Today sees the release of iOS 11.4 and with it Apple is adding AirPlay 2. This brings some important changes to HomePod, including the stereo pairing option that was missing at launch.
AirPlay 2 also adds multi-room audio to HomePod, bringing Apple's smartspeaker in line with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Other new features of iOS 11.4 include the ability to access iMessages via iCloud on any Apple device.
Apple has announced that it is to expand the scope of its twice-yearly transparency report. Starting with one of its next report -- the one which will cover the period July 1 to December 31, 2018 -- the company will share details of government app takedown requests.
The announcement was tucked away in the latest transparency report, in which Apple shares details of "Government and Private Party Requests for Customer Information". The company says that it takes the protection of user data very seriously, and this addition to the report sees Apple demonstrating this by providing even more information.
If you've ever been curious about just what data Apple has gathered and stored about you over the years, now you can find out -- if you're in Europe, at least.
The iPhone-maker has just launched a new Data and Privacy portal in order to comply with GDPR which comes into force across the EU from Friday. The website lets you download pretty much every piece of data that Apple has collected about you.
It's only a couple of week until Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, and it's looking as though we could be getting a new voice for Siri -- and possibly a new HomePod.
This is not just idle speculation or the usual industry rumor mill working overtime -- this time around it is Siri itself providing the clues. Ask Siri what to expect from WWDC next month, and the digital assistant starts to drop hints.
Apple has bowed to pressure from China and started to remove apps from the App Store that use the CallKit framework.
There are strict cybersecurity laws in place in China which has already see VPN tools banned and led to a brief suspension of the popular WeChat app. While no specific reason has been given for the crackdown on the CallKit framework, it is suspected to be related to VoIP functionality.
Earlier today, I needed to get Skype onto my iPhone X to receive an overseas call. So I hauled over to the App Store, like any sensible iOS user would do. I was shocked—absolutely floored—to see an advert for Google Duo taking up about half the screen, and appearing above Skype.
You got to ask how many people end up downloading the upper one instead. I don't often go to the App Store and wonder: How long has been this kind of aggressive placement?
Apple appears to be more vigorously enforcing App Store policies relating to the sharing of location data. Over the last few days the company has been removing apps that share location details with third parties without consent.
Developers of apps found to be exploiting user privacy in this way have received emails from Apple. These indicate that apps have undergone "re-evaluation" and found to be in violation of sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines.
Apple has issued new guidelines for iOS apps submitted to the App Store, with the biggest change being that developers must use the iOS 11 SDK.
Devs are advised that they should "update your version of Xcode to the latest release of Xcode 9 available on the Mac App Store" as this includes the relevant SDK. Apple also says that apps should be "ready to take advantage of the Super Retina display by respecting safe areas, supporting adaptive layouts, and more".
The MacBook Pro is proving to be quite disastrous for many folks, with a too-delicate keyboard being a common complaint. It seems that dust can get under the keys, causing them to malfunction -- a frustrating experience to say the least. Yours truly has been dealing with a defective display -- a costly and annoying failure.
One of the biggest complaints about the MacBook Pro, however, is a lack of ports. Apple went all-in on ThunderBolt 3/USB-C, leaving no traditional USB Type-A ports, video out, or card reader. Luckily, this is easily remedied by purchasing dongles and docks. Today, Satechi launches a new USB-C "Pro" Hub for the newest MacBook Pro laptops -- both 13 and 15-inch. Not only does it add two USB Type-A ports, but Ethernet, HDMI, and a micro SD card reader too. And yes, it offers pass-through power delivery.
Windows 10 is a great operating system, but its app store? Not so much. Don't get me wrong, the Microsoft Store is a serviceable solution, but it is deficient in many ways. Most notably, there is a lack of quality apps, as many developers haven't truly embraced the store. The apps that are there, however, are often fakes/imitations and low quality. If Microsoft wants to legitimize its app store, it needs to score some major software.
I was in attendance at Build 2017 when Microsoft announced an impressive score -- iTunes was coming to the store. Believe it or not, that announcement elicited a gasp from the Build crowd. True, Apple's media program is in dire need of a UI refresh, and it is quite bloated, but many people still use it daily -- especially for Apple Music. Unfortunately, the promised iTunes never came to the Microsoft Store -- until today. Yes, damn near a year after the announcement, iTunes is finally in the store. Better late than never, I suppose.
Following Apple's lead from 2016, Microsoft, Facebook and Google replace gun emoji with water pistol
It is now two years since Apple decided that an image of a gun had no place as an emoji. The company replaced the handgun icon with an image of a water pistol, leading to a debate about whether it was the right thing to do.
With further serious shootings and gun crimes bringing firearms into the spotlight time and time again, more technology companies decided to follow suit. The latest names to follow Apple's lead are Microsoft, Facebook and Google, all of whom plan to kill the gun emoji and replace it with a water pistol.
Apple's iPad tablets are beautifully designed, but let's be honest -- they are not durable. If you drop it, there is a very good chance the screen could shatter. Even if the display is unhurt, it could become dented or scratched, which can really destroy the resale value. Money aside, it can be depressing to use a device with cosmetic blemishes. Look, you spent good money on your iPad, right? Well, you should protect it.
The best way to do this is with a rugged case. This way, if you do drop your precious iPad, it should hopefully survive unscathed. One manufacturer that produces reliable cases is Urban Armor Gear. Today, that company announces the "Plasma" case for both the regular iPad (9.7-inch, 5th and 6th generation) and iPad Pro (12.9 and 10.5-inch). Not only is it very rugged, but it looks quite beautiful too. Apple Pencil users should love the integrated holder.
Apple's planned purchase of UK-based music-recognition app Shazam for $400 million is facing an investigation by the European Commission.
The commission is concerned that the purchase could give Apple an unfair advantage because of the access it would have to user data, and there is also concern that consumer choice could be limited. Initial investigations found that Apple may use the takeover to encourage Shazam users to move to its own music streaming services, so the commission is undertaking a more in-depth probe.
At the end of 2016, I found myself in need of a new laptop. Having never owned a Mac before, I was intrigued by the possibility of owning an Apple notebook. In the past, I never even considered a MacBook because they were too expensive. I'm not a rich man -- far from it -- but I justified the expense by telling myself it would be an investment. Apple's quality and service are legendary -- sure, I'd spend a lot up front, but the laptop would easily last me 5 years. Plus, it would integrate well with my iPhone and iPad.
And so, I opened an Apple credit card and bought a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for about $2,000 -- an enormous amount of money for me. As someone who is often on the go, I opted for a 13-inch model for portability. For specs, I stuck with the Core i5 and 256GB SSD, but did upgrade the RAM to 16GB. I mean, you can't upgrade the RAM yourself, so it would be foolish to leave the base 8GB configuration, right?
If you have a 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar, you could be eligible for a free battery replacement. Apple has discovered that a "limited number" of laptops have a problem that causes the battery to expand.
The company has launched a free battery replacement program, and anyone who bought their MacBook Pro between October 2016 and October 2017 is invited to submit their machine's serial number to see if they qualify.