Dr. Dre to take a senior role at Apple after Beats acquisition

The co-Founders of Beats by Dre Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are set to take up senior roles within apple after the companies £1.8 million ($3.2 million) acquisition last week.

The pair are set to take up part time / advisory style positions and are said to be commuting from the Los Angeles area where Beats is based to meetings at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino and elsewhere as necessary.

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The role the two are going to actually play in influencing apples decisions is still unclear but it is thought that this may be either a move to entice younger generations or possible be a very clever decision with a view to securing deals with record labels.

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Apple is said to be re-designing iTunes in order to turn around the recent drop in music sales. The acquisition of the Beats Music streaming service along with a thriving hardware business and two experienced seasoned veterans of the music industry may help the company achieve this drastic revamp while introducing new ideas and hardware sales.

Apple to start its own Health & Fitness Platform

iwatch-concept-nikeApple is allegedly looking at doing more with the iWatch wearable device than first thought by creating a new health and fitness ecosystem modelled on its successful iOS App Store. Similar to the iOS App Store, this new platform may allow companies to develop their own mobile medical applications that could tie into Apple’s iWatch wearable device.

One mobile health executive, who asked not to be named, told Reuters he recently sat down with an Apple executive from the iWatch team. He said the company has aspirations beyond wearable devices, and is considering a full health and fitness services platform modelled on its apps store.

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Said to be launching as part of iOS 8 later this year, a new Healthbook app is expected to serve as a data-store for health-related information acquired from a variety of sensors on the watch such as resting heart rates, oxygen levels, distance & pace from GPS tracks of runs or activities and much more. Based on the vast amount of data the app appears to be able to track, it is unsurprising that Apple will be looking to open up the ecosystem to third parties to help users fill out all of the various content areas.

One company that could definitely benefit from an Apple health and fitness ecosystem is Nike, which has scaled back its own hardware development of the Fuelband to focus on expanding its software-based NikeFuel platform. Though Nike CEO Mark Parker would not directly comment on any specific plans with Apple, Parker did say in a recent interview that Apple is a long time partner and that he is “excited about where that relationship will go forward.”

Heartbleed did not affect Apple’s Services

Apple have today confirmed that key services where unaffected by the infamous heartbleed vulnerability in the OpenSSL Software.

A spokesperson for apple has said

Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key web-based services were not affected

The heartbleed security flaw which is explained in the cartoon below, was a small coding error within the OpenSSL platform, not an issue with the SSL protocol itself. The purpose of this software is to provide secure connections between computers and web servers and this small flaw is said to have effected around 80% of the internet that uses secure web pages, including Facebook and Google among other big names.

The problem has been described by many experts as catastrophic and realistically on a scale of 1 – 10, if your website uses SSL (think that little gold padlock in the bottom right corner) then this is an 11.

Worth mentioning is that this iPhoneLeaks has also not been effected by this issue as we do not have any need to establish secure connections.

 

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Microsoft announces Windows in the car

Microsoft has announced today that they are launching “Windows in the Car” as a competitor to apple’s Car Play. Microsoft is no stranger to in car entertainment systems and has been powering a number of manufacturers systems for years. But now, Microsoft is starting to look in creating its own solution, based on Windows Phone however with a lot of similarities to CarPlay.

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This announcement comes not long after Microsoft have also announced a competitor to Siri, making me think that Microsoft are ramping up the competition before apple’s latest product launch with the iPhone 5s this summer.

 

The system is currently still in the theory stage however the fact that Microsoft is thinking about going into direct competition with apple means they must be confident about its potential as a competitor to CarPlay.

The plans for the system currently mean that the car’s touch screen display would mirror the display of your smartphone, allowing it to display Maps, Texts and Caller ID in the same manner it would on your windows phone, hopefully just without the blue screens we are used to!

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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!

