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Fox Now app adds FX and National Geographic content

Fox Networks has updated its Fox Now app for iOS and Apple TV, adding shows from FX and National Geographic in addition to the normal set of Fox content. Available in the U.S., the Fox Now app requires that users already subscribe to an existing pay-TV service, and provides access to up to 500 hours of content across the network’s brands, including current episodes and seasons. The separate FXNow and Nat Geo apps will still be available. Fox Now will also be expanding its platform later this year to a wide range of other devices, including the older third-generation Apple TV. [via Variety]

Anki announces global launch of Cozmo

Anki has announced that its robotic sidekick, Cozmo, will be launching in Canada this July, followed by a broader rollout in the U.K., France, Germany, and Nordic countries later this year. Best known for its Anki Drive that took the stage at WWDC 2013 four years ago, Anki is a robotics and AI company that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to consumer experiences. Released in the U.S. last fall, Aniki’s newest product, Cozmo, is a sophisticated consumer robot that was built by a world-class team of roboticists, animators, and game developers to create an interactive experience powered by advanced AI. Cozmo not only responds to interactive commands, but uses learning algorithms to adapt its behaviour to its experiences and interactions with its owner, exhibiting an endearing personality in the process through complex facial expressions displayed on its OLED face, as well as face detection algorithms that allow Cozmo to recognize people and pets and respond to them in different ways.

Apple opens up HomeKit accessory prototyping

Apple has loosened the reins on HomeKit accessory development, a new report from Forbes reveals. During a WWDC developer session on Wednesday, Apple announced that it is opening up HomeKit to allow any Apple developer to build and prototype smart home accessories without first needing to apply for and be granted an MFi license. Developers who wish to release a HomeKit product will still need to pursue MFi certification, but the new policy will make it easier for new companies to get started with the process of developing HomeKit-compatible products.

Even more significantly, however, Apple is going to begin allowing developers to integrate HomeKit security into their products at the software level, rather than requiring an Apple-designed authentication chip. This software-based authorization will be available to existing products as well, meaning that for the first time many legacy home automation products will be able to join the HomeKit club with merely a firmware update, rather than requiring users to replace hardware components to gain HomeKit compatibility. Apple emphasized that all of the same heavy-duty encryption would still be incorporated into the software design.

Logitech releases Slim Combo keyboard case for 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models

After Apple unveiled its new 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models at yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Logitech revealed its Slim Combo keyboard case for the new devices. The detachable backlit keyboard connects through the device’s Smart Connector and is powered by the iPad, so there’s no need for a battery. The case provides a 50-degree range for reclining the iPad to find the right angle for viewing and has a place to store the optional Apple Pencil accessory. The Slim Combo for the 10.5” iPad Pro costs $130 while the 12.9” version is $150, and both are currently available on Logitech’s website and in Apple’s online store.

Apple TV added to public beta program starting with tvOS 11

Apple has added Apple TV to its public beta program, allowing users to test the newest versions of tvOS without a developer account. Starting with tvOS 11, average users will now be able to register to receive the beta versions of iOS, macOS and tvOS a few days after developers get them. Notably Apple still isn’t making its watchOS betas available to the public yet, despite talking up watchOS 4 at yesterday’s event.

Apple lowers price of 2TB iCloud storage to $10 a month, discontinues 1TB option

Apple has effectively eliminated its 1TB iCloud storage tier and reduced the price of the 2TB tier to $10 a month. For those who had previously been subscribing to the 1TB tier, their storage has automatically been doubled at no extra charge. 50GB of space is still $1 a month and 200GB is still $3 a month, and the 5GB free tier also remains unchanged, despite the fact that many had been hoping for a bump in the amount of storage Apple provides free of charge. Perhaps of most interest to household users, starting with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra Apple will offer the ability to share the 200GB and 2TB plans with family members.

Apple announces ‘HomePod’ Smart Speaker

Today at WWDC 2017, Apple announced its long-rumoured smart speaker solution. Dubbed “HomePod” the new speaker appears to have a strong focus on music, with Apple touting it as a speaker to “reinvent home music” through features such as “Rock the house” sound, spatial awareness, and “Musicologist.” The speaker comes in at just under 7” tall, and is cylindrical and covered in a 3D mesh fabric available in either white or space grey. Internally, the HomePod features an array of 7 beam-forming tweeters at the bottom, coupled with an Apple-Designed 4” upward-facing woofer. An A8 chip inside the speaker provides advanced intelligence to allow the speaker to perform real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation so that it can adjust to the space it’s placed in and balance audio appropriately. Integrated Siri capabilities allow the speaker to act as a “musicologist” with Apple Music, which can be streamed directly to the HomePod without requiring an intermediate iOS device. Six microphones allow the speaker to hear audio commands from across the room, even when loud music is playing, and Apple has expanded Siri’s vocabulary and intelligence to allow it to respond to a wide variety of music-related queries.

Apple unveils iOS 11, featuring major iPad UI improvements

As expected, Apple unveiled iOS 11 during today’s WWDC 2017 Keynote, showing off the next-generation of the company’s mobile operating system which features several iterative improvements across the board, combined with some significant new UI changes for iPad users.

