CNBC reports that Apple has hired ex-Microsoft exec and former CEO of a smart lock company to revamp Apple's home initiatives.
Hiring Jadallah is the latest signal that Apple plans to get serious about its own efforts in the home. Recently, the company acquired a start-up called Pullstring, a start-up that specializes in voice-enabled toys. That purchase could help the smartphone maker become the center of a connected living room.
Apple has been making movement into the home space for years, with the introduction of HomeKit as well as the HomePod which is powered by Siri. HomePod, however, has lagged behind its competitors despite making steady improvements. Apple's latest hire as well as recent acquisition of a voice technology company seems to indicate that they are refocusing their efforts.
Jadallah was most recently CEO of failed smart lock company Otto. Otto was described as a "luxury smart lock":
With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios packed inside the surprisingly compact design, Otto promises to let you or anyone you choose inside with just a touch whenever it senses an authorized phone within range.
That company ultimately failed, but it appears that Jadallah will be applying that knowledge forward at Apple.
Apple recently purchased PullString, a San Francisco startup that enables the design and publishing of voice apps through its PullString Converse platform, reports Axios.
PullString could be used to improve the voice capabilities of Siri, Apple's personal voice assistant.
On its website, PullString says that it can be used to "collaboratively design, prototype and publish voice applications for Amazon Alexa."
At PullString, we strive to help people talk effortlessly with voice technology that surrounds us. Working at the intersection of creative expression and artificial intelligence, we provide agencies and enterprises with the leading solution to collaboratively design, prototype, and publish highly engaging voice applications for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IoT devices.
According to Axios, PullString was founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives and when it was first started, was used to create interactive voice apps for toys.
The company broadened its horizons over the years, though, following the introduction of products like Amazon Echo and Google Assistant.
Apple has not officially confirmed the acquisition and details about the purchase price are not available.
Apple today shared a new "Bokeh'd" video on its YouTube channel, which highlights the Depth Control feature on the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.
In the spot, a group of mothers are looking at photos, when one notices that her son has been blurred out in the background of an image. "Did you bokeh my child?" she asks, while the other mother attempts to explain that it was accidental.
The mother who took the photograph uses Depth Control to show that she can remove the bokeh effect so that the blurred child is back in focus. From the video description:
Depth Control on iPhone XS and iPhone XR lets you adjust the bokeh effect on backgrounds before or after you shoot. So you can turn a cute portrait of two kids into a stunning portrait of one kid.
Introduced in the new 2018 iPhone lineup, Depth Control is designed to allow you to control the amount of blur in the background of your images. When taking a Portrait Mode image, you can adjust it before or after capturing it to change how much background blur is used.
This feature is limited to the 2018 iPhone lineup and isn't available on older iPhones.
If you've deleted your DMs, they may be unavailable on your phone and on the web, but Twitter is still saving them, according to data from security researcher Karan Saini that was shared today by TechCrunch.
Twitter also keeps direct messages and data sent to and from accounts that have either been deactivated or suspended, according to Saini, who discovered years-old messages in a file from an archive of data from an account that was no longer active.
A bug in a now-deprecated API used to allow him to get direct messages even after a message was deleted by both sender and recipient.
Twitter says that accounts that are deactivated and deleted are removed along with all of their data after 30 days, but TechCrunch found that's not the case.
But, in our tests, we could recover direct messages from years ago -- including old messages that had since been lost to suspended or deleted accounts.
Twitter lets you download all of the data associated with your account, even a suspended or deactivated account, which lets you see everything that the company is storing.
Saini told TechCrunch this is a "functional bug" that lets people bypass Twitter mechanisms to prevent access to these kind of accounts, but as TechCrunch points out, it's also a reminder that delete doesn't mean delete when it comes to direct messages.
Twitter told TechCrunch that it is "looking into this further to ensure we have considered the entire scope of the issue."
iPhone XS Max users experience more than two times faster real-world LTE data speeds as iPhone 5s users on average in the United States, according to OpenSignal, although there are caveats to consider.
