Powerful Image Editing App ‘Pixelmator’ Expands to the iPhone [iOS Blog]

Back in October, popular Mac image editing app Pixelmator was brought to iOS in the form of an iPad app, and as of today, that iOS app is being expanded to the iPhone. Pixelmator for iOS is now a universal app, giving iPhone users a way to edit their images with Pixelmator‘s powerful image editing tools for the first time.

iPhone support is an important step in Pixelmator‘s evolution and will let the company reach a much wider customer base. For many people, the iPhone has largely replaced point and shoot cameras. Image sharing site Flickr, for example, lists Apple’s iPhones as the top three most popular cameras.

There are already a wealth of image editing apps available for the iPhone, but Pixelmator sets itself apart with a solid set of tools packaged in an accessible interface and iCloud interconnectivity with the Pixelmator Mac app.

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Pixelmator for iPhone offers the same tools available in the iPad app, so those who have used the previous version of the app will be familiar with its capabilities. On the iPhone, Pixelmator‘s photo editing tools are likely to be the most useful, letting users adjust colors, fix lighting, add filters, crop, straighten, and distort photographs.

There are also powerful retouching tools that can be used to remove unwanted objects from images, much like in the Mac app. Tools have granular adjustments for making minor tweaks to the look of a photo, and there are brush-on effects in the “Retouch” menu that let users paint on image-correcting adjustments with a finger.

pixelmatorpainting
Pixelmator can also be used by artists and mobile designers to create original paintings, drawings, and compositions directly on the iPhone. It has support for more than 100 brushes and it includes a color picker and an eyedropper for managing colors. There’s a smear tool for softening image edges, and a wet-painting feature for creating watercolor images. Pixelmator also includes support for words, shapes, and layers, with non-destructive layer styles and blending modes.

pixelmatorlayers
Like the previous iPad version, the new Pixelmator has support for iOS 8 features like iCloud Drive, Extensions, and Handoff. Images created on the iPhone will sync to the iPad and the Mac automatically, and it’s also possible to begin an image on one device and switch over to another using Handoff. A Photos extension mades Pixelmator‘s editing tools available directly in the Photos app.

The iPhone app is being included in the existing Pixelmator app as an update, so all consumers who have previously purchased Pixelmator for iPad can download the new iPhone app at no charge.

Pixelmator for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]







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Apple Pay Rewards Program to Debut at WWDC

Apple-PayApple plans to introduce a new rewards program for Apple Pay at WWDC next month, reports The New York Times. In a piece covering upcoming mobile payment upgrades from Apple and Google, the site suggests that Apple will announce details about enhancements to Apple Pay at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Few details are known about the rewards program that Apple plans to implement, but it is said to offer “perks” to customers who make purchases using Apple Pay.

But analysts have noted that a missing piece from Apple Pay was a rewards program to keep users returning to participating merchants. People familiar with Apple Pay said that next month, Apple will announce such a program offering perks to consumers who make purchases with the service, though they declined to reveal details.

There have been rumors about a rewards program for Apple Pay since before Apple Pay launched in October of 2014. In September, a report suggested Apple was working on a pilot program that could see it partnering with multiple third-party retailers to form an Apple Pay loyalty program.

Further rumors suggested the system could tie into iAd, delivering targeted ads to consumers via iBeacons and Bluetooth LE with coupons for free or discounted products, but it is not clear if that’s how Apple’s finished rewards program will work.

Upcoming Apple Pay competitor CurrentC offers a built-in rewards program that’s able to incorporate loyalty cards and discounts for individual merchants, and CurrentC executives tout this as one of the major differentiating features of its system. With its own rewards program, Apple Pay will be better situated to compete with the reward-based features of CurrentC.

It is not known if Apple has plans to introduce additional Apple Pay features at its Worldwide Developers Conference, but it’s possible that it could share details on an expansion of the service to additional countries like Canada. Canada is expected to be one of the first countries beyond the United States to gain Apple Pay support.







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Target Plans to Offer Apple Pay After Chip-and-PIN Card Upgrade

targetTarget CEO Brian Cornell spoke at Re/code‘s Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California today, where he confirmed that the company plans to offer in-store support for Apple Pay in the future. According to Cornell, while he’d love to have Apple Pay available “right now,” support will not be coming until Target upgrades its system to support integrated circuit credit cards to comply with new standards.

Integrated circuit cards (or chip-and-PIN cards) replace the magnetic stripe on a credit card or debit card with an embedded microchip. The microchip communicates with a supported point-of-sale system and transactions are authenticated through a PIN instead of a signature.

