Tuesday February 9, 2016 9:28 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
A new video by YouTube user Junya Sakamoto posted over the weekend shows off a homemade robot, created by Sakamoto, that masters the trickiest stages of popular mobile game Puzzles and Dragons (via Kotaku). The four minute video uploaded to Sakamoto's self-titled YouTube channel details the initial creation and design of the robot to the final, tangible realization of the iPhone game-beating device.
Puzzles and Dragons requires users to match colored orbs to defeat monsters, with patterns that get increasingly tricky the further the game progresses. Connected to a laptop, the robot analyzes and predicts the best moves possible in the current level, resulting in high-scoring combos that would be extremely difficult for the game's players to naturally achieve.
In an earlier video (the first of only two on Sakamoto's channel), the robot's creator uses an attached microphone to dictate commands to the device and navigate the iPhone without touching it. Using only voice, the robot unlocks the iPhone, transcribes a note, and even plays a piano app.
Friday February 5, 2016 7:49 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Some iPhone 6 users who had their smartphones repaired by third-party technicians are reporting that a mysterious "error 53" message is permanently bricking their iPhones (via The Guardian). Users who have had Touch ID on their iPhone 6 fixed by a non-Apple technician, and agreed to update the iPhone to the most recent version of iOS, are facing an issue which essentially prevents all access to the iPhone.
Freelance photographer Antonio Olmos is one such affected iPhone 6 user who had his iPhone repaired in Macedonia while working. He said "it worked perfectly" after the repair shop finished fixing the broken screen and home button, but once he updated to iOS 9 he got an "error 53" message and could no longer access any of his personal content on the iPhone. An Apple Store in London was shown the issue, and staff there admitted there was nothing they could do for him besides sell him a new iPhone.
“The whole thing is extraordinary. How can a company deliberately make their own products useless with an upgrade and not warn their own customers about it? Outside of the big industrialized nations, Apple stores are few and far between, and damaged phones can only be brought back to life by small third-party repairers," Olmos said. "I am not even sure these third-party outfits even know this is a potential problem."
Speaking with The Guardian, iFixit's Kyle Wiens said that the issue, while still unclear, appears to be Apple ensuring only genuine components are being used for repairs. Once a third party changes the home button or internal cable, the iPhone checks to be sure that all original components are running the phone, and if there are any discrepancies users face the "error 53" message and can't access their data. Since mentions of "error 53" span a fewversions of iOS, it's unclear specifically which software update began the phone-locking error message.
An Apple spokeswoman commented on the issue, referring to protective security features intended to prevent "malicious" third-party components from potentially compromising a user's iPhone as the main reason for the "error 53" message.
“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.”
She adds: “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorized repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”
Other than that, Apple hasn't commented on the issue or outlined exactly what the company can do for those affected by the iPhone bricking error message. Mentions of "error 53" have been around since at least last April, where some users have encountered the issue in software updates as early as iOS 8.3.
Monday February 1, 2016 4:18 am PST by Tim Hardwick
Apple yesterday relaunched its "Shot on iPhone" advertising campaign, showcasing a selection of impressive still photos taken using its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus handsets.
According to TIME, the new ad campaign comprises 53 images from 41 amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Each photo shot on Apple's flagship phones is set to appear on billboards across 85 cities in 26 countries.
Shot on the iPhone 6s Plus and processed with VSCOcam (Photo: Erin Brooks)
The move follows last year's "Shot on iPhone 6" photography campaign, which featured a selection of filtered and unfiltered still images sourced from social media feeds. That campaign began with a gallery of photos on Apple's homepage, before rolling out across print media, transit station posters and billboards worldwide.
While the 2015 ads featured a range of photographic subjects from landscapes to extreme close-ups, this year Apple has chosen to focus on portraits.
