This Fall, HomePod Will Have Ambient Sounds, Multi-User Mode

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Apple didn’t mention the HomePod on stage yesterday, but Benjamin Mayo reports that a product refresh will appear later this fall.

A new forthcoming feature is called Ambient Sounds. This will allow users to easily play white noise sounds on their HomePods, including ocean waves, birdsong, rainstorms, and more. Right now, users are forced to AirPlay from another iOS device to easily play relaxing background audio on HomePod. Ambient Sounds will make this a first-party feature, fully integrated with Siri.

If Apple ever comes out with a cheaper HomePod, I’d probably buy one just for the ambient sounds.

Apple Watch Series 5 Starts With 32GB of Storage

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Amazingly, the Apple Watch Series 5 will start at 32GB of storage, doubling the Series 4 storage point of 16GB.

At 32GB of storage for both GPS and Cellular models, the Apple WatchSeries 5 offers double the storage of the previous Series 4 models. Apple may have increased the storage in the new device due to the Apple Watch App Store that’s available in watchOS 6, set to be released on September 19.

Now if only watchOS 6 had the Files app so I could store a copy of my data on it.

iPhone 11 Gets Muted Response in Asia

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iPhone 11 reveal

There was much fanfare around the launch of the iPhone 11 Tuesday. However, Reuters reported, that the new device did not receive su a warm welcome in Asia.

The iPhone 11, launched on Tuesday for $50 less than last year’s base XR model, was met with a limp response from social media users in Asian markets that are dominated by Huawei Technologies and Samsung Electronics. Despite the reduction, the iPhone 11, and even the higher-end models with more camera lenses, are set to come up short in Asia. “Apple’s new phones were no surprise at all. Only tangible change is having an additional camera on their premium model,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Seoul-based Cape Investment & Securities.

Libraries Work to Scan Public Domain Books

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Right now, books published in the U.S. before 1924 are in the public domain. This means they are publicly owned and everyone can use and copy them. But there’s a loophole in copyright law which gives up to 75% of books published between 1923 and 1964 secret public domain status. It’s hard to figure out which ones they are, so a group of libraries, archivists, and volunteers are finding these public domain books, scanning them, and uploading them to the internet.

Richardson notes that much of that heavy lifting is being done by volunteers at organizations like Project Gutenberg, a nonprofit effort to digitize and archive cultural works. These volunteers are tasked with locating a copy of the book in question, scanning it, proofing it, then putting out HTML and plain-text editions.

Rewatch Apple iPhone 11 Special Event in a Flash

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There was a lot to take in during the Apple ‘By Innovation Only’ special event Tuesday. And it was nearly two hours long. You can rewatch the whole thing, but Apple also helpfully posted a video bringing together the best bits. It is a bit of an advert, of course, but I think it is quite effective. It shows how much Apple did actually pack in during the event.

macOS Catalina Isn't Coming Until October

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Apple updated its website today, noting that macOS Catalina won’t arrive until an unknown date in October. From TechCrunch:

After a summer of beta testing, Apple is about to release the next major version of macOS: macOS Catalina. But not so fast; the new version will arrive in October, according to Apple’s updated website. As always, this update will be available as a free download in the Mac App Store.

The software release dates are all over the place this year.

Amtrak 4.0 Lets You Add Your eTicked to Wallet

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Amtrak updated its app to version 4.0 (in August) and it added new features: Show your eTicket while onboard, including multi-ride and monthly passes – no need to print; Send your eTicket to Apple Wallet; Purchase one-way, roundtrip, multi-ride and monthly tickets with dollars or Amtrak Guest Rewards points; Check train status; Find station information; Edit and manage your account profile; Save credit cards for quick checkout, and more. App Store: Amtrak – Free