Parker the Bear, freeing space, Camera+, Sonos AirPlay 2, Stranger Things, Google devices

Apple is exclusive retailer of ‘Parker,’ world’s first AR teddy bear — Children’s toy startup Seedling on Tuesday launched Parker the Bear, an Apple store exclusive plush teddy bear that comes to life through iOS augmented reality effects.

Apple makes it easier than ever to free up space on your iPhone inside iOS 11 — In Apple’s newly released iOS 11, people needing a quick way of freeing up space on an iPhone or iPad can receive suggested options that can give more storage on your device, often immediately.

Camera+ 10 is released, adds depth editing, “smile to shoot”, and more — Of all of the camera apps on the App Store, probably none has been around longer or been used as much as Camera+ (NZ$4.49/US$2.99). The app, which boasts over 10 million users, has been developed by LateNiteSoft for a while, and the company has now taken over marketing of Camera+ from Taptaptap. Camera+ 10 is a major update that was released today, adding a pile of features to what was already a powerful app.

Sonos announces support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 wireless standard coming in 2018 — Speaker maker Sonos on Wednesday announced it will create an open platform, not only giving any music services access to its hardware, but also integrating with Apple’s forthcoming AirPlay 2 wireless standard. [I’m curious: does Apple plan to reply AirPlay 2 over non-Apple wifi hardware? As Apple has seemingly suspended AirPort devices.]

Netflix’s free ‘Stranger Things: The Game’ offers retro-themed hype for upcoming season 2 — With a retro art design harkening back to the heyday of console gaming, the new and free Stranger Things: The Game leans heavily on nostalgia, just like the blockbuster series on which it is based.

Google ramps up the device wars — Google Home Mini offers affordable voice assistant, music streaming for US$49, Google’s US$649 5″ Pixel 2, US$849 6″ Pixel 2 XL smartphones want to be your main squeeze, without headphone jacks; and Google has announced US$999 Pixelbook touchscreen hybrid notebook, optional US$99 pen accessory. The US$399 Google Home Max with SmartSound takes aim at Apple’s HomePod.

High Sierra, 60 tips, Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2018, iStat Menus, stock hauls, Celtic Maps, Microsoft VR moves, Pointillist

Convert your images into Pointillist paintings with AKVIS Points

High Sierra is an upgrade that’s hard to notice — Aside from the new desktop picture, almost every pixel looks exactly the same as in macOS Sierra.
Other than the desktop pictures, you’ll have to look closely to find differences. Many of the biggest changes are under the hood and almost completely hidden from users most of the time.
All of the application and document icons, menu bar icons, and System Preference pane icons look the same as before. You’ll notice very few changes unless you look very closely. It looks, feels, and works pretty much the same as Sierra – here’s a faq about the new file system.

60 Mac Tips Volume 2 — David Sparks and Brett Terpstra have launched 60 Mac Tips, Volume 2. Part of the MacSparky Field Guide series, the new project offers more tips built on the release of Volume 1. They’ve released the book on iBooks for US$20 (NZ$32 – as with most iBooks, hit the Free Sample button to get a free chapter), with 60 screencasts and two hours of video, or you can get a video-only version on Vimeo. The video at the Mac Observer includes an introduction and some free tip excerpts from the book. Subjects include: Siri for the Mac, using the keyboard, Spotlight, Automator, Safari, Mail, Apple Notes, Apple Photos, Terminal Tips, and third-party apps. As with all iBooks, if the book is updated (Volume 1 has been) and you already own it, it will update automatically within the iBooks app.

Adobe debuts Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2018 with focus on computer vision — Adobe has issued the latest versions of its consumer level photo and video editing software, Photoshop Elements 2018 and Premiere Elements 2018, with a slew of fresh features, many of which are powered by all-new content intelligence capabilities.

iStat Menus has weather updates — Weather is a new feature in iStat Menus 6. There’s a pulldown menu, too, among all the other Mac features. iStat Menus costs US$20.70 (about NZ$29), upgrades for existing usersUS$11.49 (about NZ$16).

