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Apple investigating after two Foxconn employees died last week

Apple partner Foxconn said two workers at one of its manufacturing facilities died last week, The Wall Street Journal reports. A 31-year-old employee at the Zhengzhou plant that specializes in production of Apple devices climbed to the top of the building and leapt to his death after finishing his night shift on an iPhone assembly line Wednesday night. The man had been on the job only a month, prompting one fellow Foxconn employee to ask, “Why is it always the entry-level workers who jump?” A female employee from the same facility died in a train accident on her way to work Friday. Foxconn said it is cooperating with authorities investigating both deaths. Foxconn has worked to improve labor conditions since a series of suicides in 2010 and 2011, but as recently as last year an employee at the Zhengzhou plant was reported dead in an apparent suicide. In an official statement, Apple said, “We constantly monitor working conditions to ensure that they meet our strict standards, and we will investigate the incidents in Zhengzhou.”

Apple buys health data startup Gliimpse

Apple’s digital health team has made its first known acquisition, a personal health data startup named Gliimpse, Fast Company reports. The Silicon Valley company was started in 2013 and built its own software platform to allow people to collect, personalize and share a picture of their health data. Gliimpse was funded by Anil Sethi, a “serial entrepreneur” who spent the past decade working with health startups and got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the 1980s.

Report: Apple passes on Lyft acquisition

Apple was reportedly one of several companies that held talks over the last few months to consider buying ride-hailing company Lyft, but didn’t end up making an offer, The New York Times reports. Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company in which Apple invested $1 billion in May, was also mentioned as a possible buyer, alongside General Motors, Google, Amazon, and Uber. Didi Chuxing acquired Uber’s operations in China earlier this month, seemingly upending a partnership the company had forged with Lyft to fight Uber’s expansion into new markets. Lyft hasn’t publicly stated whether it will continue working with Didi Chuxing after the merger, which saw Didi founder Cheng Wei and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick join each other’s boards, and gave Uber a 20-percent stake in the combined company.

Apple releases iOS 10 beta 7 to developers

Only five days after the release of the sixth beta of iOS 10, Apple has released another beta of iOS 10 to registered developers. While the release notes don’t suggest any specific reason for the rapid release of a seventh beta, it presumably fixed some issues in beta 6, and the list of known issues continues to shrink from prior betas as iOS 10 nears its likely release date next month. A corresponding public beta of iOS 10 is also available through the Apple Software Beta Program.

Report: iPhone 7 to gain optical image stabilization

A new report from Nowhereelse (translated link) revealed a leaked photo of a camera sensor purporting to be from the upcoming iPhone. While the report notes that that photo doesn’t reveal anything meaningful about the technical features of the camera, and that without anything comparative in the photo it’s not even possible to estimate the size of the new sensor, it does indicate that the design of the sensor connects have changed and that it resembles the sensor allegedly designed for the iPhone 7 Plus, suggesting that the iPhone 7 camera will include the optical image stabilization features previously only found in the Plus models.

Frank Ocean releases new visual album ‘Endless’ on Apple Music

Frank Ocean has released a new 45-minute “visual album” Endless on Apple Music, in advance of his upcoming album Boys Don’t Cry, which was expected to be available exclusively on Apple Music earlier this month. An Apple Music representative has indicated, however, that “more from Frank” may be coming over the weekend. Endless features new songs by the artist and is set in the same warehouse where his recent web stream has been hosted.

Australian banks denied interim approval for joint negotiations in Apple Pay dispute

Australia’s anti-trust regulator has refused to grant interim approval for the country’s three largest banks to collectively negotiate with Apple to support their own mobile payment apps on the iPhone platform, Reuters reports. The three banks filed a joint application last month requesting permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to negotiate as a group to persuade Apple to give them access to its NFC hardware for their own third-party mobile payment apps separately from Apple Pay — a move that Apple noted earlier this month would compromise the iPhone’s security.

