Ikea's much-anticipated Trådfri smart outlets are now available for purchase in both the UK and the United States, providing a super affordable soon-to-be HomeKit-compatible smart plug solution for those who want to take advantage of HomeKit without spending a lot of money.
The Trådfri smart plug can be purchased for just $9.99 (or GBP9.99 in the UK), which is much cheaper than other HomeKit-enabled smart plug options on the market.
Unfortunately, while HomeKit support is in the works for the Trådfri smart plug, it isn't available just yet. An Ikea employee on the Trådfri team said yesterday on Reddit that HomeKit integration wasn't able to be implemented ahead of when the smart plug was released.
HomeKit support is in the works, however, and in the meantime, the smart plug can be controlled via the Trådfri app.
Using the Trådfri smart plug requires the $30 Trådfri Gateway. The Gateway is needed for all of Ikea's affordable smart home solutions, including light bulbs, dimmers, motion sensors, and more.
There's no word on when HomeKit support will be available for the Trådfri smart plug, but HomeKit was added for Trådfri smart lights connected to the gateway late last year. When HomeKit is available for the smart plug, the Trådfri system will be one of the cheapest ways to get a complete set of HomeKit products even with the expense and inconvenience of a hub.
The Trådfri smart plug was spotted on the Ikea website back in early October, but as Pocket-lint points out, it did not become available for purchase until recently.
The new tvOS 12.1.1 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV via a profile that's installed using Xcode. Subsequent betas can be downloaded over-the-air.
We're not yet sure what fixes and changes the tvOS 12.1.1 update might bring, but it's likely to focus on bugs that were not able to be addressed in the tvOS 12.1 update.
Apple provides little information on its tvOS software and tvOS updates have historically been minor in scale, so we may not know what's included in this update. Despite the lack of info Apple offers, we continue to share updates on tvOS beta releases so that developers and public beta testers are aware when new content is available to download.
Nothing new was discovered in the first three tvOS 12.1.1 betas, but we'll update this post if any new features are found in the fourth beta.
Update: Apple has also made a new beta of tvOS 12.1.1 available to public beta testers.
NeurIPS is in its 32nd year and is said to be the world's largest and most influential machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Apple is likely there to showcase its machine learning technologies and recruit new employees.
Machine learning algorithms play a role in virtually every Apple product and service, ranging from Apple Maps and Apple News to Siri and the QuickType keyboard on iPhone and iPad. Apple has machine learning jobs available in areas such as artificial intelligence, computer vision, data science, and deep learning.
Despite the lack of a big design refresh in iOS 12 this year, Apple recently updated Apple Music with new features like revamped artist pages, coming soon albums, and UI fixes to the way albums and singles are displayed. One of the features that remains unavailable to Apple Music subscribers, however, is a way to view a history of your listening statistics on the streaming music service.
Following Apple's recently launched Data and Privacy portal, which lets customers download a copy of their Apple-related data, developer Pat Murray has built a browser-based app aimed at visualizing your Apple Music activity. With the download of one file on Apple's Data and Privacy portal, Murray's app organizes your complete Apple Music listening history since you first started using the service.
The developer promises that none of your data ever leaves your computer in the process, and explained to me that once it's loaded, the web app will even work offline and still be able to run all computations and present users with their data. The full source of the app is available to read on GitHub, and it's worth pointing out that Murray's app is only asking for access to a single CSV file related to your Apple Music activity, and nothing else.
Follow the steps below to get your Apple Music-related data from Apple:
Navigate to Downloads and in the search field, search for "Apple Media Services Information" and double click on it
Find the "App_Store_iTunes_Store_iBooks_Store_Apple_Music" folder, and underneath that find "Apple Music Activity"
Find "Apple Music Play Activity.csv" and open it
With your Apple Music data open in Murray's web app, you'll be presented first with your most played song overall on Apple Music, including the number of times you've listened to it, hours spent listening to it, and hours spent skipping it. Below that, you'll be able to find your most played songs of each year that you've been subscribed to the service, the total amount of time you've spent listening to music, the day you've listened to the most music, and total library song/artist count.
Murray also presents your most played artists in descending order, detailing the number of plays and total time spent listening to each. Below that are a few interesting charts and graphs. The first shows the "Playing Time by Month," allowing you to visualize the months you listened to Apple Music the most versus ones with lower activity.
