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Apps: App Diary: Sept. 23 — Sky Tripping, Nightgate, and ‘board games’ for Apple TV

It’s been almost a year since Apple unveiled the fourth-generation Apple TV with its own App Store, and we’re seeing the platform continue to expand with interesting apps. While many of these are still just adaptations of apps that have already been available on the iPhone and iPad, the move to the big screen can create a whole new experience, and open up the apps for family play. This week, we take a look at a new scenery app along with three games that have recently caught our attention. This is the debut of our new App Diary, which focuses on what we’ve actually been using or playing recently, rather than a basic list of new apps.

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Apple releases iOS 10.0.2 to fix headphone controls, iCloud Photo Library

Apple has released iOS 10.0.2, a minor update that fixes a problem with headphone controls on Lightning EarPods reported earlier this week, as well as an issue with enabling iCloud Photo Library and some app extensions. The update follows Thursday’s release of the iOS 10.1 public beta.

Report: Apple’s Siri home hub has reached the prototype stage

Apple’s rumored standalone Siri home control hub may be getting closer to a reality, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Rumors earlier this year suggested that Apple was working on a standalone “Siri home speaker” that would rival Amazon’s Echo, with subsequent reports suggesting that it might go farther than merely being an Echo-like speaker, integrating a camera and possibly other technology. Citing people familiar with the project, the latest Bloomberg report reveals that it’s been in the works for more than two years, and has now reached the prototype testing stage where key Apple employees are now using prototypes of the device in their own homes.

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Daily Deal: Keyboard Maestro

In our iLounge Deal for today, you can pick up Keyboard Maestro for only $19.99 — 44% off the regular price. This award-winning productivity tool will empower your workflow by letting you create custom keyboard shortcuts to perform complex tasks such as opening documents, entering whole sentences of text, controlling web applications, triggering Applescripts, and more.

Get the Keyboard Maestro now for only $19.99

Review: Thought Out Simplex Tablet iPad Stand

We recently received Thought Out's Simplex Tablet iPad Stand ($30), which is as simple as its name suggests. Simplex is a $30 steel stand with an "oven baked finish" coating. The stand comes with vinyl holding pads already attached — to prevent an iPad from rubbing on the steel — as well as four feet to protect the stand from scratching any surface. Simplex should be able to hold any iPad, and the stand also includes gaps for cable management, which makes it easier to charge an iPad while viewing in either portrait or landscape mode.

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Apple acquires machine learning company Tuplejump

Apple has acquired machine learning company Tuplejump, TechCrunch reports. According to the report, Apple had specific interest in the company’s “FiloDB”, an opensource project designed to “efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in.” Apple gave its typical response to the reported acquisition, saying that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Review: SmartX Galaxy ZEGA Starter Kit

There's been an interesting market developing over the past few years for iPhone-controlled toys, beginning with Parrot's original AR.Drone in 2010 and moving on through a series of smaller drones, battle tanks, rovers, rolling balls, and more. While each of these have had their own merits, most of the toys we've seen in this category have generally been simple remote control devices with open-ended play and no specific "gaming" element behind them. This makes Galaxy ZEGA, a new entry into the market from Chinese startup SmartX, all the more interesting, as the company has gone quite a ways beyond the simple RC model into creating an interactive game that mixes real-world play with a more typical gaming experience, extending on-device gaming into the real world. It's currently available for pre-order and should be available soon — it was released in China in 2015.

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Apple releases iOS 10.1 public beta

Following yesterday’s release of the iOS 10.1 developer beta, Apple has now released a public beta version of iOS 10.1 through its Apple Software Beta Program. The iOS 10.1 public beta notably adds the “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect for iPhone 7 Plus, which Apple demonstrated at its event earlier this month — an enhancement that may encourage iPhone 7 Plus users to sign up for the public beta program to take an early peek at the feature. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

iOS 10.1 beta adds ‘Portrait’ Depth of Field effect

Apple has brought the promised “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect to the iPhone 7 Plus as part of the iOS 10.1 beta released earlier today, suggesting that the company will likely exceed most expectations on its goal to deliver the feature “later this year.” The new feature places an additional “Portrait” mode on the slider in the camera app, between Photo and Square, and seems to require a higher level of lighting to make the feature work. There appear to be no additional controls related to the feature, although it automatically requires the use of the second 2X lens and requires the subject to be approximately two to eight feet away from the camera.

The feature is presently labelled as being in “beta” although even in this state is appears to work quite well in our preliminary testing, as these photos indicate. It’s unclear whether this designation only represents the state of iOS 10.1 itself or may continue following the public release of the iOS update, as other features like Visual Voicemail Transcription have.





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