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Apple partners with GE on industrial apps

Apple has partnered with GE to provide the framework for industrial apps based on GE’s Predix Internet of Things platform, according to a joint release from the companies. The new Predix software development kit for iOS will give developers the building blocks to create their own IoT apps that make use of predictive data and analytics to anticipate and spot problems with even extremely complex machines. The Predix SDK will be available for download next week, allowing industrial operators to design apps that monitor and diagnose problems instantly, allowing repairs to be conducted and coordinated remotely.

Apple explored option of buying health clinic startup

Apple recently engaged in talks to buy Crossover Health, a startup that runs on-site health clinics for large companies, CNBC reports. Crossover Health is one of a handful of companies that provide medical and wellness services to self-insured employers on or near their offices. Sources said the talks went on for months, but never materialized into any kind of concrete deal. But other sources said Apple also approached One Medical — a nationwide primary care group — which could signal Apple is serious about making inroads into a more robust primary health care role. A source said Apple’s health team has expressed interest in the primary care field for more than a year, but it’s still unclear whether the company would operate its own clinics or just be the technology partner for existing providers.

Report: Vulnerability in WPA2 protocol could affect Apple devices

A published exploit reportedly discovered by researcher Mathy Vanhoef has found a weakness in the WPA2 protocol powering all modern protected Wi-Fi networks, claiming “Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and others, are all affected by some variant of the attacks.” Despite that claim, Apple is listed as “Unknown” rather than “Affected” or “Not Affected” on the attached list of affected companies, so it’s still unclear if the technique demonstrated on an Android device would be effective against Apple devices. Software and firmware updates are the recommended fix, but Apple hasn’t acknowledged the issue publicly.

Apple hit with nearly $440M judgment in VirnetX patent suit

After losing in its patent dispute trial with VirnetX, Apple has been hit with a $439.7 million judgment after a U.S. district court denied all of the company’s motions, TechCrunch reports. That figure is higher than the original $368.2 million ruling against Apple from the 2012 trial, but less than the $625 million figure in last year’s decision. On a separate track, all four of the patents in question — which have ties to Apple’s FaceTime technology among other applications — have already been invalidated by the Patent and Trademark Office, but that case is still ongoing as well, and is non-binding until all appeals have been exhausted. As for this current court loss, Apple confirmed it is once again appealing the outcome.

Qualcomm sues to stop Apple’s iPhone sales, production in China

In its latest attack on Apple in their ongoing legal back and forth, Qualcomm has asked China to ban the sale and production of iPhones, Bloomberg reports. Qualcomm filed the new suit in Beijing’s intellectual property court, once again claiming patent infringement on technology that controls the iPhone’s 3D Touch and power management capabilities, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman. “Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” Trimble said. While it’s very unlikely that China would take such a drastic step against such a large employer, analysts see the move as another push to get Apple back to the negotiating table since it has thus far stood firm against Qualcomm’s threats — even going so far as to pay the legal bills of its partners who have also been sued by Qualcomm.

Cook shows signs of being open to EU tax reforms that keep revenue in countries where it’s earned

French officials claim Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t push back against French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the company to pay more taxes, Bloomberg reports. Apple is embroiled in a legal fight with the EU over a ruling that the company owes more than $14.5 billion in taxes collected in Europe and not paid to Ireland, and thus far Cook and other company representatives have stood firm in their public opposition to the ruling, claiming Apple has followed all applicable tax laws. Macron and other European leaders are looking to plug those legal loopholes that allow major companies to funnel their European profits to countries like Ireland rather than paying taxes in the countries where sales are taking place, and the French president said Cook “accepted that fiscal laws worldwide are shifting toward making companies pay tax where money is actually earned.” Apple declined to comment on the meeting.

Apple inks deal with Spielberg for first show, cuts ties to Weinstein amid sex scandal

Apple has made a deal with Steven Spielberg, Amblin Television, and Universal Television to make new episodes of “Amazing Stories,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The popular sci-fi/horror series ran on NBC in the ‘80s, and sources familiar with the discussions said Apple will be creating 10 new episodes at a price tag of over $5 million each. One executive involved in the project said that level of spending is on par with higher-end shows currently being produced by HBO and Netflix, so Apple is betting heavily on its first jump into original programming.

