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Apple granted permit to test self-driving car in California

Apple has been granted the necessary permits to test self-driving cars in California, Business Insider reports. Apple’s autonomous vehicle project has been the company’s biggest open secret for years, but on Friday the California DMV added Apple’s name to a list featuring 29 other companies testing self-driving cars. “The permit covers three vehicles, all 2015 Lexus RX450h, and six drivers,” a DMV spokeswoman said, backing up previous reports that Apple is now focused more on the self-driving component than in building its own vehicle from the ground up. Apple declined to comment on the story in its usual fashion, pointing to its previous statement that it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems.”

Happy Easter weekend from iLounge!

We hope that all of you, our readers, have a happy and joyful Easter this year. We’ll be on a limited publishing schedule for Good Friday as we spend time with our families this weekend, and will return to our normal publishing schedule next week. Happy Easter!

iTunes Podcasts gets rebranded as ‘Apple Podcasts’

Apple has announced a full rebranding of iTunes Podcasts to “Apple Podcasts,” complete with a new “Listen on Apple Podcasts” logo and even a renaming of the company’s official Twitter account for podcasts. The announcement came this morning via Twitter from Steve Wilson of Apple’s Podcast marketing team.

In his tweet, Wilson provided an example of the new marketing badge, along with a link to Apple’s Podcasts Identity Guidelines page covering the guidelines for podcasters’ use of official Apple assets and materials to promote their podcasts. The change brings the branding more in line with Apple’s other media services such as Apple Music, although it’s unclear whether this is the first step in a broader rebranding of Apple’s media services to move away from the “iTunes” focus or is merely a case of separating free and subscription content from media sold on the iTunes Store.

Leaked image reveals ‘iPhone 8’ render with vertical cameras, rear Touch ID sensor

A new image posted on /LEAKS earlier today shows what appears to be a manufacturing design render of a next-generation iPhone that features a vertical dual-camera layout and a Touch ID sensor on the rear of the device. The drawing appears to have come from a computer belonging to an Apple manufacturing partner, however there are no other details such as when the photo was taken, or even if it’s authentic. Text in the drawing suggests it’s from the EVT — Engineering Verification Testing — phase, which means it could be related to any one of the “more than ten prototypes” that Apple was reported to be considering last fall, and therefore may not have any connection to the final design of the new iPhone. [via MacRumors]

Apple quietly working on non-invasive blood glucose monitoring sensors

Apple has quietly put together a small team of biomedical engineers to work on a new form of sensor that would be able to monitor blood glucose levels non-invasively and continuously, CNBC reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the team is part of a “super secret initiative” that was initially envisioned by Steve Jobs, and is located in a nondescript office several miles away from Apple’s corporate headquarters. Numerous life sciences companies have attempted to create such sensors with no success due to the challenges in accurately tracking blood glucose levels without piercing the skin, so the ability to do accomplish this would be a significant breakthrough. The project has reportedly reached the point that Apple has been running feasibility trials at several clinical sites in the Bay Area, and has also hired consultants to attempt to navigate the regulatory channels.

Apple updates TestFlight program with support for multiple builds

Apple has released an update to its TestFlight app for iOS developers and their beta testers, adding support for managing multiple builds, enhancing groups, and improving tester management, as well as extending the beta period time frame to 90 days. With the new capabilities, developers can now distribute multiple builds of a given app at the same time, allowing beta testers to either choose a specific build to test, or creating groups of TestFlight users that are assigned to different builds. Beta testers will also now be able to continue using a build when it goes live on the App Store, avoiding the disruption or having to switch to the App Store version and then later switch back to the TestFlight version when the next beta cycle begins. While the official Apple announcement doesn’t mention any changes to the beta testing timeframe, AppleInsider reports that the validity period for builds has also been extended to 90 days, providing developers with a longer period for their testers to work with development builds.

