macOS Catalina 10.15.4 Beta 2 Adds Support for Real-Time Lyrics in Apple Music App

The second beta of macOS Catalina 10.15.4 was released today, and the new update introduces support for time-synced lyrics in the Apple Music app.


‌Apple Music‌ for Mac previously provided access to lyrics, but they did not scroll in real-time to the music, which is a feature that's been available on iOS since iOS 13 was released. As noted by 9to5Mac, the time-synced lyric feature addition is mentioned in the ‌macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.4 release notes.

Lyrics in ‌Apple Music‌ for Mac can be accessed by playing a song and then clicking on the little speech bubble that's located at the top right of the app.

Not all songs have lyrics or time-synced lyrics, but lyric information is available for most popular titles. Songs with time-synced lyrics will feature an interface that scrolls through the lyrics as they're sung.

When real-time lyrics were introduced for ‌iOS 13‌ in September 2019, ‌Apple Music‌ lead Oliver Schusser said in an interview that Apple has a team of employees that listen to songs and transcribe the lyrics to ensure their accuracy for use in the time-synced lyrics feature rather than sourcing lyrics from a third-party provider.

Related Roundup: macOS Catalina

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Testing Samsung’s New $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip Foldable Smartphone

Samsung last week unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip, which began shipping out over the weekend. We managed to get our hands on one of the new foldable smartphones, and thought we'd check it out to see how it compares to the Galaxy Fold and how foldable smartphone technology is progressing.

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The Galaxy Z Flip is the followup to Samsung's original Galaxy Fold, which did not receive stellar reviews because it felt more like a prototype than an actual smartphone worth purchasing. The Galaxy Fold was a smartphone that unfolded into a tablet, but the Galaxy Z Flip is a smartphone that folds down to become more compact.


Like the flip phones of yore, the Galaxy Z Flip folds in half top over bottom, compressing down into a little pocketable square. It's thick, like two smartphones stacked on top of each other, in fact, but some people are going to prefer that as it is still more easily pocketable than a large-screened smartphone that does not fold.

When opened up, the Galaxy Z Flip features a 6.7-inch display, which is made from a flexible glass for the first time, a departure from the plastic of the Galaxy Fold. Over the glass, there's still a laminate layer, which scratches easily and has been the source of some complaints.


We haven't seen scratches, even after accidentally dropping the Z Flip four feet onto the floor, but it does feel a little bit delicate. When unlocking the display with a finger, the nail kind of presses down a bit, and if it was longer or sharper, we wouldn't be surprised to see minor screen damage.

One Galaxy Z Flip owner has also had an issue with the display cracking at the fold in the cold, but that seems to be an isolated incident. Our model wasn't taken out into the cold, but it was fine when using it day to day briefly in cold Ohio weather when going from the car to the house.

When it comes to the hinge, the Z Flip's opening and closing mechanism feels a lot smoother and we're not as worried about dust or debris getting into the hinge and mucking things up.


All in all, the Galaxy Z Flip isn't experiencing the same kind of issues that were seen with the Galaxy Fold, and in the hand, it feels more durable and has a better build quality, but make no mistake, this is still a device that needs to be treated delicately.

When it comes to the internal components, the Z Flip is lacking. It runs well, but when it comes down to it, these are components that were introduced last year. It only has a 1080p display, plus an older processor and camera technology that's inferior to the upgraded cameras used in the Galaxy S20 series.


We're going to do an in-depth camera look in a future video with the S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but the Z Flip's cameras are basically the same cameras used in last year's Galaxy S10.

One of the main new features in the Z Flip aside from the foldable design is the little mini display that's visible on the outside of the phone when it's closed. The display can show notifications (tap them and open the phone to get to the relevant app), display the time and date, offer up media controls, and provide details on battery percentage. Most notably, it serves as a mini viewfinder when taking selfies.


Display quality is fine with the 1080p display, but the crease down the middle is definitely visible at times. In usage, though, it kind of fades away much like the notch on the iPhone.

Samsung has added a "Flex Mode" to the Z Flip, which allows it to be used for certain tasks when half folded, kind of like a little tiny MacBook. Flex Mode isn't particularly fleshed out and doesn't work with many apps right now, but when functional, it uses the top as a display and the bottom for controls.


