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Apple is reportedly working on an expensive "niche" VR headset
by João Carrasqueira
Facebook's Oculus Quest 2 For years, Apple has been rumored to be working on virtual reality or augmented reality headsets, but we have yet to see any of those reports materialize. If you were hoping for even more reports without official confirmation from Apple, today is your lucky day.
According to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple is planning to launch a standalone VR-focused headset at some point in 2022, but it will be a high-end niche product, with Apple reportedly having "conservative" sales expectations. The virtual environment will include gaming, communication, and video content, and while AR support will exist in some capacity, the report claims it will be limited. While Apple has displayed more interest in augmented reality so far, the focus for this headset is on VR, and the goal is simply to get people ready for an eventual pair of AR glasses, which are also in development with the codename N421.
The VR headset, with the codename N301, is apparently going to be a premium piece of hardware in more than one way. The report claims Apple is using some of its most powerful processors in the device, with performance edging out the Apple M1 chipset in the latest Mac devices introduces in November. On top of that, the headset has a fan to keep running cool. Additionally, the displays will also have "much higher resolution" than existing VR headsets. However, that will go along with a price tag that's also significantly higher than that of rival products, with some insiders even claiming each Apple Store may only sell one device per day.
Interestingly, the inclusion of high-performance components and a fan made the headset too big and cumbersome, so Apple has seemingly removed the space that would allow users with glasses to actually wear the headset. Instead, the company has designed a way for prescription lenses to be inserted into the headset for users that need them. Apple is also using a fabric exterior to help the device be lighter considering the weight of its internals.
According to the report, the headset is in late prototyping stages, but it hasn't been finalized and could still change significantly or be canceled altogether before making it to market. Apple has been making investments in the VR space, though, so it wouldn't be surprising if something is afoot.
By Rich Woods
Alleged iPad Mini 6 leak shows a cut-out for Touch ID
by Rich Woods
It's been almost two years since Apple released a new iPad Mini, and rumors from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already predicted a nine-inch model for this year. If a leak from xleaks7 and published by Pigtou is to be believed, Apple is set to make some strange design choices with it.
According to the report, the screen size will be 9.15 inches, and unsurprisingly, Apple is aiming to put it in a same-sized chassis; otherwise, it would be around the same size that the full-size iPad used to be. The size of the new chassis is 203.2x134.8x6.25mm. So yes, that means that the chassis's dimensions are identical, except it's just a bit thicker than the 6.1mm iPad Mini 5.
The images show hole-punch cut-outs for both the front camera and for Touch ID, which is apparently remaining while iPhone and iPad Pro have switched to Face ID. The text in the report is a bit more ambiguous though, saying that the fingerprint sensor is inside the display. It's possible that the dedicated sensor is only shown in the mock-up to demonstrate where an in-display sensor might be, and if you remove the cut-out, it looks a lot more like what we'd expect from an iPad Mini.
As for when it's coming, the report didn't say. It did speculate that Apple will use an A14 Bionic processor, and that adds up since the last one had an A12. Perhaps we'll hear more about this in the spring.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft Lists is now available for iOS
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft announced that its Lists app for iOS is now available. First announced at Build as a Trello competitor, it showed up as a web app in July with a promised iOS app coming later. Now, that app is here.
The Lists app, as you'd probably guess, lets you access and edit the lists that you own and have been shared with you; and of course, you can create new lists. The difference with the mobile app, however, is that it's really meant to be used more on the go than the web app is. Microsoft uses an example of creating an issue tracker list while you're drinking coffee, or sharing a list from the car. For more complex tasks, you're really meant to be using the web app.
Microsoft posted a demo of the app:
Here's a list of features that are included in the mobile app:
As you'd expect if you've been using the service, you can create new lists from scratch or from templates, and you can even use an Excel file to get started. The app also supports offline usage and dark mode.
Now for the fine print. You need an Office 365 commercial subscription that includes SharePoint to access Lists, so if you're on a consumer Microsoft 365 plan, you're out of luck here. Microsoft is working on an Android app, as it promised to produce back at Build, although it's not coming until later this year. Also, the company is promising iPad-specific features to be added to the iOS app at some point.
By Jay Bonggolto
Apple extends free TV+ trials anew to July 2021
by Jay Bonggolto
When Apple first launched its subscription video on demand streaming service in November 2019, customers were given a year of free TV+ trials if they purchased an iPhone, an iPad, a Mac, or an Apple TV from that day. The free access was supposed to expire on November 1, 2020, but Apple extended it to February 2021.
Today, the tech giant is giving some of its TV+ customers a few extra months of free trials again. Users with subscriptions that were scheduled to expire between February and June can continue to access TV+ shows and movies for free until July 2021, assuming they haven't canceled their subscriptions.
Those eligible for the extension will receive notification via email over the next couple of weeks. Existing TV+ subscribers with a monthly plan as of January 15 are also set to receive a $4.99 store credit from February to June. This is also available to those who have an Apple One bundle subscription.
It remains to be seen, though, whether the second extension will persuade more people to subscribe to the service.
By Abhay V
Apple reportedly testing Music and Podcasts apps for the Microsoft Store
by Abhay Venkatesh
Apple retired iTunes for macOS back in 2019 with the release of macOS Catalina, splitting its functionality into three apps: Music, TV, and Podcasts. However, the company continued offering iTunes on Windows and had nothing to share about replacing the aging music client. A job posting spotted late in 2019 hinted towards possible efforts in that regard, with the firm calling on UWP developers to build the “next generation of media apps for Windows”. The company then made available Apple TV for Xbox late last year.
Now, a new report suggests that the Cupertino giant is working to bring its Music and Podcasts apps to the Microsoft Store. The apps are reportedly being tested as part of a private beta program and a release is expected sometime later this year. It is not clear if the apps are aimed at Xbox users alone, just like the Apple TV app, or if Apple plans to make the offerings available for the PC as well via the Microsoft Store.
Apple has been gradually expanding the availability of its services on multiple platforms. Apple TV, for instance, is making its way to Chromecast with Google TV and multiple smart TVs from LG and Sony. It will not be surprising to see the Music app make it to the Xbox, following the TV app. Though the service has a great web app. there is merit in releasing the apps for Windows 10 – and by extension for Windows 10X that is expected to launch on low-end PCs and tablets first – since it will greatly expand the reach of the company’s services via native apps.
It will be interesting to see what the iPhone company has in store for Microsoft’s platform. The introduction of native TV, Music, and Podcasts apps to Windows will be a welcome addition for users of the services.