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Apple expands Siri support for World Cup, adds new themed content

Apple is going all-out for the 2018 World Cup tournament, announcing expanded support, coverage, and tournament-related content throughout multiple apps and services. In addition to the 26 other countries in which sports information is already generally available via Siri, users in Brazil, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Israel will also be able to ask Siri for scores, schedules, standings, and team rosters. The editorial team on the new App Store will also be highlighting the favorite apps and games of various football stars and posting other articles with tips for following the games, including key apps for following and watching the tournament. Users in the U.S. and Canada can follow the action through the Sports feature in Apple’s TV App, and will even be able to favorite specific teams to follow their matches in the “Up Next” section and get notifications of when teams are playing or when games are close.

Vague rumour suggests Apple may switch to USB-C ports for 2019 iPhones

A vague rumour from DigiTimes suggests that Apple may in fact be planning to phase out the Lightning port on next year’s iPhone models in favor of a USB-C port. While recent reports make it seem likely that Apple will actually begin bundling a USB-C charger in this year’s iPhones, the DigiTimes report suggests the possibility of native USB-C support on the iPhones themselves. Although as MacRumors notes, the wording is quite vague, it does seem odd that DigiTimes would make the prediction for 2019 if it was simply referring to a change to the charger and cable, unless the report is suggesting that Apple may not be planning to include the USB-C charger with its 2018 iPhones. Of course, it’s also worth keeping in mind that DigiTimes has not been a particularly reliable source of pre-release information, so such rumours should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt.

Apple bans cryptocurrency mining apps

Amidst Apple’s other recent updates to its App Store Review Guidelines last week, AppleInsider has discovered a section explicitly prohibiting cryptocurrency mining apps. Tucked away in the “Hardware Compatibility” section is a prohibition on apps running “unrelated background processes” that specifically mentions cryptocurrency mining as an example, and an entirely new section, 3.1.5 (b) has been added under “3.1 Payments” specifically outlining restrictions on cryptocurrency mining apps.

Apple releases second round of iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1 betas to developers

Despite last week’s first beta releases of iOS 12 and tvOS 12, Apple is still continuing to run the beta cycle for iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1 in parallel, with second betas for each released today. Notably, watchOS 4.3.2 has not yet received a second beta, although that may still come later this week. As with the first betas, the basically empty release notes indicate that these release are focused on fixing bugs and other issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy.

watchOS 5 beta 1 returns

Apple has reposted the beta of watchOS 5 today for registered developers, after [pulling it last week] due to problems some developers were having updating to the latest version. The latest beta features a build number of 16R5283r and a release date of June 11, 2018, suggesting that Apple has updated the code rather than simply placing the original beta back online.

Apple releases Carpool Karaoke trailer featuring ‘Stars of Tag’

Apple will be release a special episode of its Carpool Karaoke series this week featuring Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms and Jon Hamm, the stars of the upcoming comedy film TAG, as part of a promotion for the film. A one-minute trailer posted to Apple’s YouTube provides some highlights for this coming Friday’s episode, showing the trio singing parts of classic rock songs like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name. While CBS and Apple renewed Carpool Karaoke for a second season earlier this year, there haven’t yet been any announcements as to when the new season is coming, and this episode appears to be a special, rather than the premiere of season two. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple will be adding App Prototyping to ‘Today at Apple’ sessions

Apple has announced plans to expand its “Today at Apple” courses with a new session on app prototyping, targeted at would-be developers who want to get into making apps but aren’t quite sure where to get started. The new initiative was announced in a Tweet by Apple retail VP Angela Ahrendts, who added that it’s based on a popular WWDC talk, and are expected to begin at Apple retail locations later this month.

watchOS 5 will allow Apple Maps alerts to be customized

In addition to all of the watchOS 5 features announced last week, another small but useful enhancement has been found in the beta by 9to5Mac that will allow users to gain better control over which navigation notifications they receive on their wrist. Apple Maps has long provided a boon to Apple Watch users in the form of haptic feedback for walking and driving directions, especially now that Google has abandon its watchOS Google Maps app, which never provided the same level of notifications on the wearable device anyway. In watchOS 5, however, users will now have the benefit of turning off any specific notifications that they don’t want to receive while navigating. Turn alerts can be turned off for “Driving,” “Driving with CarPlay,” and “Walking” and another switch provides the ability to turn off the display of transit directions from appearing on the watch.

