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Apple Music is getting Dolby Atmos and lossless audio at no additional cost
by João Carrasqueira
After teasers were spotted on the Apple Music website over the weekend, Apple has formally announced that the music streaming service is getting support for lossless audio quality tracks next month. Not only that, but the company is also adding spatial audio to the service with Dolby Atmos support.
Dolby Atmos will allow music creators to mix their tracks in a way that allows different sounds to feel as if they're coming from many different directions. Tracks have to be specifically designed for this, and Apple says it will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks regularly. At launch, you can expect "thousands of songs" from different genres to be available, and Dolby Atmos will be supported in AirPods or Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as on the built-in speakers of an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Tracks with Dolby Atmos support will also be highlighted with a badge to make them easier to find.
As for lossless audio quality, Apple Music will be using a proprietary audio format called ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to bring high-quality audio to the entire catalog of over 75 million songs on the service. Lossless audio will be disabled by default due to the high data usage involved, but you can choose to enable it for Wi-Fi only or cellular network, with different tiers to choose from. The base level is CD quality, and offers 16-bit audio and 44.1KHz, but you can go up to 24-bit audio at 48KHz using only an Apple device. If you need even more quality, you can take the sample rate up to 192KHz, but this requires an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) capable of supporting this kind of configuration.
All of this comes at no additional cost in the Apple Music subscription, though obviously, you'll need to spend money on a DAC if you want one and don't have it already. You can look forward to these additions in June, though a specific date for the launch wasn't given.
By RIzwan Anwer
'Lossless' logo spotted on Apple Music website ahead of revamp
by Rizwan Anwer
Apple Music has been around since 2015 and has continued to improve significantly over the years. Recently, the service has been teasing something since May 10th, and if rumors are anything to go by, we might hear about some brand new additions to Apple Music by tomorrow, May 18th.
Apple Music has been rumored to be working on some major changes to their service, with High-Fidelity (Hi-Fi) being the most prominent rumor. However, a curious finding by Twitter user Stijn de Vries has given us a first look at the 'Lossless' logo found on Apple Music's website.
Along with the addition of Hi-Fi, it's rumored that Apple could add support for Spatial Audio with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
While all of this can be chalked up to rumor, there is reason to believe there is some truth to fiction here.
Most recently, iOS 14.6 Beta confirmed the existence of several terms in the code for Apple Music such as lossless audio, Hi-Fi, and high-quality stereo streaming.
The rumor further suggests that the additions could cost a dedicated $9.99 per month, and whether or not there will be a way to adjust it with your current Apple One subscription is yet to be seen.
By Usama Jawad96
Apple rejected over 200,000 apps in 2020 for violating user privacy
by Usama Jawad
A few weeks ago, Google released some stats about how it stopped malicious activity on Google Play in 2020, with the most notable one being the banning of over 100,000 developer accounts. Now, Apple has revealed similar stats regarding its own review process for the App Store.
Apple noted that the sophistication and scale of cybersecurity threats in apps is increasing day by day, which is why it has a stringent review policy in place that aims to restrict malicious apps from launching in the App Store. A crucial part of this process is the App Review team which utilizes the App Store's guidelines to approve or reject submissions from various developers. These guidelines are also updated frequently given the continuously evolving threat landscape.
To that end, the App Review team assisted 180,000 developers to launch their apps in 2020 while over one million new apps and one million updates were rejected for not working as advertised or for not having proper moderation mechanisms in place to monitor and moderate user-generated content.
48,000 of these apps were rejected for containing undocumented capabilities while 150,000 were rejected because they were deemed to be copycat or contained features which scammed users into making purchases. 95,000 apps were removed from the App Store for employing bait-and-switch tactics. Lastly, 215,000 app were rejected because they violated user privacy by either mishandling consumer data or demanding more permissions than actually required. Apple says that even now it is continuously working to remove apps which switch functionalities after the initial review process to engage in predatory activities such as selling drugs, gambling, and rewarding users for sharing pornographic content via video calls.
Another core component of the App Store is the ratings and reviews system since many users depend on it to decide which apps to download or purchase. In 2020, Apple use a combination of artificial intelligence and humans to examine over a billion ratings and reviews, which resulted in almost 250 million of them being removed for not meeting Apple's standards.