Apple execs reap more than $19M each in vested stock bonus — Apple’s executive team, including head of retail Angela Ahrendts and SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, on Sunday saw batches of performance based restricted stock unit awards, netting each common shares worth more than US$19 million.

Yahoo says all 3B accounts impacted by 2013 data breach — Yahoo in a statement on Tuesday said further investigation into a massive 2013 data breach suggests all 3 billion its user accounts were impacted from the incident, tripling the internet firm’s initial estimates. [That’s all of you, previous Spark account holders.]

Apple Maps vehicles to start touring Scotland & Wales later this month — Apple Maps vehicles will begin collecting street-level data in Scotland and Wales for the first time later in October, according to an updated schedule.

Microsoft partners including Samsung, Dell, Lenovo to launch slew of Windows VR headsets in coming weeks — In its push into the virtual and augmented reality market, which the company has branded as “mixed reality,” Microsoft is leveraging its army of hardware partners, many of whom are releasing new virtual reality headsets over the next few weeks.

AKVIS Points for the Mac lets you turn images into pointillism paintings — AKVIS Points for macOS lets you easily convert images into pointillism paintings. This painting technique is characterized by applying of separate brush strokes in the form of dots or spots. AKVIS Points runs on macOS 10.7 and higher. It’s available as a standalone program and as a plugin filter for Adobe Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro, and other image editors. The Home license sells for US$49; a demo is available for download.

Crackling fix, Low Power Mode, Hue expansion, Thyng, Micro LED for Watch?

Thyng 4 lets you use a human figure to play Frogger with real traffic thanks to AR

Apple Releases iOS 11.0.2 for crackling sounds on iPhone 8/Plus and hidden photos problem — Apple released iOS 11.0.2 Tuesday, a maintenance release designed to fix three specific bugs. The first is a crackling sound some iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus users had reported. The second was a problem with hidden photos, while the third is an issue with encrypted emails not opening.

Low Power Mode in iOS 11 — With iOS 11, you can implement a Low Power Mode for your iPhone and add its icon to the Control Center. Here’s how.

Philips expands Hue’s HomeKit support, Chamberlain ships new MyQ Smart Garage Hub — Philips has updated the Hue iOS app and firmware with retroactive Apple HomeKit support for its Tap, Dimmer Switch, and Motion Sensor accessories. Chamberlain meanwhile upgraded its MyQ Smart Garage Hub, which supports HomeKit when paired with the MyQ Home Bridge.

Thyng 4.0 with ARKit  — Thyng ARKit for iOS 11 is now available for free download. Check out the Thyng ARKit demo video – with Thyng you can create your own AR environments quickly and easily with no programming required. No development tools or content import is required to use the app. Content to be applied in Augmented Reality is selected from Photo albums or stored videos.

Apple’s investment in micro LED predicted to lead to future Apple Watch with longer battery life — Apple’s moves in the space, plus supply chain reports both suggest that the upcoming micro LED display technology is an obvious choice for a future Apple Watch —with recent production equipment breakthroughs suggesting that Apple’s purchase of LuxVue in 2014 will bear fruit sooner rather than later. [Or how about little tiny TVs for bugs to watch? Lol. Sorry …]

New Microsoft Office for Mac teased, High Sierra Disk Utility, Tune-Instructor, macOS up, Font Manager, Groove gone

(Image via Apple World Today)

Microsoft teases major Office for Mac updates, public version coming soon — Microsoft on Monday issued a number of so-called Insider Fast builds of Office 2016 for Mac to Office Insider beta testers, teasing a slate of upcoming features that should roll out to consumers in the coming weeks.
The latest releases incorporate a number of highly requested features, new additions and bug fixes for Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. As expected, most upgrades impact users with Office 365 subscriptions, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution.

macOS High Sierra Disk Utility video walkthrough — The macOS High Sierra Disk Utility hides full volume trees by default. You’ll also learn how you can reformat an APFS container and volume to a macOS Extended partition [but proceed with caution, it can also wipe entire hard drives].

