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Apple enables Single Sign-On across all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices

Apple has enabled its promised Single Sign-On service for all devices running at least iOS 10 or tvOS 10, despite it only previously appearing in the iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 betas. The service is only accessible to users in the United States, with eight providers currently on board: CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GTA, Hawaiian Telecom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling TV. The Single Sign-On allows subscribers of any of these supported providers to log in with the credentials from their cable/satellite account to access content in supported content apps without having to authenticate to each app separately — apps will simply request the user’s permission to access saved sign-on credentials when first using the app. Note that content provider apps will need to be specifically updated by their developers to add support for Single Sign-On as well. Hopefully, now that the feature is live, we see more cable/satellite providers added to Single Sign-On, as the list is relatively short at this time.

Apple releases fifth beta for tvOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released the fifth beta for Apple TV’s tvOS 10.1 to developers. We’ll update if any major changes are found, but it’s more likely these updates will offer minor tweaks for features added in previous betas, including the new TV app and Single Sign-On feature.

Apple to start publishing its AI research

Apple is about to start publishing some of its artificial intelligence research findings, breaking with the company’s usually stringent privacy, Business Insider reports. A series of tweets show that Russ Salakhutd, director of AI research at Apple and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, announced the company’s policy reversal to attendees at the annual Neural Information Processing Systems conference. Apple has historically closely guarded its technological breakthroughs, forcing its employees to keep quiet in the name of protecting the company’s intellectual property while competitors like Facebook and Google allow their employees to publish their research findings in a number of fields. Apple’s secrecy has been a point of contention for years, hampering its ability to draw top talent who see publishing their work as a key component of career advancement.

Supreme Court rules against Apple in design patent case

In its first patent case decision in more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with Samsung’s argument that its infringement of design patents held by Apple doesn’t mean it should have to surrender its full profits from smartphone sales, USA Today reports. Apple was initially awarded more than $1 billion over Samsung’s improper use of a number of design and utility patents, but Samsung took the case to the country’s highest court, arguing that lower courts misapplied the law around design patents, specifically when assessing ornamental versus functional aspects of a product’s design.

Study finds half of kids headphones exceed safe volume limits

An investigation has found that nearly half of headphones intended for children don’t reliably keep volume down to safe levels to prevent hearing damage, The New York Times reports. Many headphones marketed as “safe for young ears” and promising to provide “100 percent safe listening” had “design flaws that could allow a child to bypass their volume-reduction features easily,” proving that volume-limiting headphones are not the perfect solution many parents had hoped. The worst among the 30 pairs tested “produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to ears in minutes,” with some relying on resistors within the cord to limit volume, which sometimes failed to work at all. The full results of The Wirecutter’s investigation are available on its website.

More iPhone 6s devices affected by shutdown bug; iOS update coming

On its Chinese language website, Apple is admitting that the battery issue making some iPhone 6s devices shut down unexpectedly is affecting more models than previously thought. The company has said that some iPhone 6s devices made between September and October 2015 contained a faulty battery component, and Apple is offering free battery replacements based on the devices’ serial numbers — but new cases are cropping up outside that initial batch.

Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Apple has released a sixth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers today, along with the fifth beta of watchOS 3.1.1. Some were hoping for a full public release of iOS 10.2 today, but it appears that’ll have to wait at least a little while longer. We’ll update with any notable findings.

Developers pushing back against abusers of Apple’s App Store refund policy

Apple’s full control of its App Store refund policy has drawn the ire of developers who say the company is allowing users to abuse loopholes to cheat them, The Korea Times reports. Apple independently determines whether customers get refunds, with developers unable to even obtain information about users that receive the refunds. That forces developers to track down users manually to ensure they’re not still using the content for which they’ve received refunds. The disconnect has allowed unscrupulous users to buy paid content multiple times, request refunds, and then continue using the content without paying for it.

Apple lobbies for shared data, more public road access to test autonomous driving systems

In a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Apple has expressed interest in cooperating with other companies to accelerate development of its autonomous driving technology, VentureBeat reports. Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, sent the letter to advocate for a data-sharing program that would let companies swap “de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses” while still maintaining the privacy that the company so closely guards. In the letter Kenner admits, “The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”

Apple Store app update allows purchases from Apple Watch

Apple has released an update to the Apple Store app, adding the ability for users to purchase accessories directly from their Apple Watch, as well as support for iOS 10 rich notifications. The Apple Watch app doesn’t yet provide access to the full Apple Store catalog, so users will be limited to purchasing accessories that they’ve already marked as favorites from the iOS app or Apple Store web page, and will need to pay using Apple Pay. As with other features in the Apple Store app, Apple notes that not all features may be available in all countries, so it’s unclear where Apple Watch accessory purchases will be available, or whether only certain products are eligible.

Apple releases fifth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Apple has released a fifth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers today, focused primarily on resolving issues with the new TV app expected to debut later this month. Notably, this latest beta release does not appear to be accompanied by corresponding tvOS or watchOS beta updates.

Apple reveals cause of unexpected iPhone 6s shutdowns

In a statement on its Chinese language website, Apple has revealed the source of the battery problem that has been causing iPhone 6s devices to shut down unexpectedly when the battery reaches 30 percent. “We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs,” Apple wrote. “As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur.”

