Apple working with other companies? HomePod to add non-Apple music services

Apple are famous for many things and one of the most notorious is how unwilling they are to work with competitors, so their HomePod news was a surprise.

Apple’s WWDC event last week saw some interesting reveals from new devices to tech updates. Whilst some announcements saw them cut off partners to go their own routes, it looks like their HomePod speaker is getting democratised with third-party music services.

When Apple released their entry onto the smart speaker market back in 2018, already dominated by Amazon and others, it was notable that the speaker would only stream music from their own Apple Music service. This wasn’t really a surprise as Apple are notoriously insular when it comes to supporting/working with competitors.

A screen at the WWDC event however showed an Apple HomePod captioned with the announcement ‘third-party music services. They haven’t announced which services from the many popular streamers they’ll allow to work on a HomePod. It will be most interesting to see whether they include their primary rival: Spotify.

Earlier this year leaks suggested that Apple will release a sequel to the HomePod speaker later this year. Rumours also suggest that a HomePod Mini will come to the market as a cheaper, smaller alternative.

Apple are yet to confirm or deny these rumours – many were expecting to see them announced at the WWDC event but we only heard of a few updates coming to the existing HomePod, including third-party music service support.

iPhone Fold, iPhone 12, AirPower, VR Gaming Headset and more Apple leaks

New leak, rumours and predictions around a foldable iPhone, the iPhone 12, AirPower, Apple VR gaming headset and more.

As with all info on leaks, predictions and rumours, none of the below is confirmed by Apple, so take it all with a pinch of salt. Infomation comes from Apple analysits Jon Prosser and Max Weinbach, with images from Concept Creator and Apple_iDesigner via EverythingApplePro.

We’re under an hour away from WWDC 2020, watch it live here. Here we’ll see updates to Apple software, news on ARM processors in Macs and potentially new hardware updates. iOS 14 is expected to change its naming structure to iPhoneOS, which will put it more in line with the rest of the lineup: iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS. iPod Touches may also get the naming update, with iPodOS.


iPhone Fold

Information regarding Apple developing a foldable iPhone has circulated since 2016 when patents emerged showing phones with hinges, foldable batteries and foldable display technology.

iPhone Fold 6
https://twitter.com/jon_prosser/status/1272504675615551489

Prosser claims the iPhone will have two separate panels on a hinge rather than a truely foldable display, three displays (two inside and one outside), rounded stainless steel edge (as on the iPhone 11 Pro, and no notch, with only a small forehead on the outer display housing Face ID.

No word on time frame yet, but regarding the success or lack thereof from Samsung and Motorola’s early effort, we’ll likely have quite some time to wait until the tech is ready. There is little demand around the Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Z Flip or new Razr as the technology shown is still in its infancy and expensive. Apple are often late to the game with new features, but they have a tendency to finalize the tech first.


iPhone 12

Some more information around the iPhone 12 to add to the ever growing list.

CAD designs have supposedly been shared with case manufacturers, which confirm earlier rumours of the display sizes. 120Hz displays in the iPhone 12 has been a question mark for quite some time now, the latest info suggests we should see it come to iPhone 12 Pros, using the same ProMotion name already in the iPad Pro. To make up for the lack of EarPods in the next versions of iPhone, we may see Apple include a budget model of AirPods in a future iPhone (unlikely iPhone 12).

We are still expecting a debut of the new iPhones in early October.


AirPower

Apple’s wireless charging pad AirPower was officially cancelled last year, but we may see Apple develop something similar soon. AirPower Mini will reportedly be a smaller varient of their earlier design, suitable for one device.


More

We recently reported on Apple’s plans for augmented-reality glasses, seemingly a more stylish version of Google Glass. The latest news on these suggests we won’t see these until 2023, however may see some virtual-reality hardware as soon as 2021.

Rumours say the headset will be an independent unit with high resolution displays and cinematic speakers, untethered by a computer or phone. The main input control will be via Siri, with the design said to be reminicent of the HTV Vive. Little else is currently known about this device.

Apple VR Headset

CarKey may be feature we see in a later version of iOS 13. This will allow you to unlock your car with your phone and Face ID, Touch ID or a code.