Tune-Instructor for macOS helps you take control of your iTunes library — Tibor Andre’s Tune-Instructor provides handy workflow options for organising iTunes files, plus playback controls on your Mac. With the software, users can organize their song libraries, lyrics, artwork, files, and folders however they wish.

macOS market share is up — According to the latest market share survey from NetMarketShare, the market share for macOS rose but iOS dipped (slightly)  last month. macOS had 6.35% of the global market share in August, up from from 5.94% percent in July (that’s global market share; in the US it’s over 13% [and New Zealand used to be around 11%, but who knows, this days?].

Font Manager Deluxe is a new font installer/previewer for macOS — The font installer and previewer for macOS 10.11 plus allows you to preview fonts in a grid or custom view, add and remove font collections, install and uninstall with a simple click, save your favorites, and download the current Google Fonts collection to add to the app. It also includes four new commercial use OpenType font families. For a limited time you can download Font Manager Deluxe for US$10, a savings of 50%.

Microsoft loses its Groove Streaming Music Service and Music Store — Microsoft has thrown in the towel and given up on making its own Groove streaming music and music store a competitor to Apple Music and Amazon Prime. Microsoft is shutting down Groove Music at the end of the year and has partnered with Spotify for its streaming music service. [Sometimes when you’re that late to the party – as also with Windows Phone – it’s better to stay home, don’t you think?]

Review ~ Nanoleaf Aurora Smarter Kit lighting panels

From Toronto Canada, these smart light panel kits vended here in NZ by MacGear let you integrate the system into Apple HomeKit or just run them from your iPhone or iPad.

Featuring an interlocking PCB electrical tab that lets you quickly attach any of the three sides to another panel, and then the power supply to any spare slot, this 9-panel Smarter Kit lets you create several shapes from the get-go.
Virtually ‘paint’ individual panels or let effects sweep through, and of course brighten and dim, these can be oh-so-subtle or party-garish at the touch on the free iOS app interface.
You’d think this could be gimmicky, but no. Because you can configure them several different ways and because you can get the Aurora panels to play subtle effects and also dim them almost to nothing, seamlessly, they’re refreshingly sophisticated and  effective in many situations. They can display over 16 million colours.

Each panel is 24cm in length and 24cm high, and weighs just 210 grams thanks to a braced plastic structure on the back  (above – all the tech specs are online).

Mounting — If I had any issues with these at all, it would be wall mounting. In the kit, the only option is 3M sticky tabs, although Nanoleaf has been generous, providing 28 (plus an extra PDB connector). The black sides will stick forever to the back; the red side goes n your wall, and is supposed to be removable, but in my experience, this can remove paint. Here’s a great tip, though – you will really need to get it properly lined up on the wall. Since there’s a level in your iPhone already, try that (just open the Compass app and swipe to the side).
To mount the Aurora panels properly on a wall in a placement you want to keep for any length of time, MacGear has various accessories available like the mounting kit with thumb tacks (NZ$60) which has 12 screw mounts, 12 wall anchors, 12 steel screws and four flex-linkers. These sturdier anchors would be preferable for many walls and for many applications once you are sure you have the configuration and placement you want. You could even mount them on come ceilings.
The flex-linkers are also available separately (NZ$40 for 9) – with these you can mount the panels so they go around corners, for example. Also available are more of the straight PCB tabs, a panel expansion kit (3 panels and tabs for $120 – the supplied power supply can handle up to 30 panels!) and the $100 Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm Module with gets the panels pulsing to sound – how’s that for party coolness? I’d really like to try that.
Another issue for some might be that the white of the plastic the panels are mounted in might clash or just look wrong with some darker wall colours.

Don’t forget white – the panels can produce a bright white, or tone it down and colour it subtly for ambient glows.

