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Pioneer To Add CarPlay To Five Of Their Existing Aftermarket Consoles

Update [April 17]: 9to5Mac has noticed that Apple has updated their CarPlay website with a section highlighting that Pioneer and Alpine will also support CarPlay. This confirms previous reports that Alpine will also begin selling a CarPlay compatible console later this year.

Pioneer has announced that it will bring Apple’s CarPlay to five of its existing aftermarket dash consoles via a firmware update. The update will be available early this summer, making Pioneer the first manufacturer to offer CarPlay on an aftermarket console system.

Pioneer’s years of expertise integrating smartphone connectivity into the automotive environment has provided us the opportunity to be among the first to offer CarPlay to drivers,” said Ted Cardenas, vice president of marketing for the Car Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. “By providing an aftermarket option, Pioneer’s 2014 in-dash multimedia systems give many iPhone owners the ability to add CarPlay to their current vehicles.”

The Pioneer consoles that will support the CarPlay firmware update include the AVIC-8000NEX ($1400 SRP), AVIC-7000NEX ($1200 SRP), AVIC-6000NEX ($900 SRP), AVIC-5000NEX ($750 SRP) and AVH-4000NEX ($700 SRP), all of which are currently available from retailers today. Reports from Nikkei earlier this week suggest that Alpine Electronics will follow suit by launching their own CarPlay-compatible console in the Fall, with an expected price between $500 and $700.

CarPlay, which was formally announced last month after an initial introduction at WWDC last year, is an infotainment system designed so that cars can integrate with iOS devices and allow drivers to reply to messages, answer phone calls, listen to music, and more. Although CarPlay comes with support for touchscreens and control knobs featured in most cars, Apple has also placed focus on CarPlay’s Siri support. Drivers can use Apple’s voice assistant to control music playback and ask for directions with Maps, compose new text messages, make calls – all while staying focused on the road as much as possible.

[Nikkei, via MacRumors]



Reeder 2 for Mac Public Beta Now Available

Reeder 2 for Mac beta

Reeder 2 for Mac beta

Nine months after being pulled from the Mac App Store following the Google Reader shutdownReeder for Mac, Silvio Rizzi’s popular desktop RSS client, is back with a public beta that offers a glimpse at the app’s new service integrations, refreshed design, updated gesture navigation, and new features that will come in the final version.

During the beta stage, Reeder 2 for Mac will be free to download from Rizzi’s website.

The Reeder 2 beta builds on the design foundation of the old Reeder for Mac and the latest Reeder for iOS to offer a mix of new functionalities and tweaked layouts that should be familiar to both audiences. In July 2013, Rizzi pulled Reeder for Mac from the App Store due to the discontinuation of Google Reader (the RSS service that powered Reeder 1.0) as he couldn’t ship compatibility updates in time for Google’s deadline and preferred to jump directly to a 2.0 update that, however, is taking longer than expected. Originally announced for Autumn 2013, Reeder 2 for Mac still isn’t feature complete according to Rizzi, but he’s confident that the public beta should provide a solid preview of the changes he’s been working on while also serving as a way to gather feedback for what will become a paid app on the Mac App Store. Read more


Dropbox Launches Carousel App for Photos and Videos

At a press event held in San Francisco this morning, Dropbox announced Carousel, a new dedicated gallery app that combines all of a user’s photos and videos from all connected devices in a single interface. Carousel will be available both as an iOS and Android app, separate from the main Dropbox client but based on the same storage space.

During the event, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston announced that the company has now 700 employees and over 275 million users, who rely on Dropbox to store a variety of personal and work files, documents, and media. With Carousel, Dropbox allows users to look at photos and videos stored in their accounts, which are automatically sorted by time and location: large thumbnail previews group related items together by location, while a timeline scrubber at the bottom allows users to quickly navigate through time to view and select old photos.

According to Dropbox, Carousel is faster than Apple’s built-in Photos app when dealing with hundreds of files even though they are stored in the cloud, and not on a user’s local device. Carousel is built with sharing in mind: the app makes it easy to select multiple photos and send them to another person directly from the app alongside a message; the recipient can then view the full-resolution photos, and optionally save them to Carousel.

Dropbox has long enabled users to automatically upload new photos from their devices through the official Dropbox client, but Carousel marks the company’s debut into the photo and video management space with a dedicated app that’s been specifically created for upload, management, and sharing outside of the Dropbox client.

From the Dropbox blog post:

It combines the photos in your Dropbox with the photos on your phone, and automatically backs up new ones as you take them. Carousel sorts all these memories by event so you can easily travel back in time to any photo from any date. And unlike other mobile galleries, the size of your Carousel isn’t constrained by the space on your phone, which means you can finally have your entire life’s memories in one place.

Carousel will be available for free on the App Store later today. We’ve embedded the official promo video below.
Read more


Drafts 3.6 Brings New Google Drive and Clipboard Actions, Auto-Backup

Drafts, Agile Tortoise’s note-taking app for iOS with support for customizable actions and workflows, has been updated to version 3.6 today, adding Google Drive integration, new clipboard actions, and a handy option to automatically back up a user’s action library to Dropbox every few days.