With the "Playing Time by Date" tool, Murray has created a miniature calendar that shows your total Apple Music play time for every day you've had the service, and lets you know out of those days how many you didn't listen to any music. Similarly, "Playing Time by Hour of Day" shows the most frequent times on average that you listen to Apple Music based on the time of day.
The Apple Music Analyzer also provides specific sections for each year you've used Apple Music. When you click "Open" on any of these, you'll see your top 20 most played songs for the year with the usual hours listened to and play count stats.
Below this, Murray has created a "Reasons A Song Finished Playing" section, offering the amount of times a song ended normally, a song was paused, skipped, scrubbed to the end, a session timed out, and more. Lastly, the web app provides a simple and straightforward list of all the songs you've ever listened to on Apple Music. With this tool, you can reorganize the list to prioritize listening time or play count in ascending or descending order.
For anyone who has ever been a fan of sites like Last.fm or personal stat breakdowns in general, Murray's web app is a fun and intriguing dive into your Apple Music history. Apple has not indicated if even a rudimentary feature such as listening history will ever come to Apple Music, and in this area some of its rivals do offer at least some form of personalized listening history.
Spotify, for example, creates a mini website towards the end of every year with a breakdown of each user's most listened to tracks, artists, and genre for the past 12 months. Spotify began the 2018 Wrapped campaign today, and will reveal its subscribers' listening stats for the year on December 6. Apple Music users have found creative alternatives to this feature using Smart Playlists and even the new Shortcuts app, but these still only result in a single playlist that usually detail most played songs and not much else.
Earlier this year, graphic designer Álvaro Pabesio envisioned an update for Apple Music that included listening history stats, among many other tweaks to the service. In Pabesio's vision, Apple Music would be able to track your play count, music discovery, play time, and more, and you could break it down by the past week, month, year, etc. This information would also fuel the social aspects of Apple Music, giving you an approximate taste comparison with other people on the service to see if you listen to the same genres and artists.
Apple Music concept by Álvaro Pabesio
If you're interested in reading about your own Apple Music listening history, be sure to check out Pat Murray's web tool and follow the steps above to get your music stats. Murray is the developer behind numerous other projects, including the iOS app Live Memories [Direct Link], which creates a miniature movie from Live Photos, and GitHub projects like Share Your Rings, which lets you export a GIF or video of your personal Apple Watch move rings to send to your friends.
Portrait Mode photo editor Focos received an update today that should pique the interest of iPad owners. We've highlighted the iPhone app in the past for its impressive granular aperture and bokeh adjustment tools, but the latest version builds on the existing feature set by adding more extensive support for iPads.
With this latest 1.6 update, Focos brings a new, specially designed interface to iPad that's more convenient to use on the larger screens.
In addition, Focos now includes support for taking portrait pictures on Apple's latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, while for owners of earlier iPad models, it's now possible to edit portrait pictures transferred from a dual-camera iPhone.
Focos users are able to multiple-select and transfer portrait pictures from iPhone to iPad right from within the app for further editing.
Focos also includes Apple Pencil support, making it possible to patch the depth map of a portrait photo more precisely using Apple's latest input device.
Previously the Patch tool was an in-app purchase, but in this latest version it's now free to use, providing photographers with another reason to get the iPad version to edit their portrait pictures precisely.
Focos is a free download for iPads and dual-lens iPhones from the App Store, although several pro features are behind a paywall. It costs $0.99 per month or $6.99 per year to unlock them, but there's also an $11.99 lifetime access purchase option. [Direct Link]
Apple has yet to update its official list of locations for which Maps offers Transit data, but several tipsters contacted MacRumors to confirm the information is already live.
The coverage includes train, tram, and bus routes in the main cities as well as other funicular connections around the country. Belgian connections to nearby connections abroad also feature in Apple's coverage.
Google Maps has supported transit directions for several years now, but Apple Maps has been adding transit data since 2015 and is steadily catching up with detailed routing information.
If you use the VIP feature in the iOS Mail app then you'll already know how they can help you keep track of important messages from your key contacts amid the daily torrent of incoming emails.
Keeping on top of VIP emails can be made even easier by ensuring you receive a specific sound or vibration alert whenever one comes through on your iPhone or iPad. That way you'll know if a new message justifies your immediate attention before you've even looked at your iOS device. Here's how to set them up.
Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap Mail in the list.
Choose a unique sound from the list or tap Vibration to select a special vibration. The default sound alert is Ding (Classic), so be sure to choose something different.
