“Game of Thrones” stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner will be among the celebrity duos singing behind the wheel in Apple Music’s new “Carpool Karaoke” show, the pair announced in a video on Twitter. The show — based on a similar comedy bit developed by James Corden for his own late night TV show — will now feature two or more celebrities in each 30-minute episode. Other notable celebrities confirmed for the project include Corden, Blake Shelton, Will Smith, Seth MacFarlane (of Family Guy fame), Ariana Grande, Shaq, and Michael Strahan. Apple has said it’s using original shows to make Apple Music stand out from other competing music streaming services, but the company continues to show interest in other shows outside the music realm as well.
European custom homebuilder WeberHaus has announced plans to begin featuring Apple HomeKit in its SmartHome projects beginning this year. The company has been building custom SmartHomes for some time now featuring its own “WeberLogic 2.0” platform that utilizes the MyHomeControl app from Swiss company BootUp, however with HomeKit, WeberHaus is planning to increase the number of compatible devices that can be controlled, as well as adding more tightly integrated home control using iOS devices and Siri voice commands. “Apple HomeKit is the control solution of choice for home manufacturers around the world, delivering a simple and secure smart home solution for new home buyers,” said Klaus-Dieter Schwendemann, marketing manager at WeberHaus. The company’s press release also notes that it chose to partner with Apple as it feels that HomeKit technology is the “global standard for the smart home,” providing a “simple and secure” solution and “interoperability between different brands and accessories throughout the home.” WeberHaus is the first European home manufacturer to add support for HomeKit.
Following reports last month on Apple’s planned opposition to a new “right to repair” bill being tabled in Nebraska, the iPhone maker has apparently begun low-key lobbying efforts in the state, according to BuzzFeed News. Nebraska is one of eight states considering “right to repair” legislation that would require manufacturers to provide repair manuals and parts to independent repair shops. Proponents of the bill claim that this would result in customers having more options to fix their devices and ultimately lower repair costs, while those companies opposing the bill, including Apple, Samsung, and John Deere, cite concerns with safety and security issues for consumers as well as revealing trade secrets. Other states considering similar legislation are Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Wyoming.
Apple representative Steve Kester recently met with the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Lydia Brasch to discuss Apple’s position on the bill. According to Sen. Brasch, Kester told her that Nebraska would be a “mecca for bad actors” if the bill passed, suggesting hackers would flood into the state, but that Apple would not oppose the bill if phones were specifically excluded from the legislation. Notably, no mention was made of excluding other Apple devices such as iPads and Macs, which the bill would also apply to. Apple declined to comment on the Nebraska bill or any of its lobbying efforts in other states, saying merely that “limiting repairs to authorized vendors is the only way it can guarantee that genuine parts are used and that the devices are fixed correctly.”
Plex has announced that its new Plex Cloud feature, originally released as a limited beta last fall, is now available to all Plex Pass subscribers. The Plex Cloud service expands the capabilities of the company’s media streaming platform, allowing users to store their movies, TV shows, and other media content in the cloud rather than, or in addition to, running their own Plex Media Server at home. Although Plex Cloud integrated with Amazon Drive when originally launched in beta, the fully-deployed Plex Cloud service instead allows you to simply tie into your choice of three major storage providers — Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive — and use whatever paid storage you have available on these services.
While many AI researchers suggest that Siri is lagging behind competitors such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, one area in which Apple’s voice assistant clearly has the lead over its competitors is in its extremely wide language support. A new report from Reuters notes that Siri can speak and understand 21 different languages, with localized dialect support for over 36 countries in total. By comparison, Microsoft Cortana supports only eight languages for 13 countries, Google’s Assistant speaks four, and Amazon’s Alexa is limited to only English and German. Reuters also notes that Siri will also be adding support for Shanghainese, a special dialect of Wu Chinese spoken only around Shanghai.
Apple has released a fifth set of new betas to developers today — iOS 10.3 for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV, and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. iOS 10.3 contains Find My AirPods support, tvOS 10.2 boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 10.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements. The betas are also accompanied by a fourth beta of Xcode 8.3. A public beta for iOS 10.3 should be available in the near future.
Apple has ordered 3D imaging technology from STMicroelectronics slated to be included in a “future iPhone,” iGeneration reports. Sources familiar with the agreement said the 3D imagers are on track to begin production at a plant in Crolles, France as part of a joint collaboration between Apple and STMicroelectronics that began in 2015. Carlo Bozotti, CEO of STMicroelectronics, told investors that the company’s recent $1 billion investment in “new products and specialized technologies” was related to “a contract recently taken [which will lead to] substantial revenues expected in the second half of 2017.” Bozotti hasn’t named Apple as its customer, but sources have confirmed that’s the case.
