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Apple snags more TV execs from Hulu, Legendary

Apple is continuing its high-powered TV executive hiring spree, stealing Philip Matthys from Hulu and Jennifer Wang Grazier from Legendary Entertainment, Variety reports. Matthys started as head of business affairs for Apple’s Worldwide Video division last month after holding a similar role at Hulu, where he oversaw dealmaking and policy for all of Hulu’s original content. Wang Grazier is expected to start on the same team in January — reporting to Matthys — after serving as executive vice president for business and legal affairs at Legendary for two years.

Apple expands Everyone Can Code program to half a million kids in Chicago schools

Apple has been expanding its coding classes for kids and even hinting at bringing the program to schools, and now the company is making good on its talk, expanding its Everyone Can Code initiative to nearly 500,000 kids in Chicago’s public schools according to a press release. “At Apple we believe coding is an essential skill, so we’ve designed Everyone Can Code to give everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Starting this spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials to reach students citywide, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Apple trying to block shareholder votes on climate change, human rights

After going to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to ask for permission to exclude a shareholder proposal mandating more diversity hires, Apple is asking the SEC for a similar pass to dodge votes on proposals about climate issue and human rights concerns, Reuters reports. In a letter to the SEC, Apple argued that at least four of the proposals it has fielded from shareholders relate to “ordinary business” and can be left off the proxy it is about to publish ahead of its annual shareholder meeting. Apple’s attorney specifically cited new guidance from the SEC issued in November, which gives company boards wide latitude in deciding which resolutions raise policy issues that warrant being put to a vote.

Jony Ive returns to leadership position on Apple’s design team

After handing off some of his day-to-day management responsibilities while Apple constructed its new campus, Jony Ive is back in direct charge of the product design teams, Bloomberg reports. Ive was named Chief Design Officer in 2015 after spending years as Senior Vice President of Design, handing off many of his management tasks to Vice President of Industrial Design Richard Howarth and Vice President of User Interface Design Alan Dye. But now, “with the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said.

Apple provides look at how self-driving car technology handles pedestrians, rainy weather

Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research, shared some new details about the company’s AI developments that all seemed to revolve around self-driving cars, Wired reports. During a lunch talk at tech conference, Salakhutdinov discussed how the company is creating detailed 3D maps, teaching vehicles to navigate in unfamiliar areas and using camera and sensor data to spot cars, pedestrians and other obstacles on urban streets. The system was even able to pick out pedestrians when they were partially obscured by cars, which Salakhutdinov credited to recent leaps ahead in machine learning. “If you asked me five years ago, I would be very skeptical of saying ‘Yes, you could do that,’” he said.

Apple hires TV veteran Michelle Lee onto Apple Worldwide Video team

Apple has added another high-profile name to its television content team with the hire of programming veteran Michelle Lee, Variety reports. Lee comes from Universal Television-based True Jack Productions, where she developed and executive produced a number of series, and has been named a creative executive at Apple’s Worldwide Video unit where she will report to former WGN America head Matt Cherniss who joined Apple in August.

Apple quickly works to patch HomeKit vulnerability in iOS 11.2

Apple has quickly closed the door on a HomeKit vulnerability introduced in iOS 11.2, 9to5Mac reports. The security flaw, demonstrated privately to 9to5Mac, allowed “unauthorized control of accessories including smart locks and garage door openers.” The report does not describe the vulnerability in detail and adds that it “was difficult to reproduce” but that it did allow access to pretty much any HomeKit-connected accessory once at least one iOS 11.2 device was connected to a HomeKit users’s iCloud account. Apple has apparently rolled out a server-side fix immediately that closes the hole and temporarily disables remote access to shared users; an iOS update is expected next week that will properly fix the problem and restore remote shared access.

Apple unveils best Apps, Music, Movies, and TV Shows for 2017

Apple has announced its editorial picks for the best apps, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts available from its various online content stores. The App Store team noted four rising trends for 2017, including the introduction of augmented reality apps with iOS 11, a rise of real-time competitive gaming, and an increased focus on mental health and mindfulness as well as storytelling and reading. The 2017 iPhone App of the Year was the health and fitness app, Calm, while the very popular Affinity Photo won 2017 iPad App of the Year. In games, Splitter Critters was the top iPhone pick, and the open-ended exploratory puzzler The Witness was the 2017 iPad Game of the Year.

Apple stands to be biggest beneficiary of GOP tax plan

Apple could see as much as $47 billion shaved off its US tax bill under current Republican proposals, making it the largest beneficiary of the tax plan, Fortune reports. The Senate and House still have to reconcile their different versions of the tax bill to send it to President Donald Trump for signing, but the two chambers seem mostly in agreement that the $1.3 trillion that American companies are keeping offshore should be taxed at no more than 14.5 percent — a much lower rate than the current 35 percent rate for money brought home from overseas by corporations.

Apple acquires Pop Up Archive startup that helps make podcasts searchable

Apple has acquired Pop Up Archive, a startup that specializes in technology that transcribes and organizes audio files to make them more searchable, Nieman Lab reports. The company is known for producing podcast search engine Audiosear.ch, which shut down on November 28 — possibly after being acquired by Apple. The deal comes on the heels of Apple announcing in-episode analytics for podcasts at some point after the release of iOS 11.

Apple wins trademark court battle against Xiaomi

Apple has successfully prevented Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from getting an EU trademark on the name “Mi Pad,” arguing that’s too similar to Apple’s own iPad moniker, Reuters reports. In its decision, the EU’s General Court ruled, “The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from the presence of the additional letter ‘m’ at the beginning of “Mi Pad”, is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity between the two signs.” Xiaomi filed its trademark application in 2014, prompting Apple to complain to the EU Intellectual Property Office. Xiaomi can still appeal the decision to Europe’s highest court, but there’s no word yet on whether the company will.

