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Apple acquires wireless charging company PowerbyProxi

Apple has acquired wireless charging firm PowerbyProxi, leading to speculation in that company’s native New Zealand that Apple could move operations to another country, Stuff reports. Apple announced the purchase in its usual tight-lipped fashion today, confirming plans to keep the business in New Zealand despite local talk that future research and development would probably move elsewhere. The company currently employs about 55 people and holds more than 300 wireless charging patents. Apple has debuted its first wireless charging-compatible iPhones this year and has teased a wireless charging mat to come soon.

Apple’s patent fight with Samsung headed to court again

Apple’s seemingly endless fight with Samsung over smartphone patents is headed back to court once again, Foss Patents reports. A ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year holds that Samsung isn’t on the hook for its full profits from smartphone sales just because it infringed on some of Apple’s patents, but doesn’t make clear what portion of the profits should go to Apple or how that should be decided. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh has ordered both sides back to court and put the burden on Apple to prove it should be allowed to keep the $399 million award from 2016 given the new ruling. Koh wrote that since an entire Samsung phone is no longer the “article of manufacture,” jurors in the new trial will have to “identify the ‘article of manufacture’ to which the infringed design has been applied” and then “calculate the infringer’s total profit made on that article of manufacture.”

Apple collaborating with Google and AT&T to deliver internet to Puerto Rico

Apple is partnering with Google parent company Alphabet and AT&T to deliver internet to those in Puerto Rico affected by the fallout from Hurricane Maria, according to a blog post by Alistair Westgarth, head of Project Loon. The Project Loon balloons deliver communications equipment to remote parts of the world, and multiple U.S. agencies have approved their use over Puerto Rico. AT&T will provide LTE service, and SES Networks, Liberty Cablevision, and other companies are providing hardware on the ground. An Apple update to cellular settings in iOS will grant iPhones in that region access to the unused LTE frequency Band 8 used by Project Loon’s balloons. [via AppleInsider]

Apple hires ex-Amazon exec for international content role

Apple has added another high-profile media name to its growing content division, hiring former Amazon executive Morgan Wandell to head up its international development, Variety reports. During his tenure at Amazon, Wandell was the point man on shows like “The Man in the High Castle,” “Goliath,” and the upcoming “Jack Ryan” series. Before that he worked at ABC working on hits like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” and “Desperate Housewives.” He has also worked with former Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg now heading up Apple’s video efforts, putting together a deal for the series “Sneaky Pete.”

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: Technology for AR glasses ‘not there yet’

With Apple’s ARKit opening up new horizons for developers, speculation continues around Apple’s rumored project aimed at creating AR glasses, but CEO Tim Cook threw cold water on the idea that the company will be releasing such a product soon in an interview with The Independent. While he refused to comment specifically on what the company has in the works, Cook said, “Today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet.”

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.

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