Tuesday, July 18, 2017

3 Ways iOS 11’s NFC Capabilities Will Change Your iPhone

Apple’s new iOS 11 software is slated to significantly expand NFC [Near-Field Communication] and RFID [Radio-Frequency IDentification] capabilities for the iPhone 8 and other compatibles devices. Sparing all the technical jargon, here’s what expanded NFC capabilities could do for you.

At its simplest, near-field communication (NFC) allows for secure, close-range wireless data transfer without the need for an internet connection. On iPhones, it’s used for Apple Pay — and thus far, its use on iOS devices has been restricted to Apple’s proprietary tap-and-go services. iOS 11 changes that with the introduction of Core NFC, a new framework that would allow developers to create apps that can read NFC tags.

Here are a few ways expanded NFC capabilities can revolutionize your iPhone.

#3 Detailed Product Information & Purchase

For the most part, NFC has largely been focused on commerce purposes — and that trend will certainly continue. But developers are already looking into ways to take NFC beyond simple tap-and-go payments. Take WISeKey’s solutions, for example. The cyber security company recently announced that iOS 11 now supports its CapSeal smart tag, a method mostly used for anti-counterfeiting purposes but could open up a range of possibilities. Using CapSeal, an iPhone user could tap their device on an NFC tag on a wine bottle – the producers of that wine could then display a customized message to the user, relaying information or letting them know if the bottle has been opened or not. Taken further, CapSeal and similar tech can be used to purchase a wine bottle on-the-spot, without the need to stand in line or check out at a register.

#2 Interact with Your Environment

With third-party support for the iPhone’s NFC now opened up, developers can easily program information-relaying features into their apps — think a QR code without the need for a camera. Apple hinted at this ability at WWDC, giving the example of using an Apple Watch to interface with gym equipment to sync heart rate, speed, incline and other information with Health. But it doesn’t end with gym equipment. A museum, for example, could place an NFC tag near a piece of art to display information about the artist on a user’s phone. Theme parks could install NFC tags to let users easily download maps and schedules. And an NFC-tagged movie poster could bring up the film’s trailer when an iPhone is near it. The possibilities of location-based interactions are endless.

#1 Automate iOS Tasks

Using third-party NFC tags, an iOS user could also automate a wide range of tasks. Admittedly, Apple hasn’t exactly expanded on these potential capabilities, but similar functions have been available on Android for a while. It’s just that Cupertino has historically shied away from opening up third-party support for its device’s NFC technology. But the potential is there now, and in later versions of iOS, we could see a groundswell of new features. It’s not a guarantee, but the possibilities are exciting. Place an NFC tag in your car, for example, and you can tap your phone on it to automatically bring up a navigation app and commute data. Have an NFC tag by your bed, and when you put your phone down near it, it could automatically set your alarms. And Samsung recently came out with a “smart suit” that could turn your phone to silent for meetings with a simple tap on the suit’s buttons. Apple developers may have to play a bit of catch-up, but Core NFC could open up a whole new world of capabilities.


Friday, May 26, 2017

10 things you didn’t know about the background characters in the iconic 'Star Wars' cantina scene

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the release of George Lucas' “Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope," which didn't just launch the one of the greatest movie franchises of all time but also the summer blockbuster, let's look back at one of the movie's most memorable moments: the Mos Eisley cantina scene.

It's where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) find a pilot to take them to Alderaan. You guessed it — Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

But Kenobi wasn’t joking when he told Luke that in Mos Eisley, “You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

Let’s look back on ten interesting characters who were in the cantina the day Luke and Obi-Wan walked in.

Watch out, this place can be a little rough.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Here’s What to Do After Dropping Your iPhone in Water

Dropped your iPhone in the water, the toilet, or the swimming pool? It can be a very frustrating moment to see your iPhone drenched with water, but panicking and rushing to dry it with anything that you find is not the solution and may actually cause more harm.

In most cases, you can still save your iPhone after it has been exposed to water, but it’s important that you take the necessary precautions to limit the damage and avoid causing extra harm. Here’s the process of dealing with an iPhone that has been damaged by water.

Precautions to Take When an iPhone Is Exposed to Water

  • If your iPhone is plugged in to a power source, unplug it immediately as it can cause short circuits. Also, disconnect USB cables, headphones, or any other accessories connected to it by a wire.
  • Completely dry the external surface of the iPhone with a piece of cloth. Avoid using electronic devices for drying, such as a hair dryer.
  • Hold your iPhone upside down and gently shake it to get liquid out of the ports and sockets.
  • If the iPhone is still turned on, power it off by holding down the power button.
  • If your iPhone is in a case, take it off to avoid any liquid being trapped inside.
Now that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to limit the water damage to your iPhone, you’re ready to dry the internals.

