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Apple recruits two Google Satellite Executives

Apple has hired two top Google satellite executives for a new hardware team that it is creating, Bloomberg reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report notes that Apple has recently hired John Fenwick former lead of Google’s spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, who headed up satellite engineering at Google. Both now allegedly report to Greg Duffy, the Dropcam cofounder who joined Apple in January. Speculation on Duffy’s hire earlier this year suggested that he was “likely to be leading a special project at Apple that is operating like a startup within the company” but no further details were available at the time as to what such a project would be; the two most recent hires, however, suggest that Apple is pursuing another entirely new line of research and development.

Apple releases JavaScript API for playing Live Photos on the web

Apple has unveiled LivePhotosKit JS, a new JavaScript API that will allow web developers to incorporate support for playback of iOS Live Photos into their web pages. The API presents the player as a DOM element in a similar way to an image or video tag, and can be customized with photo and video resources and developers can choose to either control playback programmatically or provide controls to the end user. The new API is also relatively easy for web developers to implement, requiring only that they embed the JavaScript in their webpage and then enable JavaScript strict mode; an NPM installer is also available. Inline players are then added to HTML blocks using declarative markup. The new LivePhotosKit JS player is supported by most modern browsers, including Safari and Chrome on iOS and macOS, Chrome and Firefox on macOS and Windows, Edge and Internet Explorer 11 on Windows, and Chrome beta on Android devices.

Nike unveils new Nike-exclusive ‘Apple Watch NikeLab’

Nike has unveiled Apple Watch NikeLab, a new limited edition version of the Apple Watch Nike+ that debuted last fall. The new neutral-toned Apple Watch is essentially just a design change, pairing up a space grey Apple Watch Series 2 with a black and white sports band, and otherwise continues to include the same features of the other Nike+ models, integrating the Nike+ Run Club app with the standard Apple Watch hardware and watchOS 3. The new model is expected to be available on April 27 via nike.com, at NikeLab stores, and at an Apple Tokyo pop-up store in Isetan. Notably, the limited edition model will not otherwise be sold directly by Apple, either online or at retail. Pricing has not been announced.

Apple releases 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report

Apple has released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, outlining details throughout fiscal year 2016 on the company’s efforts in making all of its operations more eco-friendly. In addition to Apple’s continued push toward completely renewable energy sources, this year’s report highlights a new ambitious area of environmental focus for the company — to end reliance on the mining of finite resources altogether in favour of using only renewable resources and recycled materials.

Apple releases third betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a third beta of iOS 10.3.2 to its registered developers, along with new betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1. This latest betas all appear to include only bug fixes and security improvements.

Apple granted permit to test self-driving car in California

Apple has been granted the necessary permits to test self-driving cars in California, Business Insider reports. Apple’s autonomous vehicle project has been the company’s biggest open secret for years, but on Friday the California DMV added Apple’s name to a list featuring 29 other companies testing self-driving cars. “The permit covers three vehicles, all 2015 Lexus RX450h, and six drivers,” a DMV spokeswoman said, backing up previous reports that Apple is now focused more on the self-driving component than in building its own vehicle from the ground up. Apple declined to comment on the story in its usual fashion, pointing to its previous statement that it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems.”

iTunes Podcasts gets rebranded as ‘Apple Podcasts’

Apple has announced a full rebranding of iTunes Podcasts to “Apple Podcasts,” complete with a new “Listen on Apple Podcasts” logo and even a renaming of the company’s official Twitter account for podcasts. The announcement came this morning via Twitter from Steve Wilson of Apple’s Podcast marketing team.

In his tweet, Wilson provided an example of the new marketing badge, along with a link to Apple’s Podcasts Identity Guidelines page covering the guidelines for podcasters’ use of official Apple assets and materials to promote their podcasts. The change brings the branding more in line with Apple’s other media services such as Apple Music, although it’s unclear whether this is the first step in a broader rebranding of Apple’s media services to move away from the “iTunes” focus or is merely a case of separating free and subscription content from media sold on the iTunes Store.

