YouTube Will Roll Out Picture-in-Picture Support to iOS Users Starting with Premium Subscribers

Illustration for article titled YouTube Will Roll Out Picture-in-Picture Support to iOS Users Starting with Premium Subscribers

Photo: Martin Bureau (Getty Images)

At long last, the YouTube app on iOS is getting picture-in-picture support, allowing users to continue watching videos in a small pop-up window while scrolling on their iPhones and iPads.

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In a statement to Gizmodo and other outlets on Friday, a YouTube spokesperson said the feature is currently rolling out worldwide to YouTube Premium subscribers first. A larger launch for all iOS users in the U.S. is apparently in the works, but YouTube did not provide a timeline for when free users can expect to access the feature.

Apple brought picture-in-picture video support to iPads with iOS 9 and iPhones with iOS 14, though actually getting it to work with the YouTube app has been another story. Some users have found creative workarounds via the YouTube website on Safari or iOS Shortcuts. However, updates on YouTube’s end rendered some of these shortcuts obsolete unless you pay for its $12-per-month Premium service.

With official support coming to iOS, hopefully these headaches will be a thing of the past, and iOS users will soon be able to enjoy the same feature that Android users have been able to for years.

Now, I don’t have a dog in the whole Android vs. iOS fight; growing up, my family bought gadgets based on whichever brand had the better sale, and I’ve struggled to shake that curmudgeonly penny-pinching even now with access to Real Adult money. That indifference hasn’t stopped Apple fanboys from talking my ear off, though, especially after I finally got my first smartphone: a Nexus 6, a model that was already a year old by the time I saved up enough to snag one in 2015 (Yes, I know, I was super late to the game). But hey, even that old thing had picture-in-picture support.

Update: 6/18/2021, 8:04 p.m.: Added statement from YouTube.

Congressman Introduces National Right-to-Repair Bill

Illustration for article titled Congressman Introduces National Right-to-Repair Bill

Photo: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

The right-to-repair movement has made it to Congress. On Thursday, Congressman Joseph Morelle of New York filed legislation that would make it easier for consumers to fix their broken gadgets without having to fork over even more money to the original manufacturers.

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If passed, the Fair Repair Act would require manufacturers to give device owners and third-party repair shops access to replacement parts, diagnostic information, and tools needed to repair their electronics. To date, most right-to-repair legislation has been introduced at the state level, but this bill would establish a nationwide standard.

“For too long, large corporations have hindered the progress of small business owners and everyday Americans by preventing them from the right to repair their own equipment,” Morelle said in a statement Thursday. “It’s long past time to level the playing field… and put the power back in the hands of consumers. This common-sense legislation will help make technology repairs more accessible and affordable for items from cell phones to laptops to farm equipment, finally giving individuals the autonomy they deserve.”

Under Morelle’s bill, the Federal Trade Commission would be allowed to penalize companies found in violation of the legislation. Penalties could include forcing manufacturers to pay damages or give refunds to customers.

As it stands, you typically have to go through a manufacturer’s official repair channels to get your device fixed, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Not to mention ridiculous since you already paid for the product in the first place; no one wants to shell out hundreds of dollars for a busted iPhone when a cheap fix could solve the issue.

The right-to-repair movement aims to make device repairs less of a headache for consumers while also pushing back against the trend of “planned obsolescence,” a practice in which manufacturers create products that are designed to be needlessly phased out and tossed into the planet’s growing e-waste pile. So far, 27 states have begun working on some form of right-to-repair legislation.

Companies such as Apple and John Deere—both of whom are notorious for enforcing some of the most restrictive repair policies to the detriment of their customers—argue that these restrictions are necessary to prevent intellectual property theft and maintain the device’s integrity. However, the FTC called bullshit on those arguments last month. In a lengthy report to Congress, the agency said there is “scant evidence” to justify the hoops that companies make consumers jump through when it comes to repairs.

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“Although manufacturers have offered numerous explanations for their repair restrictions, the majority are not supported by the record,” the report concludes.

The covid-19 pandemic brought the issue to a boiling point, the FTC noted. A supply chain shortage stemming from the widespread shift to remote work bottlenecked the repair process for many companies and left some customers waiting months for their devices to be fixed. The solution consumers overwhelmingly came to was simple: Just let us fix our own stuff.

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“Right to Repair just makes sense,” said Nathan Proctor, U.S. PIRG senior right to repair campaign director, in a press release about the bill on Thursday. “It saves money and it keeps electronics in use and off the scrap heap. It helps farmers keep equipment in the field and out of the dealership. No matter how many lobbyists Apple, Microsoft, John Deere and other big companies hire to put obstacles in the way of us fixing our stuff, Right to Repair keeps pushing ahead, thanks to champions such as Rep. Morelle.”

We’ll have to wait and see if Morelle’s bill earns enough support from other lawmakers to pass. While the issue has bipartisan support, tech giants and lobbying groups have a history of pressuring legislators to kill bills at the state level. Morelle experienced that firsthand when he tried to pass right-to-repair legislation in New York while acting as Assembly Majority Leader in 2018. The bill died before anyone could vote on it purportedly thanks to a big lobbying push by Apple.

