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Report: iOS 10 likely to include standalone HomeKit app

A review left on Amazon by someone claiming to work for Apple hints at an Apple-designed HomeKit app coming in iOS 10. MacRumors matched the name of the reviewer to that of a LinkedIn profile for someone who works in Apple’s marketing department, and later confirmed the review was written by that employee. The review recommends a few existing apps to control smart home devices before concluding, “The next version of iOS due this fall will have a standalone ‘HomeKit’ app as well.”

Apple shelving iPhone Smart Connector idea?

A new post by Japanese site Macotakara indicates that Apple may be abandoning its rumored plans to include a Smart Connector on the upcoming iPhone 7. The rumor that the iPhone 7 could include a Smart Connector similar to the one found on the iPad Pro surfaced when Chinese site Bastille posted a leaked image purporting to show an iPhone 7 with what appeared to be a Smart Connector on the back. The leaked image was never corroborated by other sources, however, and it was unclear whether it represented an actual iPhone 7 prototype or simply a conceptual mockup.

Apple Music Connect to take backseat in iOS 10?

Among the sweeping changes the Apple apparently has in the works for the Apple Music app in iOS 10, the company appears to also be planning on not only leaving Apple Music Connect basically unchanged, but in fact demoting it from its own tab on the Music app home screen. A new report from 9to5Mac notes that the Connect feature has not lived up to Apple’s expectations of the service, and may be gradually suffering the same fate as the company’s earlier “Ping” social network. Multiple sources have revealed that the feature will be losing its dedicated tab and instead become integrated into the “For You” recommendations page. Connect will also apparently remain accessible from applicable artist pages.

Apple, others seeking large expanse of land for autonomous car facility

Apple is among several technology companies that have been seeking large parcels of land in the San Francisco Bay Area for autonomous car facilities, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Victor Coleman, chief executive of Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. — a company with extensive real estate holdings in the area — told analysts that his company is “seeing a definitive movement” and “hot demand” for autonomous-car research-and-development facilities. Demand is coming not only from the expected players such as Toyota, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford, but also Apple, who is reportedly looking to secure 800,000 square feet for their autonomous cars.

Apple Music launches $5-per-month student discount plan

Apple is adding a new student discount for its Apple Music service that will offer the service at 50 percent off the regular price for eligible college or university students, TechCrunch reports. The new tier is being rolled out today in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and will provide an Apple Music single-user membership for 50 percent off the individual plan price in each of those countries for up to four years following sign-up. Notably, the four years of eligibility can be non-contiguous, allowing users to take breaks between semesters, or resume their membership when later pursuing a post-graduate degree. Apple is reportedly working with a third-party student verification company, UNiDAYS, to validate eligibility for new student memberships, although it’s unclear at this point what form this validation process will take.

Apple partners with SAP for mobile enterprise solutions

Apple has announced a partnership with enterprise application software leader SAP to build a new software development framework that would allow SAP developers to build native iOS applications that integrate with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, providing organizations with efficient mobile access to SAP enterprise data within their organizations. The two companies will deliver a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK that will be available exclusively for iOS, which will empower SAP’s 2.5-million member global developer community to build mobile enterprise apps for SAP’s open platform. The platform will have a new design language — SAP Fiori for iOS — that will combine the SAP Fiori user experience with the consumer-grade iOS experience, and a new SAP Academy for iOS will offer tools and training for SAP developers. The new SDK, design language and academy are expected to begin rolling out later this year.

Apple adds Accessibility section to its online store

Apple has added a new Accessibility category to its online store, highlighting accessories specifically designed for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The new section also includes specific sub-categories to allow users to filter by accessories geared to assisting in visual, physical and motor skill, and learning & literacy areas. The Accessibility section is limited in selection compared to other sections in Apple’s online store, with only 15 different accessories available at this point.

LAPD hacked into iPhone 5s for murder investigation

The Los Angeles Police Department successfully hacked into a locked iPhone 5s belonging to the slain wife of “The Shield” actor Michael Jace, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times. Reviewing court papers, The Times discovered that LAPD detectives were able to hire an outside an outside “forensic cellphone expert” who was able to “override the locked iPhone function” and gain access to the data. The case notably involves an iPhone 5s, which has previously been considered more secure than the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino case, although it wasn’t specified which version of iOS the phone was using, or whether Touch ID was enabled.

More details emerge on Apple Music overhaul

Following news earlier today that Apple is planning “sweeping changes” to Apple Music, more specific details have emerged from 9to5Mac. Citing multiple sources familiar with the changes, Gurman notes that Apple has been working on a redesign since the end of last year, and expects to take the wraps off the new design as part of the iOS 10 unveil at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, for a fall launch.

iPhone tops Time’s list of most influential gadgets

The iPhone topped inventions like the TV, VCR and personal computer to take the number one spot on Time’s most influential gadgets list. The writeup gives the device credit for putting “a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions” and ushering in a new era of touchscreen phones. Later additions to the phone’s software and mobile store created the app industry as we know it, “forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks.”

