Apple CarPlay now supports Google Play Music

If for some reason you’re an iOS and CarPlay user that also manages your tunes with Google Play Music, you’re in luck. Google’s music service is now compatible with Apple’s in-car system, which means you can control things from the safety of your car’s display rather than fiddle with your iPhone while on the road.

CarPlay already works with Apple Music, Amazon Music and Spotify, so it makes sense that Google would want to get its own service into rotation here. According to 9to5Google, Google Play Music for CarPlay has four main sections. You can view your recommendations on the Home screen, recently played tunes on Recents, your saved music catalog on Music Library and find genres and other collections on Stations. To get this fine feature, you only have to update your Google Play Music app on your iPhone and you’ll be good to go. You can also move the Play Music icon to your main CarPlay screen in the CarPlay Settings on your iPhone to make it even easier to access.

Source: 9to5Google

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Sweetgreen’s iOS app logs calories directly to Apple Health

To this day, Apple Health still lacks a food database, leaving health-conscious iPhone owners with few options. Most people just end up relying on an Apple Health-integrated app, like MyFitnessPal, to tally all their meals. But, let’s face it, that can be a pain, especially when it comes to searching for stuff you eat on the fly. However, Sweetgreen has come up with a nifty idea to make life easier for calorie-counters. In what seems to be a first, the restaurant chain’s iPhone app lets you send your order’s dietary data to Apple Health from your cart.

The new option (spotted by AppleInsider) essentially cuts out the middleman. It also lets you rest easy in the knowledge that you’re logging the exact calorie count taken from the source. These things matter when you’re on a strict regimen. Frankly, it’s surprising more restaurant and food delivery apps don’t offer the feature. Then again, do you really want UberEats to track the calories in that late-night kebab?

Via: AppleInsider

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Qualcomm wants to ban iPhone imports with new Apple complaint

Qualcomm’s latest move in its rapidly escalating legal battle against Apple is bold. It filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), saying that the import and sales of some models of iPhones is “unlawful” and is requesting that the commission “bar importation of those iPhones and other products.” According to Qualcomm, those devices “infringe one or more claims of six Qualcomm patents covering key technologies that enable important features and functions,” and constitute “unlawful and unfair use of Qualcomm’s technology.”

On top of that, Qualcomm is seeking a Cease and Desist Order to bar further sales of “infringing Apple products that have already been imported and to halt the marketing, advertising, demonstration, warehousing of inventory for distribution and use of those imported products in the United States.”

In other words, Qualcomm wants to make it impossible for Apple to sell any iPhones that it believes have used its technology without permission. It’s also seeking “damages and injunctive relief” via a complaint filed in the District Court for the Southern District of California.

According to Qualcomm, the six patents in question “enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life.” The company even made an infographic to show you how iPhones use these patented technologies.

It’s not yet clear which generations of the iPhone will be affected, or how the US ITC and the respective courts will rule. Just as Qualcomm countersued Apple earlier this year, it’s certain the iPhone maker will respond soon.

Via: CNBC

Source: Qualcomm

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CNBC: Apple wants the iPhone to manage your medical history

Apple has been working on a hush-hush project that would make your whole medical history more accessible, according to CNBC. The tech titan reportedly wants to turn your iPhone into a repository for every diagnosis, lab test result, prescription, health info and doctor’s comment. That way, you don’t have to go through a bunch of emails to find that one test result sent as a PDF attachment or to have your previous doctor send data over to your new one. All you need to do to share any part of your medical history is to look fire up your iPhone.

According to CNBC, Cupertino is attempting to replicate what it did for music: it wants to create sort of an iTunes for health that would serve as a centralized management system for all your medical info. Apple is reportedly already in talks with various hospitals and health IT industry groups to work out the best way to make its vision a reality. One of those groups is “The Argonaut Project,” an initiative promoting the widespread adoption of open standards for health info, while the other is “The Carin Alliance,” an organization that wants to give patients control over their own medical data.

It’s unclear how far into the project Apple is at this point, but it sounds like the tech titan plans to store all your data on the cloud, since it has already started talking to cloud storage startups. If the company succeeds into making your full medical history available on the iPhone, it will solve what the medical industry calls “interoperability crisis.” That’s the lack of data-sharing between health providers that could lead to unnecessary mistakes and missed diagnoses that could be fatal for some patients.

Source: CNBC

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Apple issues billion-dollar ‘green’ bond to support clean projects

Just because Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement doesn’t mean the American people are going to go along with him. Cities, states and private companies from around the nation have already pledged to abide by the rules set forth in that accord, even if the federal government won’t. And, on Tuesday, Apple put its money where its resistance is by issuing a billion dollar bond for financing clean energy and other green projects.

