App News

Snapchat 2.0 with AutoPlay

So i’m sure you are all aware by now that Snapchat has surprised us all by releasing a new update on Tuesday which adds a few new and possibly controversial features!

The main thing that the new update brings is an “Updated Chat” which snapchat has dubbed Chat 2.0, this apparently will make it easier for us to chat and video chat with our contacts.  Snapchat has said that the new chat 2.0 works when you “start by sending a few chats, and when your friend shows up, start talking or video chatting instantly with one tap” … not really sure why you would want to but snapchat has also added stickers just like on Facebook and WhatsApp so you can send giant emoji style stickers to annoy your friends too!

The most annoying / ground breaking feature that has been rolled out in this update is the “autoplay” feature on your friends stories, in a nutshell once the story you are watching finished, snapchat auto plays the next one down in your friends. If you want to skip the Story that just started playing, swipe to move ahead to the next one; and if you don’t want to watch any-more Stories at all, pull down to exit. Personally I find this feature annoying as firstly I don’t really want to watch everyone in my contacts list’s stories, I only watch interesting peoples and it also kind of feels like snapchat is gearing up to ad advertising stories right into the mix. finally it also makes it really difficult to tell who’s story you are watching!

For full details on the new update or if you just like reading official press releases, its available on Snapchat’s Blog

Do you like the new update? let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Snapchat now allows background music!

Snapchat UpdateSnapchat have released another update today which is set to change the game for the better (or worse depending on your viewpoint)

The update will allow users to play music from their devices while recording their snap, meaning that you can sing, dance or just make funny faces to all your music from iTunes. The update also includes “Bug Fixes” which are apparently going to make snapchat faster – but I wouldn’t have exactly said it was the slowest of my app’s to start with!

The update could prove to be much bigger than anyone at snapchat may have expected, as it gives your friends much more options to be creative with their snaps. It will also give some of your friends to share their terrible taste in music and awful lip syncing abilities. Previously, as soon as you hit that record button, any music playing would automatically stop.

This is still the case with other social apps like Instagram and Vine, who now it appears have some catching up to do.

This is the first major update since Snapchat announced that they believe their worth will raise up to $19 billion within the next financial year.

 

Apple developing products for HomeKit

HomeKit-iconRecent leaks suggest that Apple is working on a HomeKit standard for home automation with iOS 8.

Various details are surfacing about components and technological developments suggesting that apple is working on a number of devices linked with their new announcement of HomeKit. Some may wonder why Apple did not purchase Nest before Google did however it has been revealed that it is unlikely apple will go down the same route and may instead choose to follow different avenues of home automation similar to how Bose has created home audio systems.

The sources say that Apple is unlikely to move forward with devices to compete directly with Google’s Nest as the Cupertino-company feels it can build products that can gain usage wider than that of thermostats and smoke detectors. It is likely that Apple is building advanced speaker systems or control panels for homes, the sources say. It is possible that Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats Electronics and the audio company’s existing speaker systems play into this vision.

Apple is expected to expand its product portfolio later on this year with the iWatch and with the addition of HomeKit apple really is looking like it is getting ready to take over the world, technologically at least.

Heart Rate Monitoring Headphones?

heartrateearphonesA secret sharing website recently reported that apple might be exploring the possibility of headphones able to measure heart rate. The report was later confirmed to be a hoax however the technology to do this already exists, and is even available today in a product from LG.

Launched at CES in January, LG’s fitness-oriented Heart Rate headphones are designed to give real-time heart rate monitoring. The headphones use sensors in the earbud to measure blood flow, along with a small medallion that is strapped to the arm or attached to a waistband to track metabolic rate and maximum oxygen consumption, and all this while allowing users to listen to music!

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The medallion that connects to the headphones is designed to work as a data processing unit, sending the biometric information directly to the LG Fitness app or other popular third-party apps on an iPhone via Bluetooth. The headphones are said to have good sound and even include a built-in microphone for making calls using the device as a handsfree kit.

LG’s Heart Rate Earphones are designed to provide accurate heart rate data by measuring blood flow signals in the ear via PerformTek sensor technology while also delivering excellent sound. Because of the unique physiology of the ear, wearers can get more accurate health and fitness metrics with LG’s Heart Rate Earphones than with other devices, especially when engaged in physical activity. LG Heart Rate Earphones can be used alone or with LG Lifeband Touch.

The Heart Rate Earphones and the Lifeband Touch are available for pre-order and will will be officially on sale on the 18th May. The headphones are currently listed at £106.94 ($180), while the Lifeband Touch is £89.12 ($150).

