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Apple Daily Report for May 31, 2016

7 hours 27 min ago

The AWT News Update is on hiatus while my compadre, Steve, takes a road trip. In its place, I’ll offer a text-only (no podcast) summary of breaking stories with a tip o’ my hat to my former website, Apple Daily Report.

With Apple's next-generation iPhone rumored to ditch the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, one Chinese accessory maker is hoping to capitalize on the anticipated switch, and is now advertising a series of Lightning-to-headphone adapters with separate volume controls.

Apple spent $1 million on the staircase of its new flagship store in San Francisco. But that's a small chunk of the total $23.6 million the company spent on the building's construction and renovation. 

The Indian government on Monday said it was discussing Apple Inc's foreign direct investment application that seeks a waiver from a local sourcing rule.Nirmala Sitharaman, commerce and industry minister in the federal cabinet, told reporters her ministry would discuss the issue with the finance ministry.

Apple will likely take three years between full-model changes of its iPhones, a year longer than the current cycle. In a typical two-year term, fall 2016 was supposed to see a major upgrade. But the changes on the model to be launched this autumn will be minor, such as improved camera quality. 

An IHS Technology analyst has posted on Chinese social media that company supply chain research indicates that the iPhone 7 will feature 32 GB storage as the $199 base model, which would mean Apple would finally drop the much-loathed 16 GB SKU from its lineup with its new flagship smartphone expected in the fall.

Apple has quietly rolled out a change to the Apple TV App Store on tvOS in the last few days, which affects how apps are listed in the Top Charts. For the Top Charts (Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing), the Apple TV App Store will now hide listings for apps that the user has already downloaded, so the charts update dynamically per user. This means users can only browse for apps they don’t already own, removing some clutter and allowing less popular apps more opportunity to be seen.

Intel has confirmed that its seventh generation of Core processors are still on track to arrive in the second half of 2016. Speaking at Computex in Taipei, Intel said the chips — code-named Kaby Lake when they were first announced last July — are expected to launch in products by the end of the year, with production beginning this quarter. At the same time as it makes Kaby Lake chips available for desktop PCs, Intel also plans to launch its cheaper Apollo Lake processors, enabling features like USB-C in 2-in-1 devices and tablets.

Police don’t need a warrant to obtain a person's cellphone location data held by wireless carriers, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday, dealing a setback to privacy advocates. The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, voted 12-3 that the government can get the information under a decades-old legal theory that it had already been disclosed to a third party, in this case a telephone company.

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Notable apps and app updates for May 31, 2016

7 hours 33 min ago

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks.

Mac OS X Apps/Updates

Softpress has introduced Chroma for Mac. The $10 (for a limited time) app generates “well-balanced and complementary color palettes” from images. 

 

Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite and El Capitan, it emulates the way the human eye perceives color to create natural looking palettes. Individual colors from palettes can be copied or dragged in various formats, or entire palettes can be exported and integrated with most major design applications and the built-in system color picker.

min:60 has launched Vernissage 1.0. It’s a vector-based tool for Mac OS X 10.11 and higher.

It’s design to make it easy for anyone to create great looking app presentations and App Store presentations. Results can be instantly shared, added to documents, presentations or printed. The vector engine makes it possible to create PDF documents with infinite scaling or export to images of any resolution. The app also includes a Macintosh 128k (circa 1984) device.

Vernissage 1.0.0 is available at the Mac App Store for free in the Developer Tools category. The free version lets you explore base functionality, but excludes features which you can find via in-app purchases.

iOS Apps/Updates

iAppsTechnology has debuted Meet Me - Powerful Meeting Manager 1.0. The free social networking and business app allows you to schedule and manage any formal meetings in your workplace with your peers or customers. You can set reminders for any meeting to receive notifications. To follow up, Meet Me also allows the user to send messages and emails to the person they are going to meet.

pxl:Artificer has announced Famicam 64 v1.0. It’s a free 8-bit retrogaming-style camera & photo editing suite with more than 40 real-time, non-destructive, and fully adjustable filters. Famicam 64 lets you recreate the most iconic styles of the early computers and videogames. 