This move comes a year after the company issued a similar $ 1.5 billion bond after the Paris climate agreement was ratified in 2015. “Leadership from the business community is essential to address the threat of climate change and protect our shared planet, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told Reuters.

That money will go towards efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Apple’s own facilities, as well as throughout its supply chain, by financing renewable energy, procuring more recycled and renewable source materials so as to reduce its need to mine for them. For example, one of the 16 projects that Apple financed with its original bond last year was Liam, the robotic iPhone disassembler.

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Apple now insures your Mac in case of spills and drops

AppleCare is Apple’s extended warranty program for almost all of its products, while AppleCare+ covered iOS devices specifically. That little plus sign is important, too, since it protects your beloved iPhone and iPad against accidental damage. So it’s pretty big news that, as of this week, AppleCare+ is now available for Macs, protecting your pricey desktop and laptops against trips, spills and falls.

Much like its near-namesake, AppleCare+ for Mac covers your device for three years at a pop, including telephone support. The company will look after you for two accidents during that time, although each one still carries a hefty premium. Should you break your screen or dent your external enclosure, you’ll pay $ 99, while anything more severe is priced at $ 299.

The desktops are the cheapest to insure, with the Mac Mini setting you back $ 99, while an iMac is $ 169 and the Mac Pro costs $ 249. Laptop-wise, the MacBook and Air models are priced at $ 249, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro is $ 269 and the 15-incher is $ 379. Then again, if it’s a choice between AppleCare+ or shelling out the better part of three grand on a new laptop, three or four Benjamins is preferable.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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iOS 11 could use the iPhone’s NFC chip for more than Apple Pay

Apple may have an awkward history of avoiding and then embracing NFC in the past, but new developments at this week’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference indicate those days are long gone. Apple already announced new NFC functions coming to the Apple Watch with watchOS 4, but according to documents for the upcoming iOS 11 release, the iPhone’s NFC chip might also be handling much more than just Apple Pay transactions and Passbook check-ins.

Although the feature didn’t get any airtime onstage Monday, iOS 11 Beta adds support for Core NFC to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. (And presumably future hardware as well.) In release docs, Core NFC is described as “a new framework for reading Near Field Communications (NFC) tags and data in NFC Data Exchange Format.” At the moment, the iPhone’s NFC chip is useless for anything other than Apple’s in-house payment system, but the new framework appears to let the chip in the latest iPhones read any tags — not just Apple Pay tags — and take action on them based on the phone’s location. NFC could open up more ways for iOS apps to communicate with connected devices and iPhones could also replace NFC-based keycards or transit passes like London’s Oyster card and the Bay Area’s Clipper card. In theory, Core NFC could also enable functions like tap-to-pair Bluetooth speakers — something Android users have been enjoying for awhile now — but it’s possible Apple could block such features to keep the “magic” pairing experience limited to AirPods and other devices with its proprietary W1 chip.

On the other hand, opening NFC could also invite potential privacy issues onto iOS. Like Bluetooth Beacons, NFC tags allow for seamless, location-based interactions for better or worse. While the ability to tap your phone to a movie poster and instantly bring up the trailer might seem magical, even anonymous data gathered from those sorts of interactions can paint a startling clear picture of a consumer.

Get all the latest news from WWDC 2017 here!

Via: WCCFTech

Source: Apple Developer

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Apple brings mulitroom speaker support to HomeKit with AirPlay 2

Apple’s HomeKit has provided iPhone and iPad users with a simple platform to connect multiple smart home devices, but it’s shied away from one of the most important gadgets: speakers. While we’re yet to see the rumored Siri speaker, the company announced today that it’s expanding its smart home hub to support a large number of third-party audio hardware.

Many of the brands you’d expect to be on board are, including Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Denon, Bowers & Wilkins, Libratone and, of course, Beats. However, Sonos isn’t on the list, at least at the moment. If you happen to own a connected speaker made by one of Apple’s listed partners, expect them to introduce new speakers that integrate with the HomeKit app, allowing you to control your multi-room setup and enjoy collaborative Apple Music playlists that you’ve curated with friends.

The functionality comes as a result of AirPlay 2, an updated version of Apple’s wireless AV technology. The company hasn’t clarified if older AirPlay-enabled speakers can be updated to support the new platform — we’ve contacted Apple for more information and will update you once we hear back.

Get all the latest news from WWDC 2017 here!

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What to expect from Apple at WWDC 2017

As a rule, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is predictable: New versions of iOS, macOS and watchOS are the stars of the show, and anything else is gravy. WWDC 2017, however, is shaping up to be different. Although there hasn’t been much talk about what the new software will entail, the rumor mill has kicked into high gear with word of new Macs, new iPads and even a smart speaker. All told, operating systems may actually be the least exciting part of Apple’s keynote. But which products are likely to steal the spotlight, and which ones are just wishful thinking? That’s what we’re here to sort out.

