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watchOS 5 focuses on fitness and connectivity

Today Apple also announced watchOS 5, the next major update to its operating system for the Apple Watch. watchOS 5 maintains Apple’s focus on health and fitness features and connectivity, with the addition of a social activity feature and several new workouts, a new two-way “walkie talkie” communication feature, and several other improvements.

Apple unveils iOS 12, doubles down on performance and adds new AR, Screen Time features

As expected, Apple took the wraps off of iOS 12 today at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, with Craig Federighi taking the stage to highlight what’s new in the company’s latest flagship operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Federighi began by emphasizing that iOS 12 will be “doubling down on performance” and highlighting several metrics where iOS 12 will be improving performance, particularly on older devices. iOS 12 will be available to all of the same devices supported by iOS 11 — all the way back to the 2013 iPhone 5s — making it the largest base ever supported by an Apple release.

App Store turns 10 years old, now features over 20 million registered developers

Kicking off this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the tenth anniversary of the App Store, adding that Apple has hit a milestone of over 20 million registered developers on the App Store, and over 500 million visits to the App Store per week. Most significantly, Apple has paid out 100 billion dollars in payouts to developers over the history of the App Store.

Square Enix ending Go series, shifting focus to freemium games

Square Enix Montreal plans to drop its Go franchise in favour of a shift from a premium game model to a freemium game model. In an interview with VentureBeat, Patrick Naud, head of the Square Enix Montreal studio, revealed that the company’s popular Go lineup — a series of turn-based puzzlers which began with Hitman Go before expanding into Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go — is no longer profitable at the $5 per game up-front asking price, even despite the use of in-app purchases for in-game expansions.

Apple Music adds sign-in support to embeddable web player

The embeddable web player for Apple Music has been updated to provide an option for subscribers to sign in and listen to full songs across the web, according to a report by 9to5Mac. Discovered by a user on Reddit, the widget, which has long been available to allow for artists and music fans to promote and embed albums and playlists on web sites, now includes a “Sign in” button in the top right corner and at the bottom of the track listing. Once signed in, users will be able to listen to full songs rather than just 30–90 second previews, and once signed in, the user will be able to use their Apple Music account with the widget on any web site that they visit.

Apple moving power management chip production in-house

Apple has confirmed plans to begin building its own power management chips for future iPhones, according a report in The Financial Times, citing an investor warning from Dialog Semiconductor predicting lower revenue growth. Dialog has been making iPhone power management chips for several years, however Apple, who is the chipmaker’s largest customer and accounts for more than 75% of the company’s revenue, has decided to order 30 percent fewer chips this year, according to a statement from the company. Dialog CEO Jalal Bagherli also added that he also expected to see a similar reduction in demand next year, but wouldn’t speculate beyond that.

Kanye West’s ‘ye’ debuts on Apple Music

Kanye West’s newest album, “ye” has launched on Apple Music and other streaming services simultaneously today, rather than being the Tidal exclusive release that many expected. As CNET reported yesterday, some information on Twitter was making the rounds suggesting the release would be more exclusive, it was actually only referring to a “communal listening session and discussion” on the Stationhead app.

Report: WWDC will be mostly about software; hardware updates will come later this year

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has weighed in on his expectations for what Apple will be unveiling next week, citing the obvious unveiling of iOS 12 and related software updates, but notably throwing cold water on rumours that Apple could plan to unveil a new Face ID enabled iPad Pro; Gurman conceded that Apple is working on such a device — along with refreshes to its MacBook lineup — but that the hardware won’t be ready for an unveiling until later this year. Gurman also highlights a new initiative that Apple has been working on to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and using certain apps — a feature that Apple has dubbed “Digital Health” and is expected to be built into iOS 12.

Withings to return after buying back digital health business from Nokia

Withings co-founded Eric Carreel has announced plans to resurrect his brand after buying the digital health business back from Nokia earlier this month. Engadget reports that the re-acquisition has been gone through, although terms were not disclosed, and Withings will be selling the existing staple of Nokia-branded health products for now — most of which were originally Withings products in the first place that were simply rebranded by Nokia — but plans to relaunch the Withings brand by the end of the year and continue developing new connected health products as well.

Canadian motorist receives fine for looking at Apple Watch while driving

An Apple Watch user in Canada has received a $400 fine under the province of Ontario’s distracted driving laws for looking at her Apple Watch while driving, GuelphToday reports. Victoria Ambrose, a student at the University of Guelph, was stopped a red light in April when a campus police officer pulled up alongside her and noticed her looking up and down at a device several times. Ambrose also reportedly failed to notice the traffic light turning green, and didn’t proceed until the officer shone his cruiser side light into her car to get her attention. The officer subsequently pulled her over and charged her with driving while holding a hand-held communications device.

Scosche releases Rhythm24 Heart Rate Monitor

Scosche has released its new Rhythm24 waterproof armband heart rate monitor, the latest in its line of health and fitness accessories. Originally unveiled at CES in January, Rhythm24 builds on the company’s earlier Rhythm+ released back in 2014, with an expanded set of features and support for variable activity modes. Rhythm24 also provides 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, and is rated IP68 so it can be used during strenuous workouts without worrying about sweat, or even when swimming. Users can configure up to five standard training modes, and there’s also support for two multi-modes designed for biathletes and triathletes. Rhythm24 can also be used without any accompanying smartphone thanks to on-board data recording, which captures not only standard heart rate data but also heart rate variability (HRV), so it can help with recovery tracking as well as simply recording calories burned.

