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Posts tagged with "iPhone"

Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Announcing Upcoming Accessibility Features

Thursday is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, Apple has announced a long list of accessibility features coming to its products later this year and shared other ways it is celebrating the day through its apps and services.

Apple’s press release sums up the features coming to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as follows:

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

Door Detection will be part of the Magnifier app later this year. The feature helps blind and low vision users find and navigate doors when they arrive somewhere. The feature will judge the distance to the door using LiDAR, describe the door’s attributes, like whether it opens by pushing or using a doorknob, and read signs and symbols next to doors.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

Apple Watch Mirroring.

The Apple Watch will add several Physical and Motor accessibility features too. Apple Watch Mirroring, which is built on AirPlay in part, will allow users with physical and motor disabilities to control their Watches from an iPhone using Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and Made for iPhone switches. The Apple Watch will also add a new double pinch gesture for controlling, like answering and ending phone calls and taking photos.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

Apple Watch will add a new double pinch gesture.

For Deaf and hard of hearing users, Apple will add Live Captions on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says captioning will work with video calling apps like FaceTime, streaming video services, video conferencing apps, and in-person conversations. Live Captions occur on-device to preserve privacy, and on the Mac, users will be able to type a response that will be spoken aloud.

VoiceOver will get an update, too, adding the following languages:

  • Arabic (World)
  • Basque
  • Bengali (India)
  • Bhojpuri (India)
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Croatian
  • Farsi
  • French (Belgium)
  • Galician
  • Kannada
  • Malay
  • Mandarin (Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Marathi
  • Shanghainese (China)
  • Spanish (Chile)
  • Slovenian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Ukrainian
  • Valencian
  • Vietnamese

VoiceOver on the Mac will also gain Text Checker that will discover formatting issues.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Additional upcoming accessibility features.

Apple previewed several other upcoming accessibility features across its products, including:

  • Buddy Controller, the ability for someone to use a second game controller to assist with playing a game as though the two controllers were one
  • Siri Pause Time, which will allow users to customize the period Siri waits before responding to a user
  • Voice Control Spelling Mode, for dictating words letter-by-letter
  • Customizable sound recognition of the sounds in your environment
  • New themes and text adjustments in the Books app for a more accessible reading experience
Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Apple apps and services are celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, too.

Also, Apple has announced that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated with Apple Store sessions, an Accessibility Assistant shortcut in the Shortcuts app, special Fitness+ sessions and Time to Walk or Push episodes, an accessibility-oriented Maps guide, and highlighted content on the App Store and in Apple Books Apple Podcasts, Apple Music and Apple TV.

We’ve seen Apple announce accessibility features coming to future versions of its OSes before, but today’s announcement is unique given the number of features revealed. I’m eager to try these features out. Based on what Apple has said, there seems to be a lot here that will make meaningful impacts on a lot of users’ everyday lives.


Apple Unveils Its Self Service Repair Program

In a press release, Apple announced that Self Service Repair is now available in the US, with more countries being added later this year, beginning in Europe.

According to Apple:

The new online store offers more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (3rd generation), such as the display, battery, and camera. Later this year the program will also include manuals, parts, and tools to perform repairs on Mac computers with Apple silicon.

Manuals for iPhone repairs.

Manuals for iPhone repairs.

Apple's Self Service Repair Store.

Apple’s Self Service Repair Store.

Manuals for repairs will be available at support.apple.com/self-service-repair. Parts for repairs can then be purchased at Apple’s Self Service Repair Store. Both the parts and the tools available in the Self Service Repair Store are the same ones used by Apple’s repair network, according to the company. Tool kits can be rented for one-week periods for $49 with free shipping too.

It’s good to see this program, which was announced last fall, launch. The products are limited for now, but more iPhones are sold than any other Apple product, so it makes sense to start with it and expand from there.


ComicTrack: A Beautifully-Designed, Flexible Way to Organize Your Comic Book Reading

ComicTrack is a new app from Joe Kimberlin for tracking and organizing the comic books you’ve read, are currently reading, and want to read. The idea is similar to his excellent videogame tracking app, GameTrack, but applied to comics. I’ve been using ComicTrack for a couple of weeks now, and it’s excellent. Of course, you’ll also need a separate app to read your comics, but having a dedicated app to organize what I’m reading and plan to read has single-handedly gotten me back into reading comics more regularly.

ComicTrack on the iPhone.

ComicTrack on the iPhone.

