Earlier in the week Phil reported that Apple is working on its own Siri-powered version of the popular Amazon Echo voice-controlled hands-free smart speaker.

CNET has more news on this development this weekend, reporting that it has heard from its sources that Apple intends to go one step further than Amazon by putting a face-recognition camera into the forthcoming device.

The Apple speaker would be “self-aware” and would be able to detect people that were in the room with its own version of facial-recognition technology. Once the Apple speaker had recognised a particular person, it could use their pre-set preferences to play music they liked or instigate a preferred lighting scheme, without the user having to say word.

The sources say that the as-yet-unnamed product could be released by the end of this year, but it’s more likely that it will be released in 2017.

However, the sources do add a note of caution, saying that Apple could instead scrap the facial-recognition idea, or, indeed, decide not to release the device at all.

Source: Apple's Echo rival could see you with built-in camera

The Toys-to-Life phenomenon arrives on iOS today with the launch of Skylanders Battlecast, which is based on Activision’s massively popular (to the tune of more than 250 million toys sold) Skylanders series, the one that pioneered the whole toys-to-life category and continues to dominate it.

In the free-to-play game, players must build their ultimate deck of cards, master strategic card combinations, and use them in previously unseen battles.

Physical card packs will be available to buy in stores from Friday, May 27. The physical cards can be scanned with your iPhone or iPad to see them spring to life via augmented reality. You can also add the cards that you collect to an in-game digital spell book, so the more cards you collect, the more choice you’ll have in battle.
The game was developed by a team of experts in video game design, physical card design, pro card players, and top card artists. But unlike other card trading and mobile battle games, Skylanders Battlecast offers a fully 3D-rendered gameplay experience.

There are up to 300 Character, Spell, Gear and Relic cards to collect, including foil variants, to help you make your way through more than 60 missions on eight elemental islands.

Click here to download: Skylanders Battlecast on the App Store

Source: Activision

Following on from a limited trial start last month where only Amex was supported, Singapore has today become the sixth country worldwide to have Apple Pay, with the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and China being the other five countries.

The service is initially supported by Visa, MasterCard, and five major banks.

9to5 Mac notes that contactless payment is already well established in Singapore, making it a natural choice for Apple Pay.

The five banks that are supporting Apple Pay in Singapore from day 1 are POSB, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank. Together they account for 80% of card transactions in Singapore. There is an SG$100 ($72) cap for Apple Pay transactions in Singapore, but United Overseas Bank has lifted the cap for retailers that use its payment-processing service.

It’s expected that Spain and Hong Kong will also be getting Apple Pay sometime this year.

Source: Apple Pay launches fully in Singapore, five major banks live today

AppleInsider reports that Apple’s Environment and Government Affairs head, Lisa Jackson, has visited a school in Rajasthan in India and talked to a group of women known as the “solar mamas,” who have been trained to manufacture and assemble solar lamps.

Jackson visited a school in Tilonia in the Ajmer region of Rajasthan that is known as “The Barefoot College.” The non-profit organisation is both a community outreach centre as well as a school.

Although in a very remote location, Barefoot College uses iPads as part of the training programme for students, who attend the college to learn about various technological disciplines such as photovoltaic engineering. Apple has already donated 20 iPads and 10 Macs to the college this year alone.

The solar mamas themselves not only build solar lanterns, they also set up local electronic workshops in their home towns based on what they learn at Barefoot College on their iPads and other equipment.

Source: Apple environment chief visits rural Indian school where donated iPads are part of curriculum

AppleInsider reports that Apple has announced that it is opening an office in Hyderabad, India, for the purposes of developing Maps products for iOS, Mac, and Apple Watch.

The new centre will provide jobs for up to 4,000 employees, who will concentrate on developing Maps updates as well as new features for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.

Apple will not be building a purpose-built office block for the new centre, rather, it will be setting up its office in the Waverock campus in Hyderabad’s tech district. Apple also announced that it currently supports more than 640,000 app developer jobs and other similar positions in India.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is currently in the middle of a tour of India, and is expected to meet Indian prime minister Narendra Modi before he leaves on Saturday.

Source: Apple opens Maps development center in Hyderabad, India
ipad-pro-9-7-inch.jpg

A few days ago we shared the multiple reports of random crashing of iPad Pro 9.7-inch models. There were even instances where users devices were "bricked." These problems have actually been persisting for about 6 weeks now, and both iOS 9.3.1 and iOS 9.3.2 versions appear to be affected.

We are disheartened to report the issue persists, and although Apple is reportedly working on a fix, in the mean-time, more users are being affected by the problems. In a few isolated situations, a few customers have reported that Apple is even swapping out some iPad Pro 9.7-inch models if users take them into a local Apple Store, although now that it is a known issue, your mileage may vary regarding getting that to happen now.

The thing that's so strange about the issue is that the causes are variant and random, so it will be a tough bug for Apple to track down. Stay tuned and we will continue to update you folks as the situation develops.


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