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Apple’s latest Transparency Report shows spike in National Security requests

Apple has released its latest bi-annual transparency report, providing an overview of requests by government agencies and private parties for customer data from January 2017 to June 2017. While the latest report shows that overall data requests have dropped over the past year, it also reveals a spike in the number of U.S. Government data requests under FISA and National Security Letters.

Apple releases first watchOS 4.1 beta, adding Apple Music support

Apple has released a first beta of watchOS 4.1 to registered developers, adding the promised Apple Music support. The feature promises users the ability to stream any song from Apple Music or their iCloud Music Library directly from their wrist, and also adds a new Radio app for access to Beats 1 live or any other Apple Music radio station, even while away from an iPhone or Wi-Fi connection. According to the release notes, this initial beta doesn’t yet provide support for ESPN or cellular connections in the Radio app, although it seems Apple intends to address both of these issues in future betas. The release notes also do not specify if Apple Music support will be limited to only certain Apple Watch models.

Apple releases first beta of iOS 11.1

Only a little more than a week after Apple’s public release of iOS 11, the company has now pushed out a beta of its first point release to both developers and public beta testers. So far, the first iOS 11.1 beta only appears to have made a few relatively minor changes, and there’s not yet any sign of other features that Apple has promised in upcoming point releases, such as person-to-person Apple Pay support. Registered developers and members of the Public Beta Program can receive the new update over-the-air after installing the appropriate certificate on their iOS 11 devices.

Apple making push to acquire ‘Game of Thrones’-quality shows

Apple is taking meetings in the hopes of landing “big, smart, splashy dramas, with at least one citing Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Crown as models,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources claim Apple has jumped into the discussion at multiple production houses and is now getting the same pitches that Netflix and HBO see for new high-end TV series. Apple reportedly missed out on “Ratched” — Ryan Murphy’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” origin series — which ended up going to Netflix, and has made bids on a handful of other projects, but the company is also reportedly passing on the vast majority of pitches in the hopes of securing one massive blockbuster deal to lead the way. Those include an update of the Steve Spielberg series Amazing Stories and a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, according to sources close to the discussions.

Apple joins FDA program to speed up health software approval process

Since the Apple Watch’s creation, the FDA has mostly maintained a hands-off approach to regulations, and as Apple pushes into new areas of health monitoring the agency is looking to help the company avoid regulations that have slowed development on health software, Bloomberg reports. The program will allow companies to pre-clear their products instead of going going through the usual months-long application and approval process. The program is aimed at helping companies develop new products more rapidly while still keeping some government oversight of the process. “We need to modernize our regulatory framework so that it matches the kind of innovation we’re being asked to evaluate,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

Apple releases iOS 11.0.1 update amid user complaints of app failures, battery drain

The release of iOS 11 has brought the usual complaints about performance issues, with an entire thread on Reddit dedicated to users who have seen a steep drop in battery life, slow load times for apps and buggy performance in general. Apple has released iOS 11.0.1, only saying the standard “bug fixes and improvements” in the way of explaining what has changed, so it’s unclear whether this is in response to problems or just a routine update, but Apple did tell The Verge it is working on the static users have reported hearing in the iPhone 8 earpiece. The company claims the crackling has only come up in a “small number” of devices and a fix “will be included in an upcoming software release.”

Apple ditches two-step authentication for two-factor in iOS 11, macOS High Sierra

Apple is eliminating its old two-step verification process and migrating all users to two-factor authentication with the roll out of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, according to an updated support document. The company rolled out two-factor authentication back in 2015, but the company had been letting people keep going with the older two-step authentication if they wanted. The two-step method requires logging in with an Apple ID and then sending a code to an Apple device via SMS text message, allowing users to require the added confirmation layer for things like signing into iCloud, tinkering with an Apple ID or buying things from iTunes, iBooks, or the App Store from a new device.

 

Apple drops Bing for Siri and Spotlight searches, moves to Google

Apple has switched Siri and Spotlight’s default searches to Google, leaving Bing behind and bringing the searches in line with Safari, TechCrunch reports. Apple’s web browser already used Google — both on macOS and iOS — so the move should make the results returned in Siri and Spotlight more consistent with Safari. For the time being Bing is still the go-to for Siri image searches, and video results are delivered courtesy of YouTube. Now if users want to use Bing for Siri searches they’ll have to specify that in their request, but Google is far more popular so the change is unlikely to cause many problems.

