Apple World Today News Update: February 15, 2018

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This Thursday afternoon we have a variety of short news items for your listening pleasure:

  • Apple will require developers to support the iPhone X starting in April 2018 for all new apps submitted to the App Store
  • One character in India's Telugu language is crashing message apps in iOS 11, and a fix is on the way soon
  • Getting an Apple HomePod? You might want to get a Pad & Quill HomePod Coaster first!
  • Google Maps for iOS receives a handy update that speeds access to many features
  • Facebook is entering the smart speaker market later this year

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Thursday, February 15, 2018.  

Apple today let developers know that as of April 2018, all new apps submitted for approval to the App Store must support the Super Retina display of the iPhone X, accommodating the “notch” and fully using the 5.8-inch OLED screen. The company did not, however, say when updates to existing apps must support iPhone X natively. Apple will also require all new apps to be built against the iOS 11 SDK. That doesn’t mean that apps will necessarily support iOS 11 features — it’s just making sure that new app developers are using the latest development tools, which should encourage adoption of new features in the future. 

There’s a strange bug in iOS 11 right now. There’s a specific character in the Indian Telugu language, and if it’s received in a message, the iOS Springboard crashes and Messages can’t be opened again. This also causes problems in Gmail, Outlook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The fix is in the iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 betas, but Apple told The Verge that it will release an iOS 11 update in the near future that will fix those crashes. That update is likely to be iOS 10.2.6, and no date has been set for its release. 

Yesterday brought the dire news that the silicon ring on the bottom of the new HomePod that is used to stop vibration on surface the smart speaker is sitting on was causing white marks on some wooden surfaces. Today there’s news that Sonos One speakers are also causing the same problem. Fortunately, today also brought a solution, with the new HomePod Coaster from Pad & Quill. It’s a round leather ring that keeps your HomePod from marking your furniture, it costs only $19.95, and it will be available starting next week. It comes in two colors — whiskey and chestnut. 

Users of Google Maps for iOS will be happy. A new version is available today and brings with it a new bottom bar with very useful functionality. The bottom bar makes it easier to see what’s happening around you, as well as offering immediate access to real-time driving and transit information. The data is found in three new tabs at the bottom of the app labeled Explore, Driving and Transit. Explore provides info on local restaurants, stores and services as well as current events, weather and restaurant suggestions. It also includes popular photos of the area. The new Driving tab provides access to directions, while the Transit tab speeds access to commute info. Just add your work and home addresses to the app if you haven’t already, and you can even choose custom icons for those locations. Google Maps for iOS is a free download from the App Store.

One final story today; guess who is planning on jumping into the smart speaker market? We already have speakers from Amazon, Apple, Google and other companies, and now Facebook says it will have two smart speakers entering the market by the end of July, 2018. Code names for the two smart speakers are Aloha and Fiona, and both will come with 15-inch touchscreens. The Aloha will ship as the Facebook Portal, and is designed with video calls in mind. It should use facial recognition for login, and Facebook is saying that it will come with a native music app built in. A lot of the Facebook smart speaker success will depend on how good its AI assistant is, something that the Apple HomePod  AI — Siri — has been criticized for.

That’s all the news for today - join me tomorrow afternoon for another edition of the AWT News Update.