Notable: Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS; Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature; Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS

Amazon Alexa finally coming to iOS

When Amazon launches its smart speaker Amazon Echo in June 2015, it became an instant hit due mainly to its built-in Siri competitor Amazon Alexa voice assistant. There are third party iOS apps that allow you to interact with Alexa. Amazon is now bringing Alexa to iOS with the official Amazon app. You can now use it without buying any Amazon hardware.

You can use Alexa voice assistant to check the status of your order, do a product search, play music, start listening to Audible, check the news and weather etc. Check out Amazon iOS app [App Store Direct Link].

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Google has updated its Chrome for iOS which comes with a brand new Read Later feature. The function is similar to Reading List in Safari except the articles in your reading list are saved on your device and you can read them even when you aren’t connected to the web. To add article to the reading list, tap on the standard share button on Chrome for iOS. On the popup menu, select “Read Later” Chrome icon to add the page to the list. [Direct link to Chrome for iOS on App Store]

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

According to Variety, Netflix is replacing its star rating for movie and TV review to simply just thumbs up or thumbs down. Based on user testing by Netflix, the simpler thumbs up/down got 200% more ratings than traditional star-rating feature. The changes is expected to roll out globally within the next month.

Notable: Watch Steve Jobs introduces first iPhone 10 years ago; Chris Lattner left Apple; Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro; Apple increases tvOS app size to 4GB

Watch Steve Jobs introduces first iPhone 10 years ago

The first iPhone was launched 10 years ago on January 9, 2007. Watch the MacWorld keynote where Steve Jobs introduces the very first iPhone to the world.

Chris Lattner from Apple to Tesla

Chris Lattner from Apple to Tesla

Chris Lattner, the creator of Swift programming language and LLVM co-author, is going to Tesla after more than a decade with Apple. There are many speculations on his decision, after he led a successful transition to open source the Swift programming language. Maybe he is upset with the future direction or the lack of it in Apple?

Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro  

 Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro

Consumer Reports has reversed its position and is now recommending the latest 2016 MacBook Pro. Consumer Reports conducted a new test after Apple fixes a Safari bug that causes unpredictable battery life in the original test. The fix will be made available to the public in the coming macOS Sierra 10.12.3. 

Apple increases tvOS app size from 200MB to 4GB

Apple increases tvOS app size to 4GB

Ever wonder why there are not many console-like games available on tvOS? This is due mainly to lacklustre support from Apple for such games. Things might change as Apple has announced that the size limit of tvOS app bundle has increased from 200MB to 4GB.  This comes after Apple TV 4th generation has been on the market for more than 14 months, and right after the Nintendo Switch announcement.

Notable: See Bots Chat; Chinese New Year wallpapers from Apple; iOS 10 on 76% of iOS devices

See Bots Chat on Twitch TV

See Bots Chat on Twitch

The singularity is near, so it may seems when you watch two bots talking to each other over Google Home live on Twitch. Its a male and female bots, continuously prompting each other with questions, answers and comments. The conversation at times is a treat, with wide ranging topics, and you can even hear them flirting and arguing with each other. Head over to Twitch TV live feed.

Apple celebrates Chinese New Year with wallpapers

Apple celebrates Chinese New Year with wallpapers

To celebrate the coming Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year, Apple for the first time launched a set of exclusive wallpapers. Available on Apple website in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, the wallpapers are created by young Chinese artists using apps on Mac and iPad. Download the wallpapers.

iOS 10 now on 76% of iOS devicesiOS 10 now on 76 percent of iOS devices

According to Apple’s developer page, iOS 10 is now on 76% of iOS devices as on January 4, 2017 based on App Store statistics. 18% of devices continue to run iOS 9. This is an improvement as iOS 9 garnered 75% of adoption rate around this time last year. Apple is expected to release iOS 10.3 this month.

Notable: Connect with Thunderbolt 3; HandBrake 1.0; How China build iPhone City; Origins of Carpool Karaoke featuring George Michael

 Connect with Thunderbolt 3

Connect with Thunderbolt 3

The late-2016 MacBook Pro features Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports that replace all other type of ports except for the headphone port. To aid in this aggressive push for adoption of the latest port, Apple even has a comprehensive support article that explains what is Thunderbolt 3 and how you should connect to your peripheral devices. Check out the article Connect with Thunderbolt 3 on your late-2016 MacBook Pro.

