Apple is fighting with the European Union over $14.5 billion in taxes without the usual lobbying force of a major company, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company spent just over $1 million in 2015 lobbying the EU, when Google parent company Alphabet dropped $4.5 million and employs more than 10 full-time lobbyists. American companies lack direct national representation within EU institutions, leaving them at a disadvantage when competing against European countries who can have their national representatives lobby on their behalf. Other companies have built a strong European lobbying presence to sway investigations and potential legislation, but while CEO Tim Cook has personally made the trip to Brussels to clarify the company’s positions directly with the EU’s antitrust chief, Apple is far behind in employing locals charged with keeping a constant eye on developing situations.
Apple will soon offer “Spoken Editions” of written content from some publishers through iTunes, TechCrunch reports. Early versions of podcasts branded Spoken Editions from brands like Time, Wired, and Forbes have begun appearing on iTunes, offering users the ability to get the written news delivered in audio form so they can listen while doing other things.
Apple is making a big push to turn HealthKit into a diagnostic tool, Bloomberg reports. The app currently collects fitness data from a user’s devices, but people familiar with Apple’s plans said the company has scores of health-care experts building improved software to analyze and understand the implication’s of patient information. The team is also working on new apps for the Apple Watch, including one that tracks sleep patterns and another that gauges fitness levels by measuring the time it takes a user’s heart rate to fall from peak to resting levels.
Apple has acknowledged claims that iOS 10 has weaker password security for local backups and promised it is looking into a fix, Forbes reports. Russian forensics company Elcomsoft discovered that the new iOS uses weaker password protection than previous versions when it comes to manual backups via iTunes. “We discovered an alternative password verification mechanism added to iOS 10 backups,” Elcomsoft’s Oleg Afonin wrote in a blog post. “We looked into it and found out that the new mechanism skips certain security checks, allowing us to try passwords approximately 2500 times faster compared to the old mechanism used in iOS 9 and older.”
Apple has released iOS 10.0.2, a minor update that fixes a problem with headphone controls on Lightning EarPods reported earlier this week, as well as an issue with enabling iCloud Photo Library and some app extensions. The update follows Thursday’s release of the iOS 10.1 public beta.
Apple’s rumored standalone Siri home control hub may be getting closer to a reality, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Rumors earlier this year suggested that Apple was working on a standalone “Siri home speaker” that would rival Amazon’s Echo, with subsequent reports suggesting that it might go farther than merely being an Echo-like speaker, integrating a camera and possibly other technology. Citing people familiar with the project, the latest Bloomberg report reveals that it’s been in the works for more than two years, and has now reached the prototype testing stage where key Apple employees are now using prototypes of the device in their own homes.
Apple has acquired machine learning company Tuplejump, TechCrunch reports. According to the report, Apple had specific interest in the company’s “FiloDB”, an opensource project designed to “efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in.” Apple gave its typical response to the reported acquisition, saying that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Following yesterday’s release of the iOS 10.1 developer beta, Apple has now released a public beta version of iOS 10.1 through its Apple Software Beta Program. The iOS 10.1 public beta notably adds the “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect for iPhone 7 Plus, which Apple demonstrated at its event earlier this month — an enhancement that may encourage iPhone 7 Plus users to sign up for the public beta program to take an early peek at the feature. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.
Apple has brought the promised “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect to the iPhone 7 Plus as part of the iOS 10.1 beta released earlier today, suggesting that the company will likely exceed most expectations on its goal to deliver the feature “later this year.” The new feature places an additional “Portrait” mode on the slider in the camera app, between Photo and Square, and seems to require a higher level of lighting to make the feature work. There appear to be no additional controls related to the feature, although it automatically requires the use of the second 2X lens and requires the subject to be approximately two to eight feet away from the camera.
The feature is presently labelled as being in “beta” although even in this state is appears to work quite well in our preliminary testing, as these photos indicate. It’s unclear whether this designation only represents the state of iOS 10.1 itself or may continue following the public release of the iOS update, as other features like Visual Voicemail Transcription have.
Only a little more than a week following the general release of iOS 10.0.1, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10, Apple has now seeded the first developer betas for all three platforms — iOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1, and tvOS 10.0.1 — to registered iOS developers. The documentation accompanying the new betas lists no significant changes, suggesting the new versions are primarily focused on fixing bugs, improving performance, and polishing up the major iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 releases. Registered iOS developers can download the new betas from Apple’s Developer site.
