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[U] Apple Arcade Losing Fifteen Titles According to New Section In the App Store

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 22:59

According to a new section in the Arcade area of the Apple App Store titled “Leaving Arcade Soon”, fifteen titles are on the chopping block currently.

Apple Removing Fifteen Titles from Apple Arcade

The following games are listed in this section. Currently, Arcade subscribers are able to download the games while they are still available. Apple does not mention when the games will be leaving, nor does it mention why they are leaving.

Update: According to an insider speaking with MacRumors, the games will not be available to play once they are removed. It seems the issue is a matter of Apple choosing not to renew contracts with certain developers. Many of the games being removed are Apple Arcade launch titles. 

  • Projection: First Light
  • Lifeslide
  • Various Daylife
  • Earthnight
  • Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree
  • Over the Alps
  • Dread Nautical
  • Cardpocalypse
  • Towaga: Among Shadows
  • Dead End Job
  • Don’t Bug Me!
  • Spidersaurs
  • Spelldrifter
  • Exploiters
  • BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner

While this is not the first time Apple has taken a title off of Arcade, it is the first time the company has officially announced which titles are leaving. The quantity of titles leaving is also surprising and something new.

Apple typically does not explain what happens to games that are leaving the service. This leaves players unsure what will happen to their save data. It is also unclear whether these titles will transition to a premium or free release, or face delisting altogether.

For Apple Arcade, the service is currently priced at $4.99 per month, and includes more than 200 new and original gaming titles. All games are free to play with no additional purchases in-app or payments required. The Family Sharing features allow up to six family members to share a single Apple Arcade subscription.

In other Apple Arcade news, the popular Oregon Trail has received an update that integrates Apple Arcade and Apple Health. The new update now motivates players to walk the 2,000 mile path in real life. The new “Walk the Trail” feature takes advantage of data collected from the Health app on your iPhone (though, doesn’t expect you to walk the actual trail). Additionally, Gameloft has also added a step-tracker to the Apple Watch that is also based around Oregon Trail.

Apple Arcade is also getting some new titles, with two being exclusives. Subway Surfers: Tag recently arrived on July 15, whereas exclusives HEROish arrives July 22 and Kingdom Rush Vengeance TD+ arrives July 29.

What are you playing in Apple Arcade right now? Are you sad to see any of these titles leave? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple TV+ Announces Third Season of ‘Central Park’, Sets September Premiere Date

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 22:12

Today, Apple TV+ has announced a Sept. 9 premiere date for season three of the award-winning animated musical comedy Central Park.

Central Park’s third season will premiere globally Sept. 9 with three episodes. A new episode will follow weekly every Friday through Nov. 18.

Season Three of ‘Central Park’ Sept. 9 on Apple TV+

Created by Loren Bouchard, Josh Gad and Nora Smith, the third season rejoins the ensemble voice cast lead by Gad, Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odon Jr., Emmy Raver-Lampman and Stanley Tucci. Furthermore, Tucci also recently received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the series.

The third season of Central Park will find Bitsy continuing her relentless pursuit to purchase the park. Meanwhile, Owen embarks on a new promotional campaign to make people adore the park, while Paige finds herself busier than ever as she lands her first book deal.

In addition to the cast, guest stars lending their voice talents this season include The Afterparty stars Sam Richardson, Ike Barinholtz, Ben Schwartz and Zoë Chao. Additionally, Loot’s Ron Funches, Hello, Jack star Jack McBrayer, as well as Amber Ruffin, Yvette Nicole Brown, Craig Robinson, Tim Meadows, David Alan Grier will also guest star.

The new season of Central Park will also add over 40 news songs to the series’ catalog.

Right now, the first two seasons of Central Park are currently streaming on Apple TV+. Since its global debut, the series has received several Emmy Award nominations for stars Odom Jr., Burgess and Tucci. Additionally, the series has also received an NAACP Image Award nomination in the Outstanding Animated Series category.

The series finds Bouchard serving as writer and executive producer, in addition to Gad and Smith. Additionally, Steven David and Kelvin Yu serve as showrunners and also executive produce. Central Park is a production for Apple by 20th Television Animation, which is a part of Disney Television Studios.

Last week was a great week for Apple TV+. In addition to Black Bird winning over audiences, the streaming service also dominated nominations for the Emmy Awards. Ted Lasso earned its second year as the most nominated comedy series with 20 nominations. Severance also found itself earning 14 nominations.

Are you looking forward to the third season of Central Park? Do you have a favorite song from the series? Let us know in the comments.

