Apple, IBM add machine learning to partnership with Watson-Core ML coupling

Apple and IBM may seem like an odd couple, but the two companies have been working closely together for several years now. That has involved IBM sharing its enterprise expertise with Apple and Apple sharing its design sense with IBM. The companies have actually built hundreds of enterprise apps running on iOS devices. Today, they took that friendship a step further when they announced they were providing a way to combine IBM Watson machine learning with Apple Core ML to make the business apps running on Apple devices all the more intelligent.

The way it works is a customer builds a machine learning model using Watson, taking advantage of data in an enterprise repository to train the model. For instance, a company may want to help field service techs point their iPhone camera at a machine and identify the make and model to order the correct parts. You could potentially train a model to recognize all the different machines using Watson’s image recognition capability.

The next step is to convert that model into Core ML and include it in your custom app. Apple introduced Core ML at the Worldwide Developers Conference last June as a way to make it easy for developers to move machine learning models from popular model building tools like TensorFlow, Caffe or IBM Watson to apps running on iOS devices.

After creating the model, you run it through the Core ML converter tools and insert it in your Apple app. The agreement with IBM makes it easier to do this using IBM Watson as the model building part of the equation. This allows the two partners to make the apps created under the partnership even smarter with machine learning.

“Apple developers need a way to quickly and easily build these apps and leverage the cloud where it’s delivered. [The partnership] lets developers take advantage of the Core ML integration,” Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager for IBM Partnerships and Alliances explained.

To make it even easier, IBM also announced a cloud console to simplify the connection between the Watson model building process and inserting that model in the application running on the Apple device.

Over time, the app can share data back with Watson and improve the machine learning algorithm running on the edge device in a classic device-cloud partnership. “That’s the beauty of this combination. As you run the application, it’s real time and you don’t need to be connected to Watson, but as you classify different parts [on the device], that data gets collected and when you’re connected to Watson on a lower [bandwidth] interaction basis, you can feed it back to train your machine learning model and make it even better,” Naghshineh said.

The point of the partnership has always been to use data and analytics to build new business processes, by taking existing approaches and reengineering them for a touch screen.

“This adds a level of machine learning to that original goal moving it forward to take advantage of the latest tech. “We are taking this to the next level through machine learning. We are very much on that path and bringing improved accelerated capabilities and providing better insight to [give users] a much greater experience,” Naghshineh said.

Invite-Only Game Fortnite Has Earned an Estimated $1.5M Since Launch

Epic Games’ popular Fortnite Battle Royale game for iOS devices has grossed an estimated $1.5 million worldwide since its release last Thursday, according to figures shared this afternoon by app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Fortnite has topped the iPhone download charts in more than 40 countries since it was released, despite the fact that it continues to be invite only. As of now, it is the number one free app in the Games section of the App Store.

According to Sensor Tower, Fortnite earned $1 million during the first 72 hours after in-app purchases first became live in the game for beta testers.

In Fortnite, players can buy outfits, tools, weapons, emotes, gliders, and more using the in-game currency, V-Bucks. Players can purchase 1,000 V-Bucks for $9.99, which is the minimum in-app purchase. Higher quantities of V-Bucks are available for more money.

Fortnite earned far more than other survival-style games that were released at the same time. Knives Out, a competing game, earned $57k, while Rules of Survival earned $39k. Fortnite could have some competition now, however, as Tencent today released the official version of PUBG Mobile, which offers the same kind of gameplay available in Fortnite.

Compared to other popular games, Fortnite hasn’t brought in quite as much money, but it is still in a beta testing phase. Pokémon GO brought in $4.9 million just four days after release, and Clash Royale earned $4.6 million four days after it was released.

The goal in Fortnite is to be the last person standing, with players tasked with killing opponents using a variety of weapons while also avoiding death from other players. The game is also available on PCs and consoles, with cross-platform gameplay available if enabled.

Fortnite can be downloaded from the App Store for free, but a beta invite is required to play. Epic Games plans to expand the beta in the weeks to come, but it’s not yet clear when it will see an official launch. [Direct Link]

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Amazon Kindle App for iOS Gains Support for iPad’s Split View

The Amazon Kindle app for iOS devices, which is designed to allow Amazon-purchased ebooks to be read on the iPhone and iPad, was today updated with several new features.

On compatible iPad models, there’s now support for Split View, so you can use the Amazon Kindle app side-by-side with other apps for multitasking while reading.