OpenSignal says it measured speeds on hundreds of thousands of iPhones across the United States from October 26, 2018 to January 24, 2019 and found that iPhone XS Max users experienced an average LTE download speed of 21.7 Mbps compared to just 10.2 Mbps for iPhone 5s users.
iPhone XS users saw an average LTE download speed of 17.6 Mbps, while iPhone 6 through iPhone 8 Plus users posted average LTE download speeds of between 15.6 Mbps and 17.1 Mbps, as measured by OpenSignal.
OpenSignal attributes the faster data speeds on newer iPhones to improved modems and antenna designs in those devices, such as 4x4 MIMO support in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max compared to 2x2 MIMO on older iPhones, but the results are also likely influenced by socioeconomic factors.
Someone who is still using an iPhone 5s in 2019 could be a price-conscious consumer who is unable to justify the cost of upgrading to a newer iPhone, for example, while relying on a discount carrier with inferior wireless coverage or capped data speeds compared to major carriers such as Verizon and AT&T.
That said, while the results may be somewhat skewed, a newer iPhone should be able to achieve faster data speeds than an older iPhone, assuming it's connected to a cellular tower with the latest LTE equipment.
Last August, Apple Music was updated with a new section in Browse curated by Deutsche Grammophon, one of the biggest classical music labels in the world. While classical music fans welcomed the specific focus of the area, many of our readers quickly pointed out the numerous issues that remain for classical listeners on a daily basis within Apple Music, and the fact that they've been there since the launch of the service with seemingly no correction in sight.
Frustrations with classical music streaming are nothing new, but as Charles tells us, this is a problem that affects nearly every streaming music service, including Apple Music rival Spotify. In an effort to find out exactly what's wrong with classical music on Apple Music -- and what steps could be taken to address these problems -- we asked Charles and Rumiz to detail the biggest issues with classical music on Apple Music.
Classical music is treated as a single genre
When you tap on "Genres" in Apple Music's Browse tab, you're treated with a list of over 30 styles of music, from Alternative and African Music to Christian, Electronic, K-Pop, and Metal. This is where classical music fans have to visit to find their favorite music, within the singular "Classical" genre section.
For Charles, this is the first in a long line of problems. The section spans centuries, including all of the notable composers like Mozart (born 1756, died 1791), Maurice Ravel (b. 1875, d. 1937), and John Cage (b. 1912, d. 1992), but this grouping is frustrating for classical music aficionados, given how little these musicians have in common among one another.
Charles: "...We’re treating around 300 years of music from various countries, forms, philosophies, and so on as one genre. As far as modern commercial music, we don’t group the past 50 years together: can you imagine how strange it would be to group LL Cool J, Metallica, and The Spice Girls together? These are all artists that were popular in the 90s; beyond that, they have virtually nothing in common. Grouping together Mozart, Ravel, and Cage makes even less sense."
Rumiz: "The sorting of recordings follows the rules of pop & rock genre. For classical music this doesn’t fit at all, because you very often want to compare different recordings of the same pieces by the same composer with different soloists, orchestras and conductors. It is very complicated and sometimes impossible to sort and find recordings by these categories."
Classical music wasn't designed to fit in modern album templates
Streaming classical music on a service like Apple Music forces the expansive art form into a strict, boundary-ridden template. Because of this, numerous aspects of the music are truncated in a way that deflates their impact, particularly for anyone without existing knowledge of classical recordings.
Charles says that one aspect of classical music that's mixed up in the shuffle is the listener's interest in a piece's composer versus its performer. While some artists, like Leonard Bernstein, both compose and perform their music, Charles questions how Apple Music determines the best recording for a piece of music: "Is a recording more significant because it is composed by Bach, or is it more significant because it is performed by Glenn Gould?"
