Apple recently purchased Ontario-based machine learning startup Inductiv for the purpose of improving Siri, reports Bloomberg.
Apple confirmed the purchase with one of its typical acquisition statements: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Inductiv's engineering team joined Apple after the acquisition to work on Siri, machine learning, and data science at the company. Prior to the purchase, Inductiv created technology that used AI to automate identifying and correcting errors in data for machine learning purposes. From Bloomberg:
Having clean data is important for machine learning, a popular and powerful type of AI that helps software improve with less human invention.
The work falls under the category of data science, a key element of Apple's broader machine-learning strategy.
Prior to when Apple released the third-generation iPod touch in September of 2009, it explored a prototype version that had a centered rear camera, a feature the iPod touch ultimately did not launch with.
Giulio Zompetti, a developer who collects Apple device prototypes, today shared some photos of the third-generation iPod touch with rear camera, giving us a clear look at the design variation that Apple tested.
Back in August 2009, prior to when the third-generation iPod touch launched, MacRumorsreceived photos of the prototype model with camera, sparking rumors that the upcoming device could launch with a camera.
At the time, it was believed that Apple scrapped the camera from the iPod touch late in the design process. Final versions of the iPod touch had an empty space where a camera might have been positioned.
After leaking in 2009, a prototype version of the third-gen iPod touch was spotted in a video in May 2010, and ahead of that, in April 2020, a couple of prototype models with camera showed up on eBay.
The eBay seller at the time said that he purchased the models at a flea market from someone who had bought them from a live auction in the Bay Area. Prototype devices like the third-generation iPod touch are hotly desired by collectors and surface on auction sites. Zompetti has in the past said that some of his devices are surfaced from device recycling facilities.
While the third-generation iPod touch didn't end up with a camera, Apple added it in the fourth-generation model along with a microphone. The fourth-generation iPod touch featured a 0.7-megapixel rear camera alongside its 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera.
The software is designed to allow some EOS Interchangeable Lens Cameras and PowerShot cameras to be converted into a webcam through a USB connection.
The macOS-compatible software solution requires a single USB plug to connect the compatible camera to the computer. After the software is downloaded and the camera is configured in a video conferencing app, the user will be able to use the camera for video conferencing and virtual meetings.
Compatible cameras include everything from the EOS-1D X Mark III to the PowerShot SX70 HS, with a list of cameras that work with the feature available on Canon's website.
According to Anker, the cable, which is in the PowerLine+ III family, features a "Special Edition Gold Design" that's "bold yet elegant" with the aforementioned gold-plated cable heads and matching braided gold and black cable.
The braided design has a 35,000 bend lifespan, and each cable is partially assembled by hand and passes through Anker's 51-step construction process, much like other PowerLine cables. The cable measures in at 6 feet long.
There's no explanation for why Anker, a company that specializes in affordable products, has created a $100 USB-C to Lightning cable, but it ships with a gift box, travel pouch, welcome guide, and lifetime warranty.
The Spirit Dot 2 earbuds look similar to many other wire-free earbuds on the market with a stemless design, silicone tips that fit in the ears, and small AirWings to keep them secure in the ears. Tips in five sizes ship with the Spirit Dot 2 to make sure everyone can find the best fit possible, with XS, S, M, L, and XL tips to choose from.
The fit is similar to the fit of headphones like the Samsung Galaxy Buds, Jabra Elite, Pixel Buds, and other wire-free earbuds with silicone tips and an in-ear design. When first inserting the earbuds into the ear, you may need to do some adjusting to get them situated properly for the best seal.
We've found that putting them in the ear and giving them a little twist gives us the most secure fit. Comfort is subjective and will vary for everyone based on ear size and shape, but we found the Spirit Dot 2 to be a bit more uncomfortable than competing products, causing ear fatigue to set in sooner.
