'Confirmed' reports take cues from previous leaks, speculation
A pair of new "confirmed" rumors regarding accessories and devices that might be revealed at the September 9 Apple event are based on either previous leaked images or an "echo chamber" of cross-reported stories on the next Apple TV, though they may or may not come to pass. As widely predicted, the first of the reports says that Apple will debut new bands for the Apple Watch. While not unexpected, the report is based on a leaked image of new Sport colors shown by Sir Jonathan Ive at a show in Italy last April.
Works with Intel-based Windows versions only at present, ARM-based version coming
On Thursday, Microsoft released and open-sourced an early version of a previously-announced tool now called Windows Bridge, which allows iOS developers to easily convert iOS apps to be able to run natively on Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 10 Mobile. While calling the early version "clearly a work in progress," the company asked that the "interested and curious" help improve the program by beta testing and filing reports on it.
Vox straddles the thin line between brilliant and unusable
This is the most beautiful, even mesmerising app and where you always want to shout loudly about great software, we wanted to stand on desks and bellow that Vox 2.5.1 is a gorgeous music player and service. Unfortunately, we more stood by desks arguing over it. It was 50/50 between one side of MacNN saying it is stunning with some problems and the other half saying those problems were just too much. Both sides are right: we long to recommend this to you but if we do, we have to prepare you for frustrations.
First password manager to allow changing of passwords from Watch, company says
Dashlane, a password manager for OS X and iOS that MacNN recently reviewed, has announced that it has brought its Password Changer feature, which makes possible extensive password management on iOS devices, to the Apple Watch. The new 3.1 version for iOS includes the feature, and also offers notifications of a security breach on monitored websites, and improves Touch ID support.
Bug fixes and updates in preparation for fall's launch of iOS 9
While attention and development focus continue on the upcoming iOS 9 major upgrade expected to be delivered in September or early October, Apple on Thursday also updated its ongoing iOS 8-based improvement set of updates with a second beta of iOS 8.4.1, now available through an update directly on iPhones associated with developer accounts or through the iOS Developer Resource Center.
Releases follow latest developer betas, still have plenty of issues
As predicted yesterday, Apple has created public beta versions from the latest developer betas of OS X 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9 for testing with registered testers. The betas are the second public incarnation, but are actually based on the fourth developer betas. Both upgrades, available to the public for free this fall, are still in early stages, and still have a long list of problem areas and issues. Testers are strongly cautioned to heed Apple's warnings about beta software.
New pop-up notice warns iOS 9 beta users they cannot add App Store reviews
In a move likely to please app developers, users of the beta for iOS 9 are no longer able to add their reviews to the App Store. The latest build of the mobile operating system removed the ability to post the reviews, with a new pop-up window appearing on beta versions stating "This feature isn't available. You can't write reviews while using a prerelease version of iOS" whenever a user attempts it from a device with iOS 9 installed.
Podcast audience overwhelmingly on iOS, use default player
A new report by audio platform Clammr that pushes the notion that podcast listening is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream of American culture (due to popular podcasts such as Marc Maron's WTF and Welcome to Nightvale) reports that the vast majority (66 percent) of podcast listeners are on mobile devices, and that 82 percent of that audience are using iOS devices -- with 78 percent using the default Apple player.
No new changes listed at present, bug fixes and tweaks continue
Apple on Tuesday released new betas for the next updates to the present iOS and OS X versions, even as it concurrently tests its next major upgrades to both. The updates, iOS 8.4.1 and OS X 10.10.5, are likely to arrive before the major grades OS X 10.11 and iOS 9, which are anticipated for the fall. The new betas, intended only for developers, do not list any new changes, but the seed notes for 10.10.5 suggest it "improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac."
Flash, Microsoft Office, Apple Watch deprivation, tales of woe
It's Monday, and that means time for another episode of The MacNN Podcast! This week, as usual, we cover a range of topics from around the Apple and general tech world, and we throw in a cruel experiment in Apple Watch deprivation, mercilessly conducted on one of our own staffers. We also mourn the passing of Electronista, note the release of MS Office 2016 and the OS X and iOS public betas, and more. Show notes after the jump.
Improve your spacial reasoning with this layer-based puzzle game
One of the reasons we love puzzle games so much is that they make us feel like we're getting a real mental workout when we play them. We especially love lateral-thinking puzzles, as well as puzzles that require us to use our spacial-awareness reasoning. One such puzzle that gave us quite the mental workout was OverColor Pro, a geometric puzzle that forces you to rethink the way you solve puzzles.
Public beta begins despite long list of issues, problems
Apple has made available public betas for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan, according to reports. The new software, based on the issue-laden third developer beta released yesterday, is available to users previously registered with the company's Beta Software Program. While the company normally waits until there is a fairly stable developer beta existing before issuing the first public beta, today's releases are fraught with issues and missing functionality.
