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Leaked images show glass backs for iPhone 7, 7s and 8; claim all will have wireless charging

A pair of leaked images posted on Reddit show what the poster claims to be the black glass backs of an iPhone 7, 7s and 8 along with the front screen for the iPhone 8. The iPhone 8 back is a similar size to the iPhone 7, but features the vertical dual camera cutout seen in previous leaks. The front glass for the iPhone 8 is also in line with current rumors, with a much narrower bezel all along the edges and a small top cutout for the camera and speaker. The poster claims the photo came from a “friend in the industry,” saying Chinese manufacturers got the components in last week and have confirmed that all three models are going to feature wireless charging. The back of the iPhone 8 also features a series of markings that raised some red flags from commenters, but are actually in line with regulatory requirements of countries like Canada. One thing the back of the iPhone 8 lacks is a Touch ID sensor, casting doubt on previous leaks that showed a back cutout for that component and lending more credibility to rumors that Apple has devised a way to put the scanner under the screen.

Cook calls autonomous driving system ‘the mother of all AI projects’

In an interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted the company is working on an autonomous driving system for vehicles, calling it “the mother of all AI projects.” After being particularly secretive about Apple’s Project Titan vehicle research for years, Cook revealed that the company sees self-driving technology, electric vehicles and the expanding ride-hailing industry as “three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame” within the automotive industry. Apple has invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing—China’s biggest ride-hailing service—and decided last year to shift the focus of its endeavors away from making an electric car and toward perfecting autonomous driving technology. Apple has been granted permits to test its self-driving systems on California roads, but what form their product will eventually take is still an open question. “It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on. So autonomy is something that is incredibly exciting for us,” Cook said. “But we’ll see where it takes us — we’re not really saying from a product point of view what we’ll do. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”

Audeze iSine now available in Apple-exclusive Colorway

Back in January, we reviewed the innovative Audeze iSine 10 in-ear planar magnetic headphones and thought they were pretty amazing. In fact, we think Audeze’s Sine and iSine headphones are still the best expression of what can be done with headphones and the Lightning jack.

For those still on the fence, Audeze just announced a new colorway for the iSine10 which will be exclusive to Apple’s online store and retail locations. The new Black/Steel version has a silver grille which we think complements the design nicely. Like the original iSine10, the new version comes with Audeze’s CIPHER Lightning cable with inline DAC & amplifier, works with any iOS device with a Lightning Port, and is upgradeable and tuneable using the free Audeze iOS app. The price remains the same at $399.

Apple eliminates ability to use custom prompts for app review requests going forward

After rolling out the ability to use its StoreKit API to simplify in-app review prompts in iOS 10.3, Apple’s App Store Review guidelines now say the company will no longer allow custom prompts going forward. The new process allows the user to leave a rating and/or review without ever leaving the app and eliminates the need for developers to write their own code to create the review prompt, but there are also drawbacks. Apple now limits the maximum number of requests to three per year and prevents apps from prompting too frequently, where before it was at the whim of the developer. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple allowing resellers to cut prices on older iPhones to make inroads in India

Apple is allowing resellers to slash prices on its older iPhone models to break into India’s cell phone market, Bloomberg reports. While Apple’s official website is only currently selling the iPhone 6S and SE in India, resellers like Amazon and Flipkart are offering the iPhone 5, 5S, and 6 for a substantial discount over what other parts of the world would pay. Varuni T.V., a business professor in India, recently bought her first iPhone 5S for $300, while the similar iPhone SE retails in the US for $400 before taxes and fees. Indians are expected to buy more than a billion smartphones in the next 5 years, and Apple currently only accounts for 3 percent of sales in the country. The company has already moved manufacturing to India to gain access to the market and is now hiring “affordability managers” to help potential customers negotiate with banks and other lenders to come up with the necessary capital to buy an iPhone. Reducing the price of older models is making it easier for younger customers to buy an iPhone, which then opens up new sales opportunities for Apple with its App Store, iTunes and online service ecosystem.

