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Apple replies to senator’s questions about Face ID safety

Apple’s efforts to explain how its Face ID technology works and why it can be trusted to safeguard user data have drawn praise from Senator Al Franken, who sent the company an inquiry shortly after the feature was announced, CNET reports. Franken, the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law, asked for specifics about the new technology, as he did in 2013 when he had similar questions about Touch ID. Apple reiterated many of its explanations from an extensive security white paper on Face ID, including how the device uses 30,000 unique dots to verify a user’s face scan, all without storing or sending out any biometric information. “I appreciate Apple’s willingness to engage with my office on these issues,” Franken said in a statement. “And I’m glad to see the steps that the company has taken to address consumer privacy and security concerns.”

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 11.1, tvOS 11.1 + watchOS 4.1

Apple has released a third set of betas for iOS 11.1, tvOS 11.1, and watchOS 4.1 to registered developers. The release notes for all three platforms mostly indicate bug fixes, although watchOS 4.1 adds Apple Music streaming capabilities to the Apple Watch Series 3, including support for iCloud Music Library and Apple Music radio stations. Recent reports also suggest that iOS 11.1 may add support for Apple Pay Cash, with Apple’s corporate and retail employees already testing the feature, although it doesn’t appear to have yet been unlocked in the developer betas. Apple also released public betas for iOS and tvOS for those in the Apple Beta Software Program.

Sylvania adds LED Flex Strip, Soft White Bulb to Smart+ lineup

Sylvania has added a new LED Flex Strip and Soft White Bulb to the HomeKit-compatible Smart+ line of hubless lighting products it began last year with the Smart Multicolor Bulb. The Soft White Bulb ($26) is quite a bit cheaper than the multicolor model, but obviously lacks the color changing abilities. The Flex Strip ($60) is a bit pricier, but still comes in well below the $90 Philips’ Hue LightStrip Plus. The Full Color Bulb will be available on Amazon starting October 21, and both the Flex Strip and Soft White Bulb will be available on October 23. The company also has a smart plug, but that device is only listed as “coming soon.”

Report: Vulnerability in WPA2 protocol could affect Apple devices

A published exploit reportedly discovered by researcher Mathy Vanhoef has found a weakness in the WPA2 protocol powering all modern protected Wi-Fi networks, claiming “Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and others, are all affected by some variant of the attacks.” Despite that claim, Apple is listed as “Unknown” rather than “Affected” or “Not Affected” on the attached list of affected companies, so it’s still unclear if the technique demonstrated on an Android device would be effective against Apple devices. Software and firmware updates are the recommended fix, but Apple hasn’t acknowledged the issue publicly.

Apple hit with nearly $440M judgment in VirnetX patent suit

After losing in its patent dispute trial with VirnetX, Apple has been hit with a $439.7 million judgment after a U.S. district court denied all of the company’s motions, TechCrunch reports. That figure is higher than the original $368.2 million ruling against Apple from the 2012 trial, but less than the $625 million figure in last year’s decision. On a separate track, all four of the patents in question — which have ties to Apple’s FaceTime technology among other applications — have already been invalidated by the Patent and Trademark Office, but that case is still ongoing as well, and is non-binding until all appeals have been exhausted. As for this current court loss, Apple confirmed it is once again appealing the outcome.

Cue talks Apple plans to bring more Indian content to Apple Music

During a tour of India that included meeting with Bollywood stars and the announcement of new Mac labs at KM Music Conservatories, Apple SVP Eddy Cue said the company has a big interest in bringing more Indian music to Apple Music and introducing it to the outside world, The Economic Times of India reports. Apple has been pushing to enter India’s market on multiple fronts, and Cue said Apple is working with new and existing artists to make sure customers of Indian descent both within India and around the world see their culture reflected in Apple’s content offerings. Cue was mum about rumors of Bollywood collaborations with the company’s fledgling video content division, but said, “Bollywood is as good at creating content as anybody else around the world. And I am sure we will do things here because it’s a great film and entertainment market.”

