Apple’s Southlake store update to include expansion & outdoor improvements

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Apple’s Southlake Town Square outlet, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, will be both growing and gaining a number of external upgrades after it closes for renovations on March 4.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

iPad App of the Year ‘Affinity Photo’ Updated With RAW Improvements and Limited-Time Free Add-On Brush Packs

Affinity Photo, which Apple named the iPad App of the Year for 2017, was today updated with a suite of “more powerful professional features,” according to developer Serif. To celebrate the new update, users can also download three add-on brush and filter packs for free starting today.

Specifically, version 1.6.7 of Affinity Photo lets users shoot direct in RAW or HDR video from within the iPad app, and introduces upgrades for RAW processing so that the clarity of RAW images has improved. There’s direct integration from the iOS Files app, enhancements to Drag and Drop, the ability to add personalized fonts, and much more, which you can glimpse in the Version History on the iOS App Store.

We’ve listed a few updates below:

– Save overwrites back to the same location, without needing to create a copy
– A new ‘Solo Layer View’ mode, allowing you to isolate individual layers instantly
– A new ‘Show Touches’ option to create more detailed screen captures – great for users who create tutorials
– Added ‘Average blur” filter from desktop
– Brand new shadows / highlights algorithm in Develop
– Brand new clarity algorithm in Develop
– New “Solo” layer option in layer properties panel
– New preferences option to show touches – good for screen recording
– Enhanced angle / tilt support for Apple Pencil
– Snapping candidates can be selected by hovering over them whilst in a drag

Starting today and lasting for the next two weeks (expiring March 8), Serif is also offering a trio of packs for free, available for Affinity Photo owners to download on the web. These include the Luminance Brush Pack (normally $9.99) with 13 light effect brushes, the Retouch Brush Pack ($9.99) with 20 retouch brushes, and Live Filters Macro Pack (already free) with 28 “non-destructive” live filter layers.

The base Affinity Photo for iPad app costs $19.99 on the iOS App Store [Direct Link] and is compatible with the 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad from 2017. For users with an iPad Pro, Serif notes that the app has been optimized for use with the Apple Pencil.

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MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors – All Stories

Apple Resumes Selling Belkin’s InvisiGlass Ultra Screen Protector for iPhone X Following Durability Improvements

Apple this week has begun selling an updated version of Belkin’s InvisiGlass Ultra screen protector for iPhone X on its website and at its retail stores, nearly two months after the original was recalled due to quality issues.

Belkin’s product page states that the screen protector is now 0.29mm thick, compared to 0.21mm for the original InvisiGlass Ultra. As such, the new version will hopefully prove to be more durable, after dozens of customers complained about the first iteration cracking way too easily during normal day-to-day usage.

Belkin halted sales of the original InvisiGlass Ultra in late December due to a wave of negative feedback, including several one-star customer reviews. At the time, a company spokesperson told MacRumors that it considers “product quality and consumer feedback” to be of “paramount importance.”

“We have been constantly testing this product since we released the first generation of it timed to iPhone X availability and things have evolved since you and I last spoke,” a Belkin spokesperson informed MacRumors. “We identified some improvements to be made in the next generation of this product.”

Apple and Belkin appear to have been providing refunds to customers who purchased the original InvisiGlass Ultra and found it to be defective, so we recommend contacting the companies if your screen protector easily cracked.

The new InvisiGlass Ultra remains $39.95 from Apple. The updated screen protector is still listed as “coming soon” on Belkin’s website.

(Thanks, Christian!)

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

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MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors – All Stories

4 likely Google Assistant improvements we can’t wait to see

Android P, a new version of Google’s mobile operating system, is due out later this year and will include a deeper Google Assistant integration, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg today.

It’s just the latest in a series of new features for Google Assistant rumored about in recent days and weeks based on APK teardowns, anonymous sources, and other means.

Not all information gained from these sources leads to real change, but if true, these developments would be in line with Google’s strategy to place its Assistant at the heart of its software and hardware offerings.

1. Deeper Google Assistant integration for Android

With Android P, developers will be able to bring Google Assistant into their apps, which could lead to Android-Google Assistant experiences more in line with the way Siri interacts with some third-party iOS apps.

