Jessica Alba joins executive producer pool for Planet of the Aps — Actress Jessica Alba has joined the developer advisory team for the Apple-funded Planet of the Apps reality show, chronicling several teams of developers working on apps for iOS. Besides being an actress from 1994, Alba co-founded consumer goods firm The Honest Company with a focus on non-toxic household goods, diapers, and personal care products.
9 great new ‘little’ iOS 10 features — Each major iOS release brings big headline features that Apple announces on stage, and with a September 7th event, iOS 10 is imminent. There are always a lot of great little improvements and polish, many bringing improvements worthy of their own headlines. Mac Observer lists 9 worth noting. For example, with iOS 10 in Settings>WiFi, list items now warn you if a network is insecure. If you tap it, the WiFi screen offers recommendations for how to protect your traffic from malicious do-no-gooders.
How to use Siri to set a timer on an iOS device —You can use Siri to set a timer on your iPhone to remind you to make a phone call, turn the oven on (or off), head out to pick up the kids from school, and more. Here’s how to do it.
Possible references to MacBook Pro OLED ‘Function Row’ spotted in Pages code — A reference to a ‘Dynamic Function Row’ has been spotted in Apple’s latest release of the Pages word processing app, potentially confirming a rumoured name for the OLED touch bar on the new MacBook Pro. Spotted by Consomac, a text entry has been found in the MenuCommands.strings system file for Apple’s Pages, with a menu option titled ‘Customize Function Row.’
But can new Macs and macOS Sierra beat the overall personal computer sales trend? Wonders Dennis Sellers.
Tuesday Talk is a series of occasional pieces of commentary I write on quiet (Apple news-wise) New Zealand Tuesdays.
Widely tipped as the day Apple would reveal a new iPhone, the 7th September has been confirmed as an Apple Event to launch something with the tagline ‘See you on the 7th’. Which pretty much tips that it will, indeed, be called iPhone 7, anyway.
Inevitably, in these quiet weeks and days leading to Apple announcements, all the Apple commentators try to imagine what the future will bring us from Apple, and they stray to deeper, more searching questions about the whole ethos of Apple Inc and where it’s going.
Tim Cook has now been Apple CEO of five years, and the whole culture of Apple changed around him. Apple under Jobs was virtually impenetrable. Questions from journalists used to be ignored completely, or if you were lucky, you got a short corporate-speak reply that told you nothing at all, except you were chuffed someone had bothered to respond at all. Now things are more open, people are more friendly and – appear, at least – less guarded.
Steve Jobs always said Apple was about stories, not things. People didn’t buy products, they bought stories. It’s an interesting concept, and one I have come to believe in more. Humans are deeply influenced by the stories they believe in – religious, cultural, historic stories, stories of struggle, stories told by politicians. It’s stories that motivate people. Jobs was definitely on to something, and his ethos is one of the reasons Apple never used the specs of devices as the primary marketing tool. (See Apple’s education stories, for example.)
We don’t know what Apple will release on the 7th. Apple has been known to plan 25 years ahead. What we do know is what Apple spends its research money on, and a lot can be told from the sorts of companies Apple acquires: for example, Apple recently bought Turi, a machine intelligence company. Virtual and augmented reality are also well in Apple’s sights.
However, other stories threaten Apple’s these days too. The wilder environment and more open world of Android, for instance. It’s nowhere near as safe as iOS, but it’s more attractive to developers. Microsoft is taking the battle to Apple’s tablets and smaller laptops with one device: Surface Pro.
Apple needs to tell a good story on the 7th.
A clear and decisive one which includes hope.
iPhone event scheduled for September 7 — Word is out that some “media sites” have been invited to an event on September 7.
Many expect to see other new products unveiled at the same time as the long-expected iPhone 7. For example, a new MacBook Pro line that’s much thinner and includes an OLED touch bar (and possibly Touch ID) is expected [this may happen in a second September event, though], as is the second iteration of the Apple Watch.
Apple sued over iPhone 6/6 Plus ‘Touch Disease’ — A proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit was filed on Saturday over the Touch Disease that seems to be afflicting a number of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones. The problem causes a flickering gray bar to appear at the top of the screen, after which the touchscreen becomes completely unresponsive.
