Brillo software for the Internet of Things may launch at Google developer conference
Google is planning to make its mark on the Internet of Things, by reportedly offering its own operating system. The search company is said to be working on "Brillo," software The Information reports would be capable of running on smart devices, such as refrigerators and light bulbs, with extremely low power and RAM requirements, potentially as low as 64MB or 32MB of memory in some cases.
Company continues to collect navigation- and map-based companies
On Sunday, Apple confirmed that it had acquired precision global positioning company Coherent Navigation, a small business that worked on military-grade precision navigation systems, robotics, and autonomous navigation technology. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Coherent, which was founded in 2008, "focused on creating commercial navigation services based on partnerships with companies like Boeing and Iridium, the satellite network operator," according to the former CEO's LinkedIn page.
Consumer Oculus Rift hardware to require Geforce GTX 970 or equivalent GPU
The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will require a high-powered PC when it is finally released. Oculus VR has advised of PC specifications recommended for the "full Rift experience," and though it includes some fairly standard components for a gaming PC, including 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5-4590 processor, it will also need a graphics card that is at least the equivalent of an Nvidia Geforce GTX 970 or an AMD 290.
Forced to reveal hand early by erroneous Fortune report of delays
While Apple has never formally announced a specific launch date for HomeKit, its home-control automation technology, Fortune magazine claimed earlier on Thursday that unnamed sources "participating in the program" said the launch had been pushed back to August or September from an original May-June time frame. In refuting the report, Apple has acknowledged that the first HomeKit accessories will be coming to market next month.
Windows Developers, Mac users forced to install extensions through Chrome Web Store
Google is expanding the reach of a security policy it introduced last year, preventing users from installing Chrome extensions sourced from anywhere but the Chrome Web Store. Initially put in place for Windows users, the rule is now being applied to the browser's developer channel for Windows as well as the main Mac version of the browser, with the changes taking place over the next few months.
Developer kit provides some specifications, bezel-based functions for Samsung smartwatch
Samsung has revealed more details about its upcoming round-faced smartwatch, as part of its Gear software development kit. The SDK includes screenshots showing what to expect when using the smartwatch, as well as functionality being included in the device, and the fact that Samsung will be implementing a system similar to the Apple Watch's digital crown, by using a rotating bezel.
Is there anything this text editor can't do?
Sometimes you just need a pencil. BBEdit is not that. BBEdit is more like a lifetime of writing and editing tools compiled into one veteran application, and regularly updated with more. It got a shakeup with version 11, but now the new BBEdit 11.1 introduces still more features -- seriously, where do they keep finding features to put into this text editor?
Apple Watch sensor found to be as accurate as dedicated heart rate tracker
After winning the Consumer Reports test among 11 top smartwatches in the area of heart-rate detection accuracy, the Apple Watch has been tested by Mac and iOS developer Brad Larson, showing that it's heart-rate monitoring ability is on par with Mio's Alpha 2, a dedicated wrist-worn heart-rate tracker that in its current Version 2 incarnation costs around $220. Data from HealthKit from the two devices showed that heart-rate data was nearly identical.
Apple sends out notifications to winning WWDC scholarship applicants
Just a month before the conference starts, Apple has begun sending out emails to 350 winners of a contest for Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) scholarship admissions. Student developers and members of STEM, a group dedicated to offering minorities increased opportunities in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, were able to enter to win free admission to the conference. This year's student scholarships were increased to 350 from the previous 200.
Newsreader for Apple Watch lacks basics
Seriously, app developers are clearly trying to get us to read more on our Apple Watches and -- you know what? It will work. Not with Wear Reader, the app that shows you books one word at a time, and actually not with this news app RSS Wear 1.0, but something will get us. It might even be some future version of RSS Wear, possibly.
Desktop-style apps on mobile unlikely to woo switchers, but still points new direction
Although Microsoft is lagging as very distant third in the smartphone space, it has not yet given up on the hope that it can eventually gain some market traction. At its Build developers conference last week, the Redmond software giant revealed the shape of things to come from its smartphones in the near future. The most intriguing features demonstrated for Windows 10 on smartphones was Continuum, its new desktop mode for a smartphone connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Although it hasn't been revealed in its final form, Continuum promises to reconfigure a Windows 10 smartphone interface on-the-fly so that users can interact with its apps in a desktop environment much as they would do with a PC. Is it a game changer?