The app or not — The power module plugs into the normal wall power outlet. Current gets daisy-chained through all the panels via the connector tabs, and you can pull out a panel and plug it in somewhere else while it’s on. Even without an app to control it with, you can use the Aurora – the power module has an On/Off switch on it plus another that initiates preset lighting programs through the panels – it cycles through the presets with subsequent presses.
However, the app (it’s free, of course) lets you dim the lights and this is a good thing, as they can verge on harshly bright to look at, evenings. Fifty-percent is nice and ambient, but right down to 10% can be effective in a dark hallway or even a child’s bedroom as a night-light.
Beyond that, thanks to HomeKit support, you can add in other products like Phillips’ Hue lightbulbs and change their colour along with the Aurora, should you want all these to be doing the same thing.
But you can also get pretty creative with the app, painting individual panels with colour, or creating your own light transformation effects. You can change the speed of transitions. You can also set a time for them to come on, to automatically light a hallway from 7.30pm.

Voice Control — You can also set a voice control to turn them on via Siri. Power to the panels must always be on for voice or app control to work, then turn the lights off likewise – ie, not with the power button. This will avoid the need for the panels to search for and rejoin the wifi hub (which you set up easily via the app when you first load it up – it’s the most painless Wifi setup I’ve ever used). This has to be done each time the Aurora loses power.
Room and individual light names are set by you within the Nanoleaf app. This must be done before using voice control, or else Siri won’t really understand what you want it to do. Nanoleaf has a list of commands you can use.

Power — These aren’t going to suck your house dry of power. The most all panels together will draw is 20 watts (.5-2W per panel depending  on brightness and 2W for the controller module, and up to 60W with the 30 panels that the one power module can control. They’re rated for 25,000 hours of use.

Conclusion — They’re great, I love them! Consider this for the home, but also for effective controllable lighting in commercial applications like bars, cafés and shops for flashy pizazz right down to subtle ambience. I think the price is pretty reasonable, too, considering how configurable they are. And here’s an additional benefit: shifting lights against your windows and curtains can look like someone’s home and doing stuff.

What’s great — Subtle or flashy, very controllable, this is effective, easy to use and configurable. The accessories already available add a lot more to the equation.

What’s not — Getting your configuration right, in the right place, can be a test. But since the 9 panels come with protective paper between them, these come in handy for practicing layouts with Blu-Tac for example.

Needs — Those with sophisticated, malleable lighting needs.

Nanoleaf Aurora starter kit, NZ RRP $339.99 (You can see this in operation at iStore in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore). 

System — any place with mains power. The app is for iOS, and it has HomeKit and Siri support too (you can turn it on and off by voice.) I feel it’s almost hard to describe in words and pictures but there are some good videos online, and I suggest you check them out: Here’s Nanoleaf’s, Apple has posted one, and here’s 5 Minutes for Mom’s.

More information — MacGear NZ.

iPhone 8 vs 7, Samsung profits, HEIF, 3nm chips, iOS 11 security, X big spenders, FBI ruling and OmniGraffle

(Image from Thinkapple)

iPhone 8 Plus A11 Bionic versus iPhone 7 Plus A10 Fusion performance test video — The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus come loaded with Apple’s new A11 Bionic processor. AppleInsider takes a look at everything it brings to the table, and how it compares to the A10 Fusion from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Samsung manufacturing arms poised to make $4 billion more from iPhone X than Galaxy S8 — If estimates and supplier predictions are correct, Samsung is poised to reap $14.3 billion in parts delivery alone from just the iPhone X through 2019, with the Galaxy S8 gathering only $10.1 billion. [Doh!]

How to Set your iPhone 7 and Newer to Take HEIF Photos — Snapping photos in iOS 11 doesn’t take up as much storage space if your iPhone 7 or newer is set to use the HEIF format instead of JPEG. It’s easy to make sure that’s what you’re using, or switch back to JPEG if that’s your thing, if you know where to look.

Apple chip supplier TSMC preps first-ever 3-nanometer factory as founder announces retirement — Signalling likely improvements in the performance and size of Apple products, Apple processor manufacturer TSMC on Monday announced plans to establish the world’s first 3-nanometer production facility. The A11 Bionic processor in Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X uses a 10-nanometer architecture, scaled back from the 16 nanometers of the A10.

Inside iOS 11: new security feature allows users to temporarily disable Touch ID, quickly call 911 — Apple’s iOS 11 includes a new security feature, with a few button presses making it impossible to unlock your phone with Touch ID, as well as giving a quick option to dial 911. Here’s how to use it.

