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New Apple patent suggests enhancements to ‘Do Not Disturb’ on iOS

A new Apple patent reported by Patently Apple suggests a possible new addition the company might make to the iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb while Driving” feature. First introduced in iOS 11, Do Not Disturb while Driving allows users to automatically engage a special Do Not Disturb mode that not only silences incoming notifications, but suppresses them from the lock screen entirely to remove the temptation for users to check their iPhone while in the car. Users can also configure an automatic reply in Messages that will be sent to contacts when this mode is engaged, and this is where Apple’s new patent comes in. Patent application 20180146089, titled “Intelligent Digital Assistant for Declining an Incoming Call” would allow Siri to notify the user of an incoming phone message and allow them to dictate a short response that could be sent back to the caller. The response could also include not only text, but also a voice recorded message, a map location, or even a copy of the user’s calendar. Siri could also conceivably answer the call on the user’s behalf to let the caller know that the person is driving. Of course, as with all Apple patents, the mere indication of a patent doesn’t mean that an implementation of it will ever see the light of day, but this one seems like a logical extension of the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb feature.

Apple signs deal with Volkswagen for self-driving employee shuttles

Apple is asking Volkswagen to supply it with self-driving employee shuttles as part of its scaled-down automotive ambitions, The New York Times reports. Citing three people familiar with Apple’s car project, the company has signed a deal with Volkswagen to provide T6 Transporter vans that can be transformed into self-driving shuttles for employees, but sources reveal that the project is not only behind schedule and consuming “nearly all of the car team’s attention” but that it also seems Volkswagen wasn’t Apple’s first choice. According to people familiar with the negotiations, Apple has reportedly failed to come to amenable terms in discussions with BMW and Mercedes-Benz after several rounds of talks that finally ended after each refused to give Apple control over the data and design of the vehicles.

Apple offering $50 credit to users who paid for iPhone 6 or later battery replacements

Apple has announced that it is offering a $50 credit to any customers who paid for out-of-warranty battery replacements in 2017 for the iPhone 6 or later. Apple is presumably rolling out the credit to compensate users who purchased battery replacements for affected iPhone models before Apple began offering $29 battery replacements at the end of 2017 to address the issue with deteriorating batteries slowing down older iPhone models. Apple notes that the credit will be provided as an electronic funds transfer or a credit on the credit card that was used to pay for the battery replacement service, and adds that it will be contacting eligible customers directly via e-mail from now until July 27, 2018, but adds that users who believe they are eligible for a credit should contact Apple directly if they do not receive an e-mail by August 1, 2018.

Apple launches new ‘Data and Privacy’ page allowing EU users to download all of their data

Apple has launched a new Data and Privacy portal, providing a method for users in the European Union to download all of the information that Apple has associated with them. The new portal appears to have been rolled out to comply with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR), although Apple reportedly plans to eventually roll the feature out to all users worldwide — users outside of the EU can still use the new portal to access shortcuts for updating their info, and temporarily deactivating or permanently deleting their Apple ID. EU users users have the additional options of downloading all of their personal data, such as Apple ID info, App Store activity, AppleCare history, and personal iCloud data such as photos and documents.

Apple signs on ‘Once Upon a Time’ creators Horowitz and Kitsis as ‘Amazing Stories’ showrunners

Apple has signed on Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis as executive producers and showrunners for its upcoming reboot of “Amazing Stories,” Variety reports. The two co-creators of “Once Upon a Time” come on board to replace Bryan Fuller and Hart Hanson, who left the team in February citing “creative differences” that many believe resulted from Fuller’s desire to create a more edgy version of the show than Apple was looking for.

Apple sends out media invites for June 4 Keynote at WWDC 2018

Apple has sent out press invites for the keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, being held from June 4 – 8, 2018 in San Jose, CA. As usual, the keynote is scheduled to open the conference on June 4, and will likely see Apple unveil major new versions of iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS, with developer preview editions to follow shortly thereafter. Although it’s never a certainty whether Apple will choose to announce hardware during the developer-focused event, Apple choose to unveil two new iPad Pro models last year, and recent reports have suggested that Apple may choose to debut this year’s iPad Pro model — likely including Face ID — at this year’s Keynote. [via MacRumors]

Apple drops price on USB-C to Lightning Cable

In a somewhat unusual move, Apple has quietly lowered the price on its standard one-meter USB-C to Lightning Cable, lowering it from its original $25 asking price down to $19, putting it at the same price as its standard Lightning to USB Cable, further fuelling recent rumors that this year’s iPhone models will be shipping with USB-C chargers.

Reporter reveals how little data Apple collects on users

A new report by ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker reveals just how little information Apple actually collects on customers in comparison to companies such as Facebook and Google. In the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Whittaker decided to ask Apple for a full disclosure on all of the data that the company had collected on him since 2010 when he first became an Apple customer. While it took Apple a little over a week to respond with the data, Whittaker was surprised at how little was actually there — the resulting data set consisted of two dozen Excel spreadsheets totalling about 5 MB in size.

Sixth iOS 11.4 beta appears

Only three days after Apple pushed out a fifth beta of iOS 11.4, a sixth iteration has just appeared, with the increasing frequency suggesting a final iOS 11.4 release may be just around the corner. The sixth beta offers no significant changes from the last version, and shows only a small change in build number 15F5079a versus 15F5077a, indicating that it’s probably mostly about polishing and fixing relatively minor bugs at this point.

Apple teams up with educators to bring Everyone Can Code to blind and deaf students

Apple has announced that it is now teaming up with leading educators to bring its Everyone Can Code program to schools for blind and deaf communities in the U.S. Starting this fall, the company plans to bring accessible coding to schools supporting students with vision, hearing, or other assistive needs, working with the schools to tailor the lessons to leverage Apple’s accessibility technology to augment the curricula as needed, including providing additional tools and resources like tactile maps for use by non-visual learners.

