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Apple releases first iOS 12.1, tvOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1 betas

Apple has already released the first developer betas for iOS 12.1, tvOS 12.1, and watchOS 5.1, barely 24 hours after the public releases of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5. With this new round of betas, Apple appears to have moved its release notes into an HTML web page, rather than the PDF versions that have been the norm for the past several years, although all three versions note that “There are no notes or known issues for this software update” although 9to5Mac notes that group FaceTime appears to have returned — a feature that was promised for iOS 12 but pushed to a later version. iOS 12.1 may also add dual-SIM support for the new iPhone models, although there is currently no evidence of that, and in fact there are currently no restore images available for the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, so anybody planning on upgrading to one of the new models may want to avoid installing the new betas for now, as it won’t be possible to restore an iCloud or iTunes backup made with iOS 12.1 onto an iPhone running iOS 12; a similar situation occurred last year with iOS 11.2 and the iPhone X, although Apple was quick to release an iOS 11.2 restore image later the same day as the iPhone X was released. Whether or not that will be the case this year remains to be seen.

Google Maps update adds CarPlay support

Only two days after [going into beta testing], Google has already released an update to Google Maps, adding support for CarPlay in iOS 12. Google Maps 5.0, now available on the App Store, will allow the Google Maps app to be displayed on the in-dash screen in any vehicle support Apple CarPlay, providing turn-by-turn directions and other navigation features for users who prefer using Google Maps. Previously, only Apple Maps could be used with CarPlay, but with iOS 12, developers of third-party navigation apps can now extend their user interface to the CarPlay screen.

Catalyst updates its Impact Protection cases for iPhone XS, XS Max + XR

Catalyst has introduced its full range of impact protection cases for Apple’s new 2018 iPhone lineup. The Catalyst Impact Protection Cases for iPhone XS ($40), iPhone XR ($40), and iPhone XS Max ($50) provide the same high-performance and protection standards that Catalyst is known for, in sizes and form factors for Apple’s newest iPhones. Catalyst’s cases feature one of the highest drop specifications available, protecting an encased iPhone from drops of up to 9.9 feet (3m) and feature a grippy rubber bumper, lanyard attachment, rotating mute switch, and clear back to show off the iPhone. The new versions also feature an angular modern form that better matches the new iPhone styles, and are available in stealth black, clear, and blueridge/sunset color options.

Anki announces Cozmo Limited Edition in Interstellar Blue

Anki has announced another new Limited Edition version of its award-winning Cozmo robotic sidekick, coming in Interstellar Blue later this month. The new version features the same continually expanding capabilities as the standard model and last year’s Liquid Metal edition, providing a fun and expressive robot pet that works with a companion iOS app to allow users to program routines and engage in games and challenges, all while displaying an endearing personality through complex facial expressions on its OLED display and little animal-like noises. In addition to simply playing games and letting Cozmo roll around and act cute, Anki also offers Code Lab that turns Cozmo into more of a STEM toy for learning to code robotic routines in a fun and engaging way. Anki also continues to expand Cozmo’s capabilities through software updates, having pushed out close to 25 free updates in the past two years since the original version was released, providing new interactive experiences, new games, facial animations, and more. The new Limited Edition Cozmo is available on Anki.com for $179.99 and will be arriving in stores in November, and in Canada will be available exclusively through Best Buy, starting on Sept. 23, along with a rollout on various other dates in the U.K., France, Germany, and Australia.

Just Mobile announces new clear case and glass lines for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR

Just Mobile has updated its Tenc Air ($25/$30) clear slim bumper case and [Xkin] ($20–$30) glass screen protectors for the new 2018 iPhone models. In addition, Tenc Air is now slimmer and tougher, with air cushions on all corner and bumper frames, and Xkin Glass has been re-engineered to be more scratch-resistant and capable of wrapping the full curved screen. Both the case and screen protector are designed with minimalism in mind, allows users to protect their new iPhones without hiding the stainless steel design in a bulky case.

Withings makes its comeback with Steel HR Sport

Withings has risen from the ashes of Nokia’s Digital Health business following its buyback earlier this year by one of the company’s original founders, with the introduction of its first new product under the original Withings brand: the Steel HR Sport. This new multi-sport hybrid smartwatch provides a focus on fitness, with heart rate monitoring, connected GPS tracking, and fitness level analytics through an estimation of VO2 max, while also providing a 25-day battery life and a considerably more traditional design than most smartwatches. Steel HR Sport builds on the company’s 2014 Activité, which broke new ground as the first analog watch with advanced activity tracking features, released well prior to the company’s acquisition by Nokia, and features the same elegant design, made from 316L stainless steel and available with either white or black faces and water resistant to 50 meters. The time is shown on a traditional analog watch face, with an analog sub-dial that shows the percentage of daily activity goals achieved, while a small OLED display provides health and sports metrics and notifications from the paired iPhone.

