George Stroumboulopoulos to Kick Off Canadian 'Takeover' of Beats 1 Tomorrow

Canadian music and TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos will kick off a Canadian "takeover" of Beats 1 with an hourlong segment on July 2 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Apple has confirmed to the Financial Post.

strombo-lowe
George Stroumboulopoulos, left, and Beats 1 host Zane Lowe (Financial Post)
Part entertainment, part education, these hour-long sessions are a chance for local talent to shine a light on a particular country’s artists for people around the world, or even someone unaware down the street. Now it is Canada’s turn to take the stage for the first time.
Stroumboulopoulos most recently served as the main host of Canada's popular Hockey Night in Canada show, but he will be replaced by his predecessor Ron MacLean as of the 2016-17 NHL season. The 43-year-old is also known as being a former VJ for Canadian music channel MuchMusic and for hosting the CBC talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, formerly The Hour, from 2005 to 2014.
"People have spent decades trying to discuss who Canadians are, so it’s impossible to accomplish such a big task in one hour,” said Stroumboulopoulos, a popular voice in the country’s music scene thanks to his work at CBC Radio and MuchMusic. “What I worry about is if I can create a show that gives you an idea globally about what’s cool and what’s happening here … reflecting the coast-to-coast-to-coast of this country."
Takeover-The-New-Canada-Beats-1After Stroumboulopoulos, Beats 1's Canadian "takeover" series will continue for four successive Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time:

- July 9: Josie Dye and Dine Alone Records
- July 16: Coeur de Pirate and Dare To Care Records
- July 23: Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew representing Arts & Crafts Productions
- July 30: Metric's Emily Haines and Last Gang Records

Beats 1 has hosted similar country "takeovers" for Australia and Japan over the past year.

Beats 1 turned one year old on Thursday. Canada celebrated its 149th birthday on Friday.

Tags: Canada, Beats 1

'BOSEbuild Speaker Cube' Teaches Kids How to Build Their Own Bluetooth Speaker

Audio technology company Bose this week announced a new wireless Bluetooth speaker aimed at creating a do-it-yourself workflow for kids interested in electronics. Called the BOSEbuild Speaker Cube, the $150 kit connects with a companion Bose app, giving users a step-by-step set of instructions to build a fully functioning Bluetooth speaker, along with other experiments and activities (via TechCrunch).

bosebuild speakers
Once users put the focus on assembling the speaker, no extra tools are required in the process since Bose ships all the necessary equipment in the kit. There are customization options as well, with different colored lighting effects and "swappable silhouette covers" to add a personal touch to the finished speaker.
This is more than just a speaker – it’s a journey. Starting from the very basic elements of sound and speakers, your child will build a deeper understanding as they move toward assembling their Speaker Cube. At every step, exploration is encouraged and curiosity is rewarded.

Everything about the BOSEbuild Speaker Cube is carefully designed with kids in mind. The parts are rugged and resilient, and the app-driven construction steps are clear and easy to follow. Cables and connectors are big, bright, and easy to handle. Even the circuit board is clearly labeled.
The Speaker Cube is just the first in the BOSEbuild line, which the company hopes will help spark the curiosity of its younger users through hands-on experiences and exploration. According to Bose, "when kids build something with their own hands and experience it with their own senses, it does more than just teach – it inspires."


While hardware-focused, the new BOSEbuild products are similar to Apple's upcoming app, Swift Playgrounds, which will present a visual, entertaining angle on teaching kids how to code. Currently available in the iOS 10 beta, the final version of Swift Playgrounds will launch for free in the App Store this fall.

Those interested can purchase the Speaker Cube on Bose's website for $149.00. Although both an iOS and Android device can be used for music playback once the speaker is functioning, the educational discovery and build experience is only available via an iOS app on any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 8 or newer, with the exception of the iPad 2.

Tags: Bose, BOSEbuild

Facebook Adds Raft of Chatbot-Enhancing Features to Messenger Platform

Facebook has announced a raft of new features for its Messenger Platform to help developers increase chatbot capabilities and enhance user engagement and interaction.

The update includes dynamic buttons for quick user replies, customer account linking for businesses, wider support for content types like video and audio, and user ratings and feedback.

facebookmessengerchatbots
Facebook has also announced an updated set of guidelines for bot development, as well as a new resource blog that includes tips, case studies, and a Q&A series with businesses and brands that have already built bots for Messenger.