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What to Expect From Microsoft’s Windows 11 Event

Microsoft's teaser photo for the Windows 11 event.

Microsoft is probably announcing Windows 11 and we’re ready.
Image: Microsoft

It’s about time Microsoft introduced something new, and we’re pretty sure that what’s on the way is a new version of Windows. Specifically, we expect to see Windows 11, because Windows 10X has all but kicked the bucket before it even had a chance. (RIP.)

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We won’t know for sure what Microsoft has in store until the official event kicks off on Thursday, June 24 at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. But there are screenshots galore of the Windows 11 developer preview build, plus a support bulletin from Microsoft letting us know that Windows 10 will be killed off by 2025. That date will be here before you know it, so it’s time to start considering what updating your PC will look like.

Here’s what we think we know so far.

Here Comes the Sun Valley

A screenshot from the leaked developer preview.

Microsoft’s new look for Windows 11, if leaked developer preview screenshots turn out to be the final version.
Image: Baidu

Windows 11 is going to be a significant visual update, based on what we’ve seen so far. Originally dubbed Project Sun Valley, rumors have been circulating that the company would push through a new interface this fall. That speculation became even stronger after Microsoft officially killed Windows 10X, which was envisioned as a version of the OS for use on dual-screen touch devices, like the Surface Duo. But the company let us know it was merely shifting directions and that it would fold the development on Windows 10X into the next version of Windows.

We expect a tablet, laptop, and desktop-friendly operating system, based on what’s been shown off so far, with visual elements that lend themselves to a cross-platform experience. A user on the Chinese site Baidu was the first to leak screenshots. Since then, other outlets have gone hands-on with the developer preview, showing similar screenshots and features.

The previously rumored floating Taskbar is alive and well in the preview build. It defaults to the middle of the screen on the first launch, though you can return to the previous default on the bottom left-hand side. You might also start working on your eulogy for Live Tiles. The preview build shows the widget-like feature is gone from the Start menu, replaced instead by a more simplistic launch pad of sorts with pinned apps and recently accessed files.

Windows users with multiple monitors will get some help navigating around. Split and multi-pane views will become easier to place by simply maximizing the app window and selecting which mode to view apps. PCWorld showed off a screenshot of the different layout possibilities. Microsoft is also fixing a bug where apps rearrange themselves on the desktop after you resume sleep.

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Microsoft is Setting Up a New Storefront

Microsoft, please bring Windows users a new store.

Microsoft, please bring Windows users a new store.
Screenshot: Microsoft

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Alongside Windows 11’s new look, you can bet that Microsoft will announce the long-awaited reconstruction of its wilting app store. The Microsoft Store arrived in Windows 8 in response to Apple and Google’s unified app ecosystems at the time. But as Microsoft’s smartphone initiative tanked, so did development. What exists now is a clunky shell, with apps that can be procured from other trusted sources, leaving many users to wonder why it exists in the first place.

The company will also change some of its app submission policies, which leads us to believe it’s been working on how to entice developers behind the scenes. Developers will be allowed to submit unpackaged Win32 apps to the store and host updates on their preferred content delivery network (CDN). They can also use a third-party commerce platform within the apps. The move will help simplify the submission process to the Windows app store, giving us, the users, more incentive to head in there and grab an app.

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A New Font for Microsoft Office

A screenshot depicting five new Microsoft fonts and how they look typed out.

A new default font to go with a new look.
Screenshot: Gizmodo

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Microsoft Office is available on platforms outside of Windows, but the two still go hand-in-hand—sort of like a sibling and a cousin born months apart. Since Windows 11 is getting a new look, so might Office, which we can safely assume is why we’re voting for a new default font to replace Calibri. If you’re interested in the outcome, you can vote, too. The result won’t be finalized until 2022, though if you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber and are curious about what the selection looks like, you can already try them out.

AirPods Will Finally Work on Windows

Moving on from aesthetic changes to more practical ones: If you’re an iPhone or iPad user with AirPods that won’t play nice with your Windows machines, there is hope on the horizon. Microsoft is expected to use the event to announce support for the Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) over Bluetooth. Currently, Windows only supports SBC and AptX over Bluetooth. But Apple’s headphones use AAC as its default compression codec.

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To that end, we’re also hoping to see Microsoft make changes to its audio selection menu. Its current iteration is messy and convoluted to use and shows the same audio device listed with its varying compatible codecs.

I’m a Gamer. What About Me?

A screenshot of Xbox Game Pass on Windows 10.

A better experience for Xbox Game Pass may come with the Windows 11 update.
Screenshot: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

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Gaming is another significant part of Microsoft’s MO—a sort of “yin” to the “yang” of its business- and enterprise-friendly ethos. The preview build already shows Xbox Game Pass games fully embedded into Windows 11, along with social-sharing links and an external link to the Xbox Store. The Xbox Game Bar and Windows Game Mode appear untouched, but Microsoft could be working on something for the fall release that it will tease at the event. And once the new Microsoft Store is live, it’ll be interesting to see how the Steam library and other parts of your PC gaming life integrate into the new interface.

