Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Alexander Wang launches Apple Music’s fashion channel

Apple Music was updated with a new fashion channel curated by fashion guru Alexander Wang.

The new “Apple Music Fashion” channel is available to Apple Music subscribers, which features three new Apple Music playlists curated by fashion designer Alexander Wang, along with other curated selections from Vogue, Burberry, and more.

Wang has worked with the Cupertino company to launch a set of three playlists: Chill, Hype, and Vibe. The designer’s playlists feature a mix of R&B slow jams to hardcore rap to “dance-floor ready tracks.” Each of them offers between 15 and 20 tracks.

Chill is my go-to playlist when I get home, when I need to decompress, or when I’m having a night in,” Wang told Vogue.com of a playlist that includes Rihanna, Drake, and Juicy J. 

Hype—those songs are mostly derived from playlists that I’ve played in a party bus or en route to a festival or going out. They are songs that kick up the energy,” the fashion guru says of a grouping that features Diplo, M.I.A., and Lil Jon.

Vibe is more a playlist that’s in between, with songs that have high energy and also are great classics. It’s good for having people over, drinks; it’s kind of pregame music.” 

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The playlists will be updated by Wang throughout the year with new songs. The launch of the new playlists is accompanied by a new Apple Music video called “When Fashion Gets Turned Up.” The 30-second clip shows Wang setting up for a party but ultimately falling asleep before it actually starts.

Wang’s playlists and the Apple Music Fashion channel can be accessed by all Apple Music subscribers on iOS devices, Macs, and Android devices.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Bose pushes first wireless noise-cancelling headphones

Bose has announced four distinct wireless headphones, headlined by two noise cancelling Bluetooth models, including the around ear QuietComfort 35 model and QuietControl 30s. 

Available in black or silver and priced at $349.95, the QuietComfort 35 headphones has the same around-ear design as previous wired QC cans and the company says they offer similar audio quality to its QC25 headphones. 

The headphones feature four separate microphones and an ANC chipset to block out external noise. In addition, QuietComfort 35 offers Bluetooth/NFC pairing, 20 hours of wireless or 40 hours wired battery life, 15-minute quick-charge functionality that allows for 2.5 hours of use. There is also a button interface that allows users to answer phone calls or control music tracks and volume. 

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In the meantime, the new $299.95 Bose QuietControl 30 wireless active noise-cancelling in-ear headphones are expected to allow users to block outside noise while they cram their skulls full of music.  The level of noise cancellation in this model can be adjusted via the Bose mobile app or via the physical controls on the buds. The company also packed the headphone’s battery, Bluetooth and ANC hardware into a compact, semi-rigid pod that wraps around a user’s neck.

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Finally, Bose also unveiled two new models of fitness-oriented Bluetooth earbuds, the SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Wireless Pulse. Both models are water and sweat resistant, while the latter is equipped with a built-in heart-rate monitor inside the earbuds. 

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The SoundSport comes in black and blue versions at $149.95 each. SoundSport Pulse ships this September, and will retail for $199.95.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Facebook Messenger adds 1500 new more diverse emoji

Facebook updated its chat app Facebook Messenger with over 1,500 new emoji.

The company took to the Messenger Facebook page to report that the new emoji bring a lot more diversity to the service.

From skin tones that you can choose to lots of women in great roles, Messenger is beginning to make emojis more representative of the world we live in.”

In addition to 1,500 new emojis, the chat app will now allow users to customize the emojis’ skin color, placing it in line with Unicode Consortium’s standards. Among other changes are new red-headed emojis and more female police officers and doctors and more.

The service’s new options are designed to better represent gender, including gender-agnostic choices and a more balanced representation of women in the work force.

We’re diversifying the genders to create a more balanced mix that’s more representative of our world,” Facebook said.

“Now, using Messenger emojis, you’ll see a female police officer, runner, pedestrian, surfer and swimmer for the very first time, and we’ll keep rolling these out,” Facebook’s Messenger team said in a statement.

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The new emojis are very similar to what was added in iOS last year, but Facebook says that many more new, diverse emojis are still expected to come in the future.

Last month, Google introduced 13 new emojis tasked to promote greater gender equality in the workplace, including female software engineers, plumbers and farmers.

