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Scanbot 7 adds advanced filters, overhauled design

Scanbot has released a major update to its eponymous iOS scanning app, with the new Scanbot 7 delivering a significant redesign along with sophisticated new filters based on machine learning algorithms and search and performance improvements. The new filters provide advanced document processing that result in extremely sharp text, truer whites, and more vivid colors as well as adding the ability for users to now tweak filer settings such as contrast, brightness, and saturation. The redesigned user interface also provides a more intuitive experience along with expanded themes including high contrast theme for visually impaired users, along with a legacy theme for those who preferred the old style. New search capabilities now allow scans to quickly be located by tag, location, or date, and other speed improvements include keyboard-based text annotations and a reworked document processing engine that produces faster results and more lightweight PDFs. Scanbot has also partnered with DATEV eG, a cloud service aimed at professionals such as tax advisors, financial auditors, and lawyers to help those using Scanbot in a business context easily upload documents for further processing and sharing. Scanbot 7 is available from the App Store as a free download, with an in-app “Pro” upgrade providing access to advanced features such as OCR, PDF editing and encryption, iCloud support, passcode protection, and themes; a “Lite” option is also now available via in-app purchase that provides basic in-document PDF search and annotation for a lower price.

Case-Mate releases Power Pad wireless charger

Case-Mate has entered the wireless charging market with today’s announcement of its new Power Pad that combines a fast wireless charger with a stand to keep your iPhone in an upright position. Featuring 7.5-watt Qi-enabled charging capabilities for iPhone, a removal “iPhone-shaped” charging pad allows users to lay their device flat for charging separately from the stand. Devices can also be charged in landscape or portrait orientations, and an LED indicator confirms that your device is properly charging. A slip resistant ridge helps guide your iPhone for proper placement, and base grips also prevent the pad from sliding around on smooth surfaces. Power Pad sells for $60 and is available from Amazon in either black or white and features a minimalist design that makes it appropriate for just about any setting.

Future iPhones may include curved OLED displays and touchless UI

Apple has long term plans in the works for future iPhone models that include touchless gesture control and curved screens, according to a new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. Citing people with knowledge of the matter, the report notes that the new features are part of projects that are already in the works at Apple for possible implementation the next two to three years, and would be ways of helping the iPhone stand out more in the crowded smartphone market. Touchless control would be a UI enhancement that would let users perform some tasks simply by placing their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it, representing an entirely new way to interact with the iPhone, responding based on proximity of a finger to the screen in much the same way that 3D Touch responds to finger pressure.

Kerry Ehrin takes over Apple’s upcoming morning show drama

Apple has made some staff changes on its upcoming morning show drama, Variety reports, with drama veteran Kerry Ehrin expected to take over the series, which will be starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The prior show runner, Jay Carson, has reportedly left over “creative differences.” Ehrin had previously been under a deal with Universal Television and is best known for her role as co-creator, executive producer and showrunner of A&E’s Emmy-nominated drama “Bates Motel.”  The as-yet-untitled new morning show drama represents Apple’s first big television project, stemming from a November deal with Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res banner and Aniston’s Echo Films and Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banners, with Apple landing an order for two seasons with ten episodes per season. Based on an idea from Ellenberg, the series will reportedly be drawing background material from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter’s 2013 book “Top of the Morning,” which talked about a recent rivalry between major NBC and ABC morning shows.

Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence joins Apple

Apple has scored a “major coup” in the hiring of John Giannandrea, Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, The New York Times reports. Apple announced the hiring late yesterday, adding that Mr. Giannandrea will be in charge of Apple’s “machine learning an A.I. strategy” as one of the 16 key executives who report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. After joining Google in 2010, the 53-year-old Scotland-born Giannandrea became a leading force behind the push to integrate A.I. technology throughout Google’s products, including internet search, Gmail, and Google Assistant. Giannandrea originally came to Google with the company’s acquisition of Metaweb, a start-up that was building a “database of the world’s knowledge” that later became a key component in Google’s direct answer feature.

