TIME Apple

The Worst Thing About the iPhone Is About to Be Fixed

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

It's huge for public transportation users

Your iPhone is about to get way more useful for navigating around big cities.

Apple’s upcoming iOS 9 update will add public transportation data to the default Maps app, according to 9to5Mac. The company will reportedly unveil bus, subway and train directions within the app at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

This is the first time Apple’s Maps app will include public transit data since the company stopped using Google’s mapping data in 2012. Apple was reportedly planning on including the new features in iOS 8, but pulled them at the last minute because of personnel and data issues.

Sources also told 9to5Mac that Apple is making progress with an indoor mapping project to help users find their way inside large buildings and landmarks. However, it’s unclear when that will be released.

TIME Apple

Here’s What Apple’s Next Big App Will Do

Craig Federighi
Jeff Chiu—Associated Press Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit app at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 2, 2014.

The new app may be released with iOS 9

Apple is reportedly developing a “Home” app which would help users control products that work with its connected home service, HomeKit.

HomeKit’s uses include controlling garage doors, smart thermostats and wireless door locks, among other home accessories. The Home app may be included with an upcoming iOS 9 update, 9to5Mac reported citing sources familiar with the project.

9to5Mac says the Home app will boast the following features:

  • Wirelessly discovering and setting up compatible HomeKit devices
  • Creating a virtual representation of rooms in the home to easily organize and connect HomeKit devices
  • Utilizing the Apple TV as a hub connecting all of the HomeKit devices
  • Offering a series of screens to help users find new HomeKit devices and apps

Apple is widely expected to unveil more details about HomeKit at its Worldwide Developers’ Conference early next month.

TIME Apple

Apple Is About to Change Something Very Basic About its Devices

New Product Announcements At The Apple Inc. Spring Forward Event
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple Inc. Spring Forward event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, March 9, 2015.

The writing's on the wall

Apple is expected to refresh the font used across its devices, 9to5Mac reported Wednesday.

Apple currently uses the new font, called San Francisco, in the Apple Watch. Now, it could make its way to iPhones, iPads, and Macs, replacing Helvetica Neue. San Francisco was developed for the Apple Watch to improve readability on the device’s small screen.

It’s unclear exactly when the font switchover might happen. However, it could be announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference, set for early next month. While Apple’s annual WWDC events are geared towards software developers, the company often uses the occasion to announce new products, as well as new features for its existing offers.

Still, nothing’s a sure bet. As 9to5Mac notes, “Apple could ultimately choose to retain Helvetica Neue this year and push back or cancel its plans for San Francisco.”

MONEY stocks

WATCH: Apple Splits Stock Seven Ways

Why did Apple do a 7:1 stock split? Maybe it's because the tech giant wants a spot on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

TIME Apple

Apple Execs Ranked by Their Keynote Performances

Apple’s keynotes have always had a certain mystique, complete with seamless product demos, smooth promotional videos, and a class-of-the-industry organizational flow. While a great product can sometimes speak for itself, it’s the people behind the performances that really sell these events, from Phil Schiller to Tim Cook to Craig Federighi.

With that said, not every Apple exec can sell a $600 device like Steve Jobs. We watched Apple keynotes over the last seven years with an eye for style, strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s what we found:

Apple’s Best Keynote Speakers

6. Tim Cook

Likes: memorizing lines, rehearsing

Dislikes: improvisation

 

Cook’s never been especially engaging as a speaker, with a slow and steady demeanor that borders on over-rehearsed. It doesn’t help that he tends to cover the least interesting content, whether that’s how fast tickets sold out or why Apple just built an Apple Store in Berlin.

Like the iPhone itself, however, Cook has improved incrementally over the years, sounding less memorized and more relaxed, particularly during Monday’s WWDC keynote. He’s also learned to hand the stage over quickly, which has allowed Cook to play the snappy tour guide instead of the dawdling storyteller.

Finest moment: The beginning of the 2014 WWDC keynote

5. Scott Forstall

Likes: being smarter than you

Dislikes: acknowledging mistakes

 

The former Apple executive used to be a keynote staple, serving as Jobs’ #2 presenter in the years following the launch of the iPhone. Forstall was never bad, but he carried a certain smugness on stage, a tendency made worse by controversial releases like Siri and Apple Maps. He had a habit of pointing to the scoreboard (ex: sales, overall satisfaction) in the face of legitimate customer grievances (ex: Game Center, directions).

