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AirPlay 2 Features Removed From iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3

Early AirPlay 2 functionality, which was present in initial iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas, has been removed from the third beta that was provided to developers this morning.

With the first betas of iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, when you installed these updates on an iOS device and two or more fourth or fifth-generation Apple TVs, AirPlay 2 could be used to stream music to multiple devices at the same time.

As an example, with two Apple TVs running tvOS 11.3 set up in different rooms of the house, you could use an iPhone to play the same song on both through AirPlay 2's multi-room audio feature.

Installing tvOS 11.3 also added the Apple TV to your HomeKit setup, with the Apple TV present in the Home app.

As noted by iDownloadBlog, all of these features are now missing in iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 beta 3. There are no options to play audio to multiple sources and the Apple TV has been removed from the Home app.

The AirPlay 2 feature was buggy and not fully functional, which may be why it's been removed. It is not clear at this time if Apple plans to re-introduce the AirPlay 2 functionality in later iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas.

AirPlay 2 was first announced as part of iOS 11 in June, but it did not show up in the launch version of the new operating system. When officially released, AirPlay 2 will allow HomePod, Apple TV, and supported third-party speakers to work together.

Once AirPlay 2-compatible products are widely available, you will be able to use AirPlay 2 to control all of the different speakers and devices throughout your home, for a full multi-room

Smart Speaker Showdown: HomePod vs. Google Home Max vs. Sonos One

Apple's new HomePod is late to the smart speaker market, which is already crowded with speakers from companies like Amazon, Google, and Sonos. The latter two companies, Google and Sonos, have released speakers with high-quality sound and robust voice assistants, giving the HomePod some serious competition.

We decided to pit Apple's $349 HomePod against both the $399 Google Home Max, which comes with Google Assistant, and the $199 Alexa-powered Sonos One to see how the HomePod measures up.

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To compare the three speakers, we focused on design, sound quality, and the overall performance of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

When it comes to design -- and this is certainly subjective -- we preferred the look of the HomePod with its fabric-wrapped body and small but solid form factor. The Sonos One looks a little more dated with its squarer body and standard speaker mesh, while the Google Home Max has a much larger footprint that's going to take up more space.

Apple's HomePod
All three offer touch-based controls at the top of the device, but the Google Home Max has one design edge - a USB-C port and a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting external music sources. The Sonos One has a single Ethernet port, while the HomePod has no ports.

Though we liked the HomePod's design, Siri, as you might expect, did not perform as well as Alexa on Sonos One or Google Assistant on Google Home Max.

Google Home Max
On questions like "Is Pluto a planet?" or "What's the fastest car?" both Alexa and Google Assistant were

Apple Seeds Third Beta of iOS 11.3 to Developers

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming iOS 11.3 update to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second beta and one month after releasing iOS 11.2.5, an update that focused primarily on bug fixes and security improvements. The update also comes just a day after the release of iOS 11.2.6, which fixed a bug that caused iPhones and iPads to crash when a character from the Indian language Telugu was rendered improperly.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 11.3 beta from Apple's Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center.

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iOS 11.3 is a major update that introduces a long list of new features, like Messages on iCloud for storing your iMessages in the cloud, and ARKit 1.5, a new, upgraded version of ARKit that can more accurately map irregularly shaped surfaces and recognize and place objects on vertical surfaces like walls.

There are four new Animoji on the iPhone X (dragon, bear, skull, and lion), and in the Health app, there's a new Health Records feature that aggregates all of your medical records in one easy-to-access place. Health Records are limited to participating institutions, though.

AirPlay 2 features have been introduced in iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, allowing audio to be played to multiple Apple TVs, and for HomeKit, iOS 11.3 introduces official support for HomeKit software authentication options.

As of iOS 11.3 beta 2, the update includes a new "Battery Health" feature that's

Sketchy Rumor: iPhone SE 2 Will Debut at WWDC With Classic Design But Larger 4.2-Inch Display

We've already heard multiple rumors suggesting Apple will unveil a so-called iPhone SE 2 later this year, and a new supply chain report from Chinese news website QQ.com claims to have knowledge of the device's tech specs.

