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Nintendo’s Miitomo closing down on May 9

Nintendo has announced (translated link) plans to shutter its first mobile game, Miitomo, later this year. First released almost two years ago, Miitomo represented the venerable game-maker’s first foray into the iOS ecosystem after years of holding out. Although the app was more of a social media experiment than a traditional game, the Nintendo name and marketing machine behind it resulted in a lot of hype, making its relatively short life somewhat surprising, although perhaps not entirely unexpected considering that Nintendo has moved on into considerably more popular traditional games for the iOS platform. In the announcement, Nintendo says that it will stop selling in-app currency as of today, with the service shutting down entirely on May 9. [via The Verge]

Tablo OTA DVR update adds advanced recording features

Nuvyyo has released a software update for its Tablo Over-The-Air DVR (iLounge rating: A-) bringing the more advanced and flexible scheduling and recording management tools that many users have been waiting for. The new features, which are rolling out as part of a firmware update to all Tablo DVR models, will allow users to adjust start and stop times for recordings, choose to keep only a specific number of episodes on a per-program basis, and choose which channel to record from when multiple channels are airing a given program. The new advanced recording features will be available to all customers with an active Tablo guide subscription once their devices have been updated to the latest firmware (2.2.18), which is being rolled out gradually over the next week, and can be accessed using most of Tablo’s apps, including the Apple TV and iOS apps, as well as the Safari-optimzied web app for Mac users. Full details can be found on the company’s blog.

Apple releases first iOS 11.3, tvOS 11.3 developer beta

Apple has released the first betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 to registered developers, with the improvements previewed earlier today, specifically new Animoji and the promised improvements to battery health monitoring resulting from the recent iPhone slowdown controversy. iOS 11.3 also brings back the Messages in iCloud feature that was promised for the initial iOS 11 release, with the release notes indicating that it’s currently “for testing and evaluation purposes” and adds that the feature will be automatically enabled — in the beta at least — for users who already have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled. In addition, the new iOS version also adds a new security protocol that will require users to re-enter their device passcode to authorize a Lighting-connected USB accessory if it has not been connected to the device for more than a week.

EU hits Qualcomm with $1.2B fine over paying Apple to freeze out competitors

While the European Union still has its own unfinished business with Apple, the EU has sided with the company in its fight with Qualcomm, 9to5Mac reports. The EU fined Qualcomm $1.2 billion after ruling that the company’s rebate payments to Apple to freeze out other chip makers unfairly stifled competition. While the EU claims Apple’s deal with Qualcomm was anti-competitive, Apple wasn’t the subject of any further fines since the EU found Apple explored other options in the 5 years Qualcomm was using royalty payments to hold the company hostage. That royalty deal is a major component of Apple’s ongoing legal fight with Qualcomm, with Apple arguing that Qualcomm wants to capitalize on the work of others and Qualcomm arguing Apple wants to use technology they created without paying the company that developed it.

Preview of iOS 11.3 reveals new Animoji avatars, ARKit improvements, battery monitoring and more

Apple has released a preview of the new features in its iOS 11.3 software ahead of beta releases to developers and the public. The updated operating system’s Messages app will add new Animoji options — dragon, bear, lion and skull — as well as a Business Chat feature that lets users “have a conversation with a service representative, schedule an appointment or make purchases using Apple Pay” with select business partners, including Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. Addressing the outrage over slowing down iPhones with older batteries, Apple has added a way to see the device’s battery health and a way to shut off the power management features that slowed down devices to preserve battery life.

Reports shed new light on Apple plans for 6.1” LCD iPhone

A new story from The China Times seems to back up well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s claims about Apple’s upcoming 6.1” LCD iPhone, expected to sport an edge-to-edge display like the iPhone X (including the camera notch) but only a single rear-facing camera. Where Apple offered one LED iPhone last year as the high-end model, this year’s three-iPhone lineup is expected to feature only one LCD model, aimed at users who don’t want to fork out for the more expensive flagship iPhones. The stripped down device is expected to come with an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel and only 3GB of RAM where the other two will have 4GB.

Apple releases iTunes 12.7.3 with HomePod support

Apple has released iTunes 12.7.3, a minor update that appears to be focused entirely on adding support for Apple’s new HomePod speaker, featuring a redesigned AirPlay menu, similar to that found in iOS 11.2.5, that allows Apple Music playback to be started and controlled remotely on not only the new HomePod, but also fourth-generation Apple TV devices running tvOS 11.2.5.

iTunes is now designed to work with HomePod. Use the improved AirPlay menu to easily choose HomePod and control what plays next with your Apple Music subscription.