To be fair, his iOS expertise and raw intelligence always made Forstall a competent presenter, but the attitude behind the words carries a lasting legacy.

In sports, commentators often say that underdog teams in big games are “just happy to be there.” For Forstall, it was the opposite. Of course he should be there. He was the best.

Finest moment: Forstall’s 2011 presentation on iOS 5

4. Phil Schiller

Likes: geeky stats

Dislikes: basic but necessary information

 

Schiller is a fine presenter: knowledgeable, well-rehearsed, properly-paced—you know, the sort of guy Microsoft would kill to have on hand for its next Surface announcement. Still, Schiller’s routine is predictable. He winds up slowly, hits peak enthusiasm when covering the geekiest details (ex: breaking down a MacBook’s internals), then lands with a bit of a thud when he finally gets around to summary details (ex: pricing, release date).

That said, Schiller’s sensible, everyman demeanor works to great comic effect when he’s forced to do a funny FaceTime chat or physical stunt. Though the most absurd routines have tapered off in recent years, he was once Steve Jobs’ most trusted comedic sidekick. Crucially, Schiller’s play acting always comes off as more reluctant than showy, making him the one Apple presenter whose jokes never seem the least bit arrogant.

Finest moment: Schiller’s “death dive” gag in 1999

3. Jony Ive

Likes: high-minded, philosophical musing

Dislikes: physical stages

 

With phrases like “crystalline diamonds,” “unapologetically plastic,” and “highly-polished chamfered edge,” it’s a miracle Ive can get through Apple’s product videos with a straight face. But Jony’s magic always comes along about halfway through each video, where, despite all the platitudes, Jimmy Kimmel jokes and YouTube spoof videos, you find yourself nodding along. As a matter of fact, I do want a phone with a “bespoke assembly” and “a clear lacquer hard coat.”

Only Ive would describe electronic gadgets in such lofty, ludicrous terms…and yet, only Ive could pull it all off. While he doesn’t do keynotes, Ive has become such a staple in Apple product videos that he deserves mention on this list.

Finest moment: Selling a plastic, year-old phone (iPhone 5c) as “the distillation of what people love about the iPhone 5.”

2. Craig Federighi

Likes: everything

Dislikes: nothing

 

A rising star and natural speaker, Federighi is by far the most charismatic presenter currently at the company. Regardless of the product, topic or audience response, he emits an unwavering, boyish enthusiasm, beaming his way through spec lists, bad jokes, and routine product demos. Before 2012, he was a small-time extra, lucky to be on stage for 10 minutes at a time. Since then, he’s become the face of Apple’s keynotes, presenting for nearly 50% of WWDC 2013, and fully 70% of Monday’s event.

Federighi’s not perfect: he loves sprinkling his comments with empty superlatives (“incredible,” “awesome,” “really nice”), while his constantly cheerful buzz leaves little room for emphasis (how do we know what’s important and what’s not?). But his ability to make 78 minutes of keynote fly by faster than an episode of Silicon Valley makes him easily the best presenter of all current Apple employees.

Finest moment: Owning the stage for 70% of the 2014 WWDC keynote

1. Steve Jobs

Likes: bold, blanket statements

Dislikes: unreceptive audiences

 

In the end, of course, there can only be one choice for Apple’s greatest presenter: Jobs himself. With the confidence of Forstall, the mesmerizing qualities of Ive and the enthusiasm of Federighi, Jobs combined the strengths of his successors to sell everything from the iMac to the iPhone. Jobs also had the Clintonian ability to make people believe something just by saying it. Ive needs pleasant music, a white background, expensive machinery and a non-specific European accent to convince people: all Jobs had to do was open his mouth.

Jobs did have a speaking flaw—he would get visibly annoyed at his own audience when they didn’t respond how he expected—but his various gifts far outweighed the occasional flash of temper.

Apple might still be able to put on a show, but today it needs four guys to do it. Before, one was enough.

Finest moment: Announcing “three revolutionary products” in 2007

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

TIME Wearables

iOS 8 Has the Ingredients for a Pretty Good Apple Watch

Apple didn’t announce an iWatch at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, nor was it expected to.

But what happened instead was just as intriguing: With iOS 8, Apple quietly laid the groundwork for what could be a great wearable platform, adding the raw ingredients to compete with Google, Samsung and others.

