When Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar laptops, Microsoft was on stage to announce that Office for Mac is adding support for that multi-talented OLED strip.
While it isn’t really here yet, we’re inching a bit closer, as participants in the Office Insider program are now able to test the new Touch Bar controls.
In a nutshell, depending on the document you’re working on, Office will intelligently put the most common commands on the Touch Bar. So you’ve formatting and table editing controls in Word; style controls and recommended charts in Excel; and shape tools in PowerPoint – just to name a few.
Just like the iPhone, the Apple Watch is estimated to have taken the lion’s share of revenue in the smartwatch market last quarter.
While Strategy Analytics estimated that 5.2 million units were shipped last quarter, research firm Canalys put the figure higher at around 6 million units. This helped Apple generate over US$2.6 billion in revenue, which constituted nearly 80-percent of the total smartwatch revenue and a year-on-year growth of 12-percent.
Canalys attributed the Apple Watch’s best quarter performance to the Series 1’s lower entry price point and an increased emphasis on fitness features. Overall, Apple is estimated to have shipped 11.9 million Apple Watches for 2016 with a market share of 50-percent. The imminent launch of Android Wear 2.0 and popularity of Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatches may erode Apple’s lead in the smartwatch market this year.
Apple has hired an industry veteran to head its Apple TV business.
According to Bloomberg, Timothy Twerdahl, former Amazon Fire TV, joined Apple earlier this month as a vice president for product marketing. Twerdahl has a wealth of experience in internet-connected TV devices; he was the General Manager and Director of Amazon’s Fire TV business since 2013. Prior to his career at Amazon, he also worked as an executive at Netflix and later as a Vice President at Roku.
The hiring of Twerdahl allows Pete Distad, who previously held the position, to focus on Apple’s content deal efforts. These moves suggest that Apple is renewing its focus on the Apple TV business, which contributed more than 5-percent of sales in 2016.
Apple is known to use different components with comparable performance for its devices as a means to diversify its supply chain. Last year, Chipworks discovered that there were two different sized A9 chipsets in the iPhone 6s with the TSMC-made chipset performing better. With the iPhone 7, Apple is once again revealed to be using two different suppliers for the modems.
Phone testing firm Cellular Insights revealed that there are two different modems found in the iPhone 7 models; one uses the Qualcomm modem while the other is using the Intel modem. The firm ran a series of tests to determine which modem would deliver better performance.
Across the board, the iPhone 7 with the Qualcomm modem had stronger connections to the mobile network and outperformed its Intel counterpart by 30 percent. If placed under real world usage conditions, this could mean faster download speeds and stronger connections in more places.
So how do you know if your iPhone 7 model has the Qualcomm or Intel modem? There are two ways to find out. Only iPhone 7 models sold in the U.S, China and Japan come with the Qualcomm modems. iPhone 7 units with model numbers A1778 and A1784 have the Intel modems. You can check for these model numbers on the back of your iPhone 7.
At the time of publication, Apple, Intel and Qualcomm declined to comment on the findings.
It looks like Google is willing to go to great lengths to keep their search engine at the top of the list in the mobile platform. So much so that they have agreed to share a percentage of their revenue with Apple to keep their search bar up, front, and center.
This is according Annette Hurst, Oracle’s attorney during a hearing in federal court. She specified that at one point in time, the revenue share was 34 percent, and in 2014, Google paid Apple US$1 billion.
Oracle Corp.’s filed a copyright lawsuit against the search engine giant in 2010 over claims that Google used its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. The damages Oracle seeks may exceed US$1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions.
According to Bloomberg, the transcript containing this information has vanished without a trace from electronic court records. This is no surprise as Google has requested for the transcript to be blocked saying the disclosure could severely affect its ability to negotiate similar agreements with other companies. Although the request was denied by the magistrate judge.
“The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple. Both Apple and Google have always treated this information as extremely confidential,” said Google in their filing.
Apple has just released a new app called Music Memos, that was clearly designed with musicians in mind.
At its heart, Music Memo is a recording app and draws a lot of inspiration from Apple’s own Voice Memos app. The idea is to take Voice Memos and improve it for musicians by adding features for songwriting and developing ideas for songs and music.
To begin, once you launch Music Memo, the app is intelligent enough to begin automatically recording once it hears that you are playing or singing.
Once you are done, the file is saved in an uncompressed file format, so you don’t lose any audio fidelity. Users can then name, tag and rate it to organize their recordings.
Beyond that, the app can also analyze your recording and can split your recording to measures, and suggest what chords you were playing. It can even fill in with drums and a bass line to help you get your song going.
That said, you can’t add tracks or dub in other musical instruments, these functions will require the more capable GarageBand app.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams said, “Sometimes ideas come faster than I can get them into my notebook so I’ve used Voice Memos and Notes to quickly capture songs before they’re lost. Music Memos is like if those two apps came together to form some kind of superpower for songs. It quite literally blew my mind how Music Memos could transform a single guitar idea into a whole composition with a virtual drummer loose enough that it felt like you were having your mind read by some A.I. musician and a choice of stand-up or electric bass accompaniments.”