How to Dry a Wet iPhone

It’s a popular concept to stuff a wet device into a bag full of rice to dry the internals. Based on my experience, this actually works and helps to absorb the moisture within the iPhone.

  1. To get started, grab a plastic zipper-lock bag or anything else that can be filled with rice.
  2. Now fill it with rice and place the iPhone in it so that its entire body is covered by rice.
  3. Leave it there for about 36 hours or more until all the moisture is absorbed by the rice. Be warned that some dust or rice grains may get into the ports.
  4. An alternative option is to use silica gel which is more effective in drying a wet device, but you’ll need lots of them to cover the iPhone.

Once you’ve waited for at least 36 hours and feel confident that the iPhone has dried completely, take it out and try switching on. In most cases, the iPhone will turn on successfully.

If your iPhone doesn’t turn on, then you should take it to a nearby Apple Store and have it inspected. Keep in mind that iOS devices have a liquid contact indicator that shows whether the device was damaged by water, so make sure that you don’t claim that the iPhone stopped working without any apparent reason.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

R.I.P. MP3

R.I.P. mp3: Patent Holders Declare the Audio Format Officially Dead

Mp3, the decades-old digital audio format that gained widespread popularity over the last 15 years in large part by Apple’s iPod devices, has officially been killed off and will no longer be licensed, according to the format’s majority patent holders at the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS.

In a brief statement that was published to its website late last month, the Fraunhofer Institute explained how its myriad of patents pertaining to the encoders and decoders of the 25-year-old mp3 format have expired, and that the digital audio standard of old will heretofore be replaced by the much more advanced and higher-quality ‘Advanced Audio Coding’ (AAC) format.

“On April 23, 2017, Technicolor’s mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated,” Fraunhofer’s statement reads, in part, while adding that “We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the de facto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades.”

The mp3 code was initially developed in the late 1980s as a collaborative effort between the Fraunhofer Institute in conjunction with previous developments from the University Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany. Although more advanced audio codes exist today, mp3 was nevertheless popularized by Apple when it first introduced the iPod back in 2001, which brought the historically lower-quality format to the mainstream and was the primary format of audio tracks available via the iTunes music store. Although there inherently exist a number of more advanced, higher-quality formats, mp3 still remains a popular choice among consumers today.

“Most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family, or in the future MPEG-H,” the Fraunhofer Institute said, while adding that “Those [formats] can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

The expiration of the Fraunhofer Institute’s patents and its subsequent decision to stop licensing the mp3 format is largely a symbolic move, however comparable to how manufacturers oftentimes adopt the next-generation of a technology while still offering intermittent support for the technology that preceded it. For instance, when the CD-ROM drive began infiltrating the PC market in the mid- to late-1990s, floppy disc drives were still considered a popular option for reading software titles among PC users.

In much the same way, while the mp3 format revolutionized the way and efficacy with which users downloaded music files — and while it will likely remain a popular choice for some time to come — more advanced file formats, such as AAC, are already considered the new gold standard by many in the industry.

Of course, mp3 will not cease to exist, as the statement published by Fraunhofer might suggest; but rather due to the expiration of its patents, the firm will merely cease licensing the format to vendors and their audio-centric music platforms such as iTunes.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Is Apple Producing an ‘Amazon Echo Competitor’?

Apple is reportedly “finalizing” a design for an Amazon Echo competitor, a well-known Apple leaker said on Thursday.

The leaker, Sonny Dickson, said that he expects Apple’s Alexa competitor to be marketed as a “Siri/AirPlay device” that runs a variant of iOS, and will utilize some form of Apple’s proprietary Beats technology. Other than those small tidbits, Dickson didn’t mention anything else about the device — perhaps indicating that details are still scarce. We don’t know much about Dickson’s sources, but they have proved accurate in the past. For example, Dickson leaked information that iOS 10 would feature a “completely reworked lock screen” months ahead of its release.

The leaker’s rumor does conflict with a previous report stating that Apple “has no apparent interest” in producing a direct Echo competitor. In February, Time Magazine reported that Apple was seeking to make Siri an “omnipresent AI assistant across devices,” rather than relying on a central hub the way Amazon’s Echo devices serve for Alexa. While not exactly a direct contradiction, it will be interesting to see how Apple markets its rumored competitor.