There is no information yet about potential gaming performance increases. The focus seems to be on a unified experience for PC gamers, which Microsoft has struggled with over the years despite its reign as the gamer’s desktop platform.

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Anything Else?

Microsoft already held its annual Build developers conference, so we’re not going to get all the in-depth details on the changes to Windows 11 at the event on June 24. We’re likely to get more of a top-down, macro view of what’s next for Windows users. The interface overhaul will likely be the main focus, and we’ll learn more about Microsoft’s philosophy behind how it designed the OS.

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The core Windows experience you already know and sometimes painstakingly use daily for work should remain relatively untouched. Windows Insiders will likely be the first to play with the new preview of the operating system before the rest of us will get a chance to go hands-on with it. Hopefully, Microsoft leaves us with enough to feel satiated until it’s time to upgrade—and lets us know how much it will cost.

Apple Testing Secret Health Care Program with Doctors at Apple-Owned Clinics: Report

Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of Health, on Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif.

Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of Health, on Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif.
Photo: Tony Avelar (AP)

Apple has been quietly testing a program that would allow the tech company to provide primary health care service to patients with doctors employed by Apple at clinics also owned by Apple, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The ambitious project, code-named Casper, was reportedly conceived in 2016, shortly after the Apple Watch was released in 2015.

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Apple CEO Jeff Williams envisioned the health care project as something that would allow doctors and patients to be in more constant contact, according to the Journal, something he dubbed the “363″—apparently a reference to the fact that a typical person only seeing their doctor two times a year. Which is to say, people often only go to the doctor when something is wrong.

The Journal is quick to note that the new Apple clinic project is now “largely stalled” but that doesn’t mean it’s altogether dead.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The team decided one of the best ways to realize that vision was to provide a medical service of its own, said people familiar with the plan, linking data generated by Apple devices with virtual and in-person care provided by Apple doctors. Apple would offer primary care, but also continuous health monitoring as part of a subscription-based personalized health program, according to these people and the documents.

If Apple could prove that its combination of device sensors, software and services could improve people’s health and lower costs, the company could franchise the model to health systems and even other countries, according to the documents.

Apple went to work testing the program with its own employees in California, according to the Journal, buying up clinics near its campus in Cupertino and hiring Dr. Sumbul Desai of Stanford University to head the project. But unnamed Apple employees who spoke with the Journal have complained that Dr. Desai doesn’t receive feedback very well. Those claims couldn’t be independently verified by Gizmodo.

Interestingly, it appears that many of the Apple employees who have signed up for the secret employee-only program haven’t been very engaged, according to the new report. One app produced by Dr. Desai’s team, called HealthHabit, which encourages people to set health goals with their doctor, has reportedly been used very little by people who download it.

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As the Journal notes, Apple has put most of its energy into other health-based initiatives involving the Apple Watch. But this is far from the first time that people have imagined automated medicine could deliver better health outcomes. There were similar dreams in the 1960s and 1980s.

Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s inquiries about Casper early Wednesday. We’ll update this post if we hear back. You can read the new report in its entirety at the Wall Street Journal’s website.

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Clever Crystal Ball Dock Magnifies Your Apple Watch’s Screen for a Better Bedside Alarm Clock

Complain if you want about the Apple Watch’s boxy design, but it facilitates one of the wearable’s best low-key features: propping it up and using it as a bedside alarm clock. The screen’s a little small, but that’s now easily solved with a clever Apple Watch charging dock that uses a polished lucite orb to magnify the screen.

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The NightWatch itself is about as low-tech an Apple Watch accessory as you’re going to find, and yet it manages to considerably improve the functionality of the wearable. Made from a single block of lucite—a fancier way of saying plexiglass—the dock’s elegant design not only magnifies the Apple Watch’s screen, it also features carved channels on the underside designed to direct and amplify sounds from the watch out the front, reducing the risk of a user sleeping through a blaring alarm.

At night the Apple Watch is simply dropped into a slot behind the dock’s half-orb, where it also magnetically attaches to the charger that Apple includes with the wearable. That’s about the extent of how to set it up and use it. The only real downside we can see to the NightWatch is that because the lucite is “hand-polished to a mirror finish” the dock is going to cost you $50, which isn’t cheap. It also potentially poses the same risks as crystal balls do, in that anything that can magnify light can also focus it. Users might want to ensure they close the bedroom curtains during the day so an errant ray of sunlight doesn’t cross paths with the orb and end up sparking bigger problems than a screen that’s hard to see at night.

How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

Whether you’re showing off your gaming skills, trying to troubleshoot a problem, or capturing someone’s terrible tweet before it’s inevitably deleted, screenshots are an essential part of our digital lives. It’s not always obvious just how to pull off a screengrab though, especially if you’re jumping between different devices, so here’s a quick guide for most platforms.

