In addition to the rumored iPad Pro expected later this year, Apple is said to be working on several additional hardware and software improvements to the iPad, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Rumours have been circulating for some time now regarding split-screen multitasking on the iPad — a feature that was expected in iOS 8 last year — however sources now suggest that the side-by-side app support feature will arrive with iOS 9, and in fact may be introduced as soon as this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June and be available in the first iOS 9 developer betas.
Sources indicated that Apple originally intended to debut the split-screen feature with the iPad Air 2 last fall, however it was considered “too unpolished” and removed it from iOS 8.0 with plans to reintroduce it in iOS 8.1. Soon after, however, Apple was forced to reprioritize its engineering resources on the iPhone and Apple Watch, effectively tabling the feature until iOS 9. Latest plans suggest the feature will provide 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views, subject to the parameters of specific apps, with the screen able to display either two different apps side-by-side or two different views of the same app. It is still unclear, however, whether Apple will have the feature ready to show by next month. Sources also suggest that Apple may hold back the feature to debut it with the release of the “iPad Pro” later this year.
Support for multiple users on a single iPad is also said to be in the works, however sources suggest that this feature will not make the cut for the initial release of iOS 9, and it’s not certain whether it will arrive this year. However, Apple is apparently actively working on it in parallel with iOS 9 as it is a feature the company believes is “critical to the enterprise and education sectors,” suggesting that it could debut with the “iPad Pro” or as part of an iOS 9 point update.
Apple may finally be adding transit directions to Apple Maps with the release of iOS 9, according to new information obtained by 9to5Mac. When Apple transitioned from Google Maps to its own mapping service, integrated transit directions were one of the casualties, and as a stop-gap measure, Apple provided plug-ins for third-party routing apps for getting directions, allowing users to start planning a trip in Apple Maps and then switch to another app, such as Google Maps or Transit app, to provide specific routing directions. While built-in transit routing was expected to arrive last year in iOS 8, Apple reportedly experienced difficulty getting the feature off the ground due to personnel problems and data, as well as coverage limitations, deciding to pull the feature just prior to WWDC 2014.
Sources are now indicating that Apple hopes to launch its Transit service with iOS 9, which would include bus, subway, and train route navigation as the major updates to the Maps app. The new functionality would not only include routing and trip planning for public transit, but also larger icons for airports, subway stations, and train stations, and a new Transit view to complement the existing standard, hybrid, and satellite views. In addition, Apple has also apparently been making headway on an indoor mapping project that would allow users to navigate major buildings, offices, and landmarks. Autonomous robots with iBeacon sensors are reportedly being deployed in buildings to collect data for the indoor mapping project, however it’s uncertain whether this feature will go live with iOS 9 or is simply being prepared for some future release.
Apple and IBM have begun expanding MobileFirst enterprise apps onto the Apple Watch, as evidenced by updates to Apple’s Mobile Enterprise Apps webpage. The updated page shows three apps that now provide Apple Watch support.
Hospital RN allows notifications to be sent to the Apple Watch to alert “nurses to review new patient requests, changes in lab status, safety alerts, and prioritized task lists for immediate action. And Apple Watch lets nurses quickly view notifications so they can stay more focused on patient care.” Field Connect (pictured above) sends notifications to field technicians of “late-breaking news on severe weather, outages, hazards and crew member information” to the Apple Watch, so “field technicians can view important alerts, without stopping what they’re doing.” Incident Aware allows police and other public safety workers to receive urgent alerts of emergency calls and related information right on their Apple Watch. [via 9to5Mac]
Pebble, the company behind one of the first successful smartwatches, may be facing financial troubles, TechCrunch reports. Citing sources close to the company, the report notes that the company has allegedly turned to a Silicon Valley bank for a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit, as VC firms have refused requests for new capital infusions. At this point, Pebble has 150 employees and continues hiring. However, even with the $18 million crowdfunding infusion from its recent Kickstarter campaign for Pebble Time, the company apparently has needed to turn to a bank loan “in order to stay afloat.” The report goes on to indicate that many employees have been unhappy with the direction the company is taking in the face of both large and small competitors, ranging from the Apple Watch to the upcoming Olio Model One. While the hiring process — which is being run by former Apple executive Jeff Hyman — is apparently unpopular, many employees reportedly remain “cautiously optimistic” about the company in general.