HomeKit-enabled Philips Hue line gets new motion sensor, bulbs — One of the few products in the Internet of Things that has worked properly since Day One is the Philips Hue line of connected smart lightbulbs. Apple HomeKit was added to the line, so it’s been possible to use Siri to turn on lights or “scenes”. Now Philips has added the new Philips Hue Motion Sensor (US$39.95) to the line, allowing Hue owners to control lighting with movement rather than an app or switch.
Fitbit reveals new Charge 2 and Flex 2 fitness trackers, plus updated app — Fitbit has announced the latest additions to its iOS-connectable fitness tracker lineup, with the US$150 Fitbit Charge 2, and US$100 Fitbit Flex 2.
Apple gets an ‘A’ grade in the 2016 Semi-Annual Computer Reliability Report — Apple gets an “A” in the 2016 Semi-Annual Computer Reliability Report from RESCUECOM, a computer repair company. That’s up from the A- the company received in the 2015 Q3 Computer Reliability Report. The grade also places Apple at the top of all computer maker lists if you exclude tablets.
Reliability scores for other companies trailing Apple on the list are: Samsung (305), Microsoft (128), Lenovo (127), Acer (95), Asus (93), Dell (72), HP (48) and Toshiba. This results in the grades, respectively, of A, B, B, C+, C+, C-, D, and D.
Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4 ad targets feature gaps in Apple’s MacBook Air — Microsoft has released a new ad for the Surface Pro 4, directly comparing the tablet against the MacBook Air, and painting it as more feature-complete than Apple’s similarly-priced product.
Class action lawsuit involving Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec has been settled — A class action lawsuit concerning the 2012 acquisition of AuthenTek by Apple has been settled. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that AuthenTec’s directors breached their fiduciary duties in connection with the sale of AuthenTec to Apple.
European Commission may rule on Apple’s Irish tax status this week — A ruling by the European Commission on Apple’s tax status in Ireland may come as early as this week. Europe’s anti-trust and consumer investigation agency has claimed that Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted investment and jobs by helping big companies avoid tax in other countries, including EU members. The commission suspects Ireland was too lenient in rulings it gave to Apple and which helped the company shield tens of billions of dollars in profit from taxation. Ireland’s rate is 12.5% compared to the US 35%, but under the Irish systems, companies don’t even pay that full 12.5%…
New software for Mac helps you learn tunes like nothing ever helped you before.
Visually Anytune is something like the music playing part of of Tunes but it has extra features to help you learn existing songs. Now the Mac version is here (some of you may be familiar with Anytune Pro Plus for iPad) and it’s a little like the longstanding – and much simpler – Amazing Slow Downer updated for 2016 with many improvements.
Get a track in — You can import a music file by dragging and dropping it onto Anytune in the Dock, or let Anytune access iTunes to access your iTunes library and playlists directly.
To do this, you need to quit Anytune, open iTunes, open iTunes’ Preferences. Click the Advanced tab, and turn on the option to Share iTunes Library XML with other applications. If it is already clicked, you need to turn it off and on again, launch Anytune and a confirmation will check that you want to give Anytune permission to open these files.
Double-click a song from the iTunes media (or, if you’ve drag-and-dropped a track from elsewhere, this will display the same) and a wave form view appears in Anytune’s main window. There’s a Play button at bottom centre (the Spacebar start/stop from iTunes, GarageBand, QuickTime etc also works to do this) and the song starts to play. A square button at top right (it has a musical note in it) lets you hide or reveal this waveform view – hiding it shows the iTunes lists and playlists again.
Load up a few songs to learn, and then you can work on them as a playlist, one after another. You can flick through these at top left. Anytune picks up the Beats Per Minute (BPM) value that’s recorded with iTunes – if no value is recorded there, Anytune works it out.
Interface — AnyTune is for serious users, and the developers recommend you learn some of the keyboard shortcuts to help you learn songs more easily. These are listed in the Help Menu, luckily. They open in Preview so you can print them out, which is a thoughtful touch.
Above the central transport controls at the bottom there are two little panels with plus and minus signs either side of them (above). The one on the left is for speed faster and slower, and the one on the right is for pitch, which means you can adjust a song to suit your tuning, the key you sing in or whatever. The value it lands on is displayed in the centre of this little panel, and you can Control- or right-click on this to choose a value yourself, or select Set Tempo and type in the value you want; this functionality works the same for Pitch. Any value you set here is remembered next time you open AnyTune with that song.