The new tools and features are set out in more detail below:
  • Ratings: People can now provide a star rating and open text feedback for bot developers. Ratings and reviews are currently shared with only the bot developer through a dashboard in developers.facebook.com and via email.
  • Quick replies: Quick replies offer a more guided experience for people as they interact with your bot, which helps set expectations on what the bot can do. They include up to ten dynamic buttons that directly align with the most recent message sent by the business - making it easier to have an automated conversation with people. They allow for simple state management for developers — no need to manage button taps from ten messages ago — and make chat history cleaner, by only showing the selected responses.
  • Persistent menu: The navigation for your bot with support for up to five actions. This eliminates the need for people to remember text commands and provides a great way to restart the flow or invoke settings. This will help with bot re-engagement and consistency.
  • Account linking: We're launching a secure protocol for businesses to connect their customers' accounts with Messenger accounts, enabling a deeper and more personal experience. People will have to opt in to this experience.
  • More content types: GIFs, Audio, Video, and Files Get your brand's personality across by sending a variety of content types. You can now send GIFs, audio, video, and other files to people using your bot in Messenger. Videos and audio clips play natively in Messenger.
  • More Control: Manage / Mute / Ratings Now, people have even more ways to optimize their experiences with bots in Messenger. People can choose to mute a bot just like they can mute a conversation with their friends and they can also provide a star rating and feedback for bot developers. Ratings and reviews are currently shared with only the bot developer through a dashboard in developers.facebook.com (http://developers.facebook.com) and via email.
Over 11,000 chatbots have been created since Facebook launched bot support for its Messenger app back in April, while over 23,000 developers have signed up to use the company's recently acquired natural language bot engine.

The enhancements to Messenger Platform reflect one of the major goals in Facebook's 10-year roadmap, with Messenger and Live Video receiving the most investment and development over the first five years, followed by the company's increased focus on connectivity, AI, and augmented reality.

Facebook to Shut Down 'Paper' News Creation and Curation App

Facebook is shutting down news creation and curation app Paper, reports The Verge. Paper, which debuted in 2014, was the first product to come out of Facebook Creative Labs, which has since been dismantled.

Paper, a Flipboard competitor, consisted of a news reader that pulled content from a user's Facebook News Feed and a variety of well-known online publications, organizing it all into a magazine-style layout with sections ranging from technology to animals. A team of editors curated the most popular online content for users and for a time, it was a popular replacement for the traditional Facebook News Feed.

paper
Though it received positive reviews and was one of Facebook's most downloaded apps, it was not able to attract and maintain a large audience, leading to Facebook's decision to shut it down. Paper has been defunct for a while, going without an update since March of 2015.

According to Facebook, many of the concepts introduced in Paper, like Instant Articles, have since been added to its other apps and services. Instant Articles is a platform designed to speed up the loading times of articles and news stories and it adopted much of its design language from Paper.

Paper has been removed from the App Store as of today and existing app users will no longer be able to use the app after July 29.

Tag: Facebook

MetroPCS to Offer iPhone on Prepaid Plans Beginning in Florida

T-Mobile today announced that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be available in "select MetroPCS stores in Florida" beginning tomorrow, July 1, with a nationwide rollout expected to launch soon. T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS -- which is a prepaid alternative to traditional subsidized carriers -- back in 2013, but this will mark the first time Apple's iPhone will appear as an option on MetroPCS' plans.

METROpcs iphone
MetroPCS is the flagship prepaid brand of T-Mobile US, Inc., and a leading provider of unlimited talk, text and data plans with taxes and regulatory fees included – there are no surprises, period. MetroPCS offers the freedom and convenience of an affordable, no-contract wireless service, riding on T-Mobile’s blazing-fast nationwide network.
Specifically, the prepaid carrier will offer the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus for its customers, available at the price points of $649 and $749, respectively. MetroPCS will also offer the 4-inch iPhone SE for $349 and the iPhone 5s for $199.

Today's news comes over two years after T-Mobile said that it was "very interested" in bringing the iPhone to MetroPCS, without giving any hint as to exactly when it would make the move. Although owned by T-Mobile, MetroPCS runs as its own, separate brand from T-Mobile's "Un-carrier" services.

