Sold-out conference will cost winners $1,600, Apple increases diversity scholarships
On Friday, lucky recipients started receiving emails that they had been selected at random in a ticket lottery to register for the company's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Francisco, which will start on June 8. The ticket lottery was required due to the incredible growth of Apple's iOS and OS X developer programs, which have nearly-instantly sold out over the last few years, and the company's desire to continue the conference at Moscone West, which allows for a total of 5,350 attendees, not counting press or the 1,000 Apple engineers who will be on hand.
Android gains 70 percent of downloads, iOS gains 70 percent of revenue
A new report by analytics firm App Annie has revealed that Apple and Google, as the progenitors of iOS and Android respectively, are locked in a roughly stalemated battle when it comes to revenues from apps versus app downloads. Google's Android enjoys the majority of app downloads, as it has for some time -- but continues to be unable to catch Apple in terms of being able to reward developers for their work. In a set of charts from the analytics firm, Apple's revenue from app sales is about 70 percent higher than Google Play, while Google's downloads outpaced Apple's by 70 percent.
New beta comes on heels of 10.10.3 release, no change log yet available
Just a week after the official release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 and days after the first beta of iOS 8.4, Apple has posted the first 10.10.4 beta for developers and testers, though it is has not been (and is not likely to be) made available to public beta testers until future builds are released. The sparse announcement of the new beta says only that the update focuses on "stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac," which suggests it will build on the improvements made in 10.10.3.
Not all users affected, but caused kernel panics, startup issues in some machines
On Thursday, Apple released a rare supplemental update to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 that resolves a bug in a video driver that was causing some Mac owners to report startup issues or even full-blown kernel panics "when running certain apps that capture video," said the company. Users were reported longer-than-normal startup times or crashes. Not fixed by the new update are scattered reports of problems opening large JPEG files using Preview of QuickLook, but this is again not a universal issue.
Powerful set of tools enables researchers to attract volunteers, study larger pool of data
One of the most critically-lauded -- particularly by the public -- aspects of Apple's "Spring Forward" event last March wasn't the sleek new MacBook or even the remarkable miniaturization that enabled the Apple Watch; it was the section devoted to ResearchKit, a new SDK aimed at leveraging the sensors found in many mobile devices to help medical professionals develop apps that could further medical research into any number of diseases, conditions, or illnesses. On Tuesday, Apple released it to all developers and open-sourced it.
Healthcare companies announcing plethora of new apps for Apple Watch platform
A number of healthcare companies, many of whom are just now working deeply with the HealthKit APIs from Apple to create health-oriented applications, are already pivoting to create complementary apps for the new Apple Watch platform as well, which creates new opportunities for handling certain kinds of results and notifications. More than a dozen applications have been announced in just the last week, ranging from a medication reminder for patients to a glucose monitor system for the Watch.
'Sneak peek' offers better iTunes Radio experience; Xcode 6.4 beta updated also
On Monday, Apple released the first iOS 8.4 beta to developers, which among other feature includes what the company calls a "sneak peek" at a revamped Music app that now offers a new Miniplayer, global search, a better iTunes Radio experience and improved "Now Playing" screen that allows custom art from users, along with a Recently Added automatic playlist. In addition, Apple updated its Xcode 6.4 beta with new SDKs for iOS 8.4, and compatibility updates for OS X Mavericks (10.9) and Yosemite (10.10).
Watson Health to provide analytics, secure cloud for medical app data
IBM and Apple, already in a partnership to service the enterprise sector, have announced an expansion of the deal that will see IBM utilizing its Health Cloud and Watson Health initiatives to support and secure data gathered or entered by users through apps using Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit technologies. The partnership will work with the Watson Health business unit to offer developers a secure place to store gathered health data, and analytics to help researchers analyze it.
Android Wear companion app for iOS allegedly close to completion
Google may be preparing to fight the Apple Watch on its home turf, by working on getting Android Wear devices to work with iOS devices. A companion app for iOS is reportedly close to being completed by Google, which in theory would allow smartwatches running Android Wear to receive notifications and interact with other apps on Apple's mobile operating system.