Further complicating matters, orchestral recordings introduce both the conductor and orchestra as contributors, essentially breaking any possibility for these pieces to be read and seen within the boundaries of a modern album format. With concerti, the soloist, composer, and orchestra also need credit.
This results in albums with names like "Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 - Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, M.83; Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55," credited to "Martha Argerich, Berlin Philharmonic & Claudio Abbado."
Not only is this far too much information to read clearly in Apple Music, but the app's basic UI functions fail to provide links to every credited artist, making further classical music discovery a frustrating endeavor. In the above example, the link for "Martha Argerich, Berlin Philharmonic & Claudio Abbado" directs listeners only to Martha Argerich's Apple Music profile page.
Charles: "That is a lot more difficult to follow than The Wall by Pink Floyd. Clicking the performer’s name in this case links you to more Martha Argerich recordings—what if you’re curious to hear more of the Berlin Philharmonic or Claudio Abbado? (And I won’t even bother going into the complications that come with identifying an opera cast.)
In short, classical music was not designed with the album format in mind. Some pieces are substantial enough that they could fill up an entire album (Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 comes to mind); some are even so long that they would exceed the length of a traditional album (Steve Reich’s Drumming comes to mind). Some are also less than a minute long (Bach Two Part Inventions come to mind)"
On that note, Rumiz points out that classical music playlists are essentially nonsense. This is because each playlist takes in arias and overtures from various operas, completely disrupting the ordered way that classical music is intended to be listened to. This happens in playlists like Apple's "Essentials" for composers like Richard Wagner, and in mood playlists designed for studying or relaxing.
Rumiz: "Again Apple offers something for their mainstream audience which doesn’t fit the genre. I don’t want to hear just one part of a symphony, I want to listen to the whole thing! The same applies to classical music radio."
Because of these wordy titles, any voice-enabled features touted by Apple and found within Apple Music are much harder to use for classical music fans.
As Charles bluntly puts it, "Can you imagine: 'Hey Siri, play the third movement of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 from the album Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 - Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, M.83; Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55 by Martha Argerich, Berlin Philharmonic & Claudio Abbado."
In our tests, simply stating "Hey Siri, play Prokofiev's Piano Concerto" did lead to Siri playing the correct concerto in the correct order, but as with all things Siri, the command was not consistently reliable. The proclivity toward the use of foreign language titles for some pieces, and the acceptance of English versions of the same titles, also regularly stumps Siri.
"Sometimes we use English titles, sometimes we use foreign language titles; 'The Rite of Spring' and 'Le Sacre du printemps' seem to be used equally to describe the same piece," Charles explains.
There are breaks between each track
Rumiz's biggest issue with classical on Apple Music is the breaks that happen between tracks in recordings (this frustration originally led Rumiz to write his Medium post on the topic). For any classical piece that is through-composed (music intended to be played from beginning to end in one continuous stream), Apple Music interrupts the fluidity of the piece by placing a break of ~1 second between each track.
Rumiz does point out that Apple has removed these breaks from many recordings over the years, but it isn't solved for all recordings.
Rumiz: "I find these breaks in the middle of a thrilling, highly emotional classical symphony to be annoying — they are destroying the concentration and pleasure of the listener."
There is a large barrier to entry for new listeners
This is Charles' biggest problem with classical on Apple Music. Although the browsing and playback experience can be awkward, the music professor ultimately notes that his background and education in the subject help him navigate Apple Music's less-than-stellar classical music selection with some ease. If you're on the other end of that spectrum, trying to get into the genre and navigating 300+ years of music on Apple Music, it's "effectively impossible."
Charles is understandably disappointed in the lack of education and forethought put into classical selections on Apple Music. There are no program notes, select few pieces of biographical information, and no guidance when navigating among composers. Despite the music having thorough research readily available, Apple Music ditches all interconnections between notable composers in favor of static tabs of music lists.
One of the few educational areas in Apple Music's classical section is buried at the very bottom of the page, and offers a quick overview of the genre's history.