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Samsung’s NVMe PCIe solid state drive (SSD) a likely candidate for upcoming Macs

7 hours 34 min ago

Samsung Electronics has begun mass producing what it says is the industry’s first NVMe PCIe solid state drive (SSD) — the PM971-NVMe — in a single ball grid array (BGA) package, for use in next-generation computers and “ultra-slim” laptops.

Apple has used Samsung SSDs in past Macs. It’s very possible we’ll see the new version in iMacs, MacBook Pros, and MacBooks in the near future.

The new BGA NVMe SSD triples the performance of a typical SATA SSD with storage capacity reaching 512GB, according to Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president, Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering Team, Samsung. It features an extremely compact package that contains all essential SSD components including NAND flash memory, DRAM and controller while delivering outstanding performance, he adds.

The new SSD is 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm and weighs only about one gram (an American dime by comparison weighs 2.3 grams). The single-package SSD’s volume is approximately a hundredth of a 2.5” SSD or HDD, and its surface area is about a fifth of an M.2 SSD.

In addition, Lee says the PM971-NVMe SSD delivers a level of performance that easily surpasses the speed limit of a SATA 6Gb/s interface. It enables sequential read and write speeds of up to 1,500MB/s (megabytes per second) and 900MB/s respectively, when TurboWrite technology is used. The performance figures can be directly compared to transferring a 5GB-equivalent, Full-HD movie in about 3 seconds or downloading it in about six seconds. 

It also boasts random read and write IOPS (input output operations per second) of up to 190K and 150K respectively, to easily handle high-speed operations. A hard drive, by contrast, will only process up to 120 IOPS in random reads, making the new Samsung SSD more than 1500 times faster than an HDD in this regard.

The PM971-NVMe SSD line-up will be available in 512GB, 256GB and 128GB storage options. Samsung will start providing the new SSDs to its customers this month worldwide.

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Road trip! State of the internet for US travelers

9 hours 26 min ago

Image via Hercampus.com

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've probably seen quite a few entries lately showing me eating really good food or holding a microbrew. Yes, my spouse of almost 37 years (our anniversary is on June 9th) and I are taking a long-delayed road trip through Texas, visiting such beautiful and historical cities as Austin and San Antonio while hitting some world-renowned barbecue and steak restaurants. It's been a great opportunity to see how thing have changed for road trippers in terms of Internet availability and quality.

First off, I'm pretty pleased with the ubiquity of 4G -- even in spots where you wouldn't expect to have service. That's been a good thing, as my wife has been using Maps for navigation and having that capability even when out in the Texas "sticks" has kept us from getting lost. Of course, there are areas where one carrier may dominate another. For example, while we were stopped overnight in Fort Worth, Texas -- an AT&T stronghold -- I decided to finally get a data plan for my iPad Plus. When I was informed that tying the device to AT&T was a permanent decision, I decided to go with T-Mobile instead. Sadly, that didn't work too well in Fort Worth, but has been amazing in both Austin and San Antonio. 

The other oddity was finding out that the T-Mobile plan I signed up for gives me 200MB of free data every 30 days, and since I rarely use mobile internet with my iPad, that's going to be perfect. Yay, T-mo! 

One other good thing; it seems like most boutique hotels are finally waking up to the realization that Wi-Fi needs to be fast and free. It used to be that the more expensive the hotel you stayed at, the more you paid for dreadfully slow Wi-Fi service. I was glad to see that most pricy hotels are getting the hint that the bargain hotels picked up on a long time ago and offering Wi-Fi as a complimentary service.

It still surprises me just how clueless hotels are in terms of where to offer the free Wi-Fi. I personally like to access it in public areas like bars, but that's usually where the service is the worst. If I ever opened a bar or restaurant (which I won't, because both are very risky - almost as bad as trying to make a living off of a website), I'd have routers everywhere to provide super fast and ubiquitous Wi-Fi.

I also found that some locations are starting to partner with Facebook to provide Wi-Fi -- you basically check in on the popular social network as your "payment" to get on the service. It gives the business a plug, Facebook gets some free advertising (as if they need it), and you get Wi-Fi service. The service wasn't fast, but sometimes you'll take what you can get. 

