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Updated: 32 min 58 sec ago

iPhones may not be the only Apple devices that get flexible displays

2 hours 9 min ago

It’s widely believed that the 2017 iPhone will have a curved, possibly flexible, display. A new patent filing (number 9,516,743) by Apple hints that iPads and even Mac laptops could benefit from such technology.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that it can be challenging to form displays for electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops. The inactive border region in a display contains support circuitry such as signal lines and thin-film transistor circuitry but doesn’t contain active pixels for producing images for a user. 

To reduce the apparent size of the inactive border region, it’s possible to use a flexible substrate in forming the display. This allows portions of the inactive border region to be bent out of sight, reducing the size of the visible inactive display border and enhancing the appearance of the display. Active display regions may also be bent. For example, an active display region may be bent so that a display conforms to the curved shape of a device housing. 

However, challenges arise when bending displays. Apple says that, if care isn’t taken, metal signal lines can crack and display pixel circuitry can become damaged. Damage to display components such as these may cause the display to fail prematurely. The company wants to alleviate such problems.

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.

Tim Cook denies that Apple Watch sales are tanking

2 hours 22 min ago

Apple CEO Tim Cook refutes the data from the IDC research group that says Apple Watch sales dipped 71% year-over-year from 3.9 million units in the this quarter of 2015 to 1.1 million units in the third quarter of 2016.

In an email to Reuters, he said that said the gadget's sell-through — a measure of how many units are sold to consumers, rather than simply stocked on retailers' shelves — reached a new high in quarter three of 2016.

"Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year," Cook wrote."Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch," he said.

However, the CEO didn’t respond to Reuter’s request for specific sales figures for the smartwatch.

Netflix has the top-grossing app at the Apple App Store

2 hours 30 min ago

After making it possible for subscribers with iPhones or Android phones to download some of their favorite programs instead of just streaming ‘em via a broadband connection, Netflix’s app now tops the list of top-grossing apps at the Apple App Store, as noted by Variety. The download feature is available on all plans.

On the iOS app, users can visit the menu and discover a section of content "available for download." The selection includes a mix of original programs such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, as well as older movies and TV shows from networks such as Parks and Recreation

Netflix’s app is free to download in the Apple App Store. However, the company started to offer users the ability to pay for their monthly subscription fees via in-app subscription fees a little over a year ago.

Elgato’s Avea Flare is a fun, but novelty, portable mood lamp

3 hours 27 min ago

Elgato’s Avea Flare is a novelty item, but a fun novelty item. Whether it’s US$99.95 worth of fun, only you can decide. 

The Flare is a portable mood lamp that looks like an ostrich egg (it’s 8.7 inches tall, six inches in diameter, and weighs just over a pound). Made of thick white plastic with a matte finish, its bottom is a flat base designed for placing on the floor, a counter, or any other flat surface. On the bottom of the Flare are a circular series of tiny rubber pads for grip, a metal induction ring for charging, and two rubber buttons. The Power button turns the light on and off, while the Mode button cycles through different brightness settings. 

About that induction ring: the Flare doesn't have to be plugged into a power outlet after it’s been charged charged by placing it atop the circular induction base. Of courser, the base itself must be plugged into an outlet. The Flare uses a built-in lithium polymer battery that lasts up to eight hours when fully charged. And it will stay on indefinitely when it’s perched atop the charging base

The appeal to Apple fans is that you can control the Flare’s ambience with your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch via a free app that you can download at the Apple App Store. It uses Bluetooth, so you need no additional gateways or bridges.

With the Elgato Avea app, you can connect to the light with Bluetooth to choose the scene you want and to control the brightness, saturation, and vividness of the scene. The app remembers your settings for each scene for the next time you turn it on. What’s more, if you connect more than one Flare, they’ll automatically coordinate their lighting to create an even more immersive atmosphere.

There’s a choice of 10 different dynamic lighting scenes —including Fairy Woods, Caribbean Sea, Candy Land, Magic Hour, Mountain Breeze, Cherry Blossom, Sunny Field, and Calm Provence — that range from subtle (Caribbean Sea) to garish (Candy Land). For something a bit more basic, you can also select from a number of primary colors lighting moods.

You can also set up a wake-up alarm that slowly turns on the Flare to simulate a sunrise, as well as connecting it to a variety of alarm sounds. Unfortunately, you’ll have to set the alarm every night.

