Tag: Apple

Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


Apple AI chief reveals more progress on self-driving car tech

After remaining tight-lipped for years, Apple is now more than eager to share how much progress it's making on self-driving car technology. AI research director Ruslan Salakhutdinov made a presentation this week that revealed more of what the company's autonomous driving team has been up to. Some of the talk was familiar, but there were a few new examples of how far the fledgling project had come.

To start, Apple has crafted a system that uses onboard cameras to identify objects even in tricky situations, such as when raindrops cover the lens. It can estimate the position of a pedestrian even if they're hidden by a parked car. Other additions included giving cars direction through simultaneous localization and mapping, creating detailed 3D maps using car sensors and decision-making in urgent situations (say, a wayward pedestrian).

It's still not certain if or how Apple will commercialize its self-driving know-how. At the moment, its next goal is to produce driverless employee shuttles. The company isn't currently expected to sell its own cars, but licensing its work to others would be unusual when Apple is well-known for preferring to develop everything in-house.

The talk in itself is notable. Apple has been slowly opening the kimono on its AI research, but it hasn't been clear on just how much it was willing to discuss. Salakhutdinov's chat shows that it's willing to offer at least some kind of consistent openness rather than maintaining its legendary secrecy. Not that it has much of a choice. Apple has struggled to attract AI talent in part because its secretive approach has been unappealing for researchers used to receiving academic and industry recognition. Presentations like this could keep Apple's AI team in the spotlight and reel in scientists who'd otherwise go to Facebook, Google or tech giants.

Source: Wired


Apple is reportedly buying Shazam and its music identification tech

In a bit of Friday afternoon news, TechCrunch reports that Apple plans to buy Shazam, the company behind the popular audio identification software and app. Apparently, the site's sources indicate the deal could be announced Monday, but it's quick to note the timing on these things isn't always solid. As you can imagine, rumored terms of the deal, including a sale price, aren't reliable just yet. The acquisition would give Apple ownership of the music, TV and movie identifying tech and a group of features it could easily take advantage of with its own products.

Of course, Shazam already works on both iOS and OS X. The song ID feature was added to iPhones (through Siri) with iOS 8 and it hit the desktop back in 2014. Shazam also goes to work on much more than phones and PCs. Most recently, the music discovery tech was added to Samsung smart TVs. The company also has a background listening tool that's always ready to recognize a song or audio clip. Sounds like a good feature for a smart speaker, eh?

Shazam does more than just audio identification, too. In 2015, the company began recognizing packaged goods, books, magazines and other merchandise -- another area Apple would likely be interested in improving its own offerings. We've reached out to Apple for comment on the report and we'll update this post if we hear back.

Update: Bloomberg is also reporting that a deal could be announced as soon as Monday.

Source: TechCrunch


Apple’s Jony Ive will return to his design management role

Apple's chief design officer, Jony Ive, is picking his old management duties back up again, 9to5Mac reports. Back in 2015, Ive was upgraded to chief design officer from senior VP and day-to-day management was taken over by Alan Dye and Richard Howarth. Earlier today, 9to5Mac noted that Dye and Howarth were no longer listed on Apple's leadership page and now word's out that Ive is back at the management helm. In a statement to Bloomberg, an Apple spokesperson said, "With the completion of Apple Park, Apple's design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design."

Apple has come under fire for some of its recent design choices, like the way its Pencil and Mouse charge, the lack of ports in the MacBook and, of course, that iPhone X notch. That may or may not have anything to do with Ive's return, but as 9to5Mac notes, the writing may have been on the wall. Dye and Howarth haven't really been in the spotlight much since becoming senior VPs while Ive has retained a fair amount of public exposure.

We've reached out to Apple for comment and we'll update this post when we hear more.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Bloomberg


All the cool gifts are made for spying on you

It's the gift-giving season, and high-tech gadgets are more exciting than ever. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and even "Okay Google" are ready to come over for holiday ham, ready to help you turn on a light or play you some Spotify. Those always-on microphones, cameras, and WI-FI connected devices are cheaper, cooler, and more convenient than ever.

Yet, you still feel a little weird about their, you know, baser functions. Google and Amazon only record what they need to. Plus, you've read 1984, watched Big Brother (and thought the contestants were nuts for being watched 24-7), and you think spying on people's everyday lives is generally bad.

And yet, look at us. We're marinating in surveillance tech. We carry an always-on combination tracker and eavesdropping device everywhere we go (a smartphone). We agonize over picking out the best smart home microphone-speaker combination. We snarf up the latest in connected appliances. We say "yes" to all the apps, and surf the web looking for deals like it's the pre-condom era of porn.

We know the connected devices, no matter how big the company they come from, are all bug-infested, insecure, preyed upon, and riddled with shady backroom data deals. And yet.

WHOLE-FOODS-M-A-AMAZON/

And yet.

The trend toward in-home surveillance devices is only continuing, with this year's gift-giving aspirations. Here at Engadget, we're modeling the trend: decrying privacy invasions, yet playing with privacy fire, indulging our lust for convenience and futurism with all the sexy gadgets on our 2017 best-of gift list.