Report: Next-gen Apple Watch will not support cellular connectivity

Apple has been struggling with attempts to incorporate cellular connectivity into the new Apple Watch, according to a new report from Bloomberg. In an attempt to make the new version of the Watch less dependent on the iPhone, the company has been trying to implement wireless cellular hardware, but has been unable to resolve the power consumption of current cellular chips, which would make the battery life on the new Watch unacceptable, according to sources familiar with the matter. Apple has apparently begun looking into the use of lower-power cellular data chips for future generations of the Apple Watch, but no timeframe was provided for when this might happen other than that it won’t be making into this year’s models — sources revealed that even with an “aggressive” schedule, the earliest possible shipment for cellular models would have been this December.

Apple’s assembly sites in China hit zero-waste milestone

Apple has reached one of its biggest environmental goals in China, bringing all 14 of its final assembly sites into zero-waste compliance, the company said in a press release. All waste from the facilities is now either reused, recycled, composted or burned to create power. The company also announced a commitment from supplier Lens Technology to run its Apple operations on entirely renewable energy by 2018, making an “unprecedented” power purchasing agreement with local wind projects. Apple has made a serious environmental push in China, working to protect sustainable forest land for the fiber used in its packaging and partnering with local companies to create multiple solar energy farms.

Report: Apple going with ‘iPhone 7’ name for new phone, not releasing ‘iPhone Pro’

Citing a “reliable information source,” Macotakara is reporting that the new iPhone coming next month will be called “iPhone 7” despite months of speculation that the company would hold back that designation as it moves from a two-year to a three-year refresh cycle. The report also claims the expected dual-camera model will be named “iPhone 7 Plus,” backing previous reports that rumors of an “iPhone Pro” were unfounded. The story bolsters previous leaks about camera improvements, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack and a haptic Home button, saying those changes are enough to warrant the move to a new numbered model over another iPhone 6 designation.

Apple making a documentary with hip-hop label Cash Money Records

Apple is making a documentary with Cash Money Records, home to hip-hop stars like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake, Bloomberg reports. Cash Money co-founder Bryan Williams posted a picture of himself standing alongside Larry Jackson, the head of Apple’s original music content, to celebrate the new deal. People familiar with the arrangement said Apple is funding a documentary about the label, not securing all of Cash Money’s new albums to be Apple Music exclusives as had been speculated. Drake already has close ties to Apple — he hosts his own show on Beats 1 and made his latest album an Apple Music exclusive for its first week.

Leaked AT&T schedule hints at Sept. 23 release date for iPhone 7

An AT&T retail schedule obtained by 9to5Mac hints at a Sept. 23 release date for the new iPhone. Previous rumors predicted pre-orders for the new phone will start on Sept. 9, with a likely release date of Sept. 16. The leaked schedule shows AT&T highlighting extra hours needed for a “merchandising rest” on both Sept. 9 and Sept. 23. Either is a possibility: The wait between the start of pre-orders and the official release date for most iPhones since 2011 has been a single week, but last year’s iPhone 6s launch had a two-week lead time for pre-orders.

Key Apple Watch engineer provides details on device’s development

Bob Messerschmidt — who sold his company to Apple in 2010 and became a key part of the Apple Watch’s development — gave some insights into how products are created at Apple in a new Fast Company article. Working with Jony Ive’s Industrial Design Group constantly challenged Messerschmidt and his employees to redesign their components, specifically the heart rate sensor that became the Apple Watch’s marquee selling feature. When Messerschmidt told Ive’s team that he needed to put the watch’s sensors in the band so they’d make contact with the underside of a user’s wrist to get the most accurate reading, the response was a flat no. “They (the Industrial Design group) said very quickly that ‘that’s not the design trend; that’s not the fashion trend. We want to have interchangeable bands so we don’t want to have any sensors in the band.’”

