Apple is continuing work on a new HomePod model that features a curved LCD display, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami."

homepod b720
The device, codenamed B720, apparently features the same design as the current ‌HomePod‌ but with a curved, convex LCD screen at the top to display content.

In October, Kosutami shared images of component parts that allegedly belong to a prototype touch screen ‌HomePod‌. Other reports at the time claimed to verify the legitimacy of these images with other sources.

Apple is believed to be working to adapt Apple Music and Apple Podcasts to be compatible with the new display, which will show a blurred animation based on the colors of the album art when a song or podcast is playing. The screen could also potentially show important notifications.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was first to suggest in 2021 that Apple is working on new HomePods with displays and cameras. Earlier this year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple plans to release a redesigned HomePod with a 7-inch display in the first half of 2024.

In the long term, Apple is believed to be rethinking its smart home strategy, and is working on a combined Apple TV and HomePod device, as well as a ‌HomePod‌ with a screen mounted on a robotic arm, according to a Gurman.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

Health technology company AliveCor has praised the International Trade Commission (ITC)'s ban on sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States.

apple watch ecg wrist
AliveCor, like Masimo, accuses Apple of violating its patents related to heath technology used in the Apple Watch. While Masimo's fight focuses on the Apple Watch's blood oxygen sensing capabilities, AliveCor contends that Apple is in breach of patent with its ECG technology.

AliveCor demonstrated a prototype Apple Watch band with a built-in ECG sensor to Apple in 2015. Apple then unveiled its own built-in ECG technology in 2018 with the Apple Watch Series 4, leading AliveCor to argue that Apple had stolen its technology and request that the ITC bans Apple Watch sales in the United States. AliveCor also initiated an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, alleging that it was making it needlessly difficult for third-party apps to access the Apple Watch's heart rate data.

In a statement to 9to5Mac, AliveCor expressed its support for Masimo and praised the move to ban Apple Watch sales:

This is the second time in less than 12 months President Biden has allowed an International Trade Commission Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) to stand against imports of Apple Watches that violate the patents of small U.S. innovators. Earlier this year, AliveCor's patent for its FDA-cleared personal electrocardiogram (ECG) technology was similarly affirmed and we share our support today for Masimo's tenacity in its face off with Apple. Innovator companies and health consumers alike should be encouraged that industry giants are increasingly being held accountable for anticompetitive practices that would ultimately limit access to potentially life-saving technology.

The ITC ruled in favor of AliveCor's patent infringement claims, but the case did not result in a ban on Apple Watch sales as AliveCor hoped. Unlike AliveCor, Masimo argues that Apple actively hired its engineers and key executives to steal technology.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Amazon Prime Video will introduce limited ads to its content starting on January 29, offering an ad-free option for an additional fee.

prime video logo
In an email to subscribers, Amazon confirmed that movies and TV shows on Prime Video will soon feature "limited advertisements" starting on January 29, 2024. The company assured users that Prime Video will have "meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers."

The current price of Amazon Prime subscriptions will not change, but members who prefer to avoid ads can opt for a new ad-free version at an extra cost of $2.99 per month. Amazon's email to subscribers reads:

Dear Prime member,

We are writing to you today about an upcoming change to your Prime Video experience. Starting January 29, Prime Video movies and TV shows will include limited advertisements. This will allow us to continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time. We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. No action is required from you, and there is no change to the current price of your Prime membership. We will also offer a new ad-free option for an additional $2.99 per month...

Amazon already operates Freevee, a free, ad-supported streaming service. Competitor streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix have also introduced ad-supported options amid rising subscription costs.

An official Apple Vision Pro cover has emerged in new design patent filings from Hong Kong, revealing the first-party headset accessory for the first time.

vision pro case
Apple was granted 70 more design patents in Hong Kong related to its Vision Pro headset on Friday, December 22. The filings, first spotted by PatentlyApple, include a never-before-seen Vision Pro accessory with a range of accompanying images showing various angles of it.

The accessory's design seems to match the Vision Pro's headband, using a soft-touch woven fabric to cover the entire front and sides of the headset. It does not cover the back of the headset or Light Seal in any way, likely being designed to help protect the headset's EyeSight display from scratches and other damage. The cover also features a tab on the left-hand side to help remove it from the headset easily.

The other notable design patent won by Apple in the latest batch of filings is a Vision Pro battery, incorrectly identified by some websites as a new MagSafe battery pack, showing a recessed port. This is worth highlighting as it confirms that the battery unit's cable is removable.

