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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.

Apple revises App Store rules to allow for Valve’s Steam Link and other similar apps

Apple has quietly issued an update to its App Store Review Guidelines that clarify the company’s position on remote mirroring apps such as Valve’s Steam Link, according to a new report by Reuters. The move comes on the heels of Apple’s controversial rejection of the Steam Link app late last month, despite it having been previously approved. At the time, according to Valve, Apple had cited “business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team,” however Valve tried to insist that the Steam Link app functioned as a “LAN-based remote desktop” much like “numerous [other] remote desktop applications already available on the App Store,” however Valve’s appeal was denied. There was also some speculation that the rejection may have also been due to in-app purchases, however Steam had disabled purchasing in its iOS app and this did not appear to appease Apple’s App Review team, as Steam Link remained barred from the App Store.

Apple unveils new silicone iPhone case colors, Apple Watch bands

While this week’s WWDC Keynote was all about software, Apple has snuck in a few minor accessory updates in the form of new silicon iPhone case colors and Apple Watch bands, as spotted by AppleInsider. The new options, which are part of Apple’s normal seasonal color updates, include three new colors for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X silicon cases — peach, marine green, and sky blue — along with matching Apple Watch Sport Band options. The colors reflect Apple’s previous summer releases that focus more on light pastels that serve as a contrast to the darker tones that come with the fall iPhone releases. The pricing for the new colors remains the same as for all of the other cases, with the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus versions selling for $39, iPhone 8 versions for $35, and Apple Watch Sport bands for $49.

iOS 12 significantly tightens Lighting port security mode

In addition to the many features highlighted in iOS 12 yesterday, it appears that Apple may also be doubling-down on Lightning port security in iOS 12. A report last month highlighted a new “USB Restricted Mode” that showed up in iOS 11.4 after briefly appearing in earlier betas, designed to lock down data communications through the Lightning port if an iPhone hadn’t been unlocked in at least seven days.

watchOS 5 focuses on fitness and connectivity

Today Apple also announced watchOS 5, the next major update to its operating system for the Apple Watch. watchOS 5 maintains Apple’s focus on health and fitness features and connectivity, with the addition of a social activity feature and several new workouts, a new two-way “walkie talkie” communication feature, and several other improvements.

Apple unveils iOS 12, doubles down on performance and adds new AR, Screen Time features

As expected, Apple took the wraps off of iOS 12 today at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, with Craig Federighi taking the stage to highlight what’s new in the company’s latest flagship operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Federighi began by emphasizing that iOS 12 will be “doubling down on performance” and highlighting several metrics where iOS 12 will be improving performance, particularly on older devices. iOS 12 will be available to all of the same devices supported by iOS 11 — all the way back to the 2013 iPhone 5s — making it the largest base ever supported by an Apple release.

App Store turns 10 years old, now features over 20 million registered developers

Kicking off this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the tenth anniversary of the App Store, adding that Apple has hit a milestone of over 20 million registered developers on the App Store, and over 500 million visits to the App Store per week. Most significantly, Apple has paid out 100 billion dollars in payouts to developers over the history of the App Store.

Square Enix ending Go series, shifting focus to freemium games

Square Enix Montreal plans to drop its Go franchise in favour of a shift from a premium game model to a freemium game model. In an interview with VentureBeat, Patrick Naud, head of the Square Enix Montreal studio, revealed that the company’s popular Go lineup — a series of turn-based puzzlers which began with Hitman Go before expanding into Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go — is no longer profitable at the $5 per game up-front asking price, even despite the use of in-app purchases for in-game expansions.

Apple Music adds sign-in support to embeddable web player

The embeddable web player for Apple Music has been updated to provide an option for subscribers to sign in and listen to full songs across the web, according to a report by 9to5Mac. Discovered by a user on Reddit, the widget, which has long been available to allow for artists and music fans to promote and embed albums and playlists on web sites, now includes a “Sign in” button in the top right corner and at the bottom of the track listing. Once signed in, users will be able to listen to full songs rather than just 30–90 second previews, and once signed in, the user will be able to use their Apple Music account with the widget on any web site that they visit.

Apple moving power management chip production in-house

Apple has confirmed plans to begin building its own power management chips for future iPhones, according a report in The Financial Times, citing an investor warning from Dialog Semiconductor predicting lower revenue growth. Dialog has been making iPhone power management chips for several years, however Apple, who is the chipmaker’s largest customer and accounts for more than 75% of the company’s revenue, has decided to order 30 percent fewer chips this year, according to a statement from the company. Dialog CEO Jalal Bagherli also added that he also expected to see a similar reduction in demand next year, but wouldn’t speculate beyond that.

Kanye West’s ‘ye’ debuts on Apple Music

Kanye West’s newest album, “ye” has launched on Apple Music and other streaming services simultaneously today, rather than being the Tidal exclusive release that many expected. As CNET reported yesterday, some information on Twitter was making the rounds suggesting the release would be more exclusive, it was actually only referring to a “communal listening session and discussion” on the Stationhead app.

Report: WWDC will be mostly about software; hardware updates will come later this year

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has weighed in on his expectations for what Apple will be unveiling next week, citing the obvious unveiling of iOS 12 and related software updates, but notably throwing cold water on rumours that Apple could plan to unveil a new Face ID enabled iPad Pro; Gurman conceded that Apple is working on such a device — along with refreshes to its MacBook lineup — but that the hardware won’t be ready for an unveiling until later this year. Gurman also highlights a new initiative that Apple has been working on to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and using certain apps — a feature that Apple has dubbed “Digital Health” and is expected to be built into iOS 12.

Withings to return after buying back digital health business from Nokia

Withings co-founded Eric Carreel has announced plans to resurrect his brand after buying the digital health business back from Nokia earlier this month. Engadget reports that the re-acquisition has been gone through, although terms were not disclosed, and Withings will be selling the existing staple of Nokia-branded health products for now — most of which were originally Withings products in the first place that were simply rebranded by Nokia — but plans to relaunch the Withings brand by the end of the year and continue developing new connected health products as well.

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