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Apple Store begins selling AR teddy bear

Apple has become the exclusive retailer for toy startup Seedling’s Parker the Bear, an ordinary looking teddy bear that has some serious augmented reality capabilities when paired with the companion app. Parker comes with his own backpack, doctor’s kit and X-ray bibs that produce AR responses in the free app, relying on an iOS 11-equipped device to produce fun effects instead of electronics built into the toy itself. Exams will display Parker’s bones and organs, prompt kids to use 3D Touch functionality to get the bear to perform tests like taking deep breaths, and display other games and puzzles that increase Parker’s “happiness factor,” which in turn unlocks other AR effects. The toy is available for $60 from Apple or directly from Seedling. [via AppleInsider]

Lifx debuts new HomeKit-enabled Beam lighting system

For smart home device users looking for a more unique lighting solution than the typical connected bulb, Lifx has revealed its Beam lighting system ($200). Each kit comes with six beams, one corner piece, and a power pack, allowing users to build themselves an illuminated right angle on any wall. Each beam can reproduce 16 million different colors and has 10 “blended light zones,” allowing for some serious control to create a variety of color schemes. The lights are dimmable fro 1 – 100 percent and can be controlled through HomeKit (or through the dedicated app for users without a hub). The Lifx Beam is expected to begin shipping in November and can be pre-ordered now on the company’s website.

Apple employees reportedly testing out Apple Pay Cash

Some of Apple’s corporate employees in the U.S. are testing Apple Pay Cash on iOS 11.1, MacRumors reports. A source claims Apple’s workers have been using the direct money transfer system after downloading iOS 11.1, installing an added beta profile and then getting their Apple IDs whitelisted by the company. The process only works when both users have the proper permissions, and attempts to send money to those outside the loop result in an error message.

Apple releases iOS 11.0.2 with fix for iPhone 8 speaker problems

Apple has released iOS 11.0.2, which fixes a bug that caused crackling sounds in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus earpieces during calls. The update also sorts out an issue that was causing the devices to hide photos and fixed the problem causing attachments in encrypted emails not to open.

YouTube iOS app update allows sharing in iMessage; Nike app adds new workouts, Apple Watch options

YouTube has updated its iOS app to allow for quick and easy sharing of videos directly through iMessage. Tapping the share button under a video in the YouTube app now allows the video to be sent in Messages, and the recipient can play the video directly in Messages without exiting the app. The Nike+ Run Club app also saw some improvements, adding Audio Guided Runs in both iOS and watchOS that pair specialized playlists with guidance from coaches and athletes. The app also activates a Cheers feature that encourages users to notify friends when they’re going out for a run and lets the friends send positive feedback. Perhaps most importantly, Apple Watch Series 3 users will now have access to elevation data even when running without their iPhone tethered to the watch. [via 9to5Mac]

Ireland may face penalty for not collecting on EU tax ruling against Apple

Ireland has presented a united front with Apple in disputing an EU ruling that the company owes the country $17.6 billion in back taxes, and refusing to collect the money from Apple may end up costing Ireland, Bloomberg reports. The European Commission has been pushing Ireland to collect the money, which was supposed to be due at the beginning of the year. Irish authorities are supposed to have collected the money and put it in escrow pending Apple’s appeal, but that hasn’t happened yet as Apple and Ireland negotiate how the money will be invested during the process, which could take as long as five years. But as the process drags on, it’s possible the EU regulators will sue over Ireland’s failure to implement its recovery order and impose a fine on the country.

Oakland A’s testing NFC capability of iPhone, Apple Watch for contactless ticket scanning

After the release of iOS 11 and watchOS 4, Major League Baseball ran a pilot program testing out contactless tickets for six Oakland A’s games, TechCrunch reports. The league is working on expanding the contactless option for next season, allowing fans to save their tickets in Apple Wallet and simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near a terminal just like they’d use Apple Pay. This marks the first time the NFC technology has been used for anything other than reward cards or gift cards, but it isn’t the first time the Oakland A’s have been the proving ground for tech solutions for tickets, as the team was the first to use ticketing via text massage in 2007.

Philips update retroactively adds HomeKit support to Hue products; Ikea adds new colored smart bulbs

The Hue 2.16.0 app update released by Philips has extended HomeKit compatibility to Hue tap, Hue dimmer switch and Hue motion sensor, making the company the first to retroactively add HomeKit support to its earlier products, following Apple’s announcement in June that it was allowing HomeKit capabilities to be added via software updates. Hue tap and Hue dimmer switches can now be configured to control other HomeKit-enabled accessories outside of the Hue family and no longer have to be configured from the Hue app. The Hue motion sensor will also be able to activate HomeKit automations and scenes as well, making the Hue product family much more viable as one part of a larger smart home solution.

Best Buy in Canada starts selling all its iPhones unlocked ahead of Dec. 1 deadline

With the Canadian government’s ban on locked cell phones going into place on December 1, Best Buy has already started selling all of its iPhones unlocked regardless of the carrier that a customer chooses to use, iPhone in Canada reports. Users are also reporting that Rogers and Telus locations are already unlocking iPhones for free, waiving the usual $50 fee. We reached out to Apple to ask whether on-contract iPhones sold in their Canadian stores are also now being sold unlocked, but haven’t yet received a response.

Apple registers international trademark for Apple Pay Cash, expected to launch later in fall

While Apple teased the ability to send money through Messages with Apple Pay Cash in iOS 11 and watchOS 4 during its WWDC presentation, the feature didn’t roll out along with those new operating systems. The feature hasn’t made its way into recent iOS or watchOS betas either, but that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t still working to get it out. Apple still lists the feature as “coming this fall” on its iPhone 8 website, and the company recently registered the Apple Pay Cash trademark in Canada as well according to MobileSyrup, although the development sheds no light on whether the feature will launch in Canada when it goes live in the US.