Finally, I regret to tell you that sometimes being able to livestream an event is shut down by none other than Mother Nature. Last night, I stood with thousands of other people on the Congress Street bridge in Austin, waiting for the clouds of bats that appear around sunset. My goal? Facebook Live! Well, 35 minutes after sunset the bats were still a no-show, so being able to give my Facebook friends the thrill of live coverage of millions of flying bats went down the tubes. Never trust animals or the weather to cooperate.  

Have you noticed any improvements, or conversely, any decline in the ubiquity and quality of Internet service in the USA on your recent road trips? Let us know in the comments. 

Perhaps we’ll see an updated Thunderbolt Display at WWDC

11 hours 28 min ago

Apple’s long-in-the-tooth Thunderbolt Display may FINALLY be getting an upgrade at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in two weeks. The monitor hasn’t been upgraded since July 2011. It’s time for a 5K version to match the gorgeous display of the 27-inch iMac.

According to Macrumors.com, stock is limited or unavailable at several Apple Stores in North America, Europe, Australia, and other regions. For example, the article says that a spot check of Apple Stores in the U.S., for example, reveals that the Thunderbolt Display is available on a ship-to-store basis only at all or select locations in Albany, Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, Syracuse, and many other mid-sized cities and their surrounding areas. 

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The Apple TV shoots from ninth to third place in global set-top box sales

15 hours 48 min ago

Okay, let’s quit calling it a hobby. Apple TV sales have propelled Apple into third place for global set-top box popularity in 2015, based on revenue, according to IHS, Inc. That’s up from ninth place in 2014, according to the research group.

The surge is courtesy of continued strong growth in consumer retail over-the-top television (OTT) boxes, and the consolidation of the top players of the global set-top box market with Arris's acquisition of Pace and Technicolor's acquisition of Cisco's set-top box division, which were finalized last year. Bringing Apple into global contention from a unit-shipment standpoint, more than 10 million Apple TVs were shipped in 2015 -- the fifth largest volume in the world -- following Arris, Technicolor, and Skyworth and ZTE, according to IHS, Inc.

 “The STB market has certainly grown since 2007, when Steve Jobs originally described the Apple TV business line as a ‘hobby,’” says Daniel Simmons, director of connected home for IHS Technology. “Now we’re seeing sales of Apple’s consumer devices in the millions, which has catapulted the company ahead of leading STB manufacturers that ship to pay-TV providers. Apple TV’s particular success is a result of translating consumption habits from across Apple’s wider device ecosystem onto the TV screen.”

In 2015, global set-top box shipments grew 4.8 percent, year over year, to reach 353 million units, according to the IHS Set-Top Box Intelligence Market Monitor. This growth was driven by internet-protocol television (IPTV) in China, where telecommunications companies are pushing IPTV services to generate returns on their investments in fiber to the home (FTTH), which connects buildings with high-speed internet access. 

Revenue increased by 3.4% to reach $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the previous quarter, partially driven by next generation device launches of Apple, Amazon, and Roku. Revenue for 2015 fell 5.4% to $22.2 billion, due to reduced demand for high value STBs in North America, primarily caused by poor pay-TV performance in the region.

“The new positioning of Apple at the top of the set-top box market reflects several trends,” Simmons says. “Pay-TV specific set-top boxes are becoming less important for consumers to access premium content, because Netflix, HBO Go and other OTT [over-the-top] video platforms now offer top-tier content to retail OTT STBs. As retail STBs have grown in the market, traditional pay-TV set-top vendors have been forced to re-position themselves, with significant consolidation at the top of the market, diversification toward software and services in the middle, and low-end vendors moving toward broader volume.”

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Patent report: multi-screen video user interface for the Apple TV, tapping to move on-screen objects

16 hours 28 min ago

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product, so here are today’s patent highlights:

A future remote control app for the Apple TV may provide a “multi-screen video user interface” as evidenced by a patent (number 9,357,250) granted Apple today. It involves a handheld device — an iPhone or iPad, most likely — used to search for content to be displayed on a television. 