First, the report says the new iPhone SE won't look like the iPhone X, which would make sense given it's a lower-end device. Instead, the new model will purportedly have a similar design as the original iPhone SE, with a metal back and frame, top and bottom bezels on the front, and a home button.

A key difference would supposedly be a larger 4.2-inch display, but this is questionable given it could make it harder to use the iPhone SE in one hand, which is preferred by a subset of customers. However, it's certainly possible Apple could trim down the bezels of the new iPhone SE slightly.

Apple is likely more focused on making under-the-hood improvements to the iPhone SE, as the device is now outdated by a few years. The report claims the new model will be powered by a faster A10 Fusion chip, although it will supposedly still have 2GB of RAM with 32GB or 128GB of storage available.

The report suggests Apple is planning to unveil the iPhone SE 2 at WWDC 2018 in June, which is certainly possible, but Apple hasn't introduced a smartphone at the event since the iPhone 4 in 2010. If history repeats itself, the new iPhone SE could be introduced at a smaller media event around March.

While most of these tech specs would make sense, the source doesn't have an established track record, so this rumor should be viewed with some skepticism. KeyforWeb.it

Apple Releases iOS 11.2.6 With Fix for Telugu Character Bug That Causes iOS Devices to Crash

Apple today released iOS 11.2.6, the eleventh official update to the iOS 11 operating system. iOS 11.2.6 comes approximately one month after the launch of iOS 11.2.5, an update that introduced support for the HomePod, Control Center updates, Siri news, and a slew of bug fixes.

The iOS 11.2.6 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings --> General --> Software Update.

Apple released iOS 11.2.6 to address a bug that causes apps like Messages to crash on the iPhone and iPad due to an inability to render a specific character in the Indian language Telugu. When sent, received, or input into Messages, Safari, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more, the Telugu character can cause the app to freeze up and become unresponsive.

In Messages, for example, receiving the character can freeze up the entire Messages app on all of a person's Mac and iOS devices. The Messages app then refuses to function properly until the offending character is removed by deleting the conversation with the person who sent it. Apple's release notes are below:
iOS 11.2.6 includes bug fixes for your iPhone or iPad. This update:

Fixes an issue where using certain character sequences could cause apps to crash

Fixes an issue where some third-party apps could fail to connect to external accessories
Apple fixed the bug in iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4, but those updates are still in beta testing and won't be released until the spring. Apple last week promised a minor update to fix the bug in the

Industrial Design Experts Say HomePod's White Ring Issue 'Shouldn't Be Too Hard to Fix' for Apple

Last week, Apple confirmed that the HomePod can potentially leave white rings on the surface of wooden furniture with oil or wax finishes. In an effort to help users prevent seeing these rings appear on their own furniture, Apple shared a support document on "Where to place HomePod," detailing how the interaction between the HomePod's vibration-dampening silicone base and a wooden surface has the chance to result in a white ring.

Business Insider recently spoke with a few industrial design experts who believe that the problem "shouldn't be too hard to fix" for Apple." Gregor Berkowitz, a product development consultant for numerous consumer electronics brands, expects Apple to "re-tool" its HomePod manufacturing process to address the issue with the silicone base, which could take between two to six weeks. Although the fix could take several weeks, the experts said it's "likely not very costly" for Apple.

Image via Wirecutter
Senior industrial designer at Y Studios, Cesar Viramontes, referred to the white rings issue as something customers will "probably forget about" in the next few months.
Apple may need to "re-tool" the manufacturing process since silicone is manufactured using a different process than the other kinds of elastomer," said Berkowitz. If that's necessary, the process could take anywhere from two weeks to six weeks, he noted.

