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Prior to the release of HomePod earlier this month, many potential readers and Apple customers were eager to hear just how good the $349 speaker would sound. On launch day, we stopped in at several of Apple’s retail locations to see HomePod in person, bringing you photos of the store displays. Demoing a speaker in a noisy environment is no easy task, and while HomePod’s performance is admirable, the difference between your home and a busy store is still markedly obvious. Augmenting HomePod’s in-store display experience could help compensate for the shortcomings of a less-than-ideal testing environment. Here’s how it could be done.
When the original Apple Watch went on sale in 2023, customers who planned to buy the 18-karat gold Edition variant were treated to a premium shopping experience. Private, 1-hour appointments were offered to those wishing to try on the watches. These hands-on experiences were held away from the noisy sales floor, in store boardrooms. While a similar environment would be ideal to fully experience the sound quality of HomePod, it’s simply not scalable given the mass market appeal of the speaker and increasing popularity of Apple retail stores.
HomePod’s current in-store experience isn’t optimal either. For being a brand new product in an emerging category, the display units have a perceived low priority on the sales floor. Tucked away on shelves next to other speakers and scattered among store tables with little accompanying information, the displays feel like an afterthought. How could Apple improve?
Since its introduction, Apple has sold HomePod first and foremost on its sound quality and comprehensive support for Apple Music. This deep integration is the perfect opportunity to cross-promote the two products. HomePod could be demoed in dedicated displays along “The Avenue” in each store. Apple uses similar displays to highlight HomeKit and the Apple TV today.
Inspired by the Apple Music “note” screen at Apple Park’s Visitor Center, each HomePod case could be backed with a flush monitor displaying Apple Music album art and helpful Siri commands that drift across the screen. In the center, a raised display could showcase album art for the track currently playing on the store’s HomePods. Check out the animation above for an example.
Below the monitors, two HomePods in a stereo pair could highlight both colors of the speaker, and demonstrate the power of having multiple devices in your home. A center-mounted iPad would display product information, similar to today.
While a more visually interesting display would help attract customers to the unassuming devices, Apple could take the experience a step further by employing augmented reality to visualize the audio fidelity that might be difficult to hear in a noisy store.
Apple has already used AR to great effect in the retail setting, creating a custom ARKit-powered Apple Park campus experience in their visitor center. The demo has been well received, and is considered a highlight of the visitor center by many. A more modest AR demo for HomePod would drive interest in the speaker while familiarizing a larger audience with augmented reality.
At WWDC 2023, Phil Schiller presented several HomePod graphics on stage that would translate well to AR demos. The first was a cutaway of HomePod’s components. Customers could look inside the speaker and see HomePod’s 7 tweeters and 6 microphone array. The simulated subwoofer could even thump to the beat.
Short animations during the keynote and on Apple’s website visualized the spatial awareness and directional sound possible with HomePod. With AR, customers could interact with sound as it fills the room. Switching between spatial awareness, full mix, center vocals, and the 6 microphone array would demonstrate the intelligence of the speaker’s audio processing. Virtual sound waves could be dynamically mapped based on the current track’s frequencies.
Coming in iOS 11.3 this spring, ARKit 1.5 introduces vertical surface mapping. This update enables Apple to accurately map both the shelves and walls in the store to highlight how HomePod can sense the shape of the room it’s in. Since Apple knows the precise dimensions and lighting conditions of every Apple store, these AR demos could be tuned with a precision not possible in an uncontrolled environment.
The HomePod is a great speaker, and it begs for an equal demo. If the product has wider long-term ambitions than becoming an accessory like a Google Home or Amazon Echo device, Apple should give it the attention it deserves with a prominent display of its own.
For more in-depth thoughts on HomePod, check out last week’s 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, where Zac Hall and Benjamin Mayo discuss their initial impressions, and read more in our HomePod guide.
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Vision Pro could be the AR/VR industry’s iPhone-like moment, and Apple hopes the underlying xrOS operating system will become its next major software platform.
The first version of the Vision Pro includes these key features:
Front display: Called EyeSight, this is a front-facing screen that projects your eyes as captured by the internal cameras to others around you. A blurred mode alerts others you’re deeply immersed in AR.
Mindfulness session: Create a private sense of calm.
Environments: These are like screen savers for the AR background. You can use these sceneries to calm down, focus, inspire and more.