A modification for Android phones to allow a forward-facing notch like the iPhone X is also coming soon, a move to allow Android smartphone makers to continue to compete for high-end iPhone users by putting camera and sensors on the front of smartphones.

The company is also considering integration of Google Assistant into the Google search bar on the Android home screen controlled by the Google app.

Alongside a deeper Google Assistant integration in Android, the chat and conversational experience on Android devices may continue to change, with an upgrade to Android Messages on the way.

2. Google Assistant for Chromebooks

Google released the Pixelbook with Assistant inside late last year, and could be planning to bring it to the Chrome OS for Chromebooks.

If true, Chromebooks would be the latest Google hardware to incorporate its Assistant since Nest joined Google’s hardware team last week for deeper integrations with Google Assistant and Google Cloud AI services, and it would mean Assistant will begin to work its way into the classroom where Google enjoys an advantage over its rivals.

More than 25 million teachers and students use Chromebooks worldwide, while more than half of all primary and secondary school students in the United States use Google education apps.

Google upped its smarts for kids and students last year with tutoring apps and games made especially for kids, as well as Family Link integration to make voice recognition for kids 12 and under.

In addition to the potential Chromebook expansion, since Google Assistant launched in 2016, it has been integrated into Android smartphones, Android tablets, Pixelbook, Pixel Buds, and millions of Home products sold in the fast-growing smart speaker market.

It’s also been used to roll out exclusive features to Pixel smartphone owners, such as its Lens computer vision AI that can do things like recognize artworks, identify landmarks, or draw email addresses or URLs from photos.

3. Secondary languages

Google Assistant support is expanding to additional languages as Google chases to keep up with Amazon, which expanded to more than 80 countries in December 2017.

Next up appears to be Russian and Hindi. Google Assistant is already able to speak English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Also potentially on the way: support for a secondary language.

Providing support for more than one language would be helpful to users in multilingual societies where a person may, for example, articulate some things better in English and others better in Spanish.

This would help Google as it expands to more countries, making dialect and localization of language more essential to effective voice computing services.

4. Additional or custom Google Assistant wakewords

According to a recent Android Police APK teardown, Google Assistant could soon respond to new or custom wakewords. Today Google Assistant only responds to “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” Support for custom wakewords would essentially allow you to name your Google Assistant whatever you want.

It doesn’t seem like a massive technological leap forward or major market play like other potential new features, but I welcome the chance to summon Google Assistant without the need to say Google.

Apple – VentureBeat

Apple plans FaceTime improvements for iOS, HomeKit support for macOS

Although Apple reportedly scaled back its upcoming release of iOS 12 to focus on squashing bugs and improving stability, a new Bloomberg story spotlights several key features the company expects to add to the iOS and Mac platforms. Apple is currently working on an iOS update codenamed “Peace” and a macOS update called “Liberty,” expected to be released as iOS 12 and macOS 10.14, respectively.

According to the report, Apple’s person-to-person video and audio calling app FaceTime is set to receive two major upgrades. The more interesting addition is group chat, a feature Apple introduced years ago with the Mac video calling app iChat, but removed — and never restored — when it introduced FaceTime for iOS devices. This feature may or may not make it into iOS 12, depending on the state of Apple’s progress when the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) rolls around in June.

Apple also expects to integrate iOS 11’s cartoony Animojis into FaceTime, enabling participants with TrueDepth cameras to appear as various animated animals during calls. While TrueDepth and Animojis are currently exclusive to the iPhone X, the report indicates that a new iPad model will include the necessary hardware to support the feature. This feature appears likely to appear in iOS 12.

The report suggests that Apple is also working on a redesigned Stocks app for iOS 12, improved Do Not Disturb feature with more granular settings, deeper integration of Siri into the iPhone’s search view, multi-person augmented reality game support, and an improved photo import interface for iPad. Features likely to be held back for iOS 13 include tab support for iPad apps, split-screen support for two instances of the same app, new Apple Pencil features, and email thread-specific notification muting.

On the Mac front, the report claims that macOS 10.14 will continue to have the previously reported Marzipan feature, designed to let Macs run iPad and iPhone apps. Apple also reportedly plans to bring its Home app to macOS from iOS, enabling Mac computers to control HomeKit accessories, and likely serve as HomeKit hubs.

iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 are expected to be debuted at Apple’s WWDC in June.

Apple – VentureBeat