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Apple extends AppleCare+ purchase timeframe to one year

Apple has extended the amount of time that customers can purchase AppleCare+ after buying a new iPhone to one year, according to a new report by MacRumors. Previously, customers purchasing a new iPhone had up to 60 days to decide whether or not to purchase Apple’s AppleCare+ protection plan, which increases the covered iPhone’s warranty coverage and telephone support to two years from the date of the device’s purchase and provides coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage during the coverage period.

Apple announces two more R&D centers in China

Apple has formally announced plans to expand its research and development centres in China, bringing the company’s total investment in R&D in the country to more than 3.5 billion yuan (~$500m). The two new centres announced today in Shanghai and Suzhou will join the centres in Beijing and Shenzhen that Apple announced last summer and last fall, respectively.

Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.3

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3, only three days after the the sixth beta was released to developers. The seventh beta, featuring a build number of 14E5277a, is available today to both registered developers and members of Apple’s Public Beta program, and the rapid release of new betas suggests that iOS 10.3 is drawing closer to a public release, possibly corresponding with the rumoured release of new iPad models that could arrive as soon as next week.

Apple now selling 32GB iPhone 6 model in Belarus

Following the unusual re-launch of the iPhone 6 in a 32GB model in China earlier this month, Apple now appears to have expanded sales of the “new” 2017 iPhone 6 model to Belarus, AppleInsider reports. Belarusian Apple reseller i-Store is currently taking orders for the device, which is priced at 999 rubles (~$520) and only available in Space Gray. Much like its launch in Asia, the device is identified as “iPhone 6 (2017)” and is in a previously-unavailable 32GB capacity, making it clear that Apple has begun manufacturing limited quantities of the older model in a new capacity, likely targeted for sale as an entry-level model in emerging markets. The 2017 iPhone 6 otherwise has the same specs as the 2014 model, but will run iOS 10 out of the box.

Report: Apple hasn’t yet signed onto brief opposing second executive order on immigration

Despite its vocal opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration earlier this year, Apple has not joined other tech companies in signing on to a new lawsuit looking to block a second version of the Trump’s executive order, Reuters reports. Apple is reportedly among 60 technology companies, including Google and Facebook, that appear to have decided against putting their weight behind this new lawsuit. A legal brief was filed in federal court in Hawaii earlier this week representing 58 technology companies in opposition to the second version of Trump’s executive order banning immigration, but this accounts for less than half of the 127 companies that signed on to a similar brief opposing the first executive order last month. Airbnb, Dropbox, and Kickstarter are reportedly among the companies that did sign the new brief, while other companies that are conspicuously absent the second time around include Microsoft, eBay, Intel, Netflix, and Twitter.

More than 180,000 apps could be rendered useless if iOS 11 dumps 32-bit support

A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stating that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS” has led Sensor Tower to determine that the new restriction could affect about 8 percent of apps on the App Store, effectively rendering them obsolete. While there’s no solid evidence that iOS 11 will be the final cutoff for apps that are 32-bit-only, Apple has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015, and forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015. That means the apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early-2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators.

Russian government finds Apple guilty of price fixing

After an investigation that started last August, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service has found Apple guilty of price fixing, The Financial Times reports. The FAS claims Apple told 16 Russian retailers to set prices at a specific level and threatened to terminate sales agreements with those who refused to comply. In its statement, the FAS said Apple’s Russian subsidiary has been monitoring resellers’ pricing since the release of the iPhone 5s and when it found “unsuitable” prices, Apple “sent emails to resellers with a request to change them.” Apple hasn’t released a statement on the current ruling, but previously denied any wrongdoing. The company now has 3 months to file an appeal if it so desires. If the ruling stands, Apple could be fined as much as 15 percent of its sales in Russia. [via 9to5Mac]

Leaked image reveals Apple’s ‘iPhone Calibration Machine’

New images obtained by Motherboard appear to show the specially designed “iPhone Calibration Machine” that Apple uses for screen replacements. One former Apple employee said the machine appeared after the release of the iPhone 5s and was “not very Apple-like at all.” The ex-Apple Genius said the machine had a much more utilitarian feel than Apple’s consumer devices, resembling something more like “a big clunky machine that honestly looked like someone built it in their backyard.” The device requires different iPhones to be placed in specific molds before being placed inside and has at least one liquid inside the machine that forces employees to wear gloves to prevent damage to their hands.