Update adds support for latest OS releases, Force Touch trackpad, updated compiler
Alongside the big OS updates yesterday, Apple also released a final version of Xcode 6.3, which has been in beta for some time. The update includes a modified SDK supporting Apple's Force Touch trackpad, as found on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and forthcoming 12-inch Retina MacBook. It also includes the latest SDKs for iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3, along with Swift 1.2 for iOS 8.3, and a new version of Apple's LLVM compiler.
Apple bought out alternative keyboard maker late last year, reports claim
Apple apparently bought out software keyboard developer Dryft last September, acquiring one of the co-founders of Swype in the process, according to reports. CEO Randy Marsden changed his job title to Apple's iOS Keyboard Manager on LinkedIn around the same time as the deal allegedly happened. Apple only rarely confirms acquisitions of small tech companies like Dryft.
Widely beta-tested, each brings new features to devices
With today's release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, Apple is officially releasing its iPhoto replacement program Photos for the Mac. While the program has already been in use on iOS for some time, the new program sits alongside existing iPhoto or Aperture libraries with its own copy, and adds new abilities and features we have previously reported on. The update, leaked earlier today, also brings a non-beta version of iCloud Photo Library and new emoji, while the iOS 8.3 release shares the emoji improvements and adds wireless CarPlay support, along with new Siri accents and languages.
CEO offers employees a half-off discount on sport, steel editions
Following a suggestion from a retail employee during a meeting in Germany, Apple CEO Tim Cook has met the suggestion half way: he has decided to offer all Apple employees, including retail workers, a 50 percent discount off the cost of either aluminum "sport" version or the stainless steel version of the Apple Watch, or $550 off the cost of the 18kt gold Edition versions. The discount is only available for 90 days, starting April 10.
Developer tool runs Android apps on Windows, Mac desktops
Google is attempting to increase the number of places people can run Android apps, by bringing them to desktops. The App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) tool was initially brought out for Chrome OS, but Google has expanded the development tool's availability to the Chrome browser, allowing the Android apps to run on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, all from within the browser itself.
Updated version is second this week, hinting at problem fixes
Developers and public testers of the forthcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 release have unexpectedly been notified of a second release this week, this time with build number 14D130a. Normally spaced a week apart, the last update came on Monday with 14D127a -- suggesting that the company is zeroing in on fixes for certain known issues, and perhaps planning a public release in the near future. Testers are cautioned to keep backups current while testing the new beta.
Hoping for variety, if not plethora, of third-party apps by public launch
With just over three weeks to go until the first wave of countries will begin selling the new Apple Watch (and less than two weeks until curious customers can try one on), Apple has sent out a reminder to developers that they can now submit apps based on WatchKit to the App Store in order to be ready for the public debut on April 24. The email to developers included a link to a submission tutorial.
Staffers discuss new book, new gaming column, new apps
We're now at episode eight of The MacNN Podcast, which this week welcomes our new Apple Gaming column, as well as reminding listeners about our weekly game news roundup. We also discuss the book Becoming Steve Jobs, and Tim Cook's latest honor from the business world. More confusion about Windows 10 pricing outside China has come to light, and tech companies are asking for changes in the Patriot Act.
Public beta updated also; screen sharing, Wi-Fi, languages need focus
On Monday, Apple issued a sixth beta of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 to developers, and an identical third beta to registered public testers. The new build, numbered 14D127a, is said to be mostly a security, compatibility, and stability bugfix release, though the company has added a request that testers focus on screen-sharing features as well as Hebrew and Arabic localizations, on top of the ongoing focus on Wi-Fi "captive portal" networks (such as hotels or coffeeshops).
Hand-based motion controls added to developer version of Razer VR headset
Razer's virtual reality headset will include the ability to track the motion of the wearer's hands. The OSVR Hacker Dev Kit from Razer will include an optional faceplate with Leap Motion hardware embedded inside it, allowing for developers to create apps that take into account the wearer's hands, and potentially allowing for a more intuitive and realistic virtual reality experience for users.