The device presents data according to a first user interface, and while searching for content, any changes to the navigation state of the handheld device are sent to the TV. The television receives an update and reformats the data according to a second user interface optimized for displaying the data on the television. 

The first user interface is native to the handheld device and the second user interface is native to the television. The user of the handheld device can utilize a familiar format while searching for content while viewers of the television are able to see the same navigation state as the handheld device but in a familiar format on the television.

A standard entertainment setup in a home includes a television, and often several people may be watching the same show or movie. When viewers are deciding which show to watch, typically a single person will navigate through the television interface searching for content while the other viewers watch the television screen and provide passive assistance to the person navigating. 

The television typically includes a remote control device, and the remote control device can be used to control the television and interact with the television interface(s) to browse for content and select content for viewing. However, the remote control device can be an “awkward and inefficient” device to use when searching for content to watch on the TV, Apple says in the patent filing. 

As increasing numbers of people are using smartphones, tablets, and other devices, the familiarity with these devices has increased as people use them for searching the Internet and performing a variety of functions that were traditionally performed by a desktop computer. Also, in some cases, devices with a touch screen interface can provide a more efficient and intuitive experience for interacting with display device user interfaces, according to Apple. The company says that, accordingly, new techniques are needed for managing interactions between multiple devices, such as a tablet computer and a television to enhance the user's experience. 

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 9,354,786) for “moving a virtual object based on tapping.” It would allow displayed virtual objects by responding to a user's tapping actions on the sides of an iPhone or iPad. The device can move the object by a small increment in a direction opposite the tapped surface, as though the tapping were gently nudging the object away from that surface. 

For example, if you tapped on the right side of the device, then the device can responsively move a currently selected object leftward by one pixel. Conversely, if you tapped on the left side of the device, then the device can responsively move the currently selected object rightward by one pixel. Similar movements of similar magnitude and in expected directions can be achieved by tapping the top or bottom of the device. A currently selected object could be moved in a more refined and precise manner than might be possible using a touchscreen alone, according to Apple.

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Clever CloudSlice offers an entry point to having a personal, private cloud

17 hours 57 min ago

By Aaron Lee

Escape Velocity Apps' CloudSlice for iOS lets you use your favorite cloud services in a new way. It lets you treat all of your linked cloud services as a single storage location which helps just a tiny bit to meet the need for a personal, private cloud to store your data that you'd access from your devices anywhere. 

One advance of CloudSlice is that, rather than rely on the security measures of a single service, it uses the combined security of five different services (iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and Box) to safely keep your photos private on the cloud. 

It works like this: CloudSlice lets you link up to five cloud storage services to your iOS devices and use them as one cloud storage location. All you need to do is select photos from your photo library and tap the upload button – CloudSlice handles all of the encryption, slicing and storage work for you. 

When you upload a photo using CloudSlice, each image is encrypted using a key only you possess and divided into slices. These slices are then uploaded to each cloud storage service.

After you upload a photo to your linked cloud services with CloudSlice, the pic is still on your device. Thankfully, CloudSlice doesn't automatically delete any photos.

On Apple's iCloud, your slices are kept in your private CloudSlice app "sandbox." This storage area belongs only to your iCloud account.

For all accounts except iCloud, a special “CloudSlice” folder is created to store your photo slices. The locations of these folders are:

  • Dropbox > Apps > CloudSlice
  • Google Drive > CloudSlice
  • Microsoft OneDrive > CloudSlice
  • Box > CloudSlice

Using CloudSlice has worked smoothly for the five days I've been test driving it. However, note that you shouldn't do anything with the aforementioned folders? Let CloudSlice to manage the slice files contained in them. If you move or delete a slice, then CloudSlice will be unable to find that part of your photo – which means your photo could not be put back together. 

CloudSlice's approach provides improved security since your complete photo isn't stored anywhere on the cloud; only the slices exist on the storage servers. If any individual cloud storage service is compromised, no one can get a copy of your photo, only slices, according to the folks at Escape Velocity Apps. Since each slice only contains pieces of encrypted image data, your photos aren't exposed.

Speaking of security, while you should definitely use different passwords for your linked cloud services, you should use the same CloudSlice password on each device on which you install the CloudSlice app. Otherwise, you won't be able to decrypt and retrieve your photos across all of your devices. 