Apple releases sixth betas of tvOS 10.2 and watchOS 3.2 to developers

Apple has released a sixth set of new betas to developers today — tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. The tvOS 10.2 update boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 3.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements.

Well-known forensic scientist and iOS security advocate hired by Apple

Well-known forensic scientist and digital security advocate Jonathan Zdziarski has announced on his blog that he’s been hired by Apple. Zdziarski has exposed back doors into iOS in the past and is a popular security consultant for journalists whenever news about Apple security flaws breaks. After clearly getting Apple’s attention, Zdziarski said he has now “accepted a position with Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture team, and [is] very excited to be working with a group of like minded individuals so passionate about protecting the security and privacy of others.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple files amicus brief in support of Google’s fight against FBI’s overseas warrant

Apple has joined Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco in filing an amicus brief in support of Google’s refusal to hand over email records to the FBI, Business Insider reports. The FBI’s warrant requests records stored in Google’s servers overseas, and Google has argued against applying the Stored Communications Act to data stored outside the U.S. The brief filed by the other companies argues that seeking emails from a foreign data center would be perceived as an “extraterritorial act on the part of the U.S. government” and invite other nations to begin demanding records currently kept on U.S. soil for their own investigations. A Pennsylvania court has ruled that Google must surrender the documents to the FBI, but the company has said it will fight the ruling.

Mazda announces it will add CarPlay to vehicles, but doesn’t set timeline

Mazda has announced it will add CarPlay to its car and SUV lineup, but hasn’t made its timeline for doing so official, Cars.com reports. The company made the announcement during the launch of its 2017 CX-5, but included no details on which cars will be the first to get the new feature. Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown did add that once the feature is released, it “should be retroactively upgradeable onto all Mazda Connect systems with a potentially minimal hardware addition needed,” meaning that at least some current Mazda owners will be able to add the technology once it’s released. Toyota is now one of the final holdouts refusing to integrate CarPlay into its vehicles.

Asthma study proves ResearchKit data is accurate compared to other studies

Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital have found that health data collected from Apple’s ResearchKit platform for one asthma study is reliable when compared to other methods, The Verge reports. The difficulty involved in recruiting study participants has made collecting data from smartphones—which is considerably easier—more appealing, but questions have always lingered about the accuracy of the data. The Mount Sinai study published in Nature Biotechnology suggests that the asthma study run with a smartphone app and that had data collected and reported by ResearchKit produced similar results to existing patient studies conducted with traditional methods.

Report: Apple could announce new iPad models as soon as next week

Apple could be preparing to release new iPad models as early as next week, according to a new report from MacRumors. Citing “reputable supply chain analysts,” the report suggests that Apple is expected to release “new products” later this month, pointing to the week of Mar. 20–24 as the most likely timeframe. While the research firm MacRumors spoke with did not provide any details on which products it expects Apple to announce, it did indicate that the information came from its own first-hand sources.

Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.3 to developers

Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3 to registered developers, with a build number of 14E5273a. The rapid beta cycle and increasingly sparse release notes suggest that iOS 10.3 is nearing public release. Unlike most prior beta update cycles, this time around no corresponding watchOS or tvOS betas have been released as of yet. A corresponding public beta update is expected in the near future.