Unfortunately, I can’t play any instrument to save my life, but hey, if it’s good enough for Ryan Adams, I guess it should be good enough for most musicians too.
Music Memos is available for download now from the App Store.
Yes, that’s not an iOS device, but the offline navigation feature works in a similar fashion on iOS devices.
If you happen to be spending this Christmas season travelling overseas without a mobile data plan, you might want to consider updating the Google Maps app on your iOS device to the latest version before you embark on your escapade, as it will allow you to download offline maps for future use.
Once downloaded, you’ll be able to search for local destinations (along with all their contact details and operating hours) and get turn-by-turn navigation without requiring an active Internet connection. And that means you won’t be needing to constantly depend on free Wi-Fi hotspots to get your bearings straight.
The good thing about these offline maps is that you won’t have to worry about them occupying too much of your iOS device’s internal storage over time, as they will automatically be deleted a month after you’ve downloaded them.
Google has already implemented offline navigation into the Android version of Google Maps last month, so there’s really no reason for you to end up losing your way in a foreign country anymore.
3D Touch, which made its debut on the Apple Watch as Force Touch, is coming on the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, set to launch this Friday, September 25.
Previous iPhones recognized multi-touch gestures like tap, swipe and pinch. 3D Touch recognizes pressure– pressing down on the screen triggers a new command, called Peek, pressing down even harder triggers the second new command, called Pop. Watch how 3D Touch works in action:
According to the Businessweek feature, 3D Touch took Apple “multi, multi, multi years” to develop. While Apple understandably doesn’t delve too deeply into the details, Craig Federighi, the company’s Senior VP of software engineering, gives a clue on how hard it was to make 3D Touch work:
“It starts with the idea that, on a device this thin, you want to detect force. I mean, you think you want to detect force, but really what you’re trying to do is sense intent. You’re trying to read minds. And yet you have a user who might be using his thumb, his finger, might be emotional at the moment, might be walking, might be laying on the couch. These things don’t affect intent, but they do affect what a sensor [inside the phone] sees. So there are a huge number of technical hurdles. We have to do sensor fusion with accelerometers to cancel out gravity—but when you turn [the device] a different way, we have to subtract out gravity. … Your thumb can read differently to the touch sensor than your finger would. That difference is important to understanding how to interpret the force. And so we’re fusing both what the force sensor is giving us with what the touch sensor is giving us about the nature of your interaction. So down at even just the lowest level of hardware and algorithms—I mean, this is just one basic thing. And if you don’t get it right, none of it works.”
The entire article is a rare look into the process behind building a new tentpole feature for Apple’s flagship product, and one underlying theme is how much Apple is willing to bet on its team of designers. Apple’s design projects have no start and finish dates, and designers can be exploring new directions for months that eventually turn out to be dead ends.
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, puts it in the article as, “You know, it’s so very hard to measure [what designers do]. We can be working on something for a long time and still not know quite how it’s going to work out.”
But arguably, betting the company on its designers has paid off in billions for Apple. Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and previous CEO, believed in it so much that Jonathan Ive reported directly to him and him alone; and Ive continues to do the same with Tim Cook.
A thriving app ecosystem is vital to the success of a mobile device and it seems that the Apple Watch has what it takes to succeed.
Aside from the plans to launch the Apple Watch in more countries by late June, Apple CEO Tim Cook also revealed that there are over 3,500 apps available for the wearable device. The interest and response from developers have been overwhelming, which helped Apple exceed its own expectations.
TechCrunch – “We’re far ahead from where we expected to be from an application point of view,” Cook said in today’s briefing. “We had an internal goal of beating that 1,000 [that the iPad had] and we exceeded that.”
It is noteworthy to mention that developers were only allowed to start submitting their apps for approval from March 31st and within a month, there are already more than 3,500 apps designed specifically for the Apple Watch. To put that into context, the first generation iPhone and iPad launched with 500 and 1,000 apps respectively. Here are the app numbers at launch for some of its rivals:
Samsung Galaxy Gear – at least 70 apps
Pebble – more than 1,000 with the launch of the Pebble App Store
Sony Smart Watch 2 – more than 300 apps
The Apple Watch App Store currently has a variety of categories such as communication, family, work, travel, creativity and health & fitness. If you are one of the fortunate ones to have received your Apple Watch, do check out the App Store and try the apps out.
Ahead of the Apple Watch’s launch on April 24th, Apple has released a series of video guides showing how the Watch works. You can catch them on Apple’s website or on Apple’s YouTube channel (or just watch them all here).
Right now, you can watch an overview video, see how to use Messages on the Watch, change the Watch face, as well as how the new Digital Touch function works. These are the first of 11 videos, with seven more videos listed as ‘coming soon’.
The Apple Watch will launch first in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US, with pre-orders opening on April 10th.
From April 10th, Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment in Apple’s retail stores in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US. On April 14th, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers in China and Japan, one of which looks like this store in Isetan, Japan.
The Apple Watch will be on sale, starting from US$349 for the Apple Watch Sport to a whopping US$10,000 and above for the Apple Watch Edition.
No word yet on when the Watch will arrive in Malaysia, the only clue is that the Apple Malaysia site has the words “Available in 2015” on it. Not sure if the Watch is for you?