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Report: Apple killed Beats home audio project after acquisition

When Apple acquired Beats Electronics, the company killed a project aimed at creating WiFi-connected speakers that would play subscription music services straight from the Internet, Variety reports. Efforts to create a more complete, room-to-room Beats home listening solution ran into serious problems and delays, leading Apple to scrap it. In related news, Apple recently pulled the Beats Pill XL speaker off its website after a safety recall. The company has offered customers refunds, but no ability to fix or replace affected devices, fueling further speculation that Apple isn’t committed to the Beats hardware brand. Some of the Beats engineers working on the new speaker project have since left the company, and sources say around 50 percent of Beats employees have left or lost their jobs post-acquisition.

iOS 9 keyboard hints at ‘iPad Pro’

A tweet from developer Steve Troughton-Smith shows Apple has made big additions to iOS 9’s keyboard, hinting at the release of a long-rumored 12” iPad. When set to larger resolutions while running iOS 9, the iPad keyboard now adds Tab and Caps Lock keys and an entirely new top row of symbols that’s traditionally found above the numbers on a standard keyboard. Curly braces and a pipe symbol are also added in their usual places, next to the “P” key. The top row of symbols is also duplicated below the numbers on the second keyboard page, which manages to contain enough keys to eliminate the need for the third screen of keys.

Apple is also bringing full support for audio plug-ins to iOS 9, 9to5Mac reports. The support will allow Audio Units effects and instrument apps currently available on OS X to be ported over with only slight changes.

Parrot announces 13 new Minidrones

Parrot has announced a lineup of 13 new Minidrones, including two water-based Hydrofoil drones. The new collection includes six new jumping drones, including the Diesel, Buzz, and Marshall “night” drones which are equipped with night vision and variable-intensity LEDs, as well as the Max, Tuk-Tuk, and Jett “race” drones which are capable of reaching top speeds of 13 km/h (8.1 mph). Five new airborne drones have also been introduced, in “night” and “cargo” versions, with the Blaze, Swat, and Mc Clane providing dimmable LED running lights for maneuvering in the dark, and Travis and Mars capable of carrying small cargo loads such as LEGO characters or bricks. We reviewed two Parrot Minidrones last year — the Jumping Sumo and Rolling Spider.

The two Hydrofoil models, Orak and Newz, represent a new direction for Parrot, as a pair of flying drones that can descend onto a lake or pool and cruise around at a top speed of 5.4 knots (2.78 mph) while being able to make rapid turns without capsizing. All of the new drones feature standard cameras and other sensors, and are controlled with Parrot’s FreeFlight3 application using a standard Wi-Fi connection from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The new drones range in price from €99 to €199 ($110 to $225 USD), and although Parrot hasn’t revealed North American release dates or pricing as of yet, iLounge will be attending a Toronto press event later this month where we expect to get more details on the company’s plans for the new models.

iOS 9 Transit goes beyond core cities

During Apple’s announcement earlier this week that public transit directions would be coming to Maps in iOS 9, the company provided a list of ten major North American and European cities where the service would be offered. However, with transit already available in the first iOS 9 beta, it now appears that the service may extend beyond the core cities. In Toronto, for example, it has already been discovered that not only is Toronto’s TTC included, but also GO Transit and many other providers in cities throughout Southern Ontario, including Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Burlington, York Region, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, and the Niagara Region. Similarly extended areas may be available outside of other core cities where the iOS 9 transit feature is launching, although that’s not yet clear. [via MacRumors]

Apple’s retail bag check policies were brought to Cook’s attention

Apple CEO Tim Cook received complains directly from at least two retail employees regarding Apple’s bag search policies, Reuters reports. The Apple retail store policy of checking employees’ bags is at the center of a 2013 lawsuit alleging that the company should compensate employees for the time taken to conduct the searches, which are often done as employees are leaving after their shift has formally concluded.

In a court filing made public on Wednesday, unsealed employee complaints showed messages to Cook suggesting that the precautionary searches are “embarrassing and demeaning” and that Apple managers “are required to treat ‘valued’ employees as criminals.” One employee complaint noted that these searches “are often performed in front of gawking customers,” while another email sent to Cook by a retail worker in Beijing accused Apple of treating its retail employees “as animals” and thieves. Cook had reportedly forwarded the messages to Apple retail and human resources execs asking, “Is this true?” although the filing doesn’t include what responses Cook received to that inquiry, or what further action was taken as a result of it. Denise Young Smith, Apple’s vice president of human resources, however, did make a statement: “If it is simply a deterrent there has to be a more intelligent and respectful way to approach.”  A hearing in the lawsuit is expected to take place on July 2.

iOS 9 code hints at 1080p front camera in future Apple devices

Developer Hamza Sood has tweeted a photo of internal code from the first iOS 9 beta that hints at a 1080p front-facing camera in new Apple devices — possibly the next iPhones. The code suggests the addition of a front flash and support for taking panoramic photos and 240fps slow-motion video. The front camera for current iOS devices tops out at 720p and has no flash. It’s been rumored that Apple’s next iPhones will see a dramatic leap forward in camera technology.