Apple is currently working on a new embedded iOS app for unifying and controlling HomeKit devices, 9to5Mac reports. Dubbed simply “Home”, the app would provide a central user interface to managing HomeKit accessories from any developer using the standard HomeKit specification. Sources familiar with the app have revealed that the app is currently “fairly basic” in its capabilities, with the present development version only providing the ability to wirelessly discover and setup HomeKit devices, organize devices into virtual “rooms”, utilize an Apple TV as a hub to connect HomeKit devices, and help users discover new HomeKit devices and apps. The development app is apparently embedded in iOS 9 builds being used by Apple employees already, however sources have indicated that the app may not yet be ready to show to the public, making it unclear whether it will make an appearance at WWDC in June.
Apple plans on bringing its own San Francisco font seen on Apple Watch to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, 9to5Mac reports. The font will replace Helvetica Neue, which debuted in iOS 7 in 2013. Though the San Francisco font was developed “specifically for legibility,” the idea to bring the font to iOS appears to have a mixed reaction within Apple — the report claims that higher-ups believe the font will help “iOS and OS X to avoid becoming stale,” but also notes that some Apple engineers don’t like the font, “which may look particularly rough on non-Retina screens.”
Microsoft looks to be working on a way to make email conversations on the iPhone more like instant messaging with an apparent new app discovered by Twitter user @h0x0d. A posted image shows a general outline for Flow by Outlook, an app designed to let users have real-time conversations via their email accounts without bothering with the subject lines and signatures of traditional email exchanges. Only conversations started within the Flow app will be displayed there, separating out the more casual instant messaging-style communications from standard email correspondence. Users will be able to continue Flow conversations in Outlook. A disclaimer at the bottom of the image marks Flow as “Microsoft Confidential” and implores users not to discuss Flow or send Flow messages to anyone outside of Microsoft. [via ZDNet]
Olloclip has introduced its new Active Lens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ($100). Active Lens fits over both front and rear cameras like the company’s previous 4-in-1 Lens and Macro 3-in-1 Lens and Telephoto + CPL Lens models. The newest lens kit features ultra-wide and telephoto lenses along with three wearable pendants. Active Lens can be paired with the Ollocase and is available for pre-order now on Olloclip’s web site. We’ll have a review in the near future.
Apple has added refurbished iPad Air 2 models to its online store for the first time. The online store has several models and colors available, starting at $419 for Wi-Fi models and $519 for cellular-enabled versions. All the refurbished devices are discounted between 15 and 17 percent off the price of a new iPad Air 2 and include a one-year warranty. [via MacRumors]
Apple has released Watch OS 1.0.1, the first software update for the Apple Watch. The 51.6MB download includes performance improvements and bug fixes related to Siri, measuring stand activity, calculating calories for indoor cycling and rowing workouts, distance and pace during outdoor walk and run workouts, accessibility, and third party apps. The update also provides support for new Emoji characters and language support for seven additional countries. The Watch OS 1.0.1 update can be downloaded and transferred to the Apple Watch through the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone. For the update to be installed, the Watch must be in range of its paired iPhone, and connected to its charger, with battery life of at least 50 percent.
In a simple two-sentence statement, TomTom confirmed that its partnership to provide Apple with maps and related information has been extended, but provided no further details. TomTom has been partnered with Apple since 2012, the same year Apple fired its own internal manager in charge of Maps for iOS 6. Apple recently announced the acquisition of GPS firm Coherent Navigation, which could be another move to bolster the features of Maps. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released a new iPhone Lightning Dock compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.The product description says Apple-designed cases won’t interfere with docking, but makes no promises about third-party cases. The dock can be plugged into a wall outlet to charge the iPhone using the Apple USB power adapter or connected to a computer with the USB cable to both sync and charge. An audio line-out port provides a connection for powered speakers and the dock supports headphones that include a remote control. Apple last released Lightning docks in 2013 for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Apple has joined a large group of privacy advocates in an appeal urging President Obama to reject efforts to weaken the security of smartphones and other communications devices — the letter was obtained by The Washington Post. Facing increasing pressure from the FBI, CIA and other government agencies to make encrypted information available in the name of safety, the group of tech firms, security experts and other organizations argues that keeping user data private guards against worse threats. “Encryption protects billions of people every day against countless threats — be they street criminals trying to steal our phones and laptops, computer criminals trying to defraud us, corporate spies trying to obtain our companies’ most valuable trade secrets, repressive governments trying to stifle dissent, or foreign intelligence agencies trying to compromise our and our allies’ most sensitive national security secrets,” the letter reads.
The group claims introducing intentional vulnerabilities into secure products increases the likelihood of those same weak points being exploited by malicious attackers, undermining the security of both private citizens and entire governments. Citing an international chilling effect that the U.S. could create by forcing weaken encryption domestically, the group closed its appeal by pointing out the dire human rights risks if far less tolerant countries are emboldened to make similar demands. “The result will be an information environment riddled with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by even the most repressive or dangerous regimes. That’s not a future that the American people or the people of the world deserve.”
