iPhone 4s Inspired Fitbit to Redesign Fitness Trackers With Bluetooth 4.0 Support in 2011

In a wider piece on Fitbit and its efforts to escape from the shadow of Apple, The New York Times shared an interesting anecdote about the way the iPhone 4s influenced the features in Fitbit's line of fitness trackers back when it debuted in 2011.

The iPhone 4s was the first iPhone to include support for Bluetooth 4.0 to allow accessories to connect to the device, and following the introduction of the new phone, Fitbit CEO James Park decided to re-engineer Fitbit products to support Bluetooth. It was a decision that set Fitbit's product releases back by six months.

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When [Phil Schiller] introduced the iPhone 4S in 2011, for example, Mr. Park had a realization.

At the time, the new iPhone added a capability to synchronize with wireless accessories using the standard called Bluetooth. Fitbit trackers back then lacked Bluetooth connectivity, but Mr. Park wanted them to be able to synchronize data immediately with the iPhone.

"It could enable a lot of possibilities in terms of real-time feedback," he said.
Announced in 2012, the Fitbit One and the Fitbit Zip became the first Fitbit devices to support Bluetooth 4.0, syncing data like steps tracked, distance, floors climbed, calories expended, and sleep quality to iOS and Android phones. According to The New York Times, the two devices were highly successful.

Since then, Park says Fitbit has made an effort to stray away from Apple's approach to product design, focusing on simple devices to make wearables more approachable.
"We look at it from a consumer point of view," Mr. Park said. Apple Watch "is a computing platform, but that's really the wrong way to approach this category from the very beginning."
Fitbit's simplicity, and its lower price point, has allowed it to thrive even after the launch of the Apple Watch. Fitbit sold 21.4 million devices in 2015, earning $1.86 billion in revenue. While Apple doesn't break out sales of the Apple Watch, IDC and Strategy Analytics estimates put sales at approximately 11.4 million.

Going forward, Fitbit plans to add additional features to compete in the wearables market, but Park says the company is going to be "very careful" to avoid the feature overload mistake he sees being made with smart watches.

Tag: Fitbit

Review: Pryme Vessyl is an iPhone-Connected Smart Cup That Isn't Smart Enough

Mark One's Pryme Vessyl is an iPhone-connected cup that's designed to track your daily liquid intake, making sure you're at your optimal hydration level. According to Mark One, hitting an ideal hydration level can increase your energy level and improve your mental balance.

Paired with an accompanying app, Pryme Vessyl calculates a user's hydration needs based on height, weight, activity level, and other factors, making sure that intake level is met by measuring each sip of water or liquid through accelerometers in the cup itself. Hydration needs change from day to day, so the goal of the Pryme Vessyl is to make sure users are getting enough hydration as activity level shifts.


The idea is to drink all of your liquids -- coffee, tea, water, juice -- out of the Pryme Vessyl to get an overall picture of liquid intake and track any deficits.

➜ Click here to read more...

Apple Maps Gains Transit in Rio de Janeiro Ahead of Summer Olympics

In time for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Apple Maps now supports transit routing in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous city in Brazil.

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Transit directions are available for travel by bus, ferry, metro, and train throughout the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, including connections to and from Belford Roxo, Duque de Caxias, Itaboraí, Japeri, Magé, Mesquita, Nilópolis, Niterói, Nova Iguaçu, Queimados, São Gonçalo, and São João de Meriti.

Supported transit operators include Internorte, Intersul, Metrô Rio, SuperVia, and others.

Rio de Janeiro is the fifth new city to support Apple Maps transit over the past month, alongside Austin, Montréal, Portland, and Seattle.

Apple added Transit to Maps as part of iOS 9 in select cities around the world, including Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, and 30 cities in China. Additional regions should be added over the coming weeks and months.

(Thanks, Ram!)

Bing for iOS Lets Users Search Web for Images by Taking a Photo

Microsoft has updated its Bing search engine app for iOS with a feature that allows users to search the web using a photo taken on their device.

Bing users can now select an existing photo from their gallery or opt to shoot one from within the app, and Bing will use the image to search for similar ones online.

Bing for iOS
User photos can be cropped to get search results specific to an object within the photo, while images that are returned in searches can also be cropped in-app to receive new search results.