Apple Maps Connect adds five European countries, allows businesses to update listings
The expansion of Apple Maps Connect, a service that allows developers and business owners to manage and expand current Apple Maps listings, continues. Yesterday, the company added five more countries to its list of European nations able to use the service: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Sweden. The Maps Connect feature adds business and indoor information drawn from Apple Maps' iBeacon-based Indoor Mapping initiative to help businesses offer a more complete profile on themselves.
Official program will authorize third-party accessories; bands, chargers, more
Apple has officially expanded the "Made for i" program that already covers authorized accessories for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to include the Apple Watch. While the program mostly focuses on allowing third-party bands to correctly work with the new device, accessory makers will soon be able to create other accessories such as USB chargers, protective cases, charging stands, and other items with the "Made for Apple Watch" designation that confers Apple's approval.
Action rooted in security, but poses issues for jailbroken devices
Continuing with recent custom, Apple has stopped "code-signing" iOS 8.2 for security reasons. The move, intended to protect users, does make downgrading back to earlier versions impossible, and prevents users with jailbroken devices in iOS 8.2 from updating. The code-signing procedure, which applies to both Apple and iOS or OS X developers, is designed to prevent malicious apps from masquerading as legit ones, or for outside parties to inject code into applications.
Alexa assistant can trigger commands in other apps via IFTTT
Amazon Echo network-connected speaker and Alexa virtual assistant has been updated with the ability to make and receive commands through If This Then That (IFTTT). The new Amazon Alexa IFTTT Channel allows users to set new commands or "recipes" for the device to follow, expanding its functionality to work with a large number of well-known online services.
Apple poaching more BBC Radio 1 producers for upgrade to Beats Music, iTunes Radio
Following the hiring of influential former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe in February as part of both iTunes Radio and a speculated revamp of the Beats Music service, a trade magazine for the music industry has reported that as many as four other top producers for Radio 1 are leaving to join Lowe to work on the revamped subscription service at Apple, which could be announced as early as June's Worldwide Developer Conference.
Initial preview of Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi can use some universal apps
Microsoft has brought a preview version of Windows 10 to the Raspberry Pi 2 microcomputer, but not the typical desktop version some were expecting. The Windows 10 Internet of Things (IoT) Core preview allows users to remotely access the components of the Raspberry Pi 2, as well as Intel's Minnowboard Max, with Microsoft also working with Arduino to get the operating system communicating with its hardware.
Following botched early update, iOS resumes usual pattern of quick adoption
Apple has updated its App Store distribution graph for developers, showing that iOS 8 has now been adopted by 81 percent of active iOS devices. The figure, which has risen two percent from the previous report in mid-April, reflects the overall improvements brought to the system since its initial release, as well as the wide compatibility of iOS 8, which goes back to 2011's iPad 2 and iPhone 4s. The rapid adoption rate continues to be a major platform advantage for developers.
Augmented reality HoloLens headset can run Windows 10 apps
HoloLens, Microsoft's augmented reality headset, also received some attention at the Build keynote, among updates to Windows 10. A brief demonstration showed how the headset could be used in industry for visualization and management of complex systems, as well as how it handles running Windows 10 apps, taking into account the available 3D space.
Update brings CSS/SCSS language module, fixes, speed improvements
Bare Bones Software today announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 11.1, a significant update to its professional-strength HTML and text editor. The new version introduces built-in support for Git and for EditorConfig. In addition, the BBEdit 11.1 update also introduces a new CSS/SCSS language module, a new Arrange submenu, and a new Save All in Window command.
Developers offered variety of ways to bring apps to Windows
Microsoft has used Build to reveal to developers what to expect when they develop apps for the incoming upgrade to Windows 10, both for mobile and desktops. More details about universal Windows apps was issued, as well as new ways for developers to create new apps or port existing apps from other platforms, including iOS and Android.
