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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.

Apple’s AirPort Base Station stock dwindling

Apple’s stock of AirPort base stations is beginning to sell out, MacRumors reports, following the company’s formal exit from the Wi-FI router business last month. MacRumors notes that the AirPort Extreme is already being listed as “sold out” on Apple’s online store in the U.S., although it remains available in limited quantities in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The smaller AirPort Express and storage-equipped AirPort Time Capsule models still remain in stock online in several countries, although the entire AirPort lineup has disappeared entirely from Apple’s online store in several European countries. Apple stated last month that its AirPort products will continue to be sold “while supplies last” although nothing was said about what those supply levels are.

Apple’s reputation falling behind in China

The perception of Apple in China is starting to fall behind that of domestic smartphone makers like Huawei, according to a new survey reported by the South China Morning Post. Conducted by an independent research company, Reputation Institute, the survey reveals a decline in Apple’s reputation among Chinese consumers, placing the company in 12th place, in a ranking of 155 companies, both Chinese and multinational. Huawei placed second overall, while Google ranked in fourth place. According to the survey, many Chinese consumers also believed that Huawei “stands out from the crowd” and is more “genuine” than Apple. Approximately 30,000 Chinese consumers were polled in the survey, which includes 280 companies, of which only the top 155 made the final list. For the most part, the survey indicated a shift toward more home-grown Chinese brands, although the Chinese domestic search engine, Baidu, ranked far behind Google, landing in the 125th spot, while Intel, Rolex, Nokia, and Lufthansa all ranked in the top 10, with Intel taking first place. [via iPhone in Canada]

 

Apple teams up with educators to bring Everyone Can Code to blind and deaf students

Apple has announced that it is now teaming up with leading educators to bring its Everyone Can Code program to schools for blind and deaf communities in the U.S. Starting this fall, the company plans to bring accessible coding to schools supporting students with vision, hearing, or other assistive needs, working with the schools to tailor the lessons to leverage Apple’s accessibility technology to augment the curricula as needed, including providing additional tools and resources like tactile maps for use by non-visual learners.

Twitter extends API shutdown deadline to August, third-party apps may still lose functionality

Twitter has announced that it will delay its controversial API changes until August 16, providing developers of third-party twitter clients with more time to update their apps. A coalition of Twitter developers raised a public protest against the upcoming changes last month, noting that even thought Twitter had announced a new Account Activity API in April 2017, the company had yet to actually make the new API available to developers even a year later, despite a looming shutdown of the legacy APIs on June 19, 2018. Today, Twitter announced the general availability of the new Account Activity API that developers have been waiting for, while also extending the deadline to allow developers to actually take advantage of it, noting that “Site Streams, User Streams, and legacy Direct Message endpoints, originally slated for retirement on June 19th 2018, will be deprecated on Wednesday August 16, 2018 which provides 3 months from today’s release of the Account Activity API for migration.”

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