Apple shows off watchOS 4

Apple took the wraps off watchOS 4 today during its WWDC Keynote, with VP of Technology Kevin Lynch demonstrating several new features in the next major update to Apple’s wearable device. watchOS 4 will add several new Watch Faces, most notably a proactive “Siri Face” that will provide a display of relevant information throughout the day, similar to the “Proactive Assistant” introduced in iOS 9 two years ago. For example, the Siri Face will adapt to a user’s routines and usage patterns, automatically surfacing things like weather, meeting notifications, photo memories, reminders, news, flight information, and more, based on the time of the day and location and how the user typically uses their Apple Watch. Additional new faces includes a “Kaleidoscope” watch face that displays a symmetrical pattern throughout the day, which can be customized using a picture from the user’s photo library, a swell as three new animated faces for popular Toy Story characters Woody, Jessie, and Buzz.

Apple announces iPad Pro updates, including new 10.5” model

During today’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote, Apple took the wraps off two new iPad Pro models, including an update to the 12.9” iPad Pro along with the expected new 10.5” model, which replaces last year’s 9.7” iPad Pro. The 12.9” iPad Pro retains the same size and form factor as before, but comes into line with its smaller counterpart, which previously provided a better display. The 10.5” iPad Pro provides a screen 20% larger than the prior 9.7” model, reducing the screen borders by about 40% to retain the same general size and weight. Both devices now incorporate a six-core A10X Fusion Chip that provides 30% faster performance and 40% faster graphics performance from the prior models, while still maintaining the same ten-hour battery life. New displays provide True Tone and a Wide Colour Gamut, ultralow reflectivity, 600 nits brightness, and HDR video — a minor display upgrade for the smaller iPad Pro, but a larger bump for the 12.9” model, which previously lacked the True Tone display technology.

Apple has also added a new “ProMotion” feature to the display technology in both models, doubling the refresh rate to 120Hz, thereby providing significantly smoother scrolling performance as well as reduced latency for Apple Pencil users. The display can, however, automatically adjust refresh rates downward when the faster rates aren’t necessary, thereby improving battery performance. The new models also gain the iPhone 7 camera improvements, with a 12MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, an f/1.8 aperture, six-element lens, quad-LED True Tone flash, and wide colour and 4K video capture, as well as a 7MP front camera with wide colour capture and optical image stabilization. Both models will also feature USB 3.0 support and high-speed USB-C charging — a feature previously limited to the 12.9” iPad Pro. Apple has also doubled memory capacities across the board, with the entry level iPad Pro models starting at 64GB, and the higher-end models available in 256GB and 512GB capacities.

The new iPad Pro models are available for order from Apple’s online store beginning today, starting at $649 for the 10.5” and $799 for the 12.9” and are expected to begin shipping early next week.

Apple announces Amazon Prime coming to Apple TV

Kicking off the keynote today at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook briefly announced that Amazon Prime will be coming to the Apple TV later this year, as rumoured last month. Although Apple’s fourth-generation Apple TV with its open App Store model provided opportunities for a number of third-party video services to get on board the new set-top box, Amazon remained the lone major holdout, likely owing to differences of opinion on business terms between Apple and Amazon. Amazon Prime Video is expected to be available on the Apple TV later this year not only as a standalone app, but will also be tied into Apple’s TV app, providing an integrated experience with other media services.

New leaks back under-glass fingerprint scanner in iPhone 8, 2018 Macbook with customizable keyboard

Last week a series of images released by iPhoneros appeared to show an iPhone prototype with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner embedded in the back, but even though the site claimed its Chinese source “has never sent us false information,” well-sourced leaker Benjamin Geskin tweeted out a photo of both the front and back of the device in question and said it’s a clear fake. Geskin has since claimed that “some case manufacturers received the final information about the iPhone 8 and began mass production,” which, if correct, would mean that the prototyping stage is over and the company has moved into a new phase for production. Geskin has heard rumors that the iPhone 8’s backing will be a “special and unique alloy of glass and metal,” but provided no photos of how that would look.

Apple stops returning search results for 32-bit apps, hints at new Files app

Apple is no longer returning search results for 32-bit apps in the App Store, signaling an increased push to move users entirely to 64-bit apps ahead of iOS 11, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has been warning users that 32-bit apps won’t be compatible with “future versions of iOS” and the company has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015. They’ve also been forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015, so apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early 2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators. Well-connected developer Steve Troughton-Smith claims Apple’s future A-series chips won’t support 32-bit apps at all, making it a hardware issue in addition to a software problem. Taking all 32-bit apps out of the App Store’s search means they will now only be accessible through direct links, putting added pressure on any developers who haven’t yet updated their offerings before it’s too late.

Tim Cook speaks out on Trump’s decision to withdraw from Paris Accord

Apple CEO Tim Cook has added his voice to large chorus of CEOs who have been expressing disappointment over President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. In an internal memo obtained by Buzzfeed News, Cook told employees that he “spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the U.S. in the agreement. But it wasn’t enough.”