When clicking on the AirPlay menu in iTunes 12.7.3, additional compatible playback destinations will be shown, and selecting an alternative target, such as an Apple TV, will allow you to control music playback on that device, with content selected from iTunes streamed directly from Apple Music in the cloud to the target device, rather than sent from your computer using AirPlay.

Apple releases iOS 11.2.5 with HomePod support, Siri news, enhanced audio control

Apple has released iOS 11.2.5, an update that brings support for the company’s new HomePod speakers along with Siri’s audio news feature and support for remote control of Apple Music playback. The new iOS update will be required to configure the HomePod when it’s released on Feb. 9, allowing users to automatically transfer their Apple ID, Apple Music, Siri, and Wi-Fi settings to the new speaker, likely similar in the way that an Apple TV can be automatically configured from an iPhone or other iOS device. The update also adds the ability to remotely control Apple Music playback on Apple TV and (presumably) HomePod speakers; selecting an audio destination from the Music app or Control Center widget will now display additional compatible playback destinations as separate panels, which can be used to start and control playback on that device directly from Apple Music, independently of whatever is playing on the iPhone itself.

Report: HomePod will work outside of U.S., U.K., and Australia — in English only

A report from MacRumors has confirmed that Apple’s new HomePod speaker will function in other countries outside of the U.S., U.K., and Australia, although users will be limited to using Siri in English only. Citing a leak by Guilherme Rambo from last August that outlined the HomePod set up procedures, MacRumors notes:

When users try to set up the HomePod outside of the those aforementioned countries, a dialogue box will appear that directs them to choose one of three English language options to proceed. We can confirm this setup process can be completed, and that the HomePod functions, in mostly any country from day one.

This suggests that users who are able to purchase a HomePod from the U.S., U.K., or Australia will be able to take it to another country like Canada, where it will work fine but be limited to English until Siri gains support for additional languages on the HomePod.

Tim Cook visits Canada, makes surprise drop-in at Toronto’s Eaton Centre Apple Store

Apple CEO Tim Cook made his first visit to Canada since becoming CEO, dropping in at the Apple Store at the Toronto Eaton Centre yesterday, The Globe and Mail reports. Cook’s unannounced visit to the Apple Store was a surprise for a group of grade 7 students who were attending a workshop to learn how to program robots using Swift, where Cook spoke about the importance of learning to code and Apple’s initiatives in education such as its “Everyone Can Code” program. Cook’s visit marks the first time an Apple CEO has come to Canada in almost 30 years; in addition to his appearance at the Apple Store, Cook also stopped by to see Shopify, noting their latest work in AR and VR technologies. [via iPhone in Canada]

Apple announces HomePod arriving Feb. 9, pre-orders open Friday

Apple has announced a release date for its HomePod speaker system, with the new device scheduled to arrive in stores on Feb. 9, and pre-orders opening this Friday in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Originally announced last June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference for a late 2017 release, Apple later acknowledged that the new speaker system would be delayed saying the company “need[ed] a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”

Apple expands Everyone Can Code program to 70 more colleges in Europe

After rolling out its Everyone Can Code program to more than 20 international schools last November and Chicago high schools last December, Apple has allowed 70 colleges and universities across Europe to offer the program to students, according to a press release from the company. “Education institutions in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal will offer App Development with Swift to prepare their students for future careers in app development,” the release reads. “The full-year course was designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach coding and app design to students of all levels and backgrounds.” CEO Tim Cook echoed earlier comments he’s made about the importance of teaching coding in schools, saying, “Since launching Everyone Can Code two years ago, we’ve seen growing excitement for the initiative from schools around the world, who are increasingly incorporating the curriculum into their classrooms.”

Nokia pulls Pulse Wave Velocity feature from Body Cardio over regulatory issues

Nokia has been forced to disable the Pulse Wave velocity feature that allowed its Body Cardio scale to measure arterial stiffness and high blood pressure, according to an updated FAQ from the company. The scale used the speed at which heartbeat-generated vibrations spread out along arterial walls and the time it takes for blood to flow from the heart to the feet to go well beyond the measurements a normal bathroom scale can make. But In the company’s updated support document, Nokia said it has learned the PWV measurements “may require a different level of regulatory approval. In light of this, the decision was made to turn off the pulse wave velocity feature.”