One of the photographers featured in the latest campaign is Erin Brooks, whose portrait of her three-year-old daughter (above) shot on an iPhone 6s Plus was posted on Instagram and picked by Apple. Brooks told TIME:
I honestly couldn’t believe that they contacted me. Photography for me, has been a huge creative outlet. It has taught me so many things about telling a story with an image, capturing someone’s personality, and it helped me move out of my postpartum depression… Taking photos of my daughters, and their blossoming connection of sisterhood, helped me get well. I started to notice the pure beauty of my life, and connect with it, and with them, on an even deeper level.
Thursday January 28, 2016 8:41 pm PST by Husain Sumra
Apple is reportedly developing a wirelessly-charged iPhone for as soon as 2017, according to Bloomberg. The company is working with its partners in both the U.S. and Asia to create the technology.
Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The iPhone maker is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, they said.
Current wirelessly-charged devices require users to place their phones or other devices on charging mats. In September 2012, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said that the company wasn't sure of how convenient wireless charging is as most wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into a wall.
In early January, it was reported that Apple was working on wireless charging for the iPhone 7. However, that report warned that the feature could be pulled from the iPhone 7 for a future iteration of the device as Apple is working on the technology currently.
Apple has held an interest in wireless charging since the first iPhone, gaining patents for wireless charging stations and wireless charging through a near field magnetic resonance, which wirelessly charges a device within a certain region. The Cupertino company has also shown an interest in WiTricity's wireless charging technology, which uses "hidden charging" technology that allows magnetic fields to wrap around barriers. This allows users to place their charging pads wherever they want.
Last November it was reported that the iPhone 7 would see the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack for an all-in-one Lightning connector that allows users to both power their device and plug in headphones. While the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack would mean that Apple would be able to make the iPhone thinner, it would not allow users to listen to headphones and charge their phone at the same time. A proprietary wireless charging solution from Apple in future iPhones with all-in-one Lightning connectors would likely allow for that.
Friday January 22, 2016 9:08 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Japan Display today announced that it will begin the mass production of OLED panels in 2018 (via Reuters), confirming a rumor from December that the company would do so in attempts to be the supplier of OLED panels in a future iPhone model. This would put Japan Display -- a joint venture between Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi -- in direct competition with LG Display and Samsung in the production of the rumored OLED-supported iPhone.
"We will take advantage of our advanced thin-film transistor technology in developing OLED screens," Akio Takimoto, chief of Japan Display's research center, told reporters on Friday.
Japan Display, in addition to rival Sharp, already supplies the manufacturing of LCD panels for Apple's iPhone. In 2015, estimates of an iPhone supporting OLED panels -- which would be the first non-LCD model since the original iPhone -- put it off for at least the next three years, aligning with Japan Display's plans for the mass production of OLED panels.
Recent OLED rumors suggested that Apple's new Taiwanese lab could potentially focus on adopting OLED and micro-LED technology for future iPhone models. Towards the end of last year, a report also claimed that Apple is "close" to signing a final agreement with Samsung and LG Display in regards to OLED manufacturing for the so-called "iPhone 8." According to that report, both manufacturers are planning to spend $12.8 billion combined to prepare for the production of OLED in 2018's iPhone.
Friday January 22, 2016 6:46 am PST by Tim Hardwick
Facebook has begun rolling out support for further 3D Touch actions on compatible iPhones in the latest update to its primary iOS app.
The newest iteration in the social media company's series of weekly app updates allows iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus owners to use "peek" and "pop" gestures directly from within a Facebook timeline. A light press or "peek" on a profile, link, page, group or photo triggers a preview of the content in question, while a harder press or "pop" opens the link, photo, profile or group.
A new "Quick Action" also comes to the Facebook app icon, with a homescreen shortcut that takes users directly to their account’s profile page.
Original Quick Actions (left); a new Action takes users to their Facebook profile (right).
The introduction of new 3D Touch features follows support for several Quick Actions that Facebook brought to its app back in October. However, unlike the first 3D Touch-equipped update, the company is limiting access to the latest features to "a small group of people," before rolling them out globally "over the coming months," reports The Verge.
