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.
I love the concept of streaming music around the home. There are a lot of great wireless Bluetooth speakers for wireless music on the move, but it’s still unclear what to choose for a static home environment. Apple’s answer is AirPlay, but it has flaws: no multi-room support from iOS devices, limited adoption by speaker manufacturers, and spotty reliability at best.
I’ve been trying an AirPlay alternative, called Play-Fi, which is a competing industry technology for home Wi-Fi music streaming from DTS. Specifically, I tested the Definitive W7 wireless speaker which integrates Play-Fi. Read on for my review ….
Apple has cut the price of its iPhone lineup in Japan including the brand-new iPhone SE, by approximately 10% across the board. The price drop can be seen online on Apple’s Japanese storefront, via Macotakara.
A 16 GB iPhone SE was selling for 52800 yen (483 dollars). The new price from today is 47800 yen (437), representing an approximate $50 saving in dollar terms. Full list of price changes after the jump …
An update to the Snapchat app today expands on the popular Face Swap feature in a big way. You can now use the face swap effect with pictures taken or downloaded into your Camera Roll. Until now, two people had to be side-by-side in the same photo to Face Swap.
Now, anyone can face swap with any face detected in their iPhone photo library. This opens up some new ‘creative opportunities’, as pictured above, as the face does not have to be in the real world.
Here’s how to activate the new Snapchat feature …
In an interview with the BBC on national British radio, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said that he believes Apple should pay 50% tax, along with all other companies. He said he doesn’t like the distinction of different rules between corporations and individuals.
Today, although Apple has never been found to evade tax or conduct illegal practices, it does not pay at top-rate tax, using a variety of financial engineering schemes to redirect profits elsewhere, such as Ireland, with significantly lower tax requirements.
Although Apple usually updates its iOS adoption statistics on a fortnightly basis, the company had strangely stopped updating its iOS chart last month. As iOS 9 growth appeared to have stalled, perhaps the numbers simply didn’t change significantly in that time. However, this week Apple has updated the chart with a significant jump, now reporting iOS 9 was seen on 84% of active devices as of April 18th. With iOS 10 set to be announced in June (and internal testing gradually ramping — see below), it appears iOS 9 will end up peaking around the 90% adoption mark in line with previous versions.
The Information is reporting that Apple’s efforts to build out its own cloud infrastructure are being held back by company politics. Apple wants to overhaul its cloud services backends to rely on new technologies built in-house but is facing several roadblocks, attributable in part to power struggle between the Siri group and another group handling other Apple services like iMessage and iTunes.
According to The Information, one engineering manager has already resigned with more likely to follow.
Apple has today released an update to the 12 inch Retina MacBook line, with new Skylake processors, overall better performance, and a new color: Rose Gold. The new internals have also allowed Apple to grab an extra hour of battery life out of the same sized product. The MacBook refresh keeps the same thin chassis, the same edge-to-edge keyboard and the same single USB-C port design as the original Retina MacBook, released about a year ago. The new Retina MacBook costs the same as before, starting at $1299.
The lineup means Apple now offers the MacBook in the same colors as its iOS devices, Space Grey, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold. For the 13 inch MacBook Air, Apple has also made 8 GB RAM the standard spec across every configuration. More specs after the jump.
Apple seems to be preparing to announce a web version of its MapKit framework, allowing anyone to embed an Apple Map view into a web page. On the WWDC microsite, Apple has embedded its own map object in the page to show attendees how to get between Moscone West and the Bill Civic auditorium, where the Monday keynote will be held. Looking at the code, it appears Apple wants to make this embeddable map a public API in the (near?) future so anyone could add an Apple Map to their website.
The map allows user interaction like you might expect with panning, zooming and such. Behind the scenes, the Apple map uses a HTML5 <canvas> element to render the custom cartography. Right now, MapKit is exclusive to iOS and Mac apps, ostensibly funded by the revenue Apple brings in from the sale of App Store apps.
From a business perspective, it is unclear why Apple would want to open up its API to web developers. Today, most developers use embedded Google Maps to display maps on their websites due to its ubiquity. Although other mapping options exist, a high-profile entrance of Apple into the space would provide strong competition to Google’s offering.
[UPDATE: Apple has confirmed what Siri told us earlier today. The company has now issued a press release in which it says that WWDC will be held from June 13th through June 17th in San Francisco. The same lottery process applies to getting tickets this year as in previous years. Developers can apply for tickets via the WWDC website now through Friday, April 22 at 10:00 a.m. PDT.
In a change from traditional years, the Monday keynote will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, not Moscone West. All other conference sessions will take place at Moscone, though. The annual Bash will also be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.]