When it comes to account fraud, Apple terminated the contracts of 470,000 developers in 2020 and rejected an additional 205,000 new enrollments due to suspicion of fraudulent activities. On average, Apple detects and terminates fraudulent developer accounts within a month after enrolling them. The company also boasted that:
The Cupertino firm also has a Developer Enterprise Program for organizations which want to publish their apps for internal use, bypassing the standard app review process. Even here, Apple noticed and stopped over 3.2 million instances where fraudulent submissions were being made, likely by a malicious actor tricking an insider to leak credentials.
Apple's activity did not only stop at fraudulent developer accounts. In fact, it deactivated 244 million customer accounts because of "fraudulent and abusive activity". Another 424 million new enrollments were rejected for suspicion of the same.
Finally, with respect to payment and credit card fraud, Apple once again used a combination of artificial intelligence and human review teams to stop transactions from over 3 million stolen cards in 2020. A million accounts were banned from transacting in the future altogether. Overall, these activities resulted in users being protected from $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent activity in 2020.
While the figures are arguably impressive and Apple says that it is working around the clock to make the App Store a safer place for developers and customers alike, no system is perfect and malicious activity can sometimes still slip through the cracks unnoticed. If something like this grabs your attention, Apple recommends that you make use of the "Report a Problem" capability in the App Store or directly call Apple Support to alert them.
Purported MacBook Air redesign shown in leaked images, borrows from the new iMac
by João Carrasqueira
A few months ago, a report claimed that Apple was preparing to redesign the MacBook Air later this year, with a slew of improvements including the return of MagSafe charging, an SD card slot, and more. Now, well-known leakster Jon Prosser has obtained images of the purported new MacBook Air, and revealed a few elements of the device's design. The images seen here are renders by Twitter user Ian Zelbo, based on images provided by Prosser's sources.
First off, one of the most noticeable changes is in the colors that the MacBook Air will come in. Prosser says he was shown a blue version of the laptop, but his sources say the laptop will come in very similar colors to those introduced with the 24-inch iMac that was announced just a few weeks ago. If true, it looks like Apple is moving away from the monochrome look it's been using for its Mac family for years now.
The renders shown also feature much slimmer bezels than the current MacBook Air redesign, but Prosser admits that these were based on guesses, as the images shared didn't show the bezels clearly. However, many elements are said to be confirmed: for one thing, the bezels will be white, and so will the keys on the keyboard, both of which are big departures from the current iteration. On the topic of the keyboard, the function keys are also shown with full height, rather than the smaller size of the current model, and the trackpad may be smaller because of it.
Other design changes include flat edges all around and an even thinner design that barely accommodates the USB Type-C ports. On that note, the renders only show one USB Type-C port on each side, though Prosser says it's not guaranteed that MagSafe charging isn't included, it just wasn't clearly visible in the images shared by his sources.
Finally, Prosser also points out that the rubber feet on the MacBook Air are being replaced by two long vertical rubber strips.
It's still very early to tell whether the designs shown here will match the final product, as it's only been a few months since the latest MacBook Air was introduced. It's expected that if the new design does come this year, it will likely be towards the end of the year.
By Jay Bonggolto
Apple faces £1.5 million class action lawsuit over excessive App Store fees
by Jay Bonggolto
Apple's legal battles over its competition practices in many parts of the world keep piling up. In early 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that iPhone users were entitled to file a lawsuit against Apple due to the 30% revenue cut from purchases made on the App Store
Today, a new class action suit was filed against the tech giant for allegedly making exorbitant charges on approximately 20 million consumers in the UK. The lawsuit claims that the App Store's 30% tax was "excessive" for consumers and calls for at least £1.5 million in compensation. Under the class action suit, any iPhone or iPad user in the country who purchased apps and subscriptions as well as those who made in-app purchases through the App Store since 2015 can claim compensation.
Rachael Kent, who led the filing of the suit and teaches at King’s College London, said in a statement that Apple's abusive dominance in the app store market has had adverse impact on consumers. The suit was filed in London.
That said, the Cupertino-based company denied the claims for lack of merit and said it would be willing to discuss its "commitment to consumers and the many benefits the App Store has delivered to the U.K.’s innovation economy". The firm also compared the App Store with other digital marketplaces and reiterated that the majority of developers don't pay Apple anything since 84% of App Store apps are free.
Apple's latest courtroom battle comes at a time when it's currently facing an antitrust suit filed by Epic Games in the EU earlier this year for allegedly monopolizing app distribution on the iPhone.