Ad loophole in App Store search is letting scammers promote expensive, useless apps

A new post on Medium shows just how easy it is for scammers to use Apple’s App Store Search Ads to dupe users into paying hundreds of dollars for undelivered services from useless apps. Author Johnny Lin came across one app in particular — “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN” — that raised his attention with multiple misspellings and poor grammar in its listing, but still somehow managed to take in $80,000 a month in revenue and rank 10th in the App Store’s top grossing productivity apps list. After downloading, the app requests access to contacts and provides useless features like checking the phone’s available space and memory. Pressing the “Secure Internet” option — theoretically what people download the app to do — leads to a game pop-up ad and then to a “Free Trial” button that actually leads to a Touch ID prompt that will enroll the user in a $100-per-week subscription for a virus scanning service the app isn’t even able to provide because of how Apple sandboxes third-party apps.

Apple’s feud with Qualcomm could leave iPhone 8 lagging behind in download speeds

Apple’s aversion to solely using Qualcomm modems in its new iPhones will likely leave the devices unable to take advantage of 1-gigabit-per-second download speeds offered by cellular providers, Bloomberg reports. While AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers have upgraded their networks to be capable of gigabit transfers — which are up to 100 times faster than previous speeds — only Qualcomm’s modems can currently handle downloads at that speed. Apple’s insistence on splitting its modem orders between Qualcomm and Intel, plus the serious court showdown with Qualcomm over royalties, means the company would be forced to disable some of the capabilities of devices running with a Qualcomm modem to keep its products consistent, since Intel’s modem with the same capacity won’t be ready for the new iPhone’s launch, according to people familiar with Apple’s decision. Samsung’s Galaxy 8 and HTC’s U11 are both already capable of the new faster download speeds due to their Qualcomm modems.

Taylor Swift returns to Spotify, ending Apple Music exclusive

Following her falling out with Spotify three years ago, Taylor Swift has announced that she will be returning to the streaming service, in addition to several others, ending her exclusive deal with Apple Music. The move comes in celebration of her album, 1989, hitting sales of 10 million, and overall sales of 100 million songs. Swift’s full back catalog will become available not only on Spotify, but also on Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Pandora Premium, and several others. Notably, TechCrunch reports that Swift’s song will be available on the free ad-supported tier of Spotify as well — which was reportedly the issue over which Swift pulled her content from the service three years ago.

Fox Now app adds FX and National Geographic content

Fox Networks has updated its Fox Now app for iOS and Apple TV, adding shows from FX and National Geographic in addition to the normal set of Fox content. Available in the U.S., the Fox Now app requires that users already subscribe to an existing pay-TV service, and provides access to up to 500 hours of content across the network’s brands, including current episodes and seasons. The separate FXNow and Nat Geo apps will still be available. Fox Now will also be expanding its platform later this year to a wide range of other devices, including the older third-generation Apple TV. [via Variety]

Anki announces global launch of Cozmo

Anki has announced that its robotic sidekick, Cozmo, will be launching in Canada this July, followed by a broader rollout in the U.K., France, Germany, and Nordic countries later this year. Best known for its Anki Drive that took the stage at WWDC 2013 four years ago, Anki is a robotics and AI company that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to consumer experiences. Released in the U.S. last fall, Aniki’s newest product, Cozmo, is a sophisticated consumer robot that was built by a world-class team of roboticists, animators, and game developers to create an interactive experience powered by advanced AI. Cozmo not only responds to interactive commands, but uses learning algorithms to adapt its behaviour to its experiences and interactions with its owner, exhibiting an endearing personality in the process through complex facial expressions displayed on its OLED face, as well as face detection algorithms that allow Cozmo to recognize people and pets and respond to them in different ways.

