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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

Uber has secretly set up tip limits for drivers #classy

(TECH NEWS) Uber has had a shaky year, but their latest move proves that perhaps a new leader doesn’t mean a new culture.

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After frequent requests from drivers, Uber finally added a tipping option to their ride-sharing app this June. But, after a few months to try it out, riders and drivers alike have been disappointed to discover that Uber puts an upper limit on how much a rider can tip.

Lyft has allowed riders to tip for almost five years, but Lyft too has a tipping maximum. In many cases, Lyft and Uber drivers aren’t aware that there’s a limit to tips until they have a generous customer who finds that they can’t tip as much as they’d like.

Initially, these apps were seen as a convenient, tip-free alternative to traditional cab services. However, because fares are calculated in mileage and not time, tips can be especially appreciated when rides take a long time but have low mileage, such as in dense traffic, or when the driver has to make multiple stops. And of course, tipping is always a great way to say thanks to a driver who goes the extra mile (no pun intended) to help out the rider or make the ride especially pleasant.

Unfortunately, some riders have found that they can’t tip as much as they’d like. Uber told CNET that they placed a maximum on tips to help avoid “fat fingers” typos, such as when a customer means to type $10, but accidentally types $100 instead – a problem that could seemingly be solved by adding a secondary confirmation before withdrawing the payment.

Uber limits tips to 200 percent of the cost of the ride, or $100. Lyft also limits to 200 percent of the fare, but also blocks tips above $50. Of course, riders can always tip in cash – but not having to carry cash was one of the perks of ride-sharing apps in the first place.

Generally, drivers for Lyft get more tips than Uber drivers. That’s because Lyft riders receive a prompt to tip upon reaching their destination, whereas Uber drivers have to reopen the app and rate the driver before tipping. Since few Uber riders take the time to rate their driver, even fewer ever make it to the tip screen.

Granted, an extra big tip is a rare and precious thing. But it shouldn’t be up to the company to cap tips if riders feel compelled. Says Denise, a Los Angeles Uber driver, “Generosity should be something that you have no limit on.”

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Tesla to build largest ‘virtual power grid’ on this round Earth

(TECH NEWS) Tesla teams up with Australia to create a virtual power grid, cutting energy costs and preventing blackouts.

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Tesla’s teaming up with Australia to provide an energy efficient solution to blackouts and price surges in the Southern Australian state.

Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill announced a new partnership with Tesla that will provide solar panels and batteries to homes in the southern state. Since the area consistently struggles with adequately powering homes, Weatherill and Tesla hope to create a “virtual” power grid to stabilize electricity infrastructure.

In the extreme wilderness area of South Australia, nearly half of all power comes from wind farms. Last September, issues with wind farms caused a statewide blackout. Sure, tornadoes were to blame too, but backup generators also failed, so the whole system collapsed.

To address this issue, a combination of solar panels and Tesla batteries will eventually be installed in 50,000 homes in the state. Any surplus energy generated by the home’s solar panels can contribute back to the larger grid.

Excess energy can be routed back to a centrally controlled grid to provide energy to the rest of the state as needed.

For the initial test, 1,100 public housing properties will receive the batteries and solar panels free of cost, using the sale of electricity to cover expenses. An additional 24,000 more public houses will get added to the program as well.

If the trial runs succeed, private homes will be included by 2019. Eventually, the plan is to have batteries and panels installed in 50,000 homes, creating a 250MW Virtual Power Plant.

Participating homes will have 5kW solar panels and Tesla Powerwall 2 13.5kWh batteries installed, providing a more reliable source of power, and potentially lowering power bills by thirty percent.

Installation is proposed to take four years, and according to Tesla, the virtual power plant will have as much capacity as a coal plant or large gas turbine.

Funding comes from a $2 million Australian ($1.6 million USD) grant, and a loan from the state’s Renewable Technology Funds for $30 million Australian ($23.8 million USD).

While the plan seems well-meaning, Austalian Prime Minister Malcomlm Turnbull called Weatherill’s previous strategies as “reckless” experiments, leading to excessive energy costs. Partnering with Tesla may give Weatherill some street cred for the upcoming South Australian election, proving he has a game plan for curbing energy costs.

According to the South Australian government, the virtual power plant could provide around twenty percent of the state’s daily average energy requirements. Tesla plans to review all properties to determine if the homes can support their systems and be able to participate.

If you happen to live in South Australia and are reading this, you can register to participate in the program. Registration doesn’t guarantee participation, but if initial interest exceeds original estimates, the government may consider extending the program.

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Tech News

Intel to launch smart glasses we might actually want to wear

(TECH NEWS) Smart glasses have launched and died, to be reborn as warehouse worker tools, but Intel’s giving it a shot, and this design might actually stick.

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Even though Google Glasses and Snap Spectacles totally bombed, tech companies keep trying to make smart glasses a thing.

Intel’s plans to make a go of it, betting on a sort of “less is more” design concept. Previous smart glasses were bulky, didn’t conform to the wearer’s head, and frankly, looked kind of dorky. People also found them invasive, awkward to interact with, and were especially creeped out by the notion that smart glasses wearers could be filming them or taking their picture without consent.

Intel’s smart glasses, called Vaunt, are much more stripped down – no camera, no buttons, no distracting messages or images floating in your vision. Says Itai Vonshak, head of products for Intel’s New Devices Group, “We wanted to make sure somebody puts this on and gets value without any of the negative impact of technology on their head. Everything from the ground up is designed to make the technology disappear.”

Vaunt glasses weight only 50 grams and look totally unassuming, like a regular pair of glasses. They work with prescription or non-prescription lenses. They use a very low-power laser to project messages directly into your eye. In order to get that right, you have to have the distance between your pupils measured so that Vaunt glasses are custom made to fit your eyes.

Intel wants their smart glasses to be helpful, but not invasive. Notification messages only appear if you look slightly down. Looking straight ahead, the messages disappear. Messages can also be scrolled through or dismissed with small nods of the head.

What exactly will Vaunt glasses be used for? Intel is taking a “if you build it they will come” attitude towards this question. They’ll have an early access program to encourage developers to come up with apps and uses for the smart glasses. Some ideas include driving directions, reminders, and recipes.

Will a set of simplified Vaunt smart glasses win over the same consumers that have rejected the bells-and-whistles versions of the past? That remains to be seen, but crazier things have happened.

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