Berkshire Hathaway increases its stake in Apple

After buying $1.07 billion of Apple stock in March, Berkshire Hathaway has boosted its total stake in the company to $1.46 billion, Reuters reports. Regulatory filings from the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate showed the company had expanded its Apple holdings by 55 percent as of June 30, doubling down on the investment as other notable investors like George Soros and Carl Icahn are bailing on the company over concerns about Apple’s future prospects in China.

Apple announces new R&D facility to be located in China

During his latest trip to Beijing, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple is preparing to build its first Asia-Pacific research and development center in China, Reuters reports. The move comes as demand for the iPhone has plunged in China amid the government’s efforts to tighten its grip on Apple’s business, increasing scrutiny of the company’s App Store operations and shutting down iBook and iTunes movie sales. Despite the difficulties, Apple has continued to invest in the country, recently sinking $1 billion into China’s Didi Chuxing ride-hailing service, enabling that company to buy out Uber’s Chinese operations. Cook told Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli that the new R&D facility will be built by the end of the year, according to official Chinese state media.

Rumor: iPhone 7 to offer support for faster charging

A source cited by online tipster The Malignant claims the iPhone 7 will support faster charging speeds. The accompanying Twitter photo shows what appears to be an updated circuit board that the source claims will support “at least” a 5-volt, 2-amp charging speed. Current iPhone chargers are only rated up to 1 amp, but as we’ve pointed out in the past, current iPhones can charge a bit faster at times when using a 2.1A iPad charger. It’s likely that any fast charging possibilities would be designed to get a future iPhone up to a certain battery percentage more quickly than is currently possible. Many Android devices now offer some form of fast charging, and Apple already uses battery technologies that allow for faster charging, but has never chosen to market it as a feature. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases fifth iOS 10 public beta, sixth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the fifth public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program, continuing enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site. The company also released the sixth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The latest round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases.

Cook touts artificial intelligence, augmented reality as big parts of Apple’s future

In an expansive interview with the Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Apple’s plans for the future, touching on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. While Cook dodged questions on the company’s car project, he was bullish on artificial intelligence’s ability to transform the dwindling cell phone market in the near future, renewing the company’s focus on things that will help users in their daily lives. Touting Apple’s own efforts and those of Uber and Lyft to integrate car-hailing services into Siri, he said the company opening up the personal assistant to third-party developers has unlocked a lot of potential. “Third-party developers are writing tons of those that will be available to the public in the fall,” Cook said of the integrations. “And that’s how we’re broadening Siri in a huge way.”

Report: Twitter in talks to bring app to Apple TV for streaming NFL games

Months after winning its bid to live-stream Thursday night NFL games, Twitter is in talks to bring its app to Apple TV, The New York Times reports. Apple was reportedly interested in the March bidding war over the rights to stream the games, but didn’t end up entering the race against rivals like Amazon, Google and Yahoo. A deal with Twitter would potentially let Apple gain access anyway, allowing millions of Apple TV users to watch the live broadcasts, according to two people briefed on the discussions. Whether the Apple TV app would be mostly identical to the company’s iOS app or a stripped down version (similar to what Adobe did with its Lightroom viewer) is unclear. Both Apple and Twitter declined to comment.

KGI: 10.5” iPad Pro model coming next year, flexible display in 2018

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made is predicting three new iPad models for 2017 and even more “revolutionary” changes to the tablet in 2018. The analyst said Apple is working on a flexible AMOLED display and dramatic chassis redesign for the device in 2018, following a predicted drastic overhaul to the iPhone expected in 2017. Next year’s iPads are expected to be modest improvements by comparison, with an iPad Pro 2 possibly featuring the new A10X system-on-chip launching in 12.9” and 10.5” sizes. With the 10.5” iPad Pro reportedly set to replace the 9.7” Pro model, Apple is also expected to offer a 9.7” iPad of some sort in 2017, but as a low-cost alternative to the Pro options. [via , AppleInsider]

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