Related Roundup: Apple Vision Pro
Related Forum: Apple Vision Pro

Japan is preparing antitrust legislation to force Apple to allow app sideloading and alternative payment methods for in-app purchases, Nikkei Asia reports.

iOS App Store General Feature Desaturated
The plans by Japan's Fair Trade Commission focus on combating Apple and Google's dominance in app stores and payments, search, browsers, and operating systems. The regulation could encompass a wide range of changes to Apple's practices, such as an obligation to allow users to utilize alternative app stores, effectively allowing sideloading on iPhones and iPads in Japan.

The regulation also looks to impose fines for violations of the rules amounting to around six percent of revenue earned from "problematic activities." The Fair Trade Commission's work on the legislation is ongoing, with plans to finalize it in the spring. The legislation will have to be approved by parliament in 2024 before coming into effect.

Japan's proposed regulation bears a strong resemblance to the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is set to force Apple to enable app sideloading in the EU by March 2024 among other significant changes.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Apple's vice president of product design Tang Tan is set to join Sir Jony Ive's LoveFrom to design hardware products for OpenAI, Bloomberg reports.

chatgpt for iphone feature
Tan will become the latest Apple designer to join LoveFrom, a design company founded by Jony Ive after he departed Apple in 2019. A total of 14 members of Ive's former design team at Apple have now left the company. Only around six designers who once reported to Ive still remain at Apple.

Ive took more Apple designers with him to LoveFrom than remain at Apple. To date, more than 20 former Apple employees have joined Ive's new design firm, including Marc Newson and Shota Aoyagi.

Bloomberg says that Ive's work for OpenAI marks one of his "most ambitious efforts" since he left Apple, and he apparently hopes to turn the work into a new company, with current efforts focused on hiring talent and creating concepts.

At Apple, Tang Tan is vice president of product design and reports to senior vice president of hardware engineering John Ternus. Tan is responsible for the design of the iPhone, Apple Watch, accessories, and acoustic devices like AirPods. News of his departure emerged earlier this month.

Tan will lead hardware engineering on the OpenAI project while working at LoveFrom. Little is known about OpenAI's hardware ambitions, but Bloomberg claims that projects in the concept stage include devices for the home. Tan officially departs Apple in February, but his responsibilities have already been divided up among successors.

In celebration of the Japanese New Year, Apple will be holding a promotion that offers customers in Japan a free Apple gift card worth up to ¥30,000 with the purchase of an eligible Apple product from January 2 through January 5.

Japanese New Year Apple 2024
Gift card values range from ¥4,000 for products like the iPhone SE and third-generation AirPods to ¥30,000 for the 15-inch MacBook Air.

In addition to a gift card, the first 50,000 customers in Japan who purchase a new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 13, or third-generation iPhone SE from Apple during the promotion will receive a limited-edition AirTag with a "Year of the Dragon" engraving.

Apple has shared terms and conditions for the promotion with additional details. Notably, iPhone orders placed through the Apple Store app will not qualify for a limited-edition AirTag, so make sure to complete your purchase on Apple's website or at a physical Apple Store in Japan if you are interested in receiving one.

Apple holds a Japanese New Year promotion on an annual basis, and this is the third consecutive year it has offered a special AirTag.

Lowe's home improvement stores across the United States have finally started accepting Apple Pay. ‌Apple Pay‌ has been available in the Lowe's app and the Lowe's website for some time, but the company has been a longtime ‌Apple Pay‌ holdout for its retail store locations.

apple pay feature dynamic island
On Reddit, Lowe's employees said in late December that they had received a memo about the upcoming ‌Apple Pay‌ and contactless payment rollout, which was set to begin on December 20.

A Lowe's customer on the MacRumors forums said that he was able to successfully use Apple Pay at two different Lowe's stores in Texas, confirming the rollout.

The Lowe's employees on Reddit said they were glad to hear about the rollout due to the number of customers asking to use contactless payment options. There have also been many complaint threads from Lowe's customers about the lack of ‌Apple Pay‌ on Reddit and the MacRumors forums.

Lowe's has more than 2,000 stores in the United States, making it the second largest home improvement store after Home Depot. Accepting ‌Apple Pay‌ could lure customers to Lowe's over Home Depot, as Home Depot does not accept the payment technology at this time.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Apple is now officially unable to sell the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States as the International Trade Commission's import ban has become final. This morning, the Biden administration announced that it would not veto the ban.

apple watch 9 red
The Office of the United States Trade Representative said that after "careful consultations" it was opting not to reverse the ITC's decision.

"On October 26, 2023, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that Apple, Inc. infringed two patents owned by Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, Inc, both based in the United States. Since 2005, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has been delegated the President's authority under Section 337 of the Trade Act of 1930 to review the ITC's decision for a 60-day period. After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC's determination and the ITC's decision became final on December 26, 2023."

