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 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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VSCO adds full RAW photo support to its iPhone app

VSCO, smartphone photographers’ image tweaking app of choice, is letting iOS users tap into all the original image data captured on iPhone 6’s and up. Alongside a host of new community features, it’s offering full RAW image support on capture, importing and editing. This means photo editors will be able to access a wider range of colors and tones that are sometimes lost due to compression on typical JPEG photos. RAW support will even work on your must-share DSLR images too.

The update is also the culmination of the VSCO team’s efforts to better showcase its community and editorial team content. This includes a machine-learning engine that surfaces related images of what it spots in images. There’s also a new search and a discovery section specifically for notable community posts.

VSCO has introduced a new (invite-only, subscription-based) membership at an early-access price of $ 20 per year. This will give users monthly updates and early access to filter presets, particularly VSCO’s new Film X interactive presets. These tap into SENS, its new imaging engine, and attempt to offer, according to VSCO CEO and founder Joel Flory: “a physical model of film and not just a static preset.” New presets currently include the Fuji Pro 400H, and Kodak Portra 160 and 400. According to the team, they’ve tried to create a physical mode of film — and that also includes real-time shaders that you can tweak during live capture.

If you’re willing to subscribe, you’ll net the entire preset library (over 100 of those), which total around $ 200 if purchased through the app. RAW support, at least, comes for free in the new update available now. Oh and for that invite-only membership? Add your name to the waitlist here, and get ready to feel exclusive.

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Periscope gets iMessage hearts, improved iPad support on iOS 10

Periscope’s been tweaking its service to better take on main rival Facebook Live, and with the release of iOS 10 today, the Twitter-owned app gets a big upgrade. The new version of the livestreaming app will come with native iPad support, improved global and home feeds, as well as hearts stickers that you can use in the iPhone’s messaging app.

The announcement also includes a feature that was already disclosed last week that lets you see when people you follow start tuning in to your broadcast. Now, you’ll see the avatars of your friends chilling out at the bottom of your screen while you cast your stream.

In iOS 10, you’ll be able to send stickers that resemble Periscope’s famous hearts that pop up when people like your stream. This is only on iMessage, though, which means it’ll only work between those on iOS (sorry, Android users).

The app’s global feed, which shows all the livestreams around the world at that time, will now display other broadcasts that are similar to what you’re watching. Videos will also be larger and autoplay in the home and global feed.

The new native iPad support means that instead of having to press a “2x” button to scale up the iPhone app to fit the larger screen, you’ll now get an app interface tailored for a bigger display.

As the world gets more and more dependent on livestreams for its news and entertainment, service providers are providing better tools to support content creators (and consumers). Just last week, Twitter added a new tool that will alert you whenever celebs and your friends start broadcasting, making sure you never miss a new stream.

Source: Periscope on Medium

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Alexa support coming to BMW’s ‘Connected’ assistant app

BMW first revealed its revamped “Connected” assistant app in March, and it will finally be available this month. As a reminder, it does a lot more than sync your phone and car, acting more like the love-child of Waze and Google Now. It can scan your device’s calendar and address book, then calculate the drive time to an appointment based on your route and real-time traffic data. After factoring the vehicle’s fuel or battery level, it will send a “time to leave” notification to your iPhone or Apple Watch.

All of that information, including addresses and arrival times, is automatically synced to your car when you get in, assuming it’s a ConnectedDrive BMW, Rolls Royce or Mini. Yes, other apps including Android Auto, Waze and others let you do most of those functions. But Connected, being integrated with the vehicle, also lets you lock and unlock your vehicle, flash the headlights to help find it, and turn on the AC before you get in, among other functions. Once you arrive, it’ll give you “last mile” walking or transit directions.

Later this year, BMW will join Ford as one of the few automakers with Alexa support. That’ll let you shout commands at an Echo to remotely execute door locking and other functions, or get info like your vehicle’s fuel or battery levels. BMW says that the app will arrive on iOS sometime in August, with the Alexa update coming later in the year. There’s no word yet on Android support.

Source: BMW

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iPhone 7 may keep the headphone jack and support dual SIMs

One of the most intriguing rumors about the upcoming iPhone 7 is that it’ll ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning users will have to get audio output via Lightning or Bluetooth. But according to a leakster, this may no longer be the case. Rock Fix, a smartphone repair shop based in China’s Ganzhou, has recently been posting photos of alleged iPhone 7 components. One of these is apparently the 4.7-inch model’s Lightning cable assembly which, contrary to what we’ve been hearing before, still has a headphone jack attached to it. And more recently, the shop shared photos of what it claims to be the next iPhone’s dual-SIM trays, which will be a first for Apple if true.

Other parts shown off by Rock Fix include some screen panels in the usual two sizes, some SanDisk memory chips of up to a whopping 256GB, plus a dual-lens camera for the larger model (hello, Huawei!). The shop owner also told us that there will be some changes to the antenna design, though he clarified that this won’t get rid of those antenna bands on the back of the phone; maybe it’s more to do with the rumored switch to Intel’s modem for the GSM models.

Despite such recent leaks, there’s still some uncertainty regarding the iPhone 7’s features. For one, just three days ago, an industry insider claimed he heard from a Foxconn source saying Apple had canned the dual-lens camera because the technology wasn’t ready, but the following day another insider shot this rumor down, as he had heard from multiple suppliers saying the tooling was already made and that it’d be too late to change it (a self-proclaimed Foxconn employee commented below this Weibo post to say mass production started last month). He added that Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi are also exploring dual-lens cameras for their upcoming smartphones, so it’ll be interesting to see what the mobile industry will offer in the coming months.

Source: Rock Fix (1), (2)

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