Despite the potential for frustrating some of its users, Facebook's gradual rollout strategy is in line with last month's muted announcement of staggered support for Live Photos, which allows Facebook users to share motion-enabled pictures taken on iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices with followers running iOS 9.
Increased support for 3D Touch comes on the heels of similar features introduced in other Facebook-owned apps, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, while other third-party developers continue to implement and deploy their own support for the pressure-sensitive technology following Apple's own encouragement to do so.
Wednesday January 20, 2016 9:56 am PST by Juli Clover
The launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus brought a new range of gestures to the iPhone, introducing 3D Touch. 3D Touch adds a pressure dimension to the traditional multi-touch controls on iOS devices to enable Peek and Pop, Quick Actions, pressure-sensitive drawing, and more.
Because 3D Touch is an entirely new feature, it can be difficult to adjust to all of the available gestures and to find the hidden things that can be done with it. In the video below, we've rounded up some of the neatest 3D Touch abilities including a Peek gesture to view all Safari tabs, useful third-party Quick Actions, and cursor control.
3D Touch is limited to the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus at the current time, but there have been rumors suggesting Apple is planning to expand it to additional devices in the future. Scaling it up to work with a larger screen has reportedly introduced some problems that Apple will need to work through before introducing 3D Touch on future iPads, but we can expect to see it in the upcoming iPhone 7.
In a MacRumors Twitter poll conducted in December, 40 percent of 8,100 entrants said they don't use 3D Touch, while another 25 percent said they use the feature only occasionally. As a new feature, it takes some time for longtime iPhone owners to get used to incorporating new gestures into their daily usage routines.
Saturday January 16, 2016 9:11 am PST by Eric Slivka
Apple this week posted a new support document addressing an issue some iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users have been experiencing with the battery percentage displayed in the status bar on their displays not updating as the battery drains.
The company notes it is investigating the issue and working on a solution, although it appears to be related to time zone or clock settings. In the meantime, users experiencing the problem are advised to restart their devices and make sure the time is being automatically set in Settings.
If you change the time on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus manually or change time zones when traveling, you might notice that the battery percentage doesn't update. Learn what to do.
A fairly lengthy discussion thread in Apple's discussion forums reveals a number of users running into the problem, dating back nearly to the new models' launch last September. Many of the users experiencing the issue had been manually adjusting their phones' clock settings in order to bypass timer-based barriers in certain games, and Apple's suggestion about ensuring the time is being set automatically indicates the battery issue is indeed likely related to clock settings.
Tuesday January 5, 2016 12:03 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple will cut production on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus by approximately 30 percent in the first calendar quarter of 2016, reports Nikkei. Citing lackluster sales, Nikkei says iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus inventory has "piled up" at retailers across the world, leading Apple to scale back production from January through March to get rid of excess stock.
Apple is said to have originally told its suppliers to continue Q1 2016 production of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus at the same rate as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus a year prior, but waning sales led the company to change its plans.
It is not unusual for Apple to scale down device production as an iPhone matures, but the rumored 30 percent cut from January to March is being positioned as an abnormally large production drop.
But inventories of the two models launched last September have piled up at retailers in markets ranging from China and Japan to Europe and the U.S. amid lackluster sales. Customers saw little improvement in performance over the previous generation, while dollar appreciation led to sharp price hikes in emerging markets.
Downscaled production is only expected to last through March as dealers sell through their current stock, with orders returning to normal during the April-June quarter after Apple's inventory adjustment has been completed.
Apple's production cut will impact parts suppliers in Japan and South Korea, including Japan Display, Sharp, LG Display, Sony, TDK, Alps Electric, and Kyocera. Following Nikkei's report, Apple stock has fallen two percent and hit a low of $102.41 earlier today.
