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Apple Opens iOS 11 Public Beta

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 11. The first developer beta of iOS 11 was released at WWDC on June 5, 2017. iOS 11 includes many new features such as a new Files app that makes navigating files on iOS devices easier than in the past and adds several iPad-only features like drag & drop, an app Dock, and enhanced multitasking.

You can sign up for the beta program here, but be sure to follow the instructions, which include backing up your iOS device, because it’s still early in the iOS 11 beta release cycle. There will be bugs and running a beta always runs the risk of data loss.

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The Wall Street Journal’s Mini-Documentary on the Creation of the iPhone

The Wall Street Journal released a short documentary called Behind the Glass to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone’s release on June 29, 2007. The almost ten-minute long documentary cuts between interviews with Greg Christie, former Vice President of Human Interface, Scott Forstall, former Vice President for the iPhone Operating System, and Tony Fadell, former Senior Vice President of the iPod division. The three describe the struggle over whether to base the iPhone’s hardware on a multi-touch interface versus the iPod and the ensuing 2.5-year effort to create the first iPhone.

The interviews are short but recount several anecdotes, including the attempts to find a way to adapt the iPod’s interface to work as a phone and the predictive software used to make the touch keyboard accurate. Even ten years later, the retelling of the stories behind the iPhone’s birth is captivating.

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Connected, Episode 147: I Wish We Could Be Friends in Real Life

This week: HomeKit changes coming in iOS 11, our approaches to running betas and Business Chat in iMessage.

On this week’s Connected, more on running the first beta of iOS 11 on our devices and interesting changes coming to iMessage next year. You can listen here.

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iPhone App Size Is Increasing at a Breakneck Pace

According to a Sensor Tower report, the total space required for the top 10 most installed iPhone apps has increased more than 1000% since May 2013, increasing from 164 MB to a whopping 1.8 GB. During that period, Apple has raised the maximum app size from 2 GB to 4 GB and the minimum storage capacity of iPhones to 32 GB, but the size of the most popular iPhone apps has far outstripped those increases. iOS 11 will address the issue in part, with a feature that can offload apps that aren’t used often, while saving settings and user data.

Sensor Tower explains that,

We see the often sudden growth in size exhibited by apps such as Facebook and Snapchat as directly tied to the intense competition between them, which necessitates a steady rollout of new and more space-intensive features. Of course, some apps have likely grown in size simply due to a reduced need (or perception of a need) for optimization.

I'm sure that competition and perception play a role in the increases noted by Sensor Tower, but it would also be interesting to see how deep this trend extends beyond the ten most popular iPhone apps. I suspect it runs deeper than many people realize. Scrolling through the Update tab of the App Store, I have many recent updates on my iPhone that exceed 100 MB, including Apple’s own Keynote, which is 675 MB.

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The JPEG Format’s Days May Be Numbered

Kelly Thompson writes for 500px about Apple's upcoming transition from JPEG to the HEVC-based HEIF for photos across all its platforms:

JPEG is 25 years old and showing its age. Compression has become a big deal as we’ve moved to 4K and HDR video, and HEVC was developed to compress those huge video streams. Luckily HEVC also has a still image profile. The format doesn’t just beat JPEG, JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP—it handily crushes them. It claims a 2 to 1 increase in compression over JPEG at similar quality levels. In our tests, we’ve seen even better levels, depending on the subject of the image.

By using it internally on the camera, it means storing twice as many images in the same space. People with full iPhones are weeping with joy.

Think about it for a second—if we could reduce every picture delivered on the web by two times and have it look the same (or better)… game changer.

A move away from JPEG is significant, but Apple clearly has good reason for making the transition now. The recent massive increases of photos taken by the average user have led to persistently-scarce storage space. Apple has responded in the past year by increasing the base storage of new iPhones and iPads, but storage bumps are only a bandaid fix – adopting HEIF should make a long-term difference.

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IKEA to Launch Augmented Reality iOS App in the Fall

At WWDC, Craig Federighi demoed ARKit, Apple's new augmented reality API and mentioned that Apple was teaming up with IKEA on AR. The collaboration was mentioned again recently by Tim Cook in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Now in an interview with Digital.di, Michael Valdsgaard, Digital Transformation Manager for Ikea's parent company, has provided further details of its upcoming AR app:

This will be the first augmented reality app that allows you to make reliable buying decisions.

IKEA has big plans for the app:

At launch, 500-600 products will be in the app. In future, it will play a key role in new product lines.

According to Valdsgaard,

When we launch new products, they will come first in the AR app.

Based on the interview, IKEA and Apple feel like a natural fit. IKEA has hundreds of 3D models ready to use with ARKit and Apple has a huge install base of iOS users for IKEA's app. Moreover, IKEA can help demonstrate the types of applications that AR can enable beyond the gaming industry.

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Apple Hires Sony Executives to Lead Video Programming Efforts

Apple has announced that Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg are joining the company to lead the company’s worldwide video programming efforts as part of Eddie Cue’s team:

“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for them to bring their expertise to Apple — there is much more to come.”

Erlicht and Van Amburg were responsible for hits such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, The Crown, Rescue Me, and more while at Sony Pictures Television. Apple has been ramping up its video production efforts for quite some time now and if there was any remaining doubt that the company is serious about getting into original content creation, the hiring of Erlicht and Van Amberg should put those doubts to rest.

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