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Report: iWatch to have October launch, curved OLED touchscreen

Apple’s rumored iWatch will launch in October with a curved OLED touchscreen, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The report, which only refers to the device as “a wearable health-monitoring device” and “watch-like wearable gear,” claims iWatch will run on iOS 8 and use biometric sensors to collect health data. Apple plans on selling 3-5 million units monthly, and the company has partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic “to develop specific ways of analyzing the collected data and applying it to actual health management.” It’s also reported that Apple and Nike have “likely” agreed to integrate their services, which is not unexpected — Nike has stopped production of its FuelBand fitness tracker, which would have been a competitor.

Update: Re/code is corroborating the Nikkei report, claiming that Apple does indeed plan on scheduling a special event for its wearable device in October.

Philips reveals iOS 8 Hue widget concept

Philips, maker of the Hue smart bulb, has tweeted a concept prototype showing Hue being used within an iOS 8 widget. The concept shows the widget within Notification Center — a user could simply swipe down to change the lighting in a room set up with Hue bulbs.

Hue would work with Apple’s HomeKit, the company’s common network protocol for home automation which was introduced at WWDC. Philips’ bulb was briefly featured during the HomeKit portion of the WWDC keynote.

Apps: Angry Birds Space 2.0, Catan 4.0.5, Disney Villains Challenge + Rival Knights

Rovio is claiming its newest update for Angry Birds Space ($1) is its biggest update ever, and has given it a fitting name: Beak Impact. The new episode in version 2.0.0 introduces 40 new levels, in addition to 10 bonus levels. Players can unlock bonus levels by, strangely enough, finding NASA research spacecraft within the levels. Lest you think that was the end of astronautical tie-ins in this update, you are mistaken, as there is now a Buzz Aldrin bird. No, that sentence was not a joke. The Aldrin-inspired “Mighty Buzzard” is now in full effect, and it can completely obliterate an entire level.

USM has updated both Catan and the iPad-only Catan HD (both $5) to version 4.0.5. It’s a major update as the game — a port of the already-classic board game The Settlers of Catan — now offers online multiplayer. Players must register on the Catan servers to access online multiplayer. Both the basic game and the Seafarers expansion are supported, with the Cities & Knights multiplayer to be added in the next update. A number of other optimizations and improvements were also included within the update.

Apple reveals more Family Sharing details

Apple has set up a FAQ within iTunes Connect for Family Sharing in iOS 8, and it reveals more details about the upcoming feature. The feature lets up to six family members share iTunes, Books, and App Store content through the credit card of one adult with an Apple ID, referred to as “the family organizer” in the FAQ. The FAQ notes that if a family member leaves the group, “their purchases — including any purchases made while part of the Family — will no longer be available to the remaining family members, and vice versa.”

It’s also notable that in-app purchases cannot be shared with family members — apps that only allow access of most content through an in-app purchase will be far less useful for those accessing the app through Family Sharing. Further details can be seen in the included screenshot.

Apple producing more ads in-house

Apple is now producing more of its own television advertisements, Reuters reports. The company is decreasing its reliance on longtime ad agency partner TBWA\Chiat\Day, as Apple is “seeking a fresh approach to regain advertising as one of its key competitive advantages.” Recent iPad ads, including the iPad Air “Pencil” ad and “Your Verse” ads, were both made by an in-house Apple team. Apple has hired “at least two” people who worked for Media Arts Lab, a special Apple-focused unit in TBWA.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller became upset with Media Arts Lab, as revealed in January 2013 emails that were released this year — months after those emails were sent, Apple started creating in-house ads. The report notes Media Arts Lab is still working on Apple ads, including current iPhone TV commercials.

iOS 8 adds new MIDI and other audio enhancements

Additional information from WWDC this week reveals that Apple plans to introduce new audio enhancements in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, including new CoreAudio and CoreMIDI APIs that will include support for MIDI over Bluetooth LE and enhancements to Apple’s iOS inter-app audio feature.

While third-party accessories such as the iRig Blueboard (iLounge rating: A-) have implemented wireless MIDI support over Bluetooth in the past, Apple’s updated frameworks will provide standard APIs that third-party applications and presumably accessories will be able to take advantage of. The new CoreMIDI Bluetooth support will also allow iOS and Mac devices to communicate with each other more effectively, providing the ability for multiple devices to work together in music creation and studio applications—essentially an enhancement that lines up with Apple’s new Continuity approach in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple plans Lightning cable MFi headphones

Apple has added a specification to its Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod program allowing manufacturers to create headphones with Lightning connectors, rather than traditional 3.5mm headphone plugs, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. While not currently supported by iOS devices, Lightning headphone support will be enabled in a future software update. According to the report, the Lightning standard will allow for stereo 48 kHz digital audio output from iOS devices, and mono 48 kHz input for integrated microphone support, though the actual sound quality will depend considerably on superior headphone and microphone components. It will also allow power to transfer between the headphones and the iOS device in both directions, which could eliminate batteries in noise-cancelling headphones, and enable other headphones to add backup power to the connected device.