For context, I’ve always been a very casual comic book fan. I have Comixology and Shonen Jump installed on my iPad mini, but I often go weeks or months without touching either. It’s not a lack of interest, so much as a combination of not knowing where to start and having limited free time. ComicTrack hasn’t magically granted me more free time, but it has made getting started much easier by reducing the friction of picking something to read.

ComicTrack on the 12.9" iPad Pro in dark mode

ComicTrack on the 12.9” iPad Pro in dark mode

I’m going to focus on the iPad version of ComicTrack because that’s where I read most of my comics, but the app also works and looks great on the iPhone and Mac, as you’ll see in the screenshots below. Everything syncs over iCloud too. Also, although I spend most of my time using the iPad version of ComicTrack, I find the iPhone and Mac apps indispensable for collecting new ideas of things to read. I run across comic books all the time via RSS, Twitter, podcasts, and friends’ recommendations. That doesn’t just happen when I’m using my iPad, but with ComicTrack on all the platforms I use, it’s easy to add something that catches my eye.

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Contactless Payments Are Coming to the iPhone

Today, Apple announced Tap to Pay, a new contactless payment option coming later this year for the iPhone XS and later.

According to Apple’s press release:

Tap to Pay on iPhone will be available for payment platforms and app developers to integrate into their iOS apps and offer as a payment option to their business customers. Stripe will be the first payment platform to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone to their business customers, including the Shopify Point of Sale app this spring. Additional payment platforms and apps will follow later this year.

The new payment system leverages NFC and the iPhone’s existing privacy-oriented Secure Element, which is part of Apple Pay existing technology infrastructure.

Apple’s press release explains how Tap to Pay will work from users’ perspective:

At checkout, the merchant will simply prompt the customer to hold their iPhone or Apple Watch to pay with Apple Pay, their contactless credit or debit card, or other digital wallet near the merchant’s iPhone, and the payment will be securely completed using NFC technology. No additional hardware is needed to accept contactless payments through Tap to Pay on iPhone, so businesses can accept payments from wherever they do business.

Although Tap to Pay won’t require new hardware, it will need to be incorporated into participating apps. Apple says developers can expect a Tap to Pay SDK in an upcoming iOS beta.

It’s good to see that Tap to Pay will work with a broad array of credit cards, debit cards, Stripe, and other payment processors. However, it’s disappointing that Tap to Pay will be US-only at launch, although it’s not surprising either. I use my iPhone for payments a lot, so I’m glad to see the addition of Tap to Pay, which will make that possible in even more circumstances.


Apple Announces Self Service Repair Program That Will Provide Customers With Access to Tools, Parts, and Manuals

Apple announced today that its customers will be able to order tools, parts, and manuals to make repairs to iPhones, and later, M1 Macs beginning early next year:

Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022.

The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.

Repair materials will be offered in a new store:

The new store will offer more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers to complete the most common repairs on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.

Also, the company will offer a credit toward new part purchases when used parts are sent back to encourage recycling.

It’s excellent to see Apple expanding customer repair options. As the company notes in its press release, the number of authorized repair providers has expanded in recent years, but not everyone has easy access to existing alternatives. More repair options also address complaints that Apple’s devices are too hard to repair, although there remains room to make more kinds of repairs easier. Still, today’s move is a step in the right direction and one that will be interesting to follow in the coming year.


Apple’s September 14, 2021 Keynote: By the Numbers

As usual, Apple sprinkled facts, figures, and statistics throughout the keynote today. Here are highlights of some of those metrics from the event, which was held online from Apple Park in Cupertino, California.

iPhone 13 Lineup

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

  • 28% brighter display
  • 800 nits outdoors
  • 1200 nits peak brightness for HDR content
  • The A15 Bionic has 15 billion transistors and 6 cores, 2 high-performance and 4 efficiency cores, making it 50% faster (than the competition)
  • 4-core GPU that’s 30% faster
  • 16-core Neural Engine that handles 15.8 trillion operations per second
  • The Wide camera has a 12MP sensor, 1.7 µm pixels that gather 47% more light, a ƒ/1.6 aperture, a 7-element lens, and a 26mm focal length.
  • The Ultra Wide lens has a 12MP, a ƒ/2.4 aperture, 13 mm focal length, 5-element lens, and 120-degree field of view
  • The iPhone 13 mini gets 1.5 and the iPhone 13 gets 2.5 more hours of battery life than the iPhone 12 models they replace.
  • Storage is available in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