1Password adds support for iOS 12 Password Autofill

Alongside iOS 12, AgileBits has released an update to [1Password] bringing support for the new Password Autofill feature in iOS 12. With 1Password 7.2 and iOS 12, users will now be able to access passwords stored in 1Password directly from the QuickType bar of the keyboard, allowing them to be quickly filled into websites and apps without having to make a trip into the actual 1Password app. This basically extends the autofill capability that Apple has long provided for its own iCloud Keychain to third-party apps, allowing users to keep all of their passwords in a single trusted app while still gaining the benefits of quick autofill in Safari and any other third-party iOS apps supporting autofill password entry. The update also improves a large number of performance enhancements that will make the app faster and more responsive, and, for users of 1Password’s own cloud service, will automatically remain up to date, even in the background.

Apple updates Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for iOS 12

Apple has updated its Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps for iOS 12, bringing support for Siri Shortcuts to all three apps, along with several other new features. Pages now allows users to animate drawings, and enhances the display and use of Smart Annotations.Numbers adds support for Smart Categories to quickly summarize tables, allowing users to group data based on unique values and date ranges, such as day of week, day, week, month, quarter, or year, and can instantly show summaries such as counts, subtotals, averages, and more for the columns in each group. Charts can be easily created from this summarized data, and categories can be reordered to visualize data in different ways. Keynote users can now adjust the text size in presenter notes and invert colors while presenting. All three apps also now allowing drawings to be saved to the Photos or Files apps or shared directly with others, and also add support for Dynamic Type and a collection of new editable shapes. The three apps still only require iOS 11 or later, although support for Siri Shortcuts requires iOS 12.

Cultured Code releases Things 3.7 with key iOS 12 features

Cultured Code announced the release of Things 3.7 today, adding several new useful features for iOS 12, including support for Siri Shortcuts, the Siri Watch Face on watchOS 5, Dynamic Notifications, and landscape orientation support for iPhone users. Support for Siri Suggestions now allows iOS 12 to provide suggestions for routine tasks, such as offering to open up a today list every morning when noticing that a user routinely views it at around the same time each day, while Siri Shortcuts will allow users to record key phrases that can be used to quickly create predefined tasks — complete with details filled in — and pull up specific lists and filter by tags. Things also now integrates more tightly with Apple’s Shortcuts app to allow multi-step workflows that can create tasks from multiple sources. Dynamic notifications in Things 3.7 will provide users with more options to snooze reminders for 10, 30, or or 60 minutes. Things also now supports iOS 12 password autofill for entering a password for Things Cloud, and a basic single-pane landscape mode is now supported in the iPhone version. More details are available in Cultured Code’s blog post.

Apple’s Shortcuts app now available on the App Store, replacing Workflow

Alongside the release of iOS 12 earlier today, Apple has made its new Shorcuts app available on the App Store. While iOS 12 introduces “Siri Shortcuts” as a built-in feature that allows users to assign key phrases to run single actions in built-in and third-party apps, Apple is delivering the more complicated macro-style Shortcuts functionality as a separate app that runs on top of iOS 12. Apple made the Shortcuts app available via TestFlight beta earlier this year for developers and public beta testers running iOS 12, but with the public release of iOS 12, Shortcuts now directly replaces the Workflow app that Apple [acquired last year], basically installing as a “Workflow 2.0” but with the new name of “Shortcuts” although the new version omits the Apple Watch app that was previously available in the original version of Workflow; it’s unclear whether the watchOS app will return in a future update. Apple has also posted a short tutorial on using Shortcuts along with a more in-depth Shortcuts User Guide

Apple releases tvOS 12 for Apple TV

Apple has also released tvOS 12 for the Apple TV. While a considerably smaller update than either iOS 12 or watchOS 5, both also released today, tvOS 12 nonetheless enhanced the Apple TV experiences by adding support for Dolby Atmos audio for supported movies, and a new “zero sign-on” feature that will allow users on supported providers to automatically authenticate video streaming apps based on their Internet provider. tvOS 12 also adds the ability for users to get more details on the location of an aerial screensaver simply by tapping the Siri Remote, or swipe left or right to view different aerial scenes.

