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EU hits Qualcomm with $1.2B fine over paying Apple to freeze out competitors

While the European Union still has its own unfinished business with Apple, the EU has sided with the company in its fight with Qualcomm, 9to5Mac reports. The EU fined Qualcomm $1.2 billion after ruling that the company’s rebate payments to Apple to freeze out other chip makers unfairly stifled competition. While the EU claims Apple’s deal with Qualcomm was anti-competitive, Apple wasn’t the subject of any further fines since the EU found Apple explored other options in the 5 years Qualcomm was using royalty payments to hold the company hostage. That royalty deal is a major component of Apple’s ongoing legal fight with Qualcomm, with Apple arguing that Qualcomm wants to capitalize on the work of others and Qualcomm arguing Apple wants to use technology they created without paying the company that developed it.

Tim Cook visits Canada, makes surprise drop-in at Toronto’s Eaton Centre Apple Store

Apple CEO Tim Cook made his first visit to Canada since becoming CEO, dropping in at the Apple Store at the Toronto Eaton Centre yesterday, The Globe and Mail reports. Cook’s unannounced visit to the Apple Store was a surprise for a group of grade 7 students who were attending a workshop to learn how to program robots using Swift, where Cook spoke about the importance of learning to code and Apple’s initiatives in education such as its “Everyone Can Code” program. Cook’s visit marks the first time an Apple CEO has come to Canada in almost 30 years; in addition to his appearance at the Apple Store, Cook also stopped by to see Shopify, noting their latest work in AR and VR technologies. [via iPhone in Canada]

Apple announces HomePod arriving Feb. 9, pre-orders open Friday

Apple has announced a release date for its HomePod speaker system, with the new device scheduled to arrive in stores on Feb. 9, and pre-orders opening this Friday in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Originally announced last June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference for a late 2017 release, Apple later acknowledged that the new speaker system would be delayed saying the company “need[ed] a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.”

Apple expands Everyone Can Code program to 70 more colleges in Europe

After rolling out its Everyone Can Code program to more than 20 international schools last November and Chicago high schools last December, Apple has allowed 70 colleges and universities across Europe to offer the program to students, according to a press release from the company. “Education institutions in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal will offer App Development with Swift to prepare their students for future careers in app development,” the release reads. “The full-year course was designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach coding and app design to students of all levels and backgrounds.” CEO Tim Cook echoed earlier comments he’s made about the importance of teaching coding in schools, saying, “Since launching Everyone Can Code two years ago, we’ve seen growing excitement for the initiative from schools around the world, who are increasingly incorporating the curriculum into their classrooms.”

Apple unveils redesigned App Store web preview pages

Following a major overhaul of the App Store in iOS 11, Apple has quietly revamped the App Store’s web preview pages to bring them more in line with new iOS design aesthetic. The new layout opens up with a clear banner notifying users that they will need to open the App Store on their iOS device to actually download the app, followed by a cleaner title area with a larger icon, title, subtitle, developer link, ranking/rating information, and price. Below that the new preview page now focuses on screenshots rather than a description, with links to switch between iPhone, iPad, iMessage, and Apple Watch screenshots; Apple TV screenshots are notably absent from the new preview pages, however. Description and What’s New sections come after the screenshots, followed by a more conspicuous customer reviews section that features a design first introduced in the Apple TV App Store.

Apple leasing 200,000 square feet of space in Culver City

Apple is leasing 128,000 square feet of space in an office building in Culver City for its content production group, according to a new report by Variety. The location at 8777 Washington Boulevard was originally expected to be occupied by HBO, however they recently backed out of the deal, leaving the field open for Apple to move in. The news was first reported by The Real Deal; Variety subsequently confirmed the news with Thomas Small, the mayor pro tem of Culver City. According to The Real Deal, Apple also still intends to lease another 75,000 square feet at another nearby facility at 5500 Jefferson Blvd.

Cook apologizes for lack of clarity on iPhone slowdowns, promises transparency in coming iOS update

In an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for Apple’s failure to more effectively communicate its reasoning behind slowing down older iPhones with deteriorating batteries. When asked about the incident, Cook explained that Apple’s motivation behind the move was entirely on the user experience of ensuring users’ iPhones wouldn’t unexpectedly shutdown during seemingly normal usage such as making an emergency call, waiting for an important message, or wanting to “capture that moment that is fleeting with your camera,” and that Apple “felt it would be better to take something off of the performance to prevent that from happening.”  Cook added that when Apple released the iOS update that eliminated unexpected shutdowns last year, “we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention,” adding that “maybe we should have been clearer as well.” He went on to “deeply apologize for anybody who thinks that we had some other kind of motivation” and reiterated that “our motivation is always the user” and that “the user is at the centre of everything we do.”