In addition to Split View support, today’s update adds continuous scrolling, a feature that lets you scroll through books like you would an iPad. You can activate the option by going to Settings and turning on continuous scrolling. Once enabled, the feature can be turned on and off using the Aa menu in your book.

Amazon has also added a feature to pull down in your book library to refresh the list of available books, and there are new Kindle dictionaries for Arabic.

What’s New

– Split view on iPad is here! Resize the app to multi-task while reading without ever switching context.

– Try scrolling through your book – just like a web page. Turn continuous scrolling on via Settings, then easily turn it on and off from the Aa menu in your book. Tell us what you think.

– Pull down in the library to refresh your list of books.

– We’ve added Kindle dictionaries for Arabic.

Amazon Kindle can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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Galaxy S9 and S9+ Beat iPhone X in Drop Tests, But Still Suffer Severe Damage

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are using 20 percent thicker glass and a stronger aluminum frame, both of which are designed to cut down on damage from drops. Samsung says the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are more durable than previous devices thanks to the new materials.

SquareTrade today conducted its traditional breakability tests on the Galaxy S9 devices to test Samsung’s claims. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ did indeed manage to beat out the iPhone X and older Galaxy devices, but they still didn’t fare well when dropped.

In every drop test, conducted from a height of six feet, the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ shattered. The two devices bent at 230 and 210 pounds, respectively, and both were cracked in a 60 second tumble test. The Galaxy S9 earned an overall breakability score of 71, while the larger Galaxy S9+ earned a score of 76.

Back in November, SquareTrade conducted the same tests on the iPhone X and deemed it the “most breakable iPhone ever” as it too shattered at the front and back when dropped from a height of six feet.

The iPhone X actually fared worse in SquareTrade’s tests and showed more extensive damage and breakage in every durability test. It earned an overall breakability score of 90, much higher than the S9 and S9+.

PhoneBuff also recently did some side-by-side drop tests to compare the Galaxy S9+ and the iPhone X. In a back drop test, the iPhone X held up while the Galaxy S9+’s glass back shattered. A side test comparing the iPhone X’s stainless steel frame to the S9+’s aluminum frame also saw the iPhone X come out on top.

A third facedown drop on the display side of each smartphone saw the Galaxy S9+ win out over the iPhone X, which cracked. Overall, PhoneBuff used a numbered rating system to compare the drop results, giving the edge to the Samsung Galaxy S9+ because it held up better to a repeated drop test.

While the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ appear to have fared slightly better than the iPhone X in drop tests, the two devices are still made of glass and still shattered. They shattered to a somewhat a lesser degree, sure, but broken is broken. All glass smartphones, regardless of manufacturer, need to be used with caution and protected with a case as necessary.

Unsurprisingly, neither the iPhone X’s “most durable” front and back glass nor the Galaxy S9’s 20 percent thicker glass with “enhanced durability” can hold up to concrete and similar hard materials when dropped.

SquareTrade and PhoneBuff may have conducted these tests using specialized equipment for consistent results, but drop tests are never scientific and are not a reliable measure of durability because there are so many variables to take into account when a device is dropped in the real world.

Samsung, like Apple, offers an extended warranty that covers accidental damage. Priced at $11.99 per month, Samsung Premium Care allows Samsung device owners to submit three accidental damage claims in a 12-month period with a $99 deductible required.

Apple’s AppleCare+ for iPhone X costs $199 up front and provides coverage for two incidents of accidental damage. Screen replacements require a $29 deductible, while all other damage is subject to a $99 fee. Sans AppleCare+, it costs $279 to repair a damaged iPhone X display and $549 for all other repairs.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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How to Enable Automatic Reader View in Safari for iOS

Safari for iOS has a nifty built-in “Reader” feature that’s designed to allow Safari users to read online articles with a distraction-free design that tucks away ads and other visual clutter on supported sites.

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You can tap the Reader icon whenever you’re reading through an article to activate this mode, but there’s also a way to turn it on for all articles on a specific website or all supported articles on the web.

  1. Open up Safari.
  2. Navigate to a favorite website like
  3. Click on an article.
  4. In the navigation bar at the top, where it says “Reader View Available,” tap and hold on the icon that looks like three lines.

From here, you’ll see a pop that says “Automatic Reader View,” with options to either enable Automatic Reader View on the website you’re currently visiting or on all websites.

With this feature enabled, all articles that you click on for a specific website (or all websites if you chose that option) will be displayed in Reader View by default.

