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.
[Update: All links and images of this Space Black Milanese Loop band have now been pulled from the web … We have asked Apple PR for clarification on the situation …]
Apple is readying the launch of a brand new Apple Watch band, a 42 mm Space Black Milanese Loop, suitable for Space Black steel watches. Third-party aftermarket black Milanese loops have been on sale for a while, but this is Apple official — assumedly matching their Space Black Link Bracelet in color and quality.
Despite no official announcement, this new Apple Watch band appeared on Czech Republic Apple Store website earlier today (following the announcement that the Watch would launch in the region later in month). As of now, it does not appear to be listed in any other Apple Store region. More pictures after the break …
Before Christmas, the Apple community spurred a huge controversy as Macotakara claimed that the iPhone 7 will ditch the 3.5 mm standard headphone port completely, to enable further thinness and internal space savings for other components. The 3.5mm jack is a hundred-year old technology based on analogue signals, so although it is ripe for replacement, almost all headphones sold today rely on the 3.5mm jack. Cutting the port for the iPhone 7 could be a painful transition. Today, the Chinese media has posted further news confirming the original story, claiming that Apple will drop the next-gen iPhone’s 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of wireless headphone standards and Lightning …
Apple has seeded the second beta of iOS 9.2.1 for developers and pre-release testers, a minor enhancement and bug fix release for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The new seed has a build number of 13D14, a small bump over the previous seed. iOS 9.2.1 was released to developers on December 16th. The same build is also available to Apple Beta Program members.
As always, we’ll update this post if we spot anything new and notable …
A new report from Chinese media site MyDrivers is starting up the rumor mill for the iPhone 7, Apple’s next major revision to the iPhone due later in 2016. The iPhone 7 is expected to feature external design changes which means big changes inside and out. The report claims specifically that the iPhone 7 Plus (5.5 inch screen) will come in a new 256 GB storage configuration and feature a larger internal battery, rated at 3100 mAH.
For battery comparisons, it’s important to remember that the batteries actually got smaller with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. 3100 mAH exceeds the battery sizes of the 6s Plus and 6 Plus, featuring 2750 mAH and 2915 mAH respectively.
The track record of the site is somewhat dubious, so it’s probably foolish to treat anything as for certain, but it is thought provoking and both points indicate Apple will be addressing too major pain points with the iPhone range with the iPhone 7 …
December 22, 2015
According to Chinese website ‘MyDrivers’, China Mobile laid out its product roadmap for 2016 and included mentions of a new Apple product. As shown from the photo above, in April 2016 China Mobile is expecting to launch the ‘iPhone 7c’. This seems to be the 4 inch iPhone device that has been rumored for several months, although the rumor mill moniker has generally settled on it being called the iPhone 6c. MICGadget reported that Apple’s new phone would be called the iPhone 7c, matching this report, earlier in the month however.
December 21, 2015
The Elgato Avea Flare is an egg-shaped mood light with an iPhone and Watch app available to control the scene and colors displayed. It sits in the corner of a room or garden and discreetly glows. I tested the standalone unit, but you can also buy the Avea Bulb which is the same concept in a different form. The Elgato Eve Room ($78) is an indoor climate detector — it measures air quality, humidity and temperature. This data can then be reviewed through an iPhone app to act upon or using your voice with Siri questions. The Eve sensor (pictures below) is meant to be tucked away and out of sight, on a shelf or wall, silently checking up on your interior air quality.
These two products are from the same manufacturer, but they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of smart home gear; one has a clear functional purpose and the other is a ‘smart’ whimsical decoration. Both integrate with iOS via an iPhone app and both make cool additions to your life. I’ve been using both for a few weeks; read on for my full review of these smart home devices from Elgato …
December 18, 2015
December 14, 2015
There are a few new goodies for iOS developers shipping during the holiday season. Over the weekend, app analytics firm AppFigures released a cool new feature called ‘Sharable Review Cards’. Essentially, developers can curate their App Store reviews for some of their best feedback and quickly share a link to that comment for others to admire.
The cards take on the theme from the app icon, so each review card appearance matches the app it is about. In the example above, my app Bingo Machine uses a dark blue background tint, so the AppFigures Card uses the same blue for the review title. It’s a pretty cool feature for devs who want to positively promote their app on social media with actual customer testimonials.
There are also some new releases from Facebook’s Parse, the third-party cloud sync framework that Apple later aped with its own CloudKit service, with complete support for the newest Apple platforms, namely watchOS and tvOS.
December 13, 2015
As announced earlier in the year, the BBC has now launched an official iPlayer app for the Apple TV. The app uses native a tvOS interface, closely resembling the normal iTunes Store films and TV shows interface. The app is free but requires a TV licence and is therefore only available to UK Apple TV owners.
December 11, 2015
Update: The feature now appears to have propagated correctly, as the codename identifier is no longer visible. The app now correctly lists ‘Apple TV: Yes’ in the description for universal apps that support Apple TV.