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Android

The universally acknowledged screenshot shortcut that usually works across Android versions, manufacturers, and handsets is Power+Volume Down. On stock Android and many variations you’ll get a brief pop-up with the option to instantly Share or Edit the screenshot, which is also saved to the Photos app.

Android manufacturers usually follow the lead of Google’s and stock Android, but there are exceptions. On recent Samsung devices it’s Power+Volume Down again, though it’s a much more of a brief tap rather than a hold down (press for too long, and you’ll see the power options appear). Again, you’ll get options to share the screenshot or make some changes to it before saving. On Sony phones, meanwhile, you need a long press on the Power button, which will reveal a Take screenshot option.

Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Screenshot: Android

The Google Assistant is also useful for screenshots: Just say, “Hey Google, take a screenshot,” and assuming that voice activation is enabled on your handset, whatever is on the screen will get captured. In this case you won’t see the edit or share options appear, but the image will be saved to your library.

Android being Android, you’ve got a choice of third-party apps to pick from as well, all of which do very similar jobs. If you need functionality that you don’t get from your device’s built-in options, consider Screenshot Touch, which offers some different screenshot triggers, including shaking the device; Screenshot which includes a capture delay option; or Screen Capture And Recorder, with capture options in a notification shade. They’re all free to try and supported by ads or a premium subscription.

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Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Screenshot: Reflector

Your final option is to mirror your Android phone on a computer and grab a screenshot that way. A few tools, like AirDroid, Reflector and Vysor, will do this for you, though you’ll typically have to pay for them after a trial period (they also offer plenty of functionality in addition screen mirroring, so we recommend taking a look).

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These screen-mirroring tools won’t let you grab images of the screen where the option has been disabled at the system level on Android (for banking apps, for example, or on some protected digital media apps). This is a security feature that you can’t get around, and the mirrored display will simply show up as blank when you’re running something that can’t be screenshot.

iOS and iPadOS

Life is simpler on iPhones and iPads, with just one hardware shortcut to remember, and (Apple being Apple) no access to screenshot privileges for third-party programs. Press and hold Power+Volume Up if your device has Face ID, or Power+Home if it has Touch ID and a traditional Home button.

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As on Android, you’ll see a little thumbnail of your captured screenshot show up in the corner of the screen. Tap on this if you want to annotate or otherwise modify the picture before saving it. If you’re capturing a lengthy webpage or document that goes beyond the length of the screen, you can grab it all by tapping the thumbnail and choosing Full Page.

Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Screenshot: iOS

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Siri can also take a screenshot for you. “Hey Siri, take a screenshot” is the command you need. Another little bit of screenshot functionality to know about is that if your iPhone is connected to a CarPlay dashboard when you take the screen capture, the CarPlay display is saved as a separate image.

To get your iPhone or iPad up on a computer screen, you can use QuickTime on macOS. Connect your device via USB, then choose File and New Movie Recording, and choose your iPhone or iPad as the source. If you’re on Windows, the previously mentioned AirDroid, Reflector and Vysor will all do the job, though again you’re going to find some restricted apps and content that can’t be captured in a screenshot, no matter what method you’ve decided to use.

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Windows

The time-honored way of taking a screenshot in Windows is to hit PrtScn on your keyboard then paste the results into an image-editing app of your choice (like Paint). Hold down the Windows key first, if your laptop has one, and the file is also automatically saved into a folder called Screenshots inside Pictures in your Windows user account. Use Alt+PrtScn to capture just the currently active window to the clipboard.

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If you need something a bit more comprehensive, then the Snip & Sketch tool built into Windows—search for it through the Start menu—gives you a few more options, including a delay feature. For capturing images and video from games, there’s the Xbox Game Bar—press Win+G to launch it, and you should see that Capture is one of the widgets on screen, featuring a variety of tools. Win+Alt+PrtScn is the keyboard shortcut for saving a grab of the currently active window.

Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Screenshot: Windows

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And then there are a whole host of third-party programs that can be used to take screenshots. Snagit is one of the most comprehensive screen capture tools out there, but it will cost you, while LightShot is a capable, free alternative. Another piece of software we recommend is ShareX, which is open source, lightweight, and packed with features, including automatic uploading to various cloud-based services and a few handy auto-capture options.

If you’re using a Windows tablet or 2-in-1 like the Microsoft Surface 7 Pro, there’s a physical button shortcut you can use, too: just press Power+Volume Up at the same time. If you’ve taken the screenshot correctly, the display flashes briefly, and the image gets saved in the Screenshots folder inside the Pictures folder for your Windows user account.

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macOS

If you want to take a screenshot on macOS, press Shift+Cmd+3 to save it as a PNG file on your desktop. Use Shift+Cmd+4 to select a section of the screen instead, or add Ctrl to either of those keyboard combinations to copy the image to the clipboard rather than saving it to disk. When you take a screenshot, a thumbnail of the captured image shows up in the corner of the display—click on it to make changes to the picture.