Kohl’s integrates rewards system with Apple Pay

Kohl’s has become the first company to integrate its in-store rewards points system with its charge card in Apple Pay, according to a release from the company. By the end of the month, all customers using their Kohl’s charge account through Apple Pay will be able to link their account to a Yes2You Rewards card so that loyalty points are processed during the same single-tap transaction.

Apple hires ex-Nest exec to aid in health initiatives

Apple has hired former Nest executive Yoky Matsuoka to work on the company’s health intiatives, Fortune reports. Matsuoka is a famed robotics expert who co-founded Google’s X lab, helped develop a revolutionary robotic arm at MIT and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for using technology to help disabled people and stroke victims regain the use of their limbs. She left her position as Nest’s head of technology in 2014 when Google bought the company and planned a move to Twitter before announcing she had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Apple said Matsuoka is working for COO Jeff Williams, who oversees the company’s growing HealthKit, ResearchKit and CareKit frameworks.

Apple loses exclusive ‘iPhone’ trademark in China

Apple has lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in China, Legal Daily reports. The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled in favor of Xintong Tiandi Technology, which was granted a trademark on “iPhone” in 2010 to be used in connection to a line of leather goods the company sells. Apple filed applications to trademark “iPhone” for sales of electronic goods in 2002, but was only granted the trademark in 2013. Apple sued in 2012 over Xintong Tiandi’s use of “iPhone” on its handbags, phone cases and other leather products, but the courts ruled that Apple couldn’t prove it was a well-known brand in China before Xintong Tiandi filed for its trademark in 2007. Apple’s iPhone first went on sale in China in 2009.

Apple to reveal ‘sweeping changes’ to Apple Music interface at WWDC

Apple will reveal sweeping changes to Apple Music at this year’s WWDC in an effort to draw new interest in the streaming music service, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the plans said the company is trying to make Apple Music’s user interface much more intuitive after the first version was met with tepid reviews and failed to draw the numbers that competitors like Spotify boast. Insiders said development of that first product was complicated by internal culture clashes within Apple that had been brewing ever since the company acquired Beats two years ago, with the company still struggling to integrate the two groups of employees and unite its streaming and download businesses into one coherent music promotion strategy.

Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2, tvOS 9.2.1

Apple has released the fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1. As with prior betas, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. The much smaller number of “Known Issues” in the release notes as compared to prior betas suggest that both versions may be nearing final release.

The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

Bowers & Wilkins acquired by EVA Automation

Bowers & Wilkins, a U.K. maker of high-end audio equipment, has been acquired by Silicon Valley-based EVA Automation. The companies said the merger will pair Bowers & Wilkins’ acoustic engineering talents with EVA Automation’s A/V technologies to enable both companies to grow in new directions. Former Bowers & Wilkins owner Joe Atkins will stay on as CEO and EVA founder Gordon Yu will act as executive chairman for the combined company. We reviewed Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Wireless Speaker and P5 Wireless Headphones last year.

India rejects Apple’s plan to sell used iPhones

India has rejected Apple’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, an unnamed telecommunications ministry source told Bloomberg. Apple wanted permission to sell used devices to draw in cost conscious buyers left in the cold when the company discontinued sales of the iPhone 4s and 5c in February, driving the price of an entry-level iPhone from 12,000 rupees to 24,000 rupees. But after rivals made the case that Apple was essentially turning India into a dumping ground for electronic waste and skirting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program, the company’s application to sell used devices seems to have fallen flat.

Rumor: Purported iPhone 7 component photo shows headphone jack intact

A photo posted on Chinese site Weibo purports to show an internal component from the upcoming iPhone 7 that would prove the phone will still have a 3.5mm headphone jack. If true, the news would fly in the face of months of speculation that Apple planned to drop the traditional headphone jack in favor of wireless or Lightning port options for connecting headphones. Just last week an alleged leak of iPhone 7 schematics supported the rumor that the headphone jack was being ditched, but this new photo shows a similar configuration to the same component in the iPhone 6s, with spaces for both a headphone jack and a Lightning port.

Families fight in court over missing teen’s iPhone data

Apple is reportedly upholding its pledge to make every effort to access the iPhone 6 of a teen who was lost at sea, but whatever data they find is now going to the courts rather than the family, ABC News reports. Blu Stephanos contacted Apple for help accessing his son Austin’s phone after it was discovered aboard the 14-year-old’s ship, but Pam Cohen, mother of the other teen who went missing during the voyage, took the issue to court, fighting to have the phone handed over to experts instead.

Court allows police to force woman to unlock iPhone with Touch ID fingerprint

In a new front in the ongoing fight over iPhone encryption, federal officials in Los Angeles obtained a warrant allowing them to force a woman to unlock an iPhone by holding her fingerprint to the Touch ID scanner, the Los Angeles Times reports. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld decisions allowing police to access phone data with a search warrant and law enforcement’s right to compel a person in custody to provide a fingerprint without a judge’s permission, but legal experts worry that the combined use of these two abilities to unlock a personal device could violate a person’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

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