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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.

Cook and Trump discuss trade issues and China at White House meeting

As first revealed yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook met privately with President Donald Trump and two the President’s aides yesterday in the Oval Office to discuss trade issues, Reuters reports. In addition to Trump, Cook also spoke with the president’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The White House said the meeting between the President and the Apple CEO had been in the works for a couple of weeks, and was described as a White House official as “good” although neither party provided any further details on the discussions other than that they were in the context of trade.

Tim Cook to have private meeting with President Trump

Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to have a private meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office today, as first noted by Jon Passantino of BuzzFeed News. According to a later tweet by President Trump, the two will be discussing, among other things, “how the U.S. has been treated unfairly for many years, by many countries, on trade.” While this isn’t the first time Tim Cook has met with President Trump — Cook attended a panel with other industry executives last spring, but according to the White House schedule, this will be a private one-on-one meeting held in the Oval Office and closed to the press.

Apple snags rights to Ed Sheehan documentary, ‘Songwriter’

Apple has just won a big for world screen rights to Ed Sheeran’s new documentary, “Songwriter”, Deadline reports. Directed by Murray Cummings, the documentary shows Ed Sheeran at his beginnings, finding his handle on writing and performing his songs and working through his creative process. The deal is reported to be in the low to mid-seven figures for worldwide rights, and Apple is expected to make the release an event with a theatrical component alongside its release on Apple Music. The film made its world premiere in Berlin and made its North American debut this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. This marks the second Tribeca-premiered music documentary that Apple has acquired the rights to, following last year’s exclusive on the documentary based on legendary producer Clive Davis’ best-selling autobiography “The Soundtrack of Our Lives.”

Apple VP Greg Joswiak, former designer Susan Kare to testify in Samsung damages retrial

As Apple and Samsung go back to court yet again, it appears from the newly-filed witness lists that top executives such as Tim Cook and Jony Ive won’t be called to testify. According to CNET, the lists include “industry experts and executives” from both Samsung and Apple, but not Apple’s CEO or CDO. Instead, Apple plans to call upon Greg Joswiak, VP of Product Marketing and Richard Howarth, a senior director on Appel’s Design Team who is also one of the co-inventors of the disputed patents. Joswiak is expected to testify on Apple’s marketing strategy and related market forces, while Howarth will talk about the design process at Apple and the patents themselves. The list of witnesses for Apple also notably includes Susan Kare, one of the original designers at Apple who was behind much of the iconic design of Apple’s original Macintosh computers, who could be expected to testify about icon and user interface graphics design in general, but may have some input on one of the specific patents involved in the case. Other expert witnesses that Apple may call include Ravin Balakrishnan, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto; Alan Ball, an expert on industrial design; Julie Davis, a consultant with expertise in accounting and damages analysis; Karan Singh, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, and Tony Blevins, a vice president of procurement at Apple.

European Commission assessing Apple’s proposed acquisition of Shazam

The European Commission has announced that it will be more closely scrutinizing Apple’s proposed acquisition of Shazam in light of concerns about stifling competition in the streaming music service market. According to the press release, the Commission is opening “an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple under the EU Merger Regulation.” on the basis that “the merger could reduce choice for users of music streaming services.” The Commission’s primary concern appears to be that acquiring Shazam would give Apple “access to commercially sensitive data about customers of its competitors” that would allow Apple to “directly target” those customers to encourage them to switch to Apple Music, thereby putting those competitors at a disadvantage. As a secondary factor, the Commission is also concerned that competitors would be harmed if Apple were to discontinue referrals from the Shazam app, although the Commission notes that it does not see Shazam as “a key entry point for music streaming services.” The Commission has set a deadline of Sept. 4, 2018 to come to a final decision.

Apple releases 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report

Apple has released its 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report, outlining the company’s progress throughout fiscal year 2017 in making all of its operations more eco-friendly. While Apple already announced earlier this month that it had accomplished its goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy sources for all of its facilities worldwide, the formal annual report on the company’s environmental initiatives outlines more of what that means, as well as progress that Apple has been making to protect the environment in other facets of its business as well.

Apple to leverage Texture acquisition to bring new magazine subscription plan to Apple News

According to a new report by Bloomberg, Apple is planning to leverage its recent acquisition of Texture to debut its own premium subscription offering. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report notes that the newly-acquired digital magazine app is expected to be rolled into Apple News, along with a new subscription service to help bolster the company’s online content and services revenue.

