The Device-You-Already-Have Edition Friday, December 4, 2020

AR Is Alive And Well On The iPhone, And Apple's Augmented Reality Is Getting Better Fast, by Scott Stein, CNET

Facebook, Microsoft and Magic Leap are already exploring goggles and glasses that aim to blend the virtual and real, with more headsets coming in the future using Qualcomm chips. But Apple's AR mission right now, according to Mike Rockwell, Apple's head of AR, and Allessandra McGinnis, its senior product manager for AR, is to make everything work better on the device you already have in your pocket. Layering AR with real-world locations and popping up experiences automatically, while making creative tools and developing assistive tech based on AR's capabilities, could, in the long run, become the biggest killer apps.

"AR has enormous potential to be helpful to folks in their lives across devices that exist today, and devices that may exist tomorrow, but we've got to make sure that it is successful," Rockwell says. "For us, the best way to do that is to enable our device ecosystem, so that it is a healthy and profitable place for people to invest their time and effort."

iPhones Can Now Automatically Recognize And Label Buttons And UI Features For Blind Users, by Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch

Screen Recognition, available now in iOS 14, is a computer vision system that has been trained on thousands of images of apps in use, learning what a button looks like, what icons mean, and so on. Such systems are very flexible — depending on the data you give them, they can become expert at spotting cats, facial expressions, or as in this case the different parts of a user interface.

Users Can Now Share In-app Purchases And Subscriptions Via iCloud Family Sharing, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Earlier this year at WWDC 2020, Apple announced a major change to its in-app purchases system that would let users share in-app paid content with the family. This option is now officially available for developers and users running iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.

Coming Soon?

AppleCare Memo Hints At Potential Hardware Announcement Next Tuesday, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In an internal memo this week, obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source, Apple informed service providers that it has AppleCare-related changes planned for Tuesday, December 8 at approximately 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Specifically, Apple has advised technicians to prepare for new product SKUs, new/updated product descriptions, and new/updated product pricing, according to the memo.


Apple Opens App Store Small Business Program Enrollment For Reduced Cut, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

Further details clarify that the program takes affect by January 1 if you apply by December 18; beyond that, there’s a bit of a lag time. Apple also spells out how developers whose bank accounts aren’t in U.S. dollars can figure out if they’re eligible and details about Associated Developer Accounts. The company also notes that app transfers (i.e. transferring an app to another developer account) is not allowed while in the program, no doubt to prevent people from bouncing their app around to different developers to avoid the higher commission.