The Morning After: Wednesday, March 22nd 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

How would you like a stealth delivery of Apple announcements? Well you’ve got them. While there’s nothing earth-shattering, there is a new tablet, a vivid new iPhone and a new video app. Also in today’s Adult Week series, we digitally clear out our PC and feel all the better for it.


Say goodbye to the Air. Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad is its cheapest yet

Apple just simplified its tablet lineup in a big way. The company has introduced a new 9.7-inch iPad — not the Air 3, just… iPad. You’ll find a slightly older but still speedy A9 processor inside instead of the Air 2’s aging A8X chip, and Apple has doubled the capacities to give you either 32GB or 128GB of storage. There are some drawbacks, however, that come with that cheaper price tag.


Beats two different shades of black. Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus now come in red

Apple has also just snuck out a new special edition red iPhone 7, with barely any fanfare. (Although rumors that something was afoot began earlier today when Apple’s online store went down.) The red aluminum iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be launching globally, adding some welcome color to the black and plainer metallic shades we’ve had until now. The pair of iPhones (with either 128GB or 256GB of storage) will launch in stores and online this Friday, March 24th, starting at $ 749.


The 16GB iPhone is dead.Apple doubles the storage of the iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4

Apple is also increasing the storage across all iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4 configurations. The lowest-capacity 4-inch iPhone SE is now 32GB, up from 16GB, and the 64GB model has been scrapped in favor of a 128GB version. Basically, Apple has doubled the storage and finally killed off the last 16GB iPhone, but good news: The prices haven’t changed.


You can try it out todayMeet Android O

Google has officially announced the next version of Android, and it’s O. There’s no dessert-themed nickname yet, but the next big update will have some tweaks aimed at extending battery life. They’ll work by managing how apps operate in the background, limiting services, location updates and broadcasts to help squeeze out more time between charges. Other new features include picture-in-picture on phones and tablets, and an autofill feature that should make it easier to use a password manager. If you want to get an early jump, there’s a developer preview available right now for several Nexus and Pixel devices.


It involves more than just emptying your Trash folder Adult Week: The life-changing magic of tidying up (your computer)

Now that many of us have terabytes of storage at our fingertips (or in the cloud), there’s a temptation to keep everything, from apps to old bookmarks. Despite that, Dan Cooper tried applying strategies from Marie Kondo’s famous book to his digital life, hitting the delete button on things that don’t provide some form of joy.


Deal from the middleThe hidden depth of mobile puzzle game ‘Where Cards Fall’

This top-down 3D puzzler will have players follow a handful of teenagers over the course of ten years, building houses of cards to navigate them along the way. Coming from the developers of Alto’s Adventure, Where Cards Fall will arrive later this year on iOS, Apple TV and Steam with more complex mechanics and story than we’re used to seeing in a mobile game.


How did it not have this already? iTunes movie rentals finally work across multiple devices

Nearly a decade after iTunes added movie rentals, Apple has finally made it work across devices. Previously, if you watched a rental on one phone, tablet or Apple TV, it would be stuck there until it expired. With the latest update, viewers can pause and resume on another iPhone or anywhere else they’re logged into the app. The only problem is that for now, the feature is limited to beta and developer builds, but it should be available widely soon enough.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Manually mark your parking spot in Google Maps for extra precision
  • UK also bans devices from cabins on flights from Middle East
  • Adult Week: I don’t know how to drive and I may never have to learn
  • Adidas ‘Knit for You’ pop-up shop uses robots to make your clothes on the spot

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iTunes movie rentals finally work across multiple devices

Somehow, Apple went until 2017 before adding one of the most basic features to iTunes. You see, for the past nine years, when you’d rent a movie via the app, you’d have to watch it on the device the rental originated from. So, if you rented Manchester by the Sea on your commute, watched a few minutes and then wanted to finish bumming yourself out on your big screen at home, you were out of luck. With the latest version of iTunes (12.6) and “rent once, watch anywhere,” that’s changed.

Assuming you have iOS 10.3 installed on your iPhone or iPad, and tvOS 10.2 on your Apple TV, the feature should be ready to take for a spin. A caveat, though: As 9to5Mac notes, those OS updates are only available in public beta and developer beta channels, respectively. Once those go wide, though, the feature itself should follow suit. This isn’t a massive improvement, but hey, neither is a red iPhone 7.

