Virtual Reality Coming to iOS Within 2 Years, Claims Gene Munster

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple plans to put iOS at the center of several forthcoming augmented reality and VR innovations set to launch within the next two years.

In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Munster claims a timeline of recent purchases and hires by the company suggests that iOS support for “mixed reality” applications could be set for launch as soon as 2018.

The analyst points to a LinkedIn search which reveals at least 141 Apple employees with a background in AR, although it should be noted that the same search returns 425 and 267 people with similar experience working at Microsoft and Google, respectively.

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Of particular interest to Apple is the concept of “mixed reality” wearables, or advanced optics that use embedded cameras and sensors to blend holographic imagery with real-life objects, claims Munster.

Intellectual property gained via research and development projects as well as strategic acquisitions, such as Apple’s purchase of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense, are said to be behind the recent drive.

We believe 10 years from now Generation Z will find reality inefficient. We believe the concept of an ‘inefficient reality’ is evident through smartphone use today — the precursor to mixed reality — offering users the ability to find more information as needed.

The analyst goes on to suggest a natural progression in the personal technology market from smartphones to AR/VR and believes Apple is looking at VR as an iPhone peripheral, much like the Apple Watch. The prospect of Apple releasing hardware on this front in the near term is seen by Munster as unlikely, although by 2018 Apple may be ready to offer developers an official software framework for licensed third-party hardware solutions, similar to the company’s MFi Program for iOS devices.

Munster has made questionable assertions in recent years, with predictions such as Apple’s rumored television set having failed to materialize. Still, the note does follow a recent report by Financial Times claiming that Apple has built a “secret research unit” in which hundreds of employees are experimenting with AR and VR technologies. The team is said to be made up of, among others, experts plucked from Microsoft and live-action VR company Lytro.

Apple’s interest in virtual reality has gained pace over the last few years, with the filing of multiple patents for VR-related products, like video goggles, motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces for iOS devices, and 3D “hyper reality” displays. More recently, Apple has made a spate of AR/VR-related acquisitions, including Metaio, Faceshift, Emotient, and image-recognition app creators Flyby Media. Last month, the company hired Doug Bowman, said to be one of the leading VR experts in the United States.

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New Features in tvOS 9.2 Beta 3: Dictation Support and App Store Siri Search

Throughout the tvOS 9.2 beta testing process, Apple has been steadily adding new features. Today’s third beta introduced a pair of new features that are quite useful: dictation and App Store search for Siri. We’ve made a quick video that shows off the new features and how they work on the fourth-generation Apple TV.

With the new dictation option, it’s now possible for Apple TV owners to dictate text and spell user names and passwords rather than typing them. After installing tvOS 9.2 beta 3, users are prompted to enable or disable dictation.

After dictation is enabled, the tvOS search bar alternates between a blank search field and an option to hold down the Siri button on the remote to dictate text. While speaking into the remote, a live levels meter is displayed on the screen so you can be sure the dictation feature is activated.

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The first version of tvOS had few options for entering text, requiring users to slowly type in passwords and user names with the on-screen text entry box with the Siri remote. Since then, Apple has added support for the Apple Remote app, with tvOS 9.2 bringing support for dictation and Bluetooth keyboards.

App Store search for Siri is the second new feature in today’s beta. With the new Siri support, voice-based searches can be used to find specific apps or app categories, such as games, in the App Store. The feature greatly enhances the process of finding apps on the fourth-generation Apple TV, which was previously limited to text-based searches.

Along with App Store search for Siri, Bluetooth keyboard support, and dictation, tvOS 9.2 includes support for iCloud Photo Library and Live Photos, and allows users to group apps into folders on the Home screen like on iOS devices. It also includes a new look for the App Switcher interface, and brings MapKit for developers.

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tvOS 9.2 is currently available only to developers, but it should see a public release in the spring likely alongside iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, and watchOS 2.2.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tag: tvOS 9.2
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BBC iPlayer for iOS Adds Handoff Support and Spotlight Search

BBC’s iPlayer app has been updated for iOS users in the UK today, bringing added support for Spotlight search and Apple’s Handoff feature.

Users of the app can now directly search for TV programs from their home screen by activating Spotlight search with a swipe down gesture, while the addition of Handoff support enables viewers to pick up where they left off when switching to another iOS device.

BBC iPlayer

The update also patches a bug that led to the app crashing on launch for some users, and adds a full catalog of iPlayer programs to the channel page via the A-Z option.

The UK broadcaster recently brought its iPlayer app to Apple TV after initially stating it had no plans to make the service available on the platform.

BBC iPlayer is a free download for users in the UK. [Direct Link]

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Apple Says U.S. Supreme Court Should Reject Samsung’s Appeal Request

In December, Samsung asked the United States Supreme Court to hear a final appeal in its ongoing patent battle with Apple, which would potentially nullify a $548 million settlement awarded to Apple. In a lengthy document filed with the court this afternoon (via Foss Patents), Apple urges the Supreme Court to deny Samsung’s request, accusing the company of raising issues that do not “deserve review” in an effort to prolong court proceedings.