Report: Apple considering acquisition of high-performance car maker McLaren (Update: and Lit Motors)
Apple is in talks to acquire British supercar maker McLaren, the Financial Times reports. Three people briefed on the negotiations said the talks began months ago, with Apple exploring options that could include a full takeover or a strategic investment in the auto maker. McLaren would bring automotive engineering skills, on-board computer expertise, and experience using materials like carbon fiber and aluminum in chassis manufacturing to Apple’s rumored car project. The company currently produces luxury sports cars that can cost as much as $1 million each, but operates at a loss despite being valued somewhere between $1.3 billion and $1.95 billion. McLaren also operates an F1 racing team, the fate of which would be unclear if Apple were to buy the company. [via 9to5Mac]
Update: Apple is also in talks with Lit Motors about a possible acquisition, according to The New York Times. Lit Motors is a startup that develops two-wheeled vehicles, including a electric motorcycle which self-stabilizes with the use of gyroscopes.
Google has brought its new Allo messaging app to iOS, making an effort to pack as much functionality as possible into the messenger so that users don’t have to leave it to get outside information. The main selling feature is integration with Google’s other services, integrating search and calendar functions into the chat to give users the ability to look up information and make plans without toggling between multiple apps. The app includes a preview edition of the Google Assistant as well, giving users the ability to type @google to ask for help to find an address, look up a dinner location or find and share a YouTube video, all within the conversation in real time.
After iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus owners started taking to Twitter to complain that the volume controls on their new Lightning EarPods stopped working, Apple said it is working on a fix, Business Insider reports. Some users have noticed that after a while of being plugged into the Lightning port, the EarPods keep playing music but the volume control dongle stops working, preventing them from using it to change the volume, answer calls or activate Siri.
A new report by DisplayMate compares the display used in the new iPhone 7 with the one found in the iPhone 6, assessing a number of factors such as color accuracy, color gamuts, viewing angles, contrast ratios, performance in different lighting conditions, and display calibration and picture quality. From the comparison, DisplayMate concludes that the iPhone 7 is a “Truly Impressive Top Performing Display” and that it’s “by far the best performing mobile LCD display that we have ever tested.” The report goes on to say that the display is a significant upgrade from the prior iPhone models and breaks many display performance records, as well as being “the most color accurate display that we have ever measured” being “Visually Indistinguishable from Perfect” and “very likely considerably better than on any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have.” The iPhone 7 Plus wasn’t mentioned in the article.
Apple Human Resources Chief Denise Young Smith said the company is investigating accusations of sexism among its employees, Recode reports. In emails first reported by Mic, a female employee said her male coworkers publicly joked about rape and created a “very toxic atmosphere” that persisted despite several complaints to management. She finally escalated the issue directly to CEO Tim Cook. “Rape jokes in work chat is basically where I completely draw the limit.” she wrote to Cook in an email. “I do not feel safe at a company that tolerates individuals who make rape jokes.”
Internal documents show Apple is investigating claims that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are leaving users without cellular service after they turn off Airplane Mode, MacRumors reports. The company has told service provides to suggest a hard reboot of the phone the fix the issue, and to remove and re-insert the phone’s SIM card if that doesn’t solve the problem.
While we spent all weekend reviewing the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, plenty of YouTube users went looking for the most creative way to destroy theirs. An Infohut test proved that the new devices can survive being submerged in water, soda and even hot coffee with no ill effects inside, with the tester going so far as to crack open the phone after the test to prove no liquid got inside. Another video from So Bad So Good dunked the iPhone 7 in the ocean and proved the device could even continue recording video while briefly submerged just below the surface. EverythingApplePro took it one step further, finding the iPhone 7 finally starts to fail after being 35 feet underwater.
A faint hiss — thought to be coming from the A10 processor — can be heard coming from iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus units when the devices are under a heavy workload. After the issue was first reported by 512 Pixels’ Stephen Hackett, we went back and listened to our new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices while they were running and could hear the sound coming from the back of the phone, near where the processor is located. Hackett claimed he heard the noise while the device was sitting on his desk, but we had to hold ours up to an ear to really hear it. While the issue may be a minor gripe to most, Hackett said AppleCare offered to replace his phone over the sound, suggesting that the problem may only noticeably impact some units. [via Apple Insider]
Apple’s newest iPhones have arrived, and we’ve posted unboxing photos of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, both seen here in rose gold. We’ve also included some pictures comparing the new phones to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. Our independent, comprehensive review of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be published on Monday.
iFixit has posted its complete teardown of the iPhone 7 Plus. As usual, the report confirms some specs and reveals a few new things. The dimensions of the new device are identical to those of the iPhone 6s Plus, although the report confirms that it’s slightly lighter than its predecessor. A1785 is the new model for the iPhone 7 Plus. The report also confirms that the headphone jack removal did indeed make room for the new Taptic engine, as Apple executives revealed last week, and that the second lower speaker grill is entirely cosmetic.