Apple Podcasts to get Apple Music-like features with iOS 14

With WWDC 2020 and iOS 14’s announcement just around the corner, new rumours point towards updates to Apple Podcasts bringing personalized recommendations.

Apple are due to take to the stage next Monday 22nd June, where among other things they will announce iOS 14 and the many new updates to the iPhone’s software. One of the apps thought to be updated is Apple Podcasts.

Apple Podcasts in iOS 14 will likely bring personalized suggestion similar to the ‘For You’ section of Apple Music. This will provide you with podcasts you may like based on what you already listen to. This is a feature we’ve seen for a while on services such as Spotify Podcasts, and is a much appriciated recommendation feature, rather than scrolling through charts or word-of-mouth.

Creators will also be able to offer ‘bonus content’ for each podcast, similar to that offered when buying a movie in Apple TV. Apple Podcasts may also allow you to create public profiles and follow friends to see what they’re subscribed and listening to.

We’ll know for sure what’s coming to Apple Podcasts, iOS 14 and more on Monday 22nd June at WWDC 2020.

When, where and how to watch WWDC 2020

Apple are gearing up for their annual Worldwide Developers Conference, this year entirely online. Here are all the details you need to watch.

Where

Apple will be hosting the livestream on apple.com and YouTube. Head to either site to set up a reminder for the event.

When

CEO Tim Cook will take to the stage on Monday 22nd June at 10am PDT. That’s 1pm ET, 6pm BST (in the UK), and 3am AEST on the 23rd. Find your local start time by heading to the YouTube live stream.

We’ll have a summary of some of the big topics covered in the following days here on the RouteNote Blog.

What to expect

No one knows for sure what Apple will come out on stage with until the day, but thanks to rumours, predictions and leaks, we can have a fairly good idea. Last month we put together a summary of things to keep an eye out for. Since then, some futher details have been solidified.

As this is a developers conference, the obvious announcements as with every year’s WWDC, will be iOS 14, iPad OS 14, macOS 10.16, watch OS 7 and tvOS 14

Sometimes we see product announcement and updates at WWDC too. This year’s product debuts may include AirPods Studio (Apple branded over-ear headphones) and AirTags (bluetooth tracking tiles).

Updates may come to products such as the AirPods with a Pro Lite model, or just an updated lower end non-Pro model, redesigned iMac in 27 and 23-inches with slimmer bezels and a smaller and more affordable HomePod 2.

Perhaps smaller processor bumps will come to products such as the Mac Mini, iPad Mini and Apple TV too.

Apple are also expected to announce their plans for moving away from Intel chips in their Macs and the shift to ARM-based processors. This will remove Apple’s reliance on Intel, with them controlling the development of Mac chips in house. Similar to the success Apple have had with the super powerful A-series chips in iPhones and iPads such as the A13 Bionic, A12Z Bionic etc. This is enabled through optimization, with Apple developing specific chips for specific products rather than Intel attempting to appeal to many computers with one chip. Thus allowing Apple to make more powerful computers, in slimmer profiles, with better battery life and cooling. This shift is reminiscent of Apple’s shift from PowerPC chips to Intel in 2006, but it will not happen overnight. While they are expected to announce plans at WWDC, Apple’s move to ARM-based chips will not start implementation until later this year or 2021 with a lower end MacBook and move up the line over the course of 2+ years.

You can now tweet audio clips and recordings!

Twitter have just added Voice Tweets so that users can record and add audio to share as a tweet.

This Wednesday Twitter added the ability to add voice messages to tweets for several users. Users can now add up to 140 seconds of audio to any tweets, meaning users can now upload text, videos, images, gifs, and audio.

Voice tweets will add another dimension to Twitter users including reporters who will be able to simply record happenings around them or voice reports and share news in real time quicker than they could type a message.

It’s as simple as this:

Tweeting with your voice is not too different from Tweeting with text. To start, open the Tweet composer and tap the new icon with wavelengths. You’ll see your profile photo with the record button at the bottom – tap this to record your voice. 


Each voice Tweet captures up to 140 seconds of audio. Have more to say? Keep talking. Once you reach the time limit for a Tweet, a new voice Tweet starts automatically to create a thread. Once you’re done, tap the Done button to end your recording and go back to the composer screen to Tweet.