Apple releases iOS 12 for HomePod

With the release of iOS 12 today for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Apple has also pushed out the corresponding iOS update for its HomePod speaker. Now simply listed as “iOS 12.0” rather than “HomePod Software Update,” a download of the new software can be initiated over-the-air via Apple’s Home app from an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12. While the HomePod iOS wasn’t made available to developers or public beta testers, Apple did provide a summary of the features at last week’s event, including the ability to search for songs by lyrics, create multiple named timers, make and receive phone calls directly on the HomePod — including the ability to ask Siri who is calling, trigger Find My iPhone to send an audible ping to iOS or macOS devices to help locate them around the house. The release notes also indicate that Calendar support, originally unveiled in HomePod 11.4 last spring, now includes support for all languages. The HomePod update can be found by opening the Home app on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12, selecting the house icon in the top-right corner to access global settings, and choosing Software Update under the Speakers section.

Apple releases watchOS 5

Apple is also now pushing out its watchOS 5 update for the Apple Watch, delivering new health and fitness features, including social competitions in the Activity app, automatic startup of Workouts, advanced features for runners, and new heart rate measurements and notifications. An improved Siri Watch Face now integrates with Apple Maps to provide proactive directions to upcoming appointments, live sports scores and upcoming games for favourite teams, and heart rate measurements, as well as integrating with Siri Shortcuts and third-party app shortcuts, providing users with a more comprehensive view of what’s going on in their world. Four new Watch Faces have also been added, including three animated Breathe faces, as well as Fire & Water, Liquid Metal, and Vapor motion faces. A new Walkie Talkie app allows for quick communications with friends, and a new Apple Podcasts app provides direct support for listening to podcasts right from the wrist via Bluetooth headphones. watchOS 5 requires a paired iPhone 5s or later running iOS 12, and is available as a free update that can be downloaded over the air by visiting the Watch app on the paired iPhone and selecting General, Software Update. We’ll have a more in-depth look at what’s new in watchOS 5 in an upcoming feature article.

Apple releases iOS 12

As announced at last week’s event, Apple has just released iOS 12, the latest version of its mobile operating system, featuring significant performance improvements for older iPhones along with a number of new and enhanced features. iOS 12 supports all of the same devices as iOS 11, ranging back to the 2013 iPhone 5s, and promises huge speed boosts for older devices, such as a 70 percent improvement in Camera launch times, a 50 percent improvement in keyboard response, and double the speed of launching apps. iOS 12 also adds a new Screen Time feature, allowing users to keep track of how much they — or their kids — are spending on their iPhones and iPads, and what apps they’re spending time in, along with augmented AR experiences, including allowing multiple people to play the same AR game or collaborate on projects, as well all leaving objects in the virtual world and returning to them later. A new Measure app also takes advantage of the iPhone’s AR features, allowing real-world objects to be accurately measured with the iPhone camera. For iPhone X series users, the Animoji features have also been expanded with new avatars and a new “Memoji” feature that allows users to create their own digital persona for use in Messages, and new camera effects can be used to enhance snapshots in Messages or even live conversations in FaceTime. A new Siri Shortcuts feature will allow users to program short key phrases to trigger specific functions in built-in or third-party apps, as well as customizing daily routines to operate across multiple apps. iOS 12 is available now as an over-the-air update by visiting Settings, General, Software Update. Be sure to keep an eye out for our more detailed guide on what’s new in iOS 12, coming soon.

iPhone 3D Touch screen repairs no longer require dedicated calibration machine

Apple has eliminated the requirement for specialized hardware to replace iPhone screens, which should in turn speed up the process of screen repairs, according to an internal service document obtained by MacRumors. According to the document, Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be able to calibrate the display on repairs iPhone 6s and new models simply by connecting to a Mac running Apple’s calibration and diagnostics software. While calibration has been required since the debut of Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, this stage of calibration has always been capable of being handled by software, however the calibration of 3D Touch in the iPhone 6s and later has required a specialized machine up until now. The new policy removes the need for a “3D Touch Calibration Fixture,” which, according to Apple, will allow for “more flexible workspaces” for service providers, reduced wait times for customers, and wider availability of iPhone screen repairs from third-party service providers.

