This happy robot helps kids with autism

A little bot named QTrobot from LuxAI could be the link between therapists, parents, and autistic children. The robot, which features an LCD face and robotic arms, allows kids who are overwhelmed by human contact to become more comfortable in a therapeutic setting.

The project comes from LuxAI, a spin-off of the University of Luxembourg. They will present their findings at the RO-MAN 2018 conference at the end of this month.

“The robot has the ability to create a triangular interaction between the human therapist, the robot, and the child,” co-founder Aida Nazarikhorram told IEEE. “Immediately the child starts interacting with the educator or therapist to ask questions about the robot or give feedback about its behavior.”

The robot reduces anxiety in autistic children and the researchers saw many behaviors – hand flapping, for example – slow down with the robot in the mix.

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Apple releases new iPad, FaceID ads

Apple has released a handful of new ads promoting the iPad’s portability and convenience over both laptops and traditional paper solutions. The 15-second ads focus on how the iPad can make even the most tedious things — travel, notes, paperwork, and ‘stuff’ — just a bit easier.

Three out of the four spots show the sixth-generation iPad, which was revealed at Apple’s education event in March, and which offers a lower-cost ($329 in the U.S.) option with Pencil support.

The ads were released on Apple’s international YouTube channels (UAE, Singapore, and United Kingdom).

This follows another 90-second ad released yesterday, focusing on FaceID. The commercial shows a man in a gameshow-type setting asked to remember the banking password he created earlier that morning. He struggles for an excruciating amount of time before realizing he can access the banking app via FaceID.

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Apple is rebuilding Maps from the ground up

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the launch of Apple Maps went poorly. After a rough first impression, an apology from the CEO, several years of patching holes with data partnerships and some glimmers of light with long-awaited transit directions and improvements in business, parking and place data, Apple Maps is still not where it needs to be to be considered a world-class service.

Maps needs fixing.

Apple, it turns out, is aware of this, so it’s re-building the maps part of Maps.

It’s doing this by using first-party data gathered by iPhones with a privacy-first methodology and its own fleet of cars packed with sensors and cameras. The new product will launch in San Francisco and the Bay Area with the next iOS 12 beta and will cover Northern California by fall.

Every version of iOS will get the updated maps eventually, and they will

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Bannersnack makes it easy to punch the monkey (and more)

An app like Bannersnack is something you never think you need — until you do. Designed by a digital marketer from Romania, Gabriel Ciordas, the app was originally called FlashEff and was used to create Flash banners for online marketers. Over time, however, HTML5 and graphics overtook Flash and the company pivoted to offering easy-to-use design tools for marketers and business owners.

The service is free to try and costs $7 a month 30 static images; $18 a month gets you embedded banners with full analytics. The company is completely bootstrapped and has been working in the space since 2008.

“Bannersnack has always been self-funded. We built our resources step by step, as our business grew together with our efforts. We think it’s fair to say that we worked for every penny we’ve ever gotten and further invested it back into growing our business,” said Ciordas.

The service has 100,000

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Bag Week 2018: WP Standard’s Rucksack goes the distance

WP Standard – formerly called Whipping Post Leather – makes rugged leather bags, totes, and briefcases and their Rucksack is one of my favorites. Designed to look like something a Pony Express rider would slip on for a visit to town, this $275 is sturdy, handsome, and ages surprisingly well.

There are some trade-offs, however. Except for two small front pouches there are no hidden nooks and crannies in this spare 15×15 inch sack. The main compartment can fit a laptop and a few notebooks and the front pouches can hold accessories like mice or a little collection of plugs. There is no fancy nylon mesh or gear organizers here, just a brown expanse of full grain leather.

I wore this backpack for a few months before writing this and found it surprisingly comfortable and great for travel. Because it is so simple I forced myself to pare down my

bag week 2018
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With iOS 12, Apple focuses on performance

Apple’s Craig Federighi announced that Apple was doubling down on performance with the upcoming release of iOS 12 at the WWDC event in San Jose, Calif. today.

What’s more, he said, the company would be making these changes to the full range of iOS devices going back to 2013. “And so for iOS 12, we are doubling down on performance from top to bottom making improvements to make your device faster and more responsive. And because we want these changes to be available the full range of our customers, iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices as iOS 11,” Federighi told the WWDC audience.

Perhaps because customers were unhappy to learn about the battery issues with older iOS devices Federighi stressed that Apple has focussed these performance increases on older devices, giving people with older iPhones, the maximum lift. Using the iPhone 6 as an example, he gave some

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Apple’s 2019 Mac Pro will be shaped by workflows

A year ago, I visited the Apple campus in Cupertino to figure out where the hell the new Mac Pro was. I joined a round-table discussion with Apple SVPs and a handful of reporters to get the skinny on what was taking so long.

The answer, it turns out, was that Apple had decided to start completely over with the Mac Pro, introduce completely new pro products like the iMac Pro and refresh the entire MacBook Pro lineup. The reasoning given at the time on the Mac Pro was basically that Apple had painted itself into an architecture corner by being aggressively original on the design of the bullet/turbine/trash-can shaped casing and internal components of the current Mac Pro. There was nothing to be done but start over.

