Apple dreams up tech for a social distance group selfie

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iPhone X Portrait selfies
Social distancing and group selfies don’t mix. But Apple might have a solution: the synthetic group selfie.
Photo: Apple

Even in the age of social distancing, the group selfie doesn’t have to be an endangered species. For several years, Apple has been investigating automatically merging multiple images into a group selfie.

And now that the company has a patent on the idea, it could be part of iOS 14 or a later version.

Bendable MacBook could kill traditional hinges

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A bendable MacBook stared in an Apple patent filing.
Instead of standard hinges, consider a bendable MacBook.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

A proposed MacBook design change is radical while at the same time preserving the traditional clamshell design. Apple received a patent today for a notebook computer without standard hinges. Instead, it’s flexible enough to bend in the middle.

Apple wants to let you edit sent text messages

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Autocorrect errors vs. editing sent texts
Autocorrect fails would be a thing of the past if we could correct text messages.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple designed a workable system to let people edit text messages after they send them. But now we have to hope it’ll be implemented.

This is potentially great news for everyone who ever wished they could fix an embarrassing text.

Today in Apple history: Early iPad rumor gets Apple fans buzzing

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iPad Pro 2
According to the rumor, Apple was launching a 15-inch tablet.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

April 13: Today in Apple history: Early iPad rumor gets Apple fans buzzing April 13, 2005: The tech world gets excited when a sketchy rumor suggests Apple is building a tablet computer.

The Chinese-language report claims Quanta will build a 15-inch touchscreen tablet PC with detachable keyboard. Apple will supposedly ship the device in the first quarter of 2006. Things don’t turn out quite like that, but the rumor offers the first hint about Apple’s secret iPad project.

Sweet dreams: Apple might make its own sleep-tracking mattress and blanket

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With its new Apple Watch feature, Apple is getting deeper into sleep tracking.
Coming soon to a bedroom near you?
Photo: bruce mars/Pexels CC

The iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and … Apple Blanket and iMattress? That might not sound like the next logical step for Cupertino, but an Apple patent application published Thursday describes a blanket, mattress and, err, camera setup that would monitor users’ vital signs as they catch forty winks.

In addition to sleep-tracking, this could measure users’ movements during sleep, their heart rate, and their body and room temperatures during the night. It could then heat up or cool down accordingly.

Apple AR headset concept improves detection of movement and positioning

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Taeyeon Kim
There’s little room on an AR headset for controls. Apple wants to make them virtual.
Photo: Taeyeon Kim

Interacting with an AR headset would be a breeze if it could project virtual controls into the real world. Apple developed a new method for using cameras to accurately track finger movements, enabling someone to toggle these augmented reality switches and buttons.

Apple restores banned BlueMail app but devs say fight is not over

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Mac App Store
The email app BlueMail finds itself on the outside of the "closed garden."
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Banned email app BlueMail is back in the Mac App Store, just one week after its developers tried to publicly rally other small companies to speak out against Apple’s App Store practices.

Ben and Dan Volach’s eight-month appeal of Apple’s ban ended Tuesday when the App Store relisted BlueMail. But the brothers say they will continue to fight Apple in court on claims the tech giant stole patented features of the app before booting it from the App Store.

Here’s how iPhones might do interchangeable lenses

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patent illustration for iPhone lens mount
Now that's a camera bump.
Illustration: Apple/USPTO

The camera bump on future iPhones could include an “interlock arrangement” for mounting additional third-party lenses, according to a patent awarded to Apple.

The idea sounds potentially compromising to the svelte design we’ve come to expect from our iPhones. Sure, “the best camera is the one in your pocket” — but in the future, you just might need a bag.

Apple Pencil may soon get additional touch-sensitive controls

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A proposed Apple Pencil with more controls.
The second-gen Apple Pencil has a single capacitive button, but Apple is considering several more.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Building on the capabilities of the Apple Pencil active stylus, Apple proposes adding additional touch-sensitive controls to the exterior. This would expand the capabilities of this drawing tool for the iPad without making it more difficult to use.

This is just one of several ways Apple is considering to improve the Pencil.