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Apple in talks to buy its cobalt directly from the mining companies

Apple is looking to buy the cobalt used in its batteries directly from the mining companies who dig it up, Bloomberg reports. Apple is one of the largest consumers of the metal—used in the batteries that power its gadgets—but is looking to go directly to the source for the first time amid rising competition from the burgeoning electric vehicle industry. People familiar with the matter said Apple is trying “to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer” in discussions that have been going on for more than a year. While Apple may just stick with relying on its battery manufacturers and scrap the direct buying route, plenty of other companies are going straight to the source. BMW, Volkswagen and Samsung are all working on deals with mining companies to secure their sources, with some signing deals that extend for a decade or more.

Apple promotes Apple Watch fitness with new ‘Close Your Rings’ page

Apple has launched a new Close Your Rings page, promoting the fitness features of the Apple Watch while also providing basic guidance on how the three activity rings work and some quick tips for staying active and closing them each day. The page provides practical suggestions for each goal, such as “playing chase with your kids” to close the Move ring, using fitness apps to close the Exercise ring, and getting up to visit a co-worker or get some water to close the Stand ring, while also explaining how each ring works and the health benefits related to them. Additional tips are also provided, such as how to add the Activity rings to a watch face, how to change a Move goal, and how monthly challenges, achievements, and sharing all work. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple to require all new iOS apps to support iPhone X starting in April

Apple has announced that all new apps submitted to the App Store after April 2018 will be required to support the iPhone X. In an e-mail sent to registered developers, the company heralded the new features that iOS 11 has brought to the iOS platform, adding that “Starting April 2018, all new iOS apps submitted to the App Store must be built with the iOS 11 SDK, included in Xcode 9 or later. All new apps for iPhone, including universal apps, must support the Super Retina display of iPhone X.” Apple’s page on Submitting iOS apps to the App Store also adds that developers should make sure their App Store product page showcases updates for the Super Retina display of the iPhone X, and provides additional tips for developers on how to make sure that their apps look great on the iPhone X and how to submit proper screenshots for their App Store pages.

Apple developing drama based on life of NBA star Kevin Durant

Apple is developing a scripted drama series based on the life of NBA star Kevin Durant, Variety reports. Similar to the series the company produced about Dr. Dre, the new show will explore Durant’s early basketball experiences as an amateur athlete, with an added focus on the “lives of the players, their families, and coaches.” The show — titled “Swagger” — is being produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Television, with Durant listed as an executive producer.

Apple provides sneak peek inside lab where HomePod was developed

After yesterday’s look at the insides of a HomePod that iFixit ripped apart, today brings a tale from The Loop that includes a peek at all the parts preassembly — and the lab where they were all crafted. Kate Bergeron, Apple’s Vice President for Hardware Engineering, gave the publication a look at the company’s audio lab, where the HomePod and all other sound-related projects from Apple have come to life. Bergeron said the HomePod team started with the simple problem of achieving the same high level of audio quality in any shape of room, and over six years expanded from the audio team to include everything from thermals and computing to power and wireless, not to mention the experts required to craft all the different sensors that let the HomePod answer that first question. Gary Geaves, Apple’s Senior Director for Audio Design and Engineering, said the company has “built up the biggest acoustics and audio team on the planet,” drawing talent from “elite audio brands and universities to build a team that’s fantastic.”

iHeartRadio editorial content added to Apple News offering

Apple News now features editorial content from iHeartRadio, according to a recent blog post from the music and news provider. While mainly known for its music service, iHeartRadio also generates news content on everything from entertainment and celebrity gossip to sports and politics. The new content is featured in the Entertainment section of Apple News, and iHeartRadio’s radio service is also available on iOS, Apple TV and through CarPlay.

Reporters without Borders warns journalists in China to close iCloud accounts

French nonprofit advocacy group Reporters without Borders (RSF) is calling on journalists in China to close their iCloud accounts in wake of Apple’s recent plans to migrate iCloud users in China to an outsourced Chinese company’s servers. RSF is suggesting that journalists and bloggers in the country who use Apple iCloud should either change their geographic region to avoid having their data migrated, or close their iCloud accounts entirely by Feb. 28, the day when, as RSF notes, “control of their data will pass to the Chinese state.”

Apple dispels security concerns regarding leaked iOS 9 source code

While Apple has confirmed that recently leaked iOS 9 iBoot source is authentic, the company has dispelled any concerns users may have about the leak compromising iPhone security. In a statement to MacRumors, Apple emphasized that the leak is for iOS 9, a three-year-old operating system that is installed on less than seven percent of devices, and notes that “by design the security of our products doesn’t depend on the secrecy of our source code” and “There are many layers of hardware and software protections built into our products.”

Apple loses Amazing Stories showrunners over creative differences

Apple has lost two of the production staff for its new “Amazing Stories” project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Showrunner Bryan Fuller reportedly left the project this week citing “creative differences” that may have stemmed from Apple’s insistence on keeping its content “PG”. Fuller had developed Amazing Stories for NBC before the project moved into Apple’s purview, but reportedly was looking to a more edgy show in the style of Black Mirror, which sources suggest was not what Apple was looking for. A subsequent update to The Hollywood Reporter article noted that Fuller’s partner, Hart Hanson, has also exited the project, leaving Apple and Universal Television searching for a new showrunner.