Spotify partners with ‘Spotty’ developer to create official Apple Watch

Developer Andrew Chang has announced on Reddit that he will be partnering with Spotify to help develop and official Apple Watch app for the popular streaming service. Chang originally announced development of a third-party Apple Watch app for Spotify back in February, with a hand-on video walk through posted by 9to5Mac, with plans to include advanced features such as offline playback, allowing music to be stored on and played from the Apple Watch without an iPhone in range. Chang initially ran into some opposition from Spotify’s legal team in relation to his choice of name, forcing him to rebrand his app as “Snowy,” however Chang updated his Reddit post yesterday to announce that he’s now going to be “working closely with Spotify to bring Snowy to the Apple Watch as part of an official Spotify iOS app.” Chang notes that he was able to build the app independently thanks to Spotify’s iOS SDK, but that with “the expertise and tools available at Spotify” he expects that he’ll be able to “take things to the next level.” While Chang did not provide any estimate on when the official Spotify Apple Watch companion app will be available, he states that it’s definitely “in the pipeline.” [via iPhone in Canada]

Analyst says integrated fingerprint scanner could hold up ‘iPhone 8’ release

While other rumors have claimed that adding 3D imaging technology and OLED screens are hindering progress on the iPhone 8, Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company believes it’s the integrated fingerprint sensor that’s the main issue, AppleInsider reports. “For the 5.8-inch OLED version, the biggest bottleneck remains integrating an under-glass fingerprint sensor into the display — the current yield rate of Apple’s in-house AuthenTec solution remains low and AAPL seems unwilling to use other vendors’ products,” Arcuri wrote in a note to investors. Arcuri said Apple is faced with three options in the face of the problem: Ditch Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, move the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone or delay production of the iPhone 8. He sees the first two options as pretty unlikely, expecting to see the iPhone 8 announced alongside new iPhone 7s and 7s Plus models but possibly becoming available for purchase later.

NYU student documents 6 weeks working on iPhone assembly line

New York University grad student Dejian Zeng spent his 2016 summer vacation inside Pegatron’s ChangShuo factory — a facility that produces iPhones for Apple — and he shared some of his experiences on the factory floor with Business Insider. When he started, Zeng was in charge of connecting iPhone 6s speakers to the back case and putting one screw in to hold it in place for more than 12 hours a day (including overtime). Two-hour stretches of work were punctuated by 10 minute breaks where many people try to catch any sleep they can, sometimes choosing to close their eyes over going to the bathroom for a drink of water. “It becomes a struggle when you’re very sleepy but also you need to drink some water,” Zeng said. “You can only do one thing. It’s just go to the restroom or come back and take some sleep.” The 50-minute lunch break in the middle of the day is also a popular time to sleep, with employees flocking to sofas scattered through a lounge area. But the factory has its own peculiar protocols for these naps as well, mandating that employees are allowed to sleep, but not allowed to lay down. “There are people walking around. If they see you lay down, they will swipe the ID and take a record of it,” Zeng said. “And they put the record in your profile. And then they will publish it to your whole assembly line, so your manager would come and yell at you later. Sometimes if it happens multiple times, they deduct money.”

Qualcomm countersues Apple, seeks damages for breach of contract

Qualcomm is counter-suing Apple in the companies’ ongoing patent dispute, claiming Apple breached its contract and asking for an unspecified amount in damages, CNET reports. In the filing, Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, admits Apple has played a key role in bringing mobile technology to the masses, but argues “Apple could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise that has made it the most profitable company in the world, capturing over 90 percent of smartphone profits, without relying upon Qualcomm’s fundamental cellular technologies.” In its lawsuit, Apple claims Qualcomm is charging excessive royalties “despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards” and asked the court to declare Qualcomm’s patents invalid or reduce the royalty amounts the company is able to charge for their use.

Report: Apple may drop Dialog Semiconductor, build its own power management chips

An analyst at Bankhaus Lampe claims that there is “strong evidence” Apple could cut ties with Dialog Semiconductor and begin producing its own power management integrated circuits, Reuters reports. Another source said Apple is “poaching like crazy” from Dialog, hiring top engineers from the company and ramping up to begin its own in-house efforts. Neither Apple nor Dialog commented on the report, but Dialog’s stock lost as much as 36 percent in one day on the news.

Apple releases second betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a second beta of iOS 10.3.2 to its registered developers, along with new betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1. This latest iOS beta fixes issues with SiriKit and third-party VPN apps, while the new watchOS and tvOS betas appear to include only bug fixes and security improvements.

Apple among companies buying commercials created by ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast

Apple is among a handful of companies making deals with NBC Universal to have “Saturday Night Live” cast members write and star in commercials, Variety reports. This weekend’s broadcast of the show featured an ad for Verizon penned by Colin Jost and featuring Keenan Thompson, created in the hopes that spicing up the content of the commercials that run during the show will draw more people to the live broadcast. Two sources familiar with the discussions said Apple will be the next advertiser with a custom spot, which will look decidely different than the Verizon ad and appear in “a few weeks’ time.”