With that done, the next time you receive an email from one of your VIPs, you'll get the unique notification alert and immediately know it's an important message.
RAVPower recently introduced a new 45W USB-C Power Adapter that uses eGaNFET circuitry allowing for an ultrathin design more portable than traditional USB-C power adapters.
Made from white plastic, the power adapter measures in at 2.8 inches long, 2.1 inches wide, and 0.56 inches thick. Compared to the 29/30W USB-C chargers for the MacBook and the MacBook Air, it's longer, but thinner.
The thinner design allows the power adapter to fit easily in a pocket, bag, or backpack. It's not as oddly square-shaped as Apple's own chargers, which makes it more convenient to carry. RAVPower does not ship this power adapter with any cables, so you're going to need to supply your own USB-C to USB-C cable or USB-C to Lightning cable.
Since this is a 45W charger, it's ideal for the MacBook Air or the MacBook, but won't really work for the 61W 13-inch MacBook Pro or the 85W 15-inch MacBook Pro.
It is, however, also useful paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable to charge an iPhone or with a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge one of Apple's new iPad Pros more quickly.
Design wise, this is a nice looking power adapter. The aforementioned white plastic is unblemished aside from a RAVPower logo at the top, and there's a single USB-C port at one side.
RAVPower's adapter next to 29W power adapter from Apple
At the back, there's a set of prongs for plugging it into an outlet, which fold down when the power adapter is not in use. This also allows it to be pocketed or tucked away in a small pouch in a backpack.
At 45W, the RAVPower charger enables fast charging with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR when paired with one of Apple's Lightning to USB-C cables. Fast charging charges your iPhone to 50 percent in a half hour, and with the RAVPower charger and the required cable, my iPhone XS Max charged from 1 percent to 52 percent in a 30-minute time period.
When using the 45W RAVPower adapter, I was also able to charge the new USB-C 11-inch iPad Pro faster. With the standard 18W charger it ships with, the iPad Pro charged to 45 percent from 1 percent over the course of an hour.
With the 45W RAVPower adapter, the iPad Pro charged from one percent to 66 percent during the same time period. As a caveat, though, faster charging is available with 29W/30W chargers too, as I was also able to reach a 66 percent charge in one hour using a standard 29W MacBook power adapter. The same goes for iPhone fast charging - 45W offers no benefit over 29W/30W.
On my MacBook, the standard 29W charger charged it to 62 percent over the course of an hour, which is the exact same result I got with the 45W charger, so there's also no benefit using 45W over 29W/30W with a MacBook.
45W is overkill for charging a MacBook, MacBook Air, 11-inch iPad, or iPhone, but it's not enough power for a 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro under a heavy load (technically you can charge either of these machines with the 45W adapter, but it's not going to be enough when using a lot of power), which makes RAVPower's adapter kind of an odd choice for Apple devices.
I don't really have much else to say about the power adapter. RAVPower makes good products, and the new ultrathin USB-C power adapter is no exception.
It's portable, offers faster charging for the iPhone and iPad Pro, and works well with Apple's MacBook and MacBook Air. It has a foldable plug, and with its thin body, it's ideal for travel because it's not going to take up much space.
Unfortunately, RAVPower has priced its new USB-C power adapter rather high, charging $55 for it. That's more expensive than the $49 power USB-C 30W Power Adapter direct from Apple, and more expensive than many non-ultrathin ~30W USB-C power adapter solutions.
RAVpower's power adapter is nice, but it doesn't seem worth the premium over other 30 and 45W power adapters just to save a bit of space. There are many more affordable charging options on the market, and for Apple devices, 30W seems to be the sweet spot for fast charging the 11-inch iPad Pro, iPhone, and the MacBook and MacBook Air so why shell out extra money for RAVpower's solution?
RAVPower does often discount its products, though, so if you're in the market for a pocketable 45W USB-C charger, keep an eye out for a sale before picking this one up.
Now that Thanksgiving has passed, holiday shopping is in full swing around the world. While personal preference always plays a part in gift giving, sometimes it can be hard to come up with any ideas for someone in your life who loves tech and Apple products.
For this reason, we've created a buyer's guide that combines gift recommendations from our community of readers and from our own editors. The gifts in question largely relate to products created by Apple and third-party accessories that work well with Apple's devices. We've divided things up by Apple Products; Cases, Skins, and Screen Protectors; Charging; Audio; Smart Home; and Miscellaneous.