Cook went on to add that Apple has been listening to the recent feedback very carefully, and in addition to “giving everybody a very very low price” on battery replacements, Apple has “thought through this whole thing and learned everything we can” and will be releasing an iOS update in the near future that will provide users with “the visibility of the health of their battery, so it’s very very transparent.” He added that iOS will also begin notifying users when performance throttling is occurring as well as providing the option to turn it off. However, in closing Cook added “we don’t recommend it, because we think that people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent and so — you know, our actions were all in service of the user, I can’t stress that enough. You know, maybe we should have been clearer at a point in time, but out actions were always the purest, but again if anybody out there believes we did something nefariously, we apologize for any kind of thing that we did or didn’t do.”

Report: Apple in bidding war with HBO for new J.J. Abrams show

Apple is currently in a bidding war with HBO for a new sci-fi drama from J.J. Abrams, Variety reports. The series is rumored to revolve around a world’s efforts to repel a “monstrous, oppressive force” and marks Abrams’ first return to writing for TV since “Fringe” in 2008. Apple seems to be very interested in the sci-fi genre to begin its original video content venture, opting to revive Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and order an original sci-fi show from “Outlander,” “Battlestar Galactica” show runner Ronald D. Moore.

Apple took meeting with AR component suppliers during CES

In another small move adding fuel to speculation about Apple’s augmented reality glasses project, the tech giant met with suppliers that produce the underlying technology to power the devices during CES, Bloomberg reports. Apple was among several larger tech companies that had discussions with suppliers, according to people familiar with the meetings. Apple is reportedly aiming to have the technology ready by 2019 ahead of a 2020 product release, but sources have admitted that launch timeline is “very aggressive” and subject to change.

India relaxes 30-percent local sourcing rules for Apple, clearing way for Apple Stores

India has relaxed the rules that have been keeping Apple from opening Apple Stores, clearing the way for the company to expand into the country, The New York Times reports. Indian law requires that companies opening retail locations source at least 30 perfect of the materials in the product’s construction from within India, which poses a big problem for Apple since the company sources materials and assembles its products mainly from China. The new rules allow single-brand retailers “to temporarily meet the 30 percent requirement by buying goods made in India and then selling them overseas.” That would allow Apple to buy Indian made accessories like iPhone cases and sell them outside the country to offset the sales it is making on its own products within the country. After five years those rules will expire and Apple will have to meet the full sourcing requirement, but by then it should be possible for Apple to rejigger its supply chain to comply. Apple began manufacturing the iPhone SE in India last year and has been allowed to sell them online, but had still been prevented from opening retail locations because the components were brought in from outside the country.

Class-action lawsuit targets Apple, others over Intel processor security issues

A class-action lawsuit against Apple and Intel has been filed by a group of Israelis angry over recently revealed security vulnerabilities in Intel processors, Hamodia reports. While the lawsuit appears to focus on privacy concerns, the overblown language in the filing is more sensationalism than substance, at one point claiming, “Our worst nightmares have come to pass, and a giant tech bubble has burst. That this is an earthquake is an understatement. Since the announcement by the companies of the vulnerabilities of their products, we realize that we are living in a fantasy world and now realize that we do not even have a minimum of privacy.”

Apple hit with £136 million UK tax bill

Apple has been hit with a £136 million tax bill in the UK after an “extensive audit,” The Financial Times reports. The payment — which covered many years leading up to 2015 — was discovered in the accounts of Apple’s European subsidiary and is thought to have come after an audit found that the subsidiary hadn’t received large enough commissions on sales it secured for its Irish sister company. Apple’s well-documented tax fight with the European Union also hinges on Apple’s dealings in Ireland, and Apple’s own report about the £136 million turned over to the UK after the audit was for “additional tax and interest reflecting the company’s increased activity.”

Apple defends its precautions for kids after open letter from investors

After an open letter from a duo of powerful Apple investors asked the company to form new committees and do research to develop more nuanced controls to shape children’s interactions with the iPhone, Apple is pushing back, defending its development of parental controls starting in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reports. The letter cited multiple studies that show a correlation between increased device use and negative health effects for kids. Apple hasn’t commented on the specifics of the letter, but in a statement the company pointed to controls that already exist that allow parents to install or delete apps, control in-app purchases and restrict access to certain websites. While Apple said it is “constantly looking” for ways to improve its products to meet user needs, the company touted its efforts at clearly labeling the intended age range for the App Store, iTunes and other content streams while keeping its offerings free from offensive material like pornography.