Amazon Sets Second Annual 'Prime Day' for July 12

Following last summer's inaugural, one-day sale event called "Prime Day," Amazon this morning confirmed that it will be bringing back the Black Friday-like discounts this summer on July 12 (via Fortune). The company is referring to the second entry of Prime Day as the "biggest Amazon event ever," exceeding over 100,000 deals when it launches at midnight PT on the 12th.

As last year, Prime Day is exclusive to those members who subscribe to Amazon Prime, the online retailer's $99-per-year service which nets users access to exclusive Amazon video series, free two-day shipping, and one-hour delivery on certain orders. The company said last year that its first Prime Day broke sales records set on Black Friday in 2014, and with new deals popping up "as often as every five minutes" this year, it hopes to set a new record again in 2016.

amazon prime day
Prime Day is a one-day only global shopping event exclusively for Prime members. On Tuesday, July 12, the second annual Prime Day will be the biggest global Amazon event ever. Members in the U.S. can shop starting at midnight PT, with new deals starting as often as every five minutes throughout the day.

With 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime members, across nearly all departments and product categories in ten countries, there will be something for everyone. In fact on the first annual Prime Day in 2015, worldwide members ordered 398 items per second, exceeding Black Friday records at the time.
Amazon is also promising greater inventory this time around, including a TV stock that is "double what it had for Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined last year." Increasing the catalog of top tier items is most likely a reaction to last year's Prime Day, which had copious sales, but saw the best products selling out fast and ending with a collection of random, unwanted marked-down items.

The company is giving members a way to combat missing out on items with new deal alerts as well, which will be sent out via its Amazon app [Direct Link]. Amazon encourages users who want more information to visit its Help page to prepare for Prime Day, and follow these steps to set up notifications for specific deals on its app.

Tag: Amazon

Note-Taking App 'Google Keep' Gains Intelligent Organization Feature

Google has announced a smart new organizational feature for its note-taking and to-do list app, Google Keep.

The app can now intelligently categorize users' notes by topic, such as food, books, and travel, and entries can be searched by keyword using topic shortcuts which appear in the search bar.

Google Keep

Google Keep, which also offers a web interface, includes other features like list support, label and color organization tools, note reminders based on time or place, voice memos with automatic transcription, collaborative note-taking, and more.


The feature update for the note-taking service comes just a day after Evernote hiked its paid plan prices and announced it would be imposing a two-device limit on its free plan account holders.

Some MacRumors forum members have since been discussing moving over to the native iOS Notes app. To migrate Evernote notes to Apple Notes, follow these simple steps:


  1. Download and install the Evernote Mac app, launch it, and click Edit -> Select All in the menu bar.

  2. Next, click File -> Export Notes..., select the Evernote XML format, and save the file in a convenient location.

  3. Open Apple Notes, click File -> Import Notes... in the Apple Notes menu bar and select the exported Evernote XML file to import.

iOS 9.3 added support for importing Evernote XML data into Notes, so alternatively you could save the exported file you created in step 3 to your iCloud drive. Then simply locate the file on your iOS device and long-press it to import the note data.

Google Keep is a free download for iPad and iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Drawing App 'Procreate Pocket' Available for Free Through Apple Store App

Popular drawing and sketching app Procreate Pocket for the iPhone can be downloaded for free this week through Apple's Apple Store app. Procreate Pocket has a wide range of painting, sketching, and drawing tools for making art on the iPhone.

On the iPhone 6s, it features 3D Touch pressure sensitivity, and it can be used with an Apple Watch for quick color selection. There's a full layering system, 18 layer blend modes, tools for adjusting hue, saturation, brightness, and curves, and more.

procreatepocket
To get the app, make sure to follow these instructions:


  1. Open the Apple Store app.

  2. Tap "Stores" on the tab bar at the bottom of the app.

  3. Scroll down to "iPhone Upgrade Program."

  4. Swipe left three times until you see the Procreate icon.

  5. Tap the icon.

  6. Choose "Download now for free."

  7. When taken to the App Store, enter your password and then click "Redeem." The app will start downloading automatically.
Alternatively, the app can also be accessed by scrolling to the bottom of the "Featured" tab and tapping on the small banner that says "Download Procreate free."