Apple statement on the WikiLeaks CIA files: "Many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS" pic.twitter.com/yUoUeTTaXN— kif leswing (@kifleswing) March 8, 2017
In a statement posted by Kif Leswing on Twitter, Apple claims that it is working on assessing all of the iOS vulnerabilities detailed in yesterday’s WikiLeaks release, but claims, “many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS.” The company touted its ongoing commitment to protecting customer security and privacy and urged users to make sure their devices are running the latest version of iOS. WikiLeaks claims the CIA has put a “disproportionate focus on iOS” as a hacking target and kept known vulnerabilities from Apple in defiance of prior U.S. government promises of disclosure.
A new set of rumors from Macotakara claim the tenth-anniversary iPhone rumored to be making its debut this year could be called the “iPhone Edition” and include a dual camera similar to the iPhone 7 Plus in a 5” device that’s the same size as an iPhone 7. The site says that multiple prototypes are still under consideration by Apple, including varieties with or without a home button and varieties with thin-film-transistor LCDs or AMOLED displays. Aluminum, glass and white ceramic are also reportedly under consideration for the chassis, leading to speculation that with so many factors still undecided production on the device might start later than usual. The new report is firm on the idea that “iPhone Edition” will feature wireless charging, but previous reports have claimed Apple is still undecided on which type of wireless charging method to use.
The latest release from WikiLeaks claims that the CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch dedicated considerable resources to create malware intended to ” infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads.” The agency allegedly obtained a number of “zero day” attack methods from fellow government agencies like the NSA and FBI, but purchased others from Baitshop and similar cyber arms contractors. While iPhones only make up around 14.5 percent of the global smartphone market, WikiLeaks suggests ” the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites” explains the government’s “disproportionate focus on iOS” as a hacking target.
Apple has launched Apple Pay in Ireland, making it the 14th country to adopt the mobile payment service and the first new addition this year. As of today, users who bank with Ulster Bank and KBC can now add their credit or debit cards to Apple Pay. Users of Wirecard’s Boon prepaid MasterCard can also add those cards to Apple Pay. Apple has long-standing business ties to Ireland, headquartering its international operations in the country.
Apple has posted details about its 2017 WWDC Scholarship program, which provides an opportunity for talented students and STEM organization members to attend the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference free of charge. In addition to receiving a free ticket to the event — which would otherwise cost $1,599 — this year it appears that Apple is offering WWDC Scholarship recipients free lodging in the form of shared accommodations. Applicants with extenuating circumstances may also be eligible for travel assistance. To be eligible for a WWDC scholarship, applicants must be 13 years or older, registered with Apple as an Apple developer, and enrolled part-time or full-time in a course of study or be a member of alumni of a STEM organization. The application process includes submitting relevant personal information, school or STEM membership information, a resume/CV, a “Beyond WWDC” essay, and creating and uploading “a visually interactive scene in a Swift playground that can be experienced within three minutes.” A team within Apple will judge applications based on technical accomplishment, creativity of ideas, and content of written responses. Applications will be accepted beginning at 10:00 a.m. PT on Mar. 27 until 5:00 p.m. PT on Apr. 2, and those selected to receive a scholarship will be notified on Apr. 21. Apple is offering up to 350 scholarships, although not all scholarships may be awarded.
Samsung and Interflex are both ramping up production of flexible printed circuit boards to be use in Apple’s ‘iPhone 8’ later this year, The Korea Hearld reports. The FPCB components are used to connect the dedicated chips for components like the display and camera. Previous reports claimed the new OLED ‘iPhone 8’ will be made with a flexible display, but that the phone itself won’t be bendable or foldable because the other internal components can’t flex. While FPCBs don’t fully solve that problem, their inclusion could make the entire device less rigid than previous models.
Apple executives have been trying to woo several successful Hollywood TV and film products in recent weeks, according to a new report by The New York Post. A source indicated to The Post that Apple SVP Eddy Cue spoke to executives from Paramount Pictures as well as Sony’s TV and film units, suggesting that Apple is working on “something big.” Reports are that Apple has been vague about its ultimate goal in the discussions, however one executive who spoke with Apple was left with the impression that Apple is looking for a “transformative acquisition” rather than just making a deal to buy TV shows.