"It's an issue, but I think it's probably going to be one that'll be corrected in the next round of manufacturing," said Y Studios' Viramontes. "I think it will be a minor issue, and people will probably forget about

APFS Bug in macOS High Sierra Can Cause Data Loss When Writing to Disk Images

Apple's APFS file system included in macOS High Sierra suffers from a disk image vulnerability that in certain circumstances can lead to data loss, according to the creator of Carbon Copy Cloner.

In a blog post last Thursday, software developer Mike Bombich explained that he had uncovered the data writing flaw in the Apple File System, or APFS, through his regular work with "sparse" disk images.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, a sparse disk image is basically a file that macOS mounts on the desktop and treats as if it was a physically attached drive with a classic disk volume structure. The flexibility of sparse disk images means they are commonly used in the course of performing backup and disk cloning operations, hence Bombich's extensive experience with them.
Earlier this week I noticed that an APFS-formatted sparsebundle disk image volume showed ample free space, despite that the underlying disk was completely full. Curious, I copied a video file to the disk image volume to see what would happen. The whole file copied without error! I opened the file, verified that the video played back start to finish, checksummed the file – as far as I could tell, the file was intact and whole on the disk image. When I unmounted and remounted the disk image, however, the video was corrupted. If you've ever lost data, you know the kick-in-the-gut feeling that would have ensued. Thankfully, I was just running some tests and the file that disappeared was just test data.
Two related problems are identified by Bombich, above. The first is that the free space on the

Apple Shares New Video on Getting the Most From HomePod

Apple this afternoon shared a new HomePod tutorial video on its Apple Support YouTube channel, which is designed to help new HomePod users get the most out of their new speakers.

The three minute video covers various Siri commands for accessing music, podcasts, news, and personal requests, using the iPhone as a HomePod remote, using the HomePod as a speakerphone, controlling HomeKit devices, and more.


As a warning, this video does include "Hey Siri" commands that have the potential to activate your own HomePod when you watch it, so you might want to watch with headphones.

In the description of the video, Apple links to multiple HomePod support documents, which are useful for HomePod owners who are still learning the ins and outs of the HomePod. These documents cover topics like using the Home app, using VoiceOver, listening to Podcasts, AirPlaying audio, and more.

This is the fourth HomePod tutorial video Apple has shared to introduce users to the new device. Last week, when the HomePod was released, Apple shared three other short videos on using Siri to Play Music, using the HomePod's touch controls, and adjusting the HomePod's settings.

All of the videos have been uploaded to Apple's YouTube support channel, which was introduced back in November. This YouTube channel is where Apple shares tutorial videos that are designed to provide users with tips on using their iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other Apple devices.

At MacRumors, we've also shared several how tos and guides for accessing and using all of the HomePod's different features, which can be found

WWDC 2018 Dates Possibly June 4-8 at San Jose Convention Center

Apple has yet to announce dates for the 2018 edition of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, but there's evidence to suggest the event may take place between Monday, June 4 and Friday, June 8 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, the same venue where WWDC 2017 was hosted.

First, we've heard from a reliable source who says WWDC will in fact return to the McEnery Convention Center for the second consecutive year, after having been hosted at the Moscone Center in San Francisco between 2003 and 2016.

Next, we've discovered that the McEnery Convention Center is already booked with other events during the second, third, and fourth weeks of this June, leaving the first full week of the month as the only available window for WWDC 2018, barring the rare possibility that Apple shares the space with other events simultaneously.

- June 4-8: WWDC 2018 (?)
- June 11-14: O'Reilly Velocity Conference
- June 17-21: DataWorks Summit and Hadoop Summit
- June 26-28: Sensors Expo & Conference

WWDC has been a June affair since the 2000s, and it generally falls within the first half of the month, so June 4-9 is a very real possibility. We haven't confirmed the dates with Apple, however, so it might be a good idea to wait for the company to officially announce WWDC 2018 details before booking accommodations.

Apple revealed the dates for WWDC 2017 with a press release exactly one year ago today, which was a lot earlier than usual, likely because of the change in venue. Last year excluded, the announcement has generally been in April.

