New Apple patent application hints at long-range wireless charging

New Apple patent application hints at long-range wireless charging:

A new patent application by Apple hints at RF-based long-range wireless charging, along the lines of the Energous system recently granted FCC approval.

As is usual with Apple patent applications, the wording is as general as possible – encompassing both wired and wireless charging – but the problem it aims to solve does appear to be one that arises primarily with long-range wireless charging …

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(Via 9to5Mac)

iFixit matches Apple’s $29 battery swap cost, covers pre-iPhone 6 devices

iFixit matches Apple’s $29 battery swap cost, covers pre-iPhone 6 devices:

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Looking to equal or beat Apple in the aftermath of its iPhone battery apology, iFixit has dropped the price of its do-it-yourself battery swap kits to $29 or less. More significantly this includes kits for the iPhone 4S, 5, 5s, and 5c, which are excluded from Apple’s discounted battery replacements.

(Via AppleInsider – Frontpage News)

The Best HomeKit-Compatible Smart-Home Devices

The Best HomeKit-Compatible Smart-Home Devices:

The Best HomeKit-Compatible Smart-Home Devices

Apple’s HomeKit is a user-friendly platform for anyone who owns an iOS device and is interested in a simple, reliable DIY smart-home system. With a couple of HomeKit-compatible devices and a recent iPhone or iPad, it’s realistic to start from scratch and have an integrated system up and running in a few minutes. Apple doesn’t yet offer a voice-controlled speaker like the Google Home or Amazon Echo (the HomePod should be available in early 2018), but you can control your HomeKit system via the Siri voice assistant built into Apple phones, tablets, computers, and watches, or through smartphone and tablet apps.

(Via Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World)

Apple might combine iOS and Mac apps next year

Apple might combine iOS and Mac apps next year:

Apple might start to converge iOS and macOS in a big way next year by letting developers create a single app that runs across both platforms. Bloomberg reports that Apple is planning to let developers create apps that will adjust to whichever platform they’re running on, so that they’ll support touch input on an iPhone or an iPad and mouse and trackpad input on a Mac.

The report notes that plans could always change, but it sounds like the combined apps could become available next year. If so, they’d likely be announced in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and then introduced in the fall, when new versions of iOS and macOS typically ship.

Though Apple is far from the first to attempt such a crossover, the move would still be a very big deal. While the Mac has its share of very good apps, iOS is by far the more vibrant ecosystem. By letting developers create for two platforms at once, Apple can potentially make it easier and faster for updates and new apps to arrive on the Mac.

The really big open question is how all of this will work. It isn’t clear whether this means that macOS will emulate portions of iOS, or if developers will still largely have to code two separate apps. The closer the two platforms are, the easier it’ll be for developers — but the bigger the risk of users on one platform getting an interface that feels like it was designed for other types of input.

Microsoft has been trying this exact same thing with Universal Windows Platform apps for a while now, allowing developers to create apps that run across Windows, Windows phones, the Xbox, HoloLens, and even the Surface Hub. This has had limited success, in part because there’s always going to be one or more platforms that developers just don’t care to serve. Google has started going down the same road, bringing Android apps over to Chrome OS.

(Via The Verge – All Posts)

iMac Pro testing shows 10-core model dramatically faster than any other Mac on intensive tasks

iMac Pro testing shows 10-core model dramatically faster than any other Mac on intensive tasks:

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Two more iMac Pro impressions have been posted, with benchmarks from both showing massive gains in processing power in the iMac Pro over older models — plus the inclusion of AVX-512 vector processing optimization in the W-series Xeon processor giving an added push to properly optimized apps.

(Via AppleInsider – Frontpage News)

The backpack of the future has magnetic straps to catch your AirPods

The backpack of the future has magnetic straps to catch your AirPods:

Backpacks are great at carrying stuff around, but even the nicest bags are still just canvas and leather sacks that we wear on our backs.

But there’s no product that crowdfunding won’t try to make “smart,” which brings us to Visvo. It’s a new company that’s looking to get funding on Kickstarter for a line of smart backpacks, and it has some interesting ideas of what a technology-focused bag should look like.

For example, there’s the usual integrated USB battery pack, which lets you recharge your gear on the go, but it also powers both external lights for biking, internal LEDs for lighting up the inside of the bag, and even an optional GPS tracker in case your bag gets stolen. One of the models even includes a wireless Qi charging pad integrated into one of the pockets, which is either the most ridiculous or most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard.

The best addition might be the shoulder straps: each one has powerful magnets to hold your headphones — or maybe even catch your AirPods if they fall out of your ears.

There is also a plethora of USB ports hidden around the backpack in addition to the three built into the battery pack (one on the inside of the bag, and one built into a zip pocket on right shoulder strap for charging your phone or wireless headphones). All the internal wiring can be accessed through a handy back zipper, so you don’t have to dig through all your stuff to recharge the internal battery, too.

The rest of the Novel line is pretty standard for a backpack: the outside is a treated canvas that claims to be water and stain resistant, there’s a laptop pocket, and some shock-absorbing rubber on the bottom to protect your gear.

All those extra smarts don’t come cheap, though. The base model Novel 1.0 starts at €249 for early-bird pricing (around $293), with the larger Novel 2.0 at €269 (roughly $316), and the most feature-laden Novel 3.0 at €299 (around $352). The bags aren’t expected to ship until July 2018, either, which is something to take into account, especially seeing as this is a crowdfunded project with all the usual risks that can entail.

(Via The Verge – All Posts)

Apple’s AI director on advances in machine learning for its self-driving car project

Apple’s AI director on advances in machine learning for its self-driving car project:

Apple’s secretive autonomous car project has shifted focus over the years, but this year, it seems to be picking up speed. In April, the company received a permit to test self-driving cars in California, while in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that they were working on software that could allow cars — and maybe other things — to drive themselves. During a talk on Friday, Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, spoke about some of the company’s recent advances in machine learning that would be useful for such a project.

Wired reports that Salakhutdinov spoke before a group of AI experts at the end of this year’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in Long Beach, California. There, he spoke about how Apple is using machine learning to analyze data to from a vehicle’s cameras. He talked about techniques used in a recently published study on the advances that the company has made in using AI to detect pedestrians and cyclists using LiDAR. But he also revealed efforts on some other projects: software that uses a car’s cameras to identify objects such as cars and pedestrians, as well as the drivable lanes on the road. He also showed off images that demonstrated how the system performed even when camera lenses were obscured by raindrops, and how their software could infer where pedestrians were, even when they were obscured by parked cars.

Salakhutdinov also discussed how their software was interpreting the data that it was being fed. One uses a technique called SLAM to allow the software to have a sense of direction, something that’s used in map building and augmented reality, while another project takes the data from the cars and uses it to help build maps with more detail. According to Wired, he didn’t speak specifically about how these projects fit into Apple’s project, but it seems as though Apple’s focus will be on developing the brains that will eventually steer the cars safely.

(Via The Verge – All Posts)