Report: 99 percent of fake Apple chargers found to be unsafe

Photo: BBC

Investigators have found that 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold online failed a basic safety test, the BBC reports. Safety specialists UL tested 400 counterfeit chargers bought from 8 countries—including the U.S., China and Australia—and found that only three had enough insulation to guard against electric shocks. Trading Standards, the group that commissioned the study, warned buyers to be wary of chargers that don’t seem to fit easily into a socket or don’t bear a manufacturer’s logo and safety certification mark. They also warned that some safety markings are being faked, recommending that buyers check to see if their charger comes with instructions that include conditions for proper use, basic electrical safety advice, and details about how to dispose of the device safely. Apple is currently suing one third-party vendor that the company said put customers “at risk” with its counterfeit power adapters on Amazon.

Apple offering battery replacements for iPhone 6s models with ‘unexpected shutdown issues’ (Updated)

Apple is offering free battery replacements for some iPhone 6s users whose phones are unexpectedly shutting down. The program is limited to certain devices manufactured from September to October 2015, and phones are subject to an inspection prior to the repair to make sure the serial number is within the correct range. Customers can contact Apple technical support, an Apple retail store or an authorized Apple service provider to find out of their phone is eligible for the repair. Owners of an iPhone 6s who have paid to replace their battery to remedy the shut down problem are also urged to contact Apple about a possible refund. Before customers take their phone in for service, Apple recommends backing up all personal data.

Update: Apple has added a serial number checker to the program page, allowing users who suspect they may be affected by this problem to enter their iPhone 6s serial number online to see if their device is eligible for replacement under the program.

Report: Fitbit to acquire Pebble

Fitbit is putting the final touches on a deal to acquire Pebble, according to a report from The Information (via TechCrunch). The original report indicates that Fitbit will be paying a “small amount” for the well-known smart watch maker, which has been struggling recently with a downturn in investments that forced it to cut its staff by 25 percent earlier this year. The Information also indicates that the deal is more about Fitbit acquiring Pebble’s intellectual property and software assets, rather than the product itself, noting that Pebble and its products would be “closed down over time.”

Apple releases statement on iCloud Calendar spam

Apple has issued a statement in response to a problem that many iCloud users — including members of our iLounge team — have experienced in recent weeks, with spam being sent via iCloud calendar invitations. Spammers have been exploiting the fact that iCloud calendar invitations are sent via a dedicated iCloud communications channel that, unlike email, doesn’t presently include any anti-spam filters. In a statement tweeted by Rene Ritchie, Apple apologized, noting that some users are experiencing the problem. The company is working to address it by identifying and blocking the culprits, and working to filter the invites themselves.

In the meantime, users can work around this problem by logging into their web-based iCloud account online at iCloud.com, going to the Advanced tab in Calendar preferences, and opting to receive event invitations as email messages rather than in-app notifications, where email-based anti-spam filters will likely have better success at catching the bogus calendar invites.

Apple sending out drones to improve Maps data, adding interior building maps

Apple is planning on sending out airborne drones in the U.S. to improve data for its Maps application, Bloomberg reports. The company is also developing indoor mapping features for public buildings such as airports and museums. Apple applied for an FAA exemption in late 2015 that would allow it to fly drones for commercial purposes, and received approval earlier this year. The company has reportedly been putting together robotics and data collection experts to get the program underway. Drones would allow Apple to update map information much more quickly than the ground-based vehicles the company is currently using. Sources indicate that drones would examine street signs, track changes to roads, and monitor construction zones, with data fed back to Apple teams for rapid updates to the database behind the Maps app. Interestingly, the report also reveals that Apple has hired at least one person from Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery division to help run the drone team, which is being assembled in Seattle — where Amazon’s headquarters is also located.

Tim Cook allegedly tells customer AirPods to ship in ‘next few weeks’

In an email reply to a frustrated customer, Tim Cook has given a hint to when Apple’s AirPods will ship, MacRumors reports. In response to the customer complaint that he can’t charge his iPhone while listening to music, Cook allegedly wrote in regards to AirPods, “Sorry for the delay—-we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks.” MacRumors seems to believe the email is legit, but Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The wireless earbuds were supposed to be released in late October, but were delayed after the company determined they needed “a little more time” to get them ready. Retailers have expected release dates all over the place between December and January, but Apple’s site still shows them as unavailable and “coming soon.”

Apple Pay reportedly launching in Spain tomorrow

Sources at Banco Santander are claiming that Apple Pay will launch in Spain tomorrow, Spanish site Applesfera reports. Santander customers in the UK can already use the mobile payment service, and barring any unforeseen difficulties, sources at the bank said a public announcement about the launch in Spain will be made tomorrow morning. Apple Pay had a rocky start during its recent launch in Japan and is still not available in Germany despite rumors that it would arrive last month. [via 9to5Mac]

Netflix enables offline viewing for some shows and movies on its iOS app

Netflix is now allowing customers to download certain content through their iOS app for offline viewing. Not everything is available for download—with even the Netflix original season of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” not making the cut yet—but fan favorites like “Stranger Things,” “Narcos,” and “Orange Is the New Black” are among the early offerings, along with a number of films. Movies and shows available for offline viewing will have a “download” button on the details page, and video can be downloaded in standard or high quality, depending on how much space you want to use on your device.

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