Apple in a statement to Reuters said that it is "taking all measures" to get the ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ and ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ back on store shelves as soon as possible.

Apple has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, and it has been working on a software solution that it hopes will allow it to resume sales.

The ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ and the ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ are not able to be sold by Apple in the United States at this time because the ITC ruled that the devices violate blood oxygen monitoring technology owned by medical device company Masimo.

The ban is limited to Apple Watch models that have a blood oxygen sensor, so the Apple Watch SE is still on sale. It also only applies to Apple retail stores in the United States, so all Apple Watch models are still available in other countries. Stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart are able to continue Apple Watch sales as long as supplies hold out, but Apple is not able to bring more units into the United States from overseas.

Apple will not be able to sell the ‌Apple Watch Series 9‌ or the ‌Apple Watch Ultra 2‌ unless the appeal is successful, it settles with Masimo, or it finds a way to change the blood oxygen sensor so it is not using Masimo's patented technology.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Apple's iPhones include several headline camera features that are worth using, such as Portrait Mode and Photographic Styles. But if all you want to use is the standard photo mode, there are still several tools and settings that can improve the composition of your pictures and help you capture the perfect shot using more traditional techniques.

iPhone 15 Blue Three Quarters Perspective Camera Closeup Feature
Whether you are the owner of a new iPhone or a longtime user looking to up your ‌iPhone‌ photography game, here are six camera tools and settings in iOS that are worth checking out and experimenting with.

1. Use the Rule of Thirds

For a while now, Apple's Camera app has included a few optional settings that can help you line up your shots. Foremost in these settings is the Grid tool, which should be used when applying the rule of thirds. It divides the frame of your photo into a grid with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, creating nine equal parts.

grid camera tool
The rule of thirds helps guide the viewer's eye to the most important parts of your photo and creates a more harmonious composition. Here's how to overlay a grid on the viewfinder.

  1. Open the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌.
  2. Scroll down and tap Camera.
  3. In the "Composition" section, toggle on the switch next to Grid.


Here are five things to keep in mind when using the grid to apple the rule of thirds.

  • Identify the Key Elements: First, identify the main subjects or elements in the scene you want to photograph. These could be a person, a building, a tree, or any focal point.
  • Positioning the Subjects: Place these key elements along the lines or at the points where the lines intersect. For instance, if you're taking a photo of a person, you might position them along one of the vertical lines, rather than in the center of the frame.
  • Horizontal Elements: For horizontal elements like the horizon in a landscape, align them with one of the horizontal lines. For a more dramatic sky, place the horizon on the lower line. For more emphasis on the land or sea, place it on the upper line.
  • Balancing the Image: Use the rule of thirds to balance your photo. If you place a subject on the left, consider having something of lesser importance on the right to create a sense of balance.
  • Experimentation: While the rule of thirds is a guideline, it's not a strict rule. Feel free to experiment with it and see how shifting elements in your frame changes the photo's impact.

2. Straighten Top-Down Shots

If you're taking a picture of something from above like a plate of food or an ornament on the ground, consider using the camera level, as it helps you capture a balanced shot without having to use a tripod arm or mount. It's also useful for taking a shot of something directly above you, like an object on the ceiling or in the sky.

level camera tool setting
The camera level tool used to be part of the Grid overlay, but Apple separated out the function in iOS 17, and it now has its own switch: Open the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌, select Camera, then toggle on the switch next to Level. Now you are ready to use it.

  1. Open the Camera app, and set the capture mode to Photo, Portrait, Square, or Time Lapse, using the sliding menu above the shutter button.
  2. Point the camera straight down above your subject (or straight up if the subject/scene you want to capture is above you).
  3. Line up the floating crosshair with the fixed crosshair in the center of the screen by adjusting the angle of your phone's camera. The crosshairs will both glow yellow when in perfect alignment.
  4. Tap the shutter button to capture the shot.

camera level tool in action

The aligned crosshairs turn yellow (right), indicating the lens is parallel with the ground.

3. Straighten Your Horizontal Shots

By making the Level tool an individual option in ‌iOS 17‌, Apple has also included an additional horizontal level for more traditional straight-on photos.

ios 17 camera level no
Turning the Level option on makes a broken horizontal line appear on the screen when your ‌iPhone‌ senses that you're lining up for a straight-on shot and you tilt your device slightly out of horizontal. The line appears white while your phone is out of level and then turns yellow once you achieve a level orientation to indicate success.

ios 17 camera level
With the Level setting enabled (Settings ➝ Camera ➝ Level), try it for yourself. Open the Camera app and try shooting a subject at a straight angle, and you should see the broken horizontal lines in the center of the viewfinder. Straighten your angle up to connect the lines and make a single yellow line.