Voice recognition systems able to perform home automation tasks via Harmony API
Owners of Logitech Harmony devices will soon be able to perform various automated home commands using their voice. Ubi and Ivee are both using Logitech's Harmony API to communicate directly with smart home devices and appliances, allowing both systems to take control and change settings for various connected items around the house.
Former Panasonic factory to be repurposed, joins other new global facilities
First announced late last year by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese media and the mayor of the host city have confirmed that Apple will begin repurposing part of a former Panasonic plant into a new research and development center late this year, which is expected to open sometime in 2016. Apple has recently opened similar offices in China, Israel, and will be adding England to the list shortly.
Fourth iOS 8.3 beta shows no progress on known issues, likely arriving next month
Apple issued a fourth developer beta of iOS 8.3 on Tuesday, one day after an updated OS X 10.10.3 beta emerged. In addition, the company released the second version of a "public" 8.3 beta to registered public Appleseed testers, which is identical to the developer beta. Also included was a new, fourth beta of Xcode 6.3, which includes Apple's Swift coding language, version 1.2.
Version is identical to new update for Appleseed testers
On Monday, Apple issued the fifth beta version of OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite to developers. The latest version, which comes on the heels of the previous fourth release that was aimed solely at new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro users, is also being released to registered public beta users as the second such version. The forthcoming Photos app has been updated (though it still has some known issues), as well as Yosemite's recovery tools.
BlackBerry adds BBM Protected mode to iOS, Android apps
BlackBerry is allowing its enterprise users to have highly-secure FIPS 140-2 validated conversations with other mobile users, rather than just between BlackBerry devices. BBM Protected, a mode for the BlackBerry messaging app that encrypts the conversation between two parties, is now available on the iOS and Android versions of the client. BBM Protected requires the use of the paid service BES from BlackBerry in order to set up the secure communications, though the secondary party only needs the free client to receive secure chat requests.
Apple employees used as health, fitness test subjects for Watch, HealthKit
In an unusual move for the normally-secretive company, Apple has allowed ABC News crews access to a previously top-secret heath and fitness lab that was designed to test and improve the Apple Watch. A report on the facility, which aired on Nightline on Friday, showed the nondescript building where the company created its full gym and testing facility, centered around activity.
New Pro, Air, MacBook now require Windows 8 or later; VMs still support Win7 for now
Apple's traditional zeal to push users forward extends even to its support for a rival platform, as the latest MacBook refreshes -- the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, 13-inch MacBook Air, and the forthcoming MacBook -- now require Windows 8 or later to work with Boot Camp, Apple's tool to create a dedicated Windows partition for users who need the compatibility. The company first dropped Windows 7 with the latest Mac Pro in 2013.
Early 2015 MacBooks, MacBook Pros get separate version
Apple on Thursday has updated OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 (only) with a new security update. While details are not available, the update could possibly be the first to address an https vulnerability known as FREAK, which can compromise secure web browsing on a variety of systems and applications. In addition, the company has issued an update for iPhoto to further help with the eventual transition to Photos, as well as clear up a few bugs.
Smartstrap efforts for enhancing Pebble Time functionality will gain extra backing
Projects to create a Pebble smartstrap, add-ons for the Pebble Time smartwatch introduced on Kickstarter late last month, will be getting a development boost from the company itself. Developers creating their own smartband for the wearable device will be eligible to apply for funds from Pebble to create their smartstrap, with the manufacturer pledging $1 million for the handouts.
Apple releases new Safari betas for OS X 10.9 and 10.8
On Wednesday, Apple updated the developer versions of Safari with two new betas aimed at users of older OS X versions, specifically 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and 10.9 (Mavericks). The new versions follow a slight update to the current Safari versions for OS X 10.8 and later that contains several WebKit fixes for security issues. Version 7.15 is for Mavericks, while Mountain Lion owners will see only version 6.2.5.
Potential but unwieldy security threat to those running pre-iOS 8.1.1
A new device on the market costing $300 could be used by attackers to crack the PIN codes on iOS devices running system versions older than iOS 8.1.1. While the chances of it being used on someone's personal device are extremely low -- since it requires both physical access to the device as well as a great deal of time -- users can protect their devices and foil the so-called "IP Box" attack by moving to a more complex passcode.