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There’s also now a more detailed screenshot tool available in macOS, which you can get by pressing Shift+Cmd+5. You’ll see buttons for capturing the entire screen or just part of it, and if you open up the Options menu you can set timers, choose whether or not taking a screenshot brings up a thumbnail, and more. These tools cover screen recordings as well as capturing screenshots.

Illustration for article titled How to Take Screenshots of Anything

Screenshot: macOS

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As on Windows, there are plenty of third-party applications available if you need something a bit smarter than the tools built into macOS—the aforementioned Snagit and LightShot are available for Macs as well, for example. If you need even more in the way of features and options, then consider SnapNDrag Pro Screenshot, which is $10 from the Mac App Store.

Here’s a bonus shortcut that you can use: Shift+Cmd+6 will capture whatever is on the Touch Bar, if your MacBook has one, so you can save screenshots from there too. These images are saved in the same place as your other screenshots (on the desktop by default, but you can change this through the Shift+Cmd+5 utility).

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This story was originally published on Jan. 23, 2017 with the headline: How to Take Screenshots of Anything (Even When They’re Blocked). It has since been updated for 2021 with more accurate information and a new headline to reflect the changes.

Blood Glucose Monitoring Isn’t Likely for the Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 6 and SE side by side.

Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

One of the most popular rumors for the forthcoming Apple Watch Series 7 was the inclusion of non-invasive blood glucose monitoring. Well, a recent Bloomberg report puts the kibosh on that, citing anonymous Apple sources as saying that feature is unlikely to be ready for consumers for “several more years.”

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If you’re familiar with the FDA clearance process, this isn’t much of a surprise as the feature was always a long shot for the Series 7. Blood glucose monitoring comes with higher stakes, and while some other wrist-based prototypes exist, this would be completely new territory for smartwatches. Ensuring accuracy is one thing, but making sure that that accuracy is up to snuff with the FDA can be a lengthy process. Currently, the Apple Watch offers integrations with blood sugar monitors, like those from Dexcom, so diabetic users can manually input their blood glucose levels. This is the same for Fitbit (which recently introduced blood glucose logging) and Wear OS watches. Traditionally, blood glucose monitoring involves pricking your finger so an accurate, non-invasive method is the holy grail for wearable makers right now.

According to Bloomberg, what we can expect for the Series 7 is a faster processor, improved wireless connectivity, and a better display. More specifically, the screen is expected to have thinner bezels and utilizes a new lamination technique that “brings the display closer to the front cover.” It’s also supposedly going to feature the same ultrawideband capabilities as AirTags. (The Series 6 had a U1 chip as well, so whatever these new capabilities, they may not be limited to the Series 7.) As for processors, each iteration of the Apple Watch has featured a faster chip than the last so this is par for the course. This mostly jives with earlier reports from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the Series 7 would feature an “improved form factor.” 

Besides blood glucose monitoring, another feature that’s apparently been pushed back is temperature monitoring. Bloomberg claims that Apple had aimed to include body temperature sensors in the Series 7, but that will now likely show up in 2022 instead. These sensors aren’t as common as PPG heart rate monitors or SpO2 sensors in smartwatches at the moment. However, there’s been a greater interest in temperature sensors since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. In general, only a handful of mainstream smartwatches have them, such as the Fitbit Sense. Right now, you’re more likely to find them on niche fitness wearables like Garmin’s Fenix 6 series, Whoop, and the Oura Ring.

Body temperature sensors aren’t the only updates for 2022. Apple is also reportedly planning to revamp its Apple Watch SKUs at that time with a “rugged” Apple Watch aimed at extreme sports athletes and an updated Apple Watch SE. The rugged watch supposedly has a G-Shock-like casing and could possibly help the company better compete with Garmin, Casio, and Polar, which are preferred by triathletes and other endurance athletes. (It’d need a much better battery, however, to really convince those folks.) Meanwhile, it’s unclear what an updated Watch SE would have beyond a faster processor. The SE itself is a Frankenstein-mish-mash of the Series 5 and 6’s components but lacked some marquee features like SpO2 readings and the always-on display. We’ll also have to see if a refreshed 2022 Apple Watch lineup means the end of the line for the Series 3. While Apple recently confirmed that watchOS 8 will work on the Series 3, some users have complained that it’s been difficult updating to watchOS 7 on the older watch.

Granted, fall 2022 is still ages away and we’re in the midst of a global chip shortage that’s impacted many product launches already. Apple could change its plans at any time. However, if all this bears out, you might want to consider holding off on upgrading until 2022 if you’ve got a Series 4 or later.