The leveling pop-up only appears briefly and only within a narrow range of angles close to horizontal (in either portrait or landscape orientation), so it won't intrusively pop up when you're intentionally trying to take a photo at an angle.

4. Take Burst Photos

Burst Mode refers to when the camera on your ‌iPhone‌ captures a series of photos in rapid succession, at a rate of ten frames per second. It's a great way to shoot an action scene or an unexpected event, since you're always more likely to end up with the picture you were aiming for.

To shoot in Burst Mode, simply long press on the Volume Up button and your ‌iPhone‌ will take a series of photos in quick succession. Notice that a counter increases inside the on-screen shutter button for as long as you hold down the volume button. This indicates how many shots are being captured in the current burst. Simply take your finger off the volume when you want to end the burst of shots.

When you take a series of burst photos, they automatically appear in the Photos app under the Album name Bursts. You'll also find them in your main Photo Library. Follow the link to learn how to view and select the best of your Burst photos in the ‌Photos‌ app.

5. Mirror Your Selfies

When you take a selfie with your ‌iPhone‌ using the Camera app, it automatically flips – or mirrors – the image so that it's an inverted version of the mirror image you see in the preview before you take the shot.

This can look odd, since it makes a big difference to how selfies look. It can also be annoying, since most third-party social media apps automatically take mirrored selfies, which means you're more likely to be used to the mirroring functionality than the flipped selfies that your ‌‌iPhone‌‌ takes.

Fortunately, you can change this default behavior of the Camera app, meaning that you can get the mirrored selfie you're probably more accustomed to seeing. Here's how.

  1. Launch the Settings app, then scroll down and select Camera.
  2. Toggle the switch next to Mirror Front Camera to the green ON position.

That's all there is to it. From now on when you use the Camera app to shoot a selfie, you'll capture the same shot that you saw in the app's preview mode.

6. View Outside the Frame

On ‌iPhone‌ 11 and later models, there is an optional camera setting that allows you to see what is outside the bounds of your photo's frame, so you can correct the alignment of photos (and videos) without having to resort to cropping.

capture shot outside frame iphone 11 camera 2
With the "View Outside the Frame" setting enabled, when shooting using the wide lens or the telephoto lens, the camera will simultaneously shoot using the next widest sensor. So the wide lens is active when you shoot with the telephoto lens, and the ultra-wide is active when you shoot with the wide.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap Camera.
  3. Under the "Composition" section, toggle on the switch next to View Outside the Frame.


You may have to play around with zoom levels to switch between lenses, but you'll know the feature is active when the camera interface turns semi-transparent to reveal the surroundings outside of the viewfinder.

If you received an Apple gift card for Christmas this year, here are 10 ways to spend it, with all of the options priced under $100 in the United States.

apple gift card blue holiday
The all-in-one gift card "for everything Apple" can be used towards purchases on and at physical Apple Stores, iTunes Store music, App Store apps and games, subscriptions to services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, and more.

To redeem an Apple gift card on an iPhone or iPad, open the App Store, tap your profile photo in the top-right corner, and tap "Redeem Gift Card or Code."

What to Buy With an Apple Gift Card

USB-C Case for AirPods Pro 2 ($99)

AirPods USB C Port Red Triad
Apple is now selling a USB-C charging case for the second-generation AirPods Pro separately for $99. Keep in mind that if you want your AirPods Pro earbuds to have lossless audio support with Apple's upcoming Vision Pro headset, and added IP54-rated dust resistance, you will need to purchase the AirPods Pro with a USB-C case altogether.

Apple Pencil With USB-C Port ($79)

Apple Pencil USB C sliding cap feature
Apple this year released a more affordable Apple Pencil with a hidden USB-C port for charging and pairing. Priced at $79, it has a similar design as the second-generation Apple Pencil, but it lacks wireless charging, pressure sensitivity, a double-tap gesture for switching between drawing tools, and the option for personal engraving at the time of purchase.

AirTag ($29)

airtag yellow
Keep track of your belongings with Apple's item tracker, which integrates with the Find My app on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. A four-pack is also available for $99.

Apple's 35W Dual USB-C Charger ($59)

Apple 35W Charger feeature
Apple last year released 35W power adapters with dual USB-C ports, with standard and compact versions of the charger available for $59 each. Both adapters feature foldable prongs and can be used to charge or power multiple lower-power Apple devices simultaneously, such as an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and HomePod mini.

Apple TV Remote With USB-C Port ($59)

siri remote 1
Apple last year released a new version of the Siri Remote for the Apple TV with a USB-C port instead of Lightning for charging. If you already own an Apple TV model released in 2015 or later, the remote can be purchased separately for $59.

