Apple Hires Obstetrician for Health Team to Bolster Women's Health Efforts

Apple recently added obstetrician Dr. Christine Curry to its health team, reports CNBC. With this hiring, Apple is said to be looking in to how to bolster its efforts in women's health.

Curry comes to Apple from a stint at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, California, which is located not too far from Apple's Cupertino campuses.


Apple employs dozens of doctors at its "AC Wellness clinics" designed for Apple employees. Sources that spoke to CNBC said that while Curry has an interest in women's health, she will be working on "various health issues across the health teams."

When Apple first launched its Health app and HealthKit service, there was no section for reproductive health, but it was later added. There is now a full Reproductive Health section available within the Health app that integrates with period and fertility trackers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said that he believes Apple's ultimate contribution to mankind will be its improvements to the health field.

Tag: health

Netflix Launches 'Smart Downloads' for Streamlined Access to Offline Content

Netflix today announced the launch of a new Smart Downloads feature that's designed to streamline the process of downloading content for offline viewing.

With Smart Downloads, when you finish viewing an episode of a TV show that you've downloaded, Netflix will delete it and then automatically download the next episode. Smart Downloads is designed to download content only when you're connected to Wi-Fi so it's not using your cellular data plan.


Netflix users can choose to use or disable the Smart Downloads feature, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Turning off Smart Downloads will keep watched content on your device.

On iPhone and iPad, you can tap the Downloads icon, choose "My Downloads" and select "Smart Downloads" to toggle it on or off.

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

Tag: Netflix

PSA: Group FaceTime Not Working in iOS 12.2 Beta Because Bug Isn't Fixed Yet

Apple earlier this week released a new beta of iOS 12.2 to developers and public beta testers, but that beta does not include the same Group FaceTime bug fix that was introduced in today's iOS 12.1.4 update.

Apple's Group FaceTime servers are back online, but because the issue has not been fixed in iOS 12.2, Group FaceTime is not working on beta devices.


We have been testing Group FaceTime since the servers came back online, and while we can get calls to work between multiple people on devices running iOS 12.1.4, calls do not go through on devices running iOS 12.2 beta 2.

Developers and public beta testers will need to wait until the Group FaceTime bug fix is added to the next iOS 12.2 beta before being able to use the feature.

Group FaceTime is also unavailable on devices running iOS 12.1.3 or earlier, and will remain unavailable until the devices are upgraded to iOS 12.1.4. The same goes for Macs that are not running the newly updated macOS 10.14.3 update. Group FaceTime on Mac doesn't work on Macs running the older version of macOS 10.14.3 or the new macOS 10.14.4 beta update.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

Apple Highlights Depth Control on iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR in New Video

Apple today uploaded a new video to its YouTube channel that's dedicated to showing off the Depth Control feature available on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Entitled "The Backdrop," the video features the Depth Control in action on a shot of a woman taken on a busy street with a lot going on in the background.


Depth Control is used to blur the background out, putting the focus on the woman in the picture.

Introduced on Apple's newest iPhones, Depth Control is a Portrait Mode feature. Once you capture a Portrait Mode image, you can use the Depth Control slider to change the amount of blur in the background.

Apple also recently shared a new video on the Smart HDR feature in the new iPhones. Smart HDR is an automatic feature designed to bring out more detail in highlights and lowlights in iPhone photos.


The video was created as a behind-the-scenes look at the techniques used by Jia Zhangke in his recent short film captured to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Lowest Ever: 2018 11-Inch iPad Pro 256GB for $799 ($150 Off)

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with B&H Photo. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

B&H Photo is discounting Apple's 11-inch iPad Pro in multiple configurations this week, but one particular model is seeing its lowest-ever price point during the sale. Specifically, the 256GB and Wi-Fi only 11-inch iPad Pro (Space Gray) is priced at $799.00 ($150 Discount), down from $949.00.