About explains ‘Hey Siri’ personalization in Machine Learning Journal

In a new post in Apple’s Machine Learning Journal, the company explains how personalization works behind the “Hey Siri” voice activation feature to reduce the number of false positives. The journal points back to an earlier entry that describes the general technical approach and implementation details of the “Hey Siri” detector and the more general, speaker-independent “key-phrase detection” problem, and begins with that as an assumed foundation for this latest paper, which focuses in on the machine learning technologies that Apple has implemented in developing a rudimentary speaker recognition system to reduce the number of false positives triggered by other people in the vicinity saying phrases that may sound similar to “Hey Siri.”

Apple will repair 42mm Apple Watch Series 2 models with swollen batteries free of charge

Apple has advised Apple Store and Authorized Service Providers that it will be offering free repairs to Apple Watch Series 2 models that do not power on or have a swollen battery, according to documents obtained by MacRumors. In an internal memo, Apple noted that it “has determined that under certain conditions, some Apple Watch Series 2 devices may not power on or they may experience an expanded battery.” Coverage will be provided for up to three years from the date of purchase, regardless of warranty status. However, eligibility is specifically limited to the 42mm Apple Watch Series 2 models, although all S2 variants qualify.

Like many of Apple’s first-gen products, HomePod is selling below expectations

Apple has been lowering sales forecasts and cutting back manufacturing orders for its HomePod speaker amidst weaker than expected sales, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. While Apple’s new smart speaker and a promising start out of the gate, with initial pre-orders and sales accounting for a third of the U.S. smart speaker market, by unit sales, that initial surge didn’t continue, and by the time HomePods arrived in stores, sales were “tanking” according to Ken Cassar, principal analyst for Slice Intelligence. Balanced out over the first 10 weeks of sales, HomePod only managed to gain 10 percent of the smart speaker market, as opposed to 73 percent for Amazon’s Echo family of devices and 14 percent for the Google’s Home speakers, with sales slipping from around a third of the market down to only four percent of the smart speaker market a mere three weeks after the launch. According to some Apple store employees, inventory has actually began piling up, with some locations selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day.

Apple appoints Oliver Schusser as VP of Apple Music & International Content

Apple Music has a new boss as the service also officially passed 40 million paid subscribers this week. In a memo obtained by Variety, Apple SVP Eddy Cue announced the promotion of Oliver Schusser to the new position of Vice President of Apple Music & International Content, making him the head of Apple Music Worldwide. Schusser, who has been with Apple for about 14 years, has previously led efforts outside of the U.S. related to many of Apple’s other content services, including the App Store, iTunes Movies and TV Shows, and Apple Podcasts, and has been working closely with Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, to whom Schusser will now be reporting directly in his new position.

Israel joins the list of countries investigating Apple over iPhone slowdown issue

Israel has added its voice to the chorus of governments who have been looking into Apple’s handling of the iPhone slowdown issues revealed late last year, Reuters reports. Israel’s Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority revealed this week that it is investigating Apple “over a failure to disclose to consumers that its software could slow performance in some iPhones,” adding in a statement that it has already questioned Rony Friedman,  the head of Apple’s operations in Israel. The Israeli agency holds the power to levy significant fines in civil proceedings, however a spokesman for the agency said it was too early to discuss that possibility. A spokesman for Apple in Israel has declined to comment.

Apple lands Asimov ‘Foundation’ TV series

Apple has made a deal to produce a TV series adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundation trilogy, Deadline reports. The project is the brainchild of Skydance Television, which made a deal with the Asimov estate last June for the rights to develope a “sprawling series” based on the books, with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman tagged as executive producers and showrunners. Goyer is co-writing the upcoming Terminator reboot and has worked on The Dark Knight, batman Begins, Ghost Rider, and the Blade franchise, and Friedman’s work includes Avatar 2, the War of the Worlds remake, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Deadline suggests that this latest deal signals an even higher level of ambition for Apple, following its morning show drama headlined by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, a re-imagination of the Spielberg classic, Amazing Stories, along with a Ronald D. Moore space drama, a Damien Chazelle series, a Kristin Wiig comedy, and others.

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