Qualcomm sues to stop Apple’s iPhone sales, production in China

In its latest attack on Apple in their ongoing legal back and forth, Qualcomm has asked China to ban the sale and production of iPhones, Bloomberg reports. Qualcomm filed the new suit in Beijing’s intellectual property court, once again claiming patent infringement on technology that controls the iPhone’s 3D Touch and power management capabilities, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman. “Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” Trimble said. While it’s very unlikely that China would take such a drastic step against such a large employer, analysts see the move as another push to get Apple back to the negotiating table since it has thus far stood firm against Qualcomm’s threats — even going so far as to pay the legal bills of its partners who have also been sued by Qualcomm.

Apple expands Apple Pay Cash testing to retail employees

After encouraging some of its corporate employees in the U.S. to test Apple Pay Cash on iOS 11.1, Apple has expanded trial use of the person-to-person money transfer system to retail employees, MacRumors reports. The feature is still absent from the iOS 11.1 developer betas, but Apple’s retail retail employees have been given access to both the beta and “an additional internal-only beta profile to unlock the Apple Pay Cash feature.” Employees said they also have to have their iCloud accounts whitelisted to access the feature and can only send money to those who have been similarly cleared.

Report: Apple considering offering stylus-compatible iPhone as early as 2019

After debuting the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro two years ago, the company is reportedly considering making its iPhones compatible with some form of stylus as early as 2019, The Investor reports. While Steve Jobs was famously against introducing a stylus with his touchscreen devices, Apple released the Apple Pencil aimed at artists and designers to mostly warm reviews. Apple also added handwriting and markup functions in iOS 11, making the Apple Pencil more useful across a wider variety of apps. The source claims Apple engineers are currently working on an iPhone that would work with a digital pen and is “also in talks with a couple of stylus makers for a partnership,” which could mean the stylus that comes with a future iPhone could be different from the Apple Pencil — possibly more compact.

Apple reportedly moving to Face ID for all 2018 iPhones, getting rid of Touch ID

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple will abandon Touch ID entirely in its 2018 iPhones, opting to use Face ID instead for all models, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo previously said Face ID’s fate was dependent on how users reacted to the feature in the iPhone X, but he now believes the device’s 3D sensing capabilities will be a “key selling point” for Apple, allowing the company to “capitalize on its clear lead in 3D sensing design and production for smartphones.”

Apple releases iOS 11.0.3 with a warning about ‘non-genuine replacement displays’

Apple has released iOS 11.0.3, a minor update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users that addresses specific issues with iOS 11 on older iPhone models — audio and haptic feedback problems on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and unresponsive touch input on some third-party iPhone 6s displays. The iOS 11.0.3 release notes also include a specific caution against “non-genuine replacement displays” emphasizing that “Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts.”

Cook: Technology for AR glasses ‘not there yet’

With Apple’s ARKit opening up new horizons for developers, speculation continues around Apple’s rumored project aimed at creating AR glasses, but CEO Tim Cook threw cold water on the idea that the company will be releasing such a product soon in an interview with The Independent. While he refused to comment specifically on what the company has in the works, Cook said, “Today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet.”

Report: iPad Pro may be next device to get TrueDepth camera, Face ID

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims the next iPad Pro will likely be the next device to adopt the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera system that supports Face ID, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the feature to be limited to the iPad Pro models, similar to how it is incorporated into the iPhone X but not the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. Notably, Kuo doesn’t make a prediction about the future of the home button and Touch ID on the iPad Pro, but even if the iPad Pro keeps its home button, Apple’s inclusion of the TrueDepth camera would open up more options for developers and spur the creation of more apps as support for the Face ID feature is broadened across other Apple devices.