Android apps on Google Play inspected by team of experts before being sold
Google is making one major change to its Android app store, and has revealed it already made another significant alteration. Apps in Google Play will now be covered by a new global content rating system, advising buyers of the kind of content they can expect within the app, and new apps are being subjected to an improved app review process, which will involve a team of human experts inspecting apps before they go on sale.
Google accepts registrations for developer conference lottery draw
Google has started to accept registrations for its Google I/O developer conference, set to take place on May 28 and 29 in San Francisco. Until 5pm PT tomorrow (8pm ET), potential Google I/O attendees can sign up on the website and placed into a lottery. Applicants selected at random will then be asked to pay $900 or $300 for a general or academic ticket.
Testers had been previously warned not to install beta on that model
A new build of the latest beta for the forthcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 was issued on Monday specifically for the few present -- and all future -- owners of the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro. Following the release of the beta last Thursday, which included a warning of a known issue that meant testers should not install it on the new 13-inch MBP, the new build removes that warning -- suggesting that the issue may be fixed.
Small but meaningful changes enforce company's strong privacy, ethical outlook
On Thursday, Apple updated App Store Review guidelines to reinforce privacy, consent, and other ethical concerns regarding the implementation of apps that work with medical data (specifically ResearchKit), Apple Pay, and apps that download or stream music or video. The guidelines generally reinforce more transparency or set minimum standards, but also target apps that illegally "rip" copyrighted material from video and audio sites like Vimeo and Soundcloud.
Company unifies different beta programs into single 'Apple Beta Software Program'
On Thursday, Apple released a flood of new betas for various versions of its two main operating systems, including the first semi-public beta of iOS 8.3, and third developer betas for iOS 8.3, OS X 10.10.3, Xcode 6.3 with Swift 1.2, and OS X Server 4.1 Developer Preview. The company has also decided to unify its various beta programs under a single tent now known simply as the "Apple Beta Software Program."
Free computer hardware heading to students this fall in BBC coding effort
The BBC is continuing in its attempts to promote digital literacy in the United Kingdom, by providing approximately 1 million devices to children. The broadcaster will be providing the Micro Bit, a compact electronic board inspired by the BBC Micro from the 1980s, to students in secondary schools this fall, which it hopes will encourage a new generation of coders to create software.
Publicity from feature spot in 'Spring Forward' event demonstrates Apple influence
On Monday, Apple devoted a portion of its "Spring Forward" event to talking about a previously-unannounced initiative called ResearchKit that will help medical researchers put together apps that improve the voluntary data collection process so vital to the field. Five example applications were also released that day, including one that sought participants in a Stanford University cardiovascular study. Today, some 10,000 new applicants have volunteered through the app.
Marvell first silicon vendor to offer the SDK, drivers for chipset for Apple's IoT
Chip manufacturer Marvell today announced that it is the industry's first silicon vendor to develop a fully-supported SDK for HomeKit. HomeKit from Apple is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user's home. Marvell's SDK for HomeKit is available on its EZ-Connect Internet of Things (IoT) Platform, including Marvell's 88MC200 microcontroller and Avastar 88W801 Wi-Fi system-on-chip (SoC).
Cute game teaches elementary kids the basic of coding video games
Edutainment took off in the early 1990s, with games like Math Blaster and The Incredible Machine. For the most part, edutainment games have usually been math or science-centric, with enough history and reading thrown in to keep the mix interesting. However, that's beginning to change with a new dawn of kid-targeted apps. Tynker is one such app, which promises to teach elementary-age children how to code their own video games.
Apple's official IDE gets updates following release of iOS 8.2, WatchKit
Among the many other releases on Monday, Apple also quietly brought forth a final version of Xcode 6.2 for developers. The integrated development environment has been updated with the latest SDKs for OS X 10.10 Yosemite, and also includes features designed to help developers write apps for iOS 8.2 and now, the Apple Watch by including WatchKit. The update requires a 64-bit (Core2Duo or later) Intel Mac running OS X 10.9.4 or later. The update is available to all registered ADC members.
