Editor at 9to5Mac + 9to5Google
Zac covers Apple news and product reviews for 9to5Mac. Zac also contributes to 9to5Google.
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Earlier this month we reported that Apple Music on iOS 10 is set to receive several visual tweaks and feature enhancements intended to make using the subscription music service easier and attract more customers. Changes expected include a more static black and white user interface in place of today’s album art color-matching UI, lyrics integration, and a tweaked tab bar for navigation. We expect Apple Music to rename the ‘New’ section as ‘Browse’ to further highlight curated content found within. A 9to5Mac reader has since discovered this change in the wild thanks to the tvOS Apple Music app on the new Apple TV.
If you’re still waiting for your bank to add support for Apple Pay, you may be in luck today. Several additional banks across the United States have joined Apple’s growing list of over a thousand partners that work with the mobile payment service. These are the latest banks to work with Apple Pay:
Siri may be the default voice assistant on iPhones and iPads, but it can easily be beat when it comes to speed and third-party service integration. SoundHound’s new voice command and Hands-Free mode on iOS highlights this. Starting today, SoundHound can activate its music recognition feature instantly with the ‘OK Hound’ command, plus the app integrates with Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other services to add to what’s possible.
Earlier today we learned that Tim Cook will likely be visiting India following his current trip to China, and a new report has since followed shedding new details on Apple’s retail entrance into India. We’ve also been tracking progress on Apple’s brand new San Francisco location, which is finally set to open on Saturday, May 21st, just in time for WWDC next month.
Google has been making great efforts lately in bringing virtual reality to anyone with a smartphone, and the latest update to its YouTube app makes finding VR content super easy. YouTube for iOS now includes a dedicated Cardboard button, which automatically transforms any video into VR mode for watching with Google Cardboard.
While Walmart remains among the list of stores stubbornly resisting Apple Pay, the retail giant is slowly pushing forward with its own mobile payment service called Walmart Pay. An update to Walmart’s mobile app added support for the digital wallet last month, and today the retailer announced that over 500 stores across two states now support Walmart Pay at checkout.
Alpine unveiled its 9-inch aftermarket display with CarPlay support back in January, and starting this week the giant screen is now available for purchase. Alpine’s i109-WRA Restyle dash system isn’t cheap, however, as the 9-inch CarPlay screen retails for $2500 and only works with 2011 and newer Jeep Wranglers. Kia is also making news in the CarPlay space this week as the auto company detailed upcoming availability on three of its 2016 and 2017 model cars.
While there hasn’t been an official policy change or new strategy made public, software developers have been noticing dramatically shorter review times when submitting apps through Apple’s approval process on both the iOS and Mac App Stores. Citing data from AppReviewTimes.com, Bloomberg today highlights the positive trend, while noting that iOS App Store review times currently average just two days turnaround time and just one day for the Mac App Store.
Since iOS 8, Apple has supported third-party keyboards on iPhones and iPads with Microsoft and others offering their own unique options. Google, which has dozens of apps on iOS, is joining in on the action today with its new feature-packed ‘Gboard’ keyboard for iPhone. The final product lines up with what was reported a couple of months back.
The day has finally come for Instagram’s skeuomorphic, iOS 6-style icon. Starting with Instagram version 8.0, the Facebook-owned photo sharing social network has a new, flat icon that’s radically different from the previous version and fits in with the iOS 7 and beyond aesthetic on iPhones.
Since HomeKit was introduced with iOS 8, one major missing piece from Apple’s home automation effort has been a built-in app that provides a user interface to the underlying framework. Interacting with Siri is the only Apple-supplied HomeKit UI; users rely on third-party apps instead for all visual HomeKit management.
The downside to this approach is that there isn’t officially one HomeKit app to rule them all, and companies that make great smart home sensors and accessories don’t necessarily make great software. Compare that to Apple’s HealthKit framework which connects various App Store apps to a single dashboard in the built-in Health app. The approach isn’t perfect, but a similar effort for HomeKit would be welcomed.
The good news is Apple’s been developing a built-in HomeKit app for a while now, and a rumor surfaced over the weekend that such an app could finally be ready for iOS 10. As a close HomeKit follower, I’m very curious to see what iOS 10 may have in store for Apple’s home automation effort, but my first thought is that there are a few gems among the current crop of HomeKit apps that Apple may not compete with well even from its position as the platform owner…
Apple has once again recruited actor Neil Patrick Harris alongside Siri to star in its latest iPhone 6s ad. The new commercial features NPH using the ‘Hey Siri’ voice command to read a legendary thank you speech from the Notes app … all completely hands-free.