Even though the report of Apple developing these headphones with sensors was fabricated, they have previously invested research into the concept, filing several patents on the subject and recently hiring Eric Winokur, a researcher who developed an ear-worn bio-signs monitor, likely for its wearable’s team. Despite all this evidence, there’s currently no indication that Apple is working on or even plans to work on their own headphones with sensors, but LG has demonstrated that the technology certainly exists should the company choose to go in that direction.

Worldwide Developers Conference 2014

wwdc14The WorldWide Developers Conference or WWDC has been announced for the 2nd June 2014 in San francisco. At a glance WWDC 2014 will open its doors on the 2nd June with a keynote speech from Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. OS X 10.10 is overall the mostly likely focus of the event, but there are also a number of other possible topics, including the upcoming iOS 8 and the slight possibility of some new hardware however the new Apple TV and the iWatch are reportedly not yet ready for production.

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iOS 8

There is very little information currently available on any of the topics to be discussed at WWDC however a new operating system for mobile devices is almost a certainty. healthbookleakedscreenshotThe update is said to focus on refining the major visual updates that were introduced with iOS 7 and adding new functionality to the operating system, of which the biggest new feature seems to be the new HealthBook app which appears to track all sorts of biological information from heart rates to oxygen saturation and blood sugar, presumably there may also be some new hardware linked to this which will be required for some of the functionality. Rumours have also surfaced which suggest that Apple may be looking into the mobile payment industry with the use of TouchID verification when performing NFC enabled transactions at supported contactless outlets. iTunes Radio may be moved out of iTunes Music and into its own app with iOS 8. Apple is also said to be preparing a new song naming feature for iOS in partnership with Shazam who currently have an app in the app store which performs this task. Such a service would be built directly into iOS 8, integrating with apps and Siri to allow users to identify songs playing on the radio or via other sources.   [ad 1] Minor improvements to integrated features may also be included such as improvements to Siri by enabling an API style integration with third party apps and Maps getting the upgrade to include public transport directions have also been rumoured to be included in this update although as always, nothing has been confirmed.

OSX 10.10

There is even less information available on this subject than there is on iOS 8 however what we do expect is a lot of new features or possible a complete redesign as the last update (OSX Mavericks) introduced only a handful of features compared to previous releases. Hopefully apple wont make the same mistakes Microsoft did with Windows 8.0 and alienate a large number of their users by making the design “too” flat!

Unlikely Announcements

According to a recent interview with a source who has insider knowledge it seems we are unlikely to see a new Apple TV or the iWatch being launched this year.

Tim Cook will not use WWDC to unveil Apple’s mythical wearable device. Nor will he use it to show off a new Apple TV, or even preview the new software the company is developing for it. Which makes perfect sense, really. There’s little point in Apple unveiling a new OS in advance of a significant hardware update.

As always apple may be planning a big surprise and trying to catch everyone out but usually there are some inevitable leaks and this seems to be one of them, disappointing for all of us who are looking for a new SmartWatch with real style!

Pioneer working on aftermarket CarPlay units

Pioneer, a company that builds in-car entertainment systems, is said to be looking into the possibility of creating CarPlay compatible products. The news comes courtesy of a Pioneer customer service representative.

The car play system announced earlier this year is said to allow an in car touch screen to take over the functions of your phone display, meaning you can get directions, answer calls and send text messages using your in car screen.

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While the service initially launched solely in new cars from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, it appears CarPlay could now be introduced into any existing vehicles through a Pioneer head unit, which could also offer after market navigation from google maps or apple maps and audio systems for cars using your iTunes library!

Mercedes-Benz, one of Apple’s official CarPlay partners, has also indicated that it is working on after market installations, but Pioneer’s potential solution is even more promising as it would be available in a wider range of existing vehicles.

Volvo has published a video featuring CarPlay

volvo_carplayFollowing on from this mornings announcement that CarPlay will be available soon in a car near you, Volvo have created a press release and published their own promotional video which can bee seen below. Ferreri and Mercedes Benz are also flagship manufacturers however neither have yet to make comment officially on their progress with CarPlay.

Volvo themselves have taken things a step further with their upcoming XC90 by truly integrating the features of your usual in car touch screen and the new CarPlay features as overlays on top of each other when the device is in use, this is better shown in the video where you can see what song is playing, then by simply touching a button control your air conditioning without leaving the previous screen.