WWDC is

Apple Renews 'Carpool Karaoke: The Series' for Second Season

Apple has renewed "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" for a second season, CBS CEO Les Moonves announced this afternoon (via The Hollywood Reporter). Positioned as Apple's second original TV show after "Planet of the Apps," "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" season 1 debuted last August.

"Carpool Karaoke: The Series" is based on the Carpool Karaoke segment made popular by "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Apple's TV show pairs up different celebrities, musicians, athletes, putting them together in a car to sing popular songs.


In season 1, featured celebrity pairings included Will Smith and James Corden; Miley, Noah, Billy Ray and the entire Cyrus family; Shakira and Trevor Noah; Game of Thrones stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams; Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith; John Legend, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson; LeBron James and James Corden; and more.

"Carpool Karaoke: The Series" was developed by Apple as a way to promote its Apple Music service and to offer exclusive entertainment to Apple Music subscribers. The show aired each Tuesday on Apple Music, and past episodes can be viewed by Apple Music subscribers.

It is not yet clear when the second season of "Carpool Karaoke: The Series" might debut, but it could see an August launch much like the first

Apple to Fix Telugu Character Bug Causing Devices to Crash in Minor iOS Update

Apple has confirmed that a fix for a recently discovered bug that causes apps like Messages to crash on iPhone, iPad, and Mac has been included in iOS 11.3, macOS 10.13.4, watchOS 4.3, and tvOS 11.3, updates that are currently being beta tested ahead of a release this spring.

Furthermore, Apple told iMore's Rene Ritchie that the bug will also be addressed in an upcoming iOS update that will be released in the near future, ahead of iOS 11.3, so customers won't need to wait several weeks for a fix. Minor updates for other operating systems will likely come at the same time.

The bug, induced by sending a specific character in the Indian language Telugu, causes certain apps on iPhones, iPads, and Macs to freeze up and become unresponsive. Messages, Safari, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other apps that accept text input are all affected.

When the character is sent in an iMessage, for example, it can freeze up the entire Messages app on all of a person's Mac and iOS devices. The Messages app will then refuse to function properly until the offending character is removed by deleting the conversation with the person who sent it.

In some situations, if the character is viewed through an iOS notification, it can cause the entire device to crash, resulting in a re-spring or worse.

Apple users who have received a message with the character will, as mentioned above, need to delete the Messages conversation with the person who sent the character. Alternatively, installing the iOS 11.3 or macOS 10.13.4 betas will fix the

Like HomePod, Sonos One Leaves White Rings on Some Furniture

The HomePod's silicone base can leave white rings on some wood surfaces that have an oil or wax finish, a problem that Apple yesterday said was "not unusual." As it turns out, Apple wasn't incorrect -- the Sonos One, a competing smart speaker, also leaves white rings on furniture.

Tom's Guide reviewer Mike Prospero read about the HomePod causing rings on furniture yesterday and went to check his wood cabinet, where he did indeed discover a ring caused by the HomePod. But next to it, he found smaller square shaped marks, which had been caused by the Sonos One located near the HomePod.

Image via Tom's Guide
When I got home, I saw a large white ring, a telltale indication that the HomePod's silicone base had messed up the finish. But, as I was inspecting the damage, I noticed a series of smaller white marks near where the HomePod was sitting.

A closer inspection revealed that the Sonos One speaker, which also has small silicone feet, had made these marks on my cabinet. Looking around the top of the cabinet, I noticed a bunch of little white marks, all left from the Sonos Ones as I moved them around. So, they will damage your wood furniture, too. We're awaiting comment from Sonos.
Like the HomePod, the Sonos One has a silicone base with four small feet. It doesn't make a ring as prominent as the ring caused by the HomePod, but it does appear to cause the same marks.

White rings became a topic of discussion yesterday morning after independent reviews from Pocket-lint and Wirecutter pointed out the marks the HomePod left on oiled or waxed furniture. After the issue