With its compact footprint, you can lug the Flare pretty much anywhere you’d like. It has a water resistance rating of IP65, so you can even place it beside a swimming pool. 

Unfortunately, the Flare doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit, a framework that allows control of compatible home automation devices through iOS and Siri. The Home app in iOS 10 lets you securely control any "Works with Apple HomeKit” accessory. You can also organize your accessories by room, manage multiple accessories at the same time, control your home with Siri, and more.

Also, since it’s a mood lamp you can’t use it to light an entire room. You simply use it to set a specific mood. 

It’s pretty cool, but, as I said at the beginning of this review, only you can decide if it’s cool enough to fork out 100 bucks.

The Avea Flare works with: the iPhone 4S or later; the iPod touch (fifth generation); the iPad mini or iPad (third generation or later) with iOS 9 or later; and the Apple Watch, with watchOS 2 or later. 

Would you like a Mac/iPad/Apple Watch update program?

3 hours 57 min ago

Apple has an annual subscription program that allows you to update to the latest and greatest version of the smartphone. What if you could do the same with your Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch? As an Apple journalist that would be very cool and convenient. I can’t see it happening, but CCS Insights predicts the Cupertino, California-based company will introduce a combined subscription model for its hardware and services in 2018.

“The concept of ‘Apple as a service’ builds on the success of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program,” the research group said. 

Of course, the success of such a program depends on what it would cost. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be inexpensive. And while I’d love to be able to easily keep all my Apple equipment up to date, I’m dubious this will happen. However, this isn’t the only prediction CCS made. The analysts also predict:

  • Apple will extend its apps and services to other platforms by 2018;
  • Apple will launch a mixed reality platform and hardware by 2017;
  • Apple will engage in a bidding war to acquire CityMapper.

The Apple Daily Report for Dec. 5, 2016

Mon, 2016-12-05 16:35

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.

Apple is readying some upgrades to its iCloud Photos web app found on iCloud.com, according to MacMagazine. The Photos web app allows users to access their iCloud Photo Library through a web browser, across Mac and Windows computers.

Games developers say they have detected significant abuse of Apple’s refund policy on apps, and are being forced to take their own steps to hit back after Apple refused to help. At least four developers cited in The Korea Times say that the problem is that people are repeatedly purchasing games and in-app content, asking Apple for a refund, then continuing to use the content. 

A group of 8 to 10 burglars apparently rammed a rented Kia Soul into the Palo Alto (California) Apple store before dawn on Sunday, stealing numerous Macs and iPhones.

Ahead of the official launch of Single Sign-on on tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 later this month, Apple has added a new App Store section with apps that support the feature for beta testers. The apps are categorized by supported TV providers, including DirecTV, Dish, Sling TV, Hotwire, and GVTC.

Apple's iCloud was hit with an hours-long downtime today, leaving an unknown number of subscribers without access to account sign-in services and certain web apps normally available through iCloud.com.

Notable apps and app updates for Dec. 5, 2016

Mon, 2016-12-05 14:34

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.

iOS Apps/Updates

IcySpark has introduced LinkWords. It’s a free word search game. All words on each level are linked together by a common theme. Swipe your finger across each letter: up, down, left, right or diagonally to form the correct word. Puzzles range from 2x2 grids up to 8x8 grids of 64 letters.

macOS Apps/Updates

Zevrix Solutions has announced PDF Checkpoint 1.7.17, a compatibility update to company's PDF preflight and conversion solution. 

The utility automatically preflights, exports as images, splits and optimizes Adobe PDF files. PDF Checkpoint can also convert the color of PDF documents to a specific ICC profile to help users prepare their files for print, web and mobile devices. Version 1.7.17 is compatible with macOS 10.12 Sierra.

PDF Checkpoint can be purchased at the Mac App Store and the Zevrix website for $39.95. The update is free to licensed users. A demo is available for download. PDF Checkpoint requires macOS 10.7 or higher.

Xero now integrates Apple Pay through Stripe

Mon, 2016-12-05 14:10

Xero has announced the integration of Apple Pay through Stripe. Xero is online accounting software for small businesses.

Its 862,000 subscribers can now offer their customers the ability to view and pay an invoice using Apple Pay through Stripe, a technology company, operating in over 25 countries, that allows both private individuals and businesses to accept payments over the Internet.