Apple joins Alliance for Open Media aimed at reducing size of online videos

Apple has added its power to the Alliance for Open Media, a collection of tech’s biggest names working to shrink the size of online videos to provide a better streaming experience, CNET reports. The group is creating a technology called AV1 to compress video before it’s stored or transmitted. Until now Apple has been a major holdout, but the company recently appeared as a “founding member” on the group’s website, sending a signal of newfound strong support. Apple has previously focused on the more closed HEVC/H.265 video format, implementing it for FaceTime over cellular in 2014, and more recently bringing it to iOS 11 for video recording. However the licensing fees involved in this more proprietary formats has limited its widespread adoption, necessitating background conversion to H.264 when sharing and exporting videos to ensure maximum compatibility. Moving to a more widely held standard across multiple platforms and companies could eliminate that step, but Apple hasn’t publicly commented on what joining the AOM will mean for its own formats.

Report: Jimmy Iovine leaving Apple Music in August

When his Apple shares from the 2014 sale of Beats fully vest in August, Jimmy Iovine will be leaving Apple Music, Billboard reports. The former Interscope CEO has been with Apple since the sale, but people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Iovine is unlikely to stick around after receiving his final payout from the $3 billion deal. Iovine has been an important part of Apple Music’s successes — smoothing over a public feud with Taylor Swift and has securing exclusive deals with artists like Drake — but he’s also been a source of friction with other high-ranking executives, who have been in the middle of negotiations with artists and labels only to find Iovine was conducting his own separate discussions.

Apple buys app development company Buddybuild

Apple has confirmed its purchase of Buddybuild, an app development company that provides tools to streamline app creation, TechCrunch reports. No financial terms were disclosed, but the Canadian company’s platform will be rolled into Apple’s Xcode suite of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS development tools. In the meantime, Buddybuild’s service will still be available for existing customers, but the company’s site isn’t accepting any new customers. Android development services are also expected to sunset in March, just as Apple discontinued TestFlight’s Android compatibility after acquiring that company.

Apple issues clarification to Apple Stores after some seeking $29 battery replacements were denied

After some Apple users with an iPhone 6 or later reported being refused a $29 battery replacement at Apple Stores, Apple has issued new guidance to its retail locations instructing employees to honor all replacement requests, iGeneration reports. Following outrage over Apple’s admission that the company had been slowing down older iPhones to conserve battery power without informing users, the company agreed to replace the batteries in iPhone 6, 6s, SE or 7 devices for $29 — a substantial discount over the usual price for out-of-warranty battery replacements.

Apple files for ‘Connects to Apple Watch’ trademarks

Apple has applied for a pair of new trademarks for devices that connect to the Apple Watch, Patently Apple reports. The new trademarks are presumably intended to be used to help identify third-party health and fitness accessories that are designed and certified to work with the Apple Watch, which will very likely include both the recently unveiled GymKit equipment as well as third-party health monitoring accessories like AliveCor’s KardiaBand.

Apple fined $25K a day for withheld evidence in Qualcomm’s FTC case

A federal judge has ordered Apple to pay $25,000 a day for failing to turn over documents in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Qualcomm, Bloomberg reports. The FTC has accused Qualcomm of freezing out competitors and forcing Apple to use its chips exclusively, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins imposed the daily fine on Apple for not surrendering its documents quickly enough. Apple claims it has already produced more than 2.6 million documents for the case, but the company has until December 29 to turn over the rest or it will begin facing even larger daily fines, according to a court filing. “We have already produced millions of documents for this case and are working hard to deliver the millions more which have been requested in an unprecedented time frame,” Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said. “We plan to appeal this ruling.”

Face ID can’t be used for ‘Ask to Buy’ purchases on the App Store

Many users who bought the iPhone X this year got an unwelcome surprise at Christmas time, finding that they couldn’t use Face ID to authenticate “Ask to Buy” requests that require kids to ask for parental approval to make iOS purchases and downloads, Ars Technica reports. The “Ask to Buy” feature allows Touch ID to be used to approve the requests, but not Face ID, which has led to speculation that Apple knows there’s a risk of family members — especially children without fully formed features — being able to access another user’s iPhone X with Face ID and approve purchases without permission.

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