All posts in “Apple”

Apple’s ‘AirPods 2’ might come in a stealthier black color

AirPods only come in white, but that could change soon.
AirPods only come in white, but that could change soon.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Since AirPods launched in late 2016, people have begged Apple to release them in a color other than white.

After years, Apple might finally cave in to everyone’s wishes. The latest rumor suggests Apple launch the second generation of its AirPods, tentatively called “AirPods 2,” in black.

According to the Economic Daily News (via AppleInsider), Apple’s supply chain has already started mass producing AirPods 2 in black as well as the AirPower wireless charging mat that has been delayed several times because of engineering challenges.

In addition to the black finish, the report also corroborates a separate report that said the AirPods 2 will sport a new, grippier coating on each earbud. 

The Taiwanese report made no mention of any new features that would be exclusive to AirPods 2, but many rumors suggest the wireless earbuds will come with a hands-free “Hey Siri” mode so users don’t need to tap the side of the right AirPod.

It’s also believed Apple could include new sensors inside of the AirPods to better monitor your health. Companies like Samsung have included heart rate monitors inside of their true wireless earbuds to gather health data for fitness.

No photos of the alleged black AirPods 2 or its case have leaked yet, but if you want to get an idea of what they might look like, YouTuber Jonathan Morrison created a custom black pair:

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Another YouTuber, Amanda Woolsey, created a pair of custom matte black AirPods:

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As you can see, they look super slick. If you’re not a fan of white buds sticking out of your ears, black ones would be more inconspicuous. Based on the reports, the AirPods 2 could be a mixture of glossy and matte finish.

It’s unclear when AirPods 2 will come out. Gadget leaker @OnLeaks said they might not come out until the fall, but others believe Apple could slip it under the radar at its rumored March 25 event that’s expected to focus on a new subscription-based news service.

But black AirPods! Please be true!

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Apple, Google pressured to drop Saudi app that lets men track and control women

Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently asked about whether his company would keep an app that oppresses Saudi women in its store.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently asked about whether his company would keep an app that oppresses Saudi women in its store.

Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Google and Apple are under pressure from human rights groups and a U.S. senator to remove from their stores an app called Absher. The app was created by the Saudi government and includes a feature that helps men monitor and control women who are under their guardianship, including wives and unmarried daughters.

Saudi men have this right thanks to the country’s oppressive guardianship laws, which mandate every woman has a male guardian to make critical life decisions on her behalf. That guardian can be a father, brother, husband, or son, according to Human Rights Watch. So men get the power to approve things like whether a woman applies for a passport, studies abroad, travels outside the country, or gets married. That system was already well in place before Absher’’s debut, but the app makes controlling women much more efficient. 

While Absher was developed by the Saudi government and released in 2015, it’s prompted new scrutiny. One woman pursuing asylum recently indicated that she tried to flee the country without being detected by Absher and her male guardian. In order to travel, women must be granted permission through the app. Many can’t make it far because the app alerts guardians every time their dependents use their passports, according to Insider

Now human rights groups, as well as Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, are urging Apple and Google to remove Absher from their app stores. 

“By permitting the app in your respective stores, your companies are making it easier for Saudi men to control their family members from the convenience of their smartphones and restrict their movement,” Wyden wrote in a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.  

Cook replied vaguely when asked about the app during an NPR interview this week. “I haven’t heard about it,” he said. “But obviously we’ll take a look at it if that’s the case.”

Google told CNN the company would be “looking into it.”

Even if Google and Apple remove the app from their stores, it won’t solve the problem of male guardianship. As columnist Mona Eltahawy pointed out on Twitter, the app simply “enables gender apartheid in #Saudi Arabia, remember that it is male guardianship that is the issue here.” 

Still, activists believe Apple and Google could send a powerful message to the Saudi government by dropping Absher. 

Hala Aldosari, an activist and scholar who studies gender in the Arab Gulf states, told the New York Times: “If the tech companies would say, ‘You are being oppressive,’ that would mean a lot.”

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Apple acquires talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString

Apple has just bought up the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod, and its voice strategy. Apple has acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, according to Axios’ Dan Primack and Ina Fried. The company makes voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to power those experiences, and toys like talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString went on to raise $44 million.

Apple’s Siri is seen as lagging far behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of developer ecosystem. Google and Amazon has built platforms to distribute Skills from tons of voice app makers, including storytelling, quizzes, and other games for kids. If Apple wants to take a real shot at becoming the center of your connected living room with Siri and HomePod, it will need to play nice with the children who spend their time there. Buying PullString could jumpstart Apple’s in-house catalog of speech-activated toys for kids as well as beef up its tools for voice developers.

PullString did catch some flack for being a “child surveillance device” back in 2015, but countered by detailing the security built intoHello Barbie product and saying it’d never been hacked to steal childrens’ voice recordings or other sensitive info. Privacy norms have changed since with so many people readily buying always-listening Echos and Google Homes.