At top right there are three view buttons with choices Wave (which shows a zoomed-in section of the song), EQ and Lyrics.
Along the bottom, there are controls for marks you set to help you navigate, volume, transport controls and a cluster for controlling looping. Between these controls and the main view is a bar which shows the playhead’s position in the song, and on the left is displayed the time position of the playhead, and on the right, the time remaining. There are also semi-transparent A and B sliders which you can use to define the section of the song you want to work on, and/or loop. You can side-scroll with your cursor in the main window, of click-and-drag in this smaller, full-song view below. You can also just double-click anywhere in the full-song view to jump the playhead to that position. The transport control lets you also click to move forwards or backwards either side of there the current playhead is at.
Marks and jumps — There are two types of marks you can set: Audio and Loop. To set a mark, just tap the M key on your keyboard at any time (as the music plays), or click the Mark button to the left of the central transport control. Marking adds a vertical blue line onto the track with a large number tab at its top, which you can drag for more precision. The Marks List button at top left (shown above-left) lets you display all the marks you have set, and you can click on the names of the entries in this list to change them and give them names (Intro, Verse etc) as you wish. Rather than type the section name yourself, a pull-down menu appears under a disclosure triangle with suggestions (and you can edit these in Preferences). You can add text notes to these marks too, in the Marks list part.
The Mark-jump button to the right of the main Play button at bottom centre lets you jump mark to mark, or you can double-click entries in the Marks list, if you have it displayed, to jump your playhead to that position. The marks are saved automatically, and even backed up to iCloud, and can be shared with other Anytune users.
Loops — Anyone who has ever learnt someone else’s song by listening knows you have to listen to it over and over again. With Anytune, you can get those tricky sections repeating. Just drag the A on the left and B on the right sliders (they’re brown, with draggable tabs at the bottom) to the section you want, and click the Loop button; you can also click the Loop Play button without any section marked to just have the whole song playing repeatedly. There are all sorts of extra loop controls to nudge the loop section, extend it slightly, wipe the loop and more. To set Loop Marks, press the Loop Mark button or, more easily, the S key on your keyboard.
Once you have a loop section defined, try the ‘Step-It-Up Trainer (I kid you not, that’s what it’s called – it is as above). You can choose this from the Loop menu or, quicker, hit Command-U. This has its own settings to, for example, start slow and speed up on successive plays by increments that work for you. Get to this settings pane from the item just below the above mentioned: Step-It-Up Settings and set it up to suit the speed at which you learn.
Handy features — Ever tapped Play and by the time you have your fingers on your guitar, the song’s already past that critical point? Shift-spacebar gives you a few seconds grace before Anytune starts playing.
Autoloop (it’s in the Marks List View) lets you tag any marks you have set to automatically create loop sections between them.
You can decide whether to copy the song files into Anytune or let it play them from iTunes, which will save space on, say, a MacBook Air.
You can adjust the gain, balance and pan of any track right within anytune, and turn on Enable Livemix from the Livemix button to track music through a live input through Anytune. The balances of these can be controls with rotary knobs at left and right below the main window, above the transport controls.
You can re-EQ tracks too, in the EQ view, to compensate for bad recordings or to help accentuate the part you need to learn (bass, lead guitar, vocals etc) by boosting the relevant frequencies or cutting those of parts that make hearing your part harder. You can create presets for these: for example, one that accentuates vocals, to use with other songs; any EQ setting you make is stored with the song in Anytune (not on the original track – that remains pristine.)
In Lyric view, any lyrics stored in the song file are displayed, or you can add your own. You can even set ascii tabs for these so they scroll with the song (tap the little gearwheel icon at the left of the transport display) and set what colour the type is displayed in, and its font and size.
Say you have Anytune but your student doesn’t? You can export half and 3/4-speed versions of songs for them.
In use — You can set up playlists to hold songs you want to learn, or songs your teacher wants you to learn. You could rank songs in the order you are going to play them in, say for a live set – of course, since you can use this as a practice setup for original music, assuming you have your own songs recorded, you can drag and drop them into Anytune as well, and practice to your heart’s content at home, with or without headphones. Check out the Anytune video, which is great both for an overview and also as a sort of Quick Start manual once you have the program, and there’s a free 30-day trial available at the website.