Monday January 4, 2016 8:10 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Wireless charging accessory manufacturer ZENS today announced two new products focused on wirelessly re-charging the iPhone 6s and Apple Watch. The ZENS Apple iPhone 6/6S Battery Wireless Charging Case includes a 1650 mAh battery pack that the company states will provide an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s with at least one full recharge throughout the day. Users can take advantage of the case's wireless charging with any Qi compatible inductive charging base, which ZENS also sells on its website.
For those who want to stick with wired charging, the new case also supports the traditional method via Micro USB port at the accessory's bottom side. ZENS also promises that the Battery Case has precision cutouts for all of an iPhone's major inputs including volume rockers, lock button, and home button.
The accessory company also announced a charging dock for the Apple Watch, called the ZENS Apple Watch Charging Bank. The small, brick shaped charger provides the Apple Watch up to four full recharges on one of its full battery 1300 mAh battery charges. The Charging Bank doesn't require Apple's first party charging puck and instead uses ZENS' inductive charging technology with an included Micro USB plug to keep the Apple Watch topped off.
While both products were announced at CES this week, they won't be available for purchase until March. ZENS did confirm that the iPhone 6/6s Battery Case will retail for €69.99 (~$100.00) and the Apple Watch Charging Bank will cost €49.99 (~$70.00).
Wednesday December 30, 2015 7:42 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Apple has announced plans for in-store art workshops to give customers "at all skill levels" some hands-on time with image capturing and art-centric apps (via CNET). The classes aim to not only instruct attendees on photography techniques like long exposures and light trails, but will equip them with various iPhone and iPad accessories in attempting to introduce new and creative ways to take photos and create artwork on an Apple device.
A painting part of Apple's "Start Something New" campaign
"We'll help you try out various accessories and techniques -- like long exposure for light trails, using Time-lapse to show progression, or getting up close with nature using a macro lens," Apple said in a statement. "Then, we'll explore artistic ways to adjust and edit your photos, so you can create a work of art, find your style, or just improve your skills."
In addition to an iPhone-focused photography session, Apple Stores will offer an iPad workshop centered around drawing and painting on the tablet. The company didn't give any detail as to whether the workshops will require specific iPhone and iPad models, but there's a good chance that the improved 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6s and Apple Pencil support on the iPad Pro will be a big focus.
The workshops are the newest addition to Apple's "Start Something New" campaign, which it has introduced coinciding with the New Year holiday over the pastfew years. The campaign features a collection of artwork -- including paintings, photos, drawings, and even short films -- that were all created using Apple products and accessories. Apple has yet to set a start date for the in-store workshops, but promised that each Apple Store around the world would be joining in on offering the creative sessions.
Tuesday December 29, 2015 7:13 pm PST by Husain Sumra
Apple is close to signing a final agreement with LG Display and Samsung to provide OLED screens for next-generation iPhones, according to a new report from ET News [Google Translate] (via Reuters). The OLED panels are rumored to be included with iPhones starting in 2018.
The two Korean companies plan to spend around $12.8 billion (15 trillion won) combined to build up OLED production capacity over the next two to three years. ET News also adds that Apple is likely to provide some funding to both LG and Samsung to help with their investments. Additionally, LG plans on converting existing LCD production lines into OLED production lines to reduce costs. Samsung, on the other hand, will produce 30 percent fewer orders than LG.
Last month, Nikkeireported that Apple plans to switch iPhones over to OLED displays starting in 2018, with both LG and Samsung sharing a large portion of OLED panel production. LG was already planning capacity upgrades for high-volume OLED screen production that would be required for iPhone demand. Earlier this month, it was reported that Japan Display was also planning mass production of OLED displays for iPhones starting in 2018.
OLED displays can provide sharper images and brighter colors compared to LCD displays. However, OLED displays tend to have shorter lifespans and come with higher manufacturing costs. Apple has been reportedly "consulting with display makers" on how to minimize potential drawbacks.
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