Apple releases iOS 8.4 with Apple Music, Beats 1, and all-new Music app

As promised, Apple has just released the iOS 8.4 software update featuring an all-new Music app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to the public after testing with developers since mid-April. While it includes smaller changes throughout, the update primarily delivers an overhauled Music app with Apple Music (notice the new icon), its brand new subscription music streaming service, and Beats 1, its 24/7 live radio station that launches today. Read more

Apple’s ‘Proactive’ to take on Google Now with deep iOS 9 search, Augmented Reality Maps, Siri API

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After several years of quiet development, Apple is readying a major new iOS initiative codenamed “Proactive,” which will leverage Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to create a viable competitor to Google Now for Android devices. Like Google Now, Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on the user’s data and device usage patterns, but will respect the user’s privacy preferences, according to sources familiar with Apple’s plans.

As an evolution of iOS’s Spotlight search feature, Proactive is the fruit of a long-term initiative that involved the acquisition of small app developers, and integration of core iOS apps. It will also work with Apple’s Maps application to display personally relevant points of interest using an augmented reality interface, and integrate with a third-party Siri API codenamed “Breadcrumbs”…

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iOS 9 supports ‘iPhone 6S’ Force Touch, may enhance iMessage, Keyboard & Apple Pay

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Some of iOS 9‘s more important planned enhancements include split-screen apps on iPads, a new Home app for controlling HomeKit accessories, a new system-wide UI font, a mass transit directions service for the Maps app, and major quality, performance, and security enhancements. However, multiple sources note that there will also be some smaller, but still important, tweaks to the operating system. We spotlight some of these expected changes below…

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Future of iPad: Dual-app viewing mode, then J98/J99 ‘iPad Pros,’ multi-user support

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Facing slowing growth for the first time since the iPad’s 2010 debut, Apple is working on several significant software and hardware updates to reinvigorate the tablet over the next year. Apple is developing a dual-app viewing mode, 12-inch iPads codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” as well as support for multi-user logins, according to sources briefed on the plans. First planned for debut last year, the split-screen applications feature for the iPad could be introduced as soon as June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, while multi-user login support and the 12-inch iPads will apparently arrive later…

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Apple’s planned iOS 9 ‘Home’ app uses virtual rooms to manage HomeKit accessories

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Apple’s plan to manage upcoming HomeKit-compatible accessories could revolve around a new iOS app called “Home,” according to sources familiar with the app. Introduced at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, HomeKit is an Apple initiative designed to encourage accessory makers to integrate “connected home” accessories such as Wi-Fi garage door openers, smart thermostats akin to Nest’s Learning Thermostat, and wireless door locks with iPhones and iPads. Using Siri or the Home app, users will be able to remotely control parts of their homes directly from iOS devices…

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ResearchKit Asthma app developer praises framework in first official blog post

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Apple’s ResearchKit platform debuted earlier this year alongside iOS 8.2 and has been gaining traction ever since then. Today, LifeMap Solutions, a company taking advantage of ResearchKit, posted the first official entry on Apple’s official ResearchKit blog. In the post, the company discussed its launch of Asthma Health, which was one of the inaugural apps built on ResearchKit.

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GE announces Siri-controlled, color-changing LED lighting with support for HomeKit

GE announced today that it’s introducing HomeKit enabled LED lighting products offering Siri-controlled solutions for both the home and enterprise. With support for Apple’s new HomeKit framework, users will be able to control the lights from their iOS device using Siri.

The company noted that the new line of GE HomeKit lighting will also include its GE Align technology that “tunes the light spectrum to help promote the body’s natural sleep cycle by controlling the blue concentration of light output.” Read more

Apple previews revamped Music app with iOS 8.4 beta ahead of WWDC streaming service launch

Apple has just released the first iOS 8.4 beta, which includes Apple’s upcoming revamped Music app. The seed for developers is available via the Apple Developer Center website.

As we reported earlier this year, iOS 8.4 includes an all new Music application. The new software design is present in this beta, while Apple is expected to announce the streaming service component in June at WWDC.

Here are the release notes from Apple for the new app:

– All-New Design. Music app has a beautiful new design that makes exploring your music collection easier and more fun. Personalize playlists by adding your own image and description. Enjoy stunning pictures of your favorite artists in the Artists view. Start playing an album right from the album list. The music you love is never more than a tap away.

– Recently Added. Albums and playlists you’ve recently added are now at the top of your library, making it effortless to find something new to play. Simply tap play on the artwork to listen.

– Streamlined iTunes Radio. Discovering music with iTunes Radio is easier than ever. You can now quickly return to your favorite stations in Recently Played. Choose from a selection of hand-curated stations in Featured Stations, or start a new one from your favorite artist or song.

– New MiniPlayer. With the new MiniPlayer, you can see what’s playing and control playback while browsing your music collection. To open Now Playing, just tap on the MiniPlayer.

– Improved Now Playing. Now Playing has a stunning new design that showcases your album artwork the way it was meant to be. In addition, you can begin wirelessly streaming your music using AirPlay without leaving Now Playing.

– Up Next. It’s now simple to find out which songs from your library will play next — just tap the Up Next icon in Now Playing. You can even reorder, add, or skip songs whenever you like.

– Global Search. You can now search from anywhere in the Music app — just tap the magnifying glass. Search results are conveniently organized to help you quickly find that perfect song. You can even start an iTunes Radio station right from Search.

iOS 8.4’s Music application includes revamped search, the UpNext and MiniPlayer features from iTunes on the desktop, improved iTunes Radio functionality, a new Recently Added page, and more on top of the new design. On the iPad, there’s a new split-screen interface on the iPad, as seen in the screenshots below. On the iPhone, the landscape interface has been removed entirely. The icon for the app remains the same, however. We have a hands-on gallery of several more screenshots below:

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IBM announces new partnership w/ Apple for HealthKit & ResearchKit data

Apple CEO Tim Cook with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Apple CEO Tim Cook with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

IBM this evening has announced a new dedicated health unit that will deepen its relationship with Apple. The service, called Watson Health, will use the data collected with Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit services to provide information to various other companies including Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. From there, those companies can integrate the data into services they offer to healthcare companies. Apple will work to integrate Watson-based apps into HealthKit and ResearchKit for these purposes (via Forbes).

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Apple’s iOS 8.3 update blocks access to apps from desktop file managers like iExplorer

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Apple has seemingly moved to block desktop apps that allow users to manage files on their iOS devices in its recent iOS 8.3 update, as noted by MacRumors. Many popular file transfer apps, such as iFunBox, iTools, iExplorer, iBackupBot and PhoneView, have experienced the issue that prevents users from accessing file directories for apps on iOS devices. The apps were previously a popular way for users to install software on iOS devices that Apple does not allow in the App Store, like game emulators. Read more