For $79, the Spirit Dot 2 earbuds offer impressive sound, especially when it comes to bass levels. The earbuds are described as offering "thumping bass," a claim that seems to be accurate. In fact, there may be too much focus on the lows, overpowering the mids and highs at times and offering a somewhat unbalanced sound profile. Like fit, though, sound preference is subjective so some may prefer the heavy bass. Unfortunately there's no option in the Soundcore app for adjusting the sound.
The Spirit Dot 2 earbuds support gesture controls. Double tapping on the right earbud will play/pause the music, and double tapping on the left earbud will skip to the next track. A long press on either earbud can bring up Siri if you're using an iPhone. Setup and pairing isn't as simple as something like the AirPods and will require standard Bluetooth device setup in the Settings app of an iPhone.
On a single charge, the Spirit Dot 2 earbuds offer up to five and a half hours of playback time, and the included charging case adds 16 hours of additional playback. The little oblong case charges over USB-C, has LEDs that indicate charge level, and has a quick charge feature that provides an hour of playback time with a 10 minute charge.
Anker's Soundcore brand designed the Spirit Dot 2 earbuds to be water resistant, and they have an IPX7 water resistance rating. That's fairly high for earbuds, and means they're able to hold up to immersion in water up to a meter in depth for 30 minutes. The earbuds are advertised as having "SweatGuard technology" with an advanced sealing process and coating technology that protects them from moisture.
All in all, for $79, the Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 earbuds are an affordable wire-free earbud option. They're not as good as the AirPods or AirPods Pro when it comes to comfort or functionality like pairing and device swapping, but they sound decent and offer a ton of bass for those who prefer that kind of sound profile.
Apple is working on a redesigned version of the Leather Loop band that could be as soon as next month, according to leaked information shared today on Reddit and by 9to5Mac.
The updated bands appear to have more distinct ridges that do not extend to the edge of the band and for some colors, accent edging in a different color. The photos shared on Reddit depict the bands in brown with two colors of accent edging, red, orange, black, and blue. Rather than fastening with a loop, the redesigned version uses magnets to close.
It's not clear why Apple would redesign the existing Leather Loop band, which has been available since the launch of the original Apple Watch in 2015. The new models could offer improved breathability, better water resistance, or both, and Apple could perhaps expand availability to smaller Apple Watch models.
Current Leather Loop bands only fit the 44mm Apple Watch, and the leaked images seem to depict two sizes. There's also a possibility that the Leather Loop bands will continue to exist and that these bands are something else, as they don't have a loop design.
The person who shared the images on Reddit says they're from a local shop in Vietnam that called the bands "experimental units for the next generation of Apple Watch." 9to5Mac says that it was also contacted by a tipster with similar images and that source said the new Apple Watch bands could be unveiled as soon as next month, perhaps during Apple's WWDC announcements and product releases.
Apple often refreshes Apple Watch band colors alongside major events, so it would not be unusual for new band colors and options to come out in the summer.
There's no word on when these bands will come out nor is it clear if these are actually Apple-designed bands or if they're a faked version, so we'll have to wait to see if Apple actually ends up releasing them.
Sonnet isn't the only company to launch an internal drive mount for the new Mac Pro, and Apple itself sells Promise's Pegasus J2i system that lets you add two drives, but Sonnet says it's the first to let users add three drives right inside the Mac Pro and connected directly via SATA.
The Fusion Flex J3i offers two slots that can accept either 3.5-inch hard disk drives or 2.5-inch SSDs, and a third slot that accepts a 2.5-inch SSD, allowing for a total of 36TB of additional internal storage.
Storage installed via the Fusion Flex J3i won't be as fast as the main NVMe SSDs at the heart of the Mac Pro or PCIe-based storage upgrades, especially if you're using traditional hard disk drives, but if you're a user who wants to prioritize storage space and simplicity over drive speed, Sonnet's Fusion Flex J3i might be worth checking out.
The Fusion Flex J3i includes the mount, required power/data cable assemblies, and mounting brackets to fit 2.5-inch drives into the 3.5-inch drive slots, but the drives themselves are sold separately. It will be priced at $199.99 and launches on June 15.