Cortana is coming to Windows phone 8.1

CortanaMicrosoft has announced today that they will be launching a competitor to siri, the virtual assistant from apple. This new assistant from Microsoft is named Cortana after the Artificial Intelligence from the Halo series on xbox. Cortana was an advanced form of AI who actually controlled the entire spacecraft in the halo series, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 however has a little less power, but still sufficient to control the features of your mobile phone.

Cortana is powered by Microsoft’s own search engine Bing and sometimes this is very noticeable as if you happen to say anything that she doesn’t quite understand, you will find yourself redirected to a bing search for “text messages” when you really just wanted her to read out your new message!

Cortana is designed to learn about users by asking questions and monitoring user activity, interacting through both text and speech. She has access to all of your files and notes on your phone and can learn by interpreting your data and storing the information that she learns in her notebook.

Microsoft designed the feature based on real personal assistants, giving Cortana a Notebook to work from. The Notebook can be described as a settings page, allowing users to designate what Cortana can track. In her Notebook, Cortana stores information like personal interests, relationships with people, frequently visited places, appointment dates, quiet hours, and more.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the following about Cortana’s “Notebook”

It’s her view of you, but clearly you can just snatch it from her at any time and say ‘That’s not right, I don’t want you to know this’ or ‘I’m not comfortable with you reading my email, So you have complete control over what she knows and she’s transparent about it.

Entries in the Notebook are stored in the cloud, and you can share contact information with it, as well as your interests, home and work locations, and more. The notion of Cortana acting as a personal assistant with a notebook— as opposed to a creepy stalker — has been drilled into the team from the beginning, they say.

Cortana is a core function of Windows Phone 8.1, replacing the existing search function. Like Siri she can schedule reminders, but Cortana’s functionality is somewhat more powerful, allowing reminders to be tied to people and locations. For example, Cortana can be asked to give a reminder to discuss a certain topic when calling a contact, with that reminder popping up when a call is placed.

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The digital assistant also offers a daily summary of information, similar to what can be found in Apple’s own Notification Center. Cortana lists upcoming appointments, reminders, weather information, and more. She can, with permission, track user email to pull out information like airline reservations.

Like Siri, Cortana has a personality. She has witty responses for certain questions, such as “Who is your father?” to which she replies, “Technically speaking, that’d be Bill Gates. No big deal.” Displayed as a circle on a phone screen, she’s also able to express 16 different emotions.

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While Siri has not been opened up to developers or third parties, Microsoft is releasing an SDK. Cortana will also integrate with services like Hulu, Twitter & Facebook allowing people to use voice commands to launch television shows or send a tweet.

Cortana remains in the early beta stages, as there are plenty of bugs with the software that still need to be worked out. Windows Phone 8.1 will launch soon, scheduled for late April or early May, but unfortunately Cortana will only be available in the United States for the time being.

Let us know what you think in the comments

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.

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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.

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iOS in the car to launch with Ferreri, Volvo and Mercedes

Last year when iOS 7 was announced, apple spoke about iOS in the car, a concept where an In Car Entertainment system could interface and control features of iOS such as maps or music playing through the car stereo, essentially a wireless upgrade to the current “Audio over Bluetooth” system many car manufacturers include on their higher end models.

 

iOS in the car

The announcement does not mention any particular model of car by name, however it does hint at new upcoming models of cars having the system included from the factory. The system claims to be able to enable drivers to use Apple Maps for navigation on the car’s in-dash screen, as well as watch movies, listen to music, make calls and send text messages through the system with full Siri integration.

The technology group will next week launch its first in-car operating system with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo as it attempts to take the lead in a fierce race to dominate tomorrow’s smart cars.

The deal marks the first time that Apple is embedding its software in devices other than its own branded products. The choice of the Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz is seen to be in keeping with the US tech group’s high-end phones.

It had been previously announced at apple’s WWDC keynote last year they where working with a number of partners including Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and more, in addition to Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes, so which ones surface first and which ones follow afterwards is yet to be seen however I think we have three clear forerunners with this latest announcement.

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Rumour has it that this will be officially announced at the Geneva MotorShow next week this is not confirmed however but we will do our best to keep you updated on any news to come out of the show.

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