Bug allows phishing attacks in iOS Mail

Security researcher Jan Soucek has discovered a bug that would let hackers run a fake re-login prompt using an email sent to iOS Mail. Once opened, code in the email could imitate an iCloud login prompt and trick users into giving away their Apple ID user name and password. Souceck says he found the bug in iOS 8.1.1 back in January and filed a bug report with Apple, but after not hearing back or seeing a fix after five months, he made the code public. Now that the code is available to anyone, users should be wary of login requests made by their iOS devices while iOS Mail is running. Apple hasn’t commented on the issue. [via The Register]

Apple vans collecting Maps data in U.S., England and Ireland

Apple has confirmed that those camera-laden vans seen in public are indeed collecting images for use in Apple Maps. Apple has pledged to respect privacy while collecting its images, blurring faces and license plates before publishing the photos. The vans will be in some larger cities throughout the U.S., England, and Ireland until the end of the month. The push for adding images, combined with the new Transit feature coming in iOS 9 and a contract extension with TomTom, shows Apple is continuing its push to make Maps a viable competitor to Google Maps.

Apple releases iOS 8.4 beta with redesigned Music app

Apple has released its fourth beta of iOS 8.4 to developers. The new iOS 8.4 beta notably includes a redesigned Music app. With Apple Music set to debut on June 30, we should see iOS 8.4 on that date or before.

Cadillac adding Apple CarPlay to 2016 models

GM has announced that Cadillac’s 2016 models will include Apple’s CarPlay for in-car iPhone integration. The company announced in May that 2016 Chevy models will also support CarPlay. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said “every major car brand” is committed to supporting CarPlay in some fashion. During Monday’s WWDC keynote, Apple announced wireless CarPlay would be coming to iOS 9.

Incipio acquires ClamCase

Mobile device accessory maker Incipio Technologies has acquired ClamCase, which specializes in iPad keyboard cases and peripherals. This is the second acquisition for Incipio in the past few years — in 2013, the company acquired speaker manufacturer Braven. Braven products are still sold under their own name and brand, and Incipio promises new ClamCase-branded keyboard cases will be available at select retailers later this month.

Apple Music allows for offline listening, lacks complete iTunes library for streaming

Subscribing to Apple Music will allow users to add music and video from the Apple Music library to their collection for offline playback, Re/code reports — the feature is also noted on Apple Music’s Membership page. Apple is also maintaining the support Beats Music had for non-Apple devices, with Windows PC support available for the June 30 launch and Android support due this fall. But the Apple Music streaming library doesn’t include everything in iTunes, as some have been reporting. According to Bloomberg, negotiations are still underway to add notable holdouts, like The Beatles.

watchOS 2 to add Activation Lock

Announced earlier today at WWDC, Apple’s watchOS 2 update for the Apple Watch will also add an Activation Lock feature, as detailed on Apple’s watchOS 2 preview page. Similar in concept to the feature introduced in iOS 7 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the Apple Watch implementation of Activation Lock will require that users enter their iCloud Apple ID and password to reactivate the Apple Watch after it’s been erased, acting as a theft deterrent and ensuring that user’s confidential information that may be stored on the Watch remains safe. The introduction of the Activation Lock feature on the iPhone resulted in a measurable drop in iPhone theft rates, however a report last month lamented the lack of the important theft deterrent feature on the Apple Watch.

Apple to release ‘Move to iOS’ app for iOS 9

Although it wasn’t mentioned during Apple’s iOS 9 preview earlier today, a section at the bottom of Apple’s iOS 9 page reveals that the company also plans to release an Android migration app. Dubbed “Move to iOS”, the new app will likely be available as a separate download from the App Store as opposed to being bundled into the operating system, and will allow users to wirelessly move “contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books.” The app will also help users “rebuild” their app library by suggesting downloads for free iOS versions of apps that the user had on their Android device, such as Facebook and Twitter, and adding paid apps to the user’s iTunes Wish List.

Apple announces Apple Music

Today at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced Apple Music, its highly-anticipated music service, which will launch June 30. The new offering will include a revolutionary music service curated by the leading music experts rather than algorithms; a 24/7 global radio service, “Beats 1”, that will be available in over 100 countries and anchored by popular DJs such as Zane Lowe, broadcast from three cities around the world, providing music, interviews, and more; and “Connect”, a portal where artists can share content with fans in a social network, uploading their own videos, song clips, photos, lyrics, thoughts, and more. Fans will be able to like and comment on artist posts.