Beats Studio Buds Are an Android-Friendly Alternative to AirPods Pro

Beats Studio Buds with charging case

Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

I have some issues with Apple’s AirPods Pro. I dislike the design with its awkwardly short stem—at least the regular AirPods fully lean into it—and having to squeeze said stem to control audio playback is damn near impossible to do while working out. I’ve also never been able to find a comfortable fit, so the things always pop out of my ears when I wear them running. And geez are they expensive. But the active noise cancellation is solid, and the integration with my other Apple devices is seamless. The new Beats Studio Buds deliver equally solid ANC in a better designed package while offering a seamless experience for both Apple and Android users—all for $100 less than AirPods Pro.

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Apple tends to be less precious about its Beats-branded products, offering sneak peeks at devices before they’re announced and making them more appealing to people outside of the Apple ecosystem, and the same is true of the Studio Buds, which have been glimpsed on celebs in the wild ahead of today’s launch. The $150 earbuds don’t have every bell and whistle that Apple packed into the AirPods Pro, but they do have more universal appeal, with support for Android’s Fast Pairing and USB-C charging instead of Lightning. Most importantly for me, the fit is extremely good.

Comfortable Buds That Don’t Budge

Beats Studio Pro have a more traditional earbud design than AirPods Pro, with a slightly elongated bud that packs in three microphones (six total) and a custom-designed 8.2mm rigid piston driver. The driver sits parallel to the acoustic nozzle, and each earbud is vented above that nozzle to prevent pressure build-up. The buds are 5.1 grams each and come in black, white, or red with a color-matched charging case.

With three pairs of silicone tips to choose from, the result is a comfortable earbud that doesn’t move—even when I hit the treadmill for high-impact bootcamp workouts. The Studio Buds’ IPX4 rating means they’re sweat-resistant, not sweat-proof, so if you’re looking for a pair of tough workout earbuds, I recommend Jabra’s Elite Active 75t instead. I’ve killed more than my fair share of IPX4 earbuds with regular intense workouts, so you’ve been warned.

I found the better seal I was able to achieve with the Studio Buds resulted in more consistently effective ANC than I get with AirPods Pro, though as always with earbud fit, your mileage will vary. I prefer Studio Buds’ use of the ‘b’ logo on each bud to control music playback and ANC to the AirPods Pro’s controls on the stem. A long press of the ‘b’ on either earbuds cycles through ANC on, ANC off, and transparency mode. A quick press of the ‘b’ lets you pause music, skip tracks, etc. I’m still getting used to these: On a FaceTime call with my best friend, I managed to hang up on her not once, but twice by accidentally pressing the ‘b’ that houses the on-board controls. Theoretically there’s enough space around the ‘b’ to adjust the earbud, but it feels more natural to grab the top of the earbud where the controls are to shift it around in the ear.

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Seamless Pairing With iPhone or Android

Part of what makes AirPods so good is their tight integration with Apple devices, which begins from the second you open the charging case lid to pair them to an iPhone. Android enables similarly effortless setup with a feature called Fast Pair, and Studio Buds are the first product in the Apple ecosystem to support it.

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Beats Studio Buds paired with a Google Pixel 5

Pairing Studio Buds to a Pixel 5 was just as easy as pairing to an iPhone.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

I tested pairing Studio Buds to an iPhone 12 Pro and a Google Pixel 5, and the process was identical for both devices. Open the case lid, press the Bluetooth pairing button nestled between the two earbuds, and a notification with an image of the Studio Buds requesting permission to connect pops up almost instantly. The only difference between the Android and iOS experience is the need for an additional Beats app on an Android phone to customize the earbuds’ controls and update the firmware for new features. On an iPhone, these controls are accessible from the Bluetooth settings, no app required. Otherwise, you get the same exact experience.

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That integration also enables the ability to track down your Studio Buds using either Apple’s Find My on an iPhone or Google’s Find My Device on Android. There’s no ultra-wideband chip in the Studio Buds, so you won’t get specific turn-by-turn directions to your missing earbuds, but you will see their last known location and, if they’re in your house, you’ll be able to make them chirp. As a person who is forever misplacing her earbuds, this feature is incredibly useful.

The Studio Buds notably don’t include Apple’s H1 wireless chip (or even the first-gen W1 from the OG AirPods), which means you can’t pair them to multiple Apple devices and automatically switch between them like you can with AirPods. But honestly, that feature is hit or miss for me anyway—about half the time the AirPods have no idea if I’m playing sound from my MacBook or my iPhone and I find myself having to manually connect them to the right device.

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Even without an Apple chip, the Studio Buds support hands-free “Hey Siri” and can play Spatial Audio tracks in Apple Music. More on that in a minute.

USB-C At Long Last

Powerbeats Pro, Beats Studio Buds, and AirPods Pro in their cases

From left to right: Beats Powerbeats Pro, Beats Studio Buds, and AirPods Pro charging cases.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

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The Studio Buds’ universal appeal extends to its charging port, which is USB-C instead of the Lightning port you’ll find on most other Beats products (except for the $50 Beats Flex, which also charge via USB-C). Going all in on USB-C makes sense, because Android users have no need for Lightning, and Apple’s MacBooks and iPads have long since moved toward USB-C. There’s no wireless charging support, but the battery life is so good I didn’t find myself missing that feature.