We’ve reached out to Apple and PullString for more details about whether PullString and ToyTalk’s products will remain available. .

The startup raised its cash from investors including Khosla Ventures, CRV, Greylock, First Round, and True Ventures, with a Series D in 2016 as its last raise that PitchBook says valued the startup at $160 million. While the voicetech space has since exploded, it can still be difficult for voice experience developers to earn money without accompanying physical products, and many enterprises still aren’t sure what to build with tools like those offered by PullString. That might have led the startup to see a brighter future with Apple, strengthening one of the most ubiquitous though also most detested voice assistants.

Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar lets you skip YouTube ads

A viral post on Reddit shares a neat MacBook Pro touch bar trick that allows users to skip YouTube's non-skippable video ads.
A viral post on Reddit shares a neat MacBook Pro touch bar trick that allows users to skip YouTube’s non-skippable video ads.

Image: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The MacBook Pro touch bar has fans and haters, but this feature is sure to bring both sides together: It can be used to skip non-skippable YouTube ads.

A post about this neat touch bar workaround is gaining traction on Reddit. User “BiggerBadgers” uploaded a video on Wednesday showing how the MacBook Pro touch bar can be used to skip ahead to the end of a YouTube ad that is otherwise non-skippable.

The touch bar trick only works on the Safari web browser and, as Business Insider points out, with the App Controls touch bar settings. This can be set within the “Keyboard” tab in System Preferences.

When a user comes across a non-skippable YouTube ad, they can simply drag the bar on timeline that appears on the touch bar towards the right and jump to the end of the advertisement. 

For the particularly impatient content consumer, this trick also works for YouTube’s TrueView video ads which are skippable after 5 seconds. A user can skip ahead and immediately click on the “Skip Ad” prompt that appears on the video.

Users should not scrub to the very end of the timeline for the video ad as it seems to result in the video becoming stuck in a never-ending buffering loop. 

Mashable has tested out the touch bar trick on each type of advertisement and found that the skipping feature worked on both.

It’s unclear whether Apple or YouTube is aware of the workaround. However, while it is getting considerable attention now, this is not the first time it’s been noticed. This particular touch bar trick appears to go back all the way to November 2016, when it was also shared on Reddit.

If you find yourself bombarded by YouTube ads and don’t mind using Safari, this trick might be the answer to your video viewing problems.

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Save up to 25% on all kinds of Apple iPad models at Amazon and Walmart

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Save on the Apple iPad and the Apple iPad Pro
Save on the Apple iPad and the Apple iPad Pro

Image: Apple

Amazon and Walmart are having a sale on Apple iPad models for casual users and professionals alike. These are Apple’s current models on the 9.7-inch iPad and 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but much cheaper than what you would find on the Apple homepage.

In fact, you can save up to 25% on these models, which are all the WiFi-only versions. Now is the best time to save, if you need a new iPad, looking to upgrade, or planning to make the switch from Android to Apple for the first time. We think you’ll be very happy with whatever you choose.

Here are the deals on various Apple iPads:

If you’re looking to pick up your first iPad, this is the one to consider. You can save $80 on the new Apple iPad (space gray) on Amazon. Normally priced at $329, this model is on sale for just $249. 

It’s hard to believe that you could pick up a brand-new iPad for under $250, but sometimes dreams do come true. This is the WiFi version, so you won’t be able to use it for online purposes outside of a wireless network. However, at this price, it’s a steal. 

This iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display with 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage. It’s powered with Apple’s mighty A10 Fusion processor that’s a workhorse for watching movies and TV shows in 4K, as well as casual-to-heavy internet browsing with up to 10 hours of battery life.

This is the gold standard of iPad models and its sale price is just too good to pass up.

If you need more storage, the 128GB version of the new Apple iPad is on sale for $329.99, or $100 off at Walmart.

This model is the exact same as the one mentioned above, but it comes in gold instead of space gray and offers four times more storage space than the 32GB version. The iPad features a 8-megapixel rear shooter, along with a 1.2-megapixel “selfie” cam on the front. It also runs iOS 11 out of the box, but can be updated to the latest version of the operating system with an over-the-air update. 

For less than $330, this is a great sale price for one of Apple’s top-of-the-line iPad models.

You can save $149 on the 10.5-inch Apple iPad Pro, or nearly 20% off its retail price on Amazon. 

This model features a larger Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone technology behind it to make photos and videos pop. The iPad Pro is powered with Apple’s A10X Fusion chip with 4GB of memory and a whopping 256GB of storage for true multi-tasking, while it’s compatible with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (both sold separately). It also features four stereo speakers on each corner with a better 12-megapixel rear camera and 7-megapixel front-facing “selfie” shooter.

If you’re a creative or a professional, this model is suited for your workflow and features the power you need to get through the workday without any hiccups or lags.