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New Update in iOS 8.4 Beta

Earlier today, Apple seeded the first iOS 8.4 beta, which includes a revamped Music app, to developers. MacRumors forum user pazimi has found that Apple has also made changes to how it handles audiobooks in the new beta, moving playback from the Music app to the iBooks app.

audiobooks8.4Audiobooks in iBooks in iOS 8.4 beta.
Currently, in iOS 8.3, a users’ audiobook library is divorced from their ebook library, forcing users to use two different apps to access their entire digital book library. The new update consolidates all books in Apple’s iBooks app and also fixes another longstanding issue with audiobooks on iOS. Since iOS 7, audiobook listeners have been unable to view chapter titles or even select them. However, pazimi points out that while chapters are now selectable in iOS 8.4, they do not list the actual chapter titles, as they’re listed as “track numbers”.

Finally, Apple has added a new fast forward and fast rewind feature, allowing users to easily scrub through an audiobook chapter. Users simply have to drag the book cover art to the left or right and hold to jump back or move forward further within the audiobook.

Update: iOS 8.4 also adds a standalone Audiobooks app to the CarPlay interface.

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IBM Launches Watson Health Cloud

Apple partner IBM today announced the launch of Watson Health Cloud, designed to offer physicians, researchers, insurers and health-related companies a secure and open platform for storing health-related data. The platform facilitates the secure sharing of data from multiple types of input, from personal fitness trackers to connected medical devices to doctor-created medical records.

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The future of health is all about the individual. With the increasing prevalence of personal fitness trackers, connected medical devices, implantables and other sensors that collect real-time information, the average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime (the equivalent of more than 300 million books).

However, it is difficult to connect these dynamic and constantly growing pools of information with more traditional sources such as doctor-created medical records, clinical research and individual genomes — data sets that are fragmented and not easily shared. A highly scalable and secure global information platform is essential to pull out individualized insights to help people and providers make timely, evidence-based decisions about health-related issues.

IBM is expanding its partnership with Apple with IBM Watson Health Cloud to offer a secure cloud platform and analytics services for HealthKit and ResearchKit apps. It will store data entered by customers into iOS apps and give medical researchers a data storage solution that also includes “sophisticated data analytics capabilities.”

IBM and Apple will expand their ground-breaking partnership to apply cloud services and analytics to HealthKit and ResearchKit, and iOS devices. IBM will provide a secure research capability on the Watson Health Cloud platform, anonymizing personal data to allow researchers to easily store, aggregate and model information collected from iOS users who opt-in contribute personal data to medical research.

IBM and Apple first partnered up last summer to boost both companies’ enterprise sales. Under the partnership, IBM is selling iOS devices to corporate customers and creating a wide range of enterprise-focused apps tailored to industries like retail, healthcare, banking, travel, transportation, and more.

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‘Fleksy Keyboard’ Partners With Riffsy for GIFs, Goes Free for a Week

Fleksy today announced a new partnership with Riffsy, which will integrate Riffsy’s GIF Keyboard into the Fleksy Keyboard for iOS, giving users access to GIFs within Fleksy for the first time. With the addition of GIFs, Fleksy Keyboard is now able to offer millions of GIFs along with its existing keyboard capabilities and emoji integration.

Riffsy’s GIF Keyboard is a popular choice for users who want to insert GIFs directly into iMessages and other iPhone correspondence, and all of the GIF Keyboard features will now be available in Fleksy, including search, the ability to browse by category, and access to trending GIFs.

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The partnership makes it easier than ever before to share highly expressive content across iMessage, SMS, Twitter, email and Facebook. Users will be able to send GIFs instantly, right from within their main keyboard. All this is made possible thanks to the new features of iOS 8 and the great GIF support that the Apple platform has offered.

In celebration of the new partnership, Fleksy is running a promotion that makes the Fleksy Keyboard free to download for the course of the next week. The app is normally priced at $0.99, and this marks the first time Fleksy has gone free since it became a full keyboard replacement alongside the release of iOS 8.

Fleksy Keyboard can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Recharging Center for Charging Five iOS Devices Same Time

Griffin today launched an Indiegogo campaign for its upcoming Cove Recharging Center, a new charging management and device storage system designed to be used in the home. The Griffin Cove is able to store and charge up to five tablets, smartphones, or other electronic devices at one time in one compact location.

To develop its charging station, Griffin visited people in their homes to discover pain points with their current charging systems and used that data to design a product that people will want to use. Griffin’s aim with the Cove was to develop a central hub that could accommodate the devices of the entire family, as one of the the most requested features was the ability to charge multiple devices at once.

The Cove has a neutral, modern design that’s meant to fit in with a wide range of home decor styles, with a shell that features wood veneering at the top and wool lining on each of the three shelf layers. There are slots for charging five USB devices at once, and on the left, there’s a box that contains all cables, cords, and power sources, keeping them organized and out of site. The entire box has a pull-down lid that keeps devices and cords alike hidden from view, and the front lid can also be used as a stand.

It has five 12-watt USB ports, so it can offer speedy charging for devices like the iPhone and the iPad. It includes a ChargeSensor circuit that detects what type of device is being plugged in, what power it needs, and whether it’s an Apple device or an Android. That way it directs the right amount of power wherever it needs to go.

It measures 16.8 inches wide, 12.8 inches deep, and seven inches tall, so it will fit comfortably under shelves and cabinets when placed in an office or in the kitchen. The main power cord is six inches long, and it will ship with UK and EU plug adapters.

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It’s unusual for a well-established company like Griffin to launch a product on Indiegogo, and Griffin told MacRumors that the reason for the crowdfunding campaign is to allow the company to get immediate feedback from people on the design and function of the Cove. Since the data and research for the Cove came directly from consumers, Griffin thought that a crowdfunding campaign launch would make sense.

We think this platform will allow us to engage more closely with a smaller audience who might otherwise go unnoticed in the traditional retail model. We view Indiegogo as the shortest, straightest line between the need for a beautiful, design-sensitive charging hub and our idea for Cove.

Griffin Cove is available for the next two days at the early bird price of $150, and after that, the price will go up to $200. The Griffin Cove will ship out to consumers in late 2015.

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Password-Managing App to Apple Watch

AgileBits this morning announced that an incoming update to its popular password-managing app 1Password will include an Apple Watch version of the service, providing users an even easier way to manage and easily remember their most important passwords.

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Like most upcoming Apple Watch apps, 1Password‘s wrist-worn counterpart will act as a companion to the traditional full-fledged iPhone app. AgileBits, the app’s creator, hopes that the location of the Watch on a user’s wrist, versus reaching for an iPhone, provides more ease-of-use in accessing the app for an oft-forgotten password.

You don’t need to be an intrepid inspector (or a precocious crime-solver in pigtails) to appreciate the awesomeness of having 1Password on your wrist. 1Password for Apple Watch helps you find the little pieces of secret info you need every day, quickly and easily. If you need the code to open your garage door, one of your one-time passwords, or to look up your credit card number while phoning in an order for pizza, 1Password is right there for you.

In addition to preparing for an Apple Watch app, the 1Password 5.4 update offers fans of the service a few new features, including a “mark all as read” button in the Message Center, a toggle to remove the unread badge from the settings tabs, and other basic bug fixes.

1Password can be downloaded on the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Update: MacRumors has discovered that for users to experience password managing on Apple Watch, they will have to upgrade to the $9.99 1Password Pro option within the free-to-download base app first.

1password watch

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