Apple is rolling out a way to see if an app in the App Store also has an Apple TV version. From this morning, App Store listings have included ‘SF.UniversalAppleTV’ labels. If present, it means that the app in question also has a universal Apple TV app available in the tvOS App Store.
Evidently, the feature is not fully baked and is in the process of rolling out. The label is clearly an internal identifier not meant to seen by the public. When the feature is fully rolled out, expect it the left column to simply say ‘Apple TV’ which matches the language used for Apple Watch compatibility.
Apple has begun advertising the iPhone 6s to older iPhone users through the App Store, as spotted by @Dirk_Gently on Twitter. If a user browses the App Store, perhaps updating apps, with an iPhone 5s or earlier device, a modal popup may appear over the top of the view promoting the iPhone 6s as a ‘ridiculously powerful’ upgrade. Users are directed to learn more or ‘upgrade now’ which takes them to the Apple Store app to buy the new phone directly. The ad code appears to have been included alongside iOS 9.2.
December 10, 2015
Pixelmator for iPhone and iPad today received another big update with several milestone features for the mobile image editor. Perhaps most importantly, Pixelmator for iOS now fully integrates with iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. This includes highly responsive brushes taking advantage of the Apple Pencil’s low latency drawing as well as palm rejection support. The Apple Pencil brushes adapt to pressure and tilt of the Apple Pencil accessory.
For the iPhone app, Pixelmator has added 3D Touch support throughout the application …
December 9, 2015
In my last gift guide, I did a themed roundup of the best HomeKit gear to deck out your home this holiday season. This post is about my personal favorite items and accessories across all of iOS and Mac ecosystems, most of these products I use every day for work and for fun. My picks include the Gorillapod tripod, the Philips Hue HomeKit lights, Rock Jaw earbuds, MH30 earphones, MarsBox Bluetooth speaker, the latest Apple TV, an MFI game controller, some Elgato smart home gear and an iPad Pro. I love technology but I consciously refrain from buying too much stuff and have a relatively slim personal gadget portfolio, so these products are carefully chosen.
Read on after the break to see why I selected these ten items specifically …
December 8, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook is continuing his public support for equality with a video raising awareness for the Cerebral Palsy foundation. The campaign ‘Just Say Hi’ encourages people to communicate and interact with people with disabilities in the same way as any other person; hence the ‘just say hi’ moniker.
In the clip, Cook uses Siri to ask how to start a conversation with someone who has a disability. Following the campaign, Siri replies: ‘It’s easy. Just say “hi”.’ You can try this on your iPhone or iPad as well. Siri will repeat the same thing.
Watch the video after the break …
Out of the blue, Apple has today launched their first battery case, the Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case for $99. The case comes in Charcoal Gray or White and is compatible with iPhone 6s or iPhone 6. The case is like the Apple Silicone Case, with the addition of a back bump for a battery. Third-party iPhone battery cases have existed for a long time, this is the first version of the product from Apple itself.
The integrated battery will increase iPhone talk time up to 25 hours and Internet use up to 18 hours on LTE (an increase of 8 hours). The battery of the Smart Case is displayed in the iOS UI, thanks to the integration between software and hardware.
The battery case includes a passthrough so you can still plug in other Lightning accessories whilst the case is in use. The product is available to pickup in Apple Stores today with delivery as early as Thursday.
December 7, 2015
Last week Apple’s open sourcing of Swift naturally saw the spotlight thrown over Apple’s open source pages. This included a paragraph that claimed Apple was “the first major computer company to make Open Source a key part of its strategy”. Unsurprisingly, this riled some members of the developer community as being disingenuous and untrue.
So Apple has since changed the text to retract the rather outlandish statement with something a bit more muted. Although this statement is technically qualitative and open to many interpretations, Apple isn’t exactly known for its open source contributions. The page now reads as follows:
‘Open source software is at the heart of Apple platforms and developer tools, and Apple continues to contribute and release significant quantities of open source code’.
December 6, 2015
As promised by Eddy Cue earlier in the year, Apple has now raised the limits on iTunes Match and Apple Music library for matched songs from 25,000 to 100,000 songs.
Cue had previously announced on Twitter that Apple was aiming for 100k for iOS 9 and just in time for the holidays, that promise has been fulfilled. This means users with larger music libraries can now enjoy the benefits of matching songs in the iTunes Cloud to make them available on all their devices. Matching songs gives another option for people who cannot afford the more expensive 64 GB and 128 GB iPhone models by offloading local music storage to the cloud.
December 4, 2015
IBM has today unveiled their first public effort towards Swift, with the introduction of the IBM Swift Sandbox website. You can type lines of Swift code into the text editor on the left and then run the code on a Linux server, posting the output in the right column. This is all made possible by the fact that Swift is now open source, supporting Linux alongside iOS and OS X.
You can use the core Swift language as well as the standard library functions, so writing a formulaic mathematical problem (like the Fibonacci example above) is well within the scope of the web application. The concept is similar to the CodeRunner app from the Mac App Store, except it runs entirely off a cloud infrastructure.