The functionality is similar to Google Goggles which used to be part of Google's Search app before Google removed the feature on iOS devices, so users looking for a replacement might want to give Bing a try.

In addition, Microsoft's update enables users to get notified when a movie they're following becomes available for streaming, and also brings search for bus routes and schedules in online maps.

Bing is a free download on the U.S. iTunes Store for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

Tag: Bing

Apple to Analyze Recovered iPhone of Florida Teens Lost at Sea

Apple has agreed to examine a recovered iPhone at the center of a dispute between the families of two Florida teens who went missing during a fishing trip last summer (via ABC News).

In July 2015, 14-year-old Austin Stephanos and his friend and neighbor Perry Cohen, also 14, launched a single-engine vessel on a fishing expedition off the coast of Palm Beach County, Florida. The boys never returned, and despite a Coast Guard-led eight-day search of the Atlantic covering 50,000 nautical miles, their bodies were never found.

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The recovered iPhone that belonged to Austin Stephanos (Image: Blu Stephanos)

Last month, their abandoned boat was discovered by a Norwegian crew 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda, along with a locked box inside of which was Stephanos' heavily water-damaged and inoperable iPhone 6.

Cohen had borrowed Stephanos' phone to communicate with his family the day they disappeared, and the Cohens wanted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to treat the phone as evidence in an open missing persons case, but the agency insisted on returning the phone to Stephanos' family, according to a local television report.

Cohen's mother, Pamela Cohen, sued Stephanos' family to have the iPhone returned to the state, to allow her access to its contents, and if necessary, have the phone turned over to law enforcement as evidence in a possible criminal investigation.

In the emergency hearing yesterday, Cohen's attorney pointed to an accident investigation report that suggested foul play in the boys' disappearance. According to the court file, Cohen's stepfather, Nick Korniloff, contacted the FBI in the belief that the boys had been abducted, but no official criminal investigation was undertaken.

Both families have now consented to turn over the phone to Apple, which "has already agreed to take in the phone" and analyze it for answers, according to a lawyer representing the Stephanos family. It will be sent to Cupertino via FedEx for forensic examination in-house. Apple has not commented on the lawyer's claim, although the company has previously acknowledged that it was asked to look at the device.

It's unclear whether the iPhone was passcode-protected when it was in working order, nor is it known what methods Apple will employ in its attempts to recover data from such a damaged device, therefore comparisons between this case and Apple's dispute with the FBI over its refusal to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's phone are premature. In the event that anything is found that sheds light on the circumstances of the boys' disappearance, the data will be given to a judge, who will consider if it is evidence and whether it may be shared with the families.

The phone "potentially holds the key to answer a question that a mother desperately needs answered," the Cohens' lawyer told the judge presiding over the hearing. "And let's be clear, your honor, the boys are not declared dead."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Developer Gets Apple Watch to Run Windows 95

After developer Nick Lee realized that the Apple Watch's 520 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage made it more powerful than many desktops running Windows 95 in the 1990s, he felt confident he could get it to run Microsoft's successful operating system.

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Photo via Nick Lee

To get Windows 95 to run on the Apple Watch, Lee knew he couldn't rely on Apple's WatchKit SDK because it doesn't allow developers to directly access user touch locations. Instead, the SDK forces developers to use Apple's stock controls. So Lee had to patch certain files within a WatchKit app to load his own app code rather than Apple's. Lee tells MacRumors the process, which puts an x86 emulator into a self-contained Watch app, essentially turned Windows 95 into an an app.

Once Windows 95 was loaded onto the Apple Watch, the booting process took an hour because it's being emulated rather than virtualized. Lee also had to attach a straw to a small motor that nudged the Digital Crown periodically to keep the Watch awake. Once the Watch is all booted up and ready, users can control the mouse with their finger. However, because the emulation is so slow, Lee told MacRumors that "it only registers a few pixels per movement on the screen." To combat the lack of speed users can queue up commands by rapidly swiping on the display.


The Watch can be seen booting up and running Windows 95 in the video above, and Lee goes into further detail about the process in his Medium post.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, iWatch Rumors
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

MacRumors Giveaway: Win an iBridge Mobile Storage Device and iAccess MicroSD Reader from Leef

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with Leef to give MacRumors readers a chance to win the 32GB Leef iBridge, an iPhone-compatible storage device, the Leef iAccess, a microSD card reader, and a 64GB microSD card to go along with it.

