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A brief summary of Apple announcements of 2017

(TECH NEWS) Apple has had a big year of announcements and we’ve still got six months left. Here’s what they’ve announced so far.

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Apple is doin’ things

In the wake of Apple’s developer conference announcements, we have some substantial insights into the direction the company is headed. That matters a lot, because of the cultural stronghold Apple possesses in the tech space.

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We’ve dug up all of Apple’s significant technology announcements through the current year (WWDC announcements included) to see what patterns we can see:

Apple receives patent approval for fingerprint biometrics reader

March, 2017
With this patented technology, Apple could authenticate users from the actual screen, rather than just the home button. This could also increase the users for fingerprint authentication in areas like downloading apps from the Apple Store, or making online purchases.

Apple announces Clips, an expressive video app

March 21, 2017
This native Apple app lets users augment videos using photos, music, animated captions and other fun graphic overlays. It’s clear from the developments of Snapchat and Instagram that users like creating these kinds of videos, and as a company known for its creative potential, it’s wise for Apple to have its own space in this area.

Apple announces iPad updates

March 21, 2017
Not much exciting to report here, other than the Retina display upgrade. We’ll see more exciting updates to the iPad Pro. More on that later.

Apple acquire Lattice Data

May, 2017
Apple acquired this startup, which specialized in artificial intelligence and data, earlier this year. The company hasn’t specified why they acquired them, but given other announcements, there’s solid evidence to support that Apple wants to invest and innovate in this area.

Apple and Nokia settle litigation issues, sign partnership agreement

May 27, 2017
According to Apple’s press release, “Nokia will be providing certain network infrastructure product and services to Apple. Apple will resume carrying Nokia digital health products (formerly under the Withings brand) in Apple retail and online stores, and Apple and Nokia are exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives.” We could see this reflected in new technology and accessories to accompany the Apple Watch, outside of the updates revealed at WWDC.

Apple announces changes to Apple Pay

June 5, 2017
In order to compete with Venmo and Paypal, Apple announced a peer-to-peer money transfer feature in Apple Pay. These changes will be a part of the iOS 11 rollout.

Apple announces iPad Pro and iOS 11

June 5, 2017
-With the announcement of their new iPad and operating system, Apple seeks to make the iPad a high-performance machine. Changes to the display tech and processor chip, along with deeper integration of the Apple Pen, suggest that this iPad wants to be more appealing to the hustling creatives and the multimedia carnivores.

Apple announced iOS 11

June 5, 2017
With the launch of their latest operating system update, Apple wants to beef up the iPad functionality. Most notably, this software updates allows for better multi-tasking and file storage management on the iPad, making it more effective as a professional creative tool.

What’s even more notable is the following line from the press release: “Augmented reality is coming to hundreds of millions of iOS devices with a new platform for developers to build apps that let users place virtual content on top of real-world scenes.”

Apple announces HomePod

June 5, 2017
Apple’s version of the wireless speaker builds on the fully integrated Apple system. The speaker also integrates some unique smart technology by using “spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio.” According to Apple’s own press release, you can also use Siri to interact with your Apple library through the speaker.

Apple launches new VR Platform

June 5, 2017
Apple’s new augmented reality platform ARKit is pretty cool itself, but even cooler is what its launch implies: Apple has unleashed some truly cutting edge tech. That cutting edge tech, with a little more development, could open the door for virtual reality.

Apple announces iMac Pro

June 5, 2017
This new Mac is a big step into the enterprise-level market. Thanks to upgrades in the display, processors and graphic computations, the iMac Pro is well-built for “advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering.” We’ve talked before about how Apple is losing its grip over the creative industry, and with these steps, it seems like the company is trying to get ahead of the curve again.

Apple announces new macOS High Sierra

June 5, 2017
The most notable update here is the update to Metal, Apple’s proprietary graphics technology. This tech powers machine learning, VR content creation and everything in between. Many apps, like Final Cut Pro, Epic and Unity will be able to support VR and 360 video functionality with these upgrades. Combined with the iMac Pro appointments, we can confirm that Apple is building its devices for some next-generation media development.

Apple announces iMac upgrades

June 5, 2017
The new iMacs touts an upgraded Retina display, processor, and memory and graphics performance. Not much exciting here, but it is a significant way to support the tech that High Sierra brings to the table.

Apple revises App Store experience

June 5, 2017
This redesign puts content and expertise front and center of the app store experience, in order to make it easier than before to discover apps. First and foremost, app store visitors can view the Today tab to find features and interviews about apps and app developers. Games and Apps also have their own discover tabs as well.

