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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.

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Time is money and Clockify helps you make the most

(TECH NEWS) Tracking your time worked as a freelancer can easily be lost in the shuffle. A new tool has been designed to make this important aspect easier.

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After years of searching for a method that works for me in terms of organization and productivity, the answer seemed to be simple: a calendar I can write on and Post-It notes. This method is a little old school, but seems to get the job done for my organizational needs.

However, there are some things that slip through the cracks with this method, but it’s more user error than it is the actual practice. One thing I struggle with is keeping track of my freelance hours this way.

I have a tendency to guesstimate how much time I worked throughout the day and know that I wind up underdocumenting my hours. I would hate to know how much money I’ve missed out on keeping (sometimes inaccurate) handwritten notes.

But, like many other small scale issues, there is a simple solution. And that is found in the form of time trackers.

One of the newest members to join the online time tracker team is Clockify, who operates under the idea of “your time, your rules.” It is a free time tracking tool designed for agencies and freelancers.

Clockify allows users to manage as many team members, projects, and workspaces that you need in an effort to help your business run smoothly. This allows for a complete overview of team productivity.

The tool offers a way to enter time manually as well as clock time automatically. This way you can keep tabs on what you’re working on and assign and label time logs to the appropriate clients.

With this time tracking, you are able to generate weekly, monthly, and annual reports at any given time. These reports can be saved, exported, and shared with clients to give them more information about your work process.

The real-time tracking helps to improve business efficiency and gives more insight into what each team member is spending their time on. Having this information available can give visual representation of how to improve in the future.

Clockify currently exists in desktop format with iOS and Android apps coming soon.

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Russia vetoed cryptocurrency and came back with CryptoRuble

(TECH NEWS) Russia put a hard pass on other cryptocurrencies in their country so that they could hop in the crypto-game with their own CryptoRuble.

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Just days after The American Genius reported that the Russian Central Bank would attempt to block access to cryptocurrency trading cites, the Coin Telegraph has reported that the Russian government will issue its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble.

The report cited local Russian papers, who quoted the minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Earlier this week, head of the Central Bank, Sergei Shvetsov, said that he would work with the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban Russian citizens from accessing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, calling such currencies a “negative phenomena for our markets” and a “pyramid scheme.”

Now it appears that the Kremlin will create its own cryptocurrency – one it can keep an eye on — which, some might argue, defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency.

However, like other cryptocurrencies the CryptoRuble will be based on blockchain and will presumably help prevent online fraud.

CryptoRubles will be exchangeable with regular Rubles, although the systems of exchange have not yet been set up. Experts think that Russia is hoping to stimulate e-commerce without the need for foreign money markets, which will allow them to have more independence from the United States.

According to Nikiforov, the Russian government is setting up its own cryptocurrency under the assumption that if they don’t, other European governments will.

Said NIkiforov, “I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”

Traders using CryptoRubles will be asked to provide documentation of retail transactions and services rendered – or pay a 13 percent tax for undocumented transactions, leaving a wide loophole for money laundering.

Critics say that Russia is trying to facilitate, while also profiting from money laundering; that the Kremlin is stealing the market from other cryptocurrencies; and that the CryptoRuble fundamentally defies the spirit of decentralization that inspired other cryptocurrencies.

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Microsoft’s overseas email storage piqued the Supreme Court’s interest

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft has been in a pretty large dispute about storing user emails abroad and the Supreme Court has taken an interest in it.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case that will decide whether or not U.S. law enforcement officials can force tech companies to turn over emails and data stored in overseas servers.

The case will review a lower court decision made in 2013 after federal officials attempted to obtain emails from Microsoft that would provide evidence for drug trafficking cases.

At that time, Microsoft refused to comply with the government, even though they had a warrant, instead taking the case to court, claiming that the U.S. government did not have the right to access data stored in servers in Ireland.

The court of appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, citing a 1986 digital privacy law that allows law enforcement to obtain warrants for electronic communications, but not if the data is stored outside of the United States.

Judge Susan Carney said of the law, “Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statue envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas.”

The Trump Administration and the Justice Department say that this ruling has majorly blocked efforts to prosecute criminals.

“Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud — are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

Because Microsoft stores data and communications closest to the user’s location, Wall said that the lower court’s decision made it all too easy for terrorists and other criminals to hide their communications by claiming to live in a foreign country when signing up for an account.

Microsoft argues that, instead of handing this decision over to the Supreme Court, legislators should update the 1986 law.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud.” wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog.

“We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation.”

In Congress, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are pushing for just such an update with a piece of legislation called the Stored Communications Act.

Microsoft further argued that allowing U.S. law enforcement to obtain data from other countries was an “incursion” on those nations’ sovereignty, which would make U.S. citizens more vulnerable to foreign governments.

“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” said Smith.

The Justice Department says that, along with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, and Yahoo have all stopped complying with search warrants since the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early in 2018 and hope to have a decision by June.

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