While Apple may have differing plans, 2017 is certainly turning out to be the year of the digital assistant. With stiff competition from the likes of Amazon, Google and even Samsung’s Bixby, Apple needs to be strategic with its advanced Siri upgrades to keep the digital assistant relevant. Most of Apple’s competitors have an edge in price range — Siri comes with expensive smartphones and tablets, whereas Amazon’s Echo Dot costs just $50 (which might make it more economical for, say, a hotel chain to use in “smart” rooms). If Apple does indeed release a cheaper central Siri hub, it could very well help to even out the home automation and digital assistant playing field.

It’s currently unknown when Apple could unveil or ship the actual device, but the company is expected to show off new products and tech at its Worldwide Developers Conference in early June.

News Report by iDrop News:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

3 iPhone Features People Don’t Use Enough

Apple’s flagship iPhone devices are packed with useful features and functionality that can make our lives easier. But not every iPhone feature gets the credit or use that it deserves. Here are three iPhone features that more users should take advantage of.

3. AirDrop

Before AirDrop, transferring files between devices was often a mess of cables, emails or data-heavy text messages that take forever to send. Since iOS 7, however, Apple has made the file transfer process much simpler and easier with AirDrop.

So what is AirDrop? AirDrop lets Apple users instantly share content between nearby Apple devices using a low-power Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network — making it easy to beam that photo or video to your friend’s phone. Not only that, the feature also makes it simple to transfer files between your own devices, and since iOS 10, AirDrop also lets users share apps.
  1. To use AirDrop, simply open an app and find the content you want to share.
  2. Tap the Share icon.
  3. From here, just tap the name of a nearby Apple device or user.
To receive AirDrop files, just wait for the alert (which also shows a preview of the content), and tap Accept.

2. Mail Drop

Mail Drop is another handy iOS feature that makes transferring large files bit easier for Apple users. Mail Drop is especially handy for sending large, HD video files from your iPhone.

Rather than actually sending a large file as an attachment in an email, Mail Drop uploads the attachment to iCloud and sends the recipient a link to download the file. In that way, the feature is similar to third-party apps like DropBox, but it has one key advantage: it’s comes built-in with iOS 9.2 and later. Unlike AirDrop, however, there’s no compatibility issues: any operating system, like Android or Windows, will still be able to download the file.

Mail Drop should be triggered automatically by attempting to send a file over 20 megabytes from your iPhone — you’ll be given a “Use Mail Drop” option during sending. You can send files up to a whopping 5 gigabytes to your recipients, and the link to download the full file will remain active for 30 days after you send it.

1. Apple News

Like AirDrop and Mail Drop, Apple’s own News app is a similarly underrated feature — even if it serves an entirely different purpose. Put simply, it’s a well-made news aggregation app that pulls headlines from a curated list of publications that you can choose from.

But Cupertino wasn’t just going to make another run-of-the-mill aggregation app. Prior to its release, Apple partnered with other 50 publishers and publications to create featured stories in a proprietary “Apple News” format. Namely, this format includes large HD images, videos, slideshows, rich pop-up text, and other nifty features that you won’t find in other formats or news apps. Best of all, ads are pretty few and far between on the platform — giving you an uncluttered news experience.

Never used News before? Luckily, it’s extremely easy to get started. Just open the app, select some publications (or “channels”) that you’d like to follow, and tap Done. News will then generate a curated “magazine” from the publishers you chose under the ‘For You’ tab. You can search for, add and remove publications from this tab to your heart’s content, as well as Save or Favorite stories for later reading.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Next iPhone called ‘iPhone Edition’? Release Date?

‘iPhone Edition’ Likely Won’t Ship Until October or Later

Apple’s 10th anniversary flagship, which is currently known around the web as ‘iPhone 8’ or ‘iPhone X’, could potentially be rechristened ‘iPhone Edition’, according to a report that was published this morning by the Japanese blog, Macotokara.

While also suggesting that Apple is currently testing several different prototypes of the device, without having officially settled on a final design or material choice, Macotokara goes on to allege that a few ‘minor hold-ups’ will be the reason that iPhone Edition actually launches within the months following its anticipated, September 2017 debut.

To be more specific, Apple is currently entertaining prototypes both with and without a physical home button, as well as those encompassed by glass, aluminum, and ceramic outer casings. Interestingly, the report also cites that Apple is testing units featuring both TFT-LCD and OLED displays — even though, pending any unforeseeable manufacturing issues, the top-tier iPhone is almost certain to ship with an OLED display.