Apple is resurrecting the iPhone 6 in a 32GB version in Asia, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. The 32GB gold iPhone 6 is labelled as a “2017” model, which would technically be correct as Apple never previously released a 32GB version of the iPhone 6, meaning these are new devices being manufactured specifically for specific Asian carriers as entry-level devices. According to the report, the new model is expected to launch on Taiwan Mobile on March 10, and has apparently been quietly available in China for the past few weeks. Notably, this new 2017 iPhone 6 model will only be available through select carriers, not on Apple’s online store or in its retail stores. Taiwan Mobile is currently advertising the devices as part of a special limited-edition promotion as the most inexpensive iPhone the company has ever offered — it’s basically being given away for free with a 30-month contract plan. It’s unclear if it may come to other Taiwanese carriers or remain exclusive to Taiwan Mobile; it’s presently also being sold by one carrier in China. It’s very unlikely that the “new” model will extend beyond China, however.
Apple has added the second-generation Apple TV to its list of vintage and obsolete products, effectively ending all support for the device in most parts of the world. While the second-generation Apple TV is well out of warranty coverage, Apple still continues to provide parts and repair services for its products for a period of 5-7 years after the last date of manufacture. The “vintage” designation for the second-generation Apple TV applies only in California and Turkey, where Apple is required by law to provide service for up to 7 years; in all other parts of the world, the device has been declared “obsolete” and is no longer eligible for any kind of hardware service. Apple typically declares products Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years. [via AppleInsider]
A U.S. federal appeals court has dismissed the jury verdict from a 2015 patent infringement case that had ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million in damages, Reuters reports. The suit, originally brought against Apple in 2013 by Texas-based Smartflash LLC, had alleged that the Apple’s iTunes software infringed on three of its data storage patents. The original claim sought $852 million in damages as an entitlement to a percentage of sales of all of Apple’s devices capable of accessing iTunes at that time, while Apple claimed that the patents were invalid as Smartflash was purely a patent holding company that made no products, had no employees, and no U.S. presence, while also claiming the damages to be “excessive and unsupportable” due to demanding a share of the full purchase price of an iPhone for the sake of a single infringing feature. Although a federal jury awarded Smartflash $532.9 million in damages, these were vacated by the trial judge a few months later, however the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said this week that the judge should have ruled Smartflash’s patents invalid and set aside the original verdict entirely. The three-judge panel unanimously declared Smartflash’s patents as “too abstract” and stated that they did not provide enough detail in describing an actual invention.
Apple has updated its iOS Home webpage with a new design and improved layout, while also adding a new “Watch the film” link at the top of the page leading to a short promotional video demonstrating “a day in the life” of a HomeKit user. The video clip, which runs for about 45 seconds, shows a woman getting out of bed and beginning her day with a “Good morning Siri” command, and then using the iOS 10 Home app and Home panel in the iOS 10 Control Centre to adjust the temperature on a Honeywell Lyric thermostat and trigger scenes such as “Breakfast Time” to start a coffee machine and other appliances attached to iHome SmartPlugs, a “Lock up” scene to lock a door using the KwikSet/Weiser Premis smart lock, and a “Movie time” scene on the Apple TV to dim lights and close blinds in the evening, among others. The new iOS 10 Home page also provides clearer information on the types of accessories that can be controlled by HomeKit along with a link to a page that shows a list of all of the HomeKit accessories that are either currently available or have been announced, along with a list of leading builders offering HomeKit packages for new homes.
A new research note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors sheds some new light on a report earlier this week that Apple could be replacing Lightning connectors with USB-C on this year’s iPhone models. According to Kuo, all three iPhones that are expected to launch this year will continue to use Lightning connectors, but will support USB-C power specifications to provide faster charging, likely similar to the specifications supported by the 12.9” iPad Pro. Kuo notes that the biggest technical challenge Apple is facing “lies with ensuring product safety and stable data transmission during a fast charge” and Kuo suggests that Apple will adopt new TI and Cypress power management chips, and that the rumoured OLED version may support even faster charging thanks to a newer battery pack design. The note doesn’t appear to provide any information on what type of power adapters or cables will be included with the upcoming iPhone models. Although current iPhone models can charge from a USB-C connection — including Apple’s 29W USB-C power adapter — they will still only charge at the same 5V/2.4A rate that Apple’s 12W USB Power Adapter provides, and further Apple has continued to only include a 1A charger with the iPhone, requiring users who desire faster charging to purchase the 12W adapter separately or supply their own higher-current USB power source.
Apple has joined 52 other companies in signing a Supreme Court brief in support of a transgender boy’s fight over the right to use the school bathroom appropriate to his gender identity, the New York Times reports. The brief is being filed by the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality, and is asking the Supreme Court to side with transgender student Gavin Grimm in his discrimination case against the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia. Other tech companies that have signed the brief alongside Apple include Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Airbnb, eBay, Intel, LinkedIn, PayPal, Salesforce, Twitter, Yahoo, Yelp, along with several companies from other industries, including Gap, MAC Cosmetics, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Warby Parker and Williams-Sonoma. In a statement announcing the support, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said “These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs.”