With ANC constantly on, Beats promises five hours in each earbud and another 10 hours in the charging case, resulting in 15 hours of battery life. But if you’re like me and toggle between ANC and transparency modes, you’ll get closer to eight hours in each bud and up to 24 hours total. That’s on par with AirPods Pro. But if your battery is on its last leg as you’re heading out the door, a 5-minute charge will get you an hour of juice.

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Like every pair of true wireless earbuds, the Studio Buds come in a slick charging case. Beats’ first pair of truly wireless earbuds, Powerbeats Pro, sported a unique hooked design that required a truly ginormous wireless charging case, making them a little less portable than a pair of earbuds should be. With Studio Buds, Beats has taken a more AirPod-like approach, and this charging case is much more manageable.

Solid Sound, but Lacks Smarts

Beats has a reputation for making aggressively bass-heavy headphones, but that hasn’t been the case for awhile. The Studio Buds sound really good, particularly when listening to Dolby Atmos tracks in Apple Music, though you definitely get more oomph from AirPods Pro with its bigger drivers.

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Back to Dolby Atmos: Beats says the Studio Buds support Apple’s Spatial Audio, but only the Atmos part and only in Apple Music. The dynamic head-tracking that you get with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max is enabled by sensors in those devices that Studio Buds lack, so the effect is much more subtle. The Atmos-mixed tracks in Apple Music sound very good, of course, but you don’t need an Apple device to take advantage of that.

Beats Studio Buds in charging case

The Studio Buds can be paired to any device using the center button.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

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The Studio Buds’ audio is overall well-balanced, though not perfect. Trebles sometimes sound so bright as to be a little sharp, and the bass in thumping tracks like Cardi B’s “Up” can hit a bit too harshly when you bump up the volume compared to higher-priced earbuds. But the horns in Lorde’s “Solar Power” and the layered vocals in King Princess’s “Talia” were simultaneously well mixed and distinct, and the earbuds easily handled the more delicate tracks on Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps album.

And while the non-Pro AirPods are still my favorite earbuds to use for phone calls, the Studio Buds are plenty capable. My voice was clear on the other end of the line, even with ambient noise, and I could hear everyone else just fine.

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The Studio Buds’ active noise cancellation is incredibly effective for tuning out the rest of the world. I couldn’t hear the sound of my extremely old, loud washing machine as I was puttering around the house cleaning up and listening to music, and with ANC activated while I was running on a treadmill, I couldn’t hear my feet striking the belt. I am often easily distracted by the sound of my own running, so the effect was a more immersive class.

The missing piece, for me, is the in-ear detection powered by Apple’s W1 or H1 chip in the company’s other audio products. The buds know when they’re removed from their case, but have no idea if they’re in your ears or not, which can result in frustration. Every time I answered a phone call or FaceTime when listening to music while wearing the Studio Buds, the audio would default to my iPhone’s speaker instead of the earbuds, despite the fact that they were connected to my phone and in my ears. I had to manually toggle that connection back on from the iOS phone call and FaceTime control panels, which was annoying. And when listening to music, the earbuds will continue to play audio when removed from your ears unless you manually stop the song or place them back in their case. I appreciate that the earbuds have an easier Android setup, but you do sacrifice some of the magical Apple integration that makes AirPods Pro so good.

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Worth Buying?

The Beats Studio Buds (right) have a more subtle design and more comfortable fit than AirPods Pro (left).

The Beats Studio Buds (right) have a more subtle design and more comfortable fit than AirPods Pro (left).
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

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I wanted Beats Studio Buds to be the affordable AirPods Pro alternative of my dreams, and in some respects, they are.

The design and fit are excellent, and they definitely feel more premium than the second-gen Amazon Echo Buds, which offer ANC for $120. But sacrifices were made to hit this price point. I really wish the buds could be paired to multiple devices at once and could seamlessly switch between them, but there are even more basic issues, like the fact that the earbuds aren’t smart enough to remain the default audio source for incoming calls.

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But for $150, the audio quality and active noise cancellation are impressive, and for those who aren’t all in with Apple, the ability to seamlessly set these up with either an iOS or Android device is clutch.

High-end audio features used to be reserved for high-priced devices, and I’m glad to see that’s no longer the case. In the not-too-distant future, active noise cancellation, giant drivers, and seamless software experiences will trickle down to cheap, comfortable earbuds and become the standard. Hell, maybe Bluetooth will actually be good by then. One can only hope.

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Apple Channels Its Inner Little Mermaid to Try to Sell You the New iPad Pro

Apple’s new Little Mermaid parody ad for the iPad Pro.

Apple’s new Little Mermaid parody ad for the iPad Pro.
Screenshot: Apple/Gizmodo

Although it’s been proven that Apple absolutely does not need any help selling its devices, the company was apparently feeling creative and in the mood for song when it created a parody ad based on The Little Mermaid for its new M1 iPad Pro. For unknown reasons, Apple hasn’t publicly premiered the ad, but it looks like someone else decided to spread the Disney joy.

