India’s government may allow Apple to open retail stores in the country and provide a 2-3 year exemption from local sourcing requirements, The Times of India reports. Apple was expected to be completely exempted from laws requiring companies to source 30 percent of their products’ material locally because of the company’s status as a provider of “cutting-edge technology”, but the company’s application to bypass those rules was rejected by India’s finance minister two weeks ago. Sources now say that discussions have begun between the finance ministry and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion aimed at granting Apple the waiver, but only in the first few years of Apple’s retail store operations.
Apple has hired Sinisa Durekovic, the software engineer behind the development of satellite navigation systems for several luxury carmakers, Bloomberg reports. Durekovic, who has more than 20 years of experience in developing satellite navigation software, was previously the principal architect and chief engineer for navigation at Harman International Industries, which develops in-car navigation systems for several high-end car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. According to the report, Durekovic joined Apple in an “unspecified role” back in October, although it seems logical that his skills will be put to use in areas such as improving Apple Maps, CarPlay, or Apple’s much-rumored electric car project. Apple has recently made a stronger push toward Apple Maps development, opening an office in Hyperabad, India last month, where it will employ 4,000 staff focused on developing its mapping platform. Spokespersons for Apple and Harman had no comments to make on the hiring; Durekovic didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for 2016, providing a free pair of Beats headphones to eligible students purchasing a new Mac, iPad, or iPhone for college or university. Students purchasing any new Mac model will receive a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $300, while those purchasing an iPad Pro, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, or iPhone 6s Plus will get Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $200. As with prior promotions, the promotion takes the form of an instant credit for the pre-tax price of the headphones, meaning the customer will still be responsible for any sales taxes that might otherwise apply. Standard Apple student discounts also apply on Mac and iPad purchases. The Apple Back to School promotion runs from today through Sept. 5, and users can take advantage of the offer by purchasing a Mac, iPad Pro, or iPhone at any Apple Retail Store of the online Apple Store for Education, and buyers must be enrolled in an eligible college, university, or similar higher education institution in order to qualify.
Apple has sent out press invites for the keynote to kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference later this month. The keynote will be held on Monday, Jun. 13 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It’s expected that Apple will announce new versions of its various mobile and desktop operating systems — iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and OS X — along with changes to Apple Music, a Siri SDK for developers, web-based support for Apple Pay and Maps, and possibly even the announcement of new hardware products. It is expected that the keynote will be broadcast on the web and via the Apple TV as Apple has done with past keynote presentations.
Apple has tweaked its TV App Store algorithm to hide apps already installed on the device. After a brief scare when their new app went missing from the Top Charts in Germany, app designer Equinux figured out that the update eliminates apps that users already have from app store lists, presumably to provide more visibility for lesser-known apps and keep customers from having to trudge past all the apps they already have while seeking out new ones.
The California Institute of Technology has sued Broadcom and Apple over use of the school’s encoding and decoding patents in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips, Patently Apple reports. Apple has used Broadcom’s technology since 2012 in most of its devices, including the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, Apple Watch and others.
New technology obtained from Apple’s acquisition of VocalIQ last year is poised to drastically improve Siri’s search capabilities, Business Insider reports. One unnamed source said VocalIQ’s AI was able to answer complex questions like, “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and Wi-Fi that’s kid-friendly,” 90 percent of the time, greatly improving on the 20 percent averaged by Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
India’s government dealt Apple’s plans for expansion another setback Monday, formally rejecting the company’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, Live Mint reports. Tim Cook had defended Apple’s request during his Indian tour, saying the company has similar programs in countries all over the world to sell refurbished phones that the company has restored to a “pristine level’ but made available at a lower price.
Apple may be planning to include facial recognition technology in its rumored Siri device, according to CNET. Sources for the report indicated that Apple has “explored putting a camera in its device” with facial recognition technology that could detect who is in a room, and could then activate personal music and lighting profiles.
A new report claims that Apple is working on a Siri-based competitor to Amazon’s Echo, but suggests that the solution will come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV set-top box, rather than the standalone speaker reported earlier this week. A source has told VentureBeat that the plan is to build on the Apple TV to “solve problems with the existing box and remote control,” noting that Apple wants the “Apple TV to be just the hub of everything.” Apple is said to have considered several options, and a standalone speaker was indeed under consideration at one point — however, that option was dropped due to the amount of money Apple has spent on the development of the new Apple TV.
Apple’s SVP Eddy Cue reportedly floated the idea of Apple making a bid to buy Time Warner late last year, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Three sources who were briefed on a meeting between Cue and Olaf Olafsson — Time Warner’s Executive VP of Corporate Strategy — at the end of last year revealed that Cue broached the idea of a bid to purchase the media company, although discussions did not go beyond a very preliminary stage and never included any higher-level Apple or Time Warner executives. The purpose of the meeting, held at Time Warner’s Manhattan headquarters, was to discuss ways in which the two companies could build a business relationship, such as including Time Warner’s cable channels in the streaming service that Apple has been developing.
Apple’s attempt to bypass Indian rules to open its own retail locations in the country has been rejected, Bloomberg reports. The company was expected to qualify for an exemption from rules forcing single-brand retailers to obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, applying as a provider of cutting-edge technology. But sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board ruled Apple has to comply with the regulations, refusing to certify Apple for the exemption.