Apple opens up HomeKit accessory prototyping

Apple has loosened the reins on HomeKit accessory development, a new report from Forbes reveals. During a WWDC developer session on Wednesday, Apple announced that it is opening up HomeKit to allow any Apple developer to build and prototype smart home accessories without first needing to apply for and be granted an MFi license. Developers who wish to release a HomeKit product will still need to pursue MFi certification, but the new policy will make it easier for new companies to get started with the process of developing HomeKit-compatible products.

Even more significantly, however, Apple is going to begin allowing developers to integrate HomeKit security into their products at the software level, rather than requiring an Apple-designed authentication chip. This software-based authorization will be available to existing products as well, meaning that for the first time many legacy home automation products will be able to join the HomeKit club with merely a firmware update, rather than requiring users to replace hardware components to gain HomeKit compatibility. Apple emphasized that all of the same heavy-duty encryption would still be incorporated into the software design.

Logitech releases Slim Combo keyboard case for 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models

After Apple unveiled its new 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models at yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Logitech revealed its Slim Combo keyboard case for the new devices. The detachable backlit keyboard connects through the device’s Smart Connector and is powered by the iPad, so there’s no need for a battery. The case provides a 50-degree range for reclining the iPad to find the right angle for viewing and has a place to store the optional Apple Pencil accessory. The Slim Combo for the 10.5” iPad Pro costs $130 while the 12.9” version is $150, and both are currently available on Logitech’s website and in Apple’s online store.

Apple TV added to public beta program starting with tvOS 11

Apple has added Apple TV to its public beta program, allowing users to test the newest versions of tvOS without a developer account. Starting with tvOS 11, average users will now be able to register to receive the beta versions of iOS, macOS and tvOS a few days after developers get them. Notably Apple still isn’t making its watchOS betas available to the public yet, despite talking up watchOS 4 at yesterday’s event.

Apple lowers price of 2TB iCloud storage to $10 a month, discontinues 1TB option

Apple has effectively eliminated its 1TB iCloud storage tier and reduced the price of the 2TB tier to $10 a month. For those who had previously been subscribing to the 1TB tier, their storage has automatically been doubled at no extra charge. 50GB of space is still $1 a month and 200GB is still $3 a month, and the 5GB free tier also remains unchanged, despite the fact that many had been hoping for a bump in the amount of storage Apple provides free of charge. Perhaps of most interest to household users, starting with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra Apple will offer the ability to share the 200GB and 2TB plans with family members.

Apple announces ‘HomePod’ Smart Speaker

Today at WWDC 2017, Apple announced its long-rumoured smart speaker solution. Dubbed “HomePod” the new speaker appears to have a strong focus on music, with Apple touting it as a speaker to “reinvent home music” through features such as “Rock the house” sound, spatial awareness, and “Musicologist.” The speaker comes in at just under 7” tall, and is cylindrical and covered in a 3D mesh fabric available in either white or space grey. Internally, the HomePod features an array of 7 beam-forming tweeters at the bottom, coupled with an Apple-Designed 4” upward-facing woofer. An A8 chip inside the speaker provides advanced intelligence to allow the speaker to perform real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation so that it can adjust to the space it’s placed in and balance audio appropriately. Integrated Siri capabilities allow the speaker to act as a “musicologist” with Apple Music, which can be streamed directly to the HomePod without requiring an intermediate iOS device. Six microphones allow the speaker to hear audio commands from across the room, even when loud music is playing, and Apple has expanded Siri’s vocabulary and intelligence to allow it to respond to a wide variety of music-related queries.

Apple unveils iOS 11, featuring major iPad UI improvements

As expected, Apple unveiled iOS 11 during today’s WWDC 2017 Keynote, showing off the next-generation of the company’s mobile operating system which features several iterative improvements across the board, combined with some significant new UI changes for iPad users.

