Review: TaoTronics’ Bluetooth 4 Car Kit for iPhone adds low-cost speakerphone, music to older cars

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Up until recently, no one complained about the way iPhones sounded through my cars’ Bluetooth speakerphones, but after switching to an iPhone 6 Plus and a Toyota Prius, friends and family told me that ambient noise has been increasing to distracting levels during our phone calls. If it wasn’t for those complaints, I would never have thought to test an alternative such as TaoTronics’ TT-BR03 Bluetooth 4.0 Hands-Free Car Kit ($30, currently $25 on Amazon). Most cars these days include Bluetooth speakerphone and music streaming support, but this inexpensive accessory is here for cars that don’t — and for cars exhibiting weird audio-related bugs with iPhones. Judging from its 4.8/5-Star Amazon reviews across over 130 customers, plenty of people still need solutions like this for one of these reasons.

TT-BR03 combines a wired noise-cancelling microphone and three-button remote control with a car charger, using Bluetooth 4.0 and a 3.5mm audio plug to route your iPhone’s audio into a car’s speakers. If your car doesn’t have a 3.5mm aux-in port, you’re out of luck, because TT-BR03 doesn’t have a built-in speaker. But if you do have an aux port, it provides a very competent speakerphone and music streaming experience at a very low price.

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New Apple TV reportedly debuting at WWDC, with App Store and Siri integration

Apple recently dropped the price of the current Apple TV.

Apple recently dropped the price of the current Apple TV.

John Paczkowski at Buzzfeed, formerly Recode, has today posted that Apple intends to debut a new Apple TV at WWDC, in the summer. Matching reports from 9to5Mac from the last year, he claims the new device (a revamp of the current hockey-puck Apple TV) will feature Siri and an App Store.

This is one of the reason’s why the new hardware would be shown at WWDC, so that developers can begin application development ahead of the product’s release.

The report claims that the device will feature more onboard storage to store applications and ‘expects’ it to use Apple’s latest A8 chip for better power. 9to5Mac has previously reported the new Apple TV will be a slimmer redesign of the current hockey puck with voice integration and a new remote with more tactile, easier to press buttons.

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Force Touch features in iMovie illustrate the power of ‘bumpy pixels,’ says haptics pioneer

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Haptic feedback features found in a recent iMovie update illustrate the power of Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad to provide feedback, not just as an input device, says one of the pioneers of the technology.

Freelance film editor Alex Gollner first noticed Apple was using the trackpad to provide tactile feedback in a recent update to iMovie.

When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.

Apple showed-off the Force Touch feature when announcing the new 12-inch MacBook, also adding it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The WSJ recently claimed that Apple also plans to introduce the feature to the touchscreen on the next generation of the iPhone …  Read more

Apple reportedly cracks down on antivirus apps from iOS App Store, many apps pulled

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Searching for ‘antivirus’ now only shows games or Find My iPhone-esque apps.

Apple has seemingly decided to crack down on antivirus and antimalware apps, removing them from the App Store. Although there has been no official statement from Apple on a policy change, Apple’s loose guidelines allow them to pull pretty much anything at any time, particularly something like antivirus which has questionable utility within the sandboxed iOS environment of iPhones and iPads.

One casualty of the removal is Intego’s VirusBarrier, which claims that this takedown was not specific to its product with Apple deciding the entire category of antivirus products is now off-limits.

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Review: Eyefi’s new Mobi Pro brings improved durability, capacity to wireless SD cards for iOS photographers

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As a photographer, I’ve been thrilled to see iPhones become compelling replacements for standalone point-and-shoot cameras. Our world has improved in both measurable and immeasurable ways from widespread, immediate access to quality photography; the images documenting our lives are more compelling and numerous than ever before.

But professional photographers toting DSLRs now struggle to stand out from amateurs with iPhones. The Chicago Sun-Times infamously fired its entire photography department in favor of using images from iPhones and wire services, a move mocked by other newspapers but embraced by some broadcast journalists. Fixed-lens, small-sensor iPhones can’t match standalone cameras in image quality, particularly in dark settings, but they’re hard to beat in speed and convenience.

The question is how to combine the immediacy of iPhone photography with the quality offered by superior cameras. For me, the answer has been Eyefi‘s SD cards, which wirelessly transfer a standalone camera’s photos to an iPhone or iPad for rapid editing and sharing. (See my How-To on transferring, editing, and sharing DSLR/point-and-shoot photos with an iPhone or iPad for more details.)

Eyefi’s first $100 card contained 2GB of flash memory and a Wi-Fi chip; since then, every Eyefi card has improved on the same concept, so the brand-new 32GB Mobi Pro ($100) isn’t so much a surprise as the culmination of everything the company has done before. It has the highest storage capacity, broadest file support, and easiest workflow of any Eyefi card I’ve tested. Most importantly, it brings a more durable enclosure that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any potential reader, originally introduced in Eyefi’s more affordable non-Pro Mobi cards. Read on for all the details…

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Apple execs talk developing ResearchKit: ‘there’s a strong personal connection’

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Apple SVP Jeff Williams announcing ResearchKit

Following the introduction of ResearchKit at this month’s Apple event, Apple executives Jeff Williams and Bud Tribble held a question and answer session with Apple employees regarding the new initiative, according to a source who provided a transcript of the conversation. Williams, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Operations, is the top executive in charge of Apple’s health engineering initiatives, including the Apple Watch, HealthKit, ResearchKit, and fitness software. Tribble is a Software Engineering Vice President with a medical background as a doctor, and he organized many of the partnerships for both HealthKit and ResearchKit…

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ResearchKit may go beyond individual studies, open up era of ‘open-source’ medical research

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We’ve already seen the potential of Apple’s ResearchKit platform to sign up large numbers of participants to medical studies in an incredibly short time, but a reported conversation between the founder of an open science non-profit and an Apple VP suggests that the potential goes far beyond this.