Apple adds categories, new product updates to its HomeKit website

Apple has placed a renewed emphasis on updating its improved HomeKit page with updates on newly announced products, but may have let the cat out of the bag too early on the ecobee4 in the process. Apple recently updated the page with a new design, marking unreleased products with either “Announced” or “Coming Soon” tags and grouping HomeKit-compatible products into categories like Security, Fans, Lights, etc. where the devices were previously sorted by brand. Since Apple revealed the updated page less than two weeks ago, iDevices Wall Switch, iDevices Wall Outlet, and Netatmo by Starck Smart Thermostat have all lost the “Coming Soon” tag as they’ve been released, showing Apple’s commitment to maintaining and updating the page in real time. But in an interesting turn of events, the ecobee4 was originally listed as “Announced,” but now has been removed from the list entirely. With no other mentions of the product at all, it seems Apple may have spilled the beans on the new device before its own parent company was ready to make an official announcement.

Google releases Uptime app for watching and sharing YouTube videos

Google’s Area 120 program has just released a new iOS app called Uptime, allowing U.S. users to share YouTube videos with one another and chat in real time while watching them. The app also provides the ability to add reactions or comments, allows users to curate lists of their favorite YouTube clips and provides daily recommendations from friends and people you follow. The app is free on the App Store, but you’ll need to use the invitation code PIZZA to get in. [via TNW]

‘Game of Thrones’ stars to appear on ‘Carpool Karaoke’

“Game of Thrones” stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner will be among the celebrity duos singing behind the wheel in Apple Music’s new “Carpool Karaoke” show, the pair announced in a video on Twitter. The show — based on a similar comedy bit developed by James Corden for his own late night TV show — will now feature two or more celebrities in each 30-minute episode. Other notable celebrities confirmed for the project include Corden, Blake Shelton, Will Smith, Seth MacFarlane (of Family Guy fame), Ariana Grande, Shaq, and Michael Strahan. Apple has said it’s using original shows to make Apple Music stand out from other competing music streaming services, but the company continues to show interest in other shows outside the music realm as well.

European custom homebuilder WeberHaus to begin offering HomeKit packages

European custom homebuilder WeberHaus has announced plans to begin featuring Apple HomeKit in its SmartHome projects beginning this year. The company has been building custom SmartHomes for some time now featuring its own “WeberLogic 2.0” platform that utilizes the MyHomeControl app from Swiss company BootUp, however with HomeKit, WeberHaus is planning to increase the number of compatible devices that can be controlled, as well as adding more tightly integrated home control using iOS devices and Siri voice commands. “Apple HomeKit is the control solution of choice for home manufacturers around the world, delivering a simple and secure smart home solution for new home buyers,” said Klaus-Dieter Schwendemann, marketing manager at WeberHaus. The company’s press release also notes that it chose to partner with Apple as it feels that HomeKit technology is the “global standard for the smart home,” providing a “simple and secure” solution and “interoperability between different brands and accessories throughout the home.” WeberHaus is the first European home manufacturer to add support for HomeKit.

Apple says ‘right to repair’ bill would make Nebraska a ‘mecca for bad actors’

Following reports last month on Apple’s planned opposition to a new “right to repair” bill being tabled in Nebraska, the iPhone maker has apparently begun low-key lobbying efforts in the state, according to BuzzFeed News. Nebraska is one of eight states considering “right to repair” legislation that would require manufacturers to provide repair manuals and parts to independent repair shops. Proponents of the bill claim that this would result in customers having more options to fix their devices and ultimately lower repair costs, while those companies opposing the bill, including Apple, Samsung, and John Deere, cite concerns with safety and security issues for consumers as well as revealing trade secrets. Other states considering similar legislation are Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Wyoming.

Apple representative Steve Kester recently met with the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Lydia Brasch to discuss Apple’s position on the bill. According to Sen. Brasch, Kester told her that Nebraska would be a “mecca for bad actors” if the bill passed, suggesting hackers would flood into the state, but that Apple would not oppose the bill if phones were specifically excluded from the legislation. Notably, no mention was made of excluding other Apple devices such as iPads and Macs, which the bill would also apply to. Apple declined to comment on the Nebraska bill or any of its lobbying efforts in other states, saying merely that “limiting repairs to authorized vendors is the only way it can guarantee that genuine parts are used and that the devices are fixed correctly.”

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