Apple shows off watchOS 4

Apple took the wraps off watchOS 4 today during its WWDC Keynote, with VP of Technology Kevin Lynch demonstrating several new features in the next major update to Apple’s wearable device. watchOS 4 will add several new Watch Faces, most notably a proactive “Siri Face” that will provide a display of relevant information throughout the day, similar to the “Proactive Assistant” introduced in iOS 9 two years ago. For example, the Siri Face will adapt to a user’s routines and usage patterns, automatically surfacing things like weather, meeting notifications, photo memories, reminders, news, flight information, and more, based on the time of the day and location and how the user typically uses their Apple Watch. Additional new faces includes a “Kaleidoscope” watch face that displays a symmetrical pattern throughout the day, which can be customized using a picture from the user’s photo library, a swell as three new animated faces for popular Toy Story characters Woody, Jessie, and Buzz.

Apple announces iPad Pro updates, including new 10.5” model

During today’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote, Apple took the wraps off two new iPad Pro models, including an update to the 12.9” iPad Pro along with the expected new 10.5” model, which replaces last year’s 9.7” iPad Pro. The 12.9” iPad Pro retains the same size and form factor as before, but comes into line with its smaller counterpart, which previously provided a better display. The 10.5” iPad Pro provides a screen 20% larger than the prior 9.7” model, reducing the screen borders by about 40% to retain the same general size and weight. Both devices now incorporate a six-core A10X Fusion Chip that provides 30% faster performance and 40% faster graphics performance from the prior models, while still maintaining the same ten-hour battery life. New displays provide True Tone and a Wide Colour Gamut, ultralow reflectivity, 600 nits brightness, and HDR video — a minor display upgrade for the smaller iPad Pro, but a larger bump for the 12.9” model, which previously lacked the True Tone display technology.

Apple has also added a new “ProMotion” feature to the display technology in both models, doubling the refresh rate to 120Hz, thereby providing significantly smoother scrolling performance as well as reduced latency for Apple Pencil users. The display can, however, automatically adjust refresh rates downward when the faster rates aren’t necessary, thereby improving battery performance. The new models also gain the iPhone 7 camera improvements, with a 12MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, an f/1.8 aperture, six-element lens, quad-LED True Tone flash, and wide colour and 4K video capture, as well as a 7MP front camera with wide colour capture and optical image stabilization. Both models will also feature USB 3.0 support and high-speed USB-C charging — a feature previously limited to the 12.9” iPad Pro. Apple has also doubled memory capacities across the board, with the entry level iPad Pro models starting at 64GB, and the higher-end models available in 256GB and 512GB capacities.

The new iPad Pro models are available for order from Apple’s online store beginning today, starting at $649 for the 10.5” and $799 for the 12.9” and are expected to begin shipping early next week.

Apple announces Amazon Prime coming to Apple TV

Kicking off the keynote today at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook briefly announced that Amazon Prime will be coming to the Apple TV later this year, as rumoured last month. Although Apple’s fourth-generation Apple TV with its open App Store model provided opportunities for a number of third-party video services to get on board the new set-top box, Amazon remained the lone major holdout, likely owing to differences of opinion on business terms between Apple and Amazon. Amazon Prime Video is expected to be available on the Apple TV later this year not only as a standalone app, but will also be tied into Apple’s TV app, providing an integrated experience with other media services.

New leaks back under-glass fingerprint scanner in iPhone 8, 2018 Macbook with customizable keyboard

Last week a series of images released by iPhoneros appeared to show an iPhone prototype with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner embedded in the back, but even though the site claimed its Chinese source “has never sent us false information,” well-sourced leaker Benjamin Geskin tweeted out a photo of both the front and back of the device in question and said it’s a clear fake. Geskin has since claimed that “some case manufacturers received the final information about the iPhone 8 and began mass production,” which, if correct, would mean that the prototyping stage is over and the company has moved into a new phase for production. Geskin has heard rumors that the iPhone 8’s backing will be a “special and unique alloy of glass and metal,” but provided no photos of how that would look.

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