iFixit publishes ‘iPad 6’ teardown

iFixit has posted its teardown of Apple’s latest low-cost iPad model. Dubbing it the “iPad 6” in its teardown, iFixit’s analysis of the sixth-generation iPad reveals a device that’s mostly just a lightly upgraded model of last year’s fifth-gneration iPad, with the Apple A10 Fusion CPU and a new “Pro-grade” Broadcom BCM15900B0 touchscreen controller providing Apple Pencil support — the same chip found in last year’s iPad Pro models. iFixit noted that the LCD was surprisingly easy to remove one it’s separated from the cover glass and digitizer, and the air-gapped and separately replaceable cover glass and LCD make many drop damage repairs far less expensive than they might otherwise be — an advantage for an iPad targeted at classroom use. However, iFIxit noted that this was about the only repairability advantage to the new iPad, which otherwise presented many barriers to easy repairs, such as a solid barrier of very strong adhesive holding the iPad together and nearly everything else in place, along with foam sticky tape that increases the risk of damage during disassembly. While these are likely not to be serious issues for professional repair shops, it will definitely be an impediment to do-it-yourself repairs, resulting in a “repairability score” by iFixit of 2 out of 10.

Apple releases first tvOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1 betas

Alongside the first iOS 11.4 developer beta, Apple has also released new betas for tvOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1. Both versions appear to be relatively minor updates focused on bug fixes, with very sparse release notes listing no new features, and in the case of watchOS 4.3.1 not even any known issues.

Apple releases first iOS 11.4 developer beta

Only four days after the public release of iOS 11.3, Apple has already begun testing of iOS 11.4, releasing the first beta to developers yesterday afternoon. The release notes for the initial iOS 11.4 beta list few significant changes, although they note the return of Messages in iCloud — a feature that was promised for iOS 11 last fall and introduced to beta testers in the entire iOS 11.3 beta before being omitted from last week’s final release. However, Apple once again indicates that the feature has been included only “for testing and evaluation purposes,” suggesting that it may still not be rolled into the final iOS 11.4 release either. The same conditions also apply to Messages in iCloud as for the earlier betas — users will be prompted to turn the feature on after upgrading to the iOS 11.4 beta, however users who have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled will have the feature activated automatically. No other new features are highlighted in the iOS 11.4 beta, which appears to still be lacking the AirPlay 2 features which briefly appeared in early iOS 11.3 betas before disappearing near the end of the cycle.

Update: AirPlay 2 has in fact returned in the first iOS 11.4 beta, but requires an AirPlay 2 compatible target device on your network, such as an Apple TV running the new tvOS 11.4 beta. HomePod doesn’t work as an AirPlay 2 target, and will likely require its own HomePod software update to enable the feature.

ACLU launches petition for Apple and other tech companies to sign ‘Security Pledge’

The American Civil Liberties Union has released a petition calling on Apple and other tech companies to sign a four-point “Security Pledge” promising to take key steps to protect their customers’ privacy, security, and liberty. The pledge requires companies to commit to ensuring all users have access to their personal data and control over it, ensuring data is protected against breaches and other unauthorized disclosures, limit the amount of data collected to only what is strictly necessary, and ensure that all data collection and related policies are implemented in such a way as to avoid discrimination.

Catalyst unveils Waterproof Case for HomePod

Catalyst has announced Waterproof Case for HomePod, a 100 percent waterproof case for Apple’s smart speaker that allows users to not only confidently use their HomePod by the pool or in other outdoor settings without worrying about water damage, but to even use it underwater. The case is designed to meet IP68 waterproof standards for immersion of up to 33 feet, and designed with a double O-ring and marine-grade stainless steel latches to hold the case securely together and sealed. Featuring True Sound Aquaphonic acoustic technology, the case promises to deliver clear sound transmission and voice recognition — apparently even underwater — and is tuned for bass resonance appropriate to poolside use. The Catalyst Waterproof case can also withstand drops of up to 6.6 feet, and made with a clear polycarbonate top housing to show off the HomePod’s design, and also provides pass-through of the top touch surface controls.

Happy Easter weekend from iLounge!

We hope that all of you, our readers, have a happy and joyful Easter this year. We’ll be on a limited publishing schedule for Good Friday as we spend time with our families this weekend, and will return to our normal publishing schedule next week. Happy Easter!

Apple to introduce web-based feature to allow users to download all of their data

Apple is adding even more privacy controls in light of new European regulations, Bloomberg reports. In addition to new privacy features debuted in iOS 11.3 today, Apple has said that it plans to add a feature to its website in the next few months that will allow users to download a copy of all of their stored data, an approach similar to features already offered by Google and Facebook. The updated Apple ID management tools will also allow users to correct personal information, temporarily deactivate their account, or delete it entirely. According to Apple, these new controls are designed to ensure compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into effect on May 25.