The secondary objective to that visit was to reassure pro customers who had not had news of updates in some time that

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Apple doubles down on book creation with iPad app

Apple’s ebook creation tools – first launched in 2012 – have long played an interesting if minor role in the ecosystem. While Amazon has the indie book world sewn up with Kindle Direct Publishing, the desktop-based iBooks Author has always been the multimedia alternative and a favorite for folks creating one-off texts. Although there are no clear numbers (the last announcement happened in 2015 when Apple claimed seeing 1 million new iBooks users per week), there is some evidence that it behooves indie authors to at least support the platform and with the new iPad Author tools it looks like creators – and educators – will be able to create and distribute their own iPad-based texts.

The app, which is part of Pages and is called Digital Books in new iOS parlance, allows users to create multimedia books just as they would create regular documents. The app also supports group

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Apple’s “Pencil” now works with its iWork toolkit

Apple is bringing its pencil to the masses.

The pencil tool will now work across Apple’s suite of iWork tools — including the popular Pages (document creation) Numbers (its spreadsheet app), and Keynote (for presentations) apps — on the low-cost iPad that Apple first brought to market last year.

At an event today in Chicago, Apple announced its latest iPad, in a bid to challenge the dominant player in the education technology — Google (a subsidiary of Alphabet).

In addition, the company said that Logitech is introducing a $49 pencil stylus called the “crayon” which slashes the cost of the pencil hardware from its previous, $99 price point.

 

 

 

Mobile gaming is having a moment, and Apple has the reins

It’s moved beyond tradition and into the realm of meme that Apple manages to dominate the news cycle around major industry events, all while not actually participating in said events. CES rolls around and every story is about HomeKit or its competitors; another tech giant has a conference and the news is that Apple updated some random subsystem of its ever-larger ecosystem of devices and software .

This is, undoubtedly, planned by Apple in many instances. And why not? Why shouldn’t it own the cycle when it can — it’s only strategically sound.

This week, the 2018 Game Developers Conference is going on and there’s a bunch of news coverage about various aspects of the show. There are all of the pre-written embargo bits about big titles and high-profile indies, there are the trend pieces and, of course, there’s the traditional ennui-laden “who is this event even for” post that accompanies

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Google Assistant arrives on iPad

 Google Assistant is launching today on iPad, allowing customers to control their smart home, make calls, send texts, set reminders and more, from their Apple tablet. The smart assistant was first launched on iOS at Google I/O 2017, following its earlier introduction on Android devices, led by Google’s Pixel phone. Read More

Discord partners with esports teams to launch Verified Servers

Discord, the voice and text chat app for gamers, is today announcing a new partnership with a number of eSports teams for the launch of Discord Verified Servers. Verified servers ensure that users know they’re communicating with an official source, similar to verified accounts on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Alongside […]

Apple could let you run iPad apps on your Mac

Apple is working hard on the next major versions of its operating systems — macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. While iOS is the big elephant in the room, the most intriguing new feature could be for macOS. According to reports from Bloomberg and Axios, Apple will let you run iPad apps. Yesterday, Axios first reported […]

Apple could let you run iPad apps on your Mac

 Apple is working hard on the next major versions of its operating systems — macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. While iOS is the big elephant in the room, the most intriguing new feature could be for macOS. According to reports from Bloomberg and Axios, Apple will let you run iPad apps. Yesterday, Axios first reported that Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig… Read More

Apple’s enterprise evolution

Back in 2010, Apple’s iconic co-founder Steve Jobs was not entirely enthralled with the enterprise. In fact, Jobs is famously quoted as saying, “What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves.”

Apple’s enterprise evolution

 Back in 2010, Apple’s iconic co-founder Steve Jobs was not entirely enthralled with the enterprise. In fact, Jobs is famously quoted as saying, “What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves.” Read More

Civilization VI lands on iPad

In case you wanted something engrossing to keep you distracted from family squabbles this holiday, a special gift just arrived: Civilization VI, which is now available as a $30 purchase for iPad via the App Store. The world building simulation game is possibly the most ambitious and expansive ever to hit the iPad, and it […]

Civilization VI lands on iPad

 In case you wanted something engrossing to keep you distracted from family squabbles this holiday, a special gift just arrived: Civilization VI, which is now available as a $30 purchase for iPad via the App Store. The world building simulation game is possibly the most ambitious and expansive ever to hit the iPad, and it has hefty spec requirements to match – you’ll need at least… Read More

Apple will reportedly unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018

Apple is said to be working on a way to allow developers to build apps that work with touchscreen input on iPhone and iPad, and with mouse and trackpad on Mac devices, to be implemented next year, according to Bloomberg. The system would unify development environments for both of Apple’s main computing platforms, iOS and […]

Apple will reportedly unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018

 Apple is said to be working on a way to allow developers to build apps that work with touchscreen input on iPhone and iPad, and with mouse and trackpad on Mac devices, to be implemented next year, according to Bloomberg. The system would unify development environments for both of Apple’s main computing platforms, iOS and macOS, allowing them to target all devices with a single app instead… Read More