Limited Time Sale


This is a limited-time sale and it will last through tomorrow, February 8 at 5:15 p.m. ET (note that only the Space Gray color is being discounted at this time). Head to our full Deals Roundup for information on even more sales.

Update 2/8: B&H Photo has ended the sale early and is no longer offering this model at $799.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Apple's Group FaceTime Servers Back Online Following iOS 12.1.4 Launch

Following the launch of iOS 12.1.4 this morning, which addressed a serious bug in Group FaceTime, Apple has been able to bring its Group FaceTime servers back online.

Group FaceTime has been unavailable as a feature on all compatible devices since the FaceTime bug was publicized on Monday, January 28.


As Apple worked on a permanent fix for the bug, the company disabled the Group FaceTime feature to prevent it from being used.

The bug allowed iPhone users to exploit a Group FaceTime flaw that let one person connect to another person and her conversations (and see video, in some cases) without the other person ever having accepted the call.

Apple was first informed of the bug right around January 20 by the mother of a teenager who discovered it, but the company did not begin working on a fix until it went viral and spread across the internet.

System Status page when Group FaceTime was unavailable

Apple has since apologized and said that it is working on a way to better ensure that serious bug reports get to the proper people to prevent such a situation from happening in the future.

With the Group FaceTime servers back online, Group FaceTime is once again functional, but it is now limited to iOS devices that are running iOS 12.1.4 or later. The feature will remain disabled on devices running iOS 12.1.3 and earlier.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

Apple Fixing FaceTime Eavesdropping Bug in iOS 12.1.4 Update Coming Today

Apple is today releasing an updated version of iOS 12.1.4, which is designed to address a major FaceTime bug that was widely publicized last Monday. The new update comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 12.1.3, an update that introduced bug fixes.

The iOS 12.1.4 update will be available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings --> General --> Software Update. Apple typically releases new iOS software at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time or 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, so that's when the update should become available.

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With this update, Apple is fixing an insidious FaceTime bug that could allow someone to spy on you without your permission or knowledge. By exploiting this bug, someone could force a FaceTime call with you, giving them access to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac's audio or video even without you accepting the FaceTime call.

To do this, all someone needed to do was initiate a FaceTime call with you and then add their own phone number to the FaceTime call to convert it to a Group FaceTime call, which, apparently, forces a FaceTime connection.

From there, the person would be able to hear your audio, even though on your end, it would look like the call hadn't been accepted. If you hit the power button to make the call go away, it would give the person access to your camera.

In our testing, the bug was able to be initiated on iPhones running both iOS 12.2 and iOS 12.1.3, and it affected iPhones, Macs, and iPads running the latest version of Apple's software.

Shortly after the bug was publicized last Monday, Apple said that it was aware of the issue and was already working on a fix set to be released later in the week, which was later delayed until this week. Apple also temporarily made Group FaceTime unavailable by taking the server offline, which put a stop to the bug. Going forward, Group FaceTime will only be available on devices running iOS 12.1.4 or later.

With today's update, the FaceTime bug will no longer be able to be exploited, though it remains unclear if it has been available for use since Group FaceTime launched in October last year or if it became an issue in a later software update.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

Deals: Save on Charging Accessories With the Latest Discounts From Anker and Aukey

Reliable accessory brands Anker and Aukey have a new suite of discount codes this week, offering customers the chance to save on portable battery packs, Lightning cables, wall chargers, car chargers, USB-C accessories, and much more.

Below you can find the full list of Anker and Aukey discount codes available this week. Note that all of Aukey's codes will expire on February 13, and as always both companies are offering their discounts on Amazon.

Anker Codes


Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.





Aukey Codes




Head to our full Deals Roundup to catch up on more deals happening this week.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals

Review: First Alert's Onelink Safe & Sound Packs HomeKit, a Speaker, and Alexa Into a Smoke Detector

Back in mid-2018, First Alert launched its Onelink Safe & Sound smoke and carbon dioxide detector that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker and Wi-Fi connected Alexa assistant while also including HomeKit support to integrate with the rest of your smart home products in the Apple ecosystem.