Graphics in iOS beta provide details about HomePod as device gets FCC approval

Apple’s HomePod has been granted FCC approval amid speculation that a release is imminent, and developer Filipe Espósito has uncovered a set of graphics in the latest iOS beta that hints at some of the device’s functionality, AppleInsider reports. The public FCC document leaves out guides and photos — which will be available to the public on July 17, likely well after the speaker is already available to customers. But the embedded iOS graphics have provided some hints about the new device’s functions, like providing custom responses tailored to multiple users or disabling voice control temporarily (possibly for situations like parties where voice controls could become a nuisance). The set of icons also features ones that represent water, temperature, a spinning fan and assorted other environmental items that likely tie into HomeKit controls.

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Apple unveils redesigned App Store web preview pages

Following a major overhaul of the App Store in iOS 11, Apple has quietly revamped the App Store’s web preview pages to bring them more in line with new iOS design aesthetic. The new layout opens up with a clear banner notifying users that they will need to open the App Store on their iOS device to actually download the app, followed by a cleaner title area with a larger icon, title, subtitle, developer link, ranking/rating information, and price. Below that the new preview page now focuses on screenshots rather than a description, with links to switch between iPhone, iPad, iMessage, and Apple Watch screenshots; Apple TV screenshots are notably absent from the new preview pages, however. Description and What’s New sections come after the screenshots, followed by a more conspicuous customer reviews section that features a design first introduced in the Apple TV App Store.

Apple leasing 200,000 square feet of space in Culver City

Apple is leasing 128,000 square feet of space in an office building in Culver City for its content production group, according to a new report by Variety. The location at 8777 Washington Boulevard was originally expected to be occupied by HBO, however they recently backed out of the deal, leaving the field open for Apple to move in. The news was first reported by The Real Deal; Variety subsequently confirmed the news with Thomas Small, the mayor pro tem of Culver City. According to The Real Deal, Apple also still intends to lease another 75,000 square feet at another nearby facility at 5500 Jefferson Blvd.

Cook apologizes for lack of clarity on iPhone slowdowns, promises transparency in coming iOS update

In an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for Apple’s failure to more effectively communicate its reasoning behind slowing down older iPhones with deteriorating batteries. When asked about the incident, Cook explained that Apple’s motivation behind the move was entirely on the user experience of ensuring users’ iPhones wouldn’t unexpectedly shutdown during seemingly normal usage such as making an emergency call, waiting for an important message, or wanting to “capture that moment that is fleeting with your camera,” and that Apple “felt it would be better to take something off of the performance to prevent that from happening.”  Cook added that when Apple released the iOS update that eliminated unexpected shutdowns last year, “we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention,” adding that “maybe we should have been clearer as well.” He went on to “deeply apologize for anybody who thinks that we had some other kind of motivation” and reiterated that “our motivation is always the user” and that “the user is at the centre of everything we do.”

Cook went on to add that Apple has been listening to the recent feedback very carefully, and in addition to “giving everybody a very very low price” on battery replacements, Apple has “thought through this whole thing and learned everything we can” and will be releasing an iOS update in the near future that will provide users with “the visibility of the health of their battery, so it’s very very transparent.” He added that iOS will also begin notifying users when performance throttling is occurring as well as providing the option to turn it off. However, in closing Cook added “we don’t recommend it, because we think that people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent and so — you know, our actions were all in service of the user, I can’t stress that enough. You know, maybe we should have been clearer at a point in time, but out actions were always the purest, but again if anybody out there believes we did something nefariously, we apologize for any kind of thing that we did or didn’t do.”

Report: Apple in bidding war with HBO for new J.J. Abrams show

Apple is currently in a bidding war with HBO for a new sci-fi drama from J.J. Abrams, Variety reports. The series is rumored to revolve around a world’s efforts to repel a “monstrous, oppressive force” and marks Abrams’ first return to writing for TV since “Fringe” in 2008. Apple seems to be very interested in the sci-fi genre to begin its original video content venture, opting to revive Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and order an original sci-fi show from “Outlander,” “Battlestar Galactica” show runner Ronald D. Moore.

BMW to charge $80 annual fee for CarPlay in its vehicles

While most automakers either offer CarPlay as a standard feature or charge a flat fee to include it, BMW is making a curious move to charge an $80-a-year subscription fee for the Apple feature, The Verge reports. Last year BMW added CarPlay as an option for a $300 one-time fee, but Don Smith, technology product manager for BMW North America, said the company will now offer the service free for the first year and then charge $80 each year after that to keep it active. “This allows the customer to switch devices,” Smith said. “A lot of people buy [CarPlay] and think it’s OK, but sometimes they stop using it or switch to Android.” While some may balk at having to pay every year to keep CarPlay active, the move is particularly geared toward those leasing cars, leaving those choosing a three-year lease paying less over the life of the agreement than if they opted for a $300 payment.

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