CloudSlice is available at the Apple App Store for $2.99. At that price, it's worth a test drive. And while it still doesn't provide the perfect personal cloud for all your data, it's a start.

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ADATA’s Card Reader with Lightning Connector is more useful than Apple’s offering

18 hours 27 min ago

ADATA’s Card Reader with Lightning Connector is, as you can tell from the name, a Lightning card reader specially designed for iOS devices and licensed with Apple MFi (“Made for iPhone’) certification. It supports a wide range of video formats, and raw image files. 

The card reader can handle up to a 256GB SD or 256GB microSD card and — unlike Apple’s $29 Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader — features both read and write capabilities. That’s right. You can freely move content to and from the reader to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

The ADATA accessory is also, as far as I know, the first to combine SD and microSD on one reader. This provides simple, cost effective storage expansion since you can use your existing cards instead of buying proprietary expansion cards or additional hardware.

The Lightning Card Reader boasts a rugged, scratch-free body and sports a flexible cable. It also comes with a free app for content management and media playback even. The app works even when you’re not connected to the Internet, which is extremely convenient. Beyond working in online and offline modes, the ADTA tool incorporates a media player for music and video that can be used when you’re not logged into your iTunes account.

The Lightning Card Reader is a take-it-with-you item as it’s only (5.2 x 1.5 inches x 0.3 inches and weighs 0.32 ounces). You can buy it at Amazon for $37.99 (without a Micro SD cardD) or $79.99 (with a 32GB Micro SD card).

If you need a card reader for use with your iOS device, ADATA’s solution is a bit more expensive than Apple’s — but it has more features and is worth the extra few bucks.

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Rumor: Apple plans to use its VocalIQ acquisition on a big Siri upgrade

18 hours 57 min ago

Last year Apple acquired a UK startup that’s developed a natural language application programming interface [API] that allows humans and machines to have a much more natural conversation. It will use the technology for a “big upgrade” to Siri, its voice-activated digital assistant, reports Tech Insider.

VocalIQ has developed a self-learning dialogue API that’s based on a decade of natural language research, belief tracking, decision making and message generation. Last October The Financial Times reported that “While VocalIQ's speech processing and machine learning technology could be incorporated into devices from wearables to the connected home, the company was particularly focused on in-car applications. This included a collaboration with General Motors. 

VocalIQ described how a "conversational voice-dialog system" in a car's navigation system could prevent drivers from becoming distracted by looking at screens. Its "self- learning" technology allows "real conversation between human and the internet of things", VocalIQ wrote.” VocalIQ’s research could result in an amazingly powerful future version of Siri that could learn from your conversations with it.

Quoting an unnamed “source familiar with VocalIQ’s product,” Tech Insider says it’s much more robust and capable than Siri’s biggest competitors like Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Because VocalIQ understands context so well, it essentially eliminates the need to look at a screen for confirmation that it’s doing what you want it to do, the article says.

Chances that this rumor is true: 90% (IMHO). Look for announcements along this line, along with the debut of a Siri API, at next month’s Apple WorldWide Developer Conference.

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Caltech sues Apple and Broadcom for patent infringement

19 hours 12 min ago

Another day, another lawsuit. Apple and Broadcom have been jointly named as defendants in a legal complaint filed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) over alleged infringement of nine patented Wi-Fi-related technologies, reports MacRumors.com .

In the court filing with the U.S. District Court for Central California, Caltech accused Apple of selling various iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch models, along with other Wi-Fi products, that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and allegedly infringe on its patents. The university is seeking monetary damages. 

In 2015 Caltech sued Canon, Nikon and 4 other digital-camera makers, for infringing on six patents relating to pixel sensors in digital cameras. All of the patents came after research the university was doing for NASA. 

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Realm VP: Developers not that interested in watchOS apps, at least for now

19 hours 27 min ago

Apple developers aren't very interested in writing apps for the Watch these days, Tim Anglade, an app developer and vice president for the Realm mobile database Realm, told Business Insider. About 100,000 app developers use Realm's database in apps used by about one billion people.