Skullcandy today announced a series of four new wireless headphones that include Tile's Bluetooth tracking technology. The headphones are called the Push Ultra ($99.99), Indy Evo ($79.99), Indy Fuel ($99.99), and Sesh Evo ($59.99).
The Push Ultra headphones are one of the more expensive Skullcandy headphones launching today, with 40 hours of battery life, a wireless charging case, IP67 sweat and water resistance, and an over-ear hook design similar to the Powerbeats Pro. Each earbud includes playback and volume controls, and the earhooks are moldable to conform better to your ears.
For every model of the new headphones, Skullycandy built each earbud to act as an individual Tile, allowing users to find the left or right earbud individually if they are lost. Skullcandy users will have access to some Tile Premium features, including extended location history and smart alerts.
Additionally, the Skullcandy headphones can be found when they are inside of their charging cases, which can not be done with Apple's AirPods. Apple does offer its own solution to lost AirPods with the "Find My" app, which can locate a pair of lost AirPods if they are lost together outside of the charging case in a nearby location.
The popular YouTube Kids app is now available on Apple TV, making it easier to access the platform's kid-friendly video content on bigger screens.
YouTube Kids uses a combination of automated filters, human review, and parent feedback to offer a safer environment for kids to watch videos. Parental controls offer additional customization, from allowing only parent-approved collections to be viewed and age-level ratings, to screen time limitations and video/channel blocking.
Even with the filtering and curation in place, YouTube has faced criticism for allowing some inappropriate content onto the YouTube Kids platform, and the company has pledged to improve its policies and procedures to be more strict. Early on, the service was also criticized for targeting children with advertising, with YouTube making some changes to help provide better distinction between ads and video content.
Mac users in India now have the option of custom configuring their machines, offering significantly greater options as Apple seeks to increase its presence in the country, reports TechCrunch.
“This is a very huge deal,” said Preshit Deorukhkar, a Mumbai-based executive who closely tracks Apple development. “Previously, there was no real way to get a built-to-order or configure-to-order Mac in India. So you were stuck with the base models — say a Mac Mini or 13″ MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM. Now that the company is officially offering this, you get the computer you want and the standard warranty on it.”
Customers looking to purchase a built-to-order Mac in India may, however, have to wait a while to receive their orders, as TechCrunch says it is aiming to fulfill orders within four to five weeks.
Apple has been seeking to expand both sales and protection in India, which has so far been relatively untapped by the company. Sales of Apple products have long been limited to third-party resellers in India, but recently loosened restrictions have allowed Apple to move forward with plans to sell directly to customers. Apple is reportedly set to begin online sales in India later this year, and the company has been scouting for retail store locations in the country.
Woot's newest refurbished sale has a collection of older iPhone models at a discounted price. This includes the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, and iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5 and 5c were included in the sale, but have already sold out.
Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Woot. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
Specifically, prices start at $39.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, and rise to $129.99 for the 16GB iPhone 6s Plus. There are multiple storage options and colors for each iPhone, and all models are refurbished.
Woot has inspected all of its refurbished iPhones, and they are expected to have moderate levels of wear and tear, including scratches dents, and dings. Otherwise, they will be in full working condition and batteries are tested to work at minimum 85 percent capacity.
In a separate sale, Woot is offering a brand new iPhone XS Max for as low as $699.99 (64GB, Space Gray). The retailer also has 256GB and 512GB models on sale, and all models are fully unlocked.
Be sure to check out the full Woot sale before it ends later tonight. If you're shopping for more iPhone discounts, we track all of the best deals that carriers are offering in our dedicated iPhone Deals guide.
Facebook is testing a new app that's designed to help friends and families in the U.S. to coordinate phone calls or set up group calls with up to eight people.
"Catchup," built by Facebook's internal R&D group, differs from other group chat apps, in that the calls are audio-only, not video, and displays users' status to indicate they're available to talk.