So with the camera app, you can see yourself in the viewfinder at the top of the display and then the settings and the camera modes can be accessed on the bottom of the display. Since it sits upright like a notebook, it's available for hands-free selfies and video calls.

Foldable smartphones are an interesting concept and there's definitely promise of better things to come, but the Galaxy Z Flip is just not a phone the average person should go out and buy.


It's incredibly pricy at $1,380, it needs to be handled with the utmost care, the specs are mediocre for such an expensive device, and we ultimately have no idea how it's going to hold up to a few years of usage.

Foldable smartphones are fun to play with, but most people should stick with traditional designs at the current time to get the most bang for their buck. If you're going to be shelling out $1,300 for an Android smartphone, the Galaxy S20 series, especially the S20 Ultra, is a much better buy.


‌iPhone‌ users, of course, likely aren't going to be lured away from the ‌iPhone‌ in favor of the Galaxy Z Flip simply because it runs Android, but it's useful to see what Apple's competitors are doing as devices like the Z Flip could hint at ideas that Apple might want to explore or stay away from in future devices.

What do you think of Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip? Let us know in the comments.


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Apple Inks Deal for ‘Swan Song’ Film Starring Mahershala Ali

Apple today announced that it has signed a deal for "Swan Song," a film produced by and starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. The film, which will go into production in the spring, will be added to the Apple TV+ streaming service and will be produced by Apple and Anonymous Content.

Image credit: MJ Kim/Getty Images

"Swan Song" is described as a "genre-bending drama" set in the near future and explores how far someone will go and how much they'll sacrifice to make a happier life for their loved ones.

Mahershala Ali, who will take on the starring role of Milo, is known for his work in "Green Book" and "Moonlight." Benjamin Cleary, known for his Oscar-winning short film "Stutterer," is set to direct the film.
"I've been developing 'Swan Song' for a while and when I sat down with Apple it was immediately clear they completely understood my vision," said Benjamin Cleary. "Once Mahershala agreed to join us I knew we had something really special. To be making this movie with Mahershala and Anonymous at Apple is an absolute dream."
Apple's head of feature development and acquisitions Matt Dentler said that the script for "Swan Song" immediately connected with Apple.
"Benjamin's script for 'Swan Song' immediately connected with us. We cannot wait to bring Benjamin's vision together with Mahershala's undeniable talent to deliver this powerfully layered story to audiences around the world."
According to Apple, "Swan Song" will see a theatrical release. It will join other ‌Apple TV‌+ films that include "Boys State," "The Banker," "Wolfwalkers," "Beastie Boys Story," and more.


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Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 101 With Bug Fixes and Performance Improvements

safaripreviewiconApple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced three years ago in March 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 101 includes bug fixes and performance improvements for Web Inspector, Media, Apple Pay, JavaScript, Web Animations, WebAuthn, WebRTC, CSS, Rendering, Web API, IndexedDB, and Back-forward Cache.

The new Safari Technology Preview update is available for both macOS Mojave and MacOS Catalina, the newest version of the Mac operating system that was released in October 2019.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple's aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.


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Everything New in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 Beta 2: New TV App Settings, Updated Mail Toolbar and More

Apple today released the second iOS and iPadOS 13.4 betas for developers, introducing additional changes and tweaks to the operating system that are worth noting.

In the first beta, Apple added a new Mail toolbar, iCloud File Sharing, new Memoji stickers, and announced upcoming support for universal purchases for iOS and Mac apps. In this beta there's a revamped settings section for the TV app, a tweak to the toolbar, and new info on the CarKey feature Apple has in the works.

We've rounded up all of the changes that we've found in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 beta 2 so far, and we'll be adding to this list if and when new features are discovered.

TV App


Apple has updated the settings for the TV app on iPhone and iPad, adding a number of new options for controlling data downloads and streaming.


There are options to use cellular data for streaming or downloads, with those options toggled off by default. Those with an unlimited data plan may want to tweak those settings to be able to watch content in the TV app on their iPhones when using an LTE network.

There are also options to stream "Data Saver" video or "High Quality" video over WiFi or cellular, with Data Saver limiting data usage to a maximum of 600MB per hour.

