Apple Stops Signing iOS 9.3.2 and iOS 9.3.3

ios_9_iconAs of today, Apple has stopped signing iOS 9.3.2 and iOS 9.3.3 for compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models, meaning users can no longer upgrade or downgrade to those versions of iOS using iTunes. Apple is now only signing iOS 9.3.4.

iOS 9.3.2, initially released to the public on May 16, 2016, was an update that initially bricked some 9.7-inch iPad Pro devices until an updated version was released on June 2.

iOS 9.3.2 was followed by iOS 9.3.3, released on July 18, and iOS 9.3.4, released on August 4. iOS 9.3.2 and iOS 9.3.3 were both compatible with the recent Pangu iOS jailbreak software, which is disabled by iOS 9.3.4.

Now that Apple has stopped signing iOS 9.3.2 and iOS 9.3.3, it is no longer possible to downgrade to a version of iOS that supports the Pangu jailbreak.

Samsung Launches Limited iOS Beta Program for Gear S2 Smart Watch

Back in January, Samsung announced plans to add iOS support to its Gear S2 Smart Watch, and it appears the South Korean company is getting close to launching the promised iOS app.

Starting today, Samsung is launching a new beta testing program for the Gear iOS app (via SamMobile), which will run from Wednesday, August 24 to Monday, September 19, suggesting a release date that could come as early as late September.

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The Gear iOS beta is only available to Samsung Gear S2, Gear S2 Classic, and Gear Fit 2 owners who are located in South Korea, so U.S. users will not be able to participate in the beta testing process. Participation in the beta program requires an Apple ID and an iPhone 5 or later running iOS 8.4 or later.

Samsung plans to use the feedback garnered from beta testers to make improvements to its upcoming iOS app. Details on the app, including screenshots, leaked out back in April. Based on that leaked information, the Gear S2 iOS app will be able to deliver notifications to the smart watch and it will be able to install and manage apps from the Gear store.

Aside from an end date of September 19 for the beta testing program, Samsung has given no hints on when iOS support will be officially implemented.

Deutsche Telekom to Offer Subscribers Six Months of Apple Music for Free

German carrier Deutsche Telekom is planning to lure new customers by offering six months of Apple Music service for free, reports iPhone-ticker.de [Google Translate]. Aimed at customers who have not yet tried Apple Music, the offer will be announced at IFA in Berlin, set to take place from September 2 to September 7.

According to the report, new Apple Music subscribers on Deutsche Telekom will get the standard three-month free trial and then an additional three months of service paid for by the carrier.

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Following the conclusion of the six month trial period, customers will be able to continue their subscriptions and pay for them via their personal phone bill, making it easier to maintain a subscription. It is not known if Deutsche Telekom will only be covering individual subscriptions or if customers are also eligible for family plans.

For its Apple Music service, Apple offers extended three month free trial periods in an effort to get people accustomed to using the service, a longer trial period than the one month offered by most streaming services. Apple's strategy has been somewhat successful, and as of June 2016, Apple Music had more than 15 million paying subscribers.

Twelve South Releases BookBook and SurfacePad for 9.7" iPad Pro

Twelve South has announced that its BookBook and SurfacePad covers are now available for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

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BookBook is a leather case reminiscent of a vintage sketchbook and includes a built-in kickstand and Apple Pencil holster. The case retails for $79.99 for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, while the Rutledge Edition is $99.99.

SurfacePad is a Smart Cover-like leather cover with a built-in kickstand for multi-angle viewing and magnets for automatic sleep/wake functionality. SurfacePad for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is available in Camel and Jet Black colors for $79.99.

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BookBook is also available for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, while the SurfacePad is compatible with the iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and all iPad mini models.

Jackery Introduces Lightning Cable With Integrated Battery [Updated]

Jackery has introduced the Jewel, claimed to be the first-ever Apple-certified Lightning-to-USB cable with a built-in battery for iPhone, iPad, and iPod models.

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The 3.2-foot cable features an integrated 450mAh battery that can, for example, fast charge an iPhone 6s up to 26% or an iPhone 6s Plus up to 16%. Like any other Lightning cable, the Jewel can provide a 1 amp charge from any USB power outlet or transfer data from the iPhone, iPad, or iPod to a connected Mac or PC.

The cable also has a built-in LED charging indicator:
A built-in LED on the battery and charger case gives users information on battery levels. In charging mode, an LED flashes and illuminates in red, green or blue to indicate levels, and users can also push the cable's power button to check battery levels. The LED also indicates levels in recharging mode and will continue flashing until the battery is fully charged.
The cable is available now for $19.99 from Jackery or Amazon in the United States. The cable is coming soon to Canada and the United Kingdom.

Update: As several readers have pointed out, Native Union also offers an MFi-certified JUMP Cable with integrated 800 mAh battery for $50.

Photo Editing App 'Prisma' Now Supports Offline Picture Processing

Popular photo manipulation app Prisma has been updated to allow offline processing of images for the first time.

