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Apple’s update to macOS Sierra is called High Sierra

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Apple announced an update to macOS Sierra, in the form of macOS High Sierra. As simple as the name, the update to the world’s most advanced desktop operating system brings​ an all-new file system, update to Metal, refinements to stock Mac apps, and more.

macOS High Sierra uses Apple File System (APFS) which makes common operations such as copying files and directories instantaneous, and helps protect data from power outages and system crashes. The new files system is fully compatible with previously formatted HFS drives and data.

macOS High Sierra Homescreen

Apple also updated Metal, with a refined API and improved performance that help third-party developers to tap into the GPU power more efficiently, to version 2. Metal 2 adds support for machine learning and external graphics. There’s also an External Graphics Developer Kit that provides developers access to all the hardware and software required for optimizing their apps on Mac. For High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), Apple is now moving to H.265 standard from H.264.

With macOS High Sierra and new Mac notebooks and iMac Pro, Apple is focusing more on new experiences such as virtual reality and machine learning. For the first time ever,  developers will be able to create immersive gaming, 3D and VR content on the Mac. Apple is working with Valve to bring SteamVR on macOS — with support for HTC Vive, of course — while Unity and Epic will launch their VR development tools for macOS later this year.

As far as refinements are concerned, Photos, which got a huge update last year with macOS Sierra, has gained more improvements this time. Perhaps the biggest update to Photos in macOS High Sierra is the ability to launch third-party photo-editing tools like Photoshop, Pixelmator from within the app, with changes being synchronized automatically to the Photos library. There’s also an always-on sidebar that curates albums and organization tools. Plus, you can now easily edit Live Photos with fun effects in the app.

macOS High Sierra Storage

Safari can now automatically open articles in Reader, and stop media with audio from automatically playing in the browser with Autoplay Blocking. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention, as the name suggests, protects your web activity from being tracked by advertisers. It uses machine learning to identify and eliminate the tracking data.

To your surprise, Safari on macOS High Sierra is now the world’s fastest desktop browser, according to Apple. A modern Javascript test claims it to be 80 percent faster than Chrome. Mail gets faster and easier with Top Hits, and Siri on macOS now gets a natural and more expressive voice — just like on iOS 11. There are bunch of improvements under-the-hood, which you’ll be experiencing when Apple launches macOS High Sierra later this fall.

Meanwhile, developers can get their hands on the preview build of macOS High Sierra now at developer.apple.com. Public beta program will follow later this month at Apple Beta Software Program.

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Apple releases iOS 11.2 with Apple Pay Cash, 7.5W Wireless Charging, Date Bug Fix

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Apple today released iOS 11.2 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The OTA update for iOS 11 brings in a bunch of new features and improvements; however, the unusual timing of the software update makes sense to say that it is likely intended to fix a major date bug that began affecting users beginning December 2. After all, this is the first major iOS update to be dropped on a weekend.

First spotted by Yoshimasa Niwa, the bug caused some iPhones running iOS 11.1.2 crash when receiving local notifications from third-party apps. (The bug doesn’t have a fancy name!)

The date bug is now fixed with this release of iOS 11. If you’re affected with the bug, then it would be better to turn off Notifications before proceeding to install the iOS 11.2 software update, as it can crash the Springboard while you’re waiting for the download to compete. The best way would be to enable DND before installing the update and disable it after you’re on iOS 11.2. Simple as that. Apple’s official comment on this can be viewed here.

Apple Pay Cash

Aside from the immediate bug fix, iOS 11.2 comes along Apple Pay Cash, a peer-to-peer mobile payment system that lets Apple users send and receive money between each other. Although Apple Pay Cash is mentioned in iOS 11.2 changelog, it doesn’t appear to be live as of writing this post. Assuming that some server-side work is yet to be done from Apple, we’re hoping to see the service go live early next week (when the software update was originally scheduled to air).

Faster Wireless Charging and more

iOS 11.2 also includes faster wireless charging, jumping from 5W wireless charging to 7.5W. It is supposed to reduce the wireless charging time, of course, on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The software update also adds three new Live wallpapers for iPhone X, improves video camera stabilization, VoiceOver stability in some apps, and more. You can read iOS 11.2 full changelog right after the fold.

iOS 11.2 Full Changelog

Here’s what’s new in iOS 11.2, straight from Apple:

Apple Pay Cash (US Only)
● Send, request, and receive money from friends and family with Apple Pay in Messages or by asking Siri
Other improvements and fixes
● Adds support for faster wireless charging on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X with compatible third-party accessories
● Introduces three new Live wallpapers for iPhone X
● Improves video camera stabilization
● Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
● Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
● Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
● Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
● Improves stability in Calendar
● Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
● Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
● Addresses an issue that could prevent Music
● Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
● Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
● Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
● Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
● Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
● Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
● Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
● Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
● Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store, and Music
● Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

Happy Updating!

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Apple Heart Study app launches in the US in partnership with Stanford Medicine

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Apple Watch Series 3

Apple has launched Apple Heart Study, a research study app that uses Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythm, in partnership with Stanford Medicine. The app also notifies users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib), with additional monitoring. The Apple Heart Study was announced back in September and is now available to Apple Watch users in the US.

AFib, the leading cause of stroke, is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the US every year. Many people don’t experience symptoms, so AFib often goes undiagnosed.

iPhone Watch Heart Study

Apple explains how the Apple Watch is used in the research study:

To calculate heart rate and rhythm, Apple Watch’s sensor uses green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist. The sensor’s unique optical design gathers signals from four distinct points on the wrist, and when combined with powerful software algorithms, Apple Watch isolates heart rhythms from other noise. The Apple Heart Study app uses this technology to identify an irregular heart rhythm.

If an irregular heart rhythm is identified, users will receive a notification, of course, on their Apple Watch and iPhone alongside consultation with a study doctor for free, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for more in-depth monitoring. The research study program is open to Apple Watch users (Series 1 or later) who are 22 years or older. The Apple Heart Study app is available in the US App Store and is limited to US residents — for now.

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iOS 11.1.1 now available, fixes keyboard autocorrect bug

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Apple has addressed the autocorrect bug found in iOS 11.1 keyboard, with the public release of iOS 11.1.1 today. The over-the-air update is now available for iPhone and iPad.

The keyboard bug that turned the letter “i” into the letter “a” and a strange symbol is now fixed. Now you can normally write ‘iPhone’ on your iPhone, again. Besides the autocorrect fix, the iOS 11.1.1 firmware update also resolves an issue where Hey Siri stops working. That’s pretty much for this minor yet very important over-the-air fix, according to release notes.

iOS 11.1.1 Update

You can grab the iOS 11.1.1 software update now from Settings > General > Software Update on your iOS device.

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