NYU student documents 6 weeks working on iPhone assembly line

New York University grad student Dejian Zeng spent his 2016 summer vacation inside Pegatron’s ChangShuo factory — a facility that produces iPhones for Apple — and he shared some of his experiences on the factory floor with Business Insider. When he started, Zeng was in charge of connecting iPhone 6s speakers to the back case and putting one screw in to hold it in place for more than 12 hours a day (including overtime). Two-hour stretches of work were punctuated by 10 minute breaks where many people try to catch any sleep they can, sometimes choosing to close their eyes over going to the bathroom for a drink of water. “It becomes a struggle when you’re very sleepy but also you need to drink some water,” Zeng said. “You can only do one thing. It’s just go to the restroom or come back and take some sleep.” The 50-minute lunch break in the middle of the day is also a popular time to sleep, with employees flocking to sofas scattered through a lounge area. But the factory has its own peculiar protocols for these naps as well, mandating that employees are allowed to sleep, but not allowed to lay down. “There are people walking around. If they see you lay down, they will swipe the ID and take a record of it,” Zeng said. “And they put the record in your profile. And then they will publish it to your whole assembly line, so your manager would come and yell at you later. Sometimes if it happens multiple times, they deduct money.”

Qualcomm countersues Apple, seeks damages for breach of contract

Qualcomm is counter-suing Apple in the companies’ ongoing patent dispute, claiming Apple breached its contract and asking for an unspecified amount in damages, CNET reports. In the filing, Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, admits Apple has played a key role in bringing mobile technology to the masses, but argues “Apple could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise that has made it the most profitable company in the world, capturing over 90 percent of smartphone profits, without relying upon Qualcomm’s fundamental cellular technologies.” In its lawsuit, Apple claims Qualcomm is charging excessive royalties “despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards” and asked the court to declare Qualcomm’s patents invalid or reduce the royalty amounts the company is able to charge for their use.

Report: Apple may drop Dialog Semiconductor, build its own power management chips

An analyst at Bankhaus Lampe claims that there is “strong evidence” Apple could cut ties with Dialog Semiconductor and begin producing its own power management integrated circuits, Reuters reports. Another source said Apple is “poaching like crazy” from Dialog, hiring top engineers from the company and ramping up to begin its own in-house efforts. Neither Apple nor Dialog commented on the report, but Dialog’s stock lost as much as 36 percent in one day on the news.

Apple releases second betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a second beta of iOS 10.3.2 to its registered developers, along with new betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1. This latest iOS beta fixes issues with SiriKit and third-party VPN apps, while the new watchOS and tvOS betas appear to include only bug fixes and security improvements.

Apple among companies buying commercials created by ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast

Apple is among a handful of companies making deals with NBC Universal to have “Saturday Night Live” cast members write and star in commercials, Variety reports. This weekend’s broadcast of the show featured an ad for Verizon penned by Colin Jost and featuring Keenan Thompson, created in the hopes that spicing up the content of the commercials that run during the show will draw more people to the live broadcast. Two sources familiar with the discussions said Apple will be the next advertiser with a custom spot, which will look decidely different than the Verizon ad and appear in “a few weeks’ time.”

Apple releases Clips

Apple has just released its new Clips social video sharing app as a free download on the iOS App Store. Announced two weeks ago alongside Apple’s new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone updates, Clips is a new app that will allow users to create videos that combine photos, music, and other video clips with very simple editing features for adjusting clip length, reordering them, and adding more content. Users can use their voice to make animated captions over their videos, and add Snapchat-like filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. Facial recognition features will also allow the app to identify people in the videos and offer to send copies to them via Messages, or share their resulting videos via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Australian consumer commission suing Apple over ‘Error 53’ iPhone failures

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Apple over last year’s Error 53 problem that disabled iPhones which had undergone third-party repairs, The Wall Street Journal reports. The ACCC, which is an arm of the Australian government focused on consumer law and competition regulation, is alleging that Apple was in violation of Australian laws by “bricking” iPhone devices and refusing to subsequently repair them at no cost to customers on the basis of the devices having been previously serviced by third-party service providers. The regulator is seeking monetary penalties that could amount in up to $829,000 (A$1.1m) per breach if the courts find Apple liable.