Fusion, in an extensive profile, reports that Apple may be intending to collect anonymised health data in a central database accessible to medical researchers around the world, enabling each to benefit from that shared data to forward their own studies. The vision was initially put forward at a conference back in September, long before ResearchKit was announced, by Stephen Friend, the founder of Seattle-based Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that champions open science and data sharing.

“Imagine ten trials, several thousand patients. Here you have genetic information, and you have what drugs they took, how they did. Put that up in the cloud, and you have a place where people can go and query it, [where] they can make discoveries.” In this scenario, Friend said, patients would be able to control who could access their information, and for which purposes. But their health data would be effectively open-sourced.

Apple reportedly took an immediate interest in the idea …  Read more

Pixelmator 1.1 for iPad adds realistic watercolor painting, new Color Picker, more

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Pixelmator has today released a new update for the iPad version ($9.99) of its popular image editor. Version 1.1 includes a brand new watercolor painting feature, which can be used to create brand new pieces of art from a blank canvas or add stylistic additions to existing images and photos. Brushes overlay new colors additively with soft radiuses to create beautiful blends and shading. Pixelmator says they spoke to real artists to help design the brush strokes. It feels really nice to use.

Although watercolor painting is the headline addition, Pixelmator 1.1 also includes a new Color Picker with a swatch of previously selected colors, an updated rendering engine for better performance and much more. You have to see it in action … (video below)

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How-To: Transfer, edit, and share DSLR or point-and-shoot photos using your iPhone or iPad

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Apple’s iPhones became Flickr’s most popular camera phones in 2008 and most popular cameras overall soon thereafter, but even now, iPhones constitute only 9.6% of the photo-sharing site’s userbase. Despite the iPhone’s undeniable popularity, over 90% of photographers are using other cameras: Canon has a 13.4% share, Nikon 9.3%, Samsung 5.6%, and Sony 4.2%, with tons of other brands following close behind. While the cameras in phones continue to improve every year, they’re not the best tools for photography — they’re just the ones most people carry with them all the time.

If you shoot photos with a DSLR or point-and-shoot camera, you probably aren’t sending images directly to the Internet from the camera itself. You probably come back home, transfer your photos to your computer, then edit and share them with Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom or one of Apple’s three photo management apps — iPhoto, Aperture, or the beta version of Photos.

For around $30, your iPhone or iPad can change the way you shoot, edit, and share photos. Using the right accessories and apps, you can easily publish DSLR-quality photos a minute after snapping them. I’ve been doing this for years, and it works incredibly well; today, it’s actually better than at any time in the past, thanks to recent iPhone and iPad hardware improvements. This new How-To guide will walk you through everything you’ll need to know to use your iPhone or iPad as a photo editing and sharing station, looking at photo transferring accessories, editing software, and sharing options…

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Unscrupulous website adverts again redirecting some users to App Store from Safari

Update: Some of the websites shown in the video cannot be explained by the hypothesis posted below about adverts redirecting to the App Store. The large amount of corroboration by readers about this happening to them suggests there is a mechanism, somewhere along the line, causing a real problem.

Website advertisement companies have found a way to circumvent the protections introduced in iOS 8 to stop users from being kicked to the App Store because of certain cleverly-coded JavaScript advertisements.

I am now experiencing this myself, and it makes browsing on the iPhone unusable. Browsing to websites such as Reddit and Reuters and others now automatically open the App Store. In many cases, there is no way for me to read the actual content on the pages. You can see this happen in the video above.

This flared up as a serious issue last year, when users found they were being taken to random App Store pages without granting any kind of permission…

In iOS 8 beta 2, Apple supposedly had remedied the issue: “Safari now blocks ads from automatically redirecting to the App Store without user interaction.”. However, it seems that ad companies have now managed to work around these safeguards. Read more

iOS 8 adoption gradually climbs to 77% ahead of Apple Watch launch next month (Updated 2x)

iOS 8 adoption 77%

Update 3/31: Apple’s latest data reflects 78% as measured on the App Store on March 30th.

Update 4/14: Two weeks and one iOS 8.3 update later, the App Store now reports 79% iOS 8 adoption.

Apple now says that 77% of active iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches are now running some version of iOS 8. The remainder of active devices running older software than what was released last September include one out of five devices still running iOS 7, and a small 3% running iOS 6 or earlier. The data comes from Apple’s App Store Distribution dashboard, which captured the adoption rate earlier this week.

While the information does show the steady climb of active devices upgrading to iOS 8 at a steady, gradual rate, it does not reveal how many users are running the very latest version, iOS 8.2, which is required for iPhone users to pair with the upcoming Apple Watch, which will be released on April 24th… Read more

Apple Pay adds over 30 banks and credit unions, total approaching 150 institutions

Apple Pay iPhone 6

Apple has added dozens of new banks and credit unions to its list of institutions that support its Apple Pay mobile payment service. The new banks include several credit unions from around the United States as well as Charles Schwab Bank, RBC Bank, and other notable additions. The more than 30 banks added today are rolling out ahead of next month’s Apple Watch launch which will support making Apple Pay payments in stores. Below is the list of newly added banks as well as the full list of banks and credit unions where Apple Pay is currently supported: Read more