2017 iPhone models less susceptible to performance throttling

It appears that Apple may have made hardware improvements in its 2017 iPhone models to mitigate the need for the controversial performance throttling experienced by users of iPhone 6, 6s, and 7 series models. A new section in an updated support document on “iPhone Battery and Performance” referenced in the second beta of iOS 11.3 notes:

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models use a more advanced hardware and software design that provides a more accurate estimation of both power needs and the battery’s power capability to maximize overall system performance. This allows a different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown. As a result, the impacts of performance management may be less noticeable on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

The support document doesn’t go as far as saying that performance won’t suffer as batteries age in these newer models, but it does suggest that the level of throttling may not be as severe, indicating that Apple was likely able to solve some of the power consumption issues that previously resulted in unexpected shutdowns from older iPhone batteries.

Patent application shows Apple considering Apple Pencil that works on any flat surface, in midair

A recent patent spotted by Techtastic shows Apple is considering creating an Apple Pencil that works without an iPad. The patent — credited to three Apple engineers — describes monitoring a stylus using some combination of motion and orientation sensors, cameras and electromagnetic or sound-based triangulation methods to determine the stylus’ position and record its movements. The data would then be processed to create text or drawings.

Apple now selling refurbished iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple TV 4K units

Apple has now begun selling refurbishing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and Apple TV 4K models on its U.S. online store for the first time, offering customers a chance to pick up these units at about a 10 percent discount as compared to the prices of brand new models.

Apple loses bid to HBO for new J.J. Abrams show

HBO has beat out Apple in a bid to produce J.J. Abrams latest sci-fi drama project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. HBO got the nod for a straight-to-series order for the new sci-fi thriller, which will be called “Demimonde,” with sources suggesting that Abrams made the call as a result of his impression with what the premium cable network did with “Westworld.” While the move may indicate that despite Apple’s strong original content ambitions and deep pockets, its status as a Hollywood newcomer may hamper its efforts in signing major productions, it’s also worth noting that Apple has already successfully picked up an original sci-fi show from Ronald D. Moore of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Outlander” fame. Sources also suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that Apple’s bid made may never have been under serious consideration in the first place.

Apple reports strong Q1 2018 results, iPhone X overwhelmingly popular

Apple has reported its financial results for Q1 2018, reflecting a strong holiday quarter and dispelling recent negative hype about underperforming iPhone X sales. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared it “the biggest quarter in Apple’s history” and emphasized that not only did Apple see “the highest revenue ever from a new iPhone lineup” but that the iPhone X was also the top-selling iPhone every week since it first shipped in November.

Apple hires Paramount executive to spearhead original comedy programming

Apple has added former Paramount executive Dana Tuinier to its original video content team to spearhead the development of comedy programming, TBI Vision reports. Tuinier will develop new comedy projects and oversee existing acquisitions starring Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Wiig. Tuinier previously acted as VP of development and original programming for The Paramount Network, which launched earlier this month in the US. Before joining Paramount Tuinier worked on hit Fox shows like Glee, New Girl and Bob’s Burgers.

Apple settles patent infringement case with Immersion

Apple has settled a two-year-old patent dispute with haptic technology company Immersion, according to an announcement by the company. Immersion filed a lawsuit against Apple in early 2016, accusing the company of infringing its patents with 3D Touch, Force Touch, and Apple Watch technologies, as well as vibration patterns used for ringtones and notifications. In today’s very brief announcement, Immersion simply stated that it has “entered into settlement and license agreements with Apple, the terms of which are confidential,” although it adds that it’s a global settlement, and implies that Apple has agreed to license at least some of Immersion’s technology, although it’s unclear which technologies or patents are specifically involved. [via Engadget]

First HomePod ads appear

Apple has posted four HomePod ads on its official YouTube channel, in the form of four 15-second music-focused clips that emphasize the HomePod primarily as a “breakthrough speaker.” The ads, titled Distortion, Bass, Equalizer, and Beat are each set to their own tracks, with most of the clip animating the word “HomePod” to the beat of the music, followed by a very brief glimpse of the speaker followed by an “Order Now” closing screen.

Apple places straight-to-series order from ‘La La Land’ filmmaker Damien Chazelle

Apple is ordering a new drama series from acclaimed filmmaker Damien Chazelle, according to a new report from Variety. While specific details of the series haven’t been disclosed, Chazelle is expected to write and direct every episode in addition to serving as executive producer alongside Jordan Horowitz and Fred Berger. Chazelle has been behind such award-winning films as last year’s “La La Land” and 2014’s “Whiplash” and have both received multiple Academy Awards. Chazelle has also been tapped to executive product and direct several episodes of the upcoming Netflix original series “The Eddy,” but Variety notes that the new Apple series will be the first time Chazelle will have written and directed every single episode of a series.

Apple releases first watchOS 4.3 beta, iOS 11.3 + tvOS 11.3 public betas

Apple has followed up the release of the first iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 developer betas earlier this week with the first beta of watchOS 4.3. Featuring a build number of 15T5165e, the very sparse release notes list only basic background information and “No known issues” providing no insight into what’s actually changed in the newest version.

Report: Apple working on revamped Books app

Apple has a redesign for its iBooks app in the works, according to a new report by Bloomberg, as part of a plan to once again try to take on Amazon in the digital book market. People familiar with the project have revealed that the new app, which will be released in the coming months, is expected to include a simpler user interface and a redesigned digital bookstore that will borrow its cues from the iOS 11 App Store redesign. The app will include a new section called “Reading Now” along with a dedicated tab for audiobooks, according to the report.

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