Google Drive joins Drafts’ existing Dropbox and Evernote actions as it’s based on the same concept: the app can now create text files in your Google Drive account, append/prepend text to existing files, or replace text; every tag that is normally supported by Drafts (such as placeholders for timestamps, date, draft line, or clipboard) will work with Google Drive actions that you can create in the Settings. In my tests, I was able to quickly send text from Drafts to Google Drive by adapting some of my old Dropbox actions, which created a new .txt file in Google Drive and inside a specific folder (Drafts has preference to specify a parent folder for Google Drive actions); overall, if you’ve ever wished you could easily send plain text to notes stored in Google Drive, the addition is welcome.

Append and prepend actions have also been added to Drafts’ iOS clipboard integration: just like with built-in third-party services, Drafts can now append or prepend text to the contents of the clipboard — a feature that may not seem immediately useful, but that could open some interesting possibilities when using the clipboard as a workaround for the lack of automation features in iOS apps.

Aside from adding background refresh support for iOS 7 (for notes stored in the app across the iPhone and iPad versions), Drafts 3.6 also adds a setting for auto-backup: if activated, the app will save actions every few days to Dropbox without having to remember to export an action’s library manually.

Drafts continues to be a must-have utility for text automation on iOS, and version 3.6 is available now on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.



Sparkle Public Beta: Create Websites With No Coding Knowledge

Launched as a public beta just over a week ago, Sparkle is a new Mac app designed to let you build fully functional websites with no coding knowledge necessary. At its core it is a modern WYSIWYG editor that is super simple to use and more than powerful enough for building a static webpage such as a product promotional page or a personal landing page.

Design in full freedom, finely control positioning, use layout grids and smart snapping. Stay neat and tidy or break all the rules. Your web page is your canvas.

No HTML expected!

I’ve been playing around with Sparkle for a little while over the weekend and one of the features that stood out most for me is the easy ability to modify your layout design for different devices. It really is a breeze to dive in and change how the website displays on a smartphone so that it is as easy to read and view as it is on the desktop. Something that makes designing a website so very easy with Sparkle is its Live Preview function. Open a preview in your browser and it will be automatically updated whenever you make any change from Sparkle.

Sparkle includes over 600 fonts, and over 300 background patterns, as well as support for YouTube and Vimeo embeds. It’s a great start but I would like to see Sparkle add support for embedding Tweets; it would also be useful to be able to embed HTML code — a feature that’s not available at the moment. The other aspect to Sparkle that I think is missing at its current stage is HTML5 animations. I think some support for basic animations would be a really solid addition to really set this app apart from its competitors.

You can download and test drive the public beta of Sparkle for Mac here. Remember that if you do try Sparkle, the developers want to make it a better app, so give them some helpful feedback. Read more


Facebook Messenger 4.1 Adds Free WiFi Calls For All Users

Previously limited to the UK, US, and Canada on iOS and selected countries on Android, Facebook’s Messenger app has today added free audio calls on WiFi (VoIP) for all users in all countries.

Free calls in Facebook Messenger can be initiated from the chat interface by tapping on a phone icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Once started, Facebook Messenger will start “ringing” another user’s device — because Messenger can’t always run in the background like Apple’s Phone app, however, the company is using standard push notifications to inform users that a call is being received. In the Facebook Messenger app, the call interface is reminiscent of Apple’s Phone app design for iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.1 with circular buttons for speaker, mute, and hide, and standard green and red targets to answer or end a call.

While there’s no shortage of free VoIP calling solutions on iOS, Facebook aims at making it easier to reach your friends by building the feature into the existing Messenger contact database, prominently featuring the button in the chat UI of the app. Facebook Messenger was updated last week to version 4.0 with group management features, and version 4.1 is available now on the App Store.


IFTTT for iOS Gets iPad App, Curated Collections, and Native Notifications

The official IFTTT client for iOS has been updated to version 2.0 today, adding an iPad app and a new channel for iOS Notifications to integrate them with IFTTT recipes. IFTTT, a popular web automation service that supports many third-party apps and services, first arrived on iOS in July 2013 when the company released an iPhone app that featured native Contacts, Reminders, and Photos integration.

As I wrote in my original review, IFTTT brought a different kind of automation to iOS thanks to its native integrations built into the app:

IFTTT brings a different kind of automation to iOS that doesn’t need URL schemes or bookmarklets, but that instead looks into native pieces of data to connect services together. It’s an innovative approach to monitoring photos, contacts, and reminders that are added or modified on an iPhone, but it should be familiar to users who already rely on IFTTT for their daily web automation tasks. While I’m not leaving my Mac mini anytime soon, my photo sharing workflow is faster thanks to IFTTT, and I look forward to seeing how the app will evolve over time both in terms of community recipes and new features. I am especially excited for its future on iOS 7, which could broaden the scope of the app’s background refresh system.

With version 2.0, IFTTT has revamped the initial screen of the app with a gallery of popular recipes and curated collections. Likely in an effort to provide a better explanation of what IFTTT is capable of without requiring users to learn on their own through trial and error, the app now showcases the recently launched collections such as “Recipes for the nature lover” or “Recipes for NYC” that include recipes to get weather alerts for NYC, add a Foursquare check-in to Google Calendar, log trips in a Google Drive document, and more. Read more


Audiobus 2 Adds Multi-Routing, Presets, and State-Saving for App-to-App Audio On iOS

Audiobus, the popular app-to-app audio routing solution used by hundreds of iOS apps including Apple’s GarageBand, has been updated today to version 2.0, which brings further improvements to the app’s inter-app communication capabilities. Audiobus, first released in late 2012, allows iOS apps to communicate with each other to exchange effects and sounds in a unified audio pipeline that lets users create a single audio stream from multiple apps at the same time. Read more