Report: Apple manufacturer Quanta lands deal to produce AR displays for Lumus

Apple manufacturing partner Quanta Computer has landed a $45 million deal to produce augmented reality displays that project information into the user’s field of vision, Bloomberg reports. Lumus designed the displays, but has granted Quanta the option to produce the product for other technology companies, Lumus Chief Executive Officer Ari Grobman said. “This means that the most expensive key enabling technology in the AR glasses teardown will now be affordably priced, effectively bringing down the overall cost of consumer AR glasses,” Grobman said.

Tim Cook touts privacy, security at Chinese conference promoting internet censorship

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered a surprise keynote at China’s World Internet Conference, touting the value of privacy, security and “humanity,” Bloomberg reports. The tone of the conference was decidedly different than Cook’s speech, with officials calling for more government data collection online to combat terrorism and other criminal activities. Wang Huning, one of the key officials in the Politburo Standing Committee that makes policy on government regulation of online activities, went so far as to call for a “global response team” that could operate well beyond China’s borders. Apple is facing increased pressure in China — its main manufacturing location and a lucrative smartphone market — as the government continues crackdowns on social media, news organizations and other in-app transactions. “The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said in his mostly generic comments that didn’t note obvious censorship and privacy violations proposed by official government speakers.

Apple supplier Dialog takes big stock hit on report Apple could design its own power chips

Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor lost up to 19 percent of its stock value by simply mentioning the possibility that Apple could begin designing its own power-management chips, Reuters reports. CEO Jalal Bagherli said there was no risk to existing supply deals for 2018 and that the company was already in the process of working with Apple on “2019-type products” that could lead to new contracts by March, but investors became panicked by his admission that, “Apple has the resources and capability to internally design a PMIC and could potentially do so in the next few years.” Apple accounts for more than half of Dialog’s revenue, and the company has proved that it can be devastating for a supplier to lose its Apple deals. Apple severing ties with Imagination Technologies essentially cut that company’s revenue in half, and has led Imagination’s CEO to float the possibility of legal action if Apple’s new graphics chips infringe on his company’s patents.

iOS 11.2 released over the weekend with fix for Dec. 2 crash bug, Apple Pay Cash

After online reports of a bug that appeared to be crashing iPhones just after the date rolled over to December 2, Apple rolled out the iOS 11.2 on Saturday, the first time the company has ever released an update on a weekend. Time-based notifications for certain apps began crashing or respringing the devices at 12:15 a.m. on December 2, specifically apps that issue repeated reminders throughout the day. Apple took the unusual step of releasing its iOS update on the weekend to remedy that issue, but seems to have rushed it out with some parts not operational. Apple Pay Cash, the method for using Messages to send person-to-person payments, is included in the release but not yet functional. Users have also reported problems with Face ID in iPhone X after updating, but most have found a reboot after installation clears up the problem.

Apple sues Qualcomm for patent infringement

Apple has filed a countersuit in its ongoing legal fight with Qualcomm, claiming Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile chips infringe on Apple patents, Reuters reports. Qualcomm filed a lawsuit in July claiming Apple infringed on several of its patents that help mobile phones get better battery life, and Apple’s new counterclaim is that it owns eight patents pertaining to battery life that Qualcomm is violating. Apple claims its innovations that make sure components only draw the minimum required power and turning off unused parts of the processor are being used in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and 820 processors, which are found in Samsung and Google devices. “Apple began seeking those patents years before Qualcomm began seeking the patents it asserts against Apple in this case,” the new filing reads.

Report: Apple leasing former Fiat Chrysler location to test autonomous vehicles

Apple seems to be leasing a facility once owned by Fiat Chrysler to test autonomous vehicles, Jalopnik reports. A source said Apple has been recruiting automotive technicians and test engineers from all over California, and a recent paper published by Apple researchers illustrates how laser-based radar could allow a car to detect 3D objects to navigate (among other applications). Apple declined to comment, but records show there has been recent activity at the site allowing for “all prior and current experimental and proving ground uses” at the site after a real estate development planned for the property fell through in 2015.

Apple removes violent games tied to drug war in Phillipines

Apple has removed several violent games tied to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in the Philippines, The Asian Network of People who Use Drugs reports. ANPUD petitioned Apple CEO Tim Cook to remove multiple games that “actively promoted the war on people who use drugs in the Philippines,” which has been documented to include extrajudicial killings. Some of the games have upwards of a million downloads and featured a heroic Duterte killing zombie-like drug users. While Cook hasn’t directly responded to ANPUD’s letter, some of the games have since disappeared from the App Store.

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2

Apple has released the fifth developer betas for iOS 11.2 and tvOS 11.2. The new versions don’t seem to include any big features we haven’t seen before, but the iOS 11.2 beta is reportedly allowing users to wirelessly charge their iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X devices at 7.5-watt speeds instead of the previous five-watt limit and provides a new dialog box explaining how the Control Center’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles work; tapping these no longer turns off the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios, but instead merely disconnects or re-establishes your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections, and Apple has clarified that for users. The latest beta for tvOS 11.2 provides more control over when videos are played in HDR and at different frame rates. Apple seems to have skipped an update to the watchOS 4.2 beta this time around.

Apple Stores hosting free ‘Hour of Code’ sessions

For the fifth year in a row, Apple is holding free “Hour of Code” sessions from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10 to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. The classes are offered at every Apple Store and include introductory classes along with others geared toward kids where they’ll get to program robots or write code in Star Wars-themed programs. The classes cost nothing but pre-registration is required.

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