Conclusion — Anytune works really well to help you learn any song, and with the looping, pitch control and EQm it’s easier than ever to really decipher those tricky parts of those weird songs you want to learn. with its ease of importing and impressive feature set, it’s sure to answer practically all your music learning needs whether you’re working out some classical piano or some shredding metal guitar.
What’s great — Works as promised: slowing music down really helps nut out those important bits that have been defying you. It’s also great for practicing solo.
What’s not — Quite a learning curve, but the astute will appreciate the power, flexibility and control this gives them.
Needs — anyone who can’t read, or find, music for tracks they want to play.
Anytune for Mac NZ44.99 (US$29.99) from the Mac App Store. System — macOS 10.9 or higher, 64-bit processor Contact —Anytune.
Workers’ rights continue to be violated by Megatron in China — A new report from China Labor Watch, a labour rights watchdog and advocacy organisation, says there are are continued workers’ rights violations at factories owned by Pegatron. Pegatron is an electronics manufacturing company that develops mainly computing, communications and consumer electronics to branded vendors, including [but not exclusively for] Apple.
The Complete iOS 9 and 10 Development Bundle — Check out the Complete iOS 9 and 10 Development Bundle, two full tutorials for Apple’s current iOS 9 and the soon-to-be-released iOS 10. Combined you’ll get 417 lessons and 59 hours of video content. You can get this bundle through our deal for just $35.
Apple issues 8th developer beta of iOS 10, 7th public release — Beta testers of iOS 10, both public and registered developers, have a new build to test as Apple pushes towards September’s anticipated release of the next-generation mobile operating system. In addition, tvOS 10 beta 7 is also available for developers.
How to enable Apple Watch screenshots in watchOS 3 — Want to snap screenshots in watchOS 3 on your Apple Watch? The feature is disabled by default, but it’s pretty easy to turn on. Follow along with TMO’s video Quick Tip to learn how.
Get your ’80s synth on with the Stranger Things soundtrack on Apple Music — Now that we’ve all had enough time to watch all of Stranger Things it’s safe to check out the soundtrack on Apple Music without worrying about spoilers. Stranger Things Volume 1 (also Stranger Things, Vol. 1 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack)) includes is loaded the show’s decidedly ’80s synth tracks from Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein like the show’s theme, Eleven’s theme, and the creepy The Upside Down. The playlist has 36 tracks, and there’s a volume 2 for when you’re ready for even more Stranger Things music. [Stranger Things is a sci-fi series on Netflix almost everywhere, including New Zealand.]
Apple-1 ‘Celebration’ motherboard auction pulls in US$815K — The motherboard believed to be amongst the first hand-built prototypes for the Apple-1 fell short of million dollar estimates, but still reaped $815,000 with a portion going to charity.
Apple CEO Tim Cook sells $36M in Apple stock after receiving 5-year RSU bonus — After receiving a sizable bonus of vested restricted stock units (RSUs) for five years of success as Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook on Wednesday cashed in nearly a third of his existing stock cache for a $35.8 million payday.
Apple gets green light to add 1000 jobs at Irish headquarters — More than nine months after Apple first announced plans to expand its European headquarters in Cork, Ireland, and amid an EU probe into questionable tax practices, the company was recently granted approval to add 1000 people to its workforce over the next 18 months.
Spotify is retaliating against artists with Apple Music exclusives —
Spotify has a new strategy in its battle against Apple: punishing artists who sign on to an Apple Music exclusive.
File Extractor is a new file extraction tool for OS X — MacDaddy has introduced File Extractor 1.0, a file extraction utility for Mac OS X. It allows you to find and extract files from any selected file, folder, or browser cache.
Recordam makes it easy to create, store, share and play back audio recordings on your Mac — If you need to quickly create, store, share and playback audio recordings on your Mac, Aperio Lux’s Recordam for Mac OS X (10.11 or later) combines a high-quality audio recorder and convenient storage for recorded audio files. And it’s only NZ$5.99 (US$3.99) at the Mac App Store.
