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.
Earlier in the year, a small-but-not-insignificant number of Apple customers complained about screen issues with their new Retina MacBooks and Retina MacBook Pros, specifically cases where the anti-reflective display coating leaves marks and stains on the screen, ranging from small corner blobs to large patches.
Several months later, Apple seems to have acknowledged the issue and launched a Quality Program to replace affected users’ hardware. The Staingate Facebook page now includes many reports of people successfully sending their MacBooks in for repair at Apple Stores. The existence of the program was first reported by MacRumors.
Apple has today announced an expansion of ResearchKit into studies for autism, epilepsy and melanoma. ResearchKit enables people to conduct distributed scientific research studies from an iPhone app, enabling higher participation rates than traditional medical research can provide. The new studies are being run by researchers in Duke University, Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health and Science University.
ResearchKit is open-source. In the same statement, Apple says that over 50 researchers have already contributed to the project.
Following the corresponding update to Pixelmator for iOS 9, the company has released the latest version of Pixelmator for the Mac ($29.99) with full support for El Capitan. This includes compatibility with changes to the OS as well as an overhaul in the Pixelmator user interface to feature San Fransisco, Apple’s new system font. The update, version 3.4, also includes official full-screen Split View support on El Capitan, so users can dock Pixelmator next to any other app on the system filling the display.
Perhaps most interestingly, the app now includes a Photos.app editing extension …
Apple is continuing to expand its presence on social media services, today launching a brand new @AppleMusicHelp Twitter account to answer queries and support questions live over Twitter related to its Apple Music service. The account is manned each day of the week from 6 AM – 8 PM Pacific Time. Apple representatives will watch the account’s mentions timeline and try to help resolve people’s problems. The service is completely free, but the account will only help with Apple Music-specific questions. The company directs customers to the normal support pages for information or help with other Apple products.
Pangu has today released the first public untethered jailbreak for iOS 9, which can be installed on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. This includes the latest iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and every public version of iOS 9 (iOS 9.0, iOS 9.0.1 and iOS 9.0.2), meaning its now technically possible to reach beyond what’s possible in the Apple App Store on Apple’s latest devices. The jailbreak software is available for free, but right now there’s only a Windows installer available. Mac support will probably follow in the future but a date has not been announced.
Apple has today announced updates to the entire iMac family. Most notably, the company has brought Retina to the 21.5 inch iMac range, with 4K resolution displays. Apple has also dropped the non-Retina 27 inch iMacs, so they feature 5K displays across the board. The new iMac displays include faster processors, upgraded graphics, improved wider color gamut and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new iMacs have launched alongside updates to the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and keyboard.
Samsung is already eying the iPhone 6s’s most significant new feature, 3D Touch, for its next-generation Galaxy phones. A report on Weibo suggests that the Korean company will be adding pressure-sensitive screens next year following Apple’s lead.
Samsung will apparently be using screen technology from Synaptic, called ClearForce, which we reported on last week. Although right now pressure-sensitive screens are effectively exclusive to iPhone, the availability of Synaptic hardware to OEMs is seemingly allowing Samsung (as well as other manufacturers, not yet disclosed) to jump on board in the near future.
Apple is raising prices for apps in Australia, Indonesia and Sweden within the next 3 days. In an email, Apple has notified developers that they are updating prices in the three countries in response to foreign exchange rate variations. Prices are being increased across the board. For example, today a $0.99 app in the Australian App Store is sold for 1.29 AUD. When the changes come into effect, customers will have to pay 1.49 AUD for the same app. This is an increase of about 15% in local currency.
Apple has seeded the fifth iOS 9.1 beta for developers and public beta testers. The new beta includes various bug fixes and improvements … we’ll let you know if there’s anything drastically new. The new seed comes less than a week after beta 4 as Apple comes closer to a public launch of iOS 9.1.
iOS 9.1 includes new emojis, new wallpapers, developer support for Live Photos and iPad Pro / Apple Pencil compatibility, amongst several other changes.
To help with the international refugee crisis happening right now, Apple and the band Imagine Dragons have collaborated on an exclusive charity single, called “I Was Me” ($1.29). All proceeds of the song sales go to the UN Refugee Agency to support relief efforts. In addition, SAP will be donating an additional 10 cents per download for the first 5 million iTunes downloads. The Imagine Dragons track is exclusive to iTunes and available worldwide.
