Google has unleashed a free app that will let anyone with an Android phone take panoramic videos and record sound. Later, you’ll be able to use your virtual-reality headset of choice to relive those moments in 3-D. The app is called Cardboard Camera, after Google’s own build-it-yourself VR goggles, and it’s available now in the […]
Apple today seeded the second iOS 9.1 beta to public beta testers, two weeks after seeding the first beta a day after its „Hey Siri“ fall media event. Today’s beta is the same as the second iOS 9.1 beta seeded to developers yesterday.
Public beta testers who already have iOS 9.1 installed can get the second beta as an over-the-air update, and those interested in getting early release software from Apple can sign up to participate in Apple’s Beta Software Program.
iOS 9.1 is an update mainly designed for the iPad Pro, adding support for accessories like the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, both of which require deep integration with iOS 9. It will also include support for the new Apple TV.
The update also includes support for Unicode 8, introducing new emoji like taco, burrito, hot dog, popcorn, turkey, cheese wedge, and more, and it includes a new Siri setting that lets users give voice examples for the „Hey Siri“ feature that can be activated whenever the iPhone is connected to power. With the new iPhone 6s, the new feature will be essential because „Hey Siri“ can be used even when an iPhone is not plugged in.
One of the big announcements coming out of Apple’s „Hey Siri“ event in San Francisco today was the new and improved Apple TV, which aims to provide users with a far more robust and unified experience than its predecessor. As it did with the iPad Pro and iPhone 6s, Apple has allowed some journalists hands-on time with the new Apple TV after today’s event and subsequently the first impressions of the device have been shared online.
The Verge went hands-on with the new Apple TV, and while they found the new remote to be „frenetic“ at first, they noted the sensitive controls are easy to get used to, even in a brief demo environment. The site also liked the slight visual overhaul thanks to tvOS, and called the device a „meaningful“ upgrade to the Apple TV line, but was left unsure whether it met Apple’s massive vision detailed during today’s conference.
Variety‘s brief demo with the new set-top box found that the overall experience has been uniquely tuned around Siri and Siri’s in-depth search parameters. Specifically, the site was a fan of the device’s „fast and fluid“ interface, along with the new remote control and the possibility of future Apple Watch integration.
Using voice to control Apple TV worked fairly well during my brief hands-on test, which says something: My German accent tends to throw off voice recognition systems, but Siri had no problems searching for foreign comedies when asked to do so.
Apple TV is based on pretty powerful hardware, and that shows when you navigate the device’s home screen. Scrolling through apps with the remote control’s touchpad is fast and fluid, app icons are 3D-animated, and the interface looks a lot lighter than that of the previous-generation Apple TV.
On the downside, Variety noted that much of the in-video alternate functionality shown off by Apple during the media event – like searching for actors while a movie plays – is limited to iTunes videos for the time being. The site also found some roadblocks when continuing to inquire into specific categories with Siri, with the voice assistant sometimes stumbling over whether they were beginning a new query or continuing insight into a previous one. In the end, while they liked the brief experience, Variety wasn’t sure Apple completely „changed the TV experience,“ as the company hoped to do.
Siri also stumbled when asked to show TV shows from ABC, something an Apple employee attributed to the fact that the demo was optimized for movies. Also notable: Siri wasn’t actually that smart about connecting the dots. Follow-up questions have to start with certain keywords, otherwise Siri thinks it’s a new question. Launching an app or game requires users to use the word „open,“ and not „go to.“ And the MLB app wouldn’t open, just because I said „Open MLB.tv,“ not „Open At Bat.“
Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that no one had changed the TV experience – and the new Apple TV doesn’t really change it either.
SlashGear said the physical Apple TV set-top box „isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing,“ as the existing version, but thought the brighter tvOS and slick menu controls were far ahead of the current Apple TV. The site also noted the accessibility of the remote’s IR blaster – which allows the small device to control a TV’s volume – and the ability to support MFI-certified controllers, like Bluetooth gamepads, is a plus for anyone looking into the new gaming App Store section of the Apple TV.
What you do engage with is the new remote control. It feels more like a mashup of a 1st-gen iPod nano and a MacBook trackpad, with the touch surface for navigation being very sensitive: at first, I skittered through the revamped interface, the icons tilting and bobbing as I went.
tvOS – built on top of iOS and with the primary changes being to how easily viewed the interface is from across the room – feels familiar, though the brighter color scheme is a little more engaging than the dour black of the current Apple TV. It also feels a little like Android TV at times.
The new Apple TV will be available in late October for $149 (32GB) and $199 (64GB). Besides TV and movie functionality, Apple introduced a few gaming-centric features today, including unique co-operative play for certain game titles and the announcement of the first gamepad for the new Apple TV.
When Apple unveiled the new Apple TV and its ability to play games at its „Hey Siri“ event earlier today, the company glossed over the fact that MFi gamepad controllers for iPhone and iPad would be compatible with the new device. However, after the event, SteelSeries announced the brand new Nimbus gamepad controller would be the first made specifically for the Apple TV.
“SteelSeries is at the center of the biggest evolution in gaming. Nimbus represents a new standard in wireless gaming controllers and we’re pleased to be bringing this controller to this incredible platform,“ said Ehtisham Rabanni, SteelSeries CEO. “Our global gaming pedigree, together with our unyielding pursuit of simple, modern design is on full display with Nimbus. We’re thrilled to deliver a truly premium product for the new Apple TV at a great price.”
The Xbox One-like Nimbus wireless gamepad provides 40 hours of gameplay on a single charge and can be recharged via a Lightning cable, making it the first accessory to do so. SteelSeries also says it has pressure-sensitive buttons for „precise control.“ Additionally, the controller has a large „Menu“ button in the center of the controller, mirroring the „Menu“ button on the new Apple TV remote.
The gamepad is featured prominently in the „Games and More“ section of the new Apple TV’s page on Apple’s website, suggesting Apple and SteelSeries are positioning the controller as the flagship gamepad for the Apple TV. However, users can also play games with the new Apple TV remote, iPhones and iPod touches.
The Nimbus will be available on Apple.com and in Apple retail stores for $49.95 and will debut around the world in late October alongside the new Apple TV.