Bluetooth accessories: Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard are supported for those who want to enter text or navigate the user interface using the old century method.
FaceTime: You can conduct group calls on FaceTime in AR, and participants’ video windows are correctly sized relative to one another.
Photos: Your environment dims around you, bringing focus to your colorful photos and videos. Panoramas expand and wrap around you in AR.
Camera: This is your first 3D camera. letting you feel like you’re part of the action. You just press a button to capture a spatial image or video.
Spatial cinema: You can adjust the screen to the perfect size, and Vision Pro automatically dims the surroundings. You can watch movies with spatial audio, use the Environments feature to dial in soothing environments to enjoy movies in. Vision Pro can even render 3D movies like in movie theaters.
Games: More than 100 Apple Arcade games will be playable on Vision Pro from day one, with full controller support.
Use as Mac display: Just look at your Mac and then place its screen anywhere you want in AR, giving you a full 4K display.
Disney: Disney CEO Big Iger said on stage that it will provide content optimized for Vision Pro.
Design: Vision Pro uses a single piece laminated glass, polished to not interfere with the external cameras.There’s a button dedicated to capturing spatial images, and a Digital Crown-like dial. Soft textile parts for the back of the product provide comfort, and you can customize the device fully to fit the shape of your head. The headband is 3d-knitted as a single piece, providing fine cushioning. Those who wear glasses can buy Zeiss optics to adjust. You get up to two hours of use with an external battery pack that uses a wire and a custom plug that connects magnetically
Video: Vision Pro uses two micro-OLED displays at 4K resolution each, providing 23 million pixels across two panels (more pixels than 4K per each eye). A 3-element lens designed bay Apple provides experiences “not possible on any device,” including HDR support and sharp text.
Audio: Integrated dual-driver speakers render spatial audio like you’ve never heard before. Using a technique calling audio raytracing, Vision Pro adjusts your soundscape to objects in your room.
Chips: Vision Pro uses Apple silicon based on the Mac’s M2 chip, which runs in parallel with the new Apple R1 chip that process input from onboard sensors and cameras that Apple says eliminates lag.
visionOS: Vision Pro runs a new operating system, called visionOS. It supports foveated rendering, a multi-app 3D engine, real-time subsystems and more.
OpticalID: With a little help of internal cameras, Vision Pro authenticate you as soon as you put it on.
Privacy: Where you look while wearing the device stays private, is not shared with apps and never leaves the device.
Price and availability: Vision Pro starts at $3499 and will be available from chúng tôi and the company’s retail stores in the United States starting early next year. Vision Pro will expand to additional countries later in 2024.
More to follow later…
Recently, Microsoft fulfilled its promise of releasing the Windows Copilot to testers in June. The latest Windows Insider Dev Channel build (23493) includes early access to Windows Copilot, native support for RAR and 7-Zip files, a new settings homepage, and a much better volume mixer.
Windows Copilot was first announced at this year’s Build event. And the version that testers can access today works as a sidebar docked to the right hand side of Windows 11. Unlike traditional pop-up windows, Windows Copilot runs unobstructed alongside open app windows. Enabling users to interact with it whenever needed. According to the Windows team, the feature won’t overlap with the desktop content, making it a more seamless experience for users.Microsoft’s Windows 11 Update: Introducing Windows Copilot, Native Support for RAR and 7-Zip Files, and More
The AI-powered Windows Copilot is designed to respond to both commands and questions, similar to Bing Chat. Users can ask the feature to change to dark mode, take a screenshot, turn on do not disturb, or ask anything that Bing typically answers. Additionally, Windows Copilot can summarize web content and generate AI-generated images and text.
However, since Windows Copilot is still in its early preview phase, it only controls some basic Windows settings. And there’s no third-party plug-in support yet. However, Microsoft plans to add more features and refine the experience based on feedback from Windows Insiders.
In addition to Windows Copilot, Microsoft has also added native support to RAR and 7-Zip files, including tar, gz. And many other archive formats using the open source project libarchive. With this improvement, users can finally access these file formats without having to install third party software. However, Microsoft warns that there may be some initial performance issues with this new support. The company is working to improve this in future Windows Insider builds.Gizchina News of the week
Microsoft announced that this improved archive format support will be available to everyone in September, with plans to add support for creating files in those formats in 2024, according to Sharla Soennichsen, a product manager at Microsoft.Exploring the Latest Features and Improvements in Microsoft’s Windows 11 Update
The new volume mixer UI was discovered earlier this year and seems to be inspired by EarTrumpet. It’s a popular app for Windows that was built nearly five years ago. This addition is a much needed improvement to Windows 11. As the previous volume control interface was widely criticized for being hard to use.