Apple shelved its plans to produce a television set “more than a year ago,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The idea was abandoned “after nearly a decade of research.” Investor Carl Icahn said he expects to see an ultra-high-definition TV coming from Apple in 2016, but people familiar with the matter said Apple executives pulled the plug on a TV project after finding little in the way of breakthrough features to add to a product that would be entering an already crowded and competitive market. An ultra-high-definition screen and video calling features didn’t meet Apple’s standards for entering a new product area, where Apple typically likes to be able to provide innovative technology and easier-to-use software. While both Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook have expressed an interest in TV, Apple’s focus has turned to redesigning the Apple TV and creating its own cable TV streaming service.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated a portion of the damages initially awarded to Apple in a 2012 jury verdict against Samsung. While the appeals court affirmed the prior verdicts on design and utility patent infringements, it reversed the findings “that the asserted trade dresses are protectable.” In 2012, the jury originally found that certain elements of the iPhone’s design were famous, and found to be diluted by Samsung’s products, but the appeals judges disagreed. It’s estimated that Apple will lose $382 million based on the trade dress claims, leaving about $548 million remaining in damages owed by Samsung to Apple. [via Ars Technica]
Apple is currently working on a “Find my Watch” feature for Apple Watch, according to a 9to5Mac report. The feature would allow users to track the location of a Watch, or lock or swipe it remotely. It’s been noted recently that as it currently stands, Apple Watch lacks any meaningful anti-theft features. Reportedly, Apple will use “smart leashing” to implement Find my Watch — the Watch will send a signal to “establish its location native to the iPhone.” The report notes these features “could be farther off than others in development.” Some other future Apple Watch features noted in the report include a number of health and fitness additions — a blood pressure monitor and sleep tracking seem closest — and third-party watch face widgets known, strangely, as “Complications.” A new Watch OS could include Twitter Complications.
The report also has a few Apple TV details. Internal next-gen Apple TV prototypes are roughly “twice as large” as the current Apple TV, with the finished product expected to be thinner than the current set-top box. Also, a new version of XCode will include a “TVKit” SDK, which will allow developers to build third-party Apple TV apps. It’s still expected that Apple will debut the new Apple TV next month.
Apple has acquired GPS company Coherent Navigation, the Cupertino company has confirmed to The New York Times. Though the article notes that it’s “unclear exactly how Apple will use the company’s services or technology,” it seems all but certain that Coherent Navigation’s accurate, “high-precision” navigation technology will be used to boost Apple’s Maps. Coherent Navigation “has also worked on autonomous navigation and robotics projects,” so the company’s technology may also play a role in Apple’s secret car project. Apple released its typical statement in an email: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
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Apple will be discontinuing support for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS effective June 9, 9to5Mac reports. Citing Apple internal documents, the report notes that the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G (China), iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3GS (China) will be designated as “Obsolete” in Asia-Pacific/Canada/EU/Japan/Latin America and all Apple Retail Stores, while these models will be designated as “Vintage” in the U.S., where Apple is still required to provide hardware service for a longer period of time as required by California law. The original iPhone, which was declared obsolete outside of the U.S. in 2013, will also lose its U.S. “Vintage” status and be added to the U.S. “Obsolete” list as well. Apple typically declares products “Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years.
Spotify may be planning to effectively eliminate its free, ad-supported streaming option, according to a new report by Digital Music News. The change would see the popular streaming music service limit free ad-supported access to a three month “trial” period, rather than the current open-ended and unlimited plan that many users currently enjoy. Spotify is said to be resisting this change, and has been trying to make the case that its “freemium-to-premium” migration path is working to effectively create new paying subscribers, however the service is under pressure from Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, who remain generally unconvinced and have reportedly disliked unpaid streaming options from the very beginning. While no mention is made of Apple’s attempts to sway the music industry to kill off licenses for free streaming for Spotify and YouTube, it seems likely that Apple’s new paid-only Apple Music service could factor into the labels’ decision-making process.
The three-month “proposal” would allow some artists and labels to extend availability of their content past three months through “emerging” or “up-and-coming” playlists, as well as continuing to allow for a non-interactive radio-style streaming feature. Both of these are similar to ideas likely to be included in Apple Music as well, further suggesting that the labels’ negotiations with Apple are having a backlash effect on existing services. It is not clear, however, whether specific artists would be able to limit free access entirely — an issue that has previously caused major artists such as Adele and Taylor Swift to leave services such as Spotify entirely. Further, not all labels are entirely on board with the new proposal, with some, such as Warner Music Group, suggesting that free streaming services are valuable at providing an alternative to outright piracy while still providing a small trickle of revenue.