Accessories, iPhone, News/Rumors

Chinese company advertises new Lightning-to-headphone adapters ready for iPhone 7

While there are a lot of rumors suggesting that Apple will drop the 3.5mm audio jack to make its next-gen iPhone even thinner, Chinese accessory maker is now advertising a number of Lightning-to-headphone adapters with separate volume controls.

Tama Electric is currently advertising three Lightning-to-headphone adapters, two of which also feature a micro USB port for charging while using headphones. The listing was first spotted by the Japanese blog Mac Otakara.

The Lightning-to-3.5mm-audio adapter appears to be MFi-certified and looks rather bulky.

First reports suggesting that the Cupertino company will drop the headphone socket from the iPhone 7 in favor of Lightning and wireless headphones appeared six months ago.

Apple is also rumored to be developing new Bluetooth EarPods that will pair and charge with a handset through the Lightning port, similar to the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro.

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The Tama products have no price listing, do not appear to be available for purchase yet and are unlikely to be sold as certified Made for iPhone accessories anytime soon. 

Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to debut in September with $649 starting price. Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will feature an upgraded A-series processor and likely an improved camera. The iPhone 7 Plus is also rumored to include a 256GB storage option, a 3,100 mAh battery, and 3GB RAM. 

Apple TV, News/Rumors

E!, Syfy, and Bravo apps available for fourth-gen Apple TV users

Pay-TV users get access to shows from NBC Universal’s Bravo, Syfy and E! on Apple TV with the launch of three apps on the connected-TV platform: Bravo Now, E! Now and Syfy Now.

NBC Universal announced that it is bringing a trio of new apps to the fourth-gen Apple TV.  That means, that customers will have access to all seasons of the networks’ most popular series, as well as current and past episodes.

NBC Universal has previously made NBC, USA, NBC Sports, and CNBC apps available on the tvOS-powered Apple TV, meaning there are currently seven NBC Universal networks available to cable subscribers with an Apple TV.

The Bravo Now app includes the latest episodes of “The Real Housewives of New York City” , “Below Deck Mediterranean,” comedy “Odd Mom Out” and “Top Chef.” The lineup is also expected to include scripted series “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” and season five of “Vanderpump Rules.”

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Syfy is home to shows such as “The Magicians,” “12 Monkeys,” and “Face Off.” The E! Now app features fan-favorite “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”  and Caitlyn Jenner’s “I Am Cait,” as well as other shows like “Botched” “#RichKids of Beverly Hills,” and “WAGS.”

All 3 apps are available in the tvOS App Store for free.

Apple earlier this year announced its first original TV show focused on the “app economy” in cooperation with Will.i.am.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple reportedly working on Amazon Echo-like device, will provide Siri SDK

According to a new report, Apple is working on a device similar to the Amazon Echo and is going to introduce a Siri SDK.

Apple is upping its game in the field of intelligent assistants. After years of internal debate and discussion about how to do so, the company is preparing to open up Siri to apps made by others. And it is working on an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer,” The Information reported.

A week ago Google officially presented its Amazon Echo competitor Google Home, while earlier this month the original Siri creators revealed their latest personal assistant Viv. 

The report says that the iPhone maker will give access to its Siri personal assistant to outside app developers by releasing an SDK. With its help, app developers will be able to make their apps and services accessible through Siri, similar to Amazon, Google, and Viv.

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Apple has previously cooperated with a number of third-party services, includingYelp, but those deals came from Apple working on a company-by-company basis. An SDK will allow any developer to integrate their app with Siri. The report also notes that the app developers would be responsible for ensuring that Siri connected to their app when appropriate.

Apple is expected to make the Siri SDK available in time for WWDC in just a few weeks. However, it is unclear when the actual hardware device will be available. The company is believed to bring Siri to the Mac at WWDC.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Alleged iPhone 7 prototype сase leak indicates 4 speakers

French language blog Nowhereelse.fr shared a set of photos purporting to demonstrate a prototype rear case for the next-gen iPhone featuring four separate speakers, two at the top top and an additional two at the bottom.

According to previous suggestions, the company may drop the headphone jack in the new iPhone and replace it with a second speaker that would let users take advantages of an additional audio amp provided by Cirrus Logic, which would additionally supply the noise-cancellation smart codec in an also-rumored Lightning-equipped headphone accessory.