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Apple’s Little Mermaid parody, which features the classic song “Part of Your World,” began making the rounds on Saturday. Interestingly, the ad is on Apple’s official YouTube channel and was uploaded on June 4, a few days before the start of WWDC. Yet, the ad was not publicly released and is unlisted on Apple’s channel. Some say the private link was leaked on social media.

I, for one, cannot understand why Apple would sit on this gem. Being the Disney and Apple fan that I am, this video filled me with geeky delight.

Titled, “Your next computer is not a computer,” the ad follows different people with dreary computer setups singing and expressing their longing for Apple’s new iPad Pro, even though they’re “the girl who has everything.” The ad showcases people using the new iPad Pro to edit photos, game, and video chat in the sun. As the ad’s title hints, Apple is trying to make the case that its device can do almost all the things a desktop computer can do.

Personally, not sure I agree with that but that’s probably because I’ve been brainwashed by two giant screens and an ergonomic desk chair. (And AC, I can’t imagine happily working away outside right now like the people in the video without turning the same red as Sebastian, the singing crab). That’s not to say the new iPad Pro isn’t a great machine.

As we pointed out in our review, the new iPad Pro, equipped with Apple’s ARM-based silicon, is the best iPad you can buy right now. The 12.9-inch model features a miniLED display, allowing HDR content to really shine, and it’s speedy and powerful. While its software has been underwhelming, Apple’s recently announced iPadOS 15 gives it a boost.

iPadOS 15 introduces new multi-tasking features, an app shelf to switch between apps or work with them side-by-side, and new collaborative tools for Notes, among others. It’s yet to be seen whether iPadOS 15, which will launch in the fall, will make you long for the new iPad Pro. Until then, there’s no harm in singing Disney songs to your heart’s content. In the AC. Or maybe that’s just me.

Apple and Microsoft Say They Had No Idea Trump-Era DOJ Requested Data on Political Rivals

Department of Justice podium.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski (Getty Images)

Apple didn’t know the Department of Justice was requesting metadata of Democratic lawmakers when it complied with a subpoena during a Trump-era leak investigation, CNBC reports. Apple wasn’t the only tech giant tapped in these probes: Microsoft received a similar subpoena for a congressional staffer’s personal email account, it confirmed Friday. Both companies were under DOJ gag orders preventing them from notifying the affected users for years.

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These instances are part of a growing list of questionable shit the DOJ carried out under former President Donald Trump amid his crusade to crack down on government leakers. The agency also quietly went after phone and email records of journalists at the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times to uncover their sources, none of whom were notified until last month.

On Thursday, a New York Times report revealed that a Trump-led DOJ seized records from two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee who were frequently targeted in the president’s tantrums: California Representatives Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff (Schiff now chairs the committee). The subpoena extended to at least a dozen people connected to them, including aides, family members, and one minor, in an attempt to identify sources related to news reports on Trump’s contacts with Russia. All told, prosecutors found zero evidence in this seized data, but their efforts have prompted the Justice Department’s inspector general to launch an inquiry into the agency’s handling of leak investigations during the Trump administration.

Apple told CNBC it received a subpoena from a federal grand jury on Feb. 6, 2018. The DOJ requested metadata for a seemingly random group of 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses and provided “no information” about the nature of the investigation, Apple told TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker. The company provided the outlet with the following statement:

“We regularly challenge warrants, subpoenas and nondisclosure orders and have made it our policy to inform affected customers of governmental requests about them just as soon as possible. In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts. Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

A non-disclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge prevented Apple from notifying the affected users until the gag order was lifted on May 5, CNBC reports. Due to the nature of the subpoena, Apple added that it believed other tech companies received similar orders.

Microsoft confirmed as much to the outlet on Friday. The company said it received a DOJ subpoena related to a personal email account in 2017, but due to a gag order, it was unable to notify the affected user for more than two years. Once the gag order was lifted, Microsoft contacted the user and learned they were a congressional staffer. Moving forward, the company said it will “continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.”

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You can read Microsoft’s statement in full below:

“In 2017 Microsoft received a subpoena related to a personal email account. As we’ve said before, we believe customers have a constitutional right to know when the government requests their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them. In this case, we were prevented from notifying the customer for more than two years because of a gag order. As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer. We then provided a briefing to the representative’s staff following that notice. We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.”

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Over the years, administrations from both sides of the aisle have subpoenaed journalist records as part of leak investigations. However, it’s virtually unheard of for the records of lawmakers to be seized in these investigations, current and former congressional officials familiar with the matter told the Times this week.

Media outlets and lawmakers have put the previous administration and DOJ on blast in the wake of these revelations. In a Friday statement, Swalwell, whose data had been sought, strongly condemned the former president:

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“Like many of the world’s most despicable dictators, former President Trump showed an utter disdain for our democracy and the rule of law.”

Last week, the DOJ promised to stop quietly seizing journalists’ records in leak investigations moving forward.

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