For downloads, there are options for Fast Downloads that are lower quality so they download faster, or High Quality for slower downloads that look better but also use more storage. Apple says that High Quality downloaded videos include HDR when available.

Below these new settings, the standard Siri & Search and Notifications options are available, along with toggles for Show Sports Scores, Use Play History, and Video Definition, all of which existed before.

Mail Toolbar


Apple updated the Mail toolbar in the first beta to move the delete button away from the reply button to prevent accidental email deletion, and in beta 2, Apple has tweaked the toolbar once again. The updated toolbar does away with the flag icon from the prior beta and adds a compose button on the far right, moving the reply button over one spot to the middle. The folder and delete icons have remained the same.


CarKey


Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature designed to allow an ‌iPhone‌ or an Apple Watch to unlock, start, and lock NFC-compatible vehicles.

As was found in the first beta, CarKey digital keys can be shared by others, but the second beta adds new information confirming the keys will be able to be sent to people in iMessage conversations, much like Apple Cash payments.

People who are sent a CarKey will be able to use that digital key to access the owner's CarKey-enabled vehicle.

Other Features


See a feature we missed? Let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the list.


Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

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Apple’s Upcoming ‘CarKey’ Feature Will Let You Send Digital Keys Using Messages App

As discovered in the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start NFC-compatible vehicles.


CarKey "keys" live in the Wallet app and as we found in the first beta, can be shared with other people so you can allow others temporary access to your car. In the second beta of iOS 13.4, there's updated wording concerning sharing, which makes it clear that digital car keys will be able to be sent to people using the Messages app.

CarKey keys will be able to be shared with people in individual conversations but not in group conversations. From iOS 13.4 beta 2:
CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.
Sharing a CarKey with someone will allow that person to use their ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ to access a compatible car by holding the device near an NFC reader located inside of the vehicle. Keys can be permanent (for a spouse) or temporary (for a valet driver or mechanic).

People who receive a digital key over the Messages app will see text letting them know how it works.
[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.
CarKey access, like Apple Pay and Apple Cash, is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID to make sure the person holding the ‌iPhone‌ is the person with permission to access a car, though there is an "Express Mode: that would presumably work without the need for authentication.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, which indicates that it may be a factory installed option much like CarPlay. CarKey requires a vehicle with NFC, so it is something that vehicle manufacturers will need to implement as ‌CarPlay‌ was.

Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which has developed an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification made available at the end of 2019. The new specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

The CCC is also working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth Le and Ultra Wideband, enabling passive location-aware keyless access. Apple's iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max support Ultra Wideband, so this is CarKey functionality we could see in the future.

There is no word yet on when CarKey will be announced by Apple or when it will start rolling out to new vehicles, but a launch could come with the public release of iOS 13.4.

With Apple rumored to be holding an event on March 31, the CarKey announcement could be made at the event as we expect iOS 13.4's release to coincide with the debut of new devices.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

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Apple Tweaks Mail Toolbar Once Again in iOS 13.4 Beta 2, Replacing Flag Button With Compose Button

With the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple introduced a redesigned Mail toolbar that moves the reply icon away from the delete icon, a design that people had complained about since the release of iOS 13 because it made it easy to accidentally delete an email by tapping the wrong button.


The first beta featured the delete button on the far left, the reply button on the far right, and folder and flag buttons in the middle, but with the second beta that was released this morning, Apple has once again tweaked the design.

As seen in the image above, the new toolbar features a compose icon on the far right, a reply button next to it, a folder icon, and then the delete icon, still on the far left.

The updated design eliminates the dedicated flag icon, which is presumably not a feature that most people use on a regular basis. The inclusion of a compose button makes more sense and offers more utility than the prior flag icon. For those who do often use the flag icon, it can be accessed after tapping the reply button.

We may see more tweaks to the Mail toolbar in upcoming betas, but this at least seems like a much more logical design that should satisfy people who have been unhappy with the ‌iOS 13‌ Mail app toolbar.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

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Luxshare Precision to Assemble Apple Watch Series 6 and Older iPhones

Luxshare Precision, one of Apple's suppliers for devices like AirPods and Apple Watch, is going to be taking on more responsibility in the coming months as it prepares to begin assembling Apple's iPhones.

In a note to investors, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this afternoon shared details on what Luxshare Precision will be working on this year.