Apple has offered several free apps through its own Apple Store app in the past, including Day One 2. The deal only pertains to the iPhone version of Procreate, normally priced at $2.99. [Direct Link]

Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of tvOS 9.2.2 to Developers

apple_tv_squareApple today provided developers with the fourth beta of an upcoming 9.2.2 update to tvOS, the operating system that runs on the fourth-generation Apple TV. The fourth tvOS 9.2.2 beta comes one week after the release of the third beta and more than a month after the minor tvOS 9.2.1 update. tvOS 9.2.2 has been in testing since May 23.

tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Once a beta profile has been installed on the device through iTunes, new beta releases will be available over the air.

tvOS 9.2.2, like tvOS 9.2.1, is a minor 9.x.x update, focusing on bug fixes and performance improvements that aren't immediately obvious. Apple's release notes have suggested the update includes bug fixes and security improvements, and no outward-facing changes were spotted in the first three betas, but this post will be updated if we discover any new features or fixes in the fourth beta of tvOS 9.2.2.

Apple is also working on the next-generation version of tvOS, tvOS 10, which includes new Siri features, single sign-on cable authentication, and more. tvOS 10, currently available to developers, will be released to the public in the fall.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: tvOS 9.2.2
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Sketchy Photos Show Off Lightning-Enabled EarPods for iPhone 7

A new image found on microblogging service Weibo shows off what Lightning adaptor EarPods might look like if Apple launches the iPhone 7 without a 3.5mm headphone jack, which has been gaining traction since it was first rumored last November.

The images, discovered by iPhone7.nl (Google Translate), are almost certainly a knockoff due to a disproportionate Lightning plug that appears far wider than the thin adaptors currently bundled in with products like the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock.

iPhone 7 EarPods sketchy
Otherwise, the EarPods appear largely similar to the model sold by Apple today, with the same slim, rubbery white cable and inline volume control, the latter component of which appears to be somewhat warped in the first image posted on Weibo. Despite the slim chance that these are official Apple EarPods, it's an interesting glimpse into what the long-rumored Lightning headphone adapters could look like come September.

Rumors about the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack began late last year, and have since coalesced into reports that its omission will in fact be the focus of the iPhone 7, which could help make the 2016 iPhone up to 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

The expected shift into a Lightning port-only future for iPhones would require users to either use Apple's first party Lightning EarPods, carry an adapter dongle to use traditional 3.5mm headphones, or make an early switch to a wireless, Bluetooth option with the added worry of battery life.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: EarPods

Porsche Debuts 2017 Panamera Sports Car With CarPlay Support

Porsche has announced that its new 2017 Panamera luxury sedan will be equipped with a 12.3-inch touchscreen that supports CarPlay. The next-generation Porsche Communication Management system also features online navigation, Porsche Connect, and a new voice control system that responds to natural language input.

Porsche-Panamera
The all-new 2017 Porsche Panamera will arrive at U.S. dealerships in January 2017, with other markets to follow in early 2017. Pricing for the Panamera 4S starts at $99,900, while the Panamera Turbo starts at $146,900. An additional $1,050 fee applies for delivery, processing, and handling.

Other CarPlay-enabled Porsche models include the 2016 911, 2017 718 Boxster, 2017 Macan, 2017 718 Cayman, and 2017 718 Cayman S.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Porsche

Live Video Streaming App 'Live.ly' Reaches #1 Spot in App Store

New live streaming app Live.ly has shot to the top of the App Store, beating regular jostlers Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Instagram to the coveted #1 ranking in the Top Free iPhone Apps chart (via TechCrunch).

Live.ly lets users broadcast video of what they are doing in real time, and has received over half a million downloads since its full rollout last Thursday.

Live.ly-app
The app's popularity follows the success of musical.ly, an app by the Shanghai company of the same name which lets users create music videos. Musical.ly has seen 100 million downloads by mostly U.S. teenagers since it launched last year.

"We want to thank the musical.ly community for embracing live.ly as an exciting new platform and canvas for creativity and self-expression," Alex Zhu, co-CEO of musical.ly, told TechCrunch. "The fact that this comes almost one year after musical.ly hit #1 on the same chart makes the news even more exciting."

Competition for the mobile live streaming space has been hotting up in recent months, with Facebook Live and Twitter's Periscope gaining increasing popularity. The services have been used to document a variety of sporting and political events, such as NBA Final press conferences and the recent sit-in at the House of Representatives.

Last week, Google also threw its hat into the ring, announcing it was rolling out support for the feature through its YouTube mobile app.

Live.ly is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Live.ly