HandBrake 1.0

HandBrake open source video transcoder

HandBrake for Mac is a capable video convertor that can also help you burn your video file to DVD. After 13 years, the developer has finally decided the software is worthy of version 1 tagging. This new release comes with improved set of presets that make it easy to convert to popular video formats. HandBrake is free and open source.

How China build ‘iPhone City’

How China build iPhone City

New York Times has published a lengthy article that examines the inner working of Foxconn’s major manufacturing plant in ‘iPhone City’ Zhengzhou, China. It describes the history and how perks and tax breaks is helping the operations. Read the article that is a result of over 100 interviews with factory workers, truck drivers, logistics handlers, and current and former Apple executives. 

The origins of Carpool Karaoke featuring George Michael

Watch the origins of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke before it became a hit show. It is a comedy skit for British charity Comic Relief in 2011, featuring the late superstar George Michael driving around and singing. 

Notable: MacBook Pro not recommended by Consumer Reports; Apple vs Nokia; Amazon drone delivery gets real; USB-C dongle discount extended; Chewbacca sings Silent Night

First MacBook to NOT receive a Consumer Reports recommendation


First MacBook to NOT receive a Consumer Reports recommendation 

The latest MacBook Pro has become the first MacBook to not receive the coveted recommendation by Consumer Reports. Apple’s latest and greatest notebook has been widely panned as a letdown due to its high price, lack of ports and gimmicky Touch Bar. For Consumer Reports, it is the inconsistent battery life of the MacBook Pro that is costing the recommendation badge.

Apple vs Nokia

Apple vs Nokia

After Samsung, Apple is going to court with Nokia. This time around, it is Nokia who sue Apple for patent infringement, saying that Apple has refused to license its patents. In a sign of retaliation, Apple has pulled all Withings products from its online store. Withings is a subsidiary of Nokia who makes digital scales, health and fitness gears.

Amazon Prime Air delivers to first customer

Parcel delivery using drone becomes a reality as Amazon has successfully tested its delivery in U.K. Currently under testing, drone delivery is expected to expand to dozens of customers and later grow to hundreds near the piloting Amazon facility in Cambridge. Find out more about Amazon Prime Air.

Apple USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 dongle discount extends till end March 2017


 Apple USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 dongle discount extends till end March 2017

Last month, Apple dropped the price of all its USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 adaptors until December 31 to make peace with its new MacBook Pro customers. The good news is this offer is extended till March 31, 2017.

Chewbacca sings “Silent Night”

For the Christmas and holiday spirit, here’s our favourite wookie singing “Silent Night”. 

Notable: Super Mario Run; Netflix offline viewing; Microsoft Solitaire Collection; Gift wrap hack

We’re starting a new Notable series where we highlight recent news, apps and interesting video and links.

Super Mario Run

Nintendo Super Mario Run on Apple AppStore

Nintendo releases Super Mario Run on the AppStore on December 15, and it’s proven to be more popular than Pokemon Go. It is free to play for its first level, with an in-app purchase of $9.99 to unlock the remaining levels. One thing to note is to counter pirates, an Internet connection is required to play the game.

Netflix Offline Viewing

If you recently updated your Netflix for iOS app, you might notice “Download & Go” new feature. This long-awaited feature allows you to download shows for offline viewing. There is no extra cost but not all titles will have the download button. Also it is available only for Netflix iOS and Android.

“Netflix is working with lots of partners globally to get downloading rights for the bulk of the content on our service. This is an ongoing effort as we know consumers want this capability and we are working to provide it.”

Microsoft Solitaire Collection

Microsoft Solitaire Collection for iOS

Microsoft has at long last brought its staple Windows games Solitaire to iOS. Microsoft Solitaire Collection contains Klondike, Spider, FreeCellm Pyramid and Tripeaks. The game is free to play.

Christmas Gift Wrap Hack

Christmas is coming. Here’s a Japan style gift wrap hack you might need. It is quick and easy gift wrapping without using tape and ribbon.