Benjamin develops app for iOS and writes about Apple news, product reviews and more on 9to5Mac and his personal blog. Follow Benjamin on Twitter to keep up with his latest projects. You can also email him directly.
Apple has quietly added a server-side API to CloudKit, following an announcement on the developer news blog. This will enable developers to add a lot of functionality to apps powered by CloudKit, enabling developers to interact with the iCloud CloudKit database outside of user interaction with iOS, Mac or web apps. The web service API enables developers to run independent code on servers that can add, delete and modify records in the CloudKit stack.
Until now, interaction with CloudKit has been limited to the APIs Apple provided in apps. Although this was useful, it lacked the options for more advanced use — most modern apps rely on servers to perform tasks whilst users are away. With the addition of the web API, developers can create many more types of applications using CloudKit as the backend. For instance, an RSS reader app can now add new feed items to the CloudKit stack from the server. Before, this action could only occur when a user opened a CloudKit-powered app, which was essentially impractical and meant developers had to use other tools.
Apple has dipped its toes in original content with projects like the Beats 1 radio station, but there has been a lot of speculation around whether the company will ever produce its own media content, as both Amazon and Netflix have shown it can be very lucrative, launching many successful independent television series in recent years.
According to a contributor report from The Street, Apple is now looking to take that jump. It wants to produce original TV shows as exclusive content for its iTunes library offerings, according to the report, having spoken to ‘members of the Hollywood creative community’ late in 2015. These new TV shows could form part of a future Apple TV cable subscription service.
Apple has acquired education technology startup LearnSprout for an undisclosed sum, via Bloomberg. LearnSprout’s software lets teachers track student progress and test scores, organize class achievement targets and more school-oriented features. The acquisition follows Apple’s announcement of iOS 9.3, which includes several major new features for iPads in education, including multi-user account switching.
LearnSprout’s features were mainly marketed at PC and Mac users. With an Apple acquisition, it is likely the technology will be ported to iOS as Apple continues to push iPad into education sectors.
iPad cases these days come in so many forms. You can get ones that only cover the back and ones that only cover the front (like Smart Covers). You can get hefty book-style cases or even cheap Chinese amalgamations from Amazon; I was using this $10 cheap wraparound one until very recently.
Today’s review is about the Oxford from Pad & Quill ($129). The Oxford is a premium Folio for the iPad Pro, described as a luxurious case and stand combo with an integrated pocket for the Apple Pencil. First impressions online are positive, but great iPad cases require a combination of style, features and practicality. I’ve been trying Oxford out for the last few weeks to decide how it stacks up for me. Does it deliver on these points? Read on for my full review …
Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI securities is today reporting that they believe the iPhone 7 Plus will come with a dual-camera system option with Linx camera technology Apple acquired last year. By using two distinct lenses, Apple can use the additional image data to create substantially better quality photos. Dual camera iPhones have been rumored for a long time. KGI also floats the possibility that the Plus will feature an optical zoom, with 2-3x magnification.
The KGI report makes it plain that not all iPhone 7 models will feature the radically new camera. It appears the 4.7 inch iPhone 7 will not feature the technology. It will be reserved for specific versions of the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus …
Update: The Safari crash bug has now been fixed, according to Apple.
A strange bug is affecting many Safari users today, causing crashes on iPhone, iPad and Mac. For many users, simply tapping in the URL bar will cause the browser app to crash completely. The exact issue causing the crashing has not been locked down, but it appears to be related to Apple’s Safari Suggestions service. It’s a very annoying bug that is affecting a lot of people all of sudden today.
When you type a URL, Apple sends what you type to its servers, returning a response with autocomplete search queries, Top Sites and other info. There appears to be a bug in this server request that is causing Safari to randomly crash. Users are discovering some potential workarounds until Apple fixes the problem properly …
Watch out for a new prank circling Twitter and other social media today. Visiting CrashSafari.com on an iPhone, iPad or Mac will cause Safari app to crash … and potentially cause your device to restart. The bug is otherwise harmless, but be warned it will likely cause you to lose your open tabs.
To try this out click here to visit the page and watch for the beachball. The current troll is to link to CrashSafari.com on Twitter using a URL shortener, so people are tricked into visiting the site without being able to see the name.
On the Mac, Safari will freeze (‘Application Not Responding’). You may need to restart your machine to get your browser working again. On some iPhones and iPads, the glitch may cause your iOS device to reboot. So how does this prank work?
The lawsuit between Oracle and Google is inadvertently revealing some confidential information about the companies. It has already been disclosed that Google paid Apple a $1 billion fee in 2014 to keep Google as the default search provider for iOS Safari, as well as a revenue sharing agreement where Google gives a substantial portion of the iPhone search ad revenue to Apple.
Another lawyer from Oracle has also stated that Google has generated $22 billion in profit and $31 billion in revenue from Android in its lifetime, via Bloomberg. Although any number in the billions is impressive, it pales in comparison to Apple’s mobile platform profiteering. As highlighted by Quartz, Apple made more revenue from the iPhone in one single quarter, raking in $32 billion dollars worth of iPhone sales from July – September.
According to several sources, the Catholic Church Pope, Pope Francis, is meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook today for a private discussion. The exact agenda for the meeting is unknown, but ‘Signor Timothy Donald Cook’ is booked in for 11.30 as shown in the photo. The meetup is likely related to visits the Pope has been receiving from other tech giants. Francis met Eric Schmidt, Alphabet (Google’s) chairman last week. It could just be a cordial exchange of greetings.