Listening to classical music often requires the listener to understand the work in context to get everything out of it. Without these tidbits of history, connective tissues between composers, and educational program notes, Apple Music fails this fan base.
Charles: "So in short, classical music is left to an exclusive crowd of enthusiasts that already know what they are looking for. Apple prides itself on making devices and services with user interfaces that anyone can use, yet classical music remains locked in a vault for the select few that already know it inside and out."
There's a lack of legitimacy
As an extension of the previous grievance, Apple Music's Beethoven page lacks a link to the composer's spiritual successor, Brahms, but it does provide a link to an artist named "Chopin." Unfortunately, this is not the Polish composer, but a rapper who appeared on a hip-hop song named "Circumstance," which was released in 2018. "Even if it did link to the correct Chopin, there are far more relevant composers to link to," Charles points out.
Furthermore, Apple populates composer pages with songs from albums and playlists that don't necessarily paint these artists in a respected light. Beethoven's "Top Songs" include songs from albums like "The World's Most Beautiful Wedding Music," "Classical Music for Power Pilates," and "Exam Study." While relevant to each of these activities, Apple's decision to push these results higher on the page above more reputed collections "sends strong signals of a lack of legitimacy in the classical music world," Charles argues.
Build better composer pages and offer more categories
This would be feasible, since Apple just last year updated the artist pages across Apple Music with new profile picture designs, new featured albums, album reorganization, and a "play all" button. Although composers and their works are inherently more complex, Charles points out that some already have their own identification systems, including the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV) catalog for Bach and the Köchel (K) catalog for Mozart, which have the potential for streamlined integration into Apple Music.
In the same vein, Rumiz says more categories would do wonders for expanding the ease-of-use of classical on Apple Music, by offering more complex categories like "soloist" and "conductor," instead of following the rules of pop and rock music where songs only have one artist. While this would be a big task for Apple, Rumiz notes that it will be "necessary if they want classical music fans to continue using Apple Music on the long run."
Fix irrelevant recommendations
In a simpler and easier solution, Charles hopes Apple can more intelligently guide users to important and noteworthy composers, pieces, and musicians, that actually have relevance to one another. No more erroneous "Chopin" pages and "Ode to Joy" recommendations found within Power Pilates playlists.
Make it smarter and hire a human curator
Overall, Charles is hoping for Apple to boost the intelligence of its classical music section on Apple Music. To start, he recommends Apple hire a musicologist whose job it would be to personally back the rejuvenation of the classical music features on the service. This would be just like most other sections of Apple Music, where algorithms are backed and double-checked by human editors, like Arjan Timmermans's role as Apple Music's "Head of Pop."
This includes adding program notes that would enhance the listener's understanding of classical music, so that they're actually taking part in digesting and understanding the composition and not just passively listening. Charles explains the importance of knowing a piece's real-world history: "Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique is a great example: it features a story (loosely based on the composer's own life) of an artist obsessing with a love interest, taking opium, and murdering his beloved in a drug-induced trip. This sort of thing kind of changes how you hear a piece!"
Charles: "Effectively, the service should offer somewhat of a university-style music appreciation course for the average listener."
Acquire a company that does most of this already
In a move that would make sense given Apple's history, Apple could also simply acquire a company that's doing most of these things already, and implement the technology within an update to Apple Music. Charles pointed me toward the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall [Direct iTunes Link], a classical music streaming service that has live and on-demand concerts (up to 40 each season), hundreds of archived recordings covering five decades, composer interviews, documentaries, artist portraits, and a family-friendly education program that dives into the history of each piece.
While the Digital Concert Hall mostly lacks simple music streaming, if Apple made a deal with Berlin Philharmonic, the service's features would greatly boost classical music offerings on Apple Music.
Rumiz doesn't recommend an outright acquisition, but he does point towards a company and service that is already leagues ahead of Apple in the classical music field: IDAGIO [Direct iTunes Link]. This service costs $9.99/month and focuses solely on classical music. While some important recordings are missing and require him to return to Apple Music or Spotify, Rumiz says that IDAGIO's usability and interface are far better than Apple Music, eliminating many of the frustrations classical fans have with streaming services.