I've been using the Safe & Sound for a few months now, and I must say, it's turned out to be more useful than I'd initially thought it would be.

Installation


The Onelink Safe & Sound is a hardwired smoke detector, so you'll have to use this in a location that's tied into your home's electrical system rather than being able to rely on battery power. But if you've already got hardwired smoke detectors, swapping them out for Safe & Sound units is simple and straightforward for anyone with a modicum of do-it-yourself experience. Just make sure you turn off power to your existing detector at the breaker, unscrew the detector from the ceiling, and disconnect the wiring.


Once you've got the bare wires hanging out of the ceiling, it's just a matter of attaching the Safe & Sound's mounting plate to the ceiling (likely by simply screwing it directly into the existing junction box in the ceiling), plugging in the proper wiring harness to the back of the Safe & Sound, connecting it to the house wiring with included wire nuts, and attaching the body of the detector to the mounting plate with a twist.


Turn the power back on at the breaker, run through the setup for Onelink, HomeKit, and Alexa in the Onelink app on your iOS device, and you're good to go. It sounds like quite a few steps, but they're all pretty easy and quick to accomplish.

Setup


The Onelink app makes it easy to set up the Safe & Sound, walking you through a series of illustrated steps to ensure your device has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth active, configure Wi-Fi for the Safe & Sound, and pair it to your device with optional notifications for various events. From there, you can scan the HomeKit code on the body of the alarm to allow the Safe & Sound to show up alongside your other HomeKit devices, while also assigning it a name and location within the house and setting a name Siri will recognize.


If you have multiple detectors, you'll need to set them up one at a time in the Onelink app, but as you add them to the same home in the app it will automatically interconnect them so that an alarm activated in one area of the home will be repeated on all other alarms to ensure everyone in the house is alerted in the event of an emergency.

Verbal Cues


When the alarm activates, it includes both loud alert sounds and voice instructions urging residents to evacuate the premise. Using names given to the various locations for the alarms, the voice instructions will say, for example, "Smoke detected in the hallway." A carbon monoxide alarm trigger will include the location of the detected danger and the peak level of carbon monoxide detected.

Onelink App


Once the detector is set up, the app continues to be used as the place to manage it. The app lets you adjust various settings on the Safe & Sound, as well as activate a testing mode to ensure everything is working properly. First Alert recommends the alarms be tested weekly, although most people likely won't do it nearly that frequently once the novelty wears off.


The app can also be used to set the color and brightness of the nightlight feature of the detector, which I've found to be a nice addition considering its location in the upstairs hallway where my children and guests may need to find their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.


Beyond the alarm and nightlight functions, the app is also where you can manage the Alexa and speaker functions of the Safe & Sound, which are the more unique aspects of this product.

Speaker Functionality


A distinguishing feature of the Safe & Sound is its ability to function as a Bluetooth speaker, allowing you to stream music to it directly from your phone, computer, or other Bluetooth-enabled sources. The sound is actually fairly decent with a surprising amount of depth considering the limitations of putting a speaker in a smoke detector. It's not going to win audio awards, but it's good enough if you just want some tunes or a podcast beamed to a centrally located speaker for background sound.


Following my original installation several months ago, I did notice a bit of choppiness over Bluetooth, particularly at the beginning of tracks as they were buffered. Performance improved the closer I got to the speaker, but given the fixed placement of the Safe & Sound, it's not always convenient to get closer to it. That choppiness has, however, improved significantly in recent months, presumably through firmware updates to the Safe & Sound. I can now reliably stream audio from my phone to the Safe & Sound from at least 20 feet away in another room with no choppiness.