Via: 9to5 Mac

Source: Apple

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Apple doubles the storage of the iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4

The new, limited-edition red iPhone 7/7 Plus and upgraded 9.7-inch iPad aren’t the only things Apple has to share today. The company is also increasing the storage across all iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4 configurations. The lowest-capacity 4-inch iPhone SE is now 32GB, up from 16GB, and the 64GB model has been scrapped in favor of a 128GB version. Basically, Apple has doubled the storage and finally killed off the last 16GB iPhone, but good news: The prices haven’t changed. The new 32GB iPhone SE costs $ 399/£379 (the same price as the old 16GB device), while the 128GB model comes in at $ 499/£479. Both will go on sale this Friday, March 24th.

For the iPad Mini 4, Apple has simply done away with the 32GB and 64GB models, introducing a new, lone 128GB config. You’re getting an even better deal here, since you’re only expected to pay as much as the 32GB was worth for quadruple the storage — though it makes sense customers should get more bang for their buck since the internals of the Mini 4 are lagging behind Apple’s other iPads. The 128GB tablet goes on sale today for $ 399/£419 for the WiFi-only model, and $ 529/£549 if you add LTE connectivity.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

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Pottery Barn’s AR app will preview your future furniture

When you’re looking to purchase the perfect couch for your living room, you probably want to make sure that it looks good next to your end table. Pottery Barn hopes to entice shoppers into its stores with a new augmented reality app set to do just that when it launches later this month.

3D Room View will give you the option to see any Pottery Barn product in any of your existing rooms, even if it’s empty. You will be able to add, move and remove furniture, rugs, lamps and pillows and change the color of the pillows and upholstery. Two other AR apps will be available later this month, too: one to help teens design their own rooms around a desk from Pottery Barn and another that shows you couches in 360-degrees. Why you’d need a separate app to spin a couch around is anyone’s guess, however. Update: these last two are web-based tools for desktop and mobile, not native apps.

The new Pottery Barn app is made possible by Google’s Tango, an augmented reality technology that’s already been used by BMW and the Gap (as well as by mummy-studying scientists). Unfortunately, there are only two Tango-enabled phones, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus ZenFone AR; you’re out of luck if you have an iPhone or any other Android handset. The app is also only available in the San Francisco Bay area for now, with plans to roll out across the country later this year. Sorry, east coasters. Update: The app itself is available to everyone, but the pilot program that pairs interested customers with design specialists who can show the Tango-enabled tools in-store is only in the San Francisco area.

Ikea and Lowe’s already offer AR apps, while East-coast competitor Wayfair launched its own last November. Pottery Barn isn’t really innovating so much as playing catch-up. Still, if there’s one way to get a bunch of Silicon Valley tech bros to boost your bottom line, it’s with a gimmicky smartphone app.

Via: SF Chronicle

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The Shins made a collage app for band flyers

It’s been thirteen years since Garden State propelled The Shins to mainstream success. In that time, the band’s lineup has changed entirely, save for James Mercer, its founder and ever-present frontman. Now, Mercer is hoping to use his band’s profile to propel another venture into the mainstream. At SXSW 2017, Mercer was in town to promote both his band’s new album, Heartworms, and “Pasted,” a collage application for iPhone and Android.

At a random house in East Austin, Mercer played a short set of Shins songs new and old, and also gave demos of his new app. In an interview with Engadget, he explained why he believes Pasted is a necessary addition to your phone. He’d been searching for an app that could create collages; something that could recreate the “hand-made” look of the flyers he’d created when The Shins first formed in the ’90s. “There are a lot of really amazing AI-based apps,” he said. “Prisma is fantastic, but the problem is that, if you’re somebody that has an artistic bent, you want to be able to hack it and find your thing.”

And so, he, together with musicians-turned-coders Zeke Howard and Ben Fogarty resolved to create Pasted. It’s a simple app to use — you select photos, and then it combines them together. You can then redefine the masking for each image, enlarge, rotate and position the individual elements, and apply various treatments. You can also add stickers and other pre-made elements to your images.