The Omni Group releases OmniFocus 3 for iOS

The Omni Group has released OmniFocus 3 for iOS, a major upgrade to the company’s powerhouse task management app that adds significant new functionality while decreasing its complexity in normal daily use. The biggest enhancement in OmniFocus 3 is the transformation of “contexts” into a more flexible system of “tags” that’s found in many other apps. While tags serve many of the same functions as contexts, users can now assign multiple tags to any task or project, reorder tags manually, and even assign a tag to appear in the Forecast view. Other new enhancements include a customizable inspector that allows users to hide fields that they don’t normally use, the ability to set multiple custom notification for any task or project and a revamped rules system for creating custom perspectives.

Apple orders new Emily Dickinson series with Hailee Steinfeld

Apple has signed a new straight-to-series order for a half-hour show about 19th century poet Emily Dickinson, Variety reports. The series is set to star Hailee Steinfeld in the title role, who is known for 2010’s “True Grit” along with “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Barely Lethal,” “The Homesman,” “Ender’s Game,” and last year’s “Pitch Perfect 3.” Alena Smith will serve as writer and executive producer, alongside David Gordon Green as directed and executive producer; Smith is known for her previous work on Showtime’s “The Affair,” and acclaimed HBO series “The Newsroom,” while Green is best known for directing the films “Pineapple Express,” “Joe,” and “Prince Avalanche.” The series itself is described as being a comedic look into Dickinson’s world as a contrast between the constraints of society, gender, and family and Dickinson’s own imaginative point of view.

Apple releases first betas of iOS 11.4.1, tvOS 11.4.1, and watchOS 4.3.2

Only one day after the release of iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, Apple has already rolled out the first betas of iOS 11.4.1, tvOS 11.4.1, and watchOS 4.3.2 to registered developers. The release notes for the new versions are basically devoid of any information at all, suggesting that they are focused almost entirely on fixing bugs and other issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy.

Apple Music launches new Global Publishing Division

Apple has launched a new internal division focused on music publishing, according to a new report by Music Business Worldwide, one of the first major new initiatives by newly-appointed Apple Music VP Oliver Schusser, who was promoted to head up Apple Music last month. Elena Segal, who was previously Legal Director of iTunes International and is well-known in the music publishing industry, has been appointed Apple Music’s Global Director of Music Publishing. The new division will also reportedly contain sub-divisions such as Operations, Commercial, Publisher Relations, and Artists & Repertoire (A&R).

All-OLED 2018 iPhone lineup unlikely, analysts say

Some analysts are rebuffing recent rumours that Apple may be dropping LCD displays entirely, Bloomberg reports, after an article earlier this week suggested that Apple was planning to go “all-in” on OLED for all this year’s models. Offering up several reasons why such a move is unlikely for this year, the report quotes analysts suggesting that it’s too early for Apple to make this decision, that adding that an OLED screen to the rumoured third LCD model would drive up the price to the level where there wouldn’t be a point in selling it, and that Apple might not even be able to secure the number of OLED screens it would need for the very large volume of iPhones that Apple sells, particularly considering that Samsung remains the only OLED supplier at this point, with LG Display still struggling to get its facilities up and running for mass production.

Analyst Gene Munster offers up WWDC predictions

Well-Known Apple analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures has offered up a research note with his predictions for next week’s WWDC Keynote. While some of Munster’s predictions are fairly obvious — he suggests for example that the event will be “software heavy” and include a preview of iOS 12 — some of his other predictions are more unique and interesting. Most significantly, Munster supports predictions that Apple will expand Siri by adding “new domains” such as navigation, email, and integration with spotlight search. Similarly, he expects new domains to be added to Apple’s CoreML machine learning framework, providing developers with more options for integrating AI into their iOS apps.

Plex adds Podcasts and a major revamp to its apps

Plex has announced a major update to its platform and mobile apps, introduced support for subscribing to and listening to podcasts, directly through the app, along with a significant redesign of its app experience that provides for faster navigation and a customizable home screen experience. New mobile apps for iOS and Android reimagines the Plex user experience to focus more on addressing what users want to watch or listen to rather than where it is coming from, and now allows users to customize their home screen to reorder or remove the standard sections like “On Deck” and add new ones from anywhere in the app. Users can also now easily combine content from multiple servers on their home screen — both their own and any other servers that they may be subscribed to — and there are now tabs at the bottom of the screen that can be rearranged easily as well, and even customized to allow users to focus on the media they prefer.

HomePod arriving in Canada, France and Germany on June 18.

Along with the announcement of AirPlay 2 support in iOS 11.4, Apple has also revealed that the HomePod will be going on sale in Canada, France, and Germany on June 18th. It appears, however, that Canadian French language support will be delayed, and these three countries also won’t be getting the HomePod Calendar support that just rolled out in iOS 11.4 and HomePod 11.4 until later this year.

Apple releases iOS 11.4 with Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 support

Apple has released iOS 11.4 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, adding the long-awaited support for Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2. Messages in iCloud allows users to store and sync their Messages across multiple devices via iCloud, a feature which was initially promised in iOS 11, and made an appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas before being pulled from the final release. The update also includes support for AirPlay 2, which allows audio streaming to multiple AirPlay 2 compatible speakers — a list that presently only includes the Apple TV and HomePod running the corresponding tvOS 11.4 or HomePod 11.4 updates, respectively. HomePod 11.4 also brings stereo pairing to HomePod speakers, allowing users to set up two of them in a stereo configuration. Users can also now ask Siri to play music in any room or group of rooms using AirPlay 2, and music can be streamed throughout the house without any need to manually group speakers.

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