Twitter will display audio tweets with an image of the user’s profile picture which can be clicked on to start playing the clip. For iOS users exploring Twitter and listening to audio tweets they’ll be able to click play and carry on listening as they scroll through their feed.

Audio tweets have rolled out to a limited number of people to start with and should be launching to further users soon.

Headspace raise another $47.7m, on top of $93m raised in February

Meditation and mindfulness app Headspace raise $47.7 million in funding, after $93 million raised last February.

This funding comes for good reason. In February the app reported 62 million downloads and 2 million paying subscribers. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, reports claim Headspace has grown, with an additional 1.5 million downloads in April alone.

Headspace are still offering one free year of subscription for the unemployed and health carers in the US.

Free AirPods with new Macs and iPads for students

Apple are offering free AirPods on top of discounted MacBooks, iMacs and iPads in the US. Upgrade to the AirPods Pro for just $90.

Apple’s Back to School 2020 scheme offers a free pair of AirPods (with wired Charging Case) with any new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, iPad Pro or iPad Air. Upgrade to the Wireless Charging Case for $40, or go for AirPods Pro for just $90. This will save you $159, on top of the already great saving across the board:

  • MacBook Air $899 – Save $100
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch) $1199 – Save $100
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch) $2199 – Save $200
  • iMac $1049 – Save $50
  • iMac Pro $4599 – Save $400
  • iPad Pro $749 – Save $50
  • iPad Air $479 – Save $20
  • Apple Pencil $89 – Save $40
  • Smart Keyboard $149 – Save $10

I recommend holding off from buying a new iMac, iMac Pro or iPad Air for another week until Monday 22nd June for WWDC 2020.

Apple are also offering 20% off on AppleCare and Apple Music for just $4.99/month for students.

Find all US educational discounts here.

iMac redesign with slimmer bezels expected at WWDC 2020

If the rumours and leaks are true, we may see the debut of a redesigned iMac from Apple in just over a week at WWDC.

These details comes from Apple registering a new Mac model in the EEC database, as well as insider information. The above image is a mock-up by MacRumors. None of this is confirmed by Apple.

We regularly see Apple update the iMac lineup with fast processors, more powerful graphics and RAM. With the most recent update coming March last year. In terms of outwards design however, it’s been a while.

In 2009, Apple released the 21.5-inch and 27-inch 3rd generation Unibody iMac. In 2012, Apple cut down some of the thickness of the rear with the 4th generation Slim Unibody iMac. In 2014 the 5th Retina iMac was unveilied, with 5K and 4K displays. Since 2009, the front face of the iMac has remained untouched for over ten years.

In just over a week at WWDC 2020, we may see a redesigned iMac, using the “iPad Pro design language” and slimmer bezels and chin as on the Pro Display XDR.

Rumours point towards both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models being updated. The 27-inch display is expected to remain untouched, with the footprint shrunken down significantly due to the smaller bezels. The footprint of the 21.5-inch iMac is expected to remain the same, while the display itself increases to cover 23-inches. Don’t expect any of the super high end tech from the XDR display to appear in the new iMac, as this screen starts at $4,999.

What we can expect inside the new iMac is:

  • T2 chip for security
  • AMD Navi GPU
  • All flash storage – no Fusion Drive options
  • 10th-generation “Comet Lake” Intel Core i9 processor (top end 27-inch)
  • 3.7GHz, 10-core, 10900k (top end 27-inch)
  • Redesigned cooling system with dual fans

Not long to wait now with WWDC 2020 streaming online June 22nd. We can expect the 27-inch to start shipping in July and the 23-inch coming in the second half of 2020.

As with current generation iMacs, the new iMacs will be a fantastic option for creatives, such as music production. A powerful system, combined with plenty of screen real-estate, is perfect for busy DAW files. You get a lot more bang for your buck with desktop computers such as the iMac, over MacBooks, so long as you don’t need the portability.

If you’re on a tighter budget, I recommend the Mac Mini. It hasn’t been updated since 2018, other than a storage refresh, so hold off for a proper update, which is a possibility at WWDC 2020.

If you need portability, checkout the new 13-inch MacBook Pros.


All of this raises questions about the iMac Pro which was last updated in 2017, but is still on sale for the same price. This is massively over-priced today and no one should buy it. Will we see an updated design for this computer too with a 32-inch display?