Boost the video offerings
According to Rumiz, a well-organized and fully featured suite of classical video content "could be an important selling point" for a streaming service intent on gaining more classical fans. Apple has a few of these, offering background interviews with artists, but Rumiz points toward YouTube Music as the current leader in this category, since it offers full recordings of concerts and operas.
In the end, Apple -- and Spotify, Google, Amazon, etc. -- have a tricky battle ahead of them if and when they decide to address the issue of classical music on streaming services. "It doesn't seem to be a business priority [for Apple]," Charles admits, and in the current scheme of things, the company's focus on pop and hip-hop in Apple Music is logical from a financial standpoint.
But that doesn't change the fact that there are millions of classical music fans willing and ready to pay the company that can get these things right. "This is a completely untapped market," Charles tells me. "One streaming service could completely own the classical music audience if it wanted to."
Samsung has leaked its upcoming wearables lineup through its Galaxy Wearable app for Android ahead of its February 20 event.
Image credit: SamCentralTech
As spotted by Twitter account SamCentralTech, and reported by The Verge, the initial "pick your device" screen of the app reveals the names and marketing images for a new Galaxy Watch Active, Galaxy Fit fitness trackers, and Galaxy Buds.
Galaxy Buds are the least known of the three products, serving as Samsung's latest AirPods competitor. They won't be Samsung's first pair of truly wireless earphones, succeeding the Gear IconX in 2016, but rumors suggest they'll be able to charge wirelessly on the back of the upcoming Galaxy S10.
Image credit: The Verge
As for the Galaxy Watch Active, the app reveals the bezel-less smartwatch will be available in a 40mm size in at least two colors.
Samsung will be hosting a media event on Wednesday, February 20 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, where it is widely expected to unveil a trio of new Galaxy S10 smartphonesalongside these wearables.
A red variant of the iPhone XS and XS Max could be launching in China sooner rather than later, if a social media rumor proves to be accurate.
A Weibo post spotted by iPhoneHacks.com claims Apple will launch the red color models by the end of this month, in a bid to boost struggling iPhone sales in the region.
The leaker, who claims to have received the tip from sources in Apple's supply chain, says that Apple will call the model "China Red," and not the PRODUCT(RED) branding that the company typically associates with the color.
Apple globally launched a mid-cycle (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in March 2017 and a similar edition for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in April 2018, so the timing wouldn't be completely off. Apple already sells a (PRODUCT)RED variant of the iPhone XR.
There's also precedent for Apple using a different name in China – the company dropped the PRODUCT(RED) branding in the country for both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models, instead promoting them simply as additional colorways.
Apple has partnered with the (RED) Global Fund for nearly 13 years to sell a variety of red-colored devices and accessories. For each product sold, Apple makes an unspecified contribution to HIV/AIDS charity. However sex remains a controversial issue in China, where AIDS and HIV have been characterized in the past as a consequence of contact with the West.
Despite the lack of any PRODUCT(RED) mention in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook assured MacRumors in a March 2017 email that the company upholds its charitable Global Fund donations commitment for every special edition red iPhone sold in every country in the world, with or without said branding.
If there's any weight to today's rumor of a red iPhone XS and XS coming to China, it could potentially signal the early launch of PRODUCT(RED) versions for the rest of the world, although nothing is certain. Rumors last year of a mid-cycle PRODUCT(RED) edition of the iPhone X never transpired, for example.
It's also worth noting that several Chinese mobile makers will be launching their 2019 flagship phones over the next couple of months, so Apple may be using new red iPhone models as a counterweight to new rival devices on the market.
Right around the time that Apple debuted new Smart Battery cases designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, Mophie, a popular accessory maker, also introduced its Juice Pack Access battery cases for the new iPhones.