Leef's iBridge is designed to expand the available storage on an iPhone or iPad by connecting to the Lightning port on Apple's devices. The iBridge can store photos, videos, music, and other files, freeing up valuable space on an iOS device, and it can also be used for backups. With the included USB 3 connector, it can quickly transfer files between a Mac and an iOS device.

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With the Leef app, content stored on the iBridge can be accessed on an iPhone or iPad, so music, videos, and photos can be viewed or played directly from the device. A wide range of audio, video, and document files are supported, from .MP4, .MKV, and .AVI to .WAV, .AAC, and .AIFF. There's also a built in tool for taking and storing photos right on the iBridge.

Available in a convenient, keychain-sized package, the iBridge, purchasable on the Leef website, comes in 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256GB capacities, with pricing that starts at $59.99. It is compatible with the iPhone 5 and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the third-generation iPad and later.

leefibridge2
Leef also offers a microSD card reader called iAccess, which can be used as additional file storage for iOS devices much like the iBridge or to transfer photos from a camera to an iPhone or iPad. the iAccess is compatible with the same devices as the iBridge and it can be purchased for $49.99.

leefiaccess
Five MacRumors readers will be able to win the Leef bundle with the iBridge, iAccess, and a 64GB microSD card. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (April 29) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on May 6. The winners will be chosen randomly on May 6 and will be contacted by email. The winners have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.

Tags: giveaway, Leef

Apple Looks to Streamline Clarification of Awkward Autocorrect Messages in New Patent Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published a new patent application originally filed by Apple last July, detailing a system in which the receiver of an iMessage could be notified when pieces of the message are scrambled incoherently by the company's autocorrect system (via AppleInsider). The patent isn't a proactive solution to enhance the sometimes spotty nature of autocorrect, but simply a way to let the person on the other end of the text know what's happening, and give each user tools to better explain what they meant.

Apple describes a new user interface that would highlight any words or phrases in a message that have been siphoned through autocorrect. The system wouldn't be advanced enough to reveal the specifically intentioned words the sender meant, but at least give the receiver a heads up about which parts of the text were corrected.

autocorrect patent 1
A design of the sender-side UI

Parts of the patent reveal iterations of the idea that can streamline the clarification process, as well. For example, a description of the sender-side user interface includes a prompt that pops up -- after a user taps on the autocorrected word -- with an option to "Send clarification" to the receiver. The canned message fills out the phrase, "I sent [wrong word], but I meant [correct word]." If they want a complete do-over, the user could also just opt to re-send the entire message.

autocorrect patent 2
A design of the receiver-side UI

On the receiver-side user interface, if the sender isn't opting to fix the issue themselves, the other person can "Request clarification" by tapping on the highlighted autocorrect word or phrase. The automated message is similar to the previous sender-side phrase, asking "You sent [wrong word]. What did you mean?"

If implemented in a future version of iOS, the autocorrect highlight patent could be similar to the way iOS currently underscores vague references to dates and times when users send and receive text messages. Apple's new patent could be slightly more helpful for most users than that feature, however, especially given the speed with which iPhone users have grown accustomed to texting on the device, and how frustrating it can be to realize autocorrect interfered with your message.

Like most patents, it's still advised to be wary of how long it'll take Apple to implement the autocorrect notification system into iOS, if it ever will. Still, it's easy to see how useful and streamlined such a feature could be, without completely taking out much of the humorous -- and sometimes awkward -- mishaps for which autocorrect has become famous.

Tag: Patent

Drake's New Album 'Views' Now Available Exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music

Drake's latest album made its global streaming debut on Apple Music last night and is now available to buy on iTunes. Priced at $13.99, Views (previously titled Views From The Six) features 20 new tracks, including the slow jam hit "Hotline Bling".

The Canadian rapper's album will be exclusive to Apple Music for one week, after which it will become available on other music streaming services like Spotify.

Drake-Views
Views is just the latest tactically timed release in an ongoing battle among music streaming services for exclusivity, with Drake forming rank alongside Taylor Swift and Adele in Apple's corner, as the company faces off against competing streaming service Tidal's frontline co-owners Jay Z, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Rihanna.