Following the email sent out within Apple, Cook later also publicly tweeted on the matter, stating pointedly that he considers the decision “wrong for our planet” and reiterating Apple’s unwavering commitment to fighting climate change. In the internal e-mail, Cook reassured employees that President Trump’s decision will have “no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment,” emphasizing the company’s significant efforts in powering all of its operations with renewable energy, which as Cook says is not only good for the planet, but “makes good business sense as well.”

Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.

Cook also promised to keep working toward the “ambitious goals of a closed-loop supply chain,” that were outlined in the company’s Environmental Responsibility Report released last month.

Apple expanding Swift Playgrounds to teach coding for robots, drones and musical instruments

In advance of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple has announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will be expanded to teach kids to code using robots, drones, and musical instruments. Apple has already been working behind the scenes with several companies, including LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3, Sphere SPRK+, Parrot, and others, to enable Bluetooth-enabled robots to be connected and interfaced with in the Swift Playgrounds app. The new features are expected to arrive in a version 1.5 update to be released on the App Store next Monday.

Plex adds Live TV support

Plex has announced the expansion of its Plex DVR feature with support for streaming live TV programming using a supported tuner. Plex DVR, debuted last fall as a premium feature, allowed Plex Pass users to schedule recordings directly into Plex Media Server using an external tuner. Today’s announcement takes this a step further by allowing users to tune into available live TV program directly through the Plex Media Server into the Plex iOS app, with support for the tvOS version apparently to come. Previously, while users could record programs using the Plex DVR, a program couldn’t be viewed until the recording was finished. The update also adds in-app DVR management to allow users to browser the program guide and manage recordings directly from the Plex iOS app, and the company has also expanded its supported tuners beyond the HDHomeRun, adding several more to the list, including models from Hauppauge, AVerMedia, and DVBLogic.

Report provides new insights into Apple’s upcoming Siri smart speaker

Apple’s long-rumoured Siri smart speaker is already in production, according to a new report by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. Citing people familiar with the matter, Gurman lends his weight to recent rumours that Apple may in fact debut the speaker next week at WWDC, although he stops short of declaring that a sure thing, and notes that sources suggest the device will still not be ready to ship until later in the year.

Gurman’s report also provides a few additional insights into Apple’s plans for differentiating the new device from competing Google and Amazon offerings, noting that Apple will naturally offer “deep integration” with its product lineup, as well as focusing more heavily on audio fidelity by offering virtual surround sound technology, providing better sound quality, and possibly even sporting advanced features such as integrated sensors to measure a room’s acoustics and adjust audio settings accordingly. However, the speaker will not feature any kind of touchscreen, according to sources who have seen the actual product.

Nuvyyo adds new Tablo Dual to its over-the-air TV DVR lineup

After expanding the Tablo over-the-air TV DVR to the Apple TV last year, Nuvyyo is releasing the new Tablo Dual starting June 4. The $250 device now includes 64 GB of onboard storage — where the original relied solely on an external hard drive to use DVR functionality — but it still supports the addition of an external hard drive of up to 8 TB for those who find 40 hours of HD recording not to be enough. Tablo Dual is available only in a two-tuner version, and is priced at $50 more than the basic two-tuner Tablo; users looking for a four-tuner model will still need to go with the original Tablo, which remains available in Canada from the company’s web site.

Apple’s ‘Carpool Karaoke: The Series’ to debut August 8

After being delayed from an April launch, Apple’s ‘Carpool Karaoke: The Series’ will debut on Apple Music on August 8, the company confirms. Instead of comedian James Corden driving around with celebrities in the original bit on CBS’ ‘The Late Late Show,’ stars from the music, television, film, sports and pop culture worlds will hit the road in pairs (or groups) to generate the show’s comedy and musical bits. Celebrity pairings include Will Smith and James Corden; Miley, Noah, Billy Ray and the entire Cyrus family; Shakira and Trevor Noah; Game of Thrones stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams; Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith; John Legend, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson; LeBron James and James Corden; and Michael Strahan and Jeff Gordon (who appear to be driving passengers around in some kind of rickshaw duel).

Regulatory filings hint at four new iPads, new Magic Keyboard for possible release at WWDC

New registry numbers appearing on the Eurasian Economic Commission’s website overnight are linked to four new types of iPad and a new Magic Keyboard, Consomac reports. Rumors of a new 10.5” iPad Pro have been swirling for months and have been backed up more recently by alleged renderings of the device and images of cases, but even if Apple has a cellular and WiFi model of that device coming, that still leaves two more mystery iPads to come. It’s been a few years since Apple debuted hardware during WWDC and even longer since it debuted an iOS device at the event—revealing the iPhone 4 there in 2010—but respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims there’s an “over 70 percent” chance that Apple will debut the 10.5” iPad Pro at the event. If Apple is going to release new hardware its software event, we can’t help but wonder if they’re ramping up in anticipation of some new significant iPad-related features in iOS 11.

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