  • 50% faster graphics
  • 1000 nits peak outdoor brightness and 1200 nits peak brightness for HDR content
  • 10 - 120 Hz screen refresh rate
  • Telephoto camera has a 77mm focal length and 3x optical zoom
  • Ultra Wide camera has ƒ/1.8 aperture, 6-element lens, and 92% better performance in low light
  • Wide camera has ƒ/1.5 aperture, 1.9 µm pixels, and up to 2.2x improvement in low light
  • The iPhone 13 Pro gets 1.5 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max gets 2.5 more hours of battery life than the iPhone 12 models they replace
  • Storage is available in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB
  • .25 mm thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro models and slightly heavier

iPads

iPad mini

  • 40% faster CPU
  • 80% faster GPU
  • 8.3” display
  • 500 nits of screen brightness
  • 2x faster machine learning
  • 10x faster data transfers with USB-C
  • 5G delivers up to 3.5 Gbps download speeds under ideal conditions
  • 12MP camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • 20W power adapter
  • .31” shorter than the mini it replaces and very slightly lighter

10.2” iPad

  • 20% faster
  • 3x faster than the top-selling Chromebook
  • 6x faster than the leading Android tablet
  • 12MP camera with 122-degree field of view

Apple Watch

  • 40% thinner borders
  • Up to 70% brighter in low power mode
  • WR50 water resistance
  • 33% faster charging than Series 6

You can follow all of our September Apple event coverage through our September 2021 event hub, or subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.


The New iPhone 13 Lineup: The MacStories Overview

Today, Apple debuted its iPhone 13 lineup consisting of four new models:

  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

Similar to the iPhone 12 family of devices, the iPhone 13 and 13 mini are the more affordable options, while the two Pro models add premium features at a premium price. All four devices share the A15 Bionic processor, 5G networking, camera updates, MagSafe, and more.

Also, all four devices will be available for pre-order this Friday, September 17th, with availability beginning one week later on Friday, September 24th.

Here’s a complete overview of everything new coming to the iPhone 13 lineup.

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FaceTime’s Audio and Video Take a Leap Forward With Apple’s Upcoming iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS Updates

FaceTime has been a centerpiece feature across all of Apple’s platforms for a long time. However, with the pandemic, it became more important than ever, playing a critical role in the way friends and family have stayed connected. Of course, FaceTime isn’t the only way have kept in touch. The app had plenty of competition from Zoom, Skype, and other services.

So, it’s not surprising that this year’s FaceTime updates focus on fundamentals like audio and video quality and making the app available outside of Apple’s ecosystem, allowing it to compete better with other services. Nor is it surprising that Apple announced SharePlay, which won’t ship until later this fall, so friends and family who can’t be together can still enjoy synchronized group activities like watching a video or listening to music. I’m skeptical that SharePlay will be the hit that Apple’s marketing suggests the company hopes it will be, but even putting SharePlay aside, the app is getting some major improvements that I think everyone will appreciate, so let’s dig in.

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Apple Releases Remix Sessions, Sound Packs, and Producer Packs for GarageBand on the iPhone and iPad

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced Sound Packs for GarageBand for iOS and iPadOS from artists and producers that allow users to remix hit tracks from Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga and create their own music, using hundreds of loops and sounds from producers that include Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Oak Felder, Soulection, Take A Daytrip, Tom Misch, and TRAKGIRL.

Apple VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Bob Borchers explained that:

GarageBand continues to be a catalyst for music creation — making it easy for novices to get started and for seasoned pros to develop their ideas on the go. For this update, we’ve collaborated with an incredible group of artists and producers to give musicians an amazing collection of new sounds to play with, and we hope even more people will be inspired to tap into their creativity and start making music in GarageBand.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The Remix Sessions feature Break My Heart by Dua Lipa and Free Woman by Lady Gaga and allow users to remix the tracks using GarageBand’s built-in tools. Apple is also releasing seven Producer Packs from big names in music production. According to Apple’s press release:

Each Producer Pack is bursting with hundreds of royalty-free loops, beats, instruments, drum kits, synth patches, and samples that embody the sound and vibe of each producer. And in-app videos feature each producer offering words of encouragement to beginners, as well as insights into their creative process.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

One of the Producer Packs will serve as a companion piece to an upcoming docuseries with producer Mark Ronson called “Watch the Sound With Mark Ronson.” The TV+ series, which Apple says “explores and celebrates the intersection of music and technology,” will let GarageBand users create music using sounds inspired by the series.

I’m a little surprised that the Mac version of GarageBand isn’t part of Apple’s announcement today, but I love these sorts of add-ons to apps like GarageBand. This content allows fans of artists and producers to work with the same raw materials they do to come up with remixes and original music that express their personal tastes using a tool that is very approachable and fun.