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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.

Apple updates Clips with new Selfie Scenes, education-themed posters

Apple has released a content update to its Clips app, adding a collection of new styles, fonts, colors, layouts, stickers, and more. Specifically, the update adds four new Live Title styles, for new animated labels, nine new animated stickers, eleven new Apple-designed posters, including education-themed blackboard and notebook designs in line with the education event Apple held earlier today. iPhone X users also gain two new Disney-Pixar Selfie Scenes from “Finding Dory” and “Monsters, Inc.” In addition to the new content, the update also fixes some minor bugs and polishes up some of the design elements.

Nuvyyo releasing Tablo Dual Lite Over-the-Air Television DVR

The Tablo Dual 64GB Over-the-Air Television DVR released by Nuvyyo last year allows for recording live TV without a cable connection, but apparently users complained to the company about the $250 cost and were willing to deliver their own storage solutions. Nuvyyo has responded by introducing the Tablo Dual Lite, a $140 option that provides all of the TV streaming and one-touch series recording features of the Tablo Dual at a lower price. The new device will be available starting April 1 on Best Buy’s website and at some of the company’s other retailers. Digital services like metadata for programs airing over the next two weeks, access to advanced DVR features like one-touch series recording and out-of-home streaming through the Tablo Connect require a separate subscription, and as with all Tablo products, you’ll need an antenna to pick up the local over-the-air signal in the first place.

Tim Cook announces new 9.7” iPad that’s compatible with Apple Pencil

During today’s education event in Chicago, Tim Cook announced the new 9.7” iPad that is compatible with Apple Pencil. The $329 base device (or $299 when bought by schools) is the first non-Pro iPad to make use of the Apple Pencil and also features an A10 Fusion chip, but leaves out the Smart Connector and True Tone display of the iPad Pro. During the event Apple also touted a new line of low-cost accessories from Logitech in keeping with the affordability theme. Alongside the new iPad, Apple released updated iWork apps that are all compatible with Apple Pencil and showcased education applications for AR apps by dissecting a frog on the iPad using an Apple Pencil. The new models will be available to order starting today and ship sometime this week.

Marshall releases company’s first active noise cancelling headphones

Marshall’s new Mid A.N.C. marks the company’s first venture into active noise cancelling headphones, using four microphones to continuously measure and pinpoint ambient noise and block it out. The headphones boast “up to 20 hours” of wireless playback when active noise cancelling is engaged or more than 30 hours of wireless playtime without A.N.C. The headphones feature 3D metal hinges that rotate to provide a snug fit and a collapsible vinyl case with a red velvet lining. The Mid A.N.C. costs $269 and is available at Marshall’s website.

Microsoft rolls out iPad support with Edge iOS app update

Microsoft has released an update to its Edge iOS app that finally includes full support for the iPad. While iPad users have technically been able use the iPhone version of Edge on their device, the experience was less than ideal since the app was scaled up in an unappealing way and limited to portrait mode. The update doesn’t seem to include the ability to use the Apple Pencil for markups even though the Edge browser currently lets Microsoft tablet users mark up websites with a stylus.

Apple now accepting some Apple Watches as trade-ins at Apple Stores

While Apple has been providing gift cards in exchange for Apple Watches for months, the transactions up until now have been exclusively online. Now one Reddit user has found that Apple quietly started accepting in-store trade-ins as of today. 9to5Mac confirmed with Apple that the company’s retail locations are now accepting the trade-ins, and the spokesperson was careful to note that Apple Watch Edition models won’t be accepted. Users typically get between $50 and $175 depending on the model, but the Reddit user reported getting $100 for a 1st-Generation Stainless Steel Apple Watch that lists online at $75, so it’s unclear whether the online accounts are entirely accurate and the pricing model is consistent between locations.

Apple calls for more regulation amid Facebook data scandal

In light of the use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica in unauthorized voter targeting efforts, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for stronger government regulations on how data can be used, Bloomberg reports. Apple has usually come down on the side of privacy in showdowns with the government, and now the company is asking the U.S. Congress to create “well-crafted” regulations that prevent use of data without a user’s knowledge. “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook said. “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life — from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”

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