All posts in “wwdc”

Apple is adding 3D lasers to the iPhone so we can all be AR zombies

None of the iPhones yet have a 3D laser camera.
None of the iPhones yet have a 3D laser camera.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Apple announced its augmented reality development kit (ARKit) at WWDC back in June. Now, the company appears to be adding a bunch of brand-new components to the next iPhone in order to beef up the new AR platform’s capabilities.

According to a Fast Company report, Apple is trying to add a rear-facing 3D laser system to the back of the next iPhone, set to debut this fall. The sensor system would give the iPhone better depth-sensing abilities for augmented reality apps and better auto-focus for standard photography.

The report claims Apple is working to add a “vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser” (VCSEL) system that gives the phone’s camera better depth perception. It does this by calculating how long it takes for the imperceptible light to travel from your phone, to the target object, and back. 

Apple always want users to have the best experience out there, so if it can create the best augmented reality platform with the best phone for watching AR, it’s easy to imagine how they could reach the pinnacle of success in this space.

Even if you’re not into AR, the laser will also increase your camera’s auto-focus capabilities. The laser system gives your phone a more accurate and quicker way to measure objects in the frame, down to milliseconds. So, it’s basically a win for everyone. 

Current iPhones use something called “focus pixels,” which is also known as phase detection. This is a complicated process where your phone splits up incoming light into sets of images and compares them to determine where an object is, and how to focus on it.

If the technology is ready in time, the next iPhone won’t be the first smartphone to boast laser auto-focus. The OnePlus 2, Nexus PX, HTC 10, and LG V10 are just a couple of the others with similar features. But iPhone users should still be happy Apple might start using the same technology. 

A 3D scanning subsystem has been rumored since February when KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported on it. That system reportedly focused on using the iPhone 8’s front-facing camera as a replacement for the Touch ID. But it now looks like 3D sensing might be coming to the rear-facing camera, too.

Apple engineers have been stumped by a few different features already, so who knows if this one will actually make it into the iPhone 8. ARKit will be available to everyone when iOS 11 becomes publicly available in the fall, so it would be ideal for both that and an AR laser armed iPhone 8 to roll out at the same time.

But if that’s not the case, hopefully things will be straightened out by the release of the 2018 iPhone — and by then hopefully we’ll all be able to walk around aimlessly looking at the world filtered through our iPhone screens.

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The iPhone’s volume indicator will finally stop killing your videos with iOS 11

Volume changes will no longer disrupt your entire video.
Volume changes will no longer disrupt your entire video.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Here’s a scenario all iPhone users are familiar with: You’re watching a video of, lets say, a guy getting flattened by a gigantic water balloon and decide the volume is just a smidge too loud. You go to turn down the volume on your iPhone … only to have the volume display cover the entire center of your screen, leaving you sad and wondering what happened when the water balloon popped.

Well now, Apple is addressing your volume display woes.

With its new mobile operating system, iOS 11, Apple is finally moving the volume display from the center of the screen to the upper right hand corner. In other words, when you adjust your phone’s volume mid-video, it will no-longer obstruct your view. 

The volume display change was spotted by Twitter user @Hughesyy__:

The change is sure to be a perk for iPhone users everywhere — Apple fans have been asking for a change in the disastrous volume display for quite some time now. The new OS is still in beta, meaning there could be some changes before the final version of the software, but we hope this fix stays around.

The adjusted volume display isn’t the only new change coming to your iPhone with the company’s new OS. Apple is giving users a ton of new features with iOS 11, including screen recording and a one handed keyboard.

The beta version of iOS 11 will be available to the public soon, with the full upgrade being released to iPhone users later in the fall. 

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iOS 11 will finally bring native GIF support to your iPhone

Image: lili sams / mashable

Your GIF game is about to get a big upgrade.

With the company’s latest mobile software update, iOS 11, Apple is finally adding native GIF support to your iPhone. Though the company did not mention the feature at WWDC, developers who are testing the new OS quickly discovered the new feature. The discovery is sure to be an exciting perk for users everywhere, as GIF support has been one of Apple’s most widely requested features for a number of years.

With the new update, GIFs can now be directly viewed in Photos, and the graphics even have a dedicated album called “Animated.” Previously, users could only view GIFs on messaging platforms and third party apps.

The feature was spotted spotted on Reddit. Here’s what it looks like in action:

GIF support is one of many small features that will make iOS 11 a much smoother experience overall for mobile users.

iOS 11 is currently in the developer beta mode, and won’t be available to all users until the fall, so the feature could be adjusted before it becomes publicly available. But we’d still like to say preliminarily: Thanks Apple!

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Apple sneaks ‘dark mode’ into iOS 11 to help save your eyes

Tim Cook opens WWDC 2017 in San Jose.
Tim Cook opens WWDC 2017 in San Jose.

Image: justin sullivan/Getty Images

Apple’s WWDC 2017 keynote was absolutely jam-packed. We got the HomePod, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4, iOS 11, and updates for MacBooks and iMacs.