The photo app recreates images in the style of famous artists and gives shots a painterly aesthetic using neural networks, but up until now users needed an internet connection and had to wait for the app's Moscow-based servers to process their pictures.

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The latest update doesn't bring offline mode to the whole collection of Prisma's filters, but the developers say more is to come on that front, and the change means server-side video manipulation is just around the corner.

"Now that we've implemented neural networks right to the smartphones, we have enough server capacity to run full videos on them in the near future," said the Prisma team.

Prisma Labs says "repainting" times have been reduced to five seconds on Apple's latest iPhones and that there should be no increase in handset battery usage.

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

Woz Laments No Headphone Jack on iPhone 7, Sees USB-C as Future of Audio

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has predicted a consumer backlash if Apple drops the headphone jack in the upcoming iPhone 7 in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector for audio output, charging, and accessory connectivity.

"If it's missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that's going to tick off a lot of people," claimed Woz, speaking to The Australian Financial Review.

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"I would not use Bluetooth – I don't like wireless," he said. "I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music."

With Apple widely expected to drop the headphone jack in next month's iPhone 7, rumors indicate the company will include Lightning-equipped EarPods in the box, as well as a Lightning-to-jack adapter to allow users like Woz to connect their existing wired earphones to the device.

"Mine have custom ear implants, they fit in so comfortably, I can sleep on them and everything. And they only come out with one kind of jack, so I'll have to go through the adapter," he said.

Asked what would have to change for him to consider using wireless in the future, Woz added: "If there's a Bluetooth 2 that has higher bandwidth and better quality, that sounds like real music, I would use it. But we'll see."

Bluetooth 5, announced in June, is expected to be faster, with longer range and a higher transfer rate, but when the standard will be ready for adoption remains unclear.

While the consensus is that Apple will remove the headphone jack in favor of Lightning, Intel continues to position USB-C as the open standard of the future for digital audio. The port is seeing wider adoption in popular Android-based smartphones.

"I think USB-C is going to be the future," said Woz. "One of my favorite Android phones, the Nexus 5X, uses that connector. It gives it a higher level in my own thinking."

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: USB-C, Bluetooth, Steve Wozniak

Pokémon Go Gains New 'Appraisal' Feature for Highlighting Attack and Defense Capabilities

Popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go was today updated to version 1.5.0, adding new features to make gym battling more straightforward. New to the game is a "Pokémon Appraisal" feature, which will see in-game Team Leaders offering tips on each Pokémon's attack and defense abilities to help trainers determine which Pokémon to use in gym battles.

While longtime Pokémon players are often already aware of which Pokémon are ideal to use against other Pokémon in a battle, the appraisal tool offers valuable information on abilities and weaknesses for those who are newer to the Pokémon universe.

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According a blog post on the update, it also includes unspecified "minor bot fixes" and a promise that Niantic is working hard on "new and exciting features" that will be added to Pokémon Go in the future.
- Implemented Pokémon Appraisal: Trainers will now be able to learn about a Pokémon's attack and defense capabilities from their Team Leader (Candela, Blanche, or Spark) to determine which of their Pokémon have the most potential for battle.
- Fixed a bug that kept defeated Pokémon at 1HP; these Pokémon will now return as fainted Pokémon. We're working on rebalancing the training battle, stay tuned.fixes
Earlier today, a report suggested interest in Pokémon Go is steadily declining, so Niantic will need to implement new features to keep players interested. Daily active users, downloads, and the amount of time users are spending on Pokémon Go each day are said to be "well off their peaks and on a downward trend."

Pokémon Go can be downloaded from the iOS App Store for free. [Direct Link]

U.S. International Trade Commission Says Fitbit Didn't Steal Trade Secrets From Jawbone

Back in 2015, Jawbone sued Fitbit for "systematically plundering" confidential information, stealing patented technology, and acquiring trade secrets from former Jawbone employees, and since then, the two have been embroiled in an ongoing legal dispute.

It looks like Fitbit is temporarily off the hook, though, as the United States International Trade Commission today said Fitbit did not steal Jawbone's trade secrets, putting an end to Jawbone's efforts to win an import ban against Fitbit. Without the ban, Fitbit will be able to continue importing and selling its fitness trackers in the United States.

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U.S. judge Dee Lord ruled there was no violation of the Tariff Act and that neither party "has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret." The International Trade Commission previously invalidated Jawbone's patent claims and said Jawbone was "seeking a monopoly on the abstract ideas of collecting and monitoring sleep and other health-related data."

In a statement given to Business Insider, Jawbone said it would seek a review of the ruling before the full Commission and will proceed with its trade secret case against Fitbit, which is set to be heard by a jury in California. Fitbit, unsurprisingly, said it was pleased with the decision.
"We are pleased with the ITC's initial determination rejecting Jawbone's trade secret claims," said James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit. "We greatly appreciate the ALJ's time and diligent work on this case. From the outset of this litigation, we have maintained that Jawbone's allegations were utterly without merit and nothing more than a desperate attempt by Jawbone to disrupt Fitbit's momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market. Our customers can be assured that we remain fully committed to creating innovative products that consumers love, and that we areexcited about the pipeline of new products coming out this year."
Both Jawbone and Fitbit make popular fitness tracking devices, but while Fitbit has continued to produce new activity trackers, Jawbone has not released a new fitness-related product since 2015. Earlier this year, following reports suggesting it was going out of business, Jawbone said it was committed to creating new wearable products. Jawbone is now said to be working on a clinical-grade health tracking device related to heart monitoring.

Tags: Fitbit, Jawbone

Pinterest Acquires Read-It-Later App Instapaper

instapapericonPopular app Instapaper, designed to allow users to save notable news articles to read at a later time, has been acquired by Pinterest. Created by Marco Arment in 2008, Instapaper was one of the first apps that implemented read-it-later functionality, and it was certainly one of the most widely used and well-known apps in the genre.

Instapaper, available on iOS, Android, Kindle, and the web, was first sold to Betaworks in 2013 and now it belongs to Pinterest. Pinterest plans to use Instapaper to encourage Pinterest users to save more articles to the site, a feature that's existed for several years but isn't often used, and some of Instapaper's search functionality will be integrated into Pinterest. In a blog post, Instapaper said the acquisition would also give it the resources to grow its core mission -- "allowing our users to discover, save, and experience interesting web content."
Instapaper provides a compelling source for news-based content, and we're excited to take those learnings to Pinterest's discovery products. We'll also be experimenting with using our parsing technology for certain Rich Pin types.
Instapaper will continue to operate as a standalone app and service, and no changes are expected for end users. The company will, however, be ending development on Instaparser on November 1, 2016.

Walmart Subsidiary Asda Testing Apple Pay in U.K.

While its parent company Walmart remains one of the most notable Apple Pay holdouts in the United States, British supermarket chain Asda now appears to be testing the mobile payments service at select locations in the United Kingdom.

ASDA
The supermarket chain, which has 626 stores across the U.K., recently confirmed on Twitter that Apple Pay is something it is "currently trialling in a few of our stores," but it remains unclear if the testing will lead to a wider rollout in the future.

A few Asda customers have recently tweeted about the newly enabled Apple Pay support at superstore locations in Aberdeen, Scotland and Ferring, a small village located about 60 miles southwest from London, England.

As recently as August 12, a support representative tweeted that Asda does not currently accept Apple Pay, but that it does accept contactless payments in some of its stores. Apple Pay generally works where contactless payments are accepted, but some retailers have specific policies against accepting Apple Pay.

In 1999, Asda was purchased by Walmart, which recently completed a nationwide launch of its own QR code-based mobile payments solution Walmart Pay in the United States. Walmart was initially committed to the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium and its now indefinitely postponed payments service CurrentC.

In related news, Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank, and digital banking service B introduced Apple Pay support for cardholders in the U.K. last week.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Walmart

LG Announces New Collection of Bluetooth Speakers Coming This Fall

LG recently unveiled a trio of new Bluetooth speaker collections ahead of the IFA 2016 tech conference taking place in Berlin September 2-7. The new speakers are called the PH2, PH3, and PH4 and "run the range from casual to audiophile grade" in order to suit the listening style of each LG customer.

The cheapest speaker starts with the small PH2, measuring 3.8 inches in diameter and just 1.5 in thickness, along with 2.5W of power inside. It also comes with a strap that can attach the speaker to "a variety of surfaces," making it ideal for listening to music on the go. The PH3 offers an iterative improvement with 3W of power and a more robust frame measuring in at 3.5 by 4.9 inches. This middle tier also includes a candle-like top half that includes "five different multicolored light modes."

LG speakers
"LG's new line of Bluetooth speakers combine powerful sound performance with compact, portable design," said Tim Alessi, senior director, product marketing for home entertainment at LG ElectronicsUSA. "Understanding the busy lifestyles of many of today's consumers, we sought to create a diverse lineup of audio products that deliver a seamless listening experience in any situation or setting."
Finally, the taller and cylindrical PH4 introduces the most features of LG's new bluetooth speaker lineup: water resistance, 360-degree sound, and a longer battery life with 16W of power. Concerning battery, both the PH3 and PH4 will last up to ten hours, while the PH2 is said to get up to six hours of consistent music playback.

Each speaker uses LG's 360-degree omni-directional output to deliver consistent audio to any room or outdoor space, with the single and dual passive radiators in the PH3 and PH4 "giving them audio abilities that far exceed most speakers their size." All of the new speakers also come with the standard auxiliary input ports and include an "advanced multipoint connectivity" feature that lets them connect two different Bluetooth-enabled devices at once, so two users can control audio output to one speaker simultaneously.

Because the company revealed the speakers ahead of their official debut at IFA 2016, the price and release date for the new line wasn't disclosed. LG did say that customers in the United States can expect a launch sometime this fall, however.

Tag: LG