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by Maura at Oct 18, 2017
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More pictures of Apple's self driving car emerge.JPG
New videos and pictures of Apple's self driving car emerge.JPG

While there hasn’t been much news about Apple’s rumoured self-driving car project lately, it seems that the project is still continuing, with The Verge reporting today that a self-driving car expert, MacCallister Higgins, has tweeted out a picture of what he says is Apple’s “Project Titan” out and about.

The car has certainly changed a lot from the last time a similar vehicle was spotted back in April of this year. The white Lexus has six Velodyne-made LIDAR sensors, various radar units, and several cameras, all coated in white plastic.

The photographer who captured the video is the co-founder of a startup called Voyage that has just launched a pilot self-driving taxi scheme in a retirement community in San Jose, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Underneath Higgins’ original tweet about the Project Titan car, someone else posted another picture of one of the cars, saying “I saw one of these a few weeks ago pull up to an Apple shuttle stop-sit there for a few then drove off.”

Source: Here’s a closer look at Apple’s secret self-driving car
by Maura at Oct 18, 2017
(261 Views / 1 Likes)
Indoor maps added for 8 more airports in Apple Maps.JPG

MacRumors reports today that Apple has continued to expand one of the most popular features of its Maps app by adding indoor maps for eight more airports in the United States.

The newly added airports include O’Hare International and Midway International in Chicago; McCarran International in Las Vegas; Baltimore-Washington International; Miami International; Minneapolis-Saint Paul International; Oakland International; and Portland International. They join the original two airports that were introduced via iOS 11, namely Philadelphia International and San Jose International.

Now when you search for the above-mentioned airports on Apple Maps, you can select “Look Inside” or just zoom in to see the terminals, boarding gates, security gates, check-in desks, baggage claim area, info kiosks, restrooms, shops, restaurants, parking garages, as well as stairs, elevators, and escalators, among other things.

The new feature is so detailed that you can even browse floor-by-floor, or look for specific shops or other amenities in a specific terminal. And even better than that, another incredibly useful aspect of the indoor maps is that when you tap on the name of a restaurant you will see more details and photos about the restaurant, including opening hours.

Presumably more airports will be added soon in the US and then worldwide.

Source: Apple Continues Rolling Out Indoor Maps of Airports in iOS 11
by Maura at Oct 18, 2017
(358 Views / 2 Likes)
Machine learning blog explains Hey Siri.JPG

AppleInsider reports today on a post on Apple’s Machine Learning blog that details exactly what happens when you use the “Hey Siri” command with your iOS device.

In particular, the blog post explains the role of the detector, which is a speech recognizer that is always listening out for the special wake-up words, but also has to be able to filter out other noises.

Apple explains that the hardware inside your iPhone or Apple Watch, in particular, turns the human voice into a stream of instantaneous waveform samples at 16000 per second. Approximately 0.2 seconds of audio at a time is sent to a “Deep Neural Network,” which classifies it and then determines the likelihood of it being the activation phrase and then sends that to the rest of the system.

Several sensitivity thresholds are set, and if the score is in the median range, then the software will listen more closely for the second time so that the phrase is not missed.

The waveform goes to the Siri server, and if the speech recognizer hears that something else has been said other than Hey Siri, such as “Hey seriously,” then a cancellation signal will be sent by the server to the phone so that it will go back into sleep mode.

Apparently, the Apple Watch being so much smaller than an iPhone leads to a unique set of problems that are solved by having the Hey Siri detector only running when the watch motion coprocessor determines that the wrist has been raised.

Sources: Latest Apple machine learning research paper discusses how the 'Hey Siri' invocation works
by Maura at Oct 17, 2017
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iPhone X supplies improve.JPG

After so many recent reports about iPhone X component delays and shortages, it’s very encouraging to read a report from DigiTimes, via MacRumors, that says that yield rates for iPhone X components have now improved and stabilised, and that as a result, iPhone X shipments are expected to grow significantly after October. In fact, it looks as though supplies of the new phone could soon be plentiful enough to fulfil Apple’s demand prior to the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

Apparently, the previously troublesome 3D sensing modules are now showing much improved production yield rates.

The sources in Apple’s supply chain who have revealed this latest news are the same sources that also reported yesterday that the first iPhone X units had started to ship from China.

DigiTimes also referred to its sources at analog IC suppliers who said that iPhone X chip supply have all been, and continue to be, on schedule.

Pre-orders for the iPhone X begin on Friday, October 27, ready for the launch on Friday, November 3.

Source: iPhone X Parts Suppliers Reportedly on Schedule to Meet 2017 Production Demand
by Maura at Oct 17, 2017
(970 Views / 0 Likes)
Google cupcake update removed due to protests.JPG

9to5 Mac reports today on a rather unusual Google Maps iOS update, which included the addition of a “mini cupcakes” distance measurement for how many calories are burned when you walk a particular distance.

It certainly looks like a fun and cute way of letting people know just how many calories they’ll be burning when they walk, but it seems that not everyone saw the cute or fun side of the update, as Google decided to remove the offending cupcakes just 24 hours after they first appeared due to complaints from some quarters, such as Buzzfeed, which said that “for some, it feels, well, judgey.” Others complained about the fact that there was no way of turning the cupcakes off.

The end result was that Google removed the cupcakes, although it said that it was because it was only a test feature, and not even rolled out to all users.