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Samsung has claimed that the jury did not adequately understand the patents in question because members weren’t provided with enough explanation by the court. The South Korean company has also suggested the case has wider implications that could encourage design patent trolls, an assertion Apple refers to as a “doomsday warning” based on “extreme hypotheticals.”

Samsung’s effort to make this case seem certworthy depends on a made-up narrative in which Samsung, not Apple, is the innovator, despite the overwhelming evidence that Samsung copied the iPhone’s innovative design. […]

Once Samsung’s diversions are swept aside as they should be, the actual issues it presents do not deserve review. The decisions below broke no new legal ground; they simply applied the statute and well-settled law to the extraordinary record of infringement and copying in this case.

Apple goes on to say that Samsung has had its day in court and while the litigation is “high-profile,” it is “legally unexceptional” and Samsung has not presented a legitimate reason as to why the court should prolong it.

While Apple doesn’t feel Samsung’s case is worth the Supreme Court’s attention, Facebook, Google, and other technology companies have all urged the court to take on Samsung’s appeal to overturn the ruling in Apple’s favor. A major concern is the amount that Samsung was forced to pay for its design patent infringement — nearly $400 million — and the implication it has for similar disputes in the future.

Samsung has already paid the agreed upon $548 million settlement to Apple, but should the Supreme Court take on the case and rule in Samsung’s favor, Apple would be required to pay back the money. Samsung’s Supreme Court appeal was a last ditch effort, and should the Supreme Court refuse to hear the case, Samsung will not be able to recoup its money, putting an end to a patent battle that’s been going on since 2012.

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Apple Updates Final Cut Pro X, Motion and Compressor With Bug Fixes, Minor Feature Enhancements

finalcutproxApple today updated Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, and Motion, its software designed for professional video editors. Today’s updates, the first since September, add a couple of new features and introduce a long list of bug fixes.

Final Cut Pro X now includes a Customizable Default Effect that allows users to choose a video and an audio effect to assign to a keyboard shortcut, a 4K export preset for creating video files for Apple devices, and the option to share video to multiple YouTube accounts. It also includes the following bug fixes and feature enhancements:

– Customizable Default Effect lets you choose both a video and audio effect that is assigned to a keyboard shortcut

– 4K export preset to create video files for Apple devices

– Improves speed when opening libraries on a SAN

– Resolves an issue that could affect the timecode display in the Dashboard on OS X El Capitan

– Import Canon XF-AVC including video files from the Canon C300 Mark II

– Ability to share video to multiple YouTube accounts

– Resolves an issue in which a disabled video effect could appear as Missing Effect when opening the project or when sharing to Compressor

– Addresses an issue in which black frames could appear in imported iPhone video clips that were trimmed on iPhone

– Fixes an issue that could cause the playhead to jump ahead when editing short titles

– Fixes an issue that could cause the timeline to stop playback when switching views in the Browser

– Fixes an issue in which points on a Bezier shape could incorrectly switch from Linear to Smooth

– Fixes an issue in which some objects within Motion templates render with soft edges

– Adds iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro, and Apple TV (4th generation) to the Apple Devices compatibility list in the Share window

Compressor includes the same 4K export preset for creating video files for Apple devices and several bug fixes:

– 4K export preset to create video files for Apple devices

– Fixes an issue in which Closed Caption files could be incorrectly labeled as SDH subtitles when creating an iTunes Store Package

– Fixes an issue in which the Navigation window fails to display the source clip when the Preview Window is zoomed

– Launch screen displays correctly on OS X El Capitan

– Adds iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro, and Apple TV (4th generation) to the Apple Devices compatibility list

Motion received a long list of bug fixes and stability improvements:

– Improves stability when adding Photoshop files to a project

– Improves stability when searching in iTunes and photo libraries

– Improves stability when using the Undo command after ungrouping a parent group

– Correctly saves percentage-based parameters in the Checkerboard generator after closing and reopening a project

– Correctly saves the preview movie for Motion templates created in German, Japanese, and Chinese

– Fixes an issue in which points on a Bezier shape could incorrectly switch from Linear to Smooth

– Fixes an issue in which some objects within Motion templates render with soft edges

– Adds iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro, and Apple TV (4th generation) to the Apple Devices compatibility list in the Share window

Today’s minor update comes nearly a year after Apple introduced the last major update to its video editing software in April of 2015, adding new features for motion graphics and enhancements to speed up video editing, packaging, and delivery.