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To Cope With Economic Downturn, Apple Will Slow Hiring and Spending Growth for Some Teams

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 22:09

Apple’s planning an aggressive product launch schedule for the rest of 2022 and 2023. Even so, the Cupertino-based company is apparently hedging its bets on potential recessions brewing globally. Anonymous sources say Apple will slow its hiring and spending growth for some divisions to cope with the potential economic downturn.

An Unusually Cautious Stance

Cupertino has almost routinely beat Wall Street expectations, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s withstood the economic turmoil much better than most of Big Tech, but Apple is apparently concerned the worst may be yet to come.

People with knowledge of Apple’s plans for the next 18 months outlined an unusually cautious stance recently. Speaking to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the anonymous sources say Cupertino plans to slow its hiring and spending growth for certain teams.

Apple Will Slow Hiring and Spending Growth, But Not Corporate-Wide

Each year, Apple allocates a certain amount of money to each major division for research and development, resources and hiring. The sources say select divisions, in 2023, won’t be getting as much as expected.

That means these groups won’t be able to increase their head counts in 2023. In a normal year, each division might increase its staffing by 5% to 10%, but not in 2023. Attrition will further reduce the head counts, as Apple plans not to fill roles of departing employees for some groups.

Which groups these might be remains a mystery. Since we know the company has many new products coming up soon, the only guess I can make for one such division would be the still-beleaguered Project Titan. The Apple Car project has seen several key players depart Cupertino, admittedly with some big names added to the team. Even so, given the speculation and leaks from other groups, the autonomous vehicle seems to be a notable possibility to cut spending growth.

Cupertino’s next earnings call is July 28, when analysts expect the tech giant to report third-quarter revenue of roughly $83 billion. This is slightly above last year’s numbers for the same quarter.

However, during its last earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged inflation was beginning to impact gross margin and operating expenses for the company. A continued negative impact from COVID-19 and rising freight costs are also concerns, Apple said.

It Isn’t All Bad News for Apple

In spite of the projected budget restrictions across some divisions, the news isn’t all bad. Cupertino is still preparing a flood of new products, including a new mixed-reality headset. That announcement, when it comes, will signify Apple’s first new major product category since 2015.

The tech giant is also increasing pay for many of its employees, both corporate and retail. We expect to see four new iPhone models, three Apple Watch variations, new Mac desktops and laptops, as well as new Apple TV hardware this year.

In 2023, on top of the aforementioned mixed-reality glasses, we expect to see a new HomePod speaker, a larger iPad, and several more new Macs.

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Pegasus Spyware Targets Pro-Democracy Protestors in Thailand

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 21:34

More than 30 pro-democracy protestors in Thailand have been targeted by an iPhone hack from Pegasus. Cupertino was able to detect that the phones had been infected with NSO’s spyware and alerted the protestors.

The country of Thailand has been involved in numerous military coups throughout the years. The most recent was in 2014, where an army-backed leader remains in power after an election that many suspect was fraudulent.

Protestors in Thailand Fall Victim to Pegasus

NSO Group are the makers of spyware known as Pegasus. This spyware is sold to governments and law enforcement agencies. How this works is that the company purchases alleged zero-day security vulnerabilities from hackers. Apple typically is unaware of these exploits. Furthermore, the software is capable of mounting what is known as zero-click exploits. This means that no user interaction is required by the target.

For example, a user may receive a particular iMessage, and, without opening it or interacting with it, this message can allow an iPhone to become compromised. This allows personal data to be exposed.

When it comes to Pegasus, numerous individuals and high-ranking officials have fallen victim to hacks from NSO Group. Journalists, lawyers, Prime Ministers, US State Department officials and senior EU officials have all fallen victim to Pegasus.

In Nov. 2021, the US government banned the use and important of Pegasus. In turn, NSO Group lost one of its most lucrative customer bases: US law enforcement agencies. Additionally, Apple also increased the pressure by suing the company and alerting owners of infected iPhones.

NSO claims that it exercises care in approving customers, though many have their doubts. There has also been reports that the owner of the company has wanted to tear up the claimed rules under which the company operates.

Looking at Thailand

Concerning Thailand, the country was originally known as Siam. Operating as an absolute monarchy with the king in full control of the country, that changed during The Siamese Revolution in 1932. However, tensions between the monarchy and the government persisted. In 1946, Bhumibol Adulyadej became king. During his 70-year reign, he saw no fewer than 10 coups and 17 different constitutions.

2014 saw the country have its most recent coup. Army chief Prayuth Chan-o-cha took control of the country. In 2019, elections were held, though many thought they were unfair. The following year, the opposing Future Forward Party was dissolved by a court. The leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, faced criminal charges.

