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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.

Apple to require all iOS app updates to include iPhone X support starting in July

Apple has announced to developers that as of July, all app updates submitted to the App Store will need to support the iPhone X display and be built with the iOS 11 SDK. Apple has been enforcing the policy for all new app submissions since last month, following an announcement to developers earlier this year. With the latest announcement, the policy has been extended to any app updates that developers want to submit, which will help push actively developed apps to gain support for the iPhone X Super Retina display. Developers submitting updates will also presumably need to abide by the same App Submission Guidelines requiring that they include proper iPhone X screenshots with their updates.

Apple orders new Octavia Spencer Drama ‘Are You Sleeping’

Apple has officially picked up the series “Are You Sleeping,” which will star Octavia Spencer, Variety reports. The drama, which is coming from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Chernin Entertainment/Endeavor Content, is based on a novel of the same name by Kathleen Barber, which discusses the problems of crime-solving playing out on a public stage. The show was created by Nichelle Tramble Spellman of “The Good Wife” fame, who will serve as showrunner, and the series is expected to specifically examine the U.S. obsession with true crime stories and the boom in podcasts related to them. Apple has ordered 10 episodes, but there is no word yet on when the series is expected to premiere.

Apple hoping to convince UAE to lift FaceTime ban

Apple is in talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to get the ban on FaceTime lifted in the country, alongside Microsoft which is undertaking an effort to get similar restrictions lifted on Skype, CNBC reports. Both services have been illegal in the country for years, along with other VoIP services, due to telecommunications laws designed to allow a monopoly by the country’s own telecom companies by forcing customers to pay for their calling services. UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Director General Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri confirmed the talks this week, noting that they’re related to Apple and Microsoft’s plans to make more investment in the UAE, and the governments desire to build stronger relationships with major tech companies. Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on VoIP calling services last September, although similar bans still exist in other Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar and Oman. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple Q2 2018: $61.1B revenue, 52.2M iPhones + 9.1M iPads sold

Apple reported its second quarter 2018 financial results today, with 52.2 million iPhones and 9.1 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $61.1 billion and quarterly earnings of $2.73 per diluted share. In Q2 2017, Apple had revenue of $52.9 billion and earnings of $2.10 per diluted share.

For Q3 2018, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion, and gross margin between 38 percent and 38.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Rumor: Apple could be looking to acquire Condé Nast

A new rumor briefly reported in The Guardian (via 9to5Mac), suggests that Apple may be interested in purchasing Condé Nast. The rumour was mentioned as an aside in a larger report on Apple’s general move into media, and suggested that Apple may be “looking to buy parts of all of the troubled magazine publisher,” going on to suggest that such a move would be intended to further Appel’s push to become a luxury fashion accessory, lifestyle, and content brand. Although The New York Post followed up on this report by citing Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg as denying the rumours outright, saying, “We are not for sale.” The Guardian report also didn’t cite any specific sources, only vaguely mentioning that rumours have circulated, although it also mentioned “insider” sources as saying that Condé Nast has been struggling to turn a profit, and lost $100 million last year despite revenues of $1 billion. It’s also worth noting that the rumours mentioned suggested that Apple may only be looking to buy “parts of” Condé Nast, and may have therefore been indirectly related to Apple’s recent acquisition of Texture from Next Issue Media LLC, of which Condé Nast is a stakeholder.

Report: Apple working on wireless AR/VR headset for 2020 launch

Apple is actively working on developing a headset for both augmented reality and virtual reality applications, a new report by CNET reveals. According to a person familiar with Apple’s plans, the project, codenamed T288, is still in its early stages, but assuming it remains on track is slated for a 2020 release. The current design would involve an 8K display for each eye and would be untethered from a computer or smartphone, according to the source, although it would b paired with a dedicated box powered by a custom Apple processor, using a high-speed, short-range wireless connection.

Apple announces exit from the Wi-Fi router business, discontinues AirPort line

Apple has officially announced that its entire AirPort product line is being discontinued, and that the company will not be making any more wireless routers in the future. In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple said “We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products. They will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last.” This includes the full AIrPort Extreme and Time Capsule models as well as the smaller AirPort Express. Although Apple hasn’t pulled any of its AirPort models from sale, meaning that they can still be purchased while supplies last, the company hasn’t announced any price drops either, although of course third-party retailers may opt to do so in order to clear out stock of the now-discontinued products.

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