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Elgato announces Eve Aqua smart water controller, Eve Flare portable lamp

Elgato has announced two new HomeKit accessories: Eve Aqua, a smart water controller, and Eve Flare, a portable color LED lamp. Eve Aqua allows users to convert any outdoor faucet into an intelligent water outlet, allowing HomeKit users to activate sprinklers or other water accessories from their iPhone or any Siri-enabled device such as a HomePod. Users can also create schedules in the Eve app, access Eve Aqua remotely when away from home (with a HomeKit hub such as an Apple TV, iPad, or HomePod), adjust sprinkler schedules based on weather, and track water consumption. Eve Aqua is available for pre-order now for $99.95 and starts shipping on June 25.

Philips releases major update to Hue app

Philips has once again overhauled its Hue iOS app, addle ressing a number of user concerns with the prior version and unveiling several user interface enhancements. This is actually the second time Philips has almost completely redesigned the app; a version 2.0 update in 2016 significantly improved the core functionality, adding rooms, routines, scenes, widgets, and home and away features, as well as improved HomeKit integration. Hue 3.0 focused more on the user experience with significantly improved navigation, including quicker access to scenes, colors, brightness controls, and light visualizations. The color pickers have also been redesigned to be easier to use, and there are 30 new picture scenes that the company notes were handpicked by lighting designers. Hue 3.0 also brings back the ability to create scenes from your own photos — something that the company inexplicably removed in version 2.0, although it remained possible through third-party apps and services such as IFTTT.

Apple going all-in on OLED for 2018 iPhones

A new report from South Korea’s ET News has added weight to recent reports that Apple will be going with OLED displays for all of its 2018 iPhone models, dispelling previous rumours that the company had planned to release a 6.1-inch model with a full-faced iPhone X style display, but in LCD rather than OLED. Citing industry sources, however, the ET News says that Apple has recently decided to adopt OLED across all three models of iPhone to be released later this year; although it notes the possibility of a fourth LCD model, it’s possible this could be referring to the rumoured “iPhone SE 2” refresh. [via MacRumors]

Apple now selling refurbished Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular + GPS models

Apple is now selling refurbished Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular + GPS models on its online store, marking the first time the LTE-capable model has been available for discounted purchase as a refurb unit. The refurbished Series 3 models only appear to be available in the U.S. at this time, and stock appears to have dwindled quickly since they were first posted a few days ago, according to MacRumors. As with most Apple refurbished products, the prices represent about a 15 percent discount over the equivalent brand new models, and are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, come with Apple’s standard one-year warranty, and are eligible for optional AppleCare+ coverage.

Apple rejects Steam Link iOS app, citing ‘business conflicts’

Apple has rejected Valve’s promised Steam Link app, despite actually pre-approving it earlier this month, CNet reports. According to Valve, Apple informed them this week that Apple reversed its earlier approval due to “business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.” Valve added that it appealed Apple’s decision, explaining that the Steam Link app functions as a “LAN-based remote desktop” in the same way as “numerous remote desktop applications already available on the App Store,” but that the appeal was denied. While Valve didn’t go into any details on the specific reasons for the rejection — other than vague “business conflicts” — a later report by Reuters suggests that the conflict is likely connected to in-app purchases, noting that Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi told them that Steam had disabled purchasing in its iOS app, although he did not explain when or how this change was made. It’s unclear whether this will be enough to appease Apple’s App Store review team, or if other issues still remain.

Apple now offering free one-month trial of iCloud storage

Apple appears to have quietly begun offering free one-month trials of its paid iCloud storage plans, a new report by AppleInsider reveals. Although Apple doesn’t appear to have publicized this elsewhere, when users bump up against their free 5 GB storage limit, the prompt that encourages them to upgrade to the 50 GB tier now adds “your first month is free” followed by a large blue button reading “Get 50 GB Free For 1 Month.” Users tapping on the button are then taken to the standard page for changing their storage plan, where they can elect to benefit from a free month for any of Apple’s paid storage tiers. Once the user signs up, the subscription works much like any other Apple subscription services with a free trial, with the plan automatically renewing at its regular monthly fee unless users choose to discontinue it before the renewal date.

Vevo abandoning its own platform in favour of YouTube

The popular Vevo music video service is phasing out its own music video platforms in favor of YouTube, Variety reports. The company announced its plans in a blog post yesterday, stating that it “will phase out elements of our owned and operated platforms” in order to focus in its primary objective, which is “to grow the commercial and promotional value of music videos.”  The post goes on to note that the company’s catalog “will continue to reach a growing audience on YouTube.” Vevo, which is owned primarily by the major labels, has long had a distribution deal with YouTube, which through Google also owns a small stake in the company. While Vevo has traditionally reached most of its audience through YouTube, for the past few years it had tried to lessen its dependence on the service with its own set of apps for mobile devices and set-top boxes, and in fact even toyed at once time with the idea of launching a paid subscription service.

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.

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