Sky News reporter Tom Cheshire says the Pope shares Cook’s strong stance on the environment and ecology. Both Pope and Cook are frequently named in the “world’s most important leaders” lists, so they do share some common ground in regard to influence.
California is now presenting a new bill that, if passed into law, would stop Apple from selling iPhones on its home turf, via ZDNet. The bill requires smartphone manufacturers to sell devices that have backdoors to allow them to be decrypted. Naturally, this affects iPhones which use high-strength security methods and make it practically impossible for anyone including Apple to gain access without the passcode. If this proposed bill sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. A nearly identical proposition was made in New York state earlier in the month.
Although the bill is only being proposed and isn’t law at this time, it poses a big issue for Apple which is facing pressure from politicians across the US to relax its stance on privacy in favor of security. The California case is especially problematic given the location of Apple’s HQ. It would be very awkward if Apple was barred from selling iPhones in the state where they’re designed.
According to data from Counterpoint Research, iPhone sales in India are booming. Apple reportedly shipped 800,000 units in the December quarter to the country, up from 500,000 a year ago. Apple has been aggressively promoting their phones with substantial discounts to sustain sales, given high prices for iPhone 6s in India (via Economic Times).
Even with price cuts, that 800,000 number is composed of older iPhone models too. The report indicates that iPhone 5s was responsible for 30% of the sales numbers. About half of the 800k number are made up of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple is currently expected to hold an event in March to announce a slew of new products, notably including a new addition to the iPhone lineup. The 4-inch iPhone is expected to be released by April, and MIC Gadget claims to have a hands-on with new unreleased iPhone straight from the Foxconn factory. Unsurprisingly, the purported new ‘iPhone 6c‘ looks just like an iPhone 6s, but smaller. The latest rumors indicate it will also have similar internals, featuring Apple A9 SoC and NFC for Apple Pay.
From our iPhone 6c mockup gallery last month
The validity of the video cannot be confirmed. The ratios of the speaker holes is very similar to the 4.7 inch phone so it’s not 100% that this phone is actually smaller (perhaps the camera guy has big hands). The video also does not include a comparison with other iPhones to confirm the relative size, but they claim it is legit and MIC Gadget has a reasonable history of obtaining device hands-on ahead of time. Watch the 40 second clip and decide for yourself, after the break …
Siri percolated throughout all of Apple’s platforms in 2015. It started with iPhone in 2011, iPad in 2012, debuted on Apple Watch in early 2015 and Apple TV with the new model a few months ago. It’s quickly becoming a premier feature on these platforms, with live-as-you-speak transcription and radically new features like ‘Remind me about this’ contextual tasks when inside apps. Except for one platform of course. Mac OS X has been ignored and left abandoned with regards to true voice searching and Siri. It’s 2016, and I want Apple to bring Siri to the Mac.
The iRig Keys Mini is an electronic MIDI music keyboard that connects to iPhone and iPad with a Lightning cable. Although it isn’t regularly advertised, iPhones and iPads have had great support for MIDI input instruments and other devices for a long time. Since iOS 4 in fact, Apple gave the developers the ability to interact with MIDI peripherals. Simultaneously, the App Store has bloomed a wide ecosystem of sophisticated music creation and audio production apps. This makes for a perfect storm of capability and functionality: not only are MIDI accessories possible, they can really be used to make music on iPhone and iPad.
Read on for my full review of the iRig Keys Mini piano keyboard for iOS ($79.99).
Rumors of Apple Car (codename ‘Project Titan’) continue to swirl and there’s plenty time left for Apple to solidify or change its plans, given the expected launch of the new automobile is still five years away. However, that isn’t stopping car company executives weighing in on the rumors. Whilst GM execs diss the idea of Apple investing in an electric car as a ‘gigantic money pit’, an executive from Ford seems enthused by the prospect. In an interview with Trusted Reviews, Don Butler, Executive Director for Ford Connected Vehicles, said that they welcome competition and thinks technology companies can pull it off.
“We welcome others joining. We welcome the activity that’s in the space. We think it’s exciting. It’s actually changed that we are embracing,” said Butler, speaking to TrustedReviews at the CES 2016 tradeshow in Las Vegas. “So I think Apple can do it. I think Google can do it.”
Watch the full interview in the video after the break …
Apple continues to talk high praise of Apple Music, most recently leaking that the service has 10 million paying subscribers, but it has remained somewhat quiet about its Beats 1 online 24/7 radio station. Beats 1 launched to much fanfare with Zane Lowe leading the effort, and while it seems to be doing decently, it isn’t a sensation in the music business yet. It’s especially timely to talk about Beats 1 now that Apple has retired the iTunes Radio ad-supported stations, leaving Beats 1 as the only way to get free streaming music from Apple. I’m intrigued by the uptake of the station — there’s a poll to find out how often you tune in below the break — as it seems Beats 1 has an awareness issue.
I tend to like the music that is played but I just forget to tune in. I think Beats 1 is good but Apple needs to support it better within iOS and iTunes to make it stickier. Here are some suggestions …
The Super Bowl kicks off on February 7th at Levi’s Stadium, in close vicinity to the headquarters of major tech firms including Apple. Usually, the Super Bowl is funded by local government sponsorships. This year, tech companies are (at least partially) footing the bill. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has contributed free products and equipment to the host committee and has explicitly declined any company or product marketing in exchange. Apple joins other tech companies like Alphabet, Yahoo, Seagate and HP in funding the proceedings — the Super Bowl committee has raised about $50 million in total from these firms.