We reported earlier this year that we likely won’t see Apple implement their own ARM processors in any computer until later this year or 2021. While this still remains true, new reports claim Apple are expected to discuss their plans for Intel’s chips being phased out and ARM taking over at WWDC 2020. This will give developers a head start on the later shift. The implementation of these chips into Macs will not happen over night. We’ll see a gradual roll out over the course of around two years, starting with lower end MacBooks. Once again, this tech will not make its way into any products before October.

iPad Air could follow the iPad Pro in switching Lightning for USB-C

iPad Pro ditched the lightning port for USB-C in 2018, since then rumours have circulated regarding Apple’s future, with three possible options for their products: Lightning, USB-C or port-less.

After iPad Pro made the switch in 2018, 2019 saw Apple update the rest of the iPad line-up: iPad, iPad Mini and iPad Air. These all stuck with Lightning, while Apple reserved USB-C for their ‘Pro’ products.

For a refresher, iPad Air is Apple’s awkward middle product in a line-up that now includes five iPads. It sits between the iPad ($329) and the iPad Pro ($799). Updated March last year, starting at $499 with 10.5-inch screen and A12 Bionic chip.

New supply chain rumours suggest the iPad Air will join the iPad Pro in switching out the lightning port for USB-C. The update will also bump the screen up to 11-inch, update the processor to an A13 Bionic chip, introduce an under-display Touch ID sensor (the first in an Apple product), and may also feature a mini-LED display. The updated iPad Air is rumoured to come in the second half of 2020, but should the mini-LED rumours be legit, this may push it back to 2021.

The introduction of USB-C also saw the death of the headphone jack on iPad Pro in 2018. While this will require a dongle for those with 3.5mm headphones, there are benefits to offloading digital-to-analog conversion to external devices such as headphones as far as audio quality is concerned. If you’re buying into Apple’s view of a port-less future, now may be the time to invest in some Bluetooth headphones.

Rumours are fairly confident on the iPhone holding onto Lightning for one more year, then going fully port-less in 2021 for the iPhone 13. iPad and MacBooks will no doubt one day also go fully port-less, however the wireless future for these products is not here yet. It’s essential that users can still connect flash drives, external HDDs, SD cards, etc. to these products. Only once these external devices go wireless, can Apple feasibly justify going port-less across the board.

The BBC launch Beeb, an underwhelming rival to Alexa

In an attempt to regain some control over how people explore their content online the BBC have launched a voice assistant.

Beeb is a new companion for listeners of BBC Radio and… well, not much more at the moment. In an age of domination by Amazon’s Alexa and, less-so, Siris and Google Assistants the BBC want to rein in their content in the tech world.

The BBC have historically been uneasy about partnering with tech companies to provide their content through. It seems that they hope the Beeb provides an alternative to the popular voice assistants so that users access their content through the BBC only.

Their can be a benefit to this; the BBC seem to want to provide an experience that is more tailored to explore and consume their content by being provided by them. However, it will have to be seen whether there is any longing for that in consumers who can already access BBC content and a plethora of other content from alternative assistants.

They have confirmed that it doesn’t mean they will stop working with third-party partners, at least not yet. The BBC’s COO of Design and Engineering, Grace Boswood said: “It’s not ‘either/or’, we’re absolutely still working with Amazon and they’re an incredible important part to us.”

They’re not planning to release any physical companions for the Beeb to live inside either. In fact, it seems that the assistant is more of a safety net than a fully focused tool. Boswood adds: “It gives us a strategic hedge if Amazon decide not to play fair in terms of how people access the content.”

Currently the ‘Beeb’ can play radio stations, podcasts, and music mixes from BBC Sounds when asked. It also has news and weather information but that seems to be its lot other than a bit of original comedic content from BBC personalities. The software is only in a Beta for Microsoft Windows Insider users at the moment whilst they work to improve it for the future.

The voice used is a departure from the female voices heard throughout the most popular assistants. It also features an interesting choice of a Northern English accent with a twinge of Mancunian providing a refreshing alternative and diversity to the many posh English and central American software voices out there.

Boswood finishes their announcement, saying: “This is very much a first step with Beeb – we have a bold, ambitious vision for what we want it to look like in the future, but there’s a long way to go.”