The Shins

Using the app, Mercer was able to put together a simple image with his and the Engadget video team’s faces in a matter of minutes. The more time you spend on a collage, obviously, the better results you’ll get. The cover art for The Shins’ latest two singles (like “Mildenhall,” above) was created using the app, and it looks far more professional than the quick image of Engadget faces.

Pasted will launch in April on iOS, with an Android version to follow later. Over time, Mercer hopes to collaborate with artists to offer “Paste Packs” that may be charged for, but for now the app and all of its content will be free. “My big picture goal is to be driving around and see a flyer that some band has used our app to make,” said Mercer. “I think we’re just trying to fill a niche, just another little tool where you can express yourself artistically, efficiently, and share it.”

Click here to catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2017.

Source: Pasted

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Teenage paranormal thriller ‘Oxenfree’ now fits in your pocket

Spooky adventure game Oxenfree has made its way to mobile. Developer Night School’s sidescrolling tale debuted on PC and Xbox One early last January, with a stop on PlayStation 4 last May that added, among other things, a New Game+ mode. Now it’s available for iOS devices. At the minimum, iPhone 5S and iPad Air running iOS 9.1 or newer. The iTunes listing says that the game has been reworked a bit for the platforms and features “custom touch controls.” Sounds like it should make working through the game’s radio and cassette puzzles a little more tactile. To celebrate launch week Night School has knocked 20 percent off the regular price, bringing it down to $ 3.99.

If you grab it, make sure to play with headphones on — the game’s soundtrack is simply too good to ignore. Why? Well, my coworker Jessica Conditt’s description should be reason enough: “[It’s] an electronica daydream that fades into a bumping nightmare; it’s the aural interpretation of the sun setting over an abandoned, beachside military base packed with deadly secrets.” Need even more convincing? Peep the YouTube embed below. And if you really like it, it’s available on vinyl from iam8bit.


Via: IGN

Source: iTunes

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Amazon puts Alexa inside your iPhone

Now you can talk to Amazon’s intelligent assistant whenever you use the Amazon app on your iPhone. Alexa will be able to do much more than just deal with your Amazon account, like play songs from Amazon Music, give you news updates, or even tell a (bad) joke or two. You’ll also be able to use any of your previously enabled skills that are available within the Alexa ecosystem. According to Amazon, the one thing you won’t be able to do just yet is to ask Alexa to open your door locks with your voice.

Don’t uninstall the Alexa app just yet, though, because you’ll need it to tweak your default settings.

The iPhone isn’t the only handset to get Alexa — Huawei announced the voice service for its upcoming Mate 9 phone — but it is the first. Getting Alexa on as many devices as possible makes a lot of sense for Amazon, which is competing with Apple and Google for digital assistant supremacy.

The iOS update to the Amazon app should roll out starting today and continue for the next week.

Via: VentureBeat

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Popular teen social app Wishbone hacked

Popular teen social networking app Wishbone was hacked, according to a report today from Motherboard. Now, millions of email addresses and thousands of cell phone numbers are circulating the internet, many of them from kids under 18.

Wishbone is one of the top 10 most popular social networking apps for iPhone in the US, according to analyst firm App Annie. It lets users vote on pop culture-based questions like whether they prefer Dominos or Pizza Hut, whether they prefer eyeshadow or eyeliner, or which Kendall Jenner outfit they like best. After picking a side, they get to see how their friends voted. Hackers apparently accessed the app’s database through an unprotected API and took an estimated 2.2 million email addresses and over 287,000 cellphone numbers, along with personal information like birthdates and gender. No passwords or financial information were stolen, Wishbone said.

Wishbone owner Science Inc. told Motherboard the security hole is now fixed, and offered an apology to users in the following statement:

We value your privacy and deeply regret that this incident occurred. Maintaining the integrity of your personal information is extremely important to us. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused you. We are continuing to investigate this matter and have taken and will continue to take appropriate action to prevent future similar incidents. Please be assured that we will keep you informed of any developments in the investigation that may be of importance to you.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Motherboard

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The Morning After: Wednesday, March 15 2017

Hey, good morning!

Welcome to Wednesday. Remember all those big, beautiful TVs from CES back in early January? Well, we have prices for both Sony and Samsung’s newest screens. And if you can afford a $ 5 OLED TV, how about a $ 1,650 smartwatch? Welcome to the big-spender edition of The Morning After.