We want the Echo, the Google Home, a Sonos One, and all the privacy-devouring spy tech we can cram into our voice-activated games console. I'm with you! Yet I know better than to let companies spy on me! Give me a new MacBook, a Chomebook, an iPad or a Surface, damn the easily-hackable onboard cameras and microphones, full speed ahead. I'd push grandpa into a mall fountain and jam his walker into Best Buy's revolving doors to get my hands on the hottest new tracking devices, the iPhone, a Pixel, a Galaxy.

And that's the thing: We all know the risks these days. It's not like ten years ago when some of us were trying to raise the alarm about webcam hacking and data dealing, and everyone thought we were fringey conspiracy weirdos in tinfoil bras doing Flickr updates from our freaky internet-connected phones.

If anything, security and surveillance are even bigger concerns. Just in October, a woman's new webcam was taken over practically the minute she plugged it in. In a Facebook post, she described the incident, going on to film the camera's complete hijacking while in progress. But here's the thing: The story didn't surprise anyone, and didn't compete with any headlines. We're all like, yeah, that's a thing that happens now, while in our heads we silently practice what we'll do when it happens to us.

young male technician...

I know what you were thinking when your eyes traveled the wishlist above, with the Echos and the Homes, and the highly desirable appliances that make Inspector Gadget's kit look like unimaginative stupidity. You're thinking, "but Amazon will protect me from unlawful requests" and "Google Home wouldn't do that on purpose, it would harm consumer trust."

And in the instances we know of, you'd be right. When a man was murdered in November 2015, Amazon initially refused to hand over its Alexa data from the scene of the crime when prosecutors demanded the records. The company said that Alexa's questions and answers are protected by the first amendment and Amazon "seeks to protect the privacy rights of its customers." Amazon later relented and shared the data when the defendant, the Echo's owner, gave permission. That a hacker had fun turning the Echo into a wiretap did not endeavor to reassure.

And that whole thing where Google Home was recording everything just this last October, well that was a "bug." Never mind that "bug" is Facebook's perennial catch-all term/excuse for getting caught doing something people don't like (and that's not a good look for anyone). Google said its little smart home speaker was having an "issue" that caused it "to behave incorrectly." That probably wasn't reassuring for journalist Artem Russokovskii, who discovered he was being recorded 24-7.

What can we do, but take Google and Amazon at their word? No one trusts these companies or their interests in serving us better ads or suggestions. They say they'll protect us, they're big companies and can afford to properly test everything, and they fix their mistakes when we find them.

Haven't we learned anything from dystopian books and films? How is this now aspirational? Or is it just that we're so miserable from politics that a little convenience-at-a-cost is our only salve to soothe our tortured souls?

Don't feel bad. Everyone's doing it, the gleeful self-surveillance. Even hackers, who know better than anyone, and I can tell you that they're shopping for the same things and going home to strip down and roll in piles of connected crap like they hate privacy, too. We're all going to privacy hell together.

I'm sure it'll be fine. As long as we remember that it pays to be paranoid because we're all so depressed and angry at the state of the state that we deserve a little fluff, a little fun, a little convenience.

Facebook may be insidious, Apple might've conditioned us, and everyone with a stake in the surveillance pie has tried to soothe us. But we still need to cover our webcams, turn off geotagging, drill into settings to fight the data creeping, and stay awake and alert to the ways that companies make us targets.

Take my advice for the holidays: Shop like no one's watching, but never forget that someone might be listening.

Images: Brendan McDermid/Reuters (Amazon Echo); Shutterstock (Security camera).


SiriusXM now streams radio stations to your Apple TV

SiriusXM is now available on 4th generation Apple TVs and Apple TV 4K. Subscribers with streaming access can use the SiriusXM app to access its over 200 channels, which can be customized with MySXM. Users will also be able to access archived programming on demand and the app's user interface has been optimized for Apple TV.

The SiriusXM app has already been available on LG, Roku, Samsung and Sony smart TVs as well as Amazon Fire TV and Playstation. Apple TV owners also recently just got access to the Amazon Prime Video app.

To start listening to SiriusXM on your Apple TV, just go to App Store and search for SiriusXM. Then click "Get" to install, sign in with your SiriusXM username and password and you're good to go.

Source: SiriusXM


iOS HomeKit bug exposed smart locks to unauthorized access

Apple has another security issue to deal with. As 9to5Mac reports today, Apple's HomeKit framework has a vulnerability that allows unauthorized access to connected smart devices like locks and garage door openers. Apple has already put in a server-side fix that rectifies the issue, but the fix also disables remote access to shared users. Apple says that the reduced functionality will be restored with an iOS 11.2 update next week.

While 9to5Mac didn't share the details of the vulnerability, it also reportedly opened up smart lights, thermostats and plugs to unauthorized control. This issue follows a High Sierra bug discovered last month that allowed users to gain admin access without a password.

Because the server-side fix has already been implemented, users do not need to take any additional steps to secure their smart products. Just be sure to install the iOS update when it's released in order to regain the reduced functionality.