Moreover, Microsoft has added a new Settings homepage to Windows 11. It provides an overview of the device you’re using with essential settings. The new homepage is less jarring, with up to seven cards of information. Including Microsoft 365 or Xbox subscriptions, Bluetooth device management, wallpaper customization, and OneDrive cloud storage.
Finally, Microsoft is testing a new suggestions feature for Snap Layouts in Windows 11. When you hover over minimize or maximize, app icons will appear based on what apps would work best snapped next to each other. This feature aims to help users maximize their productivity by suggesting the best app combinations for multitasking.
In conclusion, Microsoft has added several new features and improvements to Windows 11, including the highly anticipated Windows Copilot, native support for RAR and 7-Zip files, an improved volume mixer UI, a new Settings homepage, and a new suggestions feature for Snap Layouts. With these updates, Microsoft continues to enhance the user experience of Windows 11. Making it more seamless, efficient, and productive for users.
Apple Music has been live for over a year now and has suffered its fair share of successes and failures thus far. In a new interview with BuzzFeed News, Apple executives Jimmy Iovine, Zane Lowe, and Bozoma Saint John talk about what they have learned in their first year, the battle for exclusive streaming rights, and more.
Iovine explains that his ultimate goal with Apple Music is to make it easier for artists to release good music and for users to have access to good music. “That’s the only thing that we know how to do coming from where we’re coming from,” he said. “You use all the tools you have to do that.“
One thing that Iovine has used to differentiate Apple Music from the competition is exclusive content. Since the service launched, Apple has worked to gain exclusive streaming rights to music from artists like Drake, Britney Spears, Frank Ocean, and others. Apple’s focus on exclusives hasn’t been met with praise from everyone though. Universal Music Group spoke out against the practice last month, saying that it would no longer negotiate for exclusive rights with any service, while artists like Kanye West have also said the practice hurts the music industry as a whole.
Iovine, however, says that Apple always holds up its end of the deal when ti comes to relationships, while he also noted that Apple will continue to work out exclusives with other labels like Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.
“We’re feeling our way around and seeing what works … Every time we do [an exclusive], we learn something new.” He added that Apple Music would move forward with its pursuit of exclusives from other partners, such as Sony Music Entertainment and the Warner Music Group, noting, “It’s Apple’s show. As long as Apple’s asking me to do what I’m doing, I’m gonna keep doing it.”
Ultimately, Iovine offers the caveat that no one really knows where the music industry will be in a year’s time. “A year from today could look extremely different from what it looks like right now,” he said.
For his part, Beats 1 head Zane Lowe explained that Apple Music is becoming a sort of safe space for artists to release their music and announce information. Lowe notes that it’s not just Beats 1 that allows that, but rather all aspects of the service.
“I think Apple Music is the place that helps artists tell their stories. It’s where artists can come and feel comfortable,” Lowe said. “And that’s not just on Beats 1, it’s through the releasing of their records, it’s through our editorial, through content, all sorts of ways.”
Apple Music head of global consumer marketing Bozoma Saint John explains the thought process that goes into making changes to Apple Music, noting that the biggest question they ask is “How are you actually interacting with your music?” The Apple Music team will then ask itself, “What are you going to it for? How can we better serve that up?”
The Music app on iOS recently underwent an overhaul with the launch of iOS 10 and Iovine explains that many of the changes build upon – or in some instances subtract from – what was first introduced. As for the future, Iovine teases that the team is working on stuff that no one is going to expect.
“We were too ambitious in the beginning — we probably put too much into it,” said Iovine. “But we’re getting there now, one foot in front of the other, and the stuff we’re creating I don’t think anyone is gonna see coming.”
The full piece can be read here.
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Apple Music for Android is gaining an integrated sleep timer function with time increments ranging from 15 minutes to 1 hour, plus other extensive options..
Apple is currently testing a built-on sleep timer feature in its Apple Music Android client, with a public release expected in a matter of few weeks.
After setting an alarm with available time increments ranging from fifteen minutes to one hour, you’ll see a live countdown within the app.