Cook shows signs of being open to EU tax reforms that keep revenue in countries where it’s earned

French officials claim Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t push back against French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the company to pay more taxes, Bloomberg reports. Apple is embroiled in a legal fight with the EU over a ruling that the company owes more than $14.5 billion in taxes collected in Europe and not paid to Ireland, and thus far Cook and other company representatives have stood firm in their public opposition to the ruling, claiming Apple has followed all applicable tax laws. Macron and other European leaders are looking to plug those legal loopholes that allow major companies to funnel their European profits to countries like Ireland rather than paying taxes in the countries where sales are taking place, and the French president said Cook “accepted that fiscal laws worldwide are shifting toward making companies pay tax where money is actually earned.” Apple declined to comment on the meeting.

Apple leaves version of iTunes featuring App Store available for anyone to download

While Apple removed the App Store from its latest update of iTunes, the company has also left a version featuring the App Store — version 12.6.3 — available for download. The company’s support page for that download makes it clear the intent is to allow businesses deploying their own internal apps the ability to access the App Store from iTunes, even going so far as to provide special provisions allowing the older version to be downloaded to machines that already inadvertently downloaded iTunes 12.7. Anyone who wasn’t quite ready to part with all the things left out in Apple’s streamlining of iTunes can download iTunes 12.6.3 for PC or Mac, but the software won’t prompt you to execute future updates like iTunes always seems to do, so if you want to upgrade at a later date you’ll have to seek out the update yourself.

Apple inks deal with Spielberg for first show, cuts ties to Weinstein amid sex scandal

Apple has made a deal with Steven Spielberg, Amblin Television, and Universal Television to make new episodes of “Amazing Stories,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The popular sci-fi/horror series ran on NBC in the ‘80s, and sources familiar with the discussions said Apple will be creating 10 new episodes at a price tag of over $5 million each. One executive involved in the project said that level of spending is on par with higher-end shows currently being produced by HBO and Netflix, so Apple is betting heavily on its first jump into original programming.

Apple releases second developer betas for iOS 11.1, tvOS 11.1 + watchOS 4.1

Apple has released a second set of betas for iOS 11.1, tvOS 11.1, and watchOS 4.1 to registered developers. The release notes for all three platforms mostly indicate bug fixes, although watchOS 4.1 adds Apple Music streaming capabilities to the Apple Watch Series 3, including support for iCloud Music Library and Apple Music radio stations. Recent reports also suggest that iOS 11.1 may add support for Apple Pay Cash, with Apple employees already testing the feature, although it doesn’t appear to have yet been unlocked in the developer betas.

Happy Columbus Day + Canadian Thanksgiving!

Our editors are celebrating Columbus Day and the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday today. We’ll be back tomorrow, October 10, with our full slate of news and reviews.

We hope you, your family, and friends enjoy a relaxing holiday together.

Sonos bringing AirPlay 2 support to its speakers next year

Sonos has announced it will bring support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard to its speakers next year, allowing users to control the devices with HomeKit or Siri. AirPlay 2 integration will allow voice control of music in addition to providing the ability to listen to the audio from videos, apps and games through the speakers. The company also debuted its new Sonos One speaker ($199) during the event — the company’s first speaker with built-in voice controls. Once the AirPlay 2 update rolls out, other Sonos speakers will be controllable by voice through Apple devices, but it’s unclear at what point next year the update will arrive.

Apple Store begins selling AR teddy bear

Apple has become the exclusive retailer for toy startup Seedling’s Parker the Bear, an ordinary looking teddy bear that has some serious augmented reality capabilities when paired with the companion app. Parker comes with his own backpack, doctor’s kit and X-ray bibs that produce AR responses in the free app, relying on an iOS 11-equipped device to produce fun effects instead of electronics built into the toy itself. Exams will display Parker’s bones and organs, prompt kids to use 3D Touch functionality to get the bear to perform tests like taking deep breaths, and display other games and puzzles that increase Parker’s “happiness factor,” which in turn unlocks other AR effects. The toy is available for $60 from Apple or directly from Seedling. [via AppleInsider]

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