Apple announces watchOS 4

June 5, 2017
The newest update to the Apple Watch operating system touts a new app called GymKit, which can connect with cardio equipment to run workouts for Watch users. It also increases the incorporation of Siri into the watch so that users can see the information they need the most right when they look at the watch. Finally, Apple optimized the Activity app for daily and monthly activity challenges, to make the Apple Watch a smarter coach for you

Apple allows Amazon Prime Video App on Apple TV

June 5, 2017
After a feud between the two companies, Apple will augment the functionality of its TV app and Apple TV by adding the Prime Video App. This will keep Apple TV competitive with services like Roku and the rest of the TV streaming market.

So, what do we make of all this?

Apple is clearly betting big-time on the future of media, such as AR, VR and 360 video. Between the OS updates and improved graphics capabilities, the company wants to make its devices competitive for this new content creation process.

In other areas, there is a surprising amount of catch-up playing out.

Clips makes Apple a “me three” player in the expressive video game, and HomePod only half addresses Apple’s need for a product to compete with Google and Amazon’s virtual assistants. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s digital health initiative and AI initiatives shape up with their new partnerships and acquisitions.

One thing’s for sure; Apple is still keeping things interesting.

#Apple

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

Tech News

Facebook starts handing out merit badges like we’re Girl Scouts

(TECH NEWS) Facebook offers merit badges to users, and it’s pretty neat, but we’re also rolling our eyes.

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According to some Facebook Group administrators, Facebook has today rolled out merit badges. So far in the wild, we’ve spotted “Conversation Starter” which praises the admin (or user) for starting engaging posts that got the conversation going.

We have asked numerous users if they’ve seen these badges, and so far it appears that only one badge has been rolled out, potentially with more on the way. Upon logging into the group where you have earned a badge, you’ll see a notification at the top of the feed informing you of your new badge (get out your vest, it’s time to start collecting them all)!

The merit badge that you’ve earned shows up in your profile when other group members (where you’ve earned the merit badge) click on your face:

Currently, when an Admin posts in the group, it still only has their Admin badge next to their name, not the “Conversation Starter” or other badges lined up next to it, but if a regular group member has posted something engaging, the badge appears next to their name (it may be a one-badge-limit so far, maybe hold off on buying a Girl Scout vest for your badge collection):

Lastly, users apparently do have control over the display of whichever neato merit badges we eventually earn or collect:

There is no word on what the ultimate plan is or what merit badges will be awarded, and it appears to be limited to Facebook Groups at the present.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment and will update the story as we learn more. For now, if you want a badge, you can at least get a “Conversation Starter” badge in Facebook Groups, so go get ’em – we’ll soon know which other badges we can earn slash collect slash compete for slash game.

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Tech News

Slack video messaging tool for the ultra lazy (or productive) person

(TECHNOLOGY) Courtesy of a company called Standuply, Slack’s notable lack of video-messaging options is finally addressed.

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Slack — the popular chat and workflow app — is still going strong despite its numerous technical shortcomings, one of which is its notable lack of native video or audio chat. If you’re an avid Slack user, you might be interested in Standuply’s solution to this missing feature: video and audio messaging.

While it isn’t quite the Skype-esque experience for which one might hope when booting up Slack, Standuply’s video messages add-on gives you the ability to record and send a video or audio recording to any Slack channel. This makes things like multitasking a breeze; unless you’re a god among mortals, your talking speed is significantly faster than your typing, making video- or audio-messaging a viable productivity move.

The way you’ll record and send the video or audio message is a bit convoluted: using a web browser and a private Slack link, you can record up to five minutes of content, after which point the content is uploaded to YouTube as a private item. You can then use the item’s link to send the video or audio clip to your Skype channel.

While this is a fairly roundabout way of introducing video chat into Slack, the end result is still a visual conversation which is conducive to long-term use.

Sending video and audio messages may feel like an exercise in futility (why use a third-party tool when one could just type?) but the amount of time and energy you can save while simultaneously responding to feedback or beginning your next task adds up.

Similarly, having a video that your team can circle back to instead of requiring them to scroll through until they find your text post on a given topic is better for long-term productivity.

And, if all else falls short, it’s nice to see your remote team’s faces and hear their voices every once in a while—if for no other reason than to reassure yourself that they aren’t figments of your overly caffeinated imagination.

At the time of this writing, the video chat portion of the Slack bot is free; however, subsequent pricing tiers include advanced aspects such as integration with existing services, analytics, and unlimited respondents.

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Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

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phishing simulator

In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

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