A Siri speaker in your living room

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Here’s something you haven’t seen in a while: the prospect of Apple introducing a completely new device at its developer conference. Rumors are swirling of that the company will unveil a Siri-controlled speaker at WWDC, overshadowing virtually anything else Apple would otherwise discuss at the keynote. It might not ship until sometime later in the year (likely to give developers time to support it), but production may have already started.

As you might expect, the speaker would represent Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. It would likely handle many of the tasks that Siri already does on your iPhone, such as checking the weather, playing music and controlling HomeKit gear — you just wouldn’t have to pick up a gadget to listen to songs or turn on your lights. The speaker could be particularly important if you want to control your household when you’re away because you currently need to use an Apple TV or iPad as a hub to control your HomeKit-compatible devices remotely.

There hasn’t been much discussion of the speaker’s design, but Bloomberg believes it would stand out from the pack by focusing on audio quality. You’d enjoy louder, crisper sound than what you typically get from rivals like Echo or Home. It might also incorporate virtual surround sound that would provide a more immersive experience. There has even been talk of Apple including ambient noise sensors to adjust the volume when you’re talking, but it’s not clear that this feature made the cut before production began.

New MacBooks

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A speaker might not be the only hardware introduced on stage. Apple is rumored to be updating its laptop line at WWDC, possibly in an attempt to underscore its renewed support for the Mac. The most credible rumors, again from Bloomberg, suggest that these would mostly be under-the-hood updates. Both the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook would jump to seventh-generation Intel Core (aka Kaby Lake) processors that promise both faster performance and longer battery life. They might support more memory, too. Customers have complained that the MacBook Pro’s maximum 16GB of RAM isn’t enough to handle heavy workloads, and there have been hints that the laptop will support as much as 32GB with its next refresh. The more diminutive MacBook might also support as much as 16GB, although that’s clearly not as vital an upgrade given that it’s only designed for basic tasks.

There’s some tangible evidence to back up these claims. Apple recently delayed shipping times for 15-inch MacBook Pro orders, pushing their delivery to the day after the WWDC keynote. The Cupertino firm frequently stalls orders like this when it’s clearing out inventory for an outgoing device, so that’s as strong a sign as any that something is afoot.

Don’t get your hopes up for a MacBook Air update, though. Although the same Bloomberg rumor had Apple considering an Air refresh, neither the filings nor other clues point to an imminent upgrade. If there is one, we’d expect it to fly under the radar. This would be a maintenance update that does just enough to keep Apple’s most affordable system relevant in 2017 — hardly something you’d want to crow about in a keynote. You might see a switch to seventh-gen Core processors but not much more than that.

A 10.5-inch iPad

While Apple’s mainstream iPad just received an update in March, the iPad Pro is more than a little overdue. Neither Pro model has been touched for more than a year, and they’re based on a design that hasn’t changed much since the original iPad Air in 2013. Where’s a truly new iPad, one that pushes the concept forward? Thankfully, it sounds like you might get it at WWDC — there’s mounting buzz that an update is right around the corner.

If you believe Bloomberg, it’s the long-rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro that many expect to replace the 9.7-inch edition. This would be more than just an upsized version of the slate you see today. Slimmer bezels would give it a footprint roughly comparable to its smaller sibling, so you wouldn’t have to give up portability for the sake of a larger screen. The 10.5-inch tablet is likely to pack a faster processor (a souped-up version of the iPhone 7’s chip, possibly called the “A10X”), and it might have a higher-resolution display to match. One IHS Markit analyst believes it could have a 2,224 x 1,668 LCD that slots in neatly between existing 9.7-inch iPads (2,048 x 1,536) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2,732 x 2,048).

There isn’t much else to know about the specs at this point, but we have found a few clues. Case leaks from Twitter’s @ShaiMizrachi point to a familiar layout for the 10.5-inch iPad, including the stereo speakers you’ve seen on all Pro models so far. Also, Consomac has found Eurasian Economic Commission filings for four previously unknown iPad models split into two families. It’s easy to guess that these may be WiFi and cellular versions of both the 10.5-inch Pro and another iPad, possibly a refreshed 12.9-inch model.

Just don’t expect the iPad mini to get any attention at the same time. Apple only recently doubled the storage for the iPad mini 4, so it’s doubtful that you’ll see a more substantial upgrade a few months later. In fact, a BGR rumor claims that Apple might drop the mini in the long run. This tiniest of iPads reportedly doesn’t sell well compared to its larger counterparts, and the iPhone 7 Plus is close enough for some buyers. Bigger iPads are the future, and WWDC could reflect that.