Alexa


Not only does the Onelink Safe & Sound act as a Bluetooth speaker, but it also supports direct access to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. My kids in particular have found it handy to use Alexa as an encyclopedia or dictionary, as it's the only Alexa-enabled device on our second floor.

I've found the Safe & Sound to be quite sensitive to the Alexa wake word, to the point where the Safe & Sound in our upstairs hallway will activate instead of the Amazon Echo in our living room even when I'm speaking in the living room. As with other Alexa products, we do experience the occasional spurious activation of the voice assistant, which isn't helped by having a kid named Alex, but aside from that, it will occasionally wake up in response to speech that isn't obviously close to the intended wake word.


If you've got Alexa set up to handle other functions in your house such as phone calls, smart home control, and more, you can also access those functions from the Safe & Sound.

If you're listening to audio content on the Safe & Sound over a Bluetooth connection, you can still access Alexa. The Safe & Sound will reduce the Bluetooth audio to a whisper for the duration of your interaction with Alexa, returning it to normal volume when you're done.


With Alexa, you can also access a variety of music services, letting you stream songs and other content from Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartMedia, Audible, and TuneIn. Playback can be controlled via voice and a simple info/control screen in the Onelink app, or in the Amazon Alexa iOS app to some degree. You won't have full app support in the Alexa app, but if you just need to access a playlist, album, or song, it's easy enough to get it going on the Safe & Sound.

For Apple fans with Alexa devices around the house, a welcome recent addition is support for Apple Music, letting you play content from your Apple Music subscription right from your Alexa devices. Unfortunately, the feature is currently limited to Amazon's own Echo devices, so Apple Music isn't supported on the Onelink Safe & Sound at this time. Amazon has, however, said it plans to extend support to third-party Alexa devices in the future.

HomeKit and Siri


With HomeKit support, the Onelink Safe & Sound detectors become part of your larger home automation ecosystem, meaning you can organize them into Rooms for grouping various HomeKit items in the same location. The detectors will also show up in some other apps such as the Eve and iDevices Connected apps, enabling you to see all of your connected devices and check on their status.


HomeKit support also means First Alert's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work with Siri commands. Given that these detectors are generally passive devices that primarily only need to be interacted with on rare occasions, it's not a critical feature, but can be a handy one for those times. Available commands include variations of:

- How is my [location] CO detector?
- How is my [location] smoke detector?
- Do I have a smoke detector?
- Is the [location] smoke alarm tripped?
- Is the [location] CO alarm tripped?
- Change the brightness on my [location] smoke detector to [x] percent.


Even though I don't use HomeKit and Siri controls very often with the Safe & Sound, it's nice to know they're available and that I can quickly use Siri or the Home app to check on my alarms while away from home if the need arises.

AirPlay 2


From the time of the Safe & Sound's original announcement at CES 2018 and launch in mid-2018, First Alert has promised future support for AirPlay 2, which would let the Safe & Sound's speaker functionality integrate with other devices and speakers in the Apple ecosystem for synchronized multi-speaker playback, Siri music support, and more. Unfortunately, a firmware update to add AirPlay 2 support to the Safe & Sound has yet to appear, and First Alert has not committed to a timeframe for a launch, so we're still waiting for that feature to make its debut.

Reliability


When I first had the opportunity to test the Onelink Safe & Sound, I was skeptical about how it would perform. I had a pair of first-generation Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (one hardwired and one battery) back in 2016 that simply failed to perform well, and that's a major issue when these detectors can be a matter of life and death. Despite being rated for a ten-year lifetime, my original battery-powered unit began chirping a low-battery warning within a matter of weeks. A replacement unit died within a similar timeframe. It wasn't clear whether something with my network setup or some other factor was causing excessive battery drain, and First Alert later issued a firmware update intended to address the battery life issue.

When it came to my original hardwired Onelink Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm, that detector performed a bit more reliably than the battery-powered version, although it did lose its connection to the app and HomeKit and have to be reset a few times. And after a year, it stopped accepting firmware updates, with the app reporting the detector's firmware was up to date when it definitely was not. First Alert did replace the detector free of charge (as it did with the battery-powered ones that failed), and the replacement had no similar issues.