What those canyons are on Saturn’s moon Titan — A network of dark canyons lines Saturn’s moon, Titan, but just what’s inside those trenches has remained mysterious – until now. Researchers just confirmed that those canyons are flowing with liquid methane. The answer to that question finally came when NASA’s Cassini radar spotted glints off of the canyons’ surfaces. ~ Glint eastwards.
Venus may have supported life before Earth — Climate models show the hellish planet may have held liquid water for billions of years. Despite being much closer to Earth than Mars, its climate has average temperatures of 462°C (864°F), crushing barometric pressure and it has loads of volcanoes. Yet as soon as 750 million years ago, it may have had oceans of liquid water and an Earth-like, habitable climate, according to simulations from NASA Goddard Institute researchers. ~ It’s closer to the sun but the real problem is a massive greenhouse effect.
Lakes of Mars — Scientists just produced stronger evidence that Mars once had water lakes that may have nurtured life. After combing over Curiosity rover data, the researchers determined that veins in places like the planet’s Gale Crater were likely created by evaporating lakes whose sediments were buried, heated and corroded. ~ It may once even have been lush.
Juno probe closer to Jupiter — The spacecraft just completed the closest approach it will take during its primary mission around the gas giant, passing a mere 4184 kms (2600 miles) above the surface. ~ It’s doing more sweeps between now and February.
A lab-made black hole supports longstanding Hawking theory —
‘Hawking radiation’ suggests black holes can evaporate, and new evidence supports Stephen Hawking’s 1974 hypothesis. ~ This was proved with a Sonic Black Hole that won’t swallow your lab.
Super-resilient ceramic could be the key to future spacecraft — Russia’s Tomsk State University is developing a ceramic with multiple layers (based on hafnium carbide, zirconium diboride and zirconium oxide) that can survive temperatures over 3000°C (5400F). Even the best metal alloys can’t usually handle more than 2000C (3600F), the university says. ~ And they thought its inventor was a mug …
People will lie to robots to avoid hurting their feelings — Research carried out by the University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol shows people will lie to robots to spare their ‘feelings’! ~ And they’re scared robots will one day be cleverer than us!
Smartphone sensor peers through walls — A new sensor for Android smartphones called the WalabotDIY promises to let your device peer right through walls revealing everything from pipes, to wiring, to even unwanted pests hiding between rooms. ~ I hope it can see I prefer iPhone.
Six innovative rooftop solar technologies — Sun-powered roofs aren’t new, but some recent innovations make them more affordable and easier to install, from tiles to shingles to ‘icy glass’. ~ I like the shiny ones (main picture, above).
Sea anemones could be the key to treating hearing loss — Researchers have discovered that proteins used by starlet sea anemones to repair their cells also repair the sound-sensing cells in mice and other mammals. ~ So one day maybe they can repair human hearing, too.
North American settlement went differently than thought — A new study published in Nature points out, the math of the accepted narrative of human settlement of the Americas simply doesn’t add up. It’s now thought more likely that early North Americans made their way past the ice sheets by either walking along the ice-free sections of the coastal beaches, or more speculatively, by sea travel. ~ DNA should help to confirm the theory.
This is a tough iPhone case – it’s military drop-tested to the 810G-516.6 standard. Once your iPhone is pressed into it, it’s light, doesn’t interfere with the iPhone camera’s flash, has buttons that connect to the iPhone buttons and a raised lip to stop the screen contacting the surface should you place the iPhone face-down on – you will do this sooner or later, even if you don’t mean to. Anti-skid bumpers add to the package so it doesn’t slide across your desk, and there are cushioning disks inside as well. Since the iPhone 6 and 6s are slippery, this is something I appreciate.
The slight matte black cowl around the flash and lens is designed to cut down glare when the flash fires.
But despite the lightness of the case, this UAG case adds a fair bit of bulk to the iPhone and you’ll find it a bit of an effort to get out of some pockets. For those with big hands and big pockets, this can add a satisfying grip-ability and heft to the iPhone, but others may find this all a little clumsy.
Aesthetically, I’m not a big fan of the visible hex pattern in the transparent material on the back (main picture, above), but there are other patterns and colours available – check out the site. There are also different sorts of cases, plus cases for iPads and smart devices by other makers.
Urban Armor Gear iPhone 6/6s composite case US$34.95 (about NZ$47.77, free shipping worldwide, one year warranty).