Security update 2015-002 fixes problem is OS X, iOS 8.2 patches iOS version
On Monday, Apple issued a security update for OS X 10.8 or higher that resolves a recently-discovered vulnerability in the SSL/TLS protocol that could have allowed supposedly secure communications -- such as bank transactions -- to be decrypted and intercepted. The flaw, known as FREAK (meaning "Factoring RSA Export Keys") forced the security back to a weaker "fallback" standard that had since been cracked. The new update, 2015-002, fixes the flaw in OS X, while today's iOS 8.2 release patches the issue for iOS devices.
Command line tools also updated for 10.10.3 beta testers
Alongside a recent update by Apple to its Digital Camera RAW Compatibility plug-in, the company on Monday updated iMovie for OS X to version 10.0.7. The latter update, along with a minor update for command-line tools, allows iMovie to work with Photos for OS X, which is unreleased but available to testers in the current 10.10.3 beta update, and adds support for Sony's XAVC-S format. The RAW update brings compatibility for a number of cameras to Apple's current three photo programs.
First five apps available today, focusing on diabetes, Parkinson's, more
As part of today's Apple "Spring Forward" event, CEO Tim Cook announced ResearchKit, a framework that enables medical researchers to more easily design the apps they're going to use for clinical studies. The first apps available target Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer. The app development kit is strictly opt-in for users, and is designed to collate data from research subjects. It runs hand-in-hand with HealthKit, and will be open source for full availability to all who seek to use it.
News from the video game industry for the week of March 2
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista rounds out the week by bundling together some notable stories from the world of gaming. In the same week as GDC's various hardware and software development announcements, EA shuttered the spiritual home of The Sims and SimCity, Amazon reveals it is porting games from its Fire devices to iOS, and Epic Games shows off what could be coming in its openly-developed Unreal Tournament reboot.
Google VR development team said to include dozens of engineers
Google is working on making an interface for Android specifically for virtual reality headsets, a report from the Wall Street Journal claims. The search company allegedly has a team made up of "tens of engineers" and other staff working on a VR experience for the mobile operating system, which aims to make Android more useful for developers of VR apps and games.
Steam Link home streaming device, virtual reality hardware announced at GDC
Valve Software made a considerable number of announcements at the Game Developers Conference, just as it advised, concerning both hardware and software development. The company's Source 2 engine was revealed, alongside a new set-top box for in-home streaming called the Steam Link, Steam Machine updates, and more about its recently-unveiled virtual reality efforts.
New 64-bit engine with lighting, audio improvements now supports 21 platforms
Unity Technologies has finally brought the fifth version of the company's game engine out of beta as a general release, the company announced at the Game Developer Conference. Originally debuted in March last year and existing in beta for a number of months, Unity 5 offers a number of upgrades over earlier versions, including the ability to render better-looking and more complex scenes with an improved lighting system.
LiquidVR API designed to reduce 'motion to photon' lag time
Today, at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, AMD announced an initiative to deliver what it calls the best possible VR experience for developers and users. The first output of AMD's initiative is LiquidVR, a set of technologies focused on enabling exceptional VR content development for AMD hardware, improved comfort in VR applications by simplifying performance-boosting techniques, and plug-and-play compatibility with VR headsets.
Full specification and details expected later in the year
The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, today announced the availability of technical previews of the new Vulkan open-standard API for high-efficiency access to graphics and computing on modern GPUs used in a wide variety of devices. This ground-up design, previously referred to as the Next Generation OpenGL Initiative, provides applications direct control over GPU acceleration for maximized performance and predictability, and uses Khronos' new SPIR-V specification for shading language flexibility.
Pebble Time Steel has metal body, similar specifications, larger battery
Pebble has given backers of its wildly-successful Pebble Time Kickstarter a difficult decision, by adding an alternative device to purchase. Similar to the Pebble Steel compared to the original, the Pebble Time Steel is a metal-clad version of the smartwatch, containing the majority of internal components as the updated wearable device, but with a few slight changes to match the more mature design.