Invoices paid with a payment service get paid almost 80% faster than invoices that don’t offer a payment service, says Craig Walker, Xero’s chief technology officer. 

Currently businesses that want to pay an invoice via credit card need to enter their credit card details to complete the payment. 

Credit card payments via Stripe mean that customers can confirm payment with Apple Pay using their fingerprint ID on their Apple device to confirm the payment quickly. Businesses who take payments via Stripe and Apple Pay also have an extra level of security. All payments made require a fingerprint or passcode, decreasing fraud, and with it, chargebacks.  

"Almost a fifth of online commerce in the United States now happens on mobile devices,” said Cristina Cordova, head of Business Development at Stripe. “We’re excited to work closely with Xero to help hundreds of thousands of businesses use Apple Pay to get their invoices paid with little more than a fingerprint.”

New iOS, macOS and watchOS betas available

Mon, 2016-12-05 11:59

Apple has introduced a sixth beta version of iOS 10.2, and fifth beta of macOS 10.12.2 Sierra to developers and public beta tester. A fourth watchOS 3.1.1 developer beta has also been seeded.

All of the updates include unspecified bug fixes and performance improvements. Developers can download the beta through the Apple Developer Center or the Software Update mechanism in the App Store. If you're not already signed up for the public beta program, you can do sign up here. The public beta program is free, but remember: beta software is unfinished software so use with care.

OWC launches redesigned Mercury Elite Pro Dual

Mon, 2016-12-05 10:48

OWC has introduced the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual with Thunderbolt 2 Technology. Designed in Austin, Texas, by the OWC new product development team, it offers speeds up to 474 MB/s, capacities up to 20TB, and RAID modes 0 and 1. 

A newly engineered aluminum enclosure features a larger, quieter fan and an advanced airflow design for drive health and longevity, says OWC CEO Larry O‘Connor. For professionals who need the additional performance of RAID 0 (two disks working together to create one very fast volume), or the peace of mind provided by RAID 1 (two disks mirrored to create instant redundancy), the “Mercury Elite Pro Dual with Thunderbolt 2 Technology packs serious connectivity in a versatile package,” he adds.

Configurable in RAID 0, 1, span, or independent modes are accessed via a selector switch. The Mercury Elite Pro Dual packs two Thunderbolt 2 ports and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port.

The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Thunderbolt 2 is now available at MacSales.com in a variety of configurations.

AMPware creates a smartphone case with an emergency generator

Mon, 2016-12-05 08:00

The folks at AMPware has launched the US$89 AMPware case, a patent-pending charge case that has a crank (yep, a crank) located on the back of the case that folds out and can be turned to generate enough power for one hour of normal use from five minutes of cranking. 

As an additional bonus, the crank also doubles as a kickstand while watching videos. Its creators claims that an AMPware case creates more power than solar cases and can be conveniently used whenever and wherever there isn’t an accessible outlet or charger available

The AMPware case is currently available for the iPhone 6/6S and comes in either “shadow” or “sport” color options. An iPhone 7/7 Plus version is in the works. It features a 1000 mAh max output, mini 8-pin connector that’s replaceable and a rubberized knob that telescopes outward for a better grip. The case is made out of a polycarbonate shell and polyurethane rubberized bumper for drop protection.

IDC: Apple Watch sales drop 71% year-over-year

Mon, 2016-12-05 07:37

While the smartwatch market took a tumble this quarter, the overall wearables market grew 3.1% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16). Total wearables shipments reached 23 million in the quarter, according to data from the International Data Corporation, (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

Apple sold 1.1 million smart watches in the quarter, down from 3.9 million in the same period a year-ago, a drop of 71% year-over-year, according to IDC. That places it in fourth place among global wearable device vendors, trailing Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Garmin. However, Apple is still the dominate smartwatch maker with just over 40% of the market — though that’s down from just over 70% in the third quarter of 2015. (IDC considers the wearables market to include smartwatch, fitness trackers and other devices.)

“Apple's decision to launch its second-generation watches in mid-September, towards the end of the quarter, contributed to its year-over-year decline in 3Q16. However, the primary reasons for the downturn were an aging lineup and an unintuitive user interface,” says IDC. “Though both issues have been addressed with the latest generation watches, Apple's success will likely be muted as the smartwatch category continues to be challenged.”