Apple Polishing Cloth ($19)

apple polishing cloth green feature
Clean your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Studio Display, and other devices with Apple's official polishing cloth, released in 2021.

Apple One

Apple One Apps Feature 2
Redeem your Apple gift card and use the balance towards Apple One, which lets you subscribe to multiple Apple services at a discount. The base Apple One plan includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud+ with 50GB of storage for $19.95 per month, which is $9 less per month compared to subscribing to these services separately.

Twelve South's AirFly Pro ($54.95)

AirFly Pro Twelve South feature
Twelve South's popular AirFly Pro accessory lets you use AirPods or Beats wireless headphones with an airplane's in-flight entertainment system. Simply plug AirFly Pro into the headphone jack on a plane to watch or listen with your AirPods.

Nanoleaf's Essentials A19 Light Bulb ($19.95)

Nanoleaf A19
Nanoleaf's smart color-changing LED bulb is compatible with HomeKit, allowing it to be controlled in the Home app and with Siri. A three-pack is also available for $49.95.

Belkin's iPhone Mount for Continuity Camera ($29.95)

continuity camera
Belkin sells an iPhone mount for use with Continuity Camera, a feature that allows an iPhone to be used as a Mac's webcam. Priced at $29.95, the mount attaches to the iPhone with MagSafe and can then be affixed to the top lid of a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro for use with Continuity Camera. Belkin also offers a desktop version of the mount compatible with the 24-inch iMac and the Studio Display for $39.95.

Mass shipments of the Vision Pro to Apple will begin in the first week of January, according to supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Vision Pro Person
In a December 24 research note, Kuo said the Vision Pro will most likely hit shelves in late January or early February based on this shipment schedule. Kuo estimates that Vision Pro shipments in 2024 will reach approximately 500,000 units.

Apple first announced the Vision Pro at WWDC in June, and said it would launch in the U.S. in early 2024, followed by more countries later in the year.

Kuo's prediction follows a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman earlier this month that said Vision Pro manufacturing was "running at full speed." Gurman said Apple was aiming to launch the headset in early February.

Related Roundup: Apple Vision Pro
Related Forum: Apple Vision Pro

Apple today shared a short iPhone 15 Plus ad on its YouTube channel that highlights the device's long-lasting battery life.

In the video, an electrical outlet becomes sentient and sings the song "Way Too Long" by rapper Doe Boy. The outlet is sad that the iPhone 15 Plus lasts so long between charges, resulting in the device being plugged in less often.

Apple's tech specs say the iPhone 15 Plus can provide up to 26 hours of offline video playback, and up to 100 hours of audio playback. Like the iPhone 14 Plus, the iPhone 15 Plus offers the longest advertised battery life of any iPhone ever.

Apple's video description:

Big screen. Big battery life. iPhone 15 Plus is here. Dynamic Island. New 48MP Main camera. 2x Telephoto. Next-generation portraits. Water resistant (IP68). USB-C. Durable color-infused glass. Aluminum design. You don't want to miss it.

The ad was also shared as a YouTube Short.

Related Roundup: iPhone 15
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 15 (Buy Now)
Related Forum: iPhone

Over the holiday season, capturing photos and videos of the festivities with family and friends is an important activity for many. The iPhone has a suite of camera features that can significantly elevate the quality and creativity of your holiday photos and videos.

Five iPhone Camera Features to Try This Holiday Season Feature 2
It's easy to forget about many of the individual camera features the ‌iPhone‌ has to offer, and many capabilities go unused by most users, so the holidays is the perfect time to revisit them and try something new. For users of Apple's latest models, the iPhone 15 takes things even further with several exclusive camera features.

Spatial Video

For iPhone 15 Pro users, the holiday season presents an ideal opportunity to experiment with Spatial Video capture feature. Available on the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ and ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max running iOS 17.2 or later, the feature allows users to record videos in a three-dimensional format, bringing a new level of depth and realism to holiday memories.

spatial video apple visioin pro
While Apple's Vision Pro or a device like the Meta Quest 3 is required for the best experience when playing back Spatial Video, this should not deter users from exploring the feature. Spatial Video capture is available now to help users begin creating a library of immersive videos right away. Spatial Videos can also be played back as normal 2D content on other devices.

The technology behind Spatial Video Capture involves using the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌'s Main and Ultra Wide cameras. When recording, the ‌iPhone‌ seamlessly combines inputs from these cameras to create a single video file that encapsulates a three-dimensional perspective. This is achieved through sophisticated computational videography techniques, which intelligently scale the field of view from the Ultra Wide camera to match that of the Main camera.

The result is a video that, while technically 2D in format, contains depth information that can be utilized by compatible devices to produce a 3D viewing experience. The spatial dimension added to these videos creates a sense of immersion and presence that far surpasses traditional video, supposedly making the viewer feel as if they are actually part of the captured moment.

Cinematic Mode

The holiday season is a good time for iPhone 13 and newer model users to try out Cinematic mode, a feature that adds a depth-of-field effect to videos. Cinematic mode uses advanced computational algorithms to automatically focus on subjects and creatively blur the background, akin to what you would see in high-end cinematography.

Cinematic Mode iPhone Feature
Cinematic mode allows users to focus on details in a creative way, by shifting focus smoothly from one subject to another. Cinematic mode also simplifies capturing these moments by automatically adjusting focus when people enter or leave the frame, or when the subject of the video looks in a different direction.

Ultra Wide-Angle Lens for Group Shots

The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to utilize the often under-utilized Ultra Wide camera lens. This lens, available on most ‌iPhone‌ models starting from the ‌iPhone‌ 11, offers unique advantages that are particularly useful during the holidays.

iphone 11 pro ultra wide
The Ultra Wide lens is particularly adept at photographing in confined spaces that would be difficult to capture fully with a standard Wide lens. One of the most significant advantages of the Ultra Wide lens is its ability to fit more into the frame without needing to move back. This is especially helpful during family gatherings where you might want to capture a large group of people in one photo.

Portrait Mode

The ‌iPhone 15‌ lineup introduced some substantial improvements to Portrait mode. Now, users can adjust the focus of an image or add background blur after its capture, even if Portrait mode isn't initially selected.

iphone 15 portrait photo
Post-shot editing capability allows you to experiment with different focal points, ensuring that each portrait captures the subject in the most flattering and interesting way. This improvement is especially useful for snapping quick, candid shots of family members and pets over the holiday period. The ‌iPhone 15‌'s Portrait mode has also been refined to perform better in low-light conditions.

Photographic Styles

Photographic Styles, a feature introduced in the ‌iPhone 13‌ series, offers a personalized photography experience that can help enhance holiday photos. The feature allows users to choose and customize a photographic style that automatically applies to their photos, ensuring that every shot reflects their preferred aesthetic.

photographic styles iphone 13
Photographic Styles are not one-size-fits-all filters. Instead, they are smart adjustments that apply selectively to different parts of the photo, such as skin tones and sky. Photographic Styles intelligently adapt to the lighting conditions in each shot, adjusting to preserve natural-looking skin tones and textures.

Users can choose from preset styles like Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool, each offering a unique look. During the holidays, this means you can select a style that best suits the festive mood and give your images a distinctive look.

Have you been good this year? Then you may be interested to learn that Google today launched its annual Santa tracking feature, allowing Santa to be tracked in real time on his journey to the North Pole as he prepares to deliver presents to kids around the world.

santa tracker 1
Google's Santa Tracker continues a two-decade tradition for the company, allowing excited children (and grown-ups!) to keep up with the jolly gift-giver's travels throughout December 24. On this day, Santa's Village transforms into a tracking experience where children can follow Santa and his reindeer as they merrily go about their important work.

Santa can be tracked using a web browser on iPhone, iPad, or Mac by visiting Google's official Santa Tracking website. The site features a live map of Santa's current location, his next stop, a live video feed of his journey, and the estimated time that he will arrive in each specific location.

The Santa site provides pictures of locations that Santa has already visited, a live count of gifts that have been delivered, and Santa's current distance from your location. There are also a selection of games to play, creative things to do, and videos to watch.

Other Santa tracking services are also available, such as the NORAD Tracks Santa Claus app and website, but Google's site is often the most interactive and detailed.

2023 is rapidly drawing to a close with the holiday season, but that certainly doesn't mean there hasn't been any major Apple news over the past week.

top stories 23dec2023
The week's biggest news was Apple's move to halt sales of its flagship Apple Watch models over a patent dispute, while Apple also squeaked in under the wire to tease the first implementation of next-generation CarPlay from a couple of car manufacturers before the end of the year. Other news and rumors this week involved an iOS 17.2.1 bug fix update, rumors about the iPhone 16 and "Apple Watch X," and more, so read on below for all the details!

Apple Pauses Sales of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in U.S. Due to Patent Dispute

Following an announcement earlier this week, Apple has "paused" online sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. due to an ongoing patent dispute with medical tech company Masimo, which has accused Apple of copying its blood oxygen sensing functionality. Sales in Apple's U.S. retail stores will cease after December 24, and Apple will be unable to perform out-of-warranty hardware repairs on many recent Apple Watch models.

apple watch sales banned
In October, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ordered a ban on some Apple Watch imports into the U.S. after finding that Apple violated Masimo's patents related to non-invasive blood oxygen sensing. U.S. President Joe Biden has until December 25 to review the order, but presidential vetoes of ITC import bans have historically been rare.