If your budget allows for it, Apple has numerous devices that will make for solid gift giving ideas this holiday season. If the person you're buying for subscribes to Apple Music, AirPods and HomePod are great companions to the streaming music service, and Apple TV 4K is one of the best streaming boxes on the market, perfect for TV binges during the upcoming holiday break.
AirPods ($160) - AirPods may be the most loved Apple product thanks to instant setup and truly wireless features.
Apple TV 4K (starting at $180) - Watch Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and more, all organized with Apple's convenient TV app.
HomePod ($350) - A great Apple Music companion that can also perform some helpful Siri functions.
11-inch iPad Pro (starting at $800) - The latest iPad Pro, with an all-screen design and Face ID.
Apple Pencil 2 ($130) - Pair a new Apple Pencil 2 with the 2018 iPad Pros for a smooth illustrating experience.
Apple Watch Series 4 (starting at $400) - A bigger display and slimmer body make this Apple's best workout companion yet.
CarPlay will be a standard feature in the all-new 2019 Mazda3, excluding the base model, according to a company spokesperson. The vehicle is making its worldwide debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week and will be rolled out to global markets over the coming months, starting with North America in early 2019.
CarPlay will also be available as a standard feature in the 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport and 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid, equipped with seven- and eight-inch touchscreens respectively. The new Rogue Sport is available now at Nissan dealerships in the United States, while the new Corolla Hybrid goes on sale in spring 2019.
Toyota and Mazda were among the last major automakers to offer factory-installed CarPlay, but each has expanded its lineup of vehicles integrated with Apple's software, which provides convenient dashboard access to apps such as Phone, Messages, Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Toyota now offers CarPlay in the 2019 Avalon, 2019 Corolla Hatchback, 2019 RAV4, 2019 Sienna, and 2019 CH-R in the United States.
Insurance company John Hancock and behavior change platform Vitality today released information on a study by RAND Europe of over 400,000 people in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa. The study concluded that those who wore an Apple Watch and participated in the Vitality Active Rewards program averaged a 34 percent sustained increase in physical activity, compared to those without an Apple Watch.
Specifically focused on U.S. users, the study found significant improvements in levels of physical activity, including an increase in the number of active days by almost 31 percent, and an increase of high-intensity activity days by 52 percent. Participants with high levels of inactivity and body mass index improved more than other groups in the study with physical activity boosted by 200 percent in the U.S. for these individuals.
Additionally, John Hancock Life Insurance customers will now be able to get the Apple Watch Series 4 for as low as $25 through regular exercise. The program mirrors previous incentives that encourage insurance customers to engage in physical activity, reaching goals that earn them points to reduce or eliminate their monthly payments for the Apple Watch over a two-year period.
Customers have to pay a $25 initial fee (plus tax) when signing up for John Hancock Vitality PLUS. Afterwards, when they exercise they will earn Vitality Points that discount the total cost of the device. If they earn 500 Vitality Points per month for two years, no additional charges will be required for the Apple Watch Series 4.
"There is natural alignment between consumer health and longevity, and our goals as a life insurer. This type of shared value is good for everybody," added Brooks Tingle, president and CEO of John Hancock Insurance. "The Apple Watch has been an extremely popular and effective component of our program to date, helping our customers not only live healthier lives through better exercise and mindfulness habits – but also improve their financial wellness through the rewards our program offers, including lower premiums and discounts from some of their favorite national retailers."
Apple Watch Series 4 is Apple's latest wearable device, featuring a new design with a slimmer body, 30 percent larger display, and electrical sensors for taking ECG readings. The ECG feature is not yet live yet, but we now know that it will be enabled on Apple Watch Series 4 in the publicly released version of watchOS 5.1.2.
Apple this afternoon released an update for iCloud for Windows, which is the iCloud software designed to run on the Windows operating system for those who have both Windows machines and own Apple devices.
Earlier this month, Microsoft blocked the iCloud for Windows software from being downloaded by Windows users after Apple discovered an incompatibility that could result in problems updating Shared Albums after users upgraded to Windows 10 version 1809.
At the time, Microsoft said that it was working with Apple to provide a version of the iCloud software compatible with the latest version of Windows 10.
The fix isn't mentioned by Apple, but the company did revise a support document that had previously suggested iCloud for Windows was only compatible with Windows 10 through the April 2018 update rather than the most recent update.
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