Now, pro-democracy campaigners, many of which are students, are attempting to bring forth a new constitution and fair elections.

Enter Pegasus

According to The Washing Post, Apple detected NSO’s Pegasus spyware on iPhones of more than 30 activists and supporters. This news arrives from a civil group late Sunday. This is the first countrywide campaign of using Pegasus, and it has come to light in thanks to Apple warning targeted iPhone users.

In November, Apple issued warning to suspected Pegasus victims. This prompted some Thai recipients to contact civic organizations that then consulted iLaw. iLaw is a local human rights group that focuses and advocates for new constitutions drafted by elected officials. Thanks to iLaw, more victims were located.

iLaw has released a new report identifying numerous hacking victims by name, including two of its own participants. Another report comes from the Toronto-based Citizen Lab, which analyzes digital traces left in mobile phones, and named Pegasus as an attack program to break into devices in 2020 and 2021. Amnesty International examined some of the phones using a different method and agreed with Citizen Lab’s conclusions

Thais hit by Pegasus include five members and colleagues of FreeYouth. This incudes Jutatip Sirikhan, a former student union president in Thailand. Other victims include four members of We Volunteer (WEVO), which protects other groups in public action, and four members of the Bangkok University-based United Front of State Affairs and Demonstrations.

Lastly, human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, who has defended activists accused of breaking the law and insulting the king has been infected numerous times.

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Omni Group’s Omni Automation Proves Voice Control Is More Than Just an Accessibility Feature

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 21:00

Apple’s Voice Control feature is an amazing accessibility tool. It helps those with vision or mobility challenges make the most of their Macs, iPhones and iPads. In its latest app updates, Omni Automation proves Voice Control is much more than just an accessibility feature.

New Voice Control Features Allow User-Generated Commands

Already in macOS 12 Monterey and coming in iOS 16, Apple is introducing new functionality to Voice Control. You can now import and export user-generated custom commands into Voice Control, targeting all apps or a specific one. On macOS, the files are stored as XML-based “voice commands” files.

Thanks to this new feature, Omni Automation is able to tie into Voice Control. This offers you a tremendous amount of time-saving spoken commands. Instead of having to navigate through your screens and menus with the mouse, you can just speak what you want your Omni app to do.

For example, upon opening OmniFocus, you can simply speak the phrase, “What is due today?” OmniFocus will respond with the current date and time, followed by any tasks that are due that particular day. That’s just one example; there are hundreds more possibilities, if not more.

Omni Automation Provides Prebuilt Voice Control Commands for All Omni Apps

With the latest update to all of its apps on July 18, the new Voice Control capabilities are included on both macOS and iOS versions. On its website dedicated to the technology, Omni Automation offers many downloadable configuration files. These will allow you to quickly get your Voice Control working with OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner and OmniPlan.

The configuration file for default OmniFocus menu items, for example, provides more than 120 of the standard commands in one property list. The company points out this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Now, every feature of and workflow for Omni’s applications can be triggered via easily-installed custom voice commands.

For those using Omni apps on macOS, installation of the voice command files is a breeze. Just go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Voice Control, and import the custom commands from the Advanced Actions menu, a circle with three dots found at the bottom left of the settings page.

On iOS and iPadOS, the process is a bit more time-consuming. Since Apple’s mobile operating systems don’t support the Open URL action used by the config files, you’ll have to use the accessibility feature’s built-in “Run Shortcut” action. Here again, Omni Group provides installation instructions along with shortcuts to download.

The key to maximizing Omni Automation and Voice Control on iOS is going to be starting small. Install just the shortcuts you think will be most helpful, and then add to the repertoire as you discover ways you might streamline your workflow.

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Gurman Predicts 14- and 16-Inch M2 MacBook Pros Available by Fall 2022 or Spring 2023

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 20:43

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple has plans to release an updated 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro sometime in fall 2022 or spring 2023.

With the recent release of the new M2-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, it seems Apple is already planning to release updated versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. According to Gurman, the features and overall design  will likely stay the same.

New MacBook Pros Arriving Fall 2022 or Spring 2023

However, the updated MacBooks will get the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors. The M2 Pro and Max chips are based off the M1 Pro and M1 Mac chips from last year.

Gurman also expects Apple to focus on the graphics side of things, just like the standard M2. Right now, the new M2 is available in the newest 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

Additionally, Gurman also stated that due to the continuing supply chain challenges, it may be difficult to predict when the new MacBook Pros will hit store shelves. However, internal expectations at Cupertino is that the new devices will arrive sometime between fall 2022 and spring 2023.

