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Mophie unveils new portable wireless travel charger and kit

Mophie has unveiled the charge stream pad mini, a new portable Qi-compatible wireless charger for current iPhone models, along with the charge stream travel kit that provides users with everything they need for wirelessly charging while away from home. The charge stream pad mini delivers a five-watt charge for any Qi-enabled smartphone, and features a minimalist low-profile design that fits in whether you’re in a hotel, airport, or even in your car. The compact charge stream travel kit features the charge stream pad mini along with a 2.4-amp wall charger, 2.4-amp car charger, and a 4.9-foot USB-A to Micro-USB cable, along with a travel pouch to easily carry it with you.

Apple knew iPhone 6 models were susceptible to bending problems

New court filings obtained by Motherboard reveal that Apple knew from the beginning that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were much more susceptible to bending problems than prior iPhone models. While Apple has never publicly admitted that the iPhone 6 models have a bending problem, and in fact continues to maintain that position, internal Apple documents in a class-action lawsuit showed that Apple had conducted internal testing and confirmed that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s, and the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend. While the documents themselves remain under seal, U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh disclosed some of the information in a recent opinion in the case, adding that “one of the major concerns Apple identified prior to launching the iPhones was that they were ‘likely to bend more easily when compared to previous generations.’”

New Apple patent suggests enhancements to ‘Do Not Disturb’ on iOS

A new Apple patent reported by Patently Apple suggests a possible new addition the company might make to the iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb while Driving” feature. First introduced in iOS 11, Do Not Disturb while Driving allows users to automatically engage a special Do Not Disturb mode that not only silences incoming notifications, but suppresses them from the lock screen entirely to remove the temptation for users to check their iPhone while in the car. Users can also configure an automatic reply in Messages that will be sent to contacts when this mode is engaged, and this is where Apple’s new patent comes in. Patent application 20180146089, titled “Intelligent Digital Assistant for Declining an Incoming Call” would allow Siri to notify the user of an incoming phone message and allow them to dictate a short response that could be sent back to the caller. The response could also include not only text, but also a voice recorded message, a map location, or even a copy of the user’s calendar. Siri could also conceivably answer the call on the user’s behalf to let the caller know that the person is driving. Of course, as with all Apple patents, the mere indication of a patent doesn’t mean that an implementation of it will ever see the light of day, but this one seems like a logical extension of the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb feature.

Apple signs deal with Volkswagen for self-driving employee shuttles

Apple is asking Volkswagen to supply it with self-driving employee shuttles as part of its scaled-down automotive ambitions, The New York Times reports. Citing three people familiar with Apple’s car project, the company has signed a deal with Volkswagen to provide T6 Transporter vans that can be transformed into self-driving shuttles for employees, but sources reveal that the project is not only behind schedule and consuming “nearly all of the car team’s attention” but that it also seems Volkswagen wasn’t Apple’s first choice. According to people familiar with the negotiations, Apple has reportedly failed to come to amenable terms in discussions with BMW and Mercedes-Benz after several rounds of talks that finally ended after each refused to give Apple control over the data and design of the vehicles.

Siri leads the pack among virtual assistants in Canada

Siri is the number one virtual assistant in Canada, according to a new report from CTV News. According to a poll conducted by Forum Research late last year, approximately 40 percent of Canadian adults use a virtual assistant, with 25 percent indicating that they had used Siri in the past month, compared to 15 percent for Google, four percent for Microsoft’s Cortana, and only one percent for Amazon Alexa. While the report clearly puts Siri in the lead, it’s worth keeping in mind that Siri has been available in Canada since the launch of the iPhone 4S in 2011, while Alexa and Cortana both only came to Canada last November — while the poll was already ongoing. Further, although “OK Google” has been available in Canada in Google’s other apps for some time, Google’s Assistant app and Home speaker only came to Canada last summer, giving Siri essentially a seven-year lead on the competition. [via iPhone in Canada]

Apple offering $50 credit to users who paid for iPhone 6 or later battery replacements

Apple has announced that it is offering a $50 credit to any customers who paid for out-of-warranty battery replacements in 2017 for the iPhone 6 or later. Apple is presumably rolling out the credit to compensate users who purchased battery replacements for affected iPhone models before Apple began offering $29 battery replacements at the end of 2017 to address the issue with deteriorating batteries slowing down older iPhone models. Apple notes that the credit will be provided as an electronic funds transfer or a credit on the credit card that was used to pay for the battery replacement service, and adds that it will be contacting eligible customers directly via e-mail from now until July 27, 2018, but adds that users who believe they are eligible for a credit should contact Apple directly if they do not receive an e-mail by August 1, 2018.