Those experiences gave me significant pause when considering the Onelink Safe & Sound, but in over six months of testing, I've had absolutely no problems with its reliability. It's maintained a connection to my HomeKit setup ever since the initial configuration, and I've had no trouble connecting to it via the Onelink app.

Besides the Safe & Sound, First Alert recently launched second-generation versions of its basic Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, so hopefully lessons learned from the original version and incorporated into the Safe & Sound have also made their way to the new standalone detectors.

The Future


Just last month at CES 2019, First Alert announced its second-generation Onelink Safe & Sound that includes built-in mesh Wi-Fi technology as part of First Alert's push into home Wi-Fi with an upcoming Onelink Surround Wi-Fi system that will be able to use second-generation Safe & Sound units as nodes for a mesh network.

Wrap-up


I thankfully haven't had an opportunity to test out First Alert's Onelink Safe & Sound alarm capabilities in a real-life scenario, but I've been pleased with the easy setup and solid reliability in connecting to the Onelink app and HomeKit.

The Alexa and speaker capabilities are a nice bonus, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it's able to produce decent sound, certainly sufficient for casual music listening and providing assistant functions like answering questions, setting timers, and more. Music service integration through Alexa is rather basic with only barebones app support, but Bluetooth gives you another option for piping music straight from another device.

If you're okay with being part of the Alexa ecosystem, it's a convenient package, but the Onelink Safe & Sound's price tag will undoubtedly give many potential customers pause. It carries an MSRP of $249.99, although it can regularly be found through some retailers such as Amazon for around $199.

Granted, the technology packed into the Safe & Sound necessitates a premium price, but this probably isn't something you're going to want to buy a six-pack or more of and scatter all around your house wherever you need a smoke detector. But if you want to put one or two in central areas of your home to supplement your more basic smoke detectors, it's an interesting product.

AirPlay 2 could really be a game-changer for the product, delivering a lot of extra value to those in Apple's ecosystem by helping deliver whole-home audio through an array of speaker products. Unfortunately, the long-promised feature has yet to appear and we don't have an estimate of when it might show up. So at least for now, I'd recommend making any buying decisions under the assumption that AirPlay 2 may never arrive, and if it does, it'll be a nice bonus.

Note: First Alert provided MacRumors with a Onelink Safe & Sound for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Apple Pay Valentine's Day Promo Offers $15 Off at 1-800-Flowers

In the latest Apple Pay promotion, customers can get $15 off at 1-800-Flowers when they use Apple Pay to shop in the retailer's "Gift Collection." This can be done in the 1-800-Flowers app or on 1800Flowers.com now through Friday, February 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.


Apple's promo is themed around Valentine's Day (taking place one week from today on February 14), and notes that "sending love is easier with Apple Pay." The company also points towards its own Apple Store app, Etsy, and Barneys New York as places to get shopping ideas for your significant other this week.

Apple typically marks major holidays with Apple Pay promos, including a series of promotions that kicked off last December aimed at holiday shoppers. Promo partners typically include Postmates, Ray-Ban, Warby Parker, Nike, StubHub, Instacart, and more.

Newton Mail for iOS and Mac is Back for $50/Year

Back in September, iOS and macOS email app Newton were shut down, much to the disappointment of Newton Mail enthusiasts. At the time, Newton parent company CloudMagic said that though the company tried various business models, it wasn't able to figure out how to maintain profitability and growth over the long term.

A couple of months later, Essential, a smartphone company owned by Android co-creator Andy Rubin, purchased CloudMagic and the Newton app. At the time, it wasn't known what Essential planned to do with the Newton app.