Basic wearables, primarily comprised of fitness bands, accounted for 85% of the wearables market in 3Q16 and experienced double-digit growth. Much of the increase was attributed to the launch of newer models, an expanding user base, and an enticing summer season that allowed people to step out of their homes. IDC expects the momentum for basic wearables to continue for the remainder of 2016 as the holiday season is now in full swing. However, smart wearables capable of running third party apps will likely continue to struggle in the near term.

"It's still early days, but we're already seeing a notable shift in the market," says Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme. Simplicity is a driving factor and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device. Meanwhile, from a design perspective, many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background."

"Smart wearables have been down in recent quarters, but clearly not out," adds Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. "As user tastes change, so will their needs. That's the opportunity for smart wearables with multi-functionality and third-party applications, both for consumers and business users. To get there, we need to see more intuitive user interfaces, seamless user experiences, standalone connectivity, and applications that go beyond health and fitness and into personal and professional productivity."

Tales of Cosmos is a new Mac compatible, open world adventure game

Mon, 2016-12-05 07:16

Red Dwarf Games has debuted Tales of Cosmos, a point-and-click adventure game for Mac and Windows computers. The player assumes the roles of Perseus and Gagayev, animal astronauts who become stranded on an unknown planet, and helps them get to the bottom of a cosmic mystery. 

Tales of Cosmos combines point-and-click gameplay with space flight mechanics. It also offers humorous characters, hand-drawn environments, ambient music, and more.

Tales of Cosmos requires macOS 10.6 or higher. It’s available on the Steam network.

AKVIS releases Watercolor 1.0 for macOS

Mon, 2016-12-05 07:04

AKVIS has released AKVIS Watercolor for macOS and Windows. It’s an app designed to make a photo look like a watercolor painting.

You only need to adjust the settings to your taste and run the processing. Any ordinary image will turn into an aquarelle piece of art. Watercolor lets you experiment with a range of painting genres: from marine paintings and atmospheric landscapes up to human or animal portraits and still lifes. The app offers a number of ready-to-use presets that can be used to imitate different watercolor techniques. 

A demo is available for download. A Home license for activating Watercolor on two computers costs $49. On the Mac platform, macOS 10.7 or higher is recommended.

The HeadStand Avant displays your headphones in style

Mon, 2016-12-05 05:30

If you're an audiophile with some really cool headphones, you want to keep them close at hand. The US$39.95 Just Mobile HeadStand Avant offers a high-design stand to hang those high-design headphones.

Precision engineered from aircraft-grade aluminum, it looks great. Its dual-layered base features a storage space for your headphone cable, keeping your desk tidy. And it's compatible with all headphones that sport a headband.

You'll have to assemble the HeadStand, but if you have a screwdriver, that's a piece of cake. There are two screws that you have to screw in; they fit through the screw opening around the bottom of HeadStand. You attach and secure the hanger neck to the Just Mobile product's round base.

When you're done, you have an elegant-yet-sturdy headphone stand. Just Mobile's design is practical as well as gorgeous. The bottom of the HeadStand is covered with a rubbery surface to keep it from sliding around your desktop. And thanks to its balance and high clearance, it’s even suitable for oversized headphones

If you don't keep your headphones close at hand, the gadget isn't for you. However, if you have some high-quality 'phones that you want to display in style, the HeadStand is the device for the job.

Live video broadcasting will be the new 'selfie' by 2017

Mon, 2016-12-05 05:00

Video and visual technologies are becoming increasingly important for interacting with customers and each other, according to Gartner, Inc. The research group predicts that by 2017, live video broadcasting will be the new "selfie" and recommends that product managers start creating a "visual" strategy straight away to accommodate this trend.

"The next generation of consumer services and products has one main theme in common and that is video," says Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "This means incorporating live video or other real-time technologies into products to engage users in live events and enable more personalized communications, providing better customer support, and offering best-of-breed video and TV experiences to connected homes."

Gartner expects a noteworthy shift from static photos to video, with live video becoming as important a medium. This will be a significant development as in 2014 alone, more than a trillion photos was taken, uploaded and shared daily, and the sharp rise in the popularity of online photos shows no signs of slowing. Although live and user-generated video is still less accessible than static photography, it’s also growing in popularity.

Beyond its potential to be a richer medium for self-expression, live video's use cases surpass what static images and prerecorded video can accomplish. It can be used for remote monitoring (of a baby, or of the security of a company's premises), remote doctor-patient consultations and remote collaboration (via shared workspaces), and for improved customer service. 