Cinemood adds support for Amazon Prime video

Cinemood has added support for watching Amazon Prime videos to its portable projector, allowing users to not only view Amazon Prime video directly over the projector’s built-in Wi-Fi connection, but also download videos from Amazon Prime to local storage so that they can be viewed offline even where Wi-Fi isn’t available. Amazon Prime joins Cinemood’s existing support for Youtube and Netflix, the latter of which also provides offline viewing support and can be controlled from the corresponding iOS apps.

Apple launches new ‘Data and Privacy’ page allowing EU users to download all of their data

Apple has launched a new Data and Privacy portal, providing a method for users in the European Union to download all of the information that Apple has associated with them. The new portal appears to have been rolled out to comply with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR), although Apple reportedly plans to eventually roll the feature out to all users worldwide — users outside of the EU can still use the new portal to access shortcuts for updating their info, and temporarily deactivating or permanently deleting their Apple ID. EU users users have the additional options of downloading all of their personal data, such as Apple ID info, App Store activity, AppleCare history, and personal iCloud data such as photos and documents.

Apple signs on ‘Once Upon a Time’ creators Horowitz and Kitsis as ‘Amazing Stories’ showrunners

Apple has signed on Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis as executive producers and showrunners for its upcoming reboot of “Amazing Stories,” Variety reports. The two co-creators of “Once Upon a Time” come on board to replace Bryan Fuller and Hart Hanson, who left the team in February citing “creative differences” that many believe resulted from Fuller’s desire to create a more edgy version of the show than Apple was looking for.

Scosche announces availability of BoomBottle MM rugged speaker

Scosche has announced the availability of its new BoomBottle MM rugged waterproof wireless speaker. Originally announced at CES 2018 in January, BoomBottle MM is a sequel to Scosche’s 2015 BoomBottle+, featuring two six-watt speakers and two 40 millimeter passive radiators. Like its predecessor, BoomBottle MM is IP67 rated for both dust and water protection, but the new model also features Scosche’s MagicMOUNT technology to allow users to keep their iPhone magnetically secured to the speaker, along with a magnet on the bottom of the speaker that lets it be attached to just about any metal surface at just about angle, and there’s even a built-in bottle opener. An auto-sensing indoor/outdoor equalizer also automatically adjusts sound quality appropriate to where you’re using the speaker, and two BoomBottle MM speakers can be paired for better stereo separation. The black BoomBottle MM is available now at Costco.com and select Costco retail locations, and the full color range will be available directly from Scosche and other retailers starting in June for $129.99.

Belkin unveils 3.5mm audio cable with Lightning connector

Belkin has released a new option for users of modern iPhones who need to connect to traditional audio jacks. The 3.5 mm Audio Cable With Lightning Connector builds on last year’s 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar by providing a single-wire solution that terminates in a male 3.5mm audio connector suitable for plugging into a home or car stereo system. The MFi-certified cable is available in both three-foot and six-foot versions, priced at $29.99 and $34.99, respectively.

Apple sends out media invites for June 4 Keynote at WWDC 2018

Apple has sent out press invites for the keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, being held from June 4 – 8, 2018 in San Jose, CA. As usual, the keynote is scheduled to open the conference on June 4, and will likely see Apple unveil major new versions of iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS, with developer preview editions to follow shortly thereafter. Although it’s never a certainty whether Apple will choose to announce hardware during the developer-focused event, Apple choose to unveil two new iPad Pro models last year, and recent reports have suggested that Apple may choose to debut this year’s iPad Pro model — likely including Face ID — at this year’s Keynote. [via MacRumors]

Apple drops price on USB-C to Lightning Cable

In a somewhat unusual move, Apple has quietly lowered the price on its standard one-meter USB-C to Lightning Cable, lowering it from its original $25 asking price down to $19, putting it at the same price as its standard Lightning to USB Cable, further fuelling recent rumors that this year’s iPhone models will be shipping with USB-C chargers.