Catching up has never been this easy. See who's available and effortlessly join one-on-one and group calls. Never play phone tag or make an appointment to call someone again. Keep in touch more, think about it less. Any time you're free to talk, CatchUp!
According to TechCrunch, the app appears to take cues from the recently highly popular Houseparty app. For its part, Facebook says the app was built so that people can make calls when they know the other person is free, because not knowing is "one of the key reasons people no longer make phone calls."
CatchUp won't need a Facebook account to use the service — the app works with your phone's contacts list. The app also gives users privacy settings so they can control who can join 1-on-1 and group calls.
HBO Max launched today, and is now available on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. WarnerMedia's new streaming service, which replaces HBO Now, combines HBO content with shows and films from Warner Bros and Turner TV.
The service is available as a native app on the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K, but second and third-generation Apple TV owners will need to AirPlay HBO Max content from an iOS device to the TV to watch.
New HBO Max customers who have an iPhone, Apple TV, iPad, or Mac will be able to subscribe to the service, priced at $14.99 per month, using in-app purchases on Apple devices.
HBO Max feature more than 10,000 hours of programming, and costs $14.99 per month during the first year. In 2021, WarnerMedia also plans to launch an ad-supported version of the service that is more affordable.
Quibi has added AirPlay support, allowing iPhone users to stream content from the short-form mobile video service to Apple TV and AirPlay-compatible smart TVs.
Quibi features "movie quality" original shows that are framed to fit phone screens and come in episodes of 10 minutes or less to cater for on-the-go lifestyles. The service first announced it would offer support for streaming protocols in May, but didn't specifically mention Apple's AirPlay.
Quibi chief producer Tom Conrad revealed the new feature in a tweet announcing Quibi version 1.3. Conrad said the company is "working hard" to bring Chromecast support to the service sometime in June.
Sure we designed Quibi for on-the-go, but these days visiting the family room is like a day trip… so AirPlay support is live for iOS in Quibi 1.3. Working hard on Chromecast too which will be available in June.
— Tom Conrad (@tconrad) May 26, 2020
Since its launch in early April, Quibi has accrued an impressive 1.3 million active users, but as The Verge points out, that's far short of the 10 million subscribers Disney Plus picked up on its first day.
Quibi for iPhone is available to download from the App Store [Direct Link] with a free 14-day trial.
Apple has acquired exclusive streaming rights to all 96 episodes of "Fraggle Rock," and has ordered a reboot of the series, reports Vulture.
Apple in April unveiled "Fraggle Rock: Rock On," a shortform show from the Jim Henson Company that featured characters from the "Fraggle Rock" series. Apple has now inked a more extensive deal that will include a formal reboot of "Fraggle Rock" with full-length episodes.
The new series will feature original puppet stars like Gobo, Red, Boober, Mokey, Wembley, and Uncle "Traveling" Matt, and it will be produced by the Jim Henson Company. Existing "Fraggle Rock" episodes, produced between 1983 and 1987, will be coming to Apple TV+ on Wednesday, May 27, and will mark the first time that Apple has offered older content on its platform.
A report from Bloomberg last week suggested that Apple is planning to purchase older movies and shows for the Apple TV+ streaming service in an attempt to build a back catalog of content that will allow it to better compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.
Vulture claims that an Apple TV+ source said the company "remains uninterested" in using Apple TV+ as a repository for old shows and movies from other suppliers, but it made sense to offer older "Fraggle Rock" episodes alongside new content rather than having original episodes available from another platform and the new episodes on Apple TV+.
Apple TV+ provides original movies and TV shows for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year, plus there's a free year of service for those who have recently purchased an Apple device. For those who don't qualify for the free year, Apple offers a one-week free trial. The easiest way to get started with Apple TV+ is to click or tap the button below to sign up for a free one-week trial, and then enter your information to confirm and activate your account.
The first app that takes advantage of the Exposure Notification API developed by Apple and Google has launched in Switzerland, according to a report from the BBC.