Apple is reportedly working on software changes to address the alleged patent infringement, but Masimo believes that the Apple Watch's hardware design will have to change to become compliant.

Apple Releases iOS 17.2.1 Update for iPhone

Apple this week released a minor iOS 17.2.1 update for the iPhone with "important bug fixes."

iOS 17
Unlike in the U.S., the release notes for iOS 17.2.1 in China and Japan indicate that the update also "addresses an issue that can cause the battery to drain faster under certain conditions."

iOS 17.3 remains in beta, and has two significant new features so far, including Stolen Device Protection and collaborative Apple Music playlists.

First Vehicles With Next-Generation Apple CarPlay Previewed

Aston Martin and Porsche this week previewed the first vehicle dashboards with support for Apple's next-generation CarPlay experience, which is expected to be available at some point in 2024.

Next Gen Carplay Thumb 3
Next-generation CarPlay features integration with the instrument cluster and climate controls, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, a dedicated FM radio app, widgets for apps, and more. The interface can be tailored to each specific vehicle model and automaker's brand identity.

Gurman: iPhone 16's Capture Button Will Be for Taking Video

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman this week confirmed that iPhone 16 models will be equipped with a new dedicated button for recording video.

iPhone 16 Side New Action Button Emphasis Bump
MacRumors was first to report that iPhone 16 models would feature a so-called "Capture Button," which is expected to be positioned below the power button on the right side of the iPhones. This will require the mmWave 5G antenna window to be relocated on U.S. models.

Beeper Mini Says Jailbroken iPhone Solution is Final Effort

Beeper promises that its cat-and-mouse game with Apple over iMessage is ending.

Beeper Mini Broken By Apple Feature
Beeper announced that its plan to let Android users use a jailbroken iPhone to register a phone number with iMessage will be its final attempt at maintaining its Beeper Mini service, which is designed to let Android users use iMessage without using an iPhone as their primary smartphone. Apple has made efforts to prevent the service from working.

Your Apple Watch Bands May Not Work With Next Year's Model

Next-generation Apple Watch models will feature a completely redesigned band connector, rendering them incompatible with all current bands, according to an Apple leaker known as "Kosutami."

apple watch series 8 digital crown
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has previously reported that the upcoming "Apple Watch X" could feature a different way to attach bands to the device. Apple has allegedly considered a magnetic band attachment system.

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2024 is shaping up to be a landmark year for Apple, with the company set to enter a new product category for the first time since 2015. We're counting on the Vision Pro headset, new iPads, an impressive new Apple Watch, and so much more.

Top 5 Apple Products to Look Forward to in 2024 Feature
Below, we've highlighted the top five most interesting Apple product updates that are set to come out in 2024.

AirPods 4

New AirPods coming in 2024 will have an updated design with shorter stems, so they'll look something like a cross between the current AirPods and the AirPods Pro. Fit and sound quality will be improved, and there is one more major change -- two models.

There will be two versions of the AirPods 4 at different price points, and the more expensive model will have Active Noise Cancellation, a feature that has been limited to the ‌AirPods Pro‌. The ‌AirPods 4‌ will also get an updated case that has a speaker for Find My alerts and a USB-C charging port instead of a Lightning port.

Apple's AirPods 3 were similar in function to the AirPods 2 and had a limited number of new features to lure customers, so a fresh look and ANC at a lower cost than the ‌AirPods Pro‌ should make the ‌AirPods 4‌ much more appealing.

OLED iPad Pro

Apple is bringing OLED technology to the iPad Pro in 2024, and it'll be the first time that Apple has released such a large OLED display. Compared to mini-LED or LED, OLED offers deeper blacks, better contrast, improved HDR, and better power efficiency.

The new ‌iPad Pro‌ models are going to get a redesign and will come in updated 13-inch and 11.1-inch sizes. OLED displays are thinner, so Apple may be able to slim down the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models, plus we can count on a faster M3 chip that's an upgrade over the M2 in the current model.

We haven't had an ‌iPad Pro‌ design update for years, and a new look with updated display technology is a welcome change.

Apple Watch X

We're due for the Apple Watch Series 10 or "X" next year, which lines up with the 10th anniversary of the Apple Watch if you're counting from the 2014 introduction date rather than the 2015 launch date.

The 2024 Apple Watch is going to get a refreshed design that may include a slimmed down body and a new magnetic band attachment system. A magnetic band attachment method would allow Apple to save valuable internal space inside the Apple Watch for a larger battery or other components, but it might mean that existing bands are not compatible with the new model.