Ireland may face penalty for not collecting on EU tax ruling against Apple

Ireland has presented a united front with Apple in disputing an EU ruling that the company owes the country $17.6 billion in back taxes, and refusing to collect the money from Apple may end up costing Ireland, Bloomberg reports. The European Commission has been pushing Ireland to collect the money, which was supposed to be due at the beginning of the year. Irish authorities are supposed to have collected the money and put it in escrow pending Apple’s appeal, but that hasn’t happened yet as Apple and Ireland negotiate how the money will be invested during the process, which could take as long as five years. But as the process drags on, it’s possible the EU regulators will sue over Ireland’s failure to implement its recovery order and impose a fine on the country.

Apple acquires computer vision startup Regaind

Apple has acquired computer vision startup Regaind, TechCrunch reports. Regaind has been working on an API to analyze the content of photos that could do things like automatically finding the best shot in a burst series or hiding images flagged as duplicates. Reports over the summer suggested that Apple was working on a similar technology that was dubbed “SmartCam” that would have allowed the iPhone 8 to automatically select the best shots while photographing particular subjects such as babies, pets, documents fireworks, or sunrises and sunsets, however despite expectations, the “SmartCam” feature never materialized with the debut of the iPhone 8, suggesting that Apple is still working on it. It’s unclear whether Apple may be interested in using Regaind’s technology to help advance that feature or for other aspects of the photos app such as Memories. Apple only issued its usual blanket statement in response to the inquiry, saying “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple’s latest Transparency Report shows spike in National Security requests

Apple has released its latest bi-annual transparency report, providing an overview of requests by government agencies and private parties for customer data from January 2017 to June 2017. While the latest report shows that overall data requests have dropped over the past year, it also reveals a spike in the number of U.S. Government data requests under FISA and National Security Letters.

Apple making push to acquire ‘Game of Thrones’-quality shows

Apple is taking meetings in the hopes of landing “big, smart, splashy dramas, with at least one citing Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Crown as models,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources claim Apple has jumped into the discussion at multiple production houses and is now getting the same pitches that Netflix and HBO see for new high-end TV series. Apple reportedly missed out on “Ratched” — Ryan Murphy’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” origin series — which ended up going to Netflix, and has made bids on a handful of other projects, but the company is also reportedly passing on the vast majority of pitches in the hopes of securing one massive blockbuster deal to lead the way. Those include an update of the Steve Spielberg series Amazing Stories and a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, according to sources close to the discussions.

Toshiba nears deal to sell chip business to group that includes Apple

Toshiba has chosen a group led by Bain Capital — which includes Apple — to buy its ailing chip business, The Wall Street Journal reports. Toshiba has outlined a plan to stay involved in the business after the estimated $18 billion sale, signing a “nonbinding document saying they intended to reach a deal by September 30.” The deal still has to clear a review from antitrust regulators and objections from Toshiba partner Western Digital, which claims it has the right to veto the sale. Toshiba disputes that claim, and the issue is headed for international arbitration. If the deal ends up going through, Apple would likely find it much easier to secure its chip supply as demand continues to increase. Some Apple products have seen slight price increases in the past few weeks, leading to speculation that rising memory costs could be to blame, so locking down a reliable supply would leave one less thing for Apple to worry about as it continues pushing the limits of its internal components and trying to bring more of its production in-house.

U.S. Senator Al Franken raises questions about FaceID privacy and security

U.S. Senator Al Franken is pressing Apple to provide details on the privacy and security safeguards around FaceID data, Recode reports. In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Franken raised concerns that Apple could use the “faceprints” collected by FaceID “to benefit other sectors of its business, sell it to third parties for surveillance purposes, or receive law enforcement requests to access it facial recognition system — eventual uses that may not be contemplated by Apple customers.”