A team of app developers working on contact tracing app called SwissCovid have rolled out the app in a beta capacity for members of the Swiss army, hospital workers, and civil servants. After the app is tested and approved by MPs, it will see a wider public rollout, which could happen by mid-June.
Latvia also soon plans to introduce an app that uses the API, but other European countries are hesitant. The digital affairs ministers for Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal recently published a joint letter that criticizes the Apple/Google API for the restrictions put in place, mainly the decentralized device-to-device notification approach and the lack of location data collection.
"The use of digital technologies must be designed in such a way that we, as democratically elected governments, evaluate it and judge it acceptable to our citizens and in accordance with our European values," read the letter. "We believe that challenging this right by imposing technical standards represents a misstep and a missed opportunity for open collaboration between governments and the private sector."
Apple released the Exposure Notification API as part of iOS 13.5 last week. At the time, Apple said that several U.S. states and 22 countries had requested and received access to the API, with more expected to join.
In the United States, there are no apps available that take advantage of Exposure Notification as of yet, but Alabama, South Carolina, and North Dakota all plan to use the API. The UK, Australia, multiple European states, and several U.S. states, such as Utah, have opted out of using the API.
The Exposure Notification feature in iOS 13.5 is deactivated by default and cannot be used without an app created by a public health authority. It is also privacy focused and collects no personally identifiable data or location information, with more details available in our Exposure Notification guide.
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 comes two months after the launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.4, which introduced Screen Time Communication Limits.
macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System Preferences app.
The macOS Catalina 10.15.5 update introduces a new Battery Health Management feature for Mac notebooks. Battery Health Management is meant to extend the overall lifespan of a Mac's battery by reducing the rate of chemical aging.
Battery Health Management analyzes the battery health of a laptop and its charging pattern, and in some cases, it will preserve battery longevity and health by not charging a MacBook to its full capacity. Keeping a MacBook charged at its full capacity at all times can reduce battery health.
When a Mac is used plugged in and the battery is kept full all the time, the Battery Health Management feature will kick in and stop short of a full charge.
Battery Health Management is an optional feature that can be disabled through the System Preferences app, with instructions available in our how to.
The macOS Catalina 10.15.5 update also addresses an issue that caused large data transfers to RAID volumes to freeze up the Finder app. With the update, large data transfers will no longer cause Finder to become unresponsive.
After installing macOS Catalina 10.15.4, some Mac users began experiencing occasional system crashes, primarily caused by large file transfers. The new update should successfully fix the problem. Apple's full release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.5 are below.
macOS Catalina 10.15.5 introduces battery health management in the Energy Saver settings for notebooks, an option to control automatic prominence of video tiles on Group FaceTime calls, and controls to fine-tune the built-in calibration of your Pro Display XDR. The update also improves the stability, reliability, and security of your Mac.
Battery Health Management - Battery health management to help maximize battery lifespan for Mac notebooks - Energy Saver preference pane now displays battery condition and recommends if the battery needs to be serviced - Option to disable battery health management - For more information, please visit https://support.apple.com/kb/HT211094
FaceTime Prominence Preference - Option to control automatic prominence on Group FaceTime calls so video tiles do not change size when a participant speaks
Calibration Fine-Tuning for Pro Display XDR - Controls to fine-tune the built-in calibration of your Pro Display XDR by adjusting the white point and luminance for a precise match to your own display calibration target
This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements. - Fixes an issue that may prevent Reminders from sending notifications for recurring reminders - Addresses an issue that may prevent password entry on the login screen - Fixes an issue where System Preferences would continue to show a notification badge even after installing an update - Resolves an issue where the built-in camera may not be detected when trying to use it after using a video conferencing app - Addresses an issue for Mac computers with the Apple T2 Security Chip where internal speakers may not appear as a sound output device in Sound preferences - Fixes a stability issue with uploading and downloading media files from iCloud Photo Library while your Mac is asleep - Resolves a stability issue when transferring large amounts of data to RAID volumes - Fixes an issue where the Reduce Motion Accessibility preference did not reduce the speed of animations in a FaceTime group call