Free version of Windows development suite heads to other platforms
Microsoft is bringing its Visual Studio suite to more platforms, the company announced at its Build conference keynote today. Visual Studio Code is a lightweight version of the long-standing code editing suite, with the new cross-platform version being made available in preview not only for Windows, but also OS X and Linux systems, and as a free download to developers.
Apple loves video software, Apple hates video software
It's Day Two of The Feature Thief, the mini-series of columns examining just what in the world was in Apple's mind when it abandons years of development in favor of a shiny new application nobody likes. To be fair, though, it's also examining how sometimes that move was necessary, and often how it works out rather well or even superbly in the end. Once the furor has died down, and especially once Apple has put back some features it's dropped, we can often say that the new applications are better. Whether it's worth the ride getting there is a different question –– and whether you should jump ship to rival companies' products is another.
OS X, iOS betas open to registered beta testers, but no focus areas listed
In addition to the company's fiscal second quarter results released on Monday, the second betas of OS X, iOS, and Xcode were all released as well. Although each is the second beta offered to developers, in the case of iOS and OS X the release is the first offered to pre-registered beta testers -- though as with the first beta, no release notes indicating focus areas or known issues were released. The OS X and iOS betas come one and two weeks, respectively, after the most recent release.
Spotlights on The Feature Thief mini-series, Amazon's sustainability, Deliveries app
If podcasts were eggs, The MacNN Podcast would be ready to deliver in a cardboard carton! We're up to episode 12, and we take a look at the top stories of the past week, including the retail debut -- such as it was -- of the Apple Watch, where a few select high-fashion stores did actually have stock to sell to walk-in customers. We also chat about the big industry news of the Time Warner-Comcast merger collapse, Randy Ubillos' retirement, and more.
Software development kit announcement includes round watch face imagery
The next smartwatch from Samsung is likely to have a round face, if a teaser image in a press release is to be believed. A release inviting developers to sign up for early access to a software development kit (SDK) for the manufacturer's "Next generation of the Gear device" has a supplementary image accompanying it, depicting a variety of round faces, strongly suggesting the watch will have one as well.
Retina 12-inch MacBook can hang during first setup, workaround posted
A new tech note from Apple details a flaw that can occur during the initial setup of the new 12-inch Retina MacBook that causes the process to stop temporarily -- sometimes for a prolonged period -- before finishing. According to the new tech note, Apple recommends that if users experience the issue they can restart the initial setup process by restarting, and can opt to disconnect from the Internet in order to allow the setup to proceed, and then connect to the Internet afterwards. The problem appears to center around Apple ID setup or iCloud account creation.
Developers can sign up for single Sport model, shipping guaranteed by April 28
A new email being sent to developers from Apple is offering them the opportunity to buy a specific, single Apple Watch model -- and, importantly, guarantees shipping by April 28. The company is trying to ensure that developers either actively working on Apple Watch applications or are planning to develop apps for that platform have a test model they can use to confirm and troubleshoot their work. Apple is offering a single variation in the pitch to developers: a Sport model (42mm) with the aluminum casing and a blue sport band.
Recently-fixed AFNetworking library requires app update to close security hole
A flaw in a popular older version of an open-source networking library used by a number of iOS apps could create an exploitable vulnerability, particularly for users who do not keep their apps up-to-date. The issue could allow a hacker to bypass HTTPS security and conceivably steal passwords or other personal data. While the library in question was patched to address the problem three weeks ago, apps which include the older library are still vulnerable. According to SourceDNA, at least 1,500 iOS apps are currently exposed.
Sold-out conference will cost winners $1,600, Apple increases diversity scholarships
On Friday, lucky recipients started receiving emails that they had been selected at random in a ticket lottery to register for the company's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Francisco, which will start on June 8. The ticket lottery was required due to the incredible growth of Apple's iOS and OS X developer programs, which have nearly-instantly sold out over the last few years, and the company's desire to continue the conference at Moscone West, which allows for a total of 5,350 attendees, not counting press or the 1,000 Apple engineers who will be on hand.