"On a weekly basis we're seeing very few Watch apps, compared to iOS apps," Anglade told Business Insider. “For every 1,000 new iOS apps being built, there are 10 tvOS apps and maybe one Watch app.”

There was excitement in writing watchOS apps when the Apple Watch apps first debuted, but now it's seen as merely a companion to the iPhone, and many developers aren't seeing much money in Watch companion apps, he adds. That could change with the next generation Apple smartwatch and watchOS upgrade. There might be developments regarding this announced at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference. 

Meanwhile, Anglade told Business Insider that there is developer interest in the Apple TV. tvOS is a brand new platform so there's a gold rush for it, he added.

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Organika iPhone cases: Protective, organic, and they smell good, too

Mon, 2016-05-30 23:00

If the Kickstarter campaign being launched today by Slovenian startup Organika Cases is successful, those of us in the Apple blogging community may have to start rating iPhone cases on their scents! That's right; the company is raising funds to start production of cases that use wonderfully fragrant organic substances as a backing material.

The materials are meant to provide a lasting aroma for about a year, and my test with an Organika case made of coffee beans shows just how remarkable the scents can be. Picking up the case and placing it near my nose evoked the delicious scents of a coffeeshop, without the caffeine and cost of a cup of coffee! Other materials that are being used to create these cases include Alpine Hay, Jasmine Petals, and Rose Petals.

Mmmm! Coffee! Photo ©2016 Steven Sande

The organic material is covered with a special coating to ensure that it remains undamaged, and I found in my testing that the natural texture provided a good gripping surface. The sides of the cases are knurled for additional grip, so there's little chance that you'll accidentally drop your nice-smelling iPhone.

How much will an Organika case cost you? The company is offering them with an early-bird Kickstarter price for US$29 ($34 with a tempered glass screen protector included), hoping to raise $13,000 in total to guarantee that the handcrafted cases can be manufactured in quantity. I'm hoping that they're successful in getting these unique cases launched; the world will be a much better-smelling place with more Organika cases protecting iPhones.

Apple World Today is celebrating Memorial Day

Mon, 2016-05-30 07:06

We’ll be running a limited news update schedule today as we celebrate Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. Remember our veterans on this special day. And be safe.

 

Indian government nixes Apple’s plans to sell used iPhones

Mon, 2016-05-30 07:05

India's minister of commerce and industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, held a press conference on Monday to announce the government had rejected Apple's request, according to Live Mint

We are not in favour of any company selling used phones in the company, however certified they may be,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.

In March Apple sought permission from the government in India to sell used iPhones in the country. The goal was to increase its smartphone marketshare in India — which is under 2% right now.

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Mon, 2016-05-30 03:00

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Notable apps and app updates for May 27, 2016

Fri, 2016-05-27 14:30

On a regular basis, Apple World Today posts a list of notable new apps or app updates that have been released. They may not necessarily be new, but they're popular and deserve mention. Here are today's picks.

Mac OS X Apps/Updates

Eltima Software has announced Folx Pro 5.0, an update to their download manager for Mac OS X. 

It provides download management, smart files organization, and more. Version 5.0 offers a new interface design, supported by reworked features and new options. Downloading from websites requiring authentication has gotten easier with a password manager. Also, the new Folx Smart Speed Adjustment feature became even smarter and more flexible, according to the folks at Eltima.

Folx Pro costs $19.99. It can be downloaded from the developer's website. All registered users of Folx 4.0 Pro can upgrade to the latest version at a 50% discount.

iOS Apps/Updates

Michael Sherwin has introduced Game Studio Tycoon 3 - The Ultimate Gaming Business Simulation 1.0 (https://itunes.apple.com/app/game-studio-tycoon-3-ultimate/id1074068315). The $4.99 app lets you simulate a fully functional game development studio. Begin as a small startup in the gaming industry and work your way up to owning 7seven locations and managing 50 employees. Compete against 7 AI studios in your quest to become the biggest studio in the industry.

AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule updates could be coming

Fri, 2016-05-27 11:52

According to MacRumors.com, the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule are out of stock at many U.S. Apple retail stores. You can still buy ‘em at the online store, and the AirPort Express can still be purchased both online and in the retail stores.