The posted image was likely borrowed from a promotional video created by an Italian case maker which obtained this prototype case in anticipation of the upcoming iPhone 7 refresh. The photo shows the wider camera lens hole and no horizontal antenna lines.

The case also features a stacked camera and LED flash package setup, now aligned across the vertical axis in the upper left corner as opposed to horizontal alignment like on all current iPhones.

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According to other iPhone 7 rumors, the device may get the 3.5mm headphone jack, the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector and a dual-lens camera setup for better low light performance, better light sensitivity and the ability to adjust focus after the image has been taken.

Some other leaks suggest the company’s new iPhones will have look similar to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s series, bringing only minor tweaks to the design, while the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus model is expected to feature a dual-lens camera system and Smart Connector.

Apple is expected to announce the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this fall at a special media event in September.

iPhone, Mac, News/Rumors

Apple can allow users to unlock Mac via Touch ID on iPhone with OS X 10.12

Apple engineers are reportedly working on a remote unlock function that is tasked to let an iPhone unlock a Mac when in close proximity.

The auto-unlock feature may be integrated into OS X 10.12 update, which is expected to come in just a few weeks at its annual WWDC event.

There are also rumors speculating that Apple might also allow users to unlock a Mac using only an Apple Watch, though the company would have to devise a way to ensure security. This is similar to the functionality offered by the third-party app Knock. Last month, Knock’s developers even brought support for the Apple Watch, breaking real barrier to Apple adopting the same concept.

The feature, which uses Bluetooth LE frameworks, will likely serve as the automatic unlocking function on the Apple Watch, which allows an unlocked device to bypass the passcode restriction on a connected Apple Watch. iPhone’s Touch ID button would possibly be used as a verification method for simpler logins. 

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Apple is reportedly planning to reveal OS X 10.12, alongside iOS 10 and other platform updates, during its developer conference in San Francisco next month.

The 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference is set to take place from June 13th through June 17th in San Francisco.

In addition to the unlocking feature, the company is also working on integrating Siri into the Mac. Users may also see some improvements to Photos and iTunes. 

News/Rumors

Apple hiring wireless power engineers from uBeam

Multiple reports indicate that Apple has hired two engineers with an expertise in wireless charging from uBeam.

A report from The Verge reveals that the iPhone maker has recently hired Jonathan Bolus and Andrew Joyce, two engineers who formerly worked at uBeam, a startup that specializes in wireless charging technology.

UBeam is developing wireless energy from ultrasound, using high-frequency sound to power devices. The company’s technology utilizes a high frequency transmitter that emits inaudible ultrasonic sound through the air. The highly focused beam then targets receivers actively requesting power.

“Like a microphone, the receiver picks up the sound and converts it into usable electrical energy using our proprietary energy-harvesting technology,” says uBeam.

However, the company has recently been the subject of controversy as one former engineer criticized its technology in a blog post, noting it doesn’t work as promised.

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Earlier this year Bloomberg reported that Apple was planning to add wireless charging to the new iPhone it releases in 2017. The Cupertino company desires to implement a much more advanced technology that could allow users to walk around a room and have their device charging the entire time.

Apple isn’t a newcomer to wireless charging and has filed patents in the past, according to which, phones would be charged wirelessly up to three feet.

News/Rumors

Tim Cook meets Didi Chuxing’s president to discuss Didi acquisition

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Liu Qing, president of Didi Chuxing, visited an Apple Store in Beijing on Monday morning, just several days after Apple’s announcement about a $1 billion investment into Didi.

Accordung to the report by the state-controlled China Daily, the main goal of Tim Cook’s visit to Beijing was for an App Store “developer activity.” Apple CEO also revealed that app developers in China have now earned over $7 billion, half of which came in the past twelve months alone.

Then Cook stated that the company made its investment because Didi “has a very great management team,” and “its objective is also environmental, hoping to help reduce pollutions by making more efficient use of cars.”

Named the Chinese Uber, Didi is a ride sharing service and Apple’s investment happens at a time when the company is much rumored to be secretly developing an electric car project. Apple CEO said The Cupertino firm and Didi shared concerns for the environment.

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Previously Cook also stated that the Didi investment happened “for a number of strategic reasons,” including “a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market.”

China is the iPhone maker’s second-largest market by revenue which has been making moves to strengthen domestic firms.