In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with the Juice Pack Access to compare it to Apple's Smart Battery Case to see if it's a better option for those looking to extend their iPhone batteries.
The cases are similar in weight and thickness, and both cases have a hump design with an area where the battery inside the case protrudes. The Juice Pack Access is also made from a smooth plastic while the Smart Battery Case is silicone, so those who don't like silicone may prefer the plastic.
Like the Smart Battery Case, the Juice Pack Access allows Lightning accessories to be used because it leaves the Lightning port unobstructed. Prior cases used the Lightning port to supply power to the iPhone, but the new model uses Qi wireless charging exclusively.
The Juice Pack Access charges the iPhone at the 5W wireless charging speed, which is a bit slow. Apple's solution, meanwhile, builds an extra Lightning port into the Smart Battery Case because Apple has access to tighter integrations.
The benefit there is Lightning support with faster charging, though with a battery case, charging speed isn't a huge factor since it's meant to be used throughout the day, but it can be important if you're putting the battery case on in a situation where your battery is already nearly drained.
You can charge the Juice Pack Access wirelessly on a Qi charger or through an included USB-C port, though those who don't already have USB-C devices and cables may find that cumbersome. Apple's Smart Battery Case charges either wirelessly or through the Lightning port, which is more convenient.
There's a 2,200mAh battery in the Juice Pack Access for iPhone XS Max and a 2,000mAh battery in the cases for the XR and XS, while Apple's Smart Battery Case offers more power thanks to two 1,369mAh batteries in the device.
For example, Mophie says the iPhone XS Max paired with the Juice Pack offers 31 hours of talk time, 16 hours of internet use, and 18 hours of video playback.
The iPhone XS Max with the Smart Battery Case offers a total of 37 hours of talk time, 20 hours of internet use, and 25 hours of video playback.
In our testing, the Smart Battery Case lasted for a longer period of time than the Juice Pack, which is not surprising given that it offers a bit more power.
The Smart Battery Case has the edge over Mophie's version when it comes to checking battery level. Because of the tight iOS integration, you can see your Smart Battery Case battery level on the Lock screen and in the Notification Center, with Apple offering exact charge numbers.
There are four LEDs to indicate charge on the Juice Pack, but it's not nearly as granular. You also don't need to turn the Smart Battery Case on - it just works and is constantly supplying power to the iPhone when it's on the iPhone. You will need to make sure turn on the Juice Pack Access, which could be a benefit or a hassle depending on your perspective.
Apple sells its Smart Battery Cases for the 2018 iPhones for $129 in Apple retail stores, third-party stores, and online. Mophie's Juice Pack Access, available from the Mophie website, is more affordable at $99, but it loses out on some bells and whistles you get with Apple's case.
What do you think of the Juice Pack Access? Is the $29 savings worth it over Apple's Smart Battery Case? Let us know in the comments.
Apple recently purchased Data Tiger, a UK startup focused on digital marketing, reports Bloomberg. The acquisition, says Bloomberg, could improve Apple's digital marketing and make it "more relevant to customers."
DataTiger's website is blank, but a LinkedIn page for the company says that it offers a set of tools that enable customers to build marketing software that "puts data to work."
Using DataTiger is the fastest and easiest way to increase retention & monetisation. With our platform you can individually optimize the marketing flows for your customers in real-time across all channels.
DataTiger can be used as an online tool, importing your data and set up user flows in minutes, with all of your data living in the cloud - or it can be fully customized in-house, building your own marketing solution via our APIs + open-source front-end components.
Specifically, the site more accurately takes advantage of customer data to send relevant materials and advertisements to them.
Apple appears to have made the purchase in December, and based on a regulatory filing discovered by Bloomberg, now controls Operatedata, DataTiger's legal name. A spokesperson has yet to confirm the acquisition, however.
MacRumors attracts a broad audience
of both consumers and professionals interested in
the latest technologies and products. We also boast an active community focused on
purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac platforms.