Apple may be adding Beats 1 DJ booth to Fifth Avenue store

Apple’s store on Fifth Avenue in New York City may include a DJ booth for Beats 1 broadcasts when it reopens to the public, MacRumors reports. A source said the store’s ongoing renovations are including a “very unique area” for broadcasting to Apple Music’s Beats 1 station, but didn’t get into specifics. Ebro Darden, the Beats 1 DJ based in NYC, currently broadcasts from a studio in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Fifth Avenue store has been closed since January 20 and Apple has given no indication of when it will reopen, but the renovations are expected to more than double the square footage.

Well-connected developer claims future Apple CPUs won’t support 32-bit apps

In a series of tweets, well-connected developer Steve Troughton-Smith claims that Apple’s future A-series chips probably won’t support 32-bit apps. After several notifications from Apple that future versions of iOS won’t support 32-bit apps, developers have been speculating that the change will hit with iOS 11 when this year’s new iPhones are launched, and with the launch of iOS 10.3 the company started alerting users to the coming change whenever they open a 32-bit app. But Troughton-Smith has gone a step further, saying it “sounds like” Apple’s hardware won’t even support 32-bit and speculating that the move could free up “performance/die space.” [via 9to5Mac]

Report: ‘iPhone 8’ pre-orders to begin in Sept. to ship ‘several weeks later’

A new research report from long-time Apple analyst Brian White (via MacRumors) suggests that Apple will likely announce the 5.8-inch “iPhone 8” at a September event, alongside the two lower-end 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch “S” models, but that the premium model will only be available for pre-orders around that time, with delivery not expected until “several weeks later.” White notes that while the higher-end iPhone would still be expected to arrive in time for the Christmas holiday season, “challenges around the 3D sensing technology” would cause the more advanced model to not go into production until later in the year. This confirms a report earlier this week suggesting there would be delays related to not only the 3D sensors but also OLED screen lamination, but White adds that his contact was “emphatic about the delay,” but that it’s still early enough in the year that the situation could improve.

Social media companies reach $5.3m settlement in iOS contacts privacy lawsuit

Eight social media firms have agreed to a settlement of $5.3 million in response to a class action lawsuit that had accused them of breaching privacy by uploading users’ personal contact information on iOS devices, AppleInsider reports. Citing a report by Law360 (subscription required), the settlement agreement was filed earlier this week in a San Francisco federal court, proposing that Foodspotting, Foursquare, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik, Path, Twitter, and Yelp pay into a $5.3 million fund that will then be dispersed to qualifying claimants — anybody in the U.S. who used any of the identified apps between 2009 and 2012 — after attorney fees are paid, of course.

Apple releases Clips

Apple has just released its new Clips social video sharing app as a free download on the iOS App Store. Announced two weeks ago alongside Apple’s new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone updates, Clips is a new app that will allow users to create videos that combine photos, music, and other video clips with very simple editing features for adjusting clip length, reordering them, and adding more content. Users can use their voice to make animated captions over their videos, and add Snapchat-like filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. Facial recognition features will also allow the app to identify people in the videos and offer to send copies to them via Messages, or share their resulting videos via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Australian consumer commission suing Apple over ‘Error 53’ iPhone failures

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Apple over last year’s Error 53 problem that disabled iPhones which had undergone third-party repairs, The Wall Street Journal reports. The ACCC, which is an arm of the Australian government focused on consumer law and competition regulation, is alleging that Apple was in violation of Australian laws by “bricking” iPhone devices and refusing to subsequently repair them at no cost to customers on the basis of the devices having been previously serviced by third-party service providers. The regulator is seeking monetary penalties that could amount in up to $829,000 (A$1.1m) per breach if the courts find Apple liable.

Apple execs remain optimistic about Apple Pay, despite slow uptake

Senior executives at Apple remain optimistic about the long-term adoption of Apple Pay, despite the slow pace of adoption by U.S. retailers and consumers. A new article in the Wall Street Journal highlights some of the challenges Apple has faced in gaining more ubiquitous mindshare for its two-year-old mobile payment service, such a consumer wariness over security concerns and reliability and adoption by U.S. retailers. The report notes that Apple has also not done much to market the payment platform, nor made much of an effort to train its own employees, although Apple SVP Eddy Cue said that Apple Pay has been adopted faster than other mobile payment systems, and still believes that it will eventually replace cash, debit, and credit cards, but suggests that Apple is playing the long game with the service,

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