With the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference about two weeks away, it’s possible that we could see updated units announced. The current models are a bit long-in-the-tooth. Apple last updated the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule at WWDC 2013 with faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, new designs, and other internal changes. The AirPort Express was last updated in June 2012.

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Rumor: Apple’s Amazon Echo competitor will be a ‘self-aware smart speaker’

Fri, 2016-05-27 11:37

I’m about to give you the latest speculation on the rumored Apple Siri-based speaker system. Get you pad and pencil ready; you’ll need to take notes to keep the rumors straight.

On Wednesday it was reported that Apple 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” that will be powered by Siri. Yesterday VentureBeat said that such a gadget may come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV, rather than a new hardware product.

Today CNET says that it won’t be a next generation Apple TV, but will be a “smart speaker” that could be "self aware" and detect who’s in a room using facial recognition technology. Quoting unnamed “people familiar with Apple’s plans” says this would let the device automatically pull up a person's preferences, such as the music and lighting they like.

However, CNET hedges its bets by adding that the hardware could be released by year's end, “but it's more likely to be available in 2017.” However, the aforementioned sources “cautioned, though, that Apple could change its plans to include a camera -- or even scrap the device entirely.”

Chances that this rumor is true: 50%. If Apple is planning such a device, I think we’ll see it in time for the holidays.

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A look at Belkin's elegant Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone

Fri, 2016-05-27 10:00

The Belkin Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone in action. Photo©2016, Steven Sande

There are thousands of charge docks for the iPhone, and probably hundreds that we've seen for Apple Watch. But until now, I don't recall reviewing a charge dock that can power both the iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. Belkin's Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone (US$129.99) does just that, and does it while looking pretty darned classy at the same time.

Design

The Valet is a cleverly designed, sleek package that is rather simple when you get right down to it. For the iPhone, there's a built-in Lightning connector in the base that can be adjusted up or down to fit whatever case -- or lack thereof -- you have protecting it. For the adjustment, you just rotate a knob that's located on the back of the Valet. Once you place the iPhone onto the connector, it rests against a horizontal crossbar that holds up the charging adapter for the Apple Watch. The result? Both devices can be charged at the same time. 

The base is finished in that same matte aluminum used on a lot of Macs, while the arm that charges the Watch is covered in chrome. It looks good! There's a snap-on plastic piece that can be used if you wish to have something to wrap the Watch's band around -- it goes onto the Watch charging adapter with a slight push.

Probably the best feature of the Valet from my perspective is that it includes an integrated Watch charger. Just about every other Watch charging dock I've reviewed has required the owner to supply his or her own charging cable. Not so with the Valet. The dock is powered by a single AC adapter that supplies juice to both Watch and iPhone. 

Function

Setup of the Valet was very easy, since I didn't have to unplug my Apple Watch charging adapter from some other dock and then wind the cable through this unit. Instead, I just found a place to plug in the device, placed the iPhone onto the Lightning connector and adjusted the knob in back to raise it slightly, snapped the plastic watchband holder to the Watch charging dock, and placed the Watch onto the Watch charger. Done.

The Valet without iPhone or Watch. Photo©2016, Steven Sande

I was fortunate to do my review about the time that the latest upgrade to watchOS became available, because this is the perfect setup for doing a Watch update. The two devices are both getting power, they're inches away from each other, and neither one of them are going to move because they're on the dock. 

One minor complaint is that the design of the Valet dock doesn't allow for the Watch's Nightstand Mode, which can be rather useful to those who like to have their charging Watch act as a clock with a quick tap. However, since the iPhone is literally about an inch away, it's quite simple to just tap its screen to see what time it is.

Conclusion

The Valet is expensive, and that's my other complaint about the unit. As an equivalent, though, you'd need to buy Apple's $49 Lightning Dock and the Magnetic Charging Dock at $79, and you'd be right at $128 -- and you wouldn't have a single unit that takes up a single plug on your wall. For many owners of both iPhones and Apple Watches, the Belkin Valet Charge Dock is going to make a lot of sense.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★