Android gains 70 percent of downloads, iOS gains 70 percent of revenue
A new report by analytics firm App Annie has revealed that Apple and Google, as the progenitors of iOS and Android respectively, are locked in a roughly stalemated battle when it comes to revenues from apps versus app downloads. Google's Android enjoys the majority of app downloads, as it has for some time -- but continues to be unable to catch Apple in terms of being able to reward developers for their work. In a set of charts from the analytics firm, Apple's revenue from app sales is about 70 percent higher than Google Play, while Google's downloads outpaced Apple's by 70 percent.
New beta comes on heels of 10.10.3 release, no change log yet available
Just a week after the official release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 and days after the first beta of iOS 8.4, Apple has posted the first 10.10.4 beta for developers and testers, though it is has not been (and is not likely to be) made available to public beta testers until future builds are released. The sparse announcement of the new beta says only that the update focuses on "stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac," which suggests it will build on the improvements made in 10.10.3.
Not all users affected, but caused kernel panics, startup issues in some machines
On Thursday, Apple released a rare supplemental update to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 that resolves a bug in a video driver that was causing some Mac owners to report startup issues or even full-blown kernel panics "when running certain apps that capture video," said the company. Users were reported longer-than-normal startup times or crashes. Not fixed by the new update are scattered reports of problems opening large JPEG files using Preview of QuickLook, but this is again not a universal issue.
Powerful set of tools enables researchers to attract volunteers, study larger pool of data
One of the most critically-lauded -- particularly by the public -- aspects of Apple's "Spring Forward" event last March wasn't the sleek new MacBook or even the remarkable miniaturization that enabled the Apple Watch; it was the section devoted to ResearchKit, a new SDK aimed at leveraging the sensors found in many mobile devices to help medical professionals develop apps that could further medical research into any number of diseases, conditions, or illnesses. On Tuesday, Apple released it to all developers and open-sourced it.
Healthcare companies announcing plethora of new apps for Apple Watch platform
A number of healthcare companies, many of whom are just now working deeply with the HealthKit APIs from Apple to create health-oriented applications, are already pivoting to create complementary apps for the new Apple Watch platform as well, which creates new opportunities for handling certain kinds of results and notifications. More than a dozen applications have been announced in just the last week, ranging from a medication reminder for patients to a glucose monitor system for the Watch.
'Sneak peek' offers better iTunes Radio experience; Xcode 6.4 beta updated also
On Monday, Apple released the first iOS 8.4 beta to developers, which among other feature includes what the company calls a "sneak peek" at a revamped Music app that now offers a new Miniplayer, global search, a better iTunes Radio experience and improved "Now Playing" screen that allows custom art from users, along with a Recently Added automatic playlist. In addition, Apple updated its Xcode 6.4 beta with new SDKs for iOS 8.4, and compatibility updates for OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).
Watson Health to provide analytics, secure cloud for medical app data
IBM and Apple, already in a partnership to service the enterprise sector, have announced an expansion of the deal that will see IBM utilizing its Health Cloud and Watson Health initiatives to support and secure data gathered or entered by users through apps using Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit technologies. The partnership will work with the Watson Health business unit to offer developers a secure place to store gathered health data, and analytics to help researchers analyze it.
Android Wear companion app for iOS allegedly close to completion
Google may be preparing to fight the Apple Watch on its home turf, by working on getting Android Wear devices to work with iOS devices. A companion app for iOS is reportedly close to being completed by Google, which in theory would allow smartwatches running Android Wear to receive notifications and interact with other apps on Apple's mobile operating system.
Update adds support for latest OS releases, Force Touch trackpad, updated compiler
Alongside the big OS updates yesterday, Apple also released a final version of Xcode 6.3, which has been in beta for some time. The update includes a modified SDK supporting Apple's Force Touch trackpad, as found on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and forthcoming 12-inch Retina MacBook. It also includes the latest SDKs for iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3, along with Swift 1.2 for iOS 8.3, and a new version of Apple's LLVM compiler.