Apple releases watchOS 4.3 with iPhone Music Controls

Apple has also released watchOS 4.3 today, a smaller update compared to the iOS 11.3 release that nevertheless brings a couple of new useful features with it. Most notably, with watchOS 4.3 users can once again access the music library on their paired iPhone — a capability that was removed when Apple Music debuted on the Apple Watch Series 3 last fall — as well as control music playback on their HomePod. watchOS 4.3 also marks the introduction of support for Nightstand mode when the Apple Watch is charging in portrait orientation, and adds a new charging animation when the device is first placed on a charger. A new screen has also been added when the Apple Watch is used to unlock a paired MacBook, and the Siri watch face gains support for Activity data.

Apple releases first HomePod software update

Alongside today’s release of iOS 11.3, Apple has also quietly released the first software update for its HomePod smart speaker. Identified simply as HomePod 11.3, the update weighs in at 2.36 GB and only notes that it “includes general improvements for stability and quality” making it unclear exactly what has changed. Apple has promised the addition of AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing support in future HomePod updates, however the omission of AirPlay 2 support in iOS 11.3 suggests that it may still be a ways off. The HomePod 11.3 update should be installed automatically, but users can also check for and install the update manually via Apple’s Home app on iOS 11.3.

Apple releases tvOS 11.3

Apple has also released tvOS 11.3 today, a relatively minor update for the Apple TV and Apple TV 4K that primarily adds performance and improvements for bug fixes, along with enhancements to Match Content support, automatic mode switching for AirPlay video sessions, and brings automatic frame rate switching to the older fourth-generation Apple TV. Users in Brazil also gain Siri support with the new update, along with access to Apple’s TV app, which has been pushed out in Mexico as well.

Apple releases iOS 11.3 with Battery Health, Health Records, Business Chat and more

Apple has announced the final public release of iOS 11.3, featuring a significant number of updates for a point release. Originally previewed in late January, iOS 11.3 promises new augmented reality experiences, new Animoji for iPhone X users, a new Business Chat feature that will allow businesses to communicate with customers via iMessage, a Health Records feature that helps users of participating medical institutions more easily view their medical records, enhanced data and privacy controls, and the Battery Health feature that will ensure users know when their performance is being throttled due to aging batteries on older iPhones.

Apple’s new ‘Music Videos’ section now online

Apple has added the promised Music Videos section to Apple Music in iOS 11.3, which may signal an imminent launch of the new update. The new section can be found under “Browse” in the iOS Music app or iTunes on a Mac or PC, and highlights Apple Music exclusives, curated playlists, and artist spotlights, similar to the music sections. Although the new Music Videos section was unveiled as part of Apple’s iOS 11.3 preview, it appears to be working fine for users of other recent iOS 11 versions. [via MacRumors]

Apple partner Foxconn acquires accessory and peripheral maker Belkin

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has acquired accessory and peripheral maker Belkin for $866 million, TechCrunch reports. The sale brings a lot of recognizable brands owned by Belkin under Foxconn’s umbrella, including Linksys, Wemo and Phyn in addition to Belkin’s own name. Belkin’s CEO and founder Chet Pipkin will stay on and operate the company “as a wholly owned subsidiary,” possibly also joining Foxconn Interconnect Technology’s management team at a later date.

Logitech releasing Logitech Crayon and Logitech Rugged Combo 2 case for new iPad

Logitech has jumped into Apple’s renewed push into education with two new accessories for the 6th generation iPad released yesterday. The Logitech Crayon uses technology first found in the Apple Pencil in a say that’s kid-friendly, connecting to the iPad without even requiring pairing and boasting an 8-hour battery life to last through the whole school day (or a very long car trip). The components are also built in a way that resists the destructive tendencies of little hands, with a pry-resistant smart tip that’s only removable with a special tool and a tethered rubber cap that can’t be lost. The flat design also makes it easier to grip for little hands and should help keep it from rolling off the table all the time.

GarageBand gets new “Toy Box” educational sound pack, TrueDepth facial control

Following today’s education event in Chicago, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS unveiling a free new education-themed sound pack, “Toy Box”, along with support for controlling musical effects using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.  The new sound pack includes over 400 Apple Loops, three drum kits, ten keyboard instruments, and five Live Loop grids, focused on education with sounds such as animals, vehicles, and counting to ten in different languages. TrueDepth camera support allows iPhone X users to control effects like guitar wah and synth parameters using facial expressions, and the update also adds a Modern Wah guitar stompbox effect.

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