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Apple reportedly interested in deal for Bollywood movies and music

Apple is one of a handful of companies pursuing a deal with Indian movie production house Eros, Reuters reports. Apple’s video content strategy has been disorganized to say the least, and iTunes Store is losing its dominance in movie rentals and sales. A source familiar with the matter said the discussions are in a very early stage for what could be a $1 billion deal. Eros owns the rights to several Bollywood hits and has recently expanded into other Indian languages, claiming to now have a library of more than 3,000 films. Apple declined to comment, but is making a big push in India on multiple fronts.

Report: Apple working on multiple prototypes of AR glasses

While Apple has committed a considerable investment toward its augmented reality project, the Financial Times reports the company still has multiple prototypes for its rumored AR glasses. People familiar with the project said some of Apple’s AR glasses are separate units that rely on their own internal displays to overlay a virtual world on top of the real one, other methods rely on an iPhone inserted into a headset to create the effect. Some Apple engineers have pushed for the glasses to have their own 3D cameras, but rely on the iPhone for display purposes. The iPhone’s pixel count is lower than that of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive—making it likely to fall far behind those devices when used for up-close viewing—but with the iPhone 8 expected to contain a higher pixel density than the iPhone 7 Plus and the latest iPad Pros getting a bump to a 120Hz refresh rate, Apple is showing signs of closing the gap. [via AppleInsider]

Report: Cellular Apple Watch coming later this year

After last year’s speculation about a cellular Apple Watch didn’t come to fruition, a new Bloomberg report claims the device will be released later this year. Citing people familiar with the development, at least some new Apple Watches will come equipped with LTE chips and be able to perform tasks like downloading new songs or accessing apps without a tethered iPhone. Intel is said to be supplying the modems—not surprising since Apple is embroiled in a nasty legal battle with its other supplier, Qualcomm—and Apple is already said to be in talks with US and European carriers to support the devices. Previous predictions placed a cellular Apple Watch launching earlier next year and including a hybrid USB-C/Lightning connector, and Daring Fireball cites an unconfirmed source saying the device could even include an “all-new form factor,” but provided no specifics about what that would entail.

iPhone 8 fingerprint sensors reportedly scrapped while cameras add “SmartCam” mode, better 4K video

Code extracted from Apple’s new HomePod and posted on iOs developer Guilherme Rambo’s Twitter account seems to show a “SmartCam” feature in the iPhone 8 that will automatically select the best shots while photographing particular subjects. The setting names cover a variety of commonly photographed objects or scenes, including babies, pets, documents, brightly lit stages, fireworks, foliage, sports, snow, the sky, sunsets and sunrises. While the iPhone already makes educated guesses at which shots are best when used in burst mode, Rambo said the “SmartCam” functionality is new to the HomePod iOS 11.0.2 firmware. Other snippets of code show that both the front and rear iPhone 8 cameras may support recording video in 4K at 60 fps, according to iHelp BR. The front cameras on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus currently record video at 4K at 30 fps, but the FaceTime camera tops out at 1080p.

mXers Audio announces Modular Earbuds

mXers Audio has debuted a new modular earphone system via a Kickstarter campaign. The new system features a patented connector design that allows the earbuds to be disassembled into separate parts so that any wire or earbud can be interchanged in seconds, allowing users to customize for features, fit, or simply their preferred choice of color and style. The interchangeable parts also make the Modular Earphones easier to repair, since only a single broken part such as a wire needs to be repaired or replaced, rather than an entire set of expensive earbuds. The system will offer both wired and wireless Bluetooth 4.2 base modules onto which either a standard set of mXers earbuds can be connected, or the bass-heavy xBass earbuds, both available in color choices of blue, red, or pink. Pricing via the Kickstarter campaign ranges from $30 for a basic wired set to to $120 for a set of three earbuds with the wireless module.

Leaked HomePod firmware suggests Apple Pay may use Facial Recognition

Developers are continuing to dig through the leaked HomePod firmware, discovering new insights into features that may be implemented on the upcoming premium “iPhone 8” that Apple is rumoured to be working on. The latest discovery by iOS developer @r_idn suggests that Apple may in fact be preparing to leverage the facial recognition features that are expected to be included in the new flagship iPhone to work with Apple Pay, supplementing or possibly even replacing Touch ID as the authentication method.