Concerning the supply chain, it may be the reason Apple has chosen to go with a single 256GB NAND chip for the base model MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. When the 13-inch Pro released, folks that did a tear down of the device were surprised to learn that Cupertino opted to use a single 256GB NAND chip. It seems this is also the issue for the MacBook Air.

Looking at Stage Manager

Gurman’s Power On newsletter also dives into Stage Manager this week. While Gurman notes that he feels excitement that Apple is adopting something new, Gurman also states that users may find Stage Manager is overly complicated. Gurman doesn’t believe Apple is all that confident about it either, as it currently is not the default interface in iPadOS 16.

Ultimately, Gurman stated that Cupertino should have adopted the macOS multitasking system, though he gives Apple kudos for attempting something new. As iPadOS 16 is currently in an open beta, Apple may make some design changes before the official release in the fall. However, Gurman believes this is unlikely.

What do you think? Are you excited for the new MacBook Pros? Have you tried Stage Manager? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple Releases New iPhone 13 Ads Touting Splash and Shatter Resistance

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 20:14

Apple has released two new video advertisements for its iPhone 13 lineup. The short ads tout the splash and shatter resistance of the iPhone 13. Available on YouTube, they show real-world scenarios that put the durability of the flagship smartphone to the test.

’Shake’ Demonstrates the iPhone 13’s Spill and Splash Resistance

In one video, titled “Shake,” Apple shows how the iPhone 13 is spill and splash resistant. The iPhone 13 series has a rating of IP68 for splash, water and dust resistance. This means that under controlled laboratory conditions, the handsets were able to withstand submersion in water up to 6 meters (19.69 feet) deep for as long as 30 minutes without damage.

The video shows a woman and a dog sitting poolside. The dog jumps into the pool for a quick swim, then comes back. Like any good dog would do, the faithful companion showers the woman with the water leftover in its fur. She shields herself from the shower with her iPhone. Text on the screen reminds viewers the iPhone 13 is splash resistant. The tagline, “Relax, it’s iPhone,” ends the ad.

Showing Shatter Resistance After a Fall Off the ‘Edge’

In the other new ad, Apple demonstrates the protection its Ceramic Shield technology offers the iPhone 13. It’s a common enough situation: you leave your iPhone sitting on the table and step away. A series of messages and phone calls make the handset vibrate and wiggle its way to the edge.

Ultimately, your iPhone vibrates its way right over the edge, and it crashes to the ground. Thanks to its Ceramic Shield display, which Apple says is tougher than any smartphone glass, the device is unharmed. Once again, the video closes with the tagline, “Relax, it’s iPhone.”

Apple’s Renewed Focus On Durability: A Sign of What’s to Come?

Recently, the iPhone maker has released other advertisements showcasing the durability of its products. The latest before these two, “Hard Knocks,” showed off the durability of Apple Watch Series 7. With rumors of a new, more rugged Apple Watch coming this fall, we can’t help but wonder if these ads are just teasers for what’s yet to come in 2022.

Apple Announces Opening of Brompton Road Store in Knightsbridge on July 28

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 19:30

Apple has announced the opening day of its third flagship store in London. The Apple Brompton Road Store located in Knightsbridge, central London will open on July 28. Said store also happens to be Apple’s 39th in the U.K.

Apple Brompton Road Store in Central London

The tech giant announced the opening of the new retail location on its U.K. online Apple Store. “Our newest store on London’s iconic Brompton Road, a moment away from Hyde Park, is almost ready to explore. It’s a place where your boldest ideas can bloom, and we’re here to help them grow,” said the announcement.

To celebrate the opening of the Apple Brompton Road store, Apple has lined up several Today at Apple sessions on art, music, and fitness between July 28 and July 31. There will be live performances and Q&As over the weekend, too. Interestingly, there will also be a “fantastical AR realm” inside the store as well as special guest DJs on July 28.

Apple also prepared a curated playlist celebrating the spirit of summer in London. The playlist can be found on Apple Music. It includes 20 cool tracks. And for those into new wallpapers, Apple has prepared freely downloadable flower-themed wallpaper. The wallpaper can be used for Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

Apple’s Third Store in London, 39th Retail Store in the U.K.

As mentioned, the Apple Brompton Road store is the third Apple flagship store in London. The other two are the Covent Garden Apple Store and Apple Regent Street. It is also Apple’s 39th retail store in the U.K.

Incidentally, the Covent Garden Apple Store got robbed by armed men on Sunday. The robbers took thousands worth of Apple products and managed to flee from the store before the Metropolitan Police arrived. Thankfully, the incident did not turn into a hostage situation like in an Apple Store in Amsterdam in February 2022.