You can also use Reader View on the Mac too, and your Automatic Reader preferences for Mac can be accessed by going to Preferences in the Safari Mac app and choosing “Reader” under general. You can also turn Reader on for all articles on a particular webpage by right clicking or clicking and holding on the Reader icon while visiting a website.
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Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 to Developers

Apple today seeded the sixth beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 update to developers, one week after seeding the fifth beta and one month after the release of a macOS High Sierra 10.13.3 Supplemental Update to address a bug that could cause apps to crash when receiving a character from the Indian language Telugu.

The new macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 beta can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that weren’t addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.3.

The update offers support for some features that are available in iOS 11.3, like Messages on iCloud, which uploads all of your iMessages to the cloud. It will also support Business Chat, a feature coming when iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 are released to the public, and it includes improved support for eGPUs.

The macOS 10.13.4 update also brings the smoke cloud wallpaper that was previously only available on the iMac Pro and it introduces a warning when opening up a 32-bit app as part of an effort to phase them out.

In the future, Apple plans to phase out 32-bit Mac apps, just like it did with 32-bit iOS apps. Apple says macOS High Sierra is the last version of macOS that will support 32-bit apps without compromises.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra

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Quick Takes: Audiophile Calls AirPods Best Truly Wireless Earbuds He’s Ever Heard in Year-Later Review

In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Monday, March 19


1. AirPods: the audiophile review: The Verge‘s Vlad Savov finally got around to testing a pair of AirPods, over a year after they launched, and now understands why so many people are fans of Apple’s wireless earphones. Once dismissive of them, he now thinks AirPods are the best truly wireless earbuds he’s heard.

I say the AirPods aren’t technically amazing, but that’s only when comparing against existing standards for sound quality. In the category of truly wireless earbuds, the AirPods are the best I’ve yet heard. Bragi’s The Headphone and Dash Pro left me underwhelmed, with the latter being especially bloated and disfigured by an overabundance of bass.

Commentary: AirPods are easily one of Apple’s best new products in the past few years. They’re easy to set up, easy to use, easy to carry around, and more than likely sound “good enough” for the majority of customers.

2. The case for an ePad: Drawing inspiration from the education-only eMac, released in 2002, 512 Pixels’ Stephen Hackett envisions what an education-only iPad or so-called “ePad” could be. His suggestions include a more rugged design, Apple Pencil and external keyboard support, and more competitive pricing.

3. HQ Trivia had a weird night: The smartphone-based live trivia show offered a winner-takes-all $25,000 prize on Sunday night, but the would-be winner was ejected from the game for violating the rules, according to HQ. The company hasn’t explained what the rule-breaking behavior was.

Then, on early Monday, HQ Trivia was briefly removed from the App Store. TechCrunch confirmed that the game was briefly unavailable due to an unrelated clerical error. More specifically, someone forgot to update HQ Trivia’s expired credit card info in Apple’s developer portal, according to the report.

Commentary: It sounds like HQ Trivia caught a cheater on its hands, but we may never know for sure. The good news is that the amount now rolls over, meaning next Sunday’s winner-takes-all prize will be $50,000, its largest jackpot ever. The game is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Other Links

For more Apple news and rumors coverage, visit our Front Page, Mac Blog, and iOS Blog. Also visit our forums to join in the discussion.

Related Roundup: AirPods
Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Caution)

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Official PUBG Mobile Game Now Available From iOS App Store in the U.S.

The officially licensed app for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, today launched in the United States and several other regions around the world.

PUBG is an extremely popular multiplayer online battle royale-style game that’s been available for PC and Xbox One since early 2017 as part of a Steam early access beta, with the game officially launching back in December.

In PUBG, up to 100 players fight in a battle to the death to become the last person (or team of up to four people) standing. The goal of the game is to kill other players without being killed, while also scouting through the game world for equipment, weapons, and other gear.

Two mobile versions of PUBG were released in China in February by Tencent Games, and as of today the mobile version of the game is available in the United States, Canada, and other regions.

According to the App Store description of the game, it’s an authentic port of the PC version of PUBG, with 100 players able to fight one another to survive.

An authentic port of the PC version. 100 players are dropped on an enormous 8×8 km battlefield. Players fight to survive and eliminate each other through strategy and skill. The last one standing wins! Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Tencent says the game is compatible with the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad Air and later, the iPad mini 2 and later and the 6th-generation iPod touch. The company recommends the iPhone 6 or above to get the most out of the PUBG Mobile game.

The release of PUBG Mobile in the United States, Canada, and other regions follows the launch of the Fortnite beta on iOS, which became available last week.

PUBG Mobile can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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