As live video technology becomes more accessible, it will appear in many contexts, from mobile apps for consumers to customer support services. To benefit, users will need robust bandwidth, devices and cameras, as well as apps and services that capitalize on video's communicative power, notes Gartner.

Apple VP of special projects disappears from the company’s exec bios page

Sat, 2016-12-03 13:50

Apple’s vice president of special projects Paul Deneve has disappeared from the Apple executive bios page, as noted by AppleInsider

Deneve joined Apple in 2013 after serving as chief executive officer at fashion brand Saint Laurent. He now reports to Apple Chief Operating Office Jeff Williams rather than CEO Tim Cook directly. 

Deneve had been employed at Apple before 2013. He worked in sales and marketing for the company's European arm between 1990 and 1997. After that he started a career in the fashion industry with Courrèges, eventually becoming YSL's CEO in 2011.

Apple acknowledges that it’s working on self-driving cars

Sat, 2016-12-03 13:41

Apple has sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledging that it is working on self-driving cars. The letter requests that NHTSA facilitate testing of self-driving development vehicles on public roads, as well as provide standards for data sharing and privacy. 

In July, Bloomberg had pointed to the hiring of Dan Dodge, the founder of QNX, as an indicator that Apple was prioritizing development of an autonomous driving system, rather than just an electric car. Bloomberg also highlighted the installation of long-time Apple executive Bob Mansfield as another sign of changes in the project.

The structure of Mansfield's team clearly indicated that Apple was still building a complete solution to the problem of autonomous vehicles, and not just a focus on software development, Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. Still, in September, the NY Times was reporting that Apple was "rethinking" its strategy in self-driving cars, suggesting that the effort was being scaled back. The chief evidence for the scaling back, according to the Times, was the layoff of "dozens" of employees out of "more than 1,000 employees".

Apple's letter to the NHTSA clearly demonstrates that Project Titan has not reached a dead end.

Apple health tech exec bids the company adieu

Fri, 2016-12-02 14:22

In May Apple hired robotics expert Yoky Matsuoka to work on health projects. However, she’s already left the company, according to Bloomberg, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” No reason was given for her departure.

Matsuoka was hired to lead teams involved with the company’s HealthKit tracking software, the CareKit tool for managing patient medical care, the ResearchKit framework for conducting medical studies via Apple devices, and related machine learning algorithms. Matsuoka reported to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

YOKY MATSUOKA SPEAKS ONSTAGE DURING TINA BROWN'S 7TH ANNUAL WOMEN IN THE WORLD SUMMIT AT DAVID H. KOCH THEATER AT LINCOLN CENTER ON APRIL 8, 2016 IN NEW YORK CITY. PHOTOGRAPH BU JEMAL COUNTESS 2016 — GETTY IMAGES

In 2007, Matsuoka won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her work in neurorobotics, using technology to help disabled people and stroke victims regain the use of their limbs. She was one of the co-founders of Google’s X lab and former head of technology at Nest. Google X is a semi-secret research and development facility created by Google and operated as a subsidiary of Alphabet since October 2015.

 

The Apple Daily Report for Dec. 2, 2016

Fri, 2016-12-02 14:16

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.

New research conducted by a global independent safety firm has revealed that 99% of fake Apple chargers sold online fail a basic safety test, according to the BBC

Citing industry officials familiar with Apple's plans, The Economic Times reports Apple has tapped European logistics firm and global operating partner DB Schenker to build and manage a distribution facility in Bhiwandi.

A former senior manager at Foxconn has been charged with stealing and selling 5,700 iPhones for a total of around $1.5M, reports AsiaOne.

Researchers in a pair of reports that surfaced this week claim to have successfully bypassed Apple's Activation Lock security feature using a heretofore unknown bug, potentially leaving iPad and iPhone devices open to attack. 

First-tier China-based smartphone vendors Huawei Technologies, Oppo, Vivo and BBK, due to concerns that Apple may monopolize supplies of smartphone-use AMOLED panels from Samsung Display and Japan-based makers in the future, will cooperate with China-based flexible panel maker Royole to form a consortium for joint investment in local flexible AMOLED production in 2017, according to China-based media reports — as noted by DigiTimes.

Apple wrote on its Chinese website that an ongoing issue with iPhone 6s shutdowns is due to a small number of devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs.

In nine markets, Apple will soon move to using local currencies on the App Store, according to an official notice to developers.