle lens. The X’s battery capacity is better as well.

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At first glance, in so far as the design is concerned, it seems to be more of a catching-up effort by Apple than any innovation, really.

It is common knowledge, now, that Apple has done away with the Home button in the X, thereby, making provision for more screen space. While it may be a good move in terms of improving customer experience by removing technical impediments, it’s certainly not a first of its kind.

Furthermore, there are some aspects of this design concept that fails to match up with competing handsets. Yet, going forward, it’s a positive a move which has gone down well with the end user.

The side buttons are no different from the iPhones of late, with the Volume and Mute buttons on one side and a SIM card slot plus a rather conspicuous interaction button on the opposite side. The button has taken over a number of functions from the missing Home button. The headphone jack continues to be absent, with just a Lightning port on the bottom.

While the X weighs less than all the preceding Plus models, at 6.14 oz it is still heavier than the other iPhones till date – almost as heavy as the Galaxy S8+ by Samsung. It’s just a little thicker than the iPhone 7|8 but doesn’t beat the 0.48-inch-thick iPhone 3GS which continues to hold this rather embarrassing record.

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The all-glass back of the iPhone X has a single raised portion, a bump if you like, incorporating the vertically aligned dual cameras and the flash. The perpendicular arrangement of the cameras has everything to do with AR applications.

 While the glass back may look modern and stylish, its inherent fragility is always a cause for concern, especially with the $1000 price tag attached to the device. The only logical explanation for this would be its conduciveness to wireless charging as opposed to an aluminum back like that of the iPhone 7.

iPhone X Specifications;

NETWORK Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
LAUNCH Announced 2017, September
Status Available. Released 2017, October
BODY Dimensions 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 in)
Weight 174 g (6.14 oz)
Build Front/back glass & stainless steel frame
SIM Nano-SIM
– IP67 certified – dust and water resistant
– Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes
– Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX certified)
DISPLAY Type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 5.8 inches, 84.4 cm2 (~82.9% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1125 x 2436 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~458 ppi density)
Multitouch Yes
Protection Scratch-resistant glass
– Dolby Vision/HDR10 compliant
– Wide color gamut display
– 3D Touch display
– True-tone display
PLATFORM OS iOS 11.1
Chipset Apple A11 Bionic
CPU Hexa-core (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral)
GPU Apple GPU (three-core graphics)
MEMORY Card slot No
Internal 64/256 GB, 3 GB RAM
CAMERA Primary Dual 12 MP, f/1.8 & f/2.4, phase detection autofocus, OIS, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED (dual tone) flash
Features Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 8MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, HDR (photo/panorama)
Video 2160p@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps
Secondary 7 MP, f/2.2, 1080p@30fps, 720p@240fps, face detection, HDR, panorama
SOUND Alert types Vibration, proprietary ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack No
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic.
– Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter
COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
NFC Yes (Apple Pay only)
Radio No
USB 2.0, proprietary reversible connector
FEATURES Sensors Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Messaging iMessage, SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email
Browser HTML5 (Safari)
Java No
– Fast battery charging: 50% in 30 min
– Qi wireless charging
– Siri natural language commands and dictation
– iCloud cloud service
– MP3/WAV/AAX+/AIFF/Apple Lossless player
– MP4/H.265 player
– Audio/video/photo editor
– Document editor
BATTERY Non-removable Li-Ion 2716 mAh battery
Talk time Up to 21 h (3G)
Music play Up to 60 h
MISC Colors Space Gray, Silver
Price About 1150 EUR

(Specs credit: https://www.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone_x-8858.php)