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Apple’s watchOS 4 brings Siri watch face, smart activity coaching and more

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Kevin Lynch watchOS 4 Keynote

Apple announced watchOS 4, the fourth major update to Apple Watch’s watchOS, at WWDC 2017 in San Jose. The update makes Apple Watch smarter, bringing more intelligence and fitness features to the wearable. Siri watch face, smart Activity coaching, and a new music experience are among the new features coming to Apple Watch with watchOS 4 this fall.

A smarter coach and workout partner. Better in tune with your taste in music. And an even more proactive all-day assistant. With watchOS 4, Apple Watch is dialed in to you like never before.

watchOS 4 brings the all-new Siri watch face. Coming in with a cool new Siri icon, the Siri watch face on watchOS 4 dynamically updates the information on the screen based on the time the day, daily routines and data extracted from the apps you use, with each rise of the wrist.

Apple watchOS4

The software update, which is currently available to developers in preview mode, improves the Activity app feature also for which it has been much loved. The Activity app now delivers intelligent coaching, with tailored encouragement and suggestions regarding their day-to-day activity. There’s also unique Monthly Challenges deigned for users, which is solely based on the activity of the users. The Siri watch face and Activity both are powered by machine learning.

The Music app on your wrist has been redesigned to the personal level. It now automatically syncs your New Music Mix, Favorites Mix and most listened to music. With AirPods and watchOS 4 on your Apple Watch, you should have better workouts on the go. Not to forget that the feature will require an Apple Music subscription to work.

The Workout app on the Apple Watch Operating System now includes auto-sets for pool swim workouts and new motion and heart-rate algorithms for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. You can easily combine multiple workouts to measure all the data at once.

Apple also announced GymKit, allowing users to pair their Apple Watch directly to treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes or stair steepers with a tap, and seamlessly sync data — including calories, distance, speed, floods climbed, incline and pace — across the smartwatch and GymKit-enabled devices from global manufacturers such as Life Fitness and Technogym.

We love Siri, and Toy Story, too. The new watchOS comes with new Toy Story and Kaleidoscope watch faces, along with the Siri watch face. It brings Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear to the Apple Watch, while the Kaleidoscope watch face escorts mesmerizing patterns. Watch faces aside, Apple also introduced new Apple Watch summer bands. The offering includes vibrant Sports Bands, a bright yellow Classic Buckle and Nike Sport Band. Apple is also offering a Pride Edition Woven Nylon in rainbow stripe.

Interestingly, Apple has brought Person to Person Payments with Apple Pay to watchOS 4 on Apple Watch. With watchOS 4 on board, you can make and receive payments quickly, easily and securely with friends and family with Apple Pay within Messages or using Siri. The money is received in the new Apple Pay Cash account, and can be used instantly to send to someone or while making purchases using Apple Pay in stores and apps. In addition, you can also transfer the money to their bank account. The feature will be available in the US on iPone SE, iPhone 6 and later, iPad Pro, iPad 5th generation, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 and later and Apple Watch.

The watchOS 4 update will be available this fall as a free update to Apple Watch; the developer preview is now available to developers enrolled in Apple Developer 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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iOS 11 Icon

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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iOS 11 Icon

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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