One of the big new features in iOS 8 is interactive notifications, which allow users to directly respond to e-mails, calendar appointments and social media posts without going into the app itself.

Yes, it’s one of several features that Apple “borrowed” from Android, and this may not be a coincidence given that actionable notifications are the centerpiece of Google’s own wearable platform, Android Wear. Instead of just seeing static notifications on your wrist, Android Wear will let you respond to them while leaving your phone in your pocket. Without a similar system in iOS, Apple would have been at a big disadvantage.

Interactive notifications aren’t the only smartwatch-friendly feature in iOS 8. Apple is beefing up Siri with streaming voice (so you can confirm what you’re saying as you talk), support for more languages and the ability to activate voice commands by saying “Hey, Siri.”

Siri will also be able to control home automation setups through HomeKit, which makes a lot of sense for a wearable device. You don’t want to have to dig out your phone or tablet just to tweak the thermostat or turn down the lights.

And of course, there’s Health and HealthKit, which will allow users to keep track of all their fitness tracking applications. Wouldn’t it make sense to keep an eye on these stats while exercising, without having to strap an iPhone onto your shoulder?

I’ll cheerfully admit that the case for an iWatch isn’t airtight. There are still tough hardware problems to solve, including battery efficiency, fashionability (for both men and women) and pricing, and I can still pick out some things I’d like to see on the software side (such as third-party app support in Siri).

But Apple’s never been known to tick every feature box at once. Instead, the company tends to take its time building up from a foundation. In hindsight, that’s exactly what Apple did as it built up iOS on the iPhone, before launching the iPad a few years later. With iOS 8, it’s a lot easier to believe that an iWatch is coming next.

TIME Gadgets

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s New iOS 8

Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco.

Get ready for widgets, better OSX integration, family sharing and more

Get ready, Apple fans: The next mobile operating system upgrade, iOS 8, is coming to iPhones and iPads this fall. It’s got a couple big new features: HealthKit, for tracking your personal fitness data, and HomeKit, for integrating “smart home” apps more directly into iOS (including Siri support—eat your heart out, Clapper).

But iOS 8 promises lots of little new improvements, too. To boot:

1. Interactive Notifications

Giving up Android’s far-superior notification center feature was my biggest sacrifice when I converted from Android to iOS for the iPhone 5. Apple’s now promising a notification center that’s far more customizable, with third-party widgets ranging from ESPN for sports scores to eBay for staying on top of your bidding game. These widgets will let you perform certain tasks right from iOS’s “Today” screen. Finally.

2. Better Keyboards

Apple, the company oh-so-famous for its walled gardens, has also for the first time opened up iOS to third-party keyboard apps. Among these is Swype, which lets users, well, swipe their fingers across the keyboard to type out words, another feature long-enjoyed by Android users but lacking from iOS. Apple’s iOS 8 is also coming with QuickType, a predictive typing feature that’s new to iOS but old hat to Android users.

3. OSX Integration

Oh, joyful day: iOS and OSX, Apple’s desktop OS, are about to get much closer. With iOS 8 and Apple’s upcoming OSX 10.10 Yosemite, you’ll be able to make calls and send SMS text messages (not just iMessages) from your Apple desktop or laptop remotely via your iPhone. It’s probably good to be a little bit skeptical about this, though: Apple’s previous attempt at marrying iOS iMessages with OSX has not gone well.

Some other nice features: You’ll also be able to “handoff” documents from an iOS device to an OSX machine and vice-versa, and it’ll be easier for OSX machines to activate an iOS device’s wireless hotspot mode.

4. Muting Conversations

Ever been trapped in a terrible iMessage conversation with a bunch of people you don’t care about, but you’re too nice to leave it outright? Good news: You can now mute those awful chats, meaning you’ll still get the messages but you won’t be bothered by alerts about them. Nice.

5. New Photos App

Apple’s new Photos app will let you view and edit images from across your myriad i-Devices, which is nice. But there’s even bigger news for the iPhoneographers out there: iOS 8’s camera will natively support selecting different points for focus and exposure, which only third-party apps could previously do. And Apple’s also letting third-party apps get under the camera’s hood, finally allowing access to more manual controls.

Translation? People who really love photography will get more out of iOS 8—and, by logical extension, Apple’s next iPhone—than any Apple iOS to date.

6. Hey, Siri

Great news, lazy people: Siri’s getting voice activation. Just say, “Hey, Siri.” Which is maybe a little friendlier than “Hello, Glass.”