Federal judge rules FBI not obligated to reveal details about San Bernardino iPhone 5c penetration tool — More than a year after the original filing, a judge has ruled that the FBI is not required to disclose any information on how it entered the iPhone 5c gathered as potential evidence in the San Bernardino shooting incident.

Over half of those planning to buy an iPhone X want the 256GB model — More than half of the folks who plan to purchase the iPhone X will go with the higher priced 256GB model, according to a new survey by RBC Capital Markets.

Hands on with OmniGraffle, which gains drag and drop for iOS 11 on iPad and iPhone — Like its fellow Omni Group apps OmniFocus and OmniPlan, the drawing and charting software OmniGraffle 3.2 has been updated for iOS 11. All three now take advantage of the new operating system’s drag and drop features to change and improve how you work with the apps.

macOS ARM-compatible code, PrintWindow

(Image from

Apple posts ARM-compatible source code for XNU kernels inmacOS and for iOS — Apple has silently released ARM-ready source code for the XNU kernels found in macOS and iOS, marking a first for iOS, and possibly showing off some of the groundwork for Macs with ARM-based processors.
The code is available through a GitHub repository. While exposing some of the operating systems’ internal architecture, many proprietary elements —such as apps and frameworks —are of course absent, and Apple’s kernels are being offered under a more restrictive license than some other open-source projects, such as most Linux distributions.
Some think Apple won’t switch to ARM, which would let Apple build even slimmer machines, but note that Jeff Butts’ argument (from a few days back) says Apple would need to change the source code in macOS to do so … so the comments at the end of this article are really interesting.

Print Window is a useful (as the name implies) window printing utility for the Mac — Searchware Solutions’ Print Window is a useful window printing utility for macOS. Integrated with the Finder, it allows users to print a file listing of folders with a simple key command (or other methods of triggering a file listing).
It offers the ability to export File Listings as a CSV file and sports an updated application icon. Users have complete control over what gets included in the file listings and what does not. Print Window can also print subfolder contents of a specified folder manually selected by the user. Print Window requires macOS 10.7 or higher. It costs US$20 for a single user license.

8 Portrait Mode, split iPhones, greenest, speaker comparisons, 4 apps onscreen, Disney apps amalgamate, little Sphero, GoPro goes HEVC, Watch Control Center, Watch 3, Apple TV review

New Apple video ad shows the effects of Portrait Lighting mode in the iPhone 8 Plus — Apple is promoting the photographic capabilities of the iPhone 8 Plus in a new advertisement released on Saturday morning, with the ad highlighting the new Portrait Lighting mode included with the iPhone by showing the effects users can produce using the feature.

Apple reportedly ‘looking into’ pair of iPhone 8 Plus with split screen from swollen battery — After reports circulated on social media about two iPhone 8 Plus exhibiting a swollen battery out of the millions shipped, Apple is reportedly looking into the situation surrounding the accounts and the phones themselves – as it nearly always does. [I smell a beat-up.]

iPhone X the ‘greenest’ Apple product ever — When it arrives in November, the iPhone X will have less environmental impact than any of Apple’s previous products. The company has issued an environmental impact report for the high-end smartphone (PDF) that shows it is more recyclable than previous devices and is free from toxic materials.

iPhone 8 Plus versus iPhone 7 Plus speaker comparison video compares electronic, rock, and bassy music — With a new iPhone comes new speaker hardware, AppleInsider takes a listen to the iPhone 8 Plus, and compares it to the 2016 iPhone 7 Plus.

Run four iPad apps on screen at once with Apple’s newly expanded multitasking — Multitasking capabilities on the iPad have gone up to 11 (or, to be more exact, four) in iOS 11, giving users the power to run more apps onscreen at once than ever before, up to four.

Trio of Disney Channel iPhone and iPad apps consolidate into single DisneyNow app — Making good on a promise, Disney has combined three of its content-providing apps, consolidating Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior into DisneyNow.