Chip-and-PIN cards are already used in many countries around the world because they’re believed to be more secure than traditional credit cards. In the United States, retailers are being encouraged to adopt point-of-sale systems that support chip-and-PIN cards by the end of 2015. As of October 2015, the four major credit card companies in the U.S. are introducing policies that will cause retailers who don’t support chip-and-PIN transactions to be responsible for any fraudulent charges made with chip-and-PIN cards.

Target is especially eager to move to a more secure transaction system following a major data breach in late 2013 that saw hackers obtaining payment information for approximately 40 million of its customers. The move is a major transition for Target, and Cornell says he doesn’t want to “distract the team” with work on other payment systems.

“Our focus is on getting chip-and-PIN in place in time for the holidays,” Cornell said at the second annual Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “Down the line we want to accept all the types of payments that our guests want. But this decision was all about focus. … It is a major undertaking to convert to chip-and-PIN, and I decided that we can’t distract the team.”

Cornell says he has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, and once the chip-and-PIN transition is completed, Target will be “open-minded” about supporting additional payment systems like Apple Pay. Target already supports Apple Pay in its iOS app.







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Apple Watch Shown Charging Through 6-Pin Diagnostic Port in New Video [iOS Blog]

Earlier this month, the team behind the battery-boosting “Reserve Strap” for the Apple Watch suggested it was possible to use the hidden 6-pin diagnostic port in the Apple Watch to charge the device, and today they’ve backed up their claims with a video demonstration.

In the video, an Apple Watch charging on a standard inductive charger is depicted next to one said to be charged through a power supply connected to the 6-pin port on the device. The watch being charged through the port charges slightly faster than the watch on an inductive charger, reaching a 95 percent charge at the same point the other watch reaches a 90 percent charge.


The team behind the Reserve Strap for the Apple Watch plans to use the port to create a band with a backup battery inside, allowing the Apple Watch to be charged while it’s on the wrist. The product is still in the early stages of development, but it’s available for pre-order for $250 from the company’s website.

The Reserve Strap is not currently certified under Apple’s recently released accessory program for the Apple Watch, which will allow manufacturers and accessory makers to create approved third-party bands for the device. Apple has outlined a specific set of rules for Apple Watch bands, preventing them from blocking any sensors on the device, but its guidelines do not mention bands that access the 6-pin port. For that reason, Apple’s position on Reserve Strap’s use of the 6-pin port is unclear.

Apple has not confirmed what purpose the 6-pin port serves, but speculation has suggested it is used by the company for diagnostic purposes. Apple may also be using the port internally for charging, as detailed in documents covering the function of its in-store Apple Watch displays.

It is not known if Apple has plans to expand the usage of the 6-pin port in the future, but TechCrunch has hypothesized that the port could eventually be used for “smart band” accessories to bring additional functionality to the Apple Watch.







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Apple Store App Gains Postmates Integration With Same-Day Delivery

Apple is now offering same-day delivery of certain products in its Apple Store app, through a partnership with Postmates. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Apple Store app is offering a same day delivery option on products that are available in local Apple Stores.

For example, ordering an Apple TV in the San Francisco Bay Area results in a four-hour same-day delivery window, as does an order for a Lightning cable. In some areas, like San Francisco, delivery turnaround times are as fast as an hour, but for some products, delivery times can take up to a day.

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Customers who have Postmates delivery options available to them will see same-day delivery options listed whenever they search for a product that is available for purchase in a nearby Apple Store. After an order is placed, the Apple Store app offers live tracking options that let customers know where an item is and track it as it progresses from the Apple Store to the delivery location. The app also delivers notifications with estimated delivery times and tracking information.

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Customers who do not live in an area where Postmates delivers will not see same-day delivery options for Apple products, instead receiving only standard shipment delivery times without an option for Courier Delivery.

Apple products have long been available for order through Postmates’ own iOS app, but this is the first time that Apple’s offered same-day delivery on orders in its own Apple Store app. Delivery price varies depending on location and the distance that needs to be traveled to transfer an item from the Apple Store to your doorstep. In our location in the South Bay, the delivery price was $19 regardless of what was ordered.

Postmates operates in several major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Denver, San Diego, Orange County, Portland, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Minneapolis, and Charlotte, but it appears that Postmates deliveries for Apple Store app orders may be limited in scope for the time being, available only in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Update: We received our Postmates Apple Store order within 35 minutes, much faster than the four-hour delivery estimate. According to our delivery driver, Apple’s partnership with Postmates is brand new, with Postmates deliveries from the Apple Store app kicking off today.