Berkshire Hathaway moves into second place among Apple shareholders

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has confirmed in a recent regulatory filing that it is now Apple’s second-largest shareholder, Reuters reports. The filing notes that Berkshire invested $14.8 billion more in equities during the last quarter, most of which went to Apple, increasing its stake in the company to 239.6 shares valued at more than $40 billion — or roughly five percent of Apple stock. According to Reuters, this moves Berkshire Hathaway into second place among Apple investors, passing BlackRock and trailing behind Vanguard Group. Buffett recently told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting that he might but more Apple stock for the right price, and two days later declared to CNBC that he’d “love to own 100 percent” of Apple.

Apple now has the second-largest self-driving car test fleet in California

Apple is once again expanding its self-driving car fleet in California, according to new numbers obtained from the California DMV by macReports. According to the information, Apple now has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers listed on its permit for testing autonomous vehicles, adding ten more vehicles since March to a program that began with only three vehicles last spring. This also notably puts Apple in second place for the number of self-driving cars behind tested, behind GM Cruise which currently has 104 vehicles on the road. macReports also notes that the California DMV has advised them that Apple has not yet applied for a driverless testing permit, a new type of permit that the department began issuing last month. [via Macrumors]

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has just posted a fifth set of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, again only a week after the fourth round of betas went out. Unsurprisingly, the release notes at this point list only extremely minor changes since the last beta, and it remains unclear whether iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 will in fact incorporate AirPlay 2, which also made a brief appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year before being removed before the final release, a fate similar to that of Messages in iCloud, which is still listed in the release notes as being included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Apple highlights progress improving technology accessibility for people with disabilities

In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day this week, CNET published a report highlighting some of the efforts Apple has been making to design its devices to help people with disabilities. Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, discussed how Apple is always trying to add in new accessibility options year over year to improve the usability of its devices by people with various disabilities. CNET also spoke with Austin Pruitt, a two-time US Paralympian who has cerebral palsy from the knees down, and competes by racing in a wheelchair. Pruitt explained how the Apple Watch replaces a whole complicated set of sensors that he used to have on his wheelchair to track his workouts, adding “This has everything. This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one.”

 

Carpool Karaoke Season 1 now free in Apple’s TV app

Apple has now made the first season of its “Carpool Karaoke” show available for free streaming through the TV app. First reported by Billboard, the series went live on Friday night at 6 p.m. ET, with the report noting that episdoes will “trickle” into the app with new episodes appearing every Friday at the same time. Carpool Karaoke originally debuted last August as an exclusive for Apple Music subscribers, however it appears now that Apple has renewed it for a second season, the company has decided to make the first season episodes available to all Apple TV and iOS users.

Apple planning to launch branded ‘Apple Pay’ credit card

Apple is partnering with Goldman Sachs to launch a new joint “Apple Pay” branded credit card, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The new card could launch as early as 2019 and would replace Apple’s current rewards-card partnership with Barclays. The move would also signal Goldman Sachs’ first foray into credit cards, and people familiar with the matter have indicated that Apple and Goldman are still hashing out the specific terms and benefits of the card, such as planned perks for customers, but that the two companies seem to already have an agreement in principle to move forward. The partnership is also expected to extend into other services such as Goldman offering in-store loans to Apple customers purchasing iPhones and other hardware, likely similar to the current Barclays-backed Apple Rewards card that provides interest-free financing on Apple devices and allows customers to earn points toward Apple gift cards. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple scraps plans for Irish data center due to lengthy court delays

Apple has announced that it has abandoned plans for a new data center in Ireland, citing delays with the government approval process, The Independent reports. Apple committed to building an €850m ($1b)  data centre in Athenry, Co Galway three years ago, alongside a similar facility in Denmark, however despite receiving approval from Irish authorities in 2016, and from the Irish High Court late last year, Apple began wavering in its decision last fall after concerned citizens filed appeals with the High Court regarding the completion of environmental assessments and concerns about the impact on Ireland’s national electricity grid.

Apple may be adding Video Subscriptions to its TV app

Apple has plans to begin selling subscriptions to video services directly through its TV app, according to a report by Bloomberg, likely consolidating subscriptions previously available through individual iOS and tvOS apps. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report suggests that the aim is to both simplify the subscription process as well as make the TV app a more prominent one-stop hub for all video content.

Apple vying to participate in U.S. drone trials

Apple is among the companies who have applied to take part in a new series of drone tests that the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to announce today, according to Reuters. Citing people familiar with the matter, Apple joins a roster of 200 companies which also include Amazon, Intel, and Qualcomm, who are looking to participate in the program that would allow for testing of drones in otherwise restricted use cases, such as night flights and those that extend beyond an operator’s line of sight. The experiments will be hosted by ten winning state, local, or tribal governments that have in turn partnered with companies that will be participating in the tests, and a U.S. official notes that the list of winners include projects focused on package delivery, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight and integrating drones near airports, although it’s unclear where Apple may fit into this, although a late 2016 report suggested that Apple has been at least contemplating the use of drones for improving Apple Maps’ data. [via MacRumors]

Apple pulling apps that share location data with third parties without consent

Apple appears to be cracking down on apps that are sharing location data with third parties, according to a report by 9to5Mac. Over the last several days, Apple has been pulling apps from the App Store, informing developers that they violate sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, which cover privacy and obtaining user consent before collecting any kind of personal data, which of course includes location information. Emails sent to developers are advising them that Apple has determined “upon re-evaluation” of their apps that they are in violation of these sections of the App Store Review Guidelines, and that they will need to “remove any code, frameworks, or SDKs that relate to the violation” before resubmitting their app to the App Store.

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