Apple hiring editor to curate live sports content, developing AR technology for MLB

Apple is making a push into the sports world on multiple fronts, posting a job opening for a sports editor “to lead content curation and programming for the recently-announced live sports feature in the Apple TV app.” Unsurprisingly the post is looking for someone who lives and breathes sports of all kinds and has extensive experience in all aspects of the television business. The new live TV features coming down the pipe with tvOS 11 include on-screen notifications for games and all kinds of tracking abilities for fans, but direct deals with the sports leagues that are streaming the content will still be necessary for access to live events.

Some 2018 iPhones may stick with LCD screens, include new 3D Touch sensors

The iPhone X hasn’t even opened up for pre-orders yet and speculation has already turned to what’s in store for 2018, with The Korea Herald reporting that Apple is eyeing releasing a 5.85” OLED iPhone and a larger LCD model. The report claims Apple has scrapped work on a 5.28” OLED iPhone in favor of the larger devices and has already placed orders with Japan Display for LCD screens larger than 6”. It’s unclear whether both of the new devices will feature the same narrow bezels of the iPhone X, so it’s hard to tell how the purported increase in screen measurements will affect the overall footprint of the device.

Report: 3D camera improvements slowing down iPhone X production

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple suppliers are having trouble shipping the TrueDepth camera components the company needs to produce the iPhone X, MacRumors reports. “The 3D sensing (TrueDepth camera) on iPhone X is composed of a structured-light system, time-of-flight system and a front-facing camera, which represents a far more complex structure than those of rivals,” Kuo said in a note to investors. “It will therefore be harder to achieve mass production.” Kuo sees production finally ramping up in mid-October, but with pre-orders slated to begin on October 27, Kuo thinks the iPhone X will likely be in very limited supply for a few months at least.

Apple Watch Series 3 teardown finds little change outside of LTE chips

The iFixit teardown of the Apple Watch Series 3 found the guts of the device are mostly the same as the Apple Watch Series 2, minus the new LTE components that give the new device its cellular capabilities. The 1.07 Whr battery only provides a 4 percent increase over the previous model — by comparisson the Apple Watch Series 2 got a 32 percent improvement in battery capacity over the original Apple Watch. Apple promoted the barometric pressure sensor as a new addition during its Keynote, and while iFixit found it in a new place in this model, the site discovered one in the Apple Watch Series 2 as well. The lack of changes to the new device has led to speculation that Apple had been planning to make the Apple Watch Series 2 a cellular device but didn’t quite make it in time — as was reported at the time — but it’s also possible that making the Series 2 GPS-compatible laid the groundwork for what would come after.

Super Mario Run new levels and characters, temporary price cut

After users complained about the high price and lack of updates to Super Mario Run, Nintendo will be releasing an update with a new playable character, new levels, new enemies and a “Remix 10” mode that challenges users to “play a set of 10 super-short sections from Super Mario Run’s existing levels in quick succession.” Rescuing Daisy in Remix 10 mode will unlock her as a playable character and give users access to her double-jump to help best difficult levels. The company will release the update Friday after last updating the game in March, and for the two weeks after the update the game will cost $5 instead of the usual $10 on the App Store.

Apple increases iTunes movie rental time to 48 hours for US users

Apple has increased the time a user has to finish or rewatch a movie rented from iTunes from 24 hours to 48 hours for U.S. users, according to the company’s updated support document. Users in the U.S. users have 30 days from the time they rent a movie to begin watching it, and now they’ll have twice as much time to finish it. The 48 hour window to watch an iTunes rental has been available since the beginning of iTunes movie rentals in Canada and the U.K. — among other countries — and it’s not entirely clear why the U.S. had a shorter time limit. The company also recently made 4K movies available for rent at the same price as HD movies (but they can’t be downloaded for offline viewing).

iPhone 8, 8 Plus support Enhanced Voice Services, but users reporting static in calls

Takashi Tanaka, President of Japan’s KDDI cellular provider, said the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus support Enhanced Voice Services that provide clearer calls and boost the connection’s reliability, according to Engadget’s Japanese-language site. The codec is the next step in Apple’s HD Voice, which has been around since the iPhone 8. The latest incarnation — which Gizmodo reports is being called “Enhanced HD Voice” in the UK — boosts the upper frequency range of calls from 7kHz to 14.4kHz, but it only works when both users have phones with the capabilities.