Disney is only major holdout on Apple plan to sell 4K movies for $20

Apple has inked deals with nearly every major studio to sell 4K movies, with Disney proving to be the lone holdout, The Wall Street Journal reports. The 4K or ultra-high definition movies will come at the same $20 price tag as high definition movies, according to a person familiar with the discussions. While Apple reportedly struggled with most of the Hollywood studios to come to terms on pricing, it was ultimately able to ink deals with the others, so it remains unclear why Disney hasn’t gotten on board yet; the studio currently sells its 4K movies for $25 on other platforms, and Apple is said to be firm on not raising movie proices above $20. Apple has long-standing ties to Disney, with the studio being the first to sell its TV shows and movies on iTunes and Disney CEO Robert Iger sitting on Apple’s board of directors. Reports from last month had Disney balking at Apple’s plan to offer new release movies for streaming just one week after they debut in theaters as other studios showed interest in the idea.

Apple continues to expand video content team with four more Hollywood execs

Apple is continuing to expand its video content team with the hiring of four more Hollywood executives, Variety reports. Not surprisingly, most of the new hires are veterans from Sony Pictures Television, following on from Apple’s hiring of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony in June. The new executives include Kim Rozenfeld who previously headed up current programming at Sony Pictures Television and will be joining Apple as the future head of current programming and the lead executive responsible for documentary series development. Max Aronson and Ali Woodruff are also coming from Sony to join Apple as “development executives,” previously serving as VP of Drama development and Director of Creative Affairs, respectively. Rozenfeld, Aronson, and Woodruff will report to Erlicht and Van Amburg, while the last member of the new team, Rita Cooper Lee, comes from a role as head of publicity for WGN America and will lead communications for the new video unit, reporting to Tom Neumayr, Senior Director of App Store, Apple Music and Apple TV PR.

Apple rumored to be bidding for James Bond franchise

Apple is rumored to have entered the running to buy the rights to the James Bond franchise, a property worth between $2 billion and $5 billion, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Major film studios like MGM, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. have been pursuing a deal since the franchise’s deal with Sony expired in 2015, and Apple’s entry into the bidding has ratcheted up the intensity. Apple is also reportedly in discussions to buy or lease iconic Hollywood powerhouse The Culver Studios to house its burgeoning content operation, and industry analysts view the potential for the James Bond franchise as possibly as big as the Marvel and Star Wars brands for TV shows, toys, merchandising and more.

India ups pressure on Apple to approve anti-spam app

Apple’s refusal to approve India’s anti-spam app could cause problems for the company’s efforts to expand its sales in the country, Bloomberg reports. Apple has thus far refused to make the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s app — which blocks annoying unsolicited calls and texts — available on the App Store, drawing the ire of the TRAI’s leadership. Apple doesn’t permit third-party apps to access SMS details and call records, which are necessary for the app to function, but the TRAi is currently taking public comments ahead of drafting new policies about how much control users have over their personal information.

Apple strengthening push into Hollywood content with eye on iconic studio, bid on high-profile drama

Apple appears to be strengthening its push into producing original content, with the Financial Times reporting that the company is looking to an iconic Hollywood studio as the base for its original content division and bidding against companies such as Netflix on rights to a new high-profile drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Apple sends out press invites for Sept 12 event at Apple Park

As expected, Apple has sent out media invites for its annual fall event, being held Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the Steve Jobs Theatre at the company’s new Apple Park campus in Cupertino. As usual, the media invites include a sneak peek at the theme of the event, along with a tagline which this time simply reads “Let’s meet at our place.” Unlike prior media invites, the tagline is most likely just a direct reference to the venue for the event as opposed to a cryptic clue to what Apple will be announcing.

Apple raises over $3 million for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Apple has raised over $3 million in donations for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts, according to an internal e-mail sent by Tim Cook to employees, as reported by BuzzFeed News. Apple began accepting donations on Sunday for Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts via the iTunes Store, with funds going directly to the American Red Cross. In an e-mail sent out on Wednesday afternoon, Tim Cook discussed the effects of Hurricane Harvey, lauding the company’s fundraising impact, and noting that Texas is home to more than 8,700 Apple employees, and that the company has a global crisis management team on the ground in Texas helping to move some of the employees and their families who are impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Cook also added that Apple is matching employee donations two-for-one, in addition to a pledge of $2 million the company has made from its own coffers. Further, Cook also acknowledged Apple employees in the Houston area who have “generously been helping people displaced by the flooding by opening their homes to team members and their families, and in some cases, assisting in rescue operations.”

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