The report also states there will be two configurations: Standard Lightning Headphones, and Advanced Lightning Headphones. The former “are described by Apple as using minimum components when paired with a digital-to-analog converter supported by the Lightning Headphone Module,” while the latter use a digital signal processor and digital/analog converter, and allow for “digital audio processing features like active noise cancellation.” Lightning headphones would likely be physically incompatible with non-Apple devices, as well as Mac computers, unless Apple adds Lightning ports to Macs.

Apple announces Controller Forwarding feature

Apple announced a new Controller Forwarding feature in a closed presentation Monday at WWDC, 9to5Mac reports. The feature would allow MFi iPhone controllers to act as controllers for iPads and Macs. Additionally, the iPhone’s touchscreen and motion control could also be used as a controller for those devices. These features may also open up the possibility for using iOS devices as game controllers for Apple TV.

Xcode 6 contains resizable iPad, iPhone simulators

Apple’s Xcode 6 contains a new feature that lets developers test interfaces for “resizable iPhones” and “resizable iPads.” Allowing for adjustments for both devices alludes to possible new resolutions for both iPhone and iPad devices. While 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone models are expected at this point, allowing developers to adjust to new iPad resolutions may add some fuel to rumors of a 12” iPad, which we’ve referred to as the “iPad Pro.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apps: Google+ 4.7, Instagram 6.0, Toca Town, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Google has updated its Google+ (free) iOS app to version 4.7.0. The updated app introduces Google+ Stories, which combine photos, videos, and places into trip summaries. A new photo editor featuring filters and other creative tools has also been added. Users can now check out total content views within profiles, and support is now offered for reporting abusive communities.

Instagram (free) has upgraded its app to version 6.0.0. The app now has 10 new photo-editing tools, including tools to enrich colors, adjust lighting, sharpen, and perfect a composition. It’s also now possible to adjust the filter strength just by double tapping. Uploading and sharing videos has also become an easier process with the update.

Razer introduces Junglecat iPhone game controller

Razer has introduced Junglecat ($100), a game controller for iPhone 5/5s. The Junglecat is a sliding keyboard built into an iPhone case — it slides out from under the case with a d-pad, pause button, four action buttons and two bumper buttons. A Junglecat companion app lets users remap the buttons, adjust button pressure sensitivity, and store personalized profiles.

The case includes front ports for audio, as well as open access to the iPhone’s ports and buttons, though the camera is blocked when the controller tray isn’t out. Razer Junglecat comes in black and white and is available now.

T-Mobile announces support for iOS 8 Wi-Fi Calling

T-Mobile announced it will support Wi-Fi Calling on the iPhone with iOS 8, which was quietly introduced by Apple on Monday. This feature will allow T-Mobile customers to place calls and send messages even in areas of poor cellular service, as long as there’s a Wi-Fi network. T-Mobile has supported Wi-Fi Calling on various other smartphones since 2007. To use T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling, users must only connect to a Wi-Fi network while the feature is turned on. This comes after a recent announcement that T-Mobile has launched voice-over-LTE on its network in Seattle, though the iPhone is not supported as of yet.

Apple updates app guidelines to allow ‘approved’ virtual currencies

Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to allow transmission of certain approved virtual currencies, Reuters reports. Section 11.17 in the guidelines states: “Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.” It’s unclear which virtual currencies would be allowed under the updated guidelines; Apple provided no further details and didn’t issue a response to the report.

Apple previously pulled Blockchain, a popular Bitcoin wallet, from the App Store in February. Blockchain CEO Nic Cary told Bitcoin news service newsBTC that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the recent change, and plans on resubmitting the Blockchain iOS app for approval.

iOS 8: More New Features, Revealed

Every time Apple introduces a new operating system, there are always features that either only get mentioned in a giant list on a slide behind the presenter, or go completely unspoken and are only discovered once people begin playing around with it. iOS 8 is no different; in addition to all new features Apple made a big deal out of, there are plenty more worth noting. Here are some of the biggest ones.

  • Weather Channel Providing Information To Weather App
  • DuckDuckGo Support
  • iBooks Preinstalled
  • Wi-Fi Calling
  • Time-Lapse Videos
  • FaceTime Call Waiting
  • Panaromic Photos on iPad
  • Battery Usage By App
  • Tips App
  • Time Limits And Countdown Timer For Guided Access
  • Camera Timer
  • Rich Text In Notes

If you find additional iOS 8 features that may be of interest, feel free to add them to the comments section at the bottom of this article!

Apple debuts Swift, new development language

Today at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple took the wraps off Swift, an entirely new development language for iOS, effectively replacing the requirement for developers to use Objective-C. Swift provides developers with a simpler and higher-performance development language to build apps in, eliminating many of the common errors that can be encountered with Objective-C while improving development time. Swift will be integrated into XCode and uses the same Objective-C runtime environment, allowing developers to seamlessly mix Swift and native C code into the same projects.

Apple debuts HomeKit as home automation solution

Apple has debuted HomeKit, a common network protocol with secure pairing that will let an iPhone control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, and switches. A recent report noted Apple would be debuting a home automation platform at WWDC, and this system ties together offerings across a number of different third-party companies.