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The company's plan became clear this week when a new version of the Newton email app showed up in the App Store and the Mac App Store, bringing it back to life. The Newton apps were never actually pulled, but they hadn't been updated for months and were becoming unusable due to bugs and crashes.

Since December, CloudMagic and Essential have been working to bring Newton Mail back to life, and there are interface improvements and new features like deleting a single email in a thread, resizing the Mac compose window, adding emails to OmniFocus, and other enhancements to the compose window on Mac.

Newton Mail has also had its pricing restructured. At the time it was shut down, CloudMagic was charging $100 per year upfront for Newton, which may be a major reason why it ultimately was an unsustainable business model. It's difficult to get people to pay $100 for an email app.

Newton Mail is now priced at $49.99 per year, which is still expensive, but more reasonable than $100. There's also a 14 day free trial so you can give it a go before downloading.

The app has a simple, clean interface and features like read receipts, send later, inbox filtering for newsletters and other junk mail, snooze, app integration, undo send, recap for notifying you about emails waiting for a reply, one-click unsubscribe, and push notifications, all features that many users like.

Of course, with any third-party email app, it's always worth investigating privacy policies to see what companies are doing with your data. Newton says it may share aggregated or de-identified information with third parties and works with third-party social platforms like Facebook to serve targeted ads unless you opt out, which is something to be aware of.

MacRumors videographer Dan is a big fan of Newton Mail and it's his go-to email app, so make sure to watch the video above to see Newton Mail in action. And if you're looking for other email app alternatives, we recently rounded up some of the best iOS email apps in the App Store.

Deals: Save on Apple's 9.7-Inch iPad, 12-Inch MacBook, HomePod, Beats, iTunes Gift Cards, and More

There are quite a few deals on Apple devices going on this week, including notable discounts on the company's 2018 9.7-inch iPad, most recent 12-inch MacBook, HomePod, and more.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

To start off, B&H Photo has the HomePod for just $279.00, down from an original price of $349.99. This is one of the lowest prices we've seen on the HomePod so far in 2019, and the price is just beating out a similar sale at Best Buy, where the smart speaker has been discounted to $279.99. B&H Photo says its HomePod sale will last through February 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

On Amazon, you can save on the 2018 9.7-inch iPad, which has been discounted to $354.99, down from $429.00. This sale is for the 128GB and Wi-Fi only version of the tablet, available in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold.


The 2018 iPad has a 9.7-inch Retina display, an A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, Touch ID, and support for the first-generation Apple Pencil. Amazon is also marking down the 32GB models to $279.99, from $329.00.

Both Amazon and B&H Photo continue to discount the 12-inch MacBook, which was last updated in mid 2017. In these sales, you can get the 256GB MacBook for $999.00, down from $1,299.00 (Gold: B&H / Amazon) (Rose Gold: B&H). The 512GB MacBook is also available for $1,299.00, down from $1,599.00 (Gold: B&H / Amazon) (Rose Gold: B&H).


MacRumors has also partnered with leather tech accessory company Mujjo this month, offering our readers the chance to save 15 percent on their orders through Valentine's Day. To gain access to the sale, add any item to your cart on Mujjo.com, head to the checkout screen, and enter the coupon code #lovemujjo to take 15 percent off.


Mujjo offers high-quality leather accessories, including cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, 8, 8 Plus, and many more. The company also sells sleeves for the MacBook and iPad. Head to Mujjo.com to browse everything on the retailer's site and place your order before the exclusive code expires on February 14.


Lastly, we have a few quick-mention deals: the iTunes gift card sale from earlier this week is still going on, so if you haven't had a chance to get the $100 iTunes gift card for $85 yet, be sure to head to PayPal on eBay before it expires. Today only, Best Buy has the Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones (Matte Gold) for $159.99, down from between $200-$240. Twelve South's PowerPic Wireless Charger (Black) is on sale again as well, discounted to $52.21 on Amazon, from an original price of $89.99.

Our full Deals Roundup has information on even more sales happening this week.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals