When Sonos introduced the new Sonos One back in October, the company confirmed it would add AirPlay 2 support to Sonos speakers later in 2018.
At the time, Sonos did not specify which of its devices would support the new protocol, but Sonos appears to have offered some clarification in the form of new details provided to Mac Observer.
Mac Observer says native AirPlay 2 support will be available on the Playbase, the newest version of the Play:5, and the Sonos One.
Older Sonos speakers will not support AirPlay 2 on their own, but they can be paired with the Playbase, the Play:5, or the Sonos One to enable AirPlay 2 functionality. A Sonos Play:1 grouped with a Sonos One, for example, will support AirPlay 2.
Since we all like things to be simple, here's the easy test to remember: if your Sonos has touch controls, it natively supports AirPlay 2. If your Sonos is old enough to have buttons, it only supports AirPlay 2 in a group.
Apple thus far has not released AirPlay 2, despite the fact that it was first introduced as a feature of iOS 11 back in June of 2017. AirPlay 2 functionality was initially included in iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas, but it was pulled ahead of the release of those updates.
AirPlay 2 functionality is now included in iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4, but it is not yet clear if the features will be included in the final version of the software.
Concert discovery app Bandsintown Concerts received a major update today, introducing native Apple Music integration to allow Apple Music subscribers to listen to music without needing to leave the Bandsintown app.
For those unfamiliar with Bandsintown, it's a website and app that's designed to allow users to discover when their favorite bands are performing live in their local area.
When you search for a performer in the Bandsintown app, or look for nearby concerts, you can now select an artist and listen to their catalogue of music to decide whether or not to purchase tickets to an event.
Bandsintown says the new feature is designed to help fans discover more artists, attend more shows, and help artists grow their fanbases.
Bandsintown managing partner Fabrice Sergent said the company is "thrilled" to offer fans access to Apple Music. "Promoting artist discovery is very important to us, and Apple Music subscribers can now browse and listen to an artist's catalog without having to switch between apps."
In addition to introducing Apple Music support, the new update to the Bandsintown iOS app also adds tools to make it easier for customers who do not currently subscribe to Apple Music to sign up for an account.
Though native Apple Music integration is new to the Bandsintown Concert app, it has previously worked with Spotify and Soundcloud.
Apple Music integration is available in the latest version of the Bandsintown Concerts app, which can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
Jam City's highly anticipated game in the Harry Potter universe, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, saw a worldwide launch this morning on iOS and Android devices.
In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, players are able to take on the role of a student at Hogwarts, going to classes, learning spells, building friendships, and making decisions in an "encounter system" that influences each player's personal story in Hogwarts castle.
Jam City co-founder and CEO Chris DeWolf said in early April that the company's goal with the game is to "make players really feel for the first time like they're attending Hogwarts."
The game takes place in the 1980s before Harry Potter attended Hogwarts, so players won't run into iconic characters like Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and others, but well-known professors and minor characters will be present to provide an engaging Hogwarts experience.
Jam City's new game uses six voice actors that starred in the Harry Potter movies, including Dame Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Sally Mortemore (Madam Irma Pince), Gemma Jones (Madam Pomfrey), and Zoe Wanamaker (Madam Hooch).
It's important to note that Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Mystery is not the promised Niantic augmented reality game that's also set in the Harry Potter universe. That app, titled Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is said to take cues from Pokémon Go, allowing players to explore real-world neighborhoods to discover, fight, and capture the fantastic beasts of the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite does not have a release date as of yet.
Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Mystery can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
Snapchat today announced the launch of Snappables, which are new Snapchat Lenses that are designed to allow Snapchat users to play augmented reality games with their friends.
Interactive Snappable lenses are located right near other Snapchat Lenses in the Lens Carousel and can be accessed by tapping the icon on the left side of the capture button.
To use a Snappable, tap the Snappable icon and then follow the on-screen directions.
Some of the available Snappables let you create a dance party or a rock band with friends, while others are more game-like in nature and can be controlled through facial expressions, touch, and motion. You can play a game where you fight virtual aliens, for example, and then send a Snap to a friend to play along.
According to a Snapchat spokesperson, Snappables are the beginning of a new type of augmented reality experience on Snapchat. Prior to now, Lenses have focused on transforming your look or the world around you, while Snappables are sharable AR experiences.
In other Snapchat-related news, Snapchat parent company Snap is said to be planning to introduce new Spectacles later in the week. Little is known about the new glasses, and it's not yet clear if they will feature major design changes.
Snapchat can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
Lexus has announced that its first vehicle with CarPlay will be available in September 2018 at dealerships across the United States.
2019 Lexus ES
That vehicle will be the new 2019 Lexus ES, equipped with an eight-inch display controllable via a knob in the center console. The sedan also features Siri Eyes Free and Amazon Alexa voice control, but lacks Android Auto support. An optional navigation system with a 12.3-inch widescreen display will be available.
Lexus has previously said its CarPlay implementation is wired, so an iPhone must be connected via USB. BMW remains the only automaker to offer wireless CarPlay in new vehicles, despite the functionality being introduced in 2015. Alpine Electronics sells an aftermarket wireless CarPlay system for other vehicles.
Toyota and Lexus plan to expand CarPlay to several other 2019 model year vehicles with Entune 3.0 and Enform 2.0 systems respectively. The rollout will likely include the yet-to-be-announced 2019 Camry and 2019 Sienna, given the 2018 models of those vehicles are already equipped with Entune 3.0 systems.
A spokesperson for Toyota and Lexus previously told MacRumors that they do not currently plan to offer CarPlay in pre-2019 vehicles.
Amazon today updated its Alexa app for iOS devices to introduce iPhone X compatibility, allowing the app to be displayed full screen on the longer display of the iPhone X.
Prior to today, the Amazon Alexa app displayed unattractive black bars at the bottom and top of the app, so this should be a welcome change for Amazon users who have an iPhone X. The addition of Alexa support comes just over a month after Amazon promised the update was in the works.
The Alexa app for iOS is designed to be a companion to Alexa devices, allowing iPhone users to set up and manage Alexa-enabled equipment.
While many popular apps have been updated with support for the display of the iPhone X, there are still some notable holdouts even months after the release of the new smartphone. Inbox by Gmail, for example, continues to lack iPhone X support, as do several Apple apps, including iTunes Connect, iTunes Remote, and AirPort Utility.
Apple has stopped offering financing options to customers in the United Kingdom, as indicated by the elimination of its UK financing page, which was removed from the UK Apple site this afternoon.
Apple previously allowed customers in the UK to sign up for financing on Apple products through PayPal Credit or Barclays when checking out from the online Apple Store. PayPal Credit could be used on purchases with a £99 minimum, while Barclays was available for purchases over £399.
When making a purchase through the Apple site in the UK, there are now no financing options to select at checkout, and the finance pages that were previously available now redirect to the main UK site.
Instagram today released a new Data Download feature which is designed to let Instagram users download a copy of their photos, videos, stories, profile info, comments, and messages to comply with the European Union's upcoming GDPR privacy law.
While the privacy law is only applicable in Europe, Instagram has made the new download tool, accessible here as long as you're signed in to an Instagram account, available to all of its users.
An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that while the Data Download tool is "currently accessible to everyone on the web," access via Android and iOS is still rolling out.
Once a data download request is submitted to Instagram, it takes some time for the data to be prepared. The company asks users to input an email address, with a download link set after the data is gathered. Instagram says data requests can take up to 48 hours to be fulfilled.
This is the first time that Instagram has offered users an option to download all of their data, including their photos that have been uploaded to the social network.
Instagram parent company Facebook has had a download data option for quite some time, and people have been surprised to find what kind of data Facebook is collecting. It appears the Instagram tool will be more limited in scope, but it will include all of a user's personal information.
Spotify held an event in New York City today, unveiling a new version of its free music streaming tier that introduces a few new features for those users not paying for Spotify's $9.99/month main subscription plan.
The new free tier allows users to pick and choose which music they want to listen to on-demand, but only if the tracks appear within one of the 15 curated discovery playlists. These include Daily Mix, Discover Weekly, Release Radar, and more. Previously, free tier users were limited to shuffling songs at random.
New version of the free-tier’s mobile app. Includes new playlists to bring it closer in line to what premium offers. Also adds a low data mode to allow better streaming on capped data plans. pic.twitter.com/l05qO5r3SR
According to TechCrunch, "that's around 750 tracks (>40 hours of music) that Spotify is serving up to users for on-demand listening." Additionally, users on the free service will get recommendations based on their own playlists, with machine learning taking into account songs in the playlists and even the name of the playlists. Spotify calls this "assisted playlisting."
CNET reporter Joan E. Solsman also mentioned that free users will have access to podcasts and vertical videos. Curated playlists, like RapCaviar, will also "stay the same across both tiers" of free and premium users.
There is also a new low-data mode that aims to cut data consumption "by up to 75 percent." In total, Spotify head of product development, Babar Zafar, said Spotify's free tier is "becoming much more like Spotify premium" with this update. As a note, the free tier will still have advertisements between songs.
In the past, Spotify didn’t allow offline listening for free, meaning that users were somewhat tethered to wifi if they needed to conserve data.
With the new data consumption system, which caches music ahead of time to stream via 3G, users can actually listen to much more music with wireless data. Alongside utilizing 3G, Spotify is also optimizing the streaming itself as well as the app (including imagery and other UI elements) to save data and power.
As Spotify expands its free service, Apple Music still only offers new subscribers a chance to try things out for three months at no cost. Afterwards, users must pay for a subscription or cancel their plan.
When asked whether the company is worried about losing paying subscribers to the newly expanded free tier, chief product officer Gustav Söderström said that it wasn't in Spotify's plans to make a free experience feel worse in order to get them to become paid subscribers. Still, over time the streaming service hopes a more robust free tier turns users into paid subscribers. "The more you play, the more you pay," Söderström said.
Rather confusingly, the report first says Apple is negotiating with Samsung about the revised price, but later says it is a requirement.
If the price cut is indeed being forced upon Samsung, then Apple likely feels confident in its ability to secure OLED displays from LG as a second supplier, and is thereby benefitting from diversifying its supply chain and making its suppliers compete against each other on price in an effort to win millions of orders.
Apple is expected to purchase up to 100 million OLED displays from Samsung in 2018, to be used for the current iPhone X, in addition to a second-generation iPhone X and so-called iPhone X Plus expected to launch in 2018.
Price cuts to the display and other components would help Apple lower its bill of materials for the iPhone X and future models, and the savings could potentially be passed on to customers. RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani, for example, believes the second-generation iPhone X will start at $899, down from $999.
No doubt, Apple's own bottom line also stands to benefit from reduced production costs, so these negotiations are most likely par for the course.
After first launching the "Amazon Key" service for users to allow delivery people to enter their home and drop off packages, Amazon today has revealed the expansion of the platform into "Amazon Key In-Car." Now, when Prime members in select cities checkout on Amazon, they will be able to choose an in-car delivery option.
The company says that the service is available at no extra cost for Prime members, and it is limited to certain vehicle brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Volvo. Users can check their vehicle's eligibility on Amazon.com, and then download the Amazon Key iOS app [Direct Link] to complete setup.
“Since launching Amazon Key last November, we’ve safely delivered everything from cameras to collectable coins inside the home. Customers have also told us they love features like keyless guest access and being able to monitor their front door from anywhere with the Amazon Key App,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Delivery Technology, Amazon.
“In-car delivery gives customers that same peace of mind and allows them to take the Amazon experience with them. And, with no additional hardware or devices required, customers can start ordering in-car delivery today.”
Afterwards, customers shop as normal on Amazon.com or in the Amazon mobile apps, select an eligible address, and then choose in-car delivery at checkout. The app gives customers a 4-hour time window for delivery, and requires the car to be parked within two blocks of the selected address.
Then, as the delivery arrives, Amazon says that it authorizes the delivery driver prior to unlocking the vehicle, and that "no special access or keys are given to the driver." The app then alerts customers that the package is in their car and their vehicle is relocked.
In a frequently asked questions section of the Amazon Key In-Car page, Amazon explains how the platform uses an active connected car service plan (OnStar or Volvo On Call) to communicate and lock/unlock a vehicle:
Amazon Key enables in-car deliveries by linking your Amazon Prime account with your Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac Owner Center account and active connected car service plan. If you do not currently have an active connected service plan, just push the blue OnStar button inside your vehicle to activate service. Services vary by model, and most 2015 model year and newer retail Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles qualify for a standard connectivity plan at no additional charge.
Amazon says this process is secure thanks to multiple layers of verification in the in-car delivery process. Each time a driver requests access to a vehicle, the company verifies that an authorized driver is at the designated location with the correct package, "through an encrypted authentication process." After that's complete, Amazon unlocks the car, sends customers a notification, and relocks the car after the package is secure.
There are some limits to the location of the parked car, with Amazon stating that in-car deliveries can only be made to a vehicle in an "open, street-level, and publicly accessible area," so no parking garages. Still, customers can order "tens of millions" of items on Amazon and deliver them to a vehicle, according to the company. Amazon Key In-Car launches today in 37 cities and surrounding areas across the United States.
Apple is launching the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE in at least four more countries next month. The company plans to launch the cellular version of the smartwatch in Denmark, Sweden, India, and Taiwan on May 11, with pre-orders starting on May 4.
Network operator "3" is currently the sole cellular provider option at the point of sale on Apple's Danish and Swedish websites, while regional operators Reliance Jio and Airtel appear to have exclusive rights to sell Apple Watch LTE models and provide cellular connectivity for customers in India.
As part of its LTE deal, Jio is offering a new JioEverywhereConnect service, which allows customers to use the same Jio number on both their iPhone and Apple Watch at no extra cost. Airtel is also offering a special introductory cellular trial. Customers can pre-order from either company in-store or online from May 4.
Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE launched September 22 in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, and the UK, with more countries to follow this year.
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