The new service will be built into the redesigned iOS Music app that will provide access to the user’s own libraries as before, in addition to all of the streamed content available, along with human-curated, user-specific playlists and recommendations, as well as the new Beats 1 radio station, and the Connect portal.

Apple Music will launch in more than 100 countries later this month alongside iOS 8.4 and a new version of iTunes for the Mac and Windows; an Android version will also be coming this fall. The service will be priced at $10/month for individual users, or $15/month for a family plan that will allow up to six family members to share the same subscription with separate accounts. A three-month free trial will also be available.

Apple debuts iOS 9, introduces Proactive Assistant

At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco today, Apple took the wraps off iOS 9, the next version of its mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As expected, iOS 9 was introduced primarily as building on the “foundations” of the operating system to improve battery life and stability, however several other new features were demonstrated, most notably improvements to Siri and a new Proactive Assistant feature. The Proactive Assistant will be able to provide more contextually relevant apps and information based on the user’s location and usual routines, such as bringing up an appropriate playlist when the headphones are plugged in during workout times, setting reminders for getting into the car, creating reminders based on the user’s current context such as a web page or iMessage, and automatically adding appointments from emails and looking up phone numbers from incoming calls based on information contained in emails. Search suggestions in Siri and Spotlight also become more contextually relevant based on trends, who the user has contacted, appointments, reminders, and more, and a new search API allows for content to be searched within third-party apps, deep-linked to bring up the specific information searched for directly in the app, along with a backlink to search results.

Passbook has been renamed “Wallet” and Apple Pay has also been enhanced, and in addition to launching in the U.K. in July, support is being added for loyalty and reward cards from a wide variety of stores, which will be presented based on location. The Notes app has also received a number of enhancements including a toolbar with formatting options for styles, a new feature to add checklists in Notes, and improvements to importing photos directly into Notes. A new drawing mode has also been added to allow users to sketch in Notes, and the iOS 9 Share Sheet will allow items such as web page links to be easily added to Notes as rich links. A new attachments view will also allow users to quickly see a list of attachments in Notes and access them directly from that view.

Apple announces watchOS 2 with native SDK

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference today, the company announced watchOS 2, sporting a number of new features for Apple Watch, as well as a new Watch SDK that will allow third-party developers to build native apps that run directly on the watch, rather than as an extension of a paired iPhone app. Developers will now be able to write their own complications to effectively design custom watch faces that provide an ability to quickly glance at app-specific information. A new “Time Travel” feature will allow users to rotate their digital crowns to quickly and easily view time-based information on their Watch face, such as a future weather forecast or upcoming appointments. “Nightstand Mode” will allow the Watch to display the time and other information in a sideways orientation when the device is plugged in and charging, including adding an alarm clock feature and using the side button as a snooze button.

Additional enhancements allow friends to be added directly on the Watch’s friends list, and Digital Touch drawings can now be done with multiple colors. Emails can be replied to, and FaceTime Audio support is being added so users can place and receive phone calls right from the user’s wrist. Native third-party fitness apps will also now be supported, with the ability for workout data to contribute directly to the built-in activity monitoring apps. Siri has also been enhanced in watchOS 2, allowing users to start workouts by voice, control HomeKit devices, and request specific glances. The mass transit feature in iOS 9 will also come to watchOS 2, allowing users to get departure times for nearby stations at a glance, and step-by-step walking directions to get to a nearby transit station as part of the overall transit routing.

The watchOS 2 SDK will be available to developers today, while the Apple watchOS 2 update will be released in the fall as a free update for all current Apple Watch devices.

Apple Pay coming to the U.K. in July

During today’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced that Apple Pay will be launching in the U.K. in July. The wireless payment service will support most of the U.K.‘s major banks and retailers, as well as payments on the London transit system.

Apple Maps adds Transit directions in iOS 9

During today’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that the Apple Maps app in iOS 9 will be updated to include public transit directions. New features will include specific map overlays that emphasize transit lines over roads, with detailed information available by tapping on stations, including transit times. Multi-modal routing will also be added, allowing users to easily get routes that include multiple paths such as trains, subways, buses, ferries, and more, and walking directions will take into account specific transit station entrances for accurate routing. Transit services will launch initially in Baltimore, New York, Berlin, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Toronto, Mexico City, and Washington D.C., as well as a number of cities in China.

Apple to launch Flipboard-style app, do away with Newsstand

Apple is going to do away with Newsstand and introducte a free, Flipboard-style app that will show users samples of content from providers like the New York Times, Hearst, Conde Nast and ESPN, Re/code reports. Partners who complained about Newsstand burying their content will now sell their own apps on the App Store, with Apple taking 30 percent of revenue generated from subscriptions sold though the publisher’s own apps. Publishers will keep 100 percent of the advertising they sell within the new Flipboard-type app, according to unnamed sources. Apple will sell the ad space that publishers can’t, and will take a cut that one publisher called “very favorable.”

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