Apple Watch may be moving to solid state buttons with haptic feedback

Apple is working on touch-sensitive side buttons for the Apple Watch, according to a new report by Fast Company. Citing “a source with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans,” the report says that Apple will stick with the same button configuration that is found on current Apple Watch models, but instead of using mechanical buttons, the controls will be solid-state, providing haptic feedback similar to the home button that was introduced with the iPhone 7, although the report notes that the Digital Crown will still actually rotate. The new button design could be coming to the Apple Watch as early as this fall, but if not they will appear in the 2019 models. The design change will allow the watch to remain more easily waterproof as well as free up internal space for a larger battery.

Apple Music adds new ‘Coming Soon’ section with pre-release albums

Apple appears to be rolling out a new “Coming Soon” section for Apple Music on iOS and in iTunes on macOS. Discovered by MacRumors, the section features pre-release albums that can be “pre-added” by Apple Music users to be added to their library automatically once the album becomes available for streaming on Apple Music. The concept is similar to pre-orders that have been available on the iTunes Store for years, except of course that users don’t have to pay to “pre-add” an album, since it will form part of their Apple Music subscription plan. The new Coming Soon section can be found in the Browse tab at the bottom of the “New Music” section. Tapping on an individual album will also display its expected release date. While the list of coming soon albums is fairly sparse right now, Apple does appear to be in the process of adding more content.

Apple acquires rights to develop novel ‘Shantaram’ into TV drama series

Apple has another drama series in the pipeline based on Gregory David Robert’s novel “Shantaram,” Variety reports. In what was described as a “competitive situation,” Apple has acquired the rights to the 2003 novel which tells the story of a man on the run from an Australian prison who finds a new life in the underworld of Bombay. Apple is not the first to attempt to develop “Shantaram” into a film, with Johnny Depp having previously acquired the rights to the book and Warner Bros. developing it most recently. The series will be produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, which won the rights to the book after a bidding war in January, and also hold the rights to the sequel novel “The Mountain Shadow.” The series will be written and executive produced by Eric Warren Singer, known for “American Hustle,” “The International,” and “Only the Brave,”along with David Manson, Andrea Barron, Steve Golin, Nicole Clemens also serving as executive producers.

Developers remain concerned about App Store ‘free trials’ policies

Apple’s revisions earlier this week to its App Store Review Guidelines to explicitly allow free trials may not be sufficient to appease calls by developers for a proper free trial system. In a blog post titled Ersatz Free Trials (via Daring Fireball), Red Sweater’s Daniel Jalkut, best known for MarsEdit, outlines a number of valid reasons why Apple’s solution falls far short of what many developers have been hoping for almost since the advent of the App Store ten years ago. As Jalkut notes, Apple’s revisions aren’t even offering anything specifically new, but are more of a codification of a practice that was started by The Omni Group back in 2016 and has been used by several other developers since — that of basically giving away a free version of an app and unlocking the “paid” functionality via in-app purchases. The change to the App Store Review Guidelines offers some comfort that Apple isn’t going to pull the plug on these practices, but still doesn’t address the real issue with the lack of “proper” free trials.

Apple orders new series to be produced by J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles

Apple has placed another straight-to-series order for a new dramedy, Variety reports. The new half-hour series “Little Voices” includes J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles among its executive producers, and is described as a “love letter to the diverse musicality of New York” and appears to be focused on twenty-somethings searching for their “authentic voices.” Bareilles will provide original music, and the series will be written by Jessie Nelson, who is known for her previous work on “I Am Sam,” “Stepmom”, and “Corrina, Corrina”, who will also serve as executive producer and showrunner and is slated to direct the first episode. Nelson and Bareilles also previously worked together on the Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress.”