Source: Google Maps gets – and then loses – cupcakes in short-lived iOS app update
by Maura at Oct 16, 2017
(1,496 Views / 0 Likes)
iPhone 7 still outselling iPhone 8.JPG

According to KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst John Vinh, via 9to5 Mac, surveys of sales at carrier stores indicate that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is currently outselling the recently released iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in the US and UK.

Obviously, the main reason for this is that people are waiting for the iPhone X, but KeyBanc also puts forward two other reasons. The first reason is the iPhone price cut, which means that two relatively similar models have very differing prices, making the cheaper iPhone 7 look more attractive to the customer. In the US the iPhone 7 starts at $549 (and even cheaper at some retailers), and the iPhone 8 starts at $699.

The second reason given by KeyBanc is that the iPhone 8 has not been promoted nearly as much by Apple as the iPhone 7 was when it launched last year.

However, it has to be said that there are still some conflicting reports about iPhone 8 sales out there. Recently, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that iPhone 8 sales were in fact “better than expected,” and Foxconn’s recently reported September revenues certainly backed this up. However, AT&T has also recently said that it has had a million less upgrades compared with last year.

Source: iPhone 7 is outselling the iPhone 8, claims analyst, citing carrier store surveys
by Maura at Oct 16, 2017
(1,481 Views / 0 Likes)
Foxconn ships first iPhone X units.JPG

9to5 Mac reports today on the exciting news that Foxconn has begun shipping the first iPhone X models out of China. The information comes via Chinese website and Digitimes.

According to the report, the first batch of 46,500 units has been shipped from Zhengzhou and Shanghai to the Netherlands and United Arab Emirates respectively.

Nikkei’s most recent production volume estimates are 400,000 per week, meaning that there are likely to be considerable shortages way into 2018. And with just one carrier, AT&T, recently stating that it is expecting approximately 1 million pre-orders for the iPhone X, it sounds like a lot of people are going to be waiting longer than they might have hoped for to receive their new phone.

Recent reports have reiterated that the main cause of production delays for the iPhone X is issues with the TrueDepth 3D camera that is used for the new Face ID system.

Source: Foxconn ships first iPhone X models out of China, but only 46,500 phones – Chinese report
by Maura at Oct 15, 2017
(1,951 Views / 2 Likes)
iPhone X stops people snooping on your notifications.JPG

Phone Arena has spotted an excellent new iPhone X feature that will prevent that annoying habit that some people have of snooping on your private notifications on the lockscreen.

The change comes thanks to the Face ID technology used by the iPhone X, which will now be able to determine when the user is looking at the iPhone screen and when someone else is looking. It will then only show the contents of a lockscreen notification when the registered user is looking at it. If someone else who is not the registered user looks at it, only the notification source will be revealed, and not the content of the notification.

A slightly modified version of this is still available in iOS 11 for all other iPhones that do not have Face ID. All you have to do to activate it is go to Settings and enable the function to only show notifications when a device is unlocked.

Source: iPhone X and iOS 11 bring a welcome change to iOS lockscreen notifications
by Maura at Oct 15, 2017
(1,702 Views / 4 Likes)
Apple Watch saves man's life.JPG

Cult of Mac reports that New Yorker James Green from Brooklyn has his Apple Watch to thank for saving his life by detecting a pulmonary embolism. Twenty-eight-year-old Green says that he bought his Apple Watch because he’s a serial data-tracker and bought it to use it for the notifications and to track his bike rides.

Unbeknownst to Green, he was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, which did not reveal itself with any symptoms. However, when wearing his Apple Watch, the HeartWatch app notified him that his heart rate was unusually high despite him being inactive. On checking some older readings, he realised that he had an urgent medical problem, and on going to hospital the doctors confirmed that he had a pulmonary embolism.

“Never thought a stupid lil wrist computer I bought 2 years ago would save my life. Saw my heart rate go up, ending up being a pulmonary embolism,” tweeted Green.

7 News reported that Green said in a subsequent tweet that he has now been officially discharged from hospital, and that he will now have to be on blood thinners to save his life.

Stories like these are why I find Apple’s research on how the Apple Watch might be used to check for high blood pressure to be so exciting. That is surely the next big step from the company in its bid to make the world healthier, and could affect so many lives around the world.

Sources: Apple Watch saves man from pulmonary embolism | Cult of Mac

Man says Apple Watch notification saved his life
by Maura at Oct 15, 2017
(1,714 Views / 1 Likes)
Apple Pay Cash now being tested by Apple retail employees.JPG

MacRumors reports that Apple’s testing program for the forthcoming Apple Pay Cash service has now extended to its retail store employees, with testing having initially commenced at the beginning of October with Apple corporate staff.

According to the Apple retail employee source who spoke to MacRumors, retail staff were asked to install the iOS 11.1 beta as well as an internal-only beta profile in order to unlock Apple Pay Cash. iCloud accounts must also be whitelisted to enable the staff to use the service.

Screenshots provided by the source show the set-up process for the service, where the user is asked to verify their identity by providing their name, address, and social security number.

Apple Pay Cash is due to launch very soon, most likely as part of the forthcoming iOS 11.1 update. The service enables users to send cash to friend or family or other colleagues via the Messages app in a similar way to services such as Square Cash or Venmo.

Source: Apple Extends Internal iOS 11.1 Apple Pay Cash Testing to Retail Employees
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