The built-in feature allows you to gently fall asleep and wake up in the morning to your favorite playlist, artist, tune and so forth.Apple Music for Android is getting a sleep timer
The feature appears to be pretty well thought out. You can set your timer in fixed increments or use one of the criteria for when the music should start or stop playing. Once you’ve set the timer, live countdown is display throughout the app. When the timer runs out, your preferred music will start or stop playing, which is great if you’d like to fall asleep or wake up in the morning to your favorite tune.
Live countdown persists through different selections in the app so you can always shut off the sleep timer with a quick flip of the switch. The built-in timer feature works with songs, albums, artists, playlists and radio stations. You can also set conditions for when the current song, album or playlist ends, 9to5Google reports.How to set a sleep timer in Apple Music for Android
In the Apple Music app for Android version 3.10 or later, tap the three-dotted icon next to the song, artist or album name to access the option in the contextual menu.
Launch Apple Music for Android version 3.10 or later.
In Apple Music for Android, access the Now Playing feature.
Hit the three-dotted icon next to the song, artist or album name.
Select the “Sleep Timer” option near the end of the contextual menu.
Choose between time increments or special conditions to activate the timer.
Time increments range from fifteen minutes to one hour. Alternatively, use special conditions to activate the sleep timer, if that’s what you prefer, by choosing between “When Current Song Ends” and “When Current Album Ends” and “When Current Playlist Ends” instead of time increments. Read: How to use iPhone’s Sleep ModeDoes Apple Music for iPhone have a built-in sleep timer?
No, Apple Music for iOS does not feature a sleep timer within the app. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sleep timer feature for Apple Music. As you know, iOS provides a sleep timer within the Clock app that works with your music so you’re covered in that regard although it’s not as feature-rich and developed as its counterpart in the Apple Music Android app. Plus, it’s definitely faster to access a built-in feature than having to switch to the Clock app to set a sleep timer.When will this feature launch for everybody?
Apple is currently testing this feature in Apple Music beta for Android, which is available on Google’s Play Store. The Cupertino company is expected to continue perfecting the sleep timer until it’s ready for prime time, which should be in about a few weeks from the time of writing. Once the sleep timer is ready, it will hit the stable channel and all users will automatically get the feature after updating the Apple Music app on their Android device. Read: 3 ways to set a sleep timer in Spotify
It’s something that’s happened to all of us. You buy an app thinking it’s the one for you, and you buy it. But then there are issues such as the app not working as expected, or maybe a child purchased the app, and you need a refund. The good news is that the process is easy, but you must have a valid reason for your refund. You can bet that Apple will do its research on the refund process to ensure that there is a valid reason for the request. But the good news is that you don’t have to go through endless steps to claim your refund. You’ll be done in less time than you think.How to Get a Refund on an App or In-App Purchase from the App Store How to Request a Refund on the Apple Store Using Your iPad
The previous steps allowed you to request a refund by going to Apple’s Report a Problem page, but the following steps will guide you in requesting your refund using the App Store app. The steps are still easy to follow, but it’s always great when you have more than one way to do something. Once you have the App Store open, tap on your profile picture. If you haven’t added a profile picture, you’ll only see the icon of a person.
When the Account window appears, tap on the Purchased option and tap on the app you wish to get a refund for. Swipe down until you see the Report a Problem option and tap on it. Your iPad will ask you if you want to use your Apple ID info to sign in. Now you should be on Apple’s Report a problem page. You’ll see the exact steps you would if you signed in from a browser. You’ll need to tap on the dropdown menu and choose Request a refund and the reason for the refund.
Make sure that the refund is requested as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the probability that the claim will be denied. If you’re having an issue requesting a refund, make sure the payment went through. Your payment info could be outdated, and the charge was never made. If you were charged when you didn’t purchase anything, maybe another family member made the purchase. If you want more information on the purchase, you can always access the Purchase History.How to Access Purchase History on iPad
On the Purchase History, you can get info such as the date and amount of the charge. You must go to Settings and tap your name at the top left. Select the Media and Purchases option, followed by the View Account option. You’ll need to sign in and tap the Purchase History option. There you should see all the apps that were purchased and the amount.Further Reading
Speaking of getting a refund, see how you can get a refund on Google Play and how you can resubscribe to an app. Sometimes to get rid of an app, you end up needing it again. Don’t forget that you can always use the search bar to search for more articles to read.Conclusion
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