Everything has a price.Sony’s first 4K OLED TV starts at $ 5k

After Sony unveiled the beautiful XBR-A1E during CES, our next question was how much will it cost? Now we know, the price-tags are $ 5,000 and $ 6,500 for the 55- and 65-inch models, respectively. That puts them squarely between the mid- and high-end models from OLED pioneer LG, and Sony says they’ll be in stores next month.


Are you ready Neo? There could be a ‘Matrix’ relaunch on the way

It’s early, but Hollywood news outlets are reporting that Warner Bros. is working on a plan for another movie version of The Matrix. Names tossed around in the rumors include writer Zak Penn and actor Michael B. Jordan, although there’s no word on any level of involvement from the Wachowskis. The only question now is if there’s any thing left that can recapture the magic of the original movie and its bullet-time action sequences that blew away audiences in 1999.


You can swap the smart part out for a mechanical timepiece TAG Heuer made a modular $ 1,650 smartwatch

When TAG Heuer released its first smartwatch two years ago, it had a price tag of $ 1,800 and was dubbed the most expensive Android Wear device on the market. Still, more than 56,000 people bought it, which is certainly enough reason for the Swiss watchmaker to delve into the smartwatch business once again. And so it has.


It’s artSamsung’s 2017 QLED TVs start rolling out

Samsung is also ready to deliver on its 2017 TV lineup, with LED sets ranging in price from $ 2,800 for a 55-inch Q7, to $ 6,800 for a 75-inch Q8. The top of the line Q9 series has yet to appear, however. The company also promised its second-gen Ultra HD Blu-ray player launches next month for $ 400, and showed off a quirky ‘The Frame’ TV that doubles as a piece of artwork when it’s not in use.


It’s not a mistake this time‘La La Land’ composer on electronica’s key role in the film

Where does a drum machine fit in with traditional jazz music? That question drives the plot of not-quite Best Picture La La Land, and provided a challenge to its composer Justin Hurwitz. That challenge paid off with an Oscar for Best Original Music Score, and in an interview at SXSW, Hurwitz explains how he pulled off being a both a revolutionary and a traditionalist.


Say hello to Orisa Your new ‘Overwatch’ hero is a four-legged robot tank with a lot to prove.

Orisa, the latest character to enter the Overwatch fray, will be widely available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 21st. Orisa is an “anchor tank,” as Blizzard calls it — this means she’s the kind of massive, damage-absorbing hero that an entire team can rally behind and use as a home base, even in the middle of hectic fights. Reinhardt is another example of an “anchor tank” in Overwatch. For experienced players, Orisa is described as a mix of Reinhardt (a big, healthy character with a giant shield) and Zarya (who has a laser gun and barriers she can throw onto her allies).

But wait, there’s more…

  • ‘Full Throttle Remastered’ will tear up the road this April
  • This self-cleaning bag freshens up your smelly gym clothes
  • Microsoft’s Slack-fighting ‘Teams’ app rolls out to all Office 365 users
  • ‘Fistful of Stars’ lets you experience a stellar birth in VR
  • Russia finds Apple guilty of fixing iPhone prices

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Russia finds Apple guilty of fixing iPhone prices

Google isn’t the only American company facing regulatory trouble in Russia. The country’s antitrust body has ruled that Apple is guilty of fixing prices for iPhone 5 and 6 variants at 16 local retailers. Reportedly, the company tracked prices at these stores and would ask them to raise the price if it was ever deemed “unsuitable.” If they didn’t comply, Apple supposedly had the authority to terminate their reseller deals without so much as an explanation.

Apple has 3 months to contest the decision once it’s published in full later in March. It’s not clear what the proposed penalty will be, but Google was hit with a relatively modest 438 million ruble (currently $ 7.4 million) fine. Execs aren’t likely to lose sleep over the financial side of the ruling, then. Officials add that Apple has mended its ways with a policy that should prevent future trouble.

We’ve asked Apple for comment. However, a spokesperson tells the Financial Times that the company “worked closely” with the antitrust agency and is “glad to put this matter behind us.” Apple isn’t likely to fight this verdict, in other words — unlike in its e-book case, it’s more interested in moving on (and protecting sales in a major market) than fighting to the bitter end.

Via: Financial Times, 9to5Mac

Source: FAS (translated)

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