Apple has also updated its Final Cut Pro X microsite to include information on FCP Exchange and Videomaker, both of which offer workshops and tutorials on using the editing software.

fcpexchangevideomaker

Final Cut Pro X can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $299.99. [Direct Link]

Compressor can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $49.99. [Direct Link]

Motion can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $49.99. [Direct Link]
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Apple TV Universal Search Feature Expands to FOX NOW, FXNOW, and NAT GEO

Universal search, which allows users to find content across multiple apps and services using text or Siri voice search, is one of the most useful features on the new fourth-generation Apple TV. At launch, universal search worked with iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime, but Apple promised to expand the feature to include additional content sources over time.

Apple has made good on that promise. As of today, searching for content on the Apple TV will encompass the aforementioned apps along with FOX NOW, FXNOW, and National Geographic. Apple also expanded universal search to include PBS and PBS Kids in January.

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Apple maintains a full list of apps that are included in the Apple TV’s universal search feature in a dedicated support document. The new channels aren’t listed yet, but should be added to the document in the near future.

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Universal search across iTunes, HBO GO, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, PBS, PBS Kids, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, FOX NOW, FXNOW, and NAT GEO is limited to Apple TV users who are located in the United States. Content from these apps will be displayed when a user asks Siri to find a movie or television show or conducts a text-based search.

In Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK, universal search only encompasses movies and TV shows on iTunes and Netflix, and with all other countries, search is only available for movies in iTunes.

Apple plans to continue opening up its universal search API to additional apps going forward.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

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Tim Cook Talks iPhone Sales, Apple TV, Campus 2, and More at Employee Town Hall Meeting

tim_cook_headshot_glassesFollowing Apple’s first quarter earnings report, Apple executives hosted a Town Hall meeting with Apple employees to answer questions and to divulge a few details about the company’s future plans. 9to5Mac has shared highlights of what was covered at the event. While much of what was said was reiterating information that was shared during the earnings call, there are a few tidbits worth noting.

When it comes to the iPhone and the rumor that Apple has perhaps reached “peak iPhone,” Cook said the device is the “greatest business of the future” with growth potential in key emerging markets like India and China. He said Apple does not need to launch a less expensive device with pared-down features to entice buyers in these markets, as research suggests people will spend more for a better experience. These comments relate directly to the upcoming “iPhone 5se,” which some rumors have suggested will be positioned as a less powerful, lower-end device, though not a cheap one by general smartphone standards.

On the Apple TV and tvOS, Cook said the two products point towards a “bright” future for Apple, but he didn’t mention how Apple might expand its presence in the living room going forward. tvOS is Apple’s way of giving content providers the tools to offer streaming television solutions to customers after having failed to launch its own streaming service due to difficulties with negotiations. The most recent TV-related rumors suggest Apple is exploring the possibility of original content, following in the footsteps of Netflix and Amazon.

Cook also reportedly expressed excitement over future products coming from the company’s software, services, and hardware divisions. In the next few months, Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5se, the iPad Air 3, new bands for the Apple Watch, and perhaps new Retina MacBooks and Retina MacBook Pros. Later in the year, Apple is also expected to introduce the highly-anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

He also teased “far off” hardware products coming beyond 2016, perhaps hinting at the company’s work on the Apple Car or its exploration of virtual and augmented reality. Recent rumors suggest Apple is prototyping virtual reality headsets similar to the Oculus Rift.

The last bit of interesting information was on Apple Campus 2, the company’s second “spaceship” campus that’s under development in Cupertino. Construction appears to be on track to be finished at the end of 2016, as Cook says the first employees will move into the campus by the end of January 2017. He also said the new underground auditorium will allow Apple to hold events on its grounds instead of at venues in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.

The meeting also included more mundane information on upcoming time-off benefits for Apple employees, flagging iPad sales, new solutions for retaining employee talent, and Apple’s supply chain, which can be read at 9to5Mac.

Tag: Tim Cook

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Nearly One-Third of iPhone Users Still Have 4-Inch Screens

The latest data from Mixpanel shows that approximately 32.22% of active iPhone users still have a 4-inch screen. That is the same screen size as the so-called “iPhone 5se” that Apple is expected to announce at its rumored March 15 event.

Apple has released three iPhone models with 4-inch screens since 2013, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s, and some customers still feel these smartphones have the best screen size for pocketability and one-handed usage.

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Apple’s newest 4-inch smartphone, the iPhone 5s, represented just under 20 percent of current iPhones in use, trailed by the iPhone 5 at 7.53 percent and the plastic-backed iPhone 5c at 5.66 percent. The numbers fluctuate slightly in real time.

In the company’s latest earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that 60 percent of older-generation iPhone users have yet to upgrade to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, or iPhone 6s Plus.

Right now, customers that want a 4-inch iPhone have to settle for the over two-year-old iPhone 5s’s outdated tech specs, and the smartphone also lacks many new features such as Apple Pay, 3D Touch, and Live Photos.

For that reason, the “iPhone 5se” with a rumored 4-inch screen, Apple’s newest A9 chip, Live Photos, and purported price of around $500 may prove to be a more popular option among prospective iPhone buyers.
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