The supplier is expected to enter the iPhone assembly business "in the long run" and earlier than market expectations to allow Apple to diversify its supply chain and cut down on the risk of supply shortages. Kuo believes Luxshare Precision will become a key ‌iPhone‌ case component supplier by the second half of 2021.
The key reason we make this prediction is because the new ‌iPhone‌ product cycle is shortened, so if Luxshare Precision can enter the ‌iPhone‌ assembly business, it is expected to reduce Apple's new ‌iPhone‌ development and supply risk. To ensure a smooth initial assembly business, we expect Luxshare Precision to start assembly from older ‌iPhone‌ models.
Luxshare Precision will start out assembling older ‌iPhone‌ models and will work closely with casing manufacturers to cut down on initial entry challenges. Luxshare Precision is said to have a unique vertical integration advantage because it also provides many ‌iPhone‌ parts and accessories to Apple.

Kuo says that he believes Luxshare Precision will also ship the new ‌Apple Watch‌ expected in the second half of 2020, which would be the Series 6 model. There are no details included about the device, but past rumors have suggested the new device could feature faster performance, improved water resistance, and better wireless transmission.

Rumors also indicate we can expect to see sleep tracking functionality introduced as one of the key capabilities of the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6.

Prior information from DigiTimes about the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6 suggested the device would be assembled by Foxconn and Compal Electronics while Luxshare Precision would assemble older ‌Apple Watch‌ models, so Kuo's information does conflict with what we've previously heard.

It's possible that Compal Electronics, Foxconn, and Luxshare Precision will all share orders for the ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6 models.

According to Kuo, Apple's assembly orders in 2020 are "better than expected," which will benefit suppliers like Luxshare Precision "in the long term."

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Video Depicts Alleged ‘iPhone 9’ But Design Doesn’t Match Up With Rumors

A video featuring an alleged "iPhone 9" aka "iPhone SE 2" or low-cost iPhone surfaced on TikTok today, sparking discussion that this is the design of the affordable $399 device that Apple will release in the next couple of months.


The ‌iPhone‌ in the image features thick top and bottom bezels, a Touch ID Home button, and a seafoam green color, but notably, it also has an ‌iPhone‌ 4-style design, which is not at all in line with current rumors.


Everything we've heard about the low-cost ‌iPhone‌ suggests it's going to be physically identical to the iPhone 8 but with an upgraded A13 processor, which makes sense given its price tag.

Rumors suggest Apple is going to price the device at $399, and at that price point, it's unlikely Apple is putting development resources into an entirely new device design like the one that's depicted here.

The ‌iPhone‌ in the image is likely a modified ‌iPhone 8‌ or similar that has a custom casing installed. There are custom casings like this available for those who want to change the design of their older iPhones, and that's what we're probably seeing.

As mentioned before, we're expecting the new low-cost ‌iPhone‌ to look identical to the ‌iPhone 8‌, but with upgraded internals. It will be similar to the ‌iPhone‌ SE, which adopted Apple's ‌iPhone‌ 5 design with more modern components.

Rumors suggest that the new low-cost ‌iPhone‌ is going to launch in the first half of 2020, with Apple said to be planning an event for March 31. If there is indeed a March 31 event where the new ‌iPhone‌ is shown off, we can expect a launch to follow on April 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE 2

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Apple Seeds Second Beta of watchOS 6.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming watchOS 6.2 update to developers, two weeks after seeding the first beta and two weeks after the release of watchOS 6.1.2 with bug fixes.

Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS beta can be downloaded through the dedicated ‌‌Apple Watch‌‌ app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update.


To install the update, the ‌‌‌‌‌Apple Watch‌‌‌‌‌ needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the ‌‌‌‌iPhone‌‌‌‌.

watchOS 6.2 introduces ‌Apple Watch‌ App Store support for in-app purchases, which will allow developers to create and sell ‌Apple Watch‌ apps that offer in-app purchase options and subscriptions.

Code in iOS 13.4, the companion update to watchOS 6.2, suggests that both the ‌iPhone‌ and the ‌Apple Watch‌ will in the future have a “CarKey” feature that will let them be used in lieu of a car key to unlock NFC-capable vehicles. It’s not clear if this feature will be available when watchOS 6.2 launches, but it is in the works.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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