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Chevrolet Bringing CarPlay and Android Auto to 14 New 2016 Models Later This Year

General Motors and its Chevrolet brand are announcing today expansive plans to bring support for both CarPlay and Android Auto to fourteen vehicle models for the 2016 model year, a move that will mark a significant step forward for the availability of enhanced in-car smartphone experiences. The first Chevy vehicles with CarPlay support will be the Tahoe, Suburban, and Volt, all of which are scheduled to enter production in July, with the remainder of the CarPlay lineup rolling out as the new models launch in subsequent months.

chevy_carplay_abram

GM chief infotainment officer Phil Abram introducing CarPlay and Android Auto support for Chevrolet

MacRumors attended a media event with Chevrolet marketing director Steve Majoros and GM chief infotainment officer Phil Abram yesterday where the company discussed its commitment to giving customers the flexibility to use both iPhones and Android phones responsibly while in the car and its desire to make a splash with a broad set of models that represented over half of Chevrolet’s global sales in 2014.
For the 2016 model year, Chevrolet will offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility in more models than any automotive brand. The 14 Chevrolet models include the all-new 2016 Cruze, which will debut on June 24. Cruze is Chevrolet’s best-selling passenger car, with more than 3 million sold since launch.

Among the 14 models, CarPlay and Android Auto will be supported on all vehicles with 7-inch or 8-inch MyLink screens, which will include most trim lines. CarPlay support will be available as all of these new models hit the dealerships, while Android Auto support will initially be limited to those with 7-inch screens while 8-inch screen support is planned for later in the model year.


Supported 2016 Vehicles


7-inch Screens: Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Camaro Convertible, Silverado, Silverado HD

8-inch Screens: Cruze, Malibu, Impala, Volt, Camaro, Camaro Convertible, Corvette, Corvette Convertible, Colorado, Silverado, Silverado HD, Tahoe, Suburban

Staff from Apple and Chevrolet were on hand at the event to answer questions about CarPlay integration, with Apple staff emphasizing the company’s desire to make CarPlay available to as many users as possible by opening up the specification to all interested auto manufacturers. Apple also believes it is key for CarPlay to integrate with automakers’ own in-dash systems rather than pushing for something like an dash-mounted iPad, giving the car companies flexibility to leverage CarPlay as they see it best fitting with their systems.

“For most of us, our smartphones are essential,” said Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. “Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that’s important to our customers.”

Apple’s representatives also highlighted the company’s early focus on support for third-party audio apps due to the clear demand for such functionality in the car. The company may open up APIs for other functionalities to let additional third-party apps gain CarPlay support in the future, but Apple is being conservative considering the duty it and the automakers have to minimizing driver distraction.

With the recent addition of the Apple Watch, Apple also highlighted the way the watch and CarPlay can work together through the linked iPhone to minimize driver distractions, such as with fewer notifications being passed to the Apple Watch and less mapping information available on the wrist when the user’s iPhone is in CarPlay mode. With some information already being made available through the dashboard, there is less need for it to appear on the Apple Watch, and with everything being linked through

chevrolet_carplay
We asked Apple and GM about the potential for wireless CarPlay support, which was spotted in early betas of iOS 8.3 but not included in the final release. Chevrolet’s initial CarPlay support will require the user’s iPhone to be connected via a Lightning cable, but that will likely change in the years to come as future models gain Wi-Fi support for their in-dash systems.

Chevrolet was one of the first brands to offer support for Siri Eyes Free mode in select vehicles, and has been one of the more highly visible CarPlay partners as Apple and auto manufacturers have demoed the technology over the past year. Earlier this year, the 2016 Volt was spotted carrying CarPlay support on the floor at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Announced over a year ago, CarPlay has taken a fair bit of time to come to market given vehicle development cycles and other factors, although a host of car manufacturers have committed to supporting the technology. Ferrari was the first to bring CarPlay-compatible systems to market late last year, followed quickly by aftermarket solutions from Pioneer and Alpine. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted at the company’s “Spring Forward” event in early March that there will be over 40 car models offering CarPlay support by the end of this year.

Update: This article has been updated to correct statements regarding wireless CarPlay.







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Apple’s Jeff Williams: Native Apple Watch Apps Coming This Fall, Apple Watch Sales are ‘Fantastic’

applejeffwilliamsApple’s Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams today took the stage at Re/code‘s Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, to speak about Apple’s recently released wearable device, the Apple Watch.

Williams is the person who oversees Apple’s supply chain, much like Tim Cook used to before he became Apple’s CEO, and he was described by Walt Mossberg as the “quiet figure” behind many of Apple’s popular products like the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Williams says he oversees 3,000 engineers in addition to the supply chain, and offered a tidbit on Apple’s recent 74 million iPhone sales in the holiday quarter — if you stack them like pancakes, they’d reach higher than the International Space Station.

According to Williams, who declined to give specific sales figures on Apple’s wearable, the Apple Watch is doing “fantastic.” When asked by what metric, he went on to say that customers “love the Apple Watch” even more than he expected. The Apple Watch, he said, is “gathering momentum” even in a market where other products aren’t doing as well, because many millennials don’t wear watches.