Apple debuts HealthKit, iOS app named Health

Apple has introduced HealthKit during the company’s introduction of iOS 8. HealthKit is a one-stop feature in iOS 8 for health apps to integrate in one place; Apple also introduced a new Health app. The previously rumored feature has been referred to as Healthbook in the past.

Apple unveils iOS 8

Apple CEO Tim Cook officially introduced iOS 8, the company’s newest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, at WWDC today. “iOS 8 is a giant release,” Cook said.

After the introduction, Apple’s Craig Federighi took the stage to cover iOS 8. New interactive notifications in iOS 8 let users respond to notifications without leaving current apps. Double tapping the Home button can now allow users to quickly access recently used contacts, in addition to apps. Spotlight now shows results in the App Store, news, iTunes, movies and more.

QuickType now supports predictive typing suggestions when typing. The feature is context-sensitive and personalized, with promises of privacy and increased language support. Federighi also showed the continuity features linking iOS to Mac, as seen in the Mac presentation.

Tweaks to messages in iOS 8 allow users to name threads, add and remove people from a thread, use Do Not Disturb to mute notifications in a threat, or choose when to leave a thread. Locations can also be shared, and an enhanced view lets users show attachments shared within a thread. A tap-to-talk feature lets users insert voice and video messages within a thread.

The new Device Enrollment Program will automatically configure iOS devices for enterprise users straight out of the box. Federighi then introduced HealthKit.

Family Sharing in iOS 8 allows family members to auto-share photos, calendars, reminders, and more. It allows up to six family members who share the same credit card to access all of the family’s purchases. A child wishing to make an app purchase will send a request prompt to their parents’ iOS devices.

Within Photos, iCloud will now allow users to search for any photos taken on any device. Photo search lets users search for specific photos using location, time, and other options. Smart Editing controls now lets users have immediate photo editing options. After 5GB of free storage, iCloud storage will now be offered at $1 a month for 20GB, and $4 a month for 200GB.

Siri now lets users access the feature by voice. It will now support Shazam, iTunes purchases, streaming voice recognition and 22 new languages. Maps have also been improved, with China gaining vector-based maps.

App Store search has been improved. Developers can now show app previews, and can offer app bundles — a number of apps at a discounted price. Free beta testing is now available through TestFlight. All the features will be available in the fall, Cook said.

In iOS 8, third-party apps can interact with each other. Third-party apps can also have widgets which will be accessible from Notification Center. Third-party keyboards can now be used across iOS 8 as a new extension. Touch ID is also being opened up to developers.

HomeKit was also introduced — a common network protocol for home automation.

Also introduced was Metal, a new graphics system that allows for advanced rendering and improved performance, and SceneKit a 3D renderer for more casual games. SpriteKit also received an update. Apple also introduced a new programming language, Swift.

iOS 8 will be available in the fall, and it’s available in beta as of today.

WWDC 2014: All The News You Want To See

The 2014 keynote event at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins today at 1PM Eastern / 10AM Pacific Time, and a live video stream of the event will be available at this link and via the Apple Events channel on Apple TVs. A number of announcements are expected today for iOS 8, notably including the health-tracking feature Healthbook, an iOS-centric home automation feature and certification program, as well as further developments of the location-based iBeacons notification service. iOS 8 is anticipated to look largely like iOS 7, but feature a number of under-the-hood performance improvements and feature boosts.

Additionally, the new version of OS X for Macs will be shown, featuring a significant visual redesign akin to iOS 7’s. Well-sourced rumors suggest that Apple will also show new hardware, potentially including new Mac 4K displays, while previously-rumored “in development” products such as a 12” iPad could make appearances as well. Here’s what was actually announced, each with its own full article.

iOS 8
HealthKit and Health App for iOS 8
HomeKit for iOS 8 Home Automation
OS X Yosemite (10.10)
Apple Photos for OS X
Swift, A New Development Language for OS X and iOS

No new hardware was introduced during the WWDC 2014 keynote. iLounge’s editors have released a multi-editorial on WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and more for an opinionated look at today’s announcements.

iLounge App Spotlight: Disney Karaoke: Frozen

Ever since Frozen hit theaters in November 2013 - at the beginning of what turned out to be a historically long winter - the buzz over Disney’s remake of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen hasn’t stopped. Families flocked to theaters to make it the highest-grossing animated film in history, with well over $1 Billion in box office revenue, and fans of all ages have been singing along with its soundtrack at home, on YouTube, and elsewhere. Today’s release of Disney Karaoke: Frozen ($8) is the company’s attempt to capture some of that interest and monetize it.

For the asking price, iPad users — not iPhone or iPod users — get an app with nine Frozen songs: Frozen Heart, Do You Want To Build A Snowman?, two versions of For the First Time In Forever, Love Is An Open Door, Let It Go, Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People, In Summer, and Fixer Upper. Each song is effectively a music video taken directly from movie footage, albeit with the music segmented into an ever-playing instrumental portion and an optional vocal track.

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