TeenSafe parental monitoring service leaks thousands of childrens’ passwords

A service designed to help parents monitor their childrens’ internet activity on iPhone and Andorid devices has leaked thousands of users’ passwords, ZDNet reports. The service, TeenSafe, purports to be a “secure” monitoring app for both iOS and Android designed to allow parents to view their child’s text message conversations, monitor who they’re calling, accessing their location and web browsing history, and more. It appears, however, that for iOS devices the service relies on parents supplying their childrens’ Apple ID passwords, which are stored on the company’s servers, possibly in order to access iCloud data. However, a U.K. based security researcher, Robert Wiggins, discovered last week that TeenSafe had actually left one or more of its servers unprotected and accessible by anyone without even a password requirement.

Coach releases new summer lineup of Apple Watch bands

Coach has released a new summer lineup of Apple Watch bands, along with refreshing the colors of some of its existing bands, Haute Écriture reports. New band options include the Strap with Heart Appliqué in Dusty Rose (light pink), the Strap in Signature Canvas in Kahki (light brown), and the Apple Watch Strap in Saddle (brown), while Coach has also updated its Strap with Tea Rose in a new Chambray (light blue) design, its Strap with Prints in a new Black Floral design (black with blue flowers), and added a Denim blue option to its original crocodile-print Apple Watch Strap, while Saddle version is a new band design with a triangular pattern and a lower price. [via 9to5Mac]

App creators unite, form ‘Developers Union’ to call for App Store changes

A group of developers have joined forces, penning an open letter asking Apple to commit to making certain key changes to the App Store. Calling themselves The Developers Union, the group is specifically pushing for Apple to allow free trials for all apps in both the iOS and Mac App Stores by July 2019.

We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it. So we created The Developers Union to advocate for sustainability in the App Store.

Today, we are asking Apple to publicly commit — by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July — to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores before July 2019. After that, we’ll start advocating for a more reasonable revenue cut and other community-driven, developer-friendly changes.

 

Reporter reveals how little data Apple collects on users

A new report by ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker reveals just how little information Apple actually collects on customers in comparison to companies such as Facebook and Google. In the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Whittaker decided to ask Apple for a full disclosure on all of the data that the company had collected on him since 2010 when he first became an Apple customer. While it took Apple a little over a week to respond with the data, Whittaker was surprised at how little was actually there — the resulting data set consisted of two dozen Excel spreadsheets totalling about 5 MB in size.

Spring Collection Apple Watch bands starting to sell out

Back in March Apple announced a new “Spring Collection” of Apple Watch bands in new styles and vibrant colors to allow Apple Watch users to spruce up the look of their wrist for springtime. It appears, however, that the new bands may have been a limited run, as MacRumors now reports that some of the more popular options are dwindling in availability, with some now showing as completely sold out on Apple’s online store, although many may still be available at retail stores. Customers who may still be looking for the special edition colors such as Electric Blue, Soft Pink, Denim Blue, Lemonade, or Red Raspberry may want to place an order soon.

Apple estimated to have sold 600,000 HomePods during Q1 2018

A new report by Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple 600,000 HomePod speakers during the first quarter of 2018, giving it six percent of the global smart speaker market, although Apple’s new smart speaker still has a long way to go to catch up to rivals Amazon and Google, which shipped 4 million and 2.4 million units, respectively, collectively account for a 70 percent share of the market.

Sixth iOS 11.4 beta appears

Only three days after Apple pushed out a fifth beta of iOS 11.4, a sixth iteration has just appeared, with the increasing frequency suggesting a final iOS 11.4 release may be just around the corner. The sixth beta offers no significant changes from the last version, and shows only a small change in build number 15F5079a versus 15F5077a, indicating that it’s probably mostly about polishing and fixing relatively minor bugs at this point.

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