Software: iOS, macOS and Siri’s future

Apple’s software plans would normally take center stage in one of our WWDC previews. This is a developer conference, after all. But thus far, there have been precious few credible hints as to what Apple will announce. This isn’t to say that this year’s updates will be low-key — it’s just that Apple may be keeping a lid on secrets this year.

In a Bloomberg interview, Apple’s Jimmy Iovine mentioned that iOS 11 would include a new Music app that does a better job with videos. Projects like Carpool Karaoke might fit better into the app, something that’ll help Apple push more exclusive video content going forward. Also, there are longstanding rumors of improved iPad support across all of iOS. You could use the Pencil to annotate all kinds of content, such as websites or email messages. This certainly makes sense if there’s a 10.5-inch iPad in the works, since Apple has been keen to demonstrate that iPads can serve as PC replacements.

When it comes to the Mac, there’s even less to say — we’re practically limited to speculation. One theory is plausible, though: Given that Apple File System launched on mobile devices with iOS 10.3, it stands to reason that macOS is next in line. If so, you could expect speedier, more secure storage that’s better-optimized for Macs with solid-state drives.

We haven’t heard anything about new versions of watchOS or tvOS, so any big features will come as surprises.

Instead, the greater focus might be on a common thread for all of Apple’s software: AI. It’s no secret that Apple has been making heavy investments in AI, and WWDC could be an ideal venue to showcase improvements, whether they apply to Siri or individual apps. Some of Apple’s acquisitions may indicate what’s on deck. Turi, for example, helps detect patterns and personalize content. Siri might be better at understanding your requests by recognizing what you tend to look for while iOS might be more proactive when suggesting photos or music.

Improvements to Siri could be particularly crucial this year. If there really is a Siri speaker, its success could hinge on high-quality AI; it has to answer common requests as well as an Echo or Home. And few would doubt that rivals like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana have distinct advantages over Siri on any device, such as Google’s access to its powerful search engine. Although we wouldn’t expect a total revolution in Siri’s abilities, it probably can’t remain as-is for much longer.

Wildcards: Mac Pros and iMacs

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad

You can never completely rule out surprises at Apple events, even if WWDC’s focus limits the kind of introductions you’re likely to see. And there are certainly a few candidates this year.

One such possibility is a very early preview of the redesigned Mac Pro. Apple revealed the current workstation’s design at WWDC 2013, months ahead of its release, and it wouldn’t be shocking if there were a repeat showing as the company reassures developers worried about the fate of pro Mac desktops. But the new Mac Pro is still a long ways away (it’s not expected until sometime in 2018), and there may not be much point to showing it off if Apple isn’t ready to provide the finished specs.

Augmented reality might also show up, since Apple has been very open about its interest in AR technology. With that said, there aren’t any believable rumors of Apple having something it can show at WWDC. We’ve heard that it could be testing AR glasses, but they might not ship until 2018, if not later. At best, you’ll get a sneak peek.

If there’s a relatively realistic wild card, it might be the pro iMacs that Apple confirmed back in April. The company was only willing to commit to a “later in 2017” release at the time, but some of the hardware needed to make this all-in-one is available now. Notice how Intel’s new Core i9 chips have the abundance of cores that pros crave? No, they’re not Xeons, but they could easily fit the bill if you need to compile code or edit 4K videos. It may just be a matter of whether or not Apple is willing and able to use these parts quickly. We wouldn’t be surprised if these high-performance iMacs weren’t unveiled until the fall.

Image credits: Reuters/Stephen Lam; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Apple ‘Neural Engine’ chip could power AI on iPhones

Apple’s focused on increasing the speed of every new mobile processor generation, most recently pairing its quad core A10 Fusion chips with its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models last September. But to keep its devices competitive, Apple is building a secondary mobile processor dedicated to powering AI.

Sources told Bloomberg that Apple is developing the chips to participate in two key areas of artificial intelligence: Augmented reality and self-driving cars. The tech titan’s devices currently split AI tasks between two chips — the main processor and a GPU — but this new one, allegedly known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, has its own module dedicated to AI requests. Offloading those tasks should improve battery life, too.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if the chip will come out this year. That puts Apple further behind Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chips, which already have a dedicated AI module, and Google’s Tensor Processing Units available in its Cloud Platform to do AI heavy lifting.

Apple announced it was deploying its own deep neural networks at last year’s WWDC, but that kind of machine learning happens on server racks, not mobile processors. Unlike the company’s differential privacy methods protecting data sent to Apple’s servers, the Neural Engine chip would let devices sift through data on their own, which would be faster and easier on the battery, just like the M7 processors did for motion back in 2013.

Source: Bloomberg

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