Plex expands Live TV support, time shifting to Apple TV

After making its Live TV function available in beta on iOS in June, Plex has taken it out of beta and expanded Live TV support to the Apple TV as well, according to an update from the company. The company’s Plex DVR feature for recording and watching programs is also officially out of beta on iOS, but according to a company spokesperson users will still need to use the iOS, web, or Android apps to schedule recordings, after which they can be viewed on the Apple TV in the same way as any other media item in the Plex library.

Tim Cook dances around questions about autonomous systems, augmented reality

While Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments during yesterday’s earnings call didn’t contain any major revelations, he did reiterate that he expects the cutting edge augmented reality and autonomous systems technology that the company is working on to fundamentally improve the way people live. Earlier this year Apple shifted its focus away from building an electric car and toward constructing an autonomous driving system, but Cook said cars are just one of many applications for autonomous technology, “the mother of all AI projects.” “Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways. A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that,” he said, although he did add that the company does “have a large project going, and we’re making a big investment in this from our point of view.”

Apple wants tax breaks for suppliers to produce iPhones in India

Apple has requested tax breaks for its suppliers to set up a manufacturing hub in India, Reuters reports. The company has been actively pursuing its own incentives in India to offset the costs of moving more of its production to the country and has now begun putting pressure on the Indian government to extend the same concessions to its suppliers. Apple started assembling iPhones in India earlier this year in order to break into the Indian market, but the two sides have been negotiating about Apple’s list of “prerequisites” to get to the point where Apple is building the iPhones from scratch in India.

Apple dumps hundreds of binary trading apps after fraud complaints

After an intervention by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Apple has pulled more than 300 binary trading apps from the App Store, Bloomberg reports. The ASIC made the request to both Apple and Google after uncovering numerous cases of fraud where unlicensed products beyond the reach of regulators prevented consumers from withdrawing cash from their accounts or losing money on the live app after making “winning trades 9 times out of 10 in the demonstration app.” Apple recently updated its developer guidelines to prohibit new apps that facilitate binary options trading, but didn’t comment on discussions with the ASIC. Of the 330 that have been verified as removed, the ASIC said “80 percent had no warnings about the risks inherent in trading.”

Judge allows FaceTime lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge has ruled that iPhone 4 and 4s users can pursue their class action lawsuit against Apple for intentionally disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 devices, Reuters reports. After losing a patent lawsuit to VirnetX in 2012, Apple was forced to discontinue its direct device-to-device mode for FaceTime, greatly increasing the fees it had to pay to Akamai Technologies — dropping as much as $50 million in one six-month period according to court documents. In developing iOS 7, Apple engineers were able to include a method of peer-to-peer FaceTime communication that didn’t infringe on the VirnetX patents, however, Apple was either unable to unwilling to bring these improvements into an iOS 6 update. Based on internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX case, the new class-action lawsuit claims that Apple made plans to deliberately “break” FaceTime on older iOS versions by forcing a key digital certificate used for FaceTime to expire prematurely.

Apple investing billions in LG’s OLED production

Apple is investing around $2.7 billion in LG’s OLED display production, The Korea Herald reports. That funding will help LG get up to producing 45,000 units each month, of which Apple’s orders alone are expected to account for 30,000. Samsung is currently the sole supplier of the OLED screens expected to debut in the iPhone 8 later this year, but KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes the panels have been “the single most troublesome component for Apple” in constructing the iPhone 8. Kuo said Apple is “committed to having LG Display geared up for its OLED iPhone display business in 2018,” and this latest round of funding seems to back that up. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple pulls VPN apps from China’s App Store over new government rules

Creators of VPN apps like ExpressVPN have been notified that their apps have been removed from China’s App Store. China greatly restricts the content its citizens have access to on the internet, making VPN services popular for users trying to circumvent what has come to be called The Great Firewall. Apple told developers their apps has been removed because they included “content that is illegal in China,” adding in a statement to 9to5Mac that the Chinese MIIT requires VPN providers to obtain a special license before they’re allowed to be sold. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple Pay now available for use on Weebly online stores

Weebly’s group of online stores now support Apple Pay, according to a release from the company. The company says its research shows “one in four people abandon their carts because of a “too long and complicated checkout process” and checkout conversions are 66 percent lower on mobile than on desktop,” and with 40 percent of all Weebly’s transactions coming on mobile devices, David Rusenko, Founder and CEO of Weebly, said, “Apple Pay makes checking out online a frictionless experience.” The roll out will be phased in over the next few weeks, and to be eligible merchants need to be connected to the Stripe payment gateway.