Sphero launches iPhone-controlled & programmable Sphero Mini — Robot maker Sphero has released the Mini, a smaller version of its signature robot that can be controlled via a Bluetooth-connected iPhone or iPad. The Mini is controlled primarily through a namesake iOS app. Owners can use a virtual joystick, tilt controls, or Face Drive which translates facial expressions into commands.

GoPro turns to HEVC compression for Hero 6 Black, same codec used by Apple in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra — The new GoPro Hero 6 Black with GP1 chip compresses ultra high-resolution video into manageable chunks of data using High Efficiency Video Coding, the same new standard adopted by Apple in its latest operating systems.

Google Drive for iOS updated to make stored documents accessible in Files app — Google has updated its Google Drive app for iOS to fully integrate the cloud storage service with the Files app introduced in iOS 11, with the latest version of Google’s app making it possible to access and manage documents and photos stored on Google’s servers. [Yeah, right, I’ll keep my files with a company that makes its money from selling people’s data.]

Apple Watch Series 3 review finds a solid improvement over the original Apple Watch — Combined with watchOS 4, the newest Apple smartwatch is an impressively powerful update when compared to the original device. In this post, I’ll take you on a detailed tour of the new Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular.

Understanding the watchOS 4 Control Center — The Control Center on your Apple Watch has gained some new, slightly hidden settings. Well, some of them are a bit hidden. With the release of the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), there was a need for new controls. So, here’s a tour through the watchOS 4 Control Center to help you know where to find anything.

Review: Apple TV 4K is an impressive extension of the iTunes ecosystem to the living room — The oft-complained about lack of support for 4K has been rectified in the update to the Apple TV. The new Apple TV 4K not only has the higher resolution but support for HDR – and AppleInsider has examined it in detail, while Apple World Today finds it a ‘fantastic upgrade’. 

EFI update danger, High Sierra games, security requests, TechTool Pro 9.5, more Eco Tanks, vision acquisition

Security study finds old or improperly updated Macs in limited — A new study postulates that Apple’s lack of transparency about firmware updates could be lulling users and system administrators into a false sense of security – but the situation on Windows computers is far worse, and an attack focusing on EFI modification needs to be highly focused and specifically targeted.
Duo Security performed an analysis of 73,000 “real-world” Mac systems spanning assorted businesses – and no home users – to gather the data about firmware, and EFI revisions. In general, the company found that the newer the operating system, the more up-to-date the hardware firmware was – with some notable exceptions.
[In other words, your Mac may not have had the correct EFI updates and you wouldn’t no, but this is such a specifically targeted attack, it’s extremely unlikely you are at risk, but still, this should be fixed.] 

APFS in High Sierra causing problems for Unity Engine, Cities: Skylines, Civilization V, more — Game development engine producers Unity has strongly recommended users avoid the upgrade to macOS 10.13 for the moment, as despite the firm fixing a number of issues that plagued developers using the tool with High Sierra’s beta releases, there are still some faults that need to be rectified to make the game engine stable on Apple’s latest operating system – and APFS is inducing problems in other game titles as well.
[I only play Days of Infamy on steam and it works fine.]

Apple sees dramatic surge in US national security requests, no declassified letters — Between January and the end of June Apple received somewhere between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests from the US government, including orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court and national security letters, Apple revealed last week in its latest transparency report. The figure is much larger than the first half of 2016, when Apple saw between 2,750 and 2,999 orders.

TechToolPro reaches 9.5, adds features — These include compatibility with Hight Sierra, improved data recovery, Cache Rebuild, System maintenance, general improvements and more. This is a free update to existing users.

Epson adds seven new EcoTank all-in-ones to its line of cartridge-free printers — Epson America, Inc has announced the addition of seven new EcoTank all-in-one printers to the EcoTank line today, including the new Expression Premium models that come with a five-color ink system for better photo and document print quality.

Apple could improve Photos app with Regaind acquisition — Apple has acquired a small French startup called Regaind. This computer vision company uses machine learning to analyse the contents of photos. Regaind can also analyse faces to figure out gender, age, and emotion.