Live sports and news comes to Apple TV app in Canada

Apple has quietly brought live sports and news in Canada to its TV app for the iPhone, iPad, and fourth-generation Apple TV, MobileSyrup reports. Apple debuted live sports in its TV app last fall, however like many new media features, it was originally limited to users in the U.S. only. The Canadian expansion of the feature means that sports-focused apps and news streaming platforms will now show up in the TV app, providing more of an incentive to use Apple’s app as a single dashboard for this type of content, rather than having to flip between multiple apps. Specifically, the TV app now ties into the CBC, CTV, DAZN, Sportsnet, TSN, and RDS networks, and also offers support for international news sources such as CNN. League-based apps like NHL Live and MLB TV aren’t included, although it’s possible this could change in the future. [via iPhone in Canada]

Apple releases web-embeddable Apple Maps framework

Apple has released a long-anticipated web framework allowing web developers to embed Apple Maps into their web sites, 9to5Mac reports, similar to what has long been possible with Google Maps. The new Apple MapKit JS library is launching in beta form this week, and is essentially a web-based version of the MapKit API that’s available to native IOS apps. The MapKit JS API was first discovered on Apple’s WWDC website back in 2016, leading to speculation back then that Apple would open up the web framework to wider availability, and while it has taken a couple of years, it would appear that it’s finally here.

More than 550,000 shows now available on Apple Podcasts

Apple has announced that Apple Podcasts currently hosts more than 550,000 active shows, according to a new report by TechCrunch, with over fifty billion episodes streamed since the service launched with only 3,000 programs back in 2005. The report also notes an exponential increase in recent years, from only 10 billion in 2016, and 13.7 billion last year. Apple also revealed that the podcast Stuff You Should Know has become the first podcast to cross the 500 million download/stream threshold. The catalog of shows on Apple Podcasts is made up of 18.5 minion individual episodes across 155 countries and in more than 100 languages.

Sonos announces new Beam sound bar featuring AirPlay 2 and Siri

Sonos has announced Beam, a new compact sound bar speaker that will feature support for AirPlay 2, Siri voice control, and Amazon Alexa, making it the first speaker to support more than one voice assistant. Designed to sit in front of your TV, Beam measures 25.6 inches in length, and is designed for streaming music, TV, movies, and game sound, with voice-activated volume control as well to allow for hands-free sound adjustment. Beam can be used as a standalone soundbar or integrated with other Sonos speakers to create a surround sound system and add a subwoofer. Support for HDMI ARC allows for simplified connection to a home theatre system, and an optical audio adapter is included for systems that don’t have ARC support over HDMI. Beam is available for pre-order today for $399 and expected to ship late next month. In addition, Sonos also announced that it will be the promised AirPlay 2 support for its existing speaker lineup beginning next month as well. [via MacRumors]

Apple temporarily pulls first watchOS 5 beta amidst ‘update issues’

As first reported by 9to5Mac, it appears that Apple has temporarily removed the first beta of watchOS 5, less than 24 hours after it was first released following Monday’s WWDC keynote. While Apple doesn’t elaborate on specific reason for doing so, the note on the developer download page suggests that it was probably related to a problem that some users encountered while updating to the newest beta, which seems to be borne out by several developers who have reported problems ranging from getting Apple Watch to finish the beta update to actually ending up with a red exclamation mark and instructions to contact Apple support.

Seed 1 of watchOS 5 is temporarily unavailable. We are investigating an issue that may occur while updating. If you’ve experienced any issues, please contact AppleCare.

The configuration profile used to provision the Apple Watch for over-the-air updates to watchOS 5 betas has been pulled from the Apple Developer website, and the actual over-the-air update has also apparently been removed from the queue, so that even users who have already installed the profile won’t see the beta update until Apple decides to either make it available again or release an updated version.

Revised App Store Review Guidelines now allow for free trials

In addition to changes allowing for apps like Valve’s Steam Link noted earlier this week in Apple’s revised App Store Review Guidelines, it appears that Apple has now also opened up the gates for time-based trial periods. MacRumors discovered the change in section 3.1.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines, which adds a section stating that non-subscription apps may now offer an explicit free time-based trial period as a zero-dollar in-app purchase.

Apple’s WWDC 2018 Keynote now available on YouTube and Apple Podcasts

Apple has published yesterday’s WWDC 2018 Keynote to its YouTube channel and Apple Podcasts for users who missed the live stream or simply want to watch some or all of it again. The description of the video on YouTube also helpfully provides links to specific sections of the keynote, allowing viewers to easily skip to the relevant section that interests them, including announcing iOS 12, announcing watchOS 5, announcing the new tvOS, and announcing macOS Mojave.

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