Apple releases minor iOS 10.3.1 security update

One week after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has now pushed out a small iOS 10.3.1 update, noting that it “includes bug fixes and improves the security your iPhone or iPad.” While no details of specific improvements are otherwise listed in any release notes, Apple’s About the security content of iOS 10.3.1 support article suggests that it was pushed out to address a Wi-Fi vulnerability that could allow an “attacker within range ... to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip.”

Apple bidding on Toshiba’s flash memory division, cuts ties with Imagination Technologies

Apple, Amazon and Google have joined the bidding on Toshiba’s NAND flash memory production division, Reuters reports. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, Apple’s bid is still unknown, but other firms and companies have offered around $18 billion for the unit. A source with knowledge of the sale said about 10 bidders have expressed an interest so far, including Western Digital and U.S. chipmaker Broadcom. It’s unclear what Apple’s plans would be if it were to actually acquire the flash memory production, but the move would almost certainly bring the company’s own memory production in-house. Apple has expressed an increased interest in controlling more of its component production, with Imagination Technologies announcing today that Apple would be ending it’s deal with them after “working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination’s technology.”

Apple eyes premium cable bundle with HBO, Showtime, Starz

After abandoning efforts to unite network and basic cable channels into an inexpensive cable package, Apple is in talks to sell a premium cable bundle featuring HBO, Showtime and Starz, Recode reports. The company already sells all three channels individually, but has reportedly approached the networks about combining them into a single package. Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said there is no firm deal in place yet and couldn’t cite a target price for the proposed bundle. Buying monthly subscriptions to the individual networks through Apple currently costs $15 for HBO, $11 for Showtime and $9 for Starz.

MLB.com At Bat and NHL now allow users to personalize Home Screen icons

One of the lesser-known new features in iOS 10.3 is the ability for third-party apps to offer alternative home screen icons, and today the first major apps have been updated for these new capabilities, reports TechCrunch. Both MLB.com At Bat and NHL now provide the ability for users to change the default home screen icon to reflect their favourite team’s logo. Both apps will prompt the user initially to select an icon to use when first re-entering the app or setting up their favourite teams for the first time, however users can change the icon to another team at any time from the app’s settings. Interestingly, for whatever reason icons don’t yet appear to be available for all teams (sorry, Leafs fans).

Supplier Responsibility Report, recent hires hint at Project Titan research

Apple’s most recent Supplier Responsibility Report includes a buried connection to an automotive and mobility supplier and may hint at the company acquiring parts for its not-so-secret Project Titan car endeavor, AppleInsider reports. The report includes Bosch as a supplier, which is understandable given that the company produces the barometric sensor for the iPhone 6s, but the facility listed — located in Reutlingen, Germany — is specifically dedicated to research and development on products related to “mobility enhancement,” including automotive devices and wheelchairs. Apple is said to have scaled back Project Titan to focus more on the software and hardware to make cars self-driving rather than building a car from scratch, and it’s still a mystery what types of components the company is buying from the Bosch facility in Germany.

Apple releases iOS 10.3.2 beta to developers

Only one day after the public release of iOS 10.3, Apple has already rolled out a new iOS 10 beta to its registered developers. The first new beta, interestingly numbered iOS 10.3.2, has a build number of 14F5065b and according to the release notes includes little other than fixes for SiriKit car commands. New betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1 were also released to developers today, with similarly sparse release notes indicating only bug fixes and security improvements.

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