7. Family Sharing

Up to six family members will soon be able to share app purchases across their multiple devices. The catch: All those devices need to be tied to the same credit card—no Netflix-style password-swapping here. The family sharing feature also means stuff like calendars can be shared across devices, meaning you’ll never have to leave notes on the fridge again.

8. Wi-Fi Calling

Stuck somewhere with Wi-Fi access but crappy cell reception? Then you’re in luck: iOS 8 will enable voice calls over Wi-Fi, though the feature will probably be carrier-dependent. If carriers were smart, though, they’d see it as a good way to get even less traffic crossing their already-strained networks—if an iPhone user is on Wi-Fi to make calls at a given moment, they’re presumably also using Wi-Fi, not mobile data, to use their data-intensive apps.

TIME Software

Apple’s iOS 8 Borrows Liberally from Android, and That’s Great

Apple

Don't call it a rip-off: Apple adds its own imprint on features that Android users have long enjoyed.

Apple gave its fans plenty to swoon over at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, but it also gave its haters a lot to sneer at.

Although Apple introduced each feature as if it was brand new, some of iOS 8’s biggest additions have been available in some form on Google’s Android platform for years.

To wit:

  • Interactive notifications will let users quickly respond to messages, accept calendar appointments, “Like” Facebook posts and more without having to enter the app itself. Android has offered these kinds of actionable notifications since 2012.
  • Apple will add a row of word predictions above its software keyboard, just like Google Keyboard for Android. iOS 8 will also support third-party software keyboards, which Android has always allowed.
  • Apple has extended iCloud to support all file types, and will let users easily access their files and folders across all their devices. It’s similar to the Google Drive integration found in Android 4.4 KitKat and Chromebooks.
  • Notification Center will support third-party widgets for things like sports scores and breaking news. Google has allowed third-party widgets on the Android home screen for years.
  • The App Store will allow video previews, just like Android’s Google Play Store.
  • Sharing in iOS will be open to all apps instead of just a handful of Apple-approved ones. Android’s Share button already allows sharing to any app that supports it.

If you’re an Android fan, it’s tempting to lampoon Apple for lifting features from its rival. But calling iOS 8 a rip-off of Android would be disingenuous for a couple reasons.

For one thing, Apple isn’t just copying Android features verbatim. It’s adding its own spin. Notifications, for instance, will be interactive straight from the lock screen, which is not currently the case on Android. The addition of widgets in the Notification Center also shows an Apple-like touch: It lets the home screen stay as simple as possible, while moving more advanced functionality off to the side for power users.

Even app-to-app sharing is more advanced than what Android offers. It’ll allow developers to create photo filters within the main Photos app (this feature is actually borrowed from the “Lenses” function in Windows Phone), and extensions such as text translation or document watermarking that work across many apps.

Taking concepts from Android and refining them is not a new approach for Apple. Although Android was first to allow multitasking, Apple’s version had tighter controls on how apps could run in the background, saving system resources and battery life. Android was first to allow copy-and-paste, but Apple’s version was better-executed when it finally arrived. Google, in turn, tweaked Android over time to better handle system resources and to make copy-and-paste more consistent.

Meanwhile, Apple is adding plenty of other features to iOS 8, including HomeKit to make home automation simpler, HealthKit to unify all your health tracking apps, and a bunch of ways to make all Apple products more connected.

This is exactly how competition should work. Instead of just blindly copying Android, Apple has found ways to improve upon key Android features, while adding other things that are entirely new. Now it’s Google’s turn to try and do the same.

Whether you prefer iOS or Android, that’s a very good thing. Over the last couple years, mobile operating systems have felt stagnant, with only minor tweaks to the way we use them. The new features in iOS 8 are a sign that there’s plenty of room left to innovate. I have a hard time getting snarky about that.

TIME Video Games

Apple’s ‘Metal’ Could Transform iOS Gaming If It Works as Promised

Apple's Metal could transform the complexity limits of games in iOS 8, but if it wants to eventually compete with game consoles -- and the company referred to "console-level" graphics during its WWDC presentation repeatedly -- it still has an interface problem to solve.

Apple’s gaming strategy — anemic enough in the past that some might view those three words used in the same sentence as oxymoronic — took an interesting turn at the company’s annual WWDC 2014 conference on Monday. Apple software engineer VP Craig Federighi surprised onlookers after steering lengthy presentations on OS X Yosemite (Apple’s latest version of OS X) and iOS 8 by revealing something the company calls “Metal,” which Federighi prefaced as “huge in the area of 3D graphics.”