Get out all of your road rage in this endless arcade racer.
It's rush hour on a Friday afternoon and you're staring down a highway full of Sunday drivers and who are bent on eating up your precious weekend. What do you do? You put the pedal to the metal, and you don't stop until you're home or you're in the hospital. At least, that's the concept behind Road Rush Racer, an endless arcade racer by KM Games.
Stolen computer prompts Dominican rapper to seek help from Apple Store
A struggling artist with a run of bad luck turned to the SoHo Apple Store in Manhattan to complete, in a piecemeal fashion, a full-length album on the store's Macs -- with some help from some employees. Following a computer that broke down and another that was stolen, Dominican immigrant and rapper Prince Harvey told his story to some sympathetic Apple Store employees, who assisted the young artist in completing his album.
Analysts predict trouble for rivals during three-month free Apple Music trial
Just a week after its release, the iOS 8.4 update has already been adopted by 37 percent of all active iOS users, an above-average rate for an incremental upgrade that may be driven in part by desire for access to the free trial of the new Apple Music service. While the numbers are on par with the growth seen in the first week of iOS 8.0's release, point updates are generally incorporated more slowly.
Virtual music storage locker hit with problems; workaround revealed
The launch on Tuesday of Apple Music appears to be wreaking havoc with existing users of iTunes Match, the company's virtual music cloud storage service. Reports beginning yesterday and worsening today indicate that users who have not or are unable to currently update their iOS version to the just-released 8.4, as well as Apple TV users, are seeing issues including duplicate entries for artists and playlists, inaccurate album art, and a general inability to download or stream songs.
New multitasking features inject new life into iPad
Although there have been some clues that Apple has been planning to introduce split-screen multitasking on the iPad, it was still something of a surprise to see the feature finally debut at WWDC. The feature will make its debut in iOS 9, which is due to officially land sometime in the fall, likely around the time we see the next generation of iPhones and iPads. Similar functionality can be found in Windows tablets and some Android tablets, so what is it like on the iPad Air 2?
Second betas feature tweaks, but still have numerous bugs, issues
[Updated with new info on watchOS 2 beta, hidden feature in iOS 9 beta] Apple on Tuesday launched the second betas of its next major OS upgrades, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, iOS 9, and watchOS 2.0. The developer-only betas still have a long list of issues, and do not include any new features compared to the first beta, issued two weeks ago during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. All three betas offer some fixes for issues seen in the first betas, but continue to have problem and non-functional areas.
American Foundation for the Blind honors 'game-changing' software
On Thursday night, the American Federation for the Blind (AFB) honored Apple with the Helen Keller Achievement Award for its various technologies that enable blind or low-sighted people to use iOS devices on par with what sighted people can achieve. Specifically, the AFB singled out VoiceOver, Apple's narrative software that describes the on-screen display as users pass over it, as "world-changing" and "transformative" for people with visual disabilities.
Disconcerting text editor gets even more powerful
If you've already used Editorial, just go get this update: we've nothing to tell you you don't know better than us. For you're the expert, and we're at the stage of comprehending -- and maybe even appreciating -- what this text editor is capable of, but not yet being able to exploit it. Editorial 1.2 is an excellent evolution for the app's fans, but perhaps it's also a prod for the rest of us to take another look at it and see what the fuss is about.
Proof-of-concept code posted to Github after Apple fails to close hole
As part of a slew of recent security flaws found in Apple's two operating systems (most of which, it should be noted, are either not serious or are remarkably unlikely to become common), a security researcher has turned up an issue in the iOS Mail app that has the potential to become a widespread problem. As a result, users should be wary of any ">pop-up dialogue boxes in iOS Mail that ask for the user to re-login to a given email service.
Releases now set for before launch of Apple Music service on June 30
On Tuesday, Apple released the fourth developer betas of iOS 8.4 and OS X 10.10.4, the next updates for the current versions of iOS and OS X. As with previous releases, the new betas focus on bug fixes and other enhancements for each of the two platforms, while the iOS beta continues to feature the preliminary Apple Music application, which will replace the current Music app but continue its functions with a revamped UI that also includes an optional subscription component. In addition, the company has released its first beta of Xcode 7.
Siri becomes more proactive, anticipates user behavior
Apple has previewed features users will be able to expect in the next iteration of iOS. Confirmed as iOS 9, the mobile operating system will have improvements in four core areas: Intelligence, Apps, iPad, and Foundation, with new additions including improvements to Siri, search, multitasking, more apps, Apple Pay, and other areas.
HBO Now, device price drop credited for vast increase in viewership
Apple TV has overtaken Roku and doubled its share of "premium" (paid) channel viewing the beginning of 2015 and the end of the first quarter, from five percent to 10 percent, according to Adobe's Digital Index report. A price cut on the Apple TV units and the announcement of the $15 per month HBO Now service, alongside a steady stream of new channel additions, may have contributed to the increase, which compares to a one percent growth rate from Roku. Apple's iOS platform also continues to dominate mobile video viewing.
Apple Game Roundup for May 26
On Tuesdays and Fridays, MacNN takes a few minutes to round up important goings-on in the Mac and iOS gaming world. In today's entry we look at the Telltale Games collection coming to GOG, the 35th anniversary update to Pac-Man for iOS, the latest Overwatch character reveal, and Terra Battle's new update.
Microsoft virtual assistant app will head to iPhones, Android this year
Microsoft will be making Windows 10 more useful to smartphone owners, by making it easier to set up their desktop and mobile device to connect together and share files. The added mobile support is also supported by a second announcement that the Cortana virtual assistant will be available to download and use on other platforms than Windows Phone, with both iOS and Android set to receive access in the future.
Keep on using paper just a bit longer
Its full title in the App Store is Carbo -- Handwriting in the Digital Age and you're already thinking iPads, stylus or scribbling on the screen, but you're wrong. This is not another app about mimicking the experience of writing on paper, it's not really about replacing paper at all. Carbo is about letting you continue to use paper, but now use it in the digital world: take paper you write on and edit, copy or share it as you would anything you create online from scratch.
Some enterprise-level apps from Apple, IBM now offer Apple Watch support
On Thursday, Apple updated its enterprise app solutions web page to announce updates to some of the MobileFirst for iOS apps, developed in partnership with IBM, to offer Apple Watch support. Three of the 22 current MobileFirst apps -- Field Connect, Incident Aware, and Hospital RN -- now include Apple Watch versions of the apps, with push notifications, iBeacon support, notifications, and weather conditions, among other information available to front-line workers.
Facebook Messenger video calling rolls out globally
Facebook is making video calling via the Messenger app available to more users. Previously available in 18 countries, including the United States, the Facebook Messenger video calling has been rolled out globally for iOS and Android users, though some countries will be delayed in receiving the calls due to ongoing work to improve the service's quality in those regions.
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.
Change in Google API forces Apple to remove YouTube from older Apple TV models
Owners of second-generation Apple TV units -- the last of the larger, gray-colored models -- have reported that YouTube has vanished from the devices starting last night, with both the dedicated channel and references to the feature being removed. As reported previously, the change is due to alterations Google announced last month in the YouTube Data API to allow for new features that various older devices, including some of Google's own, cannot support. Also affected in the cutoff are YouTube app support for older iOS devices running obsolete versions of iOS.
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.
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.
Compulsive newsreading app became an obsession
The entire point of the Living With articles on MacNN is to examine what software and hardware are like after that initial first glow. To show how products have borne up under pressure, or have crumbled under the stress. Invariably and unsurprisingly, this long-term testing brings out problems that are just not apparent until you are months into it. Except now. There is one single issue with my use of Reeder that I might change if I could go back in time, and only one single feature of RSS newsreading in general that claws at me. Otherwise, this newsreader app is perfect for me – yet I do keep on looking around.
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.
Your Mac and iOS devices come with a great dictionary
Some people collect dictionaries, some have never bought one in their lives -- but we all have them at our fingertips right now. If you have a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, you've got a dictionary, and it is a good one. It's good enough to replace most concise dictionaries you can buy, and it's easier to look up than a book. We're not saying it's arduous looking things up a in book, but the fact that you have to turn away from what you're reading is reason enough that many of us pile on with a soon-forgotten vow that we'll look it up later. Here's an easy way to look up the definition of a word right there on your Mac -- and then if that isn't enough, we've an even easier way to do it at your fingertips.
Smart document scanning app comes to iOS
Didn't we just do this one? At first glance, if you compare the new Microsoft Office Lens to Evernote Scannable, you might conclude that one is red and one is a sort of cyan blue. Otherwise, they do the same job of scanning documents very quickly, they do the same job of processing them, and they do a very similar job of passing that data on to other applications. In the case of Office Lens, that is chiefly anything beginning with Microsoft, and with Scannable, that is chiefly Evernote.
Mid-range project management tool that works cross platform
When To Do apps just aren't powerful enough for you, when OmniPlan is too powerful and when Microsoft Project might be powerful enough but is only on Windows, there is Pagico. It is a mid-range project management app which means it doesn't have superpowers but it does have strength and it does have ease of use.
Small number, big, big update
We put this on our To Do list three months ago: "Write combined Hands On about both OmniFocus and OmniOutliner's new iPhone versions". The company said they were coming, they were quite clear about what would be new about them, we were quite sure it was an important update but also that it wasn't worth a complete re-review of them. We've covered both apps before, we've liked both of them a lot, they haven't changed. Except, in use the one big new feature in OmniFocus is bigger than we thought -- and much more has changed too.
Updated app allows multiple users
Previously on Sway ... we reviewed Microsoft's latest app Office Sway back in January, and not only did we say lots of positive things, we managed to stop ourselves making a "walk this Sway" gag. Now Sway has been updated, and specifically to allow you to collaborate on these online articles with other people.
Calendars don't have to be costly to be useful
You don't have to buy the big, powerful, and comparatively costly calendar apps like Fantastical 2 and BusyCal on OS X: you can get better than Apple's own offering with cheap, and even free, alternatives. Don't get us wrong: Fantastical, BusyCal and more are superb -- and you won't get their power with a free app. However, there is a middle ground between those and Apple's iOS Calendar that is rich and useful. We're going to recommend you take a gander at Horizon Calendar, for instance, and not because it's free.
Get things done with this concentration app
Most of the time, the secret to getting things done is getting on with them, and doing things. The Pomodoro technique is a trick to get yourself going, and keep yourself going, which has been around since the 1980s and is perfect for being turned into an app. Consequently there are many such apps, but the newly-updated Pomodoro Time Pro is a solid, capable and versatile one.
An iOS clipboard manager you didn't know you needed
If you don't happen to know what a clipboard manager is, you need one. If you do and you've also tried out a couple, you know why you need it and you know just how hard it will be to make you give them up. Not to rub it in if you haven't tried one yet but they have been around for a very long time – or at least they have on Macs. With iPhone and iPads, it's really taken until iOS 8 for them to be possible. Clips is a free clipboard manager for iOS and it is just about as good as Apple allows it to be.
The note-taking app comes with little-used outlining features
There is a reason why the outlining features of Evernote are not the most widely-used feature of that software: they're not the best feature. They're also not on a par with the outlining in the best word processors, and they are barely in the same universe as dedicated software like OmniOutliner. However, Evernote is free, and Evernote has uses far beyond outlining, so you're likely to find it indispensable even if you end up not using the outlining.
Make this nearly brilliant feature work for you
The first time you use this feature of Evernote for iOS, you will go "wow!". Unfortunately, before you finish using it for the first time, you will also go "oh." For Evernote is practically magical in how it will scan a business card, and cull every last detail off it -- and then it's surprisingly bad at what it does with that information.
BlackBerry adds BBM Protected mode to iOS, Android apps
BlackBerry is allowing its enterprise users to have highly-secure FIPS 140-2 validated conversations with other mobile users, rather than just between BlackBerry devices. BBM Protected, a mode for the BlackBerry messaging app that encrypts the conversation between two parties, is now available on the iOS and Android versions of the client. BBM Protected requires the use of the paid service BES from BlackBerry in order to set up the secure communications, though the secondary party only needs the free client to receive secure chat requests.
Powerful To Do app gets better with age
Software is personal and when an app is right for you, its impact on your working life -- or even just your life -- can be extraordinary. You don't get that impact very often, though, and unfortunately even when you do, it doesn't tend to last. I've had moments of it with Apple Maps, but my enjoyment of that has grown hand in hand with annoyances. I got quite a bit of it with Evernote, and that is now a staple of my every working day, but somehow it's become too familiar, I no longer see what was so special. You know where this is going, though. It's going to the point where I enthuse at you about OmniFocus.
Minimalist and speedy note-taking app now also on iPad
We have come such a long way from the original iPhone's yellow Notes app with its very yellow pages and Comic Sans font. Did we mention yellow? Today's Vesper, from Q Branch, does the same job -- yet comes from the opposite end of the design spectrum with a plain, tasteful look and typography control. It's also much faster than Notes ever was, and its syncing of individual notes is quicker than Evernote's.
The writing app beats Scrivener to the iPad
It's not as if this were Mac versus PC, not Word versus WordPerfect, not even Aperture versus Lightroom. Still, Ulysses vs Scrivener, a war of word processors, is a thing -- and Ulysses just took a big step ahead. These two applications give writers a complete and single package of tools for writing, research, and then publishing. What they have not given writers before was the ability to pick up an iPad and carry on where you were.
Company unifies different beta programs into single 'Apple Beta Software Program'
On Thursday, Apple released a flood of new betas for various versions of its two main operating systems, including the first semi-public beta of iOS 8.3, and third developer betas for iOS 8.3, OS X 10.10.3, Xcode 6.3 with Swift 1.2, and OS X Server 4.1 Developer Preview. The company has also decided to unify its various beta programs under a single tent now known simply as the "Apple Beta Software Program."