Anki launches Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition

Anki has launched Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition ($170), taking the company’s evolved battle-racing game to new levels by blending it with the adrenaline-fueled world of Fast & Furious. Players will be able to challenge Toretto crew A.I. characters, including Dom, Hobbs, Letty, and Tej, as well as battle against their friends and family in two film-inspired robotic supercars — Hobbs’ iconic and tough International MXT and Dom’s super-fast Ice Charger. The modular track pieces also get an upgrade in the new edition, with a new Power Zone track piece that triggers a massive “hack” as players drive through it. The new Fast & Furious Edition is compatible with the existing Anki Overdrive product family, including the already available roster of supercars and expansion kits. Be sure to check back for our full review of the new kit.

iFixit posts teardown of iPhone 8

iFixit has posted its usual complete teardown of the iPhone 8, as usual confirming much of the information that’s already been revealed while discovering a few additional interesting details. The new iPhone 8 model appears very similar to its predecessor on the outside, and is only a fraction of a millimetre larger in its dimensions. The model is identified from the box as A1863, although the report notes that it’s now conspicuously absent from the iPhone 8’s new all-glass back, thanks to a recent law that allows this information to be displayed only in the software.

Apple Watch Series 3 unboxing photos

The new Apple Watch Series 3 has also just arrived, so we’re posting a quick first look at Apple’s latest wearable. The images highlight some of the subtleties of the new model, such as a red circle on the Digital Crown that’s used to distinguish the GPS+Cellular version from the non-cellular version of the Series 3. Otherwise, the Series 3 bears a striking resemblance to last year’s Series 2; Apple noted a very slight thickness increase, but as we’d expect it’s not noticeable to the naked eye. While it looks the same on the outside, the internals have been significantly upgraded, not only adding a cellular radio and eSIM, but also a considerably faster processor, a more power-efficient “W2” wireless chip, and a barometric sensor. The box includes the usual 5W USB power adapter and Apple Watch charging adapter. We’ll be putting the Apple Watch Series 3 through its paces over the next few days so be on the lookout for our full review next week.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus: Unboxing + comparison photos

We’ve just gotten our hands on Apple’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, and we’ve posted a quick first look with some unboxing and comparison photos. Users familiar with past iPhone models will find no real surprises here; despite support for rapid charging, Apple still only bundles its standard 5W power adapter, along with the usual wired EarPods and standard Lightning cable. The new glass backs on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus hearken back to the iPhone 4 era, and make the space gray version look closer to last year’s jet black iPhone 7 than the matte black version. The high gloss glass back on the silver iPhone 7 still isn’t quite as white as the iPhone 4/4s models, but it definitely bears a closer resemblance. The new iPhones both ship with iOS 11. Keep your eyes out for our full, independent, comprehensive review of the new iPhone models next week once we’ve had a chance to put them through their paces.

iPhone X production faces further ‘incremental delay’ to mid-October

Apple’s new iPhone X is experiencing an “incremental delay” in its build plans that will likely delay production until mid-October, according to a new investor note obtained by Barron’s. The note reveals that production of the flagship iPhone doesn’t appear to have started yet, and the mid-October production start represents a one-month delay compared to previous expectations. The investor note primarily concerns itself with aspect of when Apple would be able to realize earnings from the sale of the new iPhone, noting that production would shift more into “the December quarter” and that it relates to the “tone and expectations” for that quarter. It’s not entirely clear, however, whether Apple has already factored in these production delays into its promised Nov. 3 ship date, or whether that date could possibly slip, however the note does seem to make it more likely that availability of the new iPhone X may be more limited than originally anticipated.

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