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From the video it is clear that Apple Maps are going to become available to use with turn-by-turn navigation in the car, presumable using a voice over feature if the radio or iPod is in use. Other apps features where H.264 Video playback, Music, Messaging, Handsfree Calling and much more interesting things like Spotify. This means that at some point there may be an open forum where app developers can integrate all kinds of things with CarPlay.

iPhone users will feel completely at home in a new Volvo. We have created a wholly-integrated user experience in our large portrait-oriented touch screen that takes the in-car mobile device experience to a new level. That, coupled with the obvious driver safety benefits of an advanced voice control system like Siri, made Apple a perfect match for Volvo – Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of the Volvo Car Group

Volvo’s press release also makes clear that while the initial release of CarPlay requires your phone to be physically connected using the Lightning connector and presumable a cradle, wireless connectivity will be “coming in the near future”

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CarPlay launched at the Geneva Motor Show

As we predicted apple launched CarPlay, its integration between in car entertainment systems and the iPhone today at the Geneva International Motor Show. The integration was described as allowing an iPhone to take over the in-dash display of a car, providing Siri voice controlled access to aspects such as navigation, phone functions, messages, and music.

carplay

Once a Lightning-enabled iPhone is connected, CarPlay can be controlled on compatible cars through Siri voice control and the cars built in touchscreen with on-board iOS style buttons. From there, users are able to access various iOS apps such as Maps, Phone, Messages, Podcasts, and Music. Is was also noted that third party apps such as Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Stitcher are also supported, with Apple promising compatibility with more apps soon.

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CarPlay is being launched with vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, while other manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will receive the update later.

CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car, iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.

This feature was originally named “iOS in the Car” when it was announced at last years Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) by Apple. CarPlay will be available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lighting-enabled iPhones which means currently it is limited to the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

Apple in talks with health tracker company Basis

basisBasis the company behind the “worlds most advanced health tracker” has put itself up for sale and is currently in talks with all the major technological companies about a takeover. The companies interested include Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft.

The company’s goals seem to be in line with the ethos of Apple and on their website they say

When creating Basis, we dedicated ourselves to making the design as advanced as the technology inside. We knew if it was too complicated, or not beautiful enough to wear—it’d be useless. We pushed the limits of technology, without pushing the limits of what’s useful.

While it is currently unknown how much interest apple has in this hardware and weather there is currently an internal iWatch project is still unknown however one thing is for sure, this would certainly speed up the development process.

the current list of features on the Basis watch includes the ability to monitor health-related metrics such such as heart rate, sleep activity, movement, perspiration levels, and skin temperature using a new optical sensor. This would be the perfect hardware to integrate with the recent rumors of a “Health book” style app which is said to be included with iOS 8.

Over the past few months, Apple has also hired a number of health experts in fields related to heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking. Two executives from pulse-oximetry company Masimo joined Apple, which includes its former Chief Medical Officer. Other health-related hires have also been from C8 MediSensors, a company that develops non-invasive blood monitoring sensors.

Overall details on the whole iWatch project are scarce as there has been no official announcement on the topic, and this latest rumor doesn’t even have a ballpark figure for the takeover however we do have a quote from a reliable source saying that the bid would be “sub hundred million” wether this is actually the case with all the recent competition it yet to be seen.

The price we’ve heard for any possible activity is “sub-hundred million” which could mean a small return for investors like Norwest Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund and Intel Capital, who have poured over $30 million into the company.

It is still unknown when the latest iPhone will be released however it is most likely to be this Summer / Autumn along with a new version of IOS and if all goes to plan, a revolutionary iWatch.

Facebook to buy WhatsApp for £9.5 Billion?

whatsappIt has been announced today that Facebook is in talks with the highly popular instant messaging app called WhatsApp. The price is currently set at a cool £9.5 billion however this does include some shares and employee stock payouts, which will essentially mean that the apps developer Jan Koum will be joining the Facebook board of directors.

The service is said to currently have in the region of 400+ Million active users and rumors where surfacing in the past months about WhatsApp possibly becoming subscription based. Google has also showed their interest in the platform for around £600 million, however this was dismissed by both companies.

WhatsApp is still one of the most popular messaging apps available on the app store and it is cross platform meaning it is available on both iOS, Android and Blackberry’s. This gives the app the distinct advantage of being more popular than apple’s iMessage, due to this cross platform compatibility.

The current talks are for WhatsApp to continue as it is at the moment and it will not be integrated or merged with the facebook platform however if this remains the case in the coming months is yet to be seen.

Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) said

WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.

WhatsApp is currently the 35th most popular app on the App store, facebook has also been quoted as saying WhatsApps messaging volume is approaching that of an entire telecom provider for SMS, at roughly 7 trillion messages a year.

This is the latest in a line of moves by Facebook to purchase lucrative social media companies as in April 2012 Facebook purchased the extremely popular photographic sharing app Instagram for around £600 Million.

The app was previously available from the app store for £0.69 however it is currently available to download for free!

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