When pressed for details on Apple Watch sales numbers, Williams said that Apple would “rather spend time making great products” than focusing on the numbers, but he did say Apple had sold “a lot” of them.

On the topic of Apple Watch apps, Williams says third-party apps will get better when developers are able to release native apps and when access to native sensors is permitted. He gave an example of what a native Apple Watch app might do, suggesting an app like Strava will be more full featured as it would have direct access to sensors.

The native Apple Watch app SDK will be previewed at WWDC, according to Williams, suggesting full featured Apple Watch apps that can access health sensors, the Digital crown, and more, will be available when iOS 9 is released to the public in the fall.

Williams also spoke on working conditions at its supplier’s factories in China, reiterating Apple’s efforts to improve the lives of factory workers, and he talked about ResearchKit, Apple’s platform for enabling researchers to obtain health-related data from iOS users for studies and research.

Apple’s already learned “some amazing things” with ResearchKit. Using Parkinson’s disease research as an example, Williams says that Apple discovered a set of the control group participants in that study had Parkinson’s but didn’t know it. When it comes to Apple Watch, its medical contributions will be “huge,” says Williams, but true medical features may take awhile because of the need for health studies and regulatory approval. “We’re just beginning,” he said, commenting on Apple’s health efforts and ResearchKit, and in a later comment, he said that Apple has a “great interest” in helping people.

Williams also hinted at Apple’s interest in the car. When asked about what industries Apple’s looking at for its next amazing product, Williams referenced the car as “the ultimate mobile device,” but then clarified he was speaking of CarPlay. He went on to say that Apple’s “exploring a lot of interesting areas.”

Additional details on Williams’ interview can be found over at the full Re/code live blog, and when video clips of his interview become available, we’ll update this post to include them.







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iOS 9 to Gain New ‘Proactive’ Lifestyle Management Feature With Augmented Reality Maps

spotlight_nearbyApple’s Siri and search features may expand significantly in iOS 9, letting Apple better compete with Google’s feature rich voice-based search component, Google Now. As detailed in a lengthy report from 9to5Mac, Apple is said to be working on an iOS initiative called “Proactive,” integrating features like Siri, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps into an expanded Spotlight search.

Proactive will reportedly function as a search feature that’s built deeply into iOS, replacing the existing Spotlight search menu (shown to the right). It may be accessed either from the top of the screen home screen as Spotlight is, or from the left of the home screen. Taking advantage of several Apple acquisitions like Spotsetter and Cue, Proactive is positioned as a lifestyle management tool.

Proactive is said to include a dedicated search bar much like Spotlight, so the design will be instantly familiar to iOS users, and it will continue to allow searches for email content, apps, music, and more. Below the search bar, a new user interface will display unique content from apps, Contacts, and Maps, providing easily accessible information to help iOS users navigate through their daily activities.

For example, if a user has a flight listed in her Calendar application and a boarding pass stored in Passbook, a bubble within the new Proactive screen will appear around flight time to provide quick access to the boarding pass. If a user has a calendar appointment coming up, a map view could appear with an estimated arrival time, directions, and a time to leave indicator based on traffic. Proactive will also be able to trigger push notifications to help the user avoid missing calendar events. Even with these new notifications, however, the existing Notification Center apparently isn’t likely to see major changes.

Proactive is able to integrate with third-party apps as well, and it will learn which apps to display based on usage habits. Someone who checks their email right after waking up might have the email app displayed on the screen for quick access, while someone who makes a phone call at a regular time might see the Phone app pop up. Around dinner time, the feature may display restaurant suggestions and ratings for nearby eateries.

Maps will be an important part of Proactive, helping people navigate through their days with quick access to routes and information on the places they need to be. Maps is said to be gaining transit routing features in iOS 9, and it may also be updated with a revamped in-house Points of Interest system that includes an augmented reality view for local listings and a feature called “Browse Around Me.”

With the augmented reality feature, which may or may not be ready for iOS 9, a user will potentially be able to hold up an iPhone, point it at a location on the street, and see information about the location. Pointed at a restaurant, Maps might display a menu. Pointed at a street, Maps would show the businesses located there with a virtual outline of each store. “Browse Around Me,” meanwhile, is a simpler feature that may show all local points of interest on an overhead map.

Apple’s upcoming Proactive feature will integrate with third-party apps, and in iOS 9, developers may be able to access a limited Siri API called “Breadcrumbs.” This feature will let Proactive and Siri index apps, but full Siri access will not be permitted due to privacy concerns.

Today’s report warns that the above mentioned features might not make it into iOS 9, or that the features listed above could be introduced as scaled-down enhancements that will improve over time.







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