Apple acquires computer vision startup Regaind

Apple has acquired computer vision startup Regaind, TechCrunch reports. Regaind has been working on an API to analyze the content of photos that could do things like automatically finding the best shot in a burst series or hiding images flagged as duplicates. Reports over the summer suggested that Apple was working on a similar technology that was dubbed “SmartCam” that would have allowed the iPhone 8 to automatically select the best shots while photographing particular subjects such as babies, pets, documents fireworks, or sunrises and sunsets, however despite expectations, the “SmartCam” feature never materialized with the debut of the iPhone 8, suggesting that Apple is still working on it. It’s unclear whether Apple may be interested in using Regaind’s technology to help advance that feature or for other aspects of the photos app such as Memories. Apple only issued its usual blanket statement in response to the inquiry, saying “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple investigating reports of iPhone 8 Plus devices bursting open

Apple is investigating reports of an iPhone 8 Plus splitting open during charging, The Independent reports. Media in Taiwan interviewed one owner who said his device cracked open while plugged into an official Apple Lightning cable and power adapter when it was just five days old. Another iPhone 8 Plus received by a customer in Japan arrived with the screen partially detached as well. Apple is “looking into” the reports, which likely involve problems with swelling batteries.

Apple’s latest Transparency Report shows spike in National Security requests

Apple has released its latest bi-annual transparency report, providing an overview of requests by government agencies and private parties for customer data from January 2017 to June 2017. While the latest report shows that overall data requests have dropped over the past year, it also reveals a spike in the number of U.S. Government data requests under FISA and National Security Letters.

Apple releases first watchOS 4.1 beta, adding Apple Music support

Apple has released a first beta of watchOS 4.1 to registered developers, adding the promised Apple Music support. The feature promises users the ability to stream any song from Apple Music or their iCloud Music Library directly from their wrist, and also adds a new Radio app for access to Beats 1 live or any other Apple Music radio station, even while away from an iPhone or Wi-Fi connection. According to the release notes, this initial beta doesn’t yet provide support for ESPN or cellular connections in the Radio app, although it seems Apple intends to address both of these issues in future betas. The release notes also do not specify if Apple Music support will be limited to only certain Apple Watch models.

Apple releases first beta of iOS 11.1

Only a little more than a week after Apple’s public release of iOS 11, the company has now pushed out a beta of its first point release to both developers and public beta testers. So far, the first iOS 11.1 beta only appears to have made a few relatively minor changes, and there’s not yet any sign of other features that Apple has promised in upcoming point releases, such as person-to-person Apple Pay support. Registered developers and members of the Public Beta Program can receive the new update over-the-air after installing the appropriate certificate on their iOS 11 devices.

Apple making push to acquire ‘Game of Thrones’-quality shows

Apple is taking meetings in the hopes of landing “big, smart, splashy dramas, with at least one citing Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Crown as models,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources claim Apple has jumped into the discussion at multiple production houses and is now getting the same pitches that Netflix and HBO see for new high-end TV series. Apple reportedly missed out on “Ratched” — Ryan Murphy’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” origin series — which ended up going to Netflix, and has made bids on a handful of other projects, but the company is also reportedly passing on the vast majority of pitches in the hopes of securing one massive blockbuster deal to lead the way. Those include an update of the Steve Spielberg series Amazing Stories and a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, according to sources close to the discussions.

Apple joins FDA program to speed up health software approval process

Since the Apple Watch’s creation, the FDA has mostly maintained a hands-off approach to regulations, and as Apple pushes into new areas of health monitoring the agency is looking to help the company avoid regulations that have slowed development on health software, Bloomberg reports. The program will allow companies to pre-clear their products instead of going going through the usual months-long application and approval process. The program is aimed at helping companies develop new products more rapidly while still keeping some government oversight of the process. “We need to modernize our regulatory framework so that it matches the kind of innovation we’re being asked to evaluate,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

Apple releases iOS 11.0.1 update amid user complaints of app failures, battery drain

The release of iOS 11 has brought the usual complaints about performance issues, with an entire thread on Reddit dedicated to users who have seen a steep drop in battery life, slow load times for apps and buggy performance in general. Apple has released iOS 11.0.1, only saying the standard “bug fixes and improvements” in the way of explaining what has changed, so it’s unclear whether this is in response to problems or just a routine update, but Apple did tell The Verge it is working on the static users have reported hearing in the iPhone 8 earpiece. The company claims the crackling has only come up in a “small number” of devices and a fix “will be included in an upcoming software release.”

Apple ditches two-step authentication for two-factor in iOS 11, macOS High Sierra

Apple is eliminating its old two-step verification process and migrating all users to two-factor authentication with the roll out of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, according to an updated support document. The company rolled out two-factor authentication back in 2015, but the company had been letting people keep going with the older two-step authentication if they wanted. The two-step method requires logging in with an Apple ID and then sending a code to an Apple device via SMS text message, allowing users to require the added confirmation layer for things like signing into iCloud, tinkering with an Apple ID or buying things from iTunes, iBooks, or the App Store from a new device.

 

Apple drops Bing for Siri and Spotlight searches, moves to Google

Apple has switched Siri and Spotlight’s default searches to Google, leaving Bing behind and bringing the searches in line with Safari, TechCrunch reports. Apple’s web browser already used Google — both on macOS and iOS — so the move should make the results returned in Siri and Spotlight more consistent with Safari. For the time being Bing is still the go-to for Siri image searches, and video results are delivered courtesy of YouTube. Now if users want to use Bing for Siri searches they’ll have to specify that in their request, but Google is far more popular so the change is unlikely to cause many problems.

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