Source: 9to5Mac


Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $65 on an iPad mini 4

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.

iPad mini 4 128GB

Street price: $340; deal price: $275

At $275, this price matches the low we saw for the iPad mini 4 128GB during Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. It's an excellent deal and as low as we've seen for this small tablet. Gold, Silver, and Space Gray are all available at the sale price.

The iPad Mini 4 is our pick if you absolutely need something smaller in our iPad guide. Dan Frakes and Nick Guy wrote, "The main advantage of the iPad mini is that it has a better screen than the standard iPad: As with the screen on the iPad Pro models, the mini's screen has no air gap between the display panel and front glass, which means you get better clarity and less intra-display reflection. The mini's screen also has a higher pixel density. The result is that the iPad mini 4's screen, which also has an antireflective coating, is easier to use in bright light or sunlight and displays slightly sharper images than the screen on the standard iPad. The other advantage is the mini's smaller size and lighter weight, which make it a bit easier to hold, especially in one hand."

Oral-B Pro 1000 Electric Toothbrush

Street price: $40; deal price: $20 w/ clipped on-page coupon

Back again after the price jumped back up for a short time, this deal matches the lowest price we've seen on our top electric toothbrush. We briefly saw it at this price during Black Friday, but that deal didn't stick around for long, and like the last, this one isn't likely stay long either. Make sure to clip the $10 off coupon in order to get the deal price of $20. Only the white color is available for the deal price.

The Oral-B Pro 1000 is our top pick in our guide to the best electric toothbrush. Casey Johnston, Tracy Vence, and Shannon Palus wrote, "The Pro 1000 is among Oral-B's least expensive models, but it comes with all the features most of our experts recommended, for the lowest price—a two-minute timer (with a nice-to-have quadrant alert) and a wide selection of compatible and affordable brush heads. And recently the Pro 1000 was among the first five electric toothbrushes to receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The Pro 1000 has comfortable-feeling oscillating bristles, a simple one-button interface, and a battery that lasted 11½ days with twice-daily use in our tests. The body survived drop tests on the floor and into water. Best of all, you're not getting overcharged for features like digital monitors, travel cases, or inductive chargers—none of which will actually get your teeth any cleaner than the Pro 1000 can."

Steelcase Gesture Office Chair

Street price: $1000; deal price: $900

This is a great deal and the lowest we've seen on our top pick office chair. If you're looking to add it to your desk at work, the light white color is probably your best bet. If you're outfitting your home office or don't mind a bit of added flair, the tangerine orange, wasabi green, and concord purple are also available for $900, with the blue jay blue color coming in just under the others at $877. Stock is low, but Amazon indicates more are on the way.

The Steelcase Gesture is our top pick in our guide to the best office chairs. Kyle VanHermert and Michael Zhao wrote, "We like the Steelcase Gesture for most people because it is highly adjustable if you need that but still solid if you don't. It's designed to accommodate a modern workflow, where people aren't expected to sit still in front of a keyboard and monitor all day. Lean back to check your phone, and the chair leans with you—keeping your body supported all the while. If you need to make room for a tablet on your lap, the armrests rotate outward to accommodate that, and downward to support your lowered elbows. While everybody knows not to cross one's legs or slouch while sitting, the Gesture won't punish you for doing so; flexible and padded edges keep the cushioning comfortable regardless of your body positioning. And if you do want to sit up straight all day, the Gesture is just as comfortable as the best task chairs currently available."

Acer Chromebook 11 C771T

Street price: $340; deal price: $315

If you're looking for a small Chromebook for yourself or a young one but still want a quality option, the Acer Chromebook 11 C771T is a nice pickup. At $314, it's only $25 less than usual, but this is an item that rarely ever sees discounts, even during previous holiday sales. We may see it go lower, but this is the first notable drop on it.

The Acer Chromebook 11 C771T is our budget pick in our guide to the best Chromebook. Kimber Streams wrote, "The best cheap Chromebook right now is the Acer Chromebook 11 C771T because it's powerful enough for everyday work and most Android apps, plus it has a decent (though small) touchscreen, all-day battery life, and solid build quality. It's ruggedized and has a spill-proof keyboard, and has a wider selection of older ports, so it's a good choice for students (for whom it's designed). The C771T's keyboard and trackpad aren't exceptional, but they work. And though we wish the C771T had a 360-degree hinge for using Android apps in tablet mode, it's not a crucial feature."

Because great deals don't just happen on Thursday, sign up for our daily deals email and we'll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to thewirecutter.com.


Tidal now works with Apple’s CarPlay

Spotify, Google Play Music and the BBC's iPlayer Radio all work with Apple's CarPlay. Now Tidal users can get in on the action, too; the company tweeted the compatibility of its streaming app with the iOS-based in-car system.

Tidal says that subscribers will be able to access all their favorite music and playlists from CarPlay-enabled dashboard systems. The news comes just a couple of weeks after Tidal announced that its customers could finally control their music on Sonos speakers with the Tidal app itself.

Via: The Verge

Source: Tidal