But Apple kept a couple of details on the down low — one of which is a new “dark mode” in iOS 11.

The new feature made a cameo during the presentation on a slide that labeled it as “Redesigned Color Invert.” The beta of iOS 11 is available only to developers right now, but dark mode will come to everyone when the new version is publicly launched this fall. 

Apple has an inverted colors option, which was created for better visual accessibility. The option was great for people with brightness sensitivity or some color blindness. But it was also known to sometimes warp colors and images to the extreme.

But the new update appears to work a lot better. It gives your phone less of a glow, so you won’t disturb others in a dark room, and it doesn’t invert colors in the same way. In fact, the new setting has two modes: Smart Invert, which the inversion intelligently, leaving many colors the same, and not inverting layouts that are already dark. But if you liked the way the current hidden dark mode works, you can choose Classic Invert.

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If you have the iOS 11 beta and want to test out the new inverted colors, simply go to Settings > General> Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colors. 

But for anyone out there who relies on the original version of Apple’s “dark mode,” there’s no need to worry. Apple hasn’t removed this version from your iPhone.

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Apple still loves you, pro users, but that love will cost you

A solid chunk of Apple’s WWDC opening keynote on Monday felt like a love letter to professional users. You know, the designers, illustrators, music producers, and similar demanding customers who lovingly cherished their Macintosh computers when the general populace only had a vague idea of what Apple is. 

This was a long overdue, important move from Apple. People who rely on their Macs for work weren’t happy in recent years, as the company seemed to forget about its roots and focus on the mass market. Look no further than the Mac Pro, which wasn’t updated in forever, prompting Apple to apologize back in April and (possibly for the first time ever) announce in advance a thorough update to this line of products. 

There was no apology on Monday (though Apple CEO Tim Cook did on several occasions sheepishly proclaim the Mac as the “heart and soul” of Apple), but there were more than enough updates to please the demanding user. The company announced the iMac Pro, the first-ever professional-grade iMac machine, with truly high-end specs. It showed off a ton of new iPad Pro features illustrators and designers will love. It even yielded to years of despondent cries requests and launched a full-sized wireless Magic Keyboard with numeric keys. 

It's finally here. And it costs $129.

It’s finally here. And it costs $129.

Image: Apple

There’s more. The MacBook line of products got thoroughly updated, and even though there’s still no 32GB 15-inch MacBook Pro option — something pro users have been clamoring for — the laptops did get speedier, 7th gen Kaby Lake Intel processors and better graphics chips, just 7 months after the last update. And even though this feature is mostly VR-related, users will get the ability to connect a standalone graphics card to their MacBooks Pro in the future. 

There was no word on the Mac Pro. It’s possible that the iMac Pro is the new Mac Pro and that the Mac Pro line is dead, but if the iMac Pro can deliver the necessary power for demanding tasks, we won’t be too sad. 

There’s even a badge of honor for those willing to dish out five thousand or more for a computer, as only iMac Pro buyers will get the space gray set of accessories, including Magic Mouse, Trackpad, and Keyboard. 

So good news all around, right?

Well, not really. While I personally do appreciate Apple’s Voldemortish embrace of its pro user base, one aspect of it all still feels like a slap in the face. Price. 

The Touch Bar MacBook Pro is still expensive as hell. And though the entry level “escape edition” Pro is 200 bucks cheaper and now starts at $1,299, it still has only two (instead of four) USB-C ports. To add insult to injury, Apple reduced the storage for that variant to a paltry 128GB, which is just enough to install a couple of apps and store one photo. Of you. With donkey ears. 

That wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad? It’ll cost you $129, and a slap in the face you should apply to yourself if you actually pay that much for a wireless keyboard. There was a cheaper, wired option for $49 — until yesterday. Apple has removed from its store, even though many pro users don’t really care about their keyboard being wireless. 

Sorry, the $49 wired Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad no longer exists. May we interest you in the $129 option?

Sorry, the $49 wired Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad no longer exists. May we interest you in the $129 option?

Image: Apple

The iMac Pro, which arrives in December, starts at $4,999, but that’s the entry-level version, and Apple didn’t share the full pricing. Knowing Apple, clicking on options for 2 or 4TB of storage, 64 or 128GB of RAM and 10- or 18-core Xeon processor will soon have you explaining to your family why you have to go live under a bridge now. 

Sure, it’s Apple we’re talking about, and none of this is new. The company sells premium products at a premium price which turns into painful if you’re not satisfied with the entry level options. But little things like the removal of the wired numerical keyboard and the reduced storage on the cheapest MacBook Pro just make me want to scream in anger. 

Contrary to Mashable‘s Chris Taylor, I think that the onslaught of updates at this year’s WWDC was great. The MacBook, in all its forms, sorely needed an update; the new iPad Pro features seem to be quite cool and the iMac Pro is finally, a serious, professional grade Mac — and many other cool new features and products were shown. But Apple is still unyielding in its quest for your dollar, often annoyingly so, and I’m not going to pretend I like that. 

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