Report: Google Maps for CarPlay goes into beta testing

A user on on Reddit has posted preliminary screenshots of Google Maps running on Apple CarPlay in iOS 12, suggesting that the feature is already in beta testing will hopefully arrive soon. The user, who is part of the Google Maps closed beta program notes that the feature has just been pushed out, and that most of the UI is “pretty identical,” with a green background on navigational text and a settings icon on the top right where users can toggle features like satellite view, highway/toll avoidance, and more. The user also adds that unsurprisingly Siri seems to still open Apple Maps by default, and features such as adding intermediate stops still need to be done directly on the iPhone, although they will carry over to the CarPlay display. A full set of screenshots is linked from the post. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple avoiding any discussion of AirPower

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has commented on the conspicuous absence of Apple’s promised AirPower wireless charger at last week’s iPhone and Apple Watch event. Gruber notes that nobody he spoke at Apple to was even willing to discuss it off the record, and even points out that Apple avoided any mention of inductive charging during the event, despite improved charging speeds on the new 2018 iPhone models.

In a longer follow-up post on the Apple event, published yesterday, Gruber adds that he has heard third-hand information from multiple sources that Apple engineers ran into problems with the multi-coil design overheating, and that despite warnings from some of the engineering team last year, Apple chose to try and push ahead with trying to make it work, but have had no success in doing so. Gruber suggests that Apple has either “had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design” or they’ve decided to scrap the product entirely and would rather simply pretend it never existed in the first place, as also evidenced by Apple’s almost wholesale scrubbing of all references to AirPower from its website. Gruber also adds that the debacle with AirPower may also be responsible for delaying the new AirPods with the wireless charging case, although recent rumours have suggested that the new case may be Qi-compatible, although it’s unclear whether this was part of Apple’s original strategy or is a revision to bring a wireless AirPods charging case to market that’s not dependent on AirPower.

Dual-SIM support on new iPhones won’t be coming until a later iOS 12 update

A new Apple support document outlining the new Dual SIM feature on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max reveals that support for the feature won’t be available immediately at launch, but will instead be coming “with an update to iOS 12 coming later this year.” While Apple doesn’t make it clear exactly when the feature will be arriving, it follows a similar precedent with new headline features being unlocked in later point releases, such as iOS 12.1. For instance, when Apple first debuted Portrait Mode in the iPhone 7, it wasn’t until iOS 10.1 that the feature was made available to users, and even then it was tagged as “beta” for several months. More significantly, however, Apple’s promised Messages in iCloud feature, which was supposed to debut with iOS 11 last year, took until iOS 11.3 to appear, six months later. The support document also provides a few other interesting insights into how the feature will work, including — perhaps not surprisingly — that the iPhone will need to be unlocked to use on two different carriers, and that provisioning the eSIM will require either scanning a QR code from a supporting carrier, or downloading the carrier’s own iOS app. Users will also be able to label each of their plans to help identify them for things like incoming calls, and choose to use the primary line for cellular features like voice and SMS, while using the secondary line for data. [via 9to5Mac]

WaterField announces Fused Suede Case for iPhone XS, XS Max, XR

WaterField Designs has unveiled its new Fused Suede Case ($29) for the new iPhone lineup — a sleek, dual-color, double-layer Ultrasuede case that is thick enough to protect the iPhone while remaining super lightweight. A cut-out on the bottom exposes the speakers and Lightning port so users can listen to music, carry on a converastion, or charge their iPhone without removing it from the case, and there’s a rear mesh pocket for storing earbuds, cash, or cards. The interior Ultrasuede lining cleans the iPhone screen with each use.

Apple Watch ECG technology is useful but “very rudimentary”

While there’s no doubt that Apple’s ECG feature on the new Apple Watch Series 4 is breaking new ground, experts note that it’s nowhere near providing the kind of detail that professional ECG measuring equipment is capable of. Speaking with Quartz, Dr. Andrew Moore, an emergency department physician at the Oregon Health and Science University, explained that in an actual health care facility, a patient would have 12 different leads placed at different points on their body, whereas the Apple Watch, by the company’s own admission, is the equivalent of a single lead on the user’s wrist, adding that, “The tech that Apple is working with is very rudimentary compared to what we’d do for someone in a hospital or health care setting.” While the watch is capable of using the ECG monitor to detect Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) — a serious medical condition that affects between 2.7 and 6.1 million people in the U.S. — it should be considered merely an indication that the user should seek professional medical advice, and is not nearly as good as an actual medical diagnosis. “The ECG thing is a little bit overhyped in terms of what it will really provide,” Moore added.

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