Metal, says Apple, is designed to supplant OpenGL, or the Open Graphics Library, as the mechanism in iOS whereby developers get their hooks into the hardware — in this case, Apple’s powerful A7 system-on-a-chip processor. Calling OpenGL “increasingly…a thick layer of overhead between the game and the hardware,” Federighi claimed Metal would dissolve most of that layer and replace it with one that offers “near bare-to-the-metal access to the power of A7.” According to Federighi, the difference is “stunning,” with draw call rates clocking up to 10 times faster (“draw call rate” refers to the process whereby an application renders different types of visual data to the screen, though there’s some debate over its importance as a performance bottleneck).

That, in theory, would reduce processing overhead, allow developers room to access the “compute” aspect of the GPU portion of A7 (in addition to graphics), and Metal supports both precompiled shaders and “efficient” multithreading. (Shaders are employed to “color” aspects of an image or create other visual effects, and precompiling them can reduce load times.)

Technical claims of API prowess aside, it seems Apple’s been working with Crytek, Epic, EA and Unity to come up with Metal-based demos. The first three of those companies are long-reputed for pushing graphical boundaries in games: Crytek with Crysis and Ryse, Epic with its proliferative Unreal Engine and EA with subsidiary DICE’s Frostbite technology.

Federighi said these companies had only been fiddling with Metal for a few weeks, but managed to achieve “stunning” results, then he brought up a clip of EA’s Plants vs. Zombies — a “console-level title” — running in iOS 8 with over “1.3 million triangles on the screen at a time.”

How does that compare to a pre-Metal 3D game? I have no idea, but I’m guessing Apple wouldn’t risk boasting about the metric in specific terms before an audience largely composed of developers if it wasn’t a meaningful leap.

(Federighi added that EA was using its Frostbite engine here, though when he said EA “thought [it] could never come to mobile,” it’s not clear if he meant the console-native version of Frostbite, or he meant EA’s Frostbite Go, a version of Frostbite designed specifically for iOS and unveiled over a year ago.)

Federighi went on to highlight footage of a game by Crytek (from The Collectables, a squad-based tactics game for iOS announced last year — the big deal with Metal, apparently, is that they can do up to 4,000 draw calls per frame, says Federighi), before turning the stage over to Epic founder and Unreal Engine co-creator Tim Sweeney.

Sweeney, sounding a bit stilted, as if reading from a script (which he doubtless was) demonstrated a tech demo alongside one of his colleagues that he called “Zen Garden.” Zen Garden was built using Unreal Engine 4 (the latest UE version, released in early April this year) and designed to highlight detailed special effects, like drawing thousands of leaves on a tree in realtime and watching them flutter to the ground, or poking around in a fish pool filled with hundreds of fish (each able to have CPU time dedicated toward making them individually intelligent), or animating thousands of butterflies as the screen panned and shifted around a complex-looking 3D backdrop in realtime.

Again, it’s impossible to tell how any of that compares in specific terms to some of the highest-end console games today, like Ryse or Killzone: Shadow Fall or Battlefield 4, so we’re left to with generalizations and pretty — if not mind-blowingly so — imagery. Sweeney noted Zen Garden would be available on the App Store for free when iOS 8 ships later this year, so maybe a gaming performance analysis outfit like Digital Foundry can make something of its meaningfulness at that point. Federighi said no more about Metal after Sweeney left the stage — no tout list of third-party developers, or of games in development, or timeframe estimates on when we’ll see iOS 8 Metal-enhanced games.

What this wasn’t, then: Apple throwing down the gauntlet and squaring off with Microsoft’s Xbox One or Sony’s PlayStation 4. Not yet, anyway. The company seems to be stepping, component by component, toward an inexorable confrontation rather than throwing all its weight behind a fully articulated console-competitive games platform — built on iOS — today. Call it an overabundance of caution, call it oblivious nonchalance toward the highest grossing entertainment medium by revenue on the planet, I suspect it’s probably just a company taking its time, fully cognizant of the fact that multitouch devices have serious limitations — interface hurdles that have to be overcome, if indeed they’re worth overcoming — if Apple wants to eventually present tablets (or post-tablets) as console-alternative gaming devices. And that’s still a big if.

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