The decision still needs to be ratified by the government, meaning it could be overturned, but the ruling is a significant blow for Apple’s prospects in the country given most of its products are made in China and don’t meet the FIPB criteria. Apple already trails Samsung and Micromax in India due to the high price of its products. The company has ramped up advertising efforts in India in recent months, with Tim Cook likening the market there to China a decade ago.
Update: Bloomberg reports India’s finance minister has ratified the FIPB’s ruling, seemingly ending Apple’s plans to open its own stores in the country for the time being. The company will have to begin procuring at least 30 percent of device components in India if it wants to sell them through its own retail stores.
Apple has begun talking to charging station companies about how to charge electric cars and is hiring engineers with expertise in the field, Reuters reports. After years of ongoing speculation about Apple’s automotive ambitions, the company appears to be tackling software issues and laying the groundwork for infrastructure to power an electric vehicle. Apple specifically seems to be responding to a longstanding gripe with electric cars — “filling up” the battery. Overcoming the hurdles presented by a lack of public charging stations and the extended time currently necessary to charge a car’s battery could be the opportunity Apple is looking for to make its mark on the industry.
Apple has rehired a top encryption expert to bring stronger security to a range of its products, Reuters reports. Jon Callas, who worked at Apple in the 1990s and again from 2009 to 2011 to design the Mac’s encryption system, has rejoined the company to address security concerns in the wake of Apple’s public spat with the FBI. Both Apple and Callas declined to discuss his role at the company, but he is the brains behind several well-respected secure communications companies, including PGP Corp, Silent Circle and Blackphone. Callas has publicly stated he is opposed to companies being compelled to break into their own encryption by law enforcement, but has floated the idea that the government should be allowed to take advantage of undisclosed software vulnerabilities to hack into systems, provided they disclose the vulnerabilities afterward so they can be patched. The FBI hasn’t bought into that type of arrangement, withholding its method of breaking into iPhones from Apple thus far.
Plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against Apple after replacement Touch ID sensors resulted in their iPhones becoming non-operational are now fighting the company’s efforts to dismiss the case, Apple Insider reports. The issue cropped up in February, when iPhone owners who had used third-party service centers to replace Touch ID sensors started getting “Error 53” messages that left their devices locked and unusable. Each Touch ID sensor is paired with its unique device and can’t be replaced without causing problems with Touch ID and Apple Pay, but the release of iOS 9.2.1 locked all other functions on iPhones with replacement sensors as well.
A new report from The Information (subscription required), reveals that Apple is preparing to release a Siri SDK for third-party developers, as well as possibly releasing a standalone Siri-capable hardware device, similar to the Amazon Echo. The report suggests that a Siri SDK will likely be unveiled at WWDC next month, allowing third-party developers to make services available directly through Siri — something that many iOS developers and users have been hoping to see since Siri was first introduced by Apple five years ago. While Apple has provided direct integration with a small number of third-party services like OpenTable and Shazam, and “deep links” introduced in iOS 9 last year provide some integration for searches to open within apps, an open SDK would likely allow any iOS developer the ability to tie Siri requests directly into their own apps.
The report notes that the Siri hardware device is likely a little farther off, although sources suggest that the device has been in development by Apple since before the Amazon Echo was introduced last year. The Siri hardware device is expected to include a speaker and be web-connected. It should also include deep integration with HomeKit — a feature still lacking on even the fourth-generation Apple TV — and the device should be able to use AirPlay. An actual timeframe for the release of the Siri hardware device is unclear. [via 9to5Mac]
During Startup Fest Europe, Tim Cook compared Apple’s ambitious hopes for improvements to Apple Watch functionality to a car’s computer monitoring system, Bloomberg reports. “If you drive for a while and your car gets too hot, it says pull over. If you need an oil change, it says check your oil. What’s the equivalent for the body?” Cook said to the crowd. The current Apple Watch monitors vital signs and encourages users to move around or exercise at regular intervals, but Cook hopes to see a watch that will know more about the body and even be able to recommend a doctor’s visit when it’s necessary.
Apple has announced the opening of a new office in Hyderabad, India to focus on the development of the Apple Maps platform. Apple expects to employ up to 4,000 people in the new facility, to be located on the Waverock campus, which will help accelerate the development of the Maps infrastructure for Apple’s iOS and OS X devices. “Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations.”
Tim Cook is meeting with Indian phone companies with hopes of using the country’s expanding 4G network to make Apple devices more appealing, The Economic Times reports. A senior executive at Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile phone operator, said his company is in talks with Apple to create a strategic partnership that may end up including special offers on devices, deals to sell products through retail stores, and new training of company personnel. A senior Reliance executive said bundling of Apple products was also an option, supporting claims that Apple’s leadership sees potential for India’s increased 4G coverage to boost sales of iPads and Apple TVs in addition to iPhones.
After going public with his gripe about Apple Music deleting 122 GB of music off his personal computer, musician James Pinkstone added a new blog entry detailing what happened when Apple sent two engineers to his house to investigate the issue. Running a special version of iTunes designed to document any further mass deletions, the engineers spent hours troubleshooting but weren’t able to replicate the issue. Of particular concern was that there is no pattern to what was deleted, with files of all types, sizes and genres suddenly disappearing.