Along with a new look, the Apple Watch X is rumored to feature blood pressure monitoring and sleep apnea detection. Blood pressure monitoring on the wrist is a notable feat, and the Apple Watch will be able to tell the user if their blood pressure is trending upwards and heading toward hypertension. Specific systolic and diastolic readings won't be available, but blood pressure monitoring will still provide valuable information.

As for sleep apnea, the ‌Apple Watch X‌ will use sleep tracking and monitoring of breathing patterns to determine whether a person is possibly experiencing breathing interruptions during sleep. The information will be able to be relayed to a doctor for further testing.

iPhone 16

The standard iPhone 16 models will get several of the features that were limited to iPhone 15 Pro models, including the Action Button and a faster 3-nanometer A-series chip. The Action Button could be capacitive this year rather than mechanical, so Apple might be able to slim it down.

A new vertical camera lens arrangement will likely allow for capturing spatial video, a feature limited to the ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ models right now. Apple is also adding a new capacitive Capture Button to all four ‌iPhone 16‌ models, with the button located on the right side of the device below Power button. The button will sense pressure and will support haptic feedback, and rumors suggest it will be used for capturing video.

While the standard ‌iPhone 16‌ models will have same design as the iPhone 15 models, the iPhone 16 Pro models will feature larger displays. The ‌iPhone 16 Pro‌ will measure in at 6.3 inches, up from 6.1 inches, and the ‌iPhone 16 Pro‌ Max will be 6.9 inches, up from 6.7 inches.

Other ‌iPhone 16‌ Pro-exclusive rumors include a 48-megapixel Ultra Wide lens, Wi-Fi 7, and a faster 5G chip from Qualcomm.

Vision Pro

It's been half a year since Apple unveiled the Vision Pro headset, and in early 2024, customers are finally going to get to try it out.

Apple sees the Vision Pro as the future of computing, referring to the device as the first spatial computer. It is a mixed reality headset, so you'll be able to swap between AR and VR using a Digital Crown on the side of the device. It won't be quite like any other headset on the market because Apple is using super high-resolution micro-LED displays with hand and eye tracking for controls.

Immersive apps, games, and experiences are planned for the Vision Pro, and users will be able to record spatial video to play back on the device.

The Vision Pro isn't at the top of our list because it's not going to be for everyone. It's prohibitively expensive at $3,500, and Apple is manufacturing a limited number of the headsets due to their complexity. At launch, the Vision Pro will only be sold in the United States, further limiting its availability.

People who have been able to try out the Vision Pro have said the initial iteration can be heavy and uncomfortable to wear, which will deter some users, but even with all of these caveats, the Vision Pro is going to shape Apple's future for some time to come.

Add Yours

What are you looking forward to seeing from Apple in 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

Apple has approached several major publishers to establish deals that would allow the Cupertino company to train generative artificial intelligence systems on news content, reports The New York Times.

hey siri banner apple
Apple is aiming for multiyear deals and has approached Condé Nast, NBC News, and IAC. Condé Nast publications include Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair, Ars Technica, Glamour, The New Yorker, GQ, and more, while IAC owns publications like People, The Spruce, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, and Better Homes & Gardens.

Proposed deals have been worth at least $50 million, and would allow Apple to license archives of news articles. According to The New York Times, some of the publishers were "lukewarm" on Apple's offer. Apple's terms are said to be "too expansive," and Apple has been vague about how it will apply generative AI to news.

Other publishers were "optimistic" about a potential partnership, and were pleased that Apple asked to use their content rather than just training generative models on published news without permission as other AI companies have done.

Multiple rumors have suggested that Apple is working overtime to catch up to its rivals on generative AI offerings, with Apple testing an "AppleGPT" chatbot internally and planning for new AI features in iOS 18.

Microsoft, Google, and Meta have all incorporated generative AI into their products over the course of the last year, which means Apple is lagging behind when it comes to AI technology. ChatGPT, the most popular chatbot from OpenAI, was trained on a huge amount of data that includes books, articles, and web pages.

In addition to the copyright issues that come with the broad scraping of internet content, ChatGPT has sometimes been criticized for the accuracy of the information that it sometimes surfaces. By training an AI model on a more tailored set of information, Apple could end up with a more reliable product. Apple is also said to be planning to incorporate generative AI features across its app offerings, so a model that has been fed content from news sources could perhaps be added into Apple News.

The New York Times says that Apple executives have been "debating" how to get the data needed for generative AI products. Apple has not wanted to source information from the internet because of its focus on privacy, so deals with news publishers provide an alternative.