Apple sued over ‘What did he say?’ Apple TV feature

Apple has been sued over the Siri feature that lets users say “What did he say?” and have the Apple TV rewind the program and replay that section with subtitles turned on, MacRumors reports. In the lawsuit, CustomPlay contends that the functionality copies its movie companion software. That patent covers, “A remote control capable of activating a replay function comprises a WHAT? button, key, or other replay function key or means, to enable a viewer by activating the replay function to automatically cause the system to: i) rewind or skip backwards the playing of the video a system default or a viewer specific previously defined amount, e.g. 20 seconds; ii) turn on the subtitle to a system default or a viewer specific previously selected subtitle language, e.g. English; iii) turn off the subtitle at either the point the WHAT? button was pressed or at some viewer specific previously defined point.”

Receipts in UK, Canada hint at 4K and HDR options coming to iTunes

Some iTunes receipts in the UK and Canada are showing movies listed as 4K and HDR, hinting at Apple adding those viewing options in the near future, MacRumors reports. Apple currently only offers movies in SD and HD, which tops out at a maximum 1080p, and even users who are seeing 4K and HDR options on their bills say the movies are still only available for download in HD. The change also hasn’t appeared in the US yet. The current Apple TV can only stream in HD, but in February there were rumors that Apple’s fifth-generation Apple TV—which could debut as soon as this year—would be capable of streaming in 4K.

HomePod firmware appears to reveal iPhone 8 front design, support for facial recognition

In digging through the newly released firmware for Apple’s HomePod, developer Steve Troughton-Smith has come across an image seemingly confirming the rumored bezel-less iPhone 8 front design and code that shows users will be able to use facial recognition to unlock the phone. Troughton-Smith claims to have found an infra-red face unlock inside BiometricKit — the framework also responsible for Touch ID support — that can detect faces from various angles and even when they’re partially obscured. The framework also guards against using images or 3D models of faces to gain access, but time will tell whether facial recognition is secure and responsive enough to replace Touch ID for things like Apple Pay.

Apple Store app now supports payments via Touch ID

Apple has updated its Apple Store app for iOS, adding the ability to use Touch ID to authorize payments and make changes to account information. Although Apple originally added Touch ID support to the Apple Store app back in 2015, the feature was originally limited to viewing orders, accessing EasyPay receipts, and making online reservations at an Apple Store, and still required the user to enter their Apple ID password to access stored payment information or actually place orders.

Tim Hortons launches Mobile Order and Pay, with Apple Pay support

Iconic Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons has launched its new Mobile Order and Pay feature, following several months of testing that began this past spring. A new Tim Hortons app has been release on the App Store for the new service, replacing the older “TimmyMe” app that was previously used to manage Tim Hortons store card payments. The new app will allow existing users of the TimmyMe app to seamlessly transfer their balances to the new app, which will allow users to place orders from their nearest Tim Hortons and pay for them directly in the app. Users can log into the app using Facebook, Google, or an e-mail address, and payment can be made from an existing Tim Hortons card or directly from any supported in-app payment method using Apple Pay. Although Mobile Order and Pay is far from new — Starbucks debuted the feature in 2015 in the U.S., bringing it to Canada early last year — Tim Hortons eclipses Starbucks in Canada, making the feature a huge boon to Canadian iPhone users, particularly in light of its support for making direct payments via Apple Pay rather than via an intermediary store card. [via iPhone in Canada]

FCC grants license to Apple for 5G wireless testing

Apple has been granted a license by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin testing 5G wireless networking technology, according to a new report by DSLReports. Apple filed an application with the FCC back in May for an experimental license, looking to set up two fixed locations in Cupertino and Milpitas, California. The FCC approval doesn’t appear to add anything significant to the original application, merely granting permission for Apple to begin testing the experimental millimeter wave technology at the designated locations, using the already FCC-approved 28 and 39 GHz bands. Details of Apple’s plans for the new technology remain somewhat unclear, particularly since the 5G standard remains incomplete at this time, however the company’s application states that the company is interested in collecting “engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

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