Apple bought out alternative keyboard maker late last year, reports claim
Apple apparently bought out software keyboard developer Dryft last September, acquiring one of the co-founders of Swype in the process, according to reports. CEO Randy Marsden changed his job title to Apple's iOS Keyboard Manager on LinkedIn around the same time as the deal allegedly happened. Apple only rarely confirms acquisitions of small tech companies like Dryft.
Widely beta-tested, each brings new features to devices
With today's release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, Apple is officially releasing its iPhoto replacement program Photos for the Mac. While the program has already been in use on iOS for some time, the new program sits alongside existing iPhoto or Aperture libraries with its own copy, and adds new abilities and features we have previously reported on. The update, leaked earlier today, also brings a non-beta version of iCloud Photo Library and new emoji, while the iOS 8.3 release shares the emoji improvements and adds wireless CarPlay support, along with new Siri accents and languages.
CEO offers employees a half-off discount on sport, steel editions
Following a suggestion from a retail employee during a meeting in Germany, Apple CEO Tim Cook has met the suggestion half way: he has decided to offer all Apple employees, including retail workers, a 50 percent discount off the cost of either aluminum "sport" version or the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch, or $550 off the cost of the 18kt gold Edition versions. The discount is only available for 90 days, starting April 10.
Developer tool runs Android apps on Windows, Mac desktops
Google is attempting to increase the number of places people can run Android apps, by bringing them to desktops. The App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) tool was initially brought out for Chrome OS, but Google has expanded the development tool's availability to the Chrome browser, allowing the Android apps to run on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, all from within the browser itself.
Updated version is second this week, hinting at problem fixes
Developers and public testers of the forthcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 release have unexpectedly been notified of a second release this week, this time with build number 14D130a. Normally spaced a week apart, the last update came on Monday with 14D127a -- suggesting that the company is zeroing in on fixes for certain known issues, and perhaps planning a public release in the near future. Testers are cautioned to keep backups current while testing the new beta.
Hoping for variety, if not plethora, of third-party apps by public launch
With just over three weeks to go until the first wave of countries will begin selling the new Apple Watch (and less than two weeks until curious customers can try one on), Apple has sent out a reminder to developers that they can now submit apps based on WatchKit to the App Store in order to be ready for the public debut on April 24. The email to developers included a link to a submission tutorial.
Staffers discuss new book, new gaming column, new apps
We're now at episode eight of The MacNN Podcast, which this week welcomes our new Apple Gaming column, as well as reminding listeners about our weekly game news roundup. We also discuss the book Becoming Steve Jobs, and Tim Cook's latest honor from the business world. More confusion about Windows 10 pricing outside China has come to light, and tech companies are asking for changes in the Patriot Act.
Public beta updated also; screen sharing, Wi-Fi, languages need focus
On Monday, Apple issued a sixth beta of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 to developers, and an identical third beta to registered public testers. The new build, numbered 14D127a, is said to be mostly a security, compatibility, and stability bugfix release, though the company has added a request that testers focus on screen-sharing features as well as Hebrew and Arabic localizations, on top of the ongoing focus on Wi-Fi "captive portal" networks (such as hotels or coffeeshops).
Hand-based motion controls added to developer version of Razer VR headset
Razer's virtual reality headset will include the ability to track the motion of the wearer's hands. The OSVR Hacker Dev Kit from Razer will include an optional faceplate with Leap Motion hardware embedded inside it, allowing for developers to create apps that take into account the wearer's hands, and potentially allowing for a more intuitive and realistic virtual reality experience for users.
Voice recognition systems able to perform home automation tasks via Harmony API
Owners of Logitech Harmony devices will soon be able to perform various automated home commands using their voice. Ubi and Ivee are both using Logitech's Harmony API to communicate directly with smart home devices and appliances, allowing both systems to take control and change settings for various connected items around the house.
Former Panasonic factory to be repurposed, joins other new global facilities
First announced late last year by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese media and the mayor of the host city have confirmed that Apple will begin repurposing part of a former Panasonic plant into a new research and development center late this year, which is expected to open sometime in 2016. Apple has recently opened similar offices in China, Israel, and will be adding England to the list shortly.