Last week, Beyoncé's newest album Lemonade launched on Tidal approximately 24 hours before it became available for users to purchase on the likes of iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, and remains the only service able to stream the album.

Drake and Apple have been in a partnership since the launch of Apple Music last summer, with the artist contributing his own Beats 1 radio show to the streaming service. Drake recently confirmed his partnership with Apple will continue into live music as Apple Music will sponsor his "Summer Sixteen" tour.

Drake's fourth studio album comes one year after If You're Reading This It's Too Late, which also had its debut on iTunes. In August, Quartz reported that Drake was the second most played artist on Apple Music.

Tag: iTunes

Twitter Moves to 'News' Category in App Store to Boost Visibility

Twitter yesterday changed how its iOS mobile app is categorized on the App Store in order to enhance its visibility, following the company's poor Q1 earnings report earlier this week (via TechCrunch).

Twitter now appears in the "News" category, where it's the #1 ranked app ahead of CNN and Reddit. Previously it could be found in "Social Networking", where it occupied #5 in the category rankings, behind the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

twitter app store
Achieving a #1 ranking in the App Store should also give Twitter's "Overall" ranking a boost, which equates to better visibility in the top "Free" apps chart, where Twitter currently sits at #28.

The company has not commented on the thematic switch, which has yet to be reflected in the Google Play store (where it still sits in the "Social" category), but the change indicates that Twitter is looking to court a new audience interested in sources of breaking news and curated information on current affairs, as it seeks a strategy that will heighten its online profile and significantly boost growth.

Twitter's Q1 earnings earlier this week showed poor performance, with $595 million company revenues falling short of the $607.8 million analysts expected. The platform had zero growth in new users in Q4 of 2015, but a new tallying system enabled the company to report a 2 percent increase in active users in Q1 (310 million, up from 305 million users in Q4). The company remains unprofitable, with a Q1 net loss of -$79.7 million, and gave bleak guidance for the quarter ahead.

Twitter has attempted to improve its core product over the past year with a number of changes to the way the platform works. The app now sorts tweets in the timeline by quality rather than recency, for example, while the starred "favorite" icon got replaced with a "like" heart icon. However, Twitter's stock fell more than 12 percent after its Q1 report, indicating the company's efforts to increase its mainstream appeal have so far failed to pay dividends.

In March, Apple launched its Apple Support account on the social network, which is dedicated to answering customer support questions. Earlier this month, Apple launched a new Twitter account for Apple News, giving its Apple News team a way to promote stories and content on the social network. The Apple News Twitter account is used to share "top stories" and "great reads" curated by Apple News editors in the United States.

Tag: Twitter

New Report Says FBI Paid Less Than $1 Million to Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Last week, FBI director James Comey hinted at how much the agency paid to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone, saying it cost more than he will make in the next seven years and four months. The number worked out to around $1.3 million, as Comey's annual salary is $183,000. However, sources now tell Reuters that the amount was actually under $1 million.

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Although the FBI says it will keep the technique it used to unlock Farook's iPhone 5c a secret, sources tell Reuters that the agency can use the method on other iPhone 5c's running iOS 9. The FBI has physical possession of the mechanism used to unlock the phone and does not need to pay the contractor any more money for further uses.

The contractor responsible for the method is a closely-held secret within the FBI, with Comey being in the dark himself, according to Reuters' sources. In mid-April, it was reported that the FBI hired "professional hackers," at least one of which is a gray hat researcher that sells flaws to governments, black market groups or surveillance companies.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Apple-FBI

Apple Maps Gains New Flyover Locations, Spotlight Suggestions Expand to Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Apple today updated its iOS 9 feature availability page to note the expansion of several iOS features to new countries.

Apple's Flyover feature for Apple Maps has expanded to encompass Akron, Ohio and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, allowing Maps users to see photorealistic 3D views of the areas, with tools for zooming, panning, and rotating to get a closer look at notable landmarks and points of interest.

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In Thailand, Apple Maps users now have access to traffic information, bringing the total number of countries with traffic data available to 34.

Finally, Spotlight Suggestions have expanded to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, making the feature available in 19 countries. Spotlight Suggestions show suggestions from the Internet, iTunes, the App Store, Maps, and more when conducting a spotlight search on an iPhone or Mac.