A notable omission from the iBooks library has been Harry Potter, the most successful literary book series. JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, has kept eBook rights exclusive to her own website until today. This morning, Apple announced that all seven of the books are finally available to buy in the iBooks app to be read on iPhone, iPad and Mac.
The books include more than just the text of the story. The ‘enhanced editions’ feature brand new interactive elements, animations, ‘elaborate’ artwork, notes from the author and exclusive covers.
The Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2 headphones ($49.90) are not especially meant as a replacement for EarPods, but that’s how I see them. Apple’s bundled EarPods have a lot of positives. They are ‘cheap’, lightweight and small. You can chuck them in a bag or pocket without worrying too much. This is in stark contrast to Beats on-ear and over-ear headphones, for example, which are expensive, bulky and heavy. However, EarPods leave much to be desired in regard to sound quality.
It turns out the Rock Jaw Alfa’s fill this gap nicely. They have the same portability as EarPods but with a focus on also providing great sound to listen to. They aren’t perfect but they are pretty great value earbuds. Read on for our full review …
Apple has declared that Apple Pay is off to a “great start” almost a year after its launch with the company seeing steady growth in Apple Pay transactions every month. In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said:
“We’re off to a great start and we are seeing continued, double-digit monthly growth in Apple Pay transactions since launch,” Apple said in an e-mailed statement.
Apple Pay launched last year with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the US. The service expanded to the UK a few months ago. In Apple’s January investor call, Cook claimed 2015 was “the year of Apple Pay”. However, Bloomberg notes that not everyone is as thrilled with the mobile payments service as Apple is. At both Panera Bread and Firehouse, Apple Pay transactions make up low single-digit percentages of overall purchases…
As we reported last week, Philips is readying new HomeKit enabled smart home accessories, including new lights with better color reproduction and a HomeKit-compatible bridge box, for early October launch. However, it seems that some of the new products have appeared on sites like Amazon and Best Buy a bit prematurely, as Philips is yet to officially acknowledge the new devices.
- Philips Hue Bridge – $59.99
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter A19 Kit — $199.99
- Philips Hue White Starter A19 Kit
This is not a complete list of what Philips has in the wings, more should surface soon …
The Apple TV is launching later in October but many of the details about the device remain under wraps. At the announcement, Apple announced that the Apple TV Siri universal search feature will include data from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO. Many had hoped that Apple would be more open with this feature, allowing Siri to incorporate data from third-party services without requiring a special Apple partnership. In a move that will please many, Tim Cook has announced that Apple will offer an API for universal search, after all, via an interview with Buzzfeed.
Apple has officially released OS X El Capitan for the Mac, adding some new improvements as well as bringing parity with changes in iOS 9, released two weeks ago. OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), can be installed on any Mac that runs OS X Yosemite: simply download the free update from the Mac App Store. The release does not feature anything radically new — like the major visual overhaul that came last year — but there are new features as well as a strong focus on overall performance and stability improvements.
Here’s what’s new in Apple’s latest version of the Mac operating system …
Update: We’re hearing the date for the new HomeKit bridge is October 6th … In addition, Philips has officially confirmed that the old box will not be getting HomeKit compatibility in any form. However, it will continue to receive other software updates. You can buy the new HomeKit bridge from here.
Philips is finally ready to join the HomeKit ecosystem with a new box that will act as a bridge between the Apple HomeKit standard and its range of smart internet-connected lightbulbs. As shown in the images above, provided by sources, the new box looks very much like an Apple TV — a rounded rectangle ‘puck’ with indicator lights showing connectivity status.
The new HomeKit box will be available in October and connect existing Philips Hue accessories to the Apple platform. The bridge box will be sold standalone as an official ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ compatible accessory as well as in new combo sets, also depicted above. These sets include new bulbs with a few improvements over the current models …
Apple has updated its Privacy website with details about how the company uses your data to serve the newest iOS 9 and iPhone 6s features, like Apple Pay, Apple News and Hey Siri. Consistent with Apple’s messaging, they reiterate how everything they make is designed to store as little personal information as possible with anonymity wherever possible. Contrary to other reports, the Tim Cook cover letter fronting the Apple Privacy page is not new and has been posted on the website for some time.