In an unusual chain of events, it appears Apple is announcing the WWDC dates through Siri. Although the Apple website has not been updated with any new info, Siri is proudly proclaiming that WWDC 2016 will indeed be held in San Francisco from June 13th to June 17th. Although Siri didn’t explicitly say, it is almost certain that WWDC will once again be held at Moscone West, simply because it’s the best choice of venue for an event like this in San Francisco. This is an unusual announcement nonetheless, it being the first time Apple has used Siri as the primary announcement vehicle for one of its events. WWDC is expected to feature the unveiling of iOS 10, OS X 10.12 and more …
Rumors of Apple’s entrance into the video streaming arena have been swirling for a couple of years now, with Apple wanting to launch a skinny bundle streaming internet cable TV service, however news on the progress of this project has died down in 2016. It is unclear if it is still on the cards, various outlets reports talked had stalled with the television networks. However, Amazon and Netflix continue to battle it out.
Today, just as Netflix customers are forcibly moved to more expensive monthly plans, Amazon has announced it will offer its streaming video service as a standalone monthly subscription for the first time. Priced at $8.99/per month, the plan is a dollar cheaper than Netflix’s most popular offering. Until today, the only way to get Amazon Prime Video through a $99/year Amazon Prime subscription, bundling video, 2-day shipping and other perks into one membership.
Sadly, there was no word on the status of an Amazon Apple TV app …
In a new report by KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, the reliable Apple analyst claims that the iPhone will be seeing a major redesign in 2017, dropping the iconic aluminum casing for an all-glass enclosure with AMOLED screen. This follows on from another of Kuo’s reports in late March, where he first suggested Apple will return to an iPhone design akin to the iPhone 4. It does not seem like the iPhone 7 for 2016 will be seeing such a major overhaul, breaking Apple’s tick-tock pattern of a significant chassis redesign every other generation.
Kuo believes that Apple will be moving to an all-glass enclosure, dropping aluminum completely as it will no longer appear modern or fresh in 2017. Apple’s smartphone competitors are also adopting aluminum designs in droves, making it more likely Apple will want to differentiate with entirely new materials.
To help raise money for the relocation of the prestigious London Design Museum, Apple has submitted a very special lot to be sold at auction. Jony Ive has designed a one-of-a-kind iPad Pro and set of accessories, labelled ‘Edition 1 of 1’. The lot includes a 12.9 inch iPad Pro with a custom yellow-gold anodised finish, a blue leather Smart Cover and an Apple Pencil case cover — an accessory that Apple doesn’t sell at all today. It’s a small carry case for the Pencil, made with orange Italian calf leather. To denote the exclusivity of the products, an ‘Edition 1 of 1’ label has been engraved into the iPad Pro and underside of the Smart Cover.
Given its special edition nature, the auction is expected to sell for a tidy premium over Apple’s normal iPad Pro pricing …
Although it seems inevitable that the MacBook lineup will see some significant changes this year, as a major upgrade has been due for a while, the rumor mill is yet to close in one particular design or release date. Earlier in the year, Digitimes was reporting new MacBooks (intended to supplant the MacBook Air) are due sometime before July, resembling 13 inch and 15 inch versions of the 12 inch Retina MacBook.
A new report from Digitimes today says otherwise, suggesting the new MacBooks will not be available until the second half of this year, although an announcement at WWDC still seems possible if Apple met the earlier side of that release range.
Apple has announced that users can no longer setup iTunes Allowances for kids from today, ahead of a complete shutdown of the iTunes Allowances program on May 25th, 2016. iTunes Allowances let parents set up monthly credit for their kids to spend on App Store and iTunes Store purchases.
In the support note announcing the closure, Apple recommends families instead use Family Sharing to manage purchase and spending habits across family members. This does not impact the availability of iTunes Gifts — Apple customers will still be able to buy iTunes gift cards to give to friends and family as normal.
Until today, the only way to get a premium Apple Watch Hermès band was to buy the band and watch together from the Apple Store, or buy a very-similar (and cheaper) knockoff band and pretend it is genuine. It was also only offered in one color, fauve brown. That is all about to change however. Apple has announced that it will soon start selling Apple Watch Hermès bands standalone and in several new colors.
Soon, customers will be able to buy Double Tour, Single Tour and Cuff bands separately in fauve brown, feu red, blanc white, bleu paon green and blue saphir blue shades. The new bands will be available from April 19, 2016 …
A very common complaint from iOS users is that unused stock apps cannot be hidden or removed from the Home screen, so ‘less useful’ apps like Tips or Stocks have to be hidden in a folder somewhere to get them off the Home screen. As noted by AppAdvice, the internal App Store JSON data source has added a couple of new interesting keys in the last few weeks, which suggests that Apple is in fact adding the ability to hide stock apps soon …
Although the battle over encryption between the FBI and Apple has currently subsided, the issue of privacy and security in technology continues. Today, WhatsApp is announcing that all messages, photos, phone calls and videos sent over its messaging app will be encrypted end-to-end. This means that no one can access any communications apart from the people in the conversation. This means if WhatsApp is subpoenaed by government for information, WhatsApp will not be able to help them as it simply cannot help them.