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Apple reportedly interested in deal for Bollywood movies and music

Apple is one of a handful of companies pursuing a deal with Indian movie production house Eros, Reuters reports. Apple’s video content strategy has been disorganized to say the least, and iTunes Store is losing its dominance in movie rentals and sales. A source familiar with the matter said the discussions are in a very early stage for what could be a $1 billion deal. Eros owns the rights to several Bollywood hits and has recently expanded into other Indian languages, claiming to now have a library of more than 3,000 films. Apple declined to comment, but is making a big push in India on multiple fronts.

Tim Cook dances around questions about autonomous systems, augmented reality

While Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments during yesterday’s earnings call didn’t contain any major revelations, he did reiterate that he expects the cutting edge augmented reality and autonomous systems technology that the company is working on to fundamentally improve the way people live. Earlier this year Apple shifted its focus away from building an electric car and toward constructing an autonomous driving system, but Cook said cars are just one of many applications for autonomous technology, “the mother of all AI projects.” “Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways. A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that,” he said, although he did add that the company does “have a large project going, and we’re making a big investment in this from our point of view.”

Apple wants tax breaks for suppliers to produce iPhones in India

Apple has requested tax breaks for its suppliers to set up a manufacturing hub in India, Reuters reports. The company has been actively pursuing its own incentives in India to offset the costs of moving more of its production to the country and has now begun putting pressure on the Indian government to extend the same concessions to its suppliers. Apple started assembling iPhones in India earlier this year in order to break into the Indian market, but the two sides have been negotiating about Apple’s list of “prerequisites” to get to the point where Apple is building the iPhones from scratch in India.

Judge allows FaceTime lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge has ruled that iPhone 4 and 4s users can pursue their class action lawsuit against Apple for intentionally disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 devices, Reuters reports. After losing a patent lawsuit to VirnetX in 2012, Apple was forced to discontinue its direct device-to-device mode for FaceTime, greatly increasing the fees it had to pay to Akamai Technologies — dropping as much as $50 million in one six-month period according to court documents. In developing iOS 7, Apple engineers were able to include a method of peer-to-peer FaceTime communication that didn’t infringe on the VirnetX patents, however, Apple was either unable to unwilling to bring these improvements into an iOS 6 update. Based on internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX case, the new class-action lawsuit claims that Apple made plans to deliberately “break” FaceTime on older iOS versions by forcing a key digital certificate used for FaceTime to expire prematurely.

Apple Store app now supports payments via Touch ID

Apple has updated its Apple Store app for iOS, adding the ability to use Touch ID to authorize payments and make changes to account information. Although Apple originally added Touch ID support to the Apple Store app back in 2015, the feature was originally limited to viewing orders, accessing EasyPay receipts, and making online reservations at an Apple Store, and still required the user to enter their Apple ID password to access stored payment information or actually place orders.

FCC grants license to Apple for 5G wireless testing

Apple has been granted a license by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin testing 5G wireless networking technology, according to a new report by DSLReports. Apple filed an application with the FCC back in May for an experimental license, looking to set up two fixed locations in Cupertino and Milpitas, California. The FCC approval doesn’t appear to add anything significant to the original application, merely granting permission for Apple to begin testing the experimental millimeter wave technology at the designated locations, using the already FCC-approved 28 and 39 GHz bands. Details of Apple’s plans for the new technology remain somewhat unclear, particularly since the 5G standard remains incomplete at this time, however the company’s application states that the company is interested in collecting “engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

Apple discontinues iPod nano and iPod shuffle, updates iPod touch prices and capacities

Apple has officially discontinued the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, signalling the end of an era as the last remaining traditional iPod models in its lineup disappear. Both devices have been removed from the Apple online store, which now points only to the iPod touch, which has also been updated with lower pricing, lowering the prices of the 32GB and 128GB models to $199 and $299, respectively, while entirely discontinuing the 16GB and 64GB models that were previously sold at those prices.

Apple ordered to pay $506 million in patent dispute

Apple has been ordered to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double the damages initially imposed by the jury in the case, Reuters reports. Despite facing up to $862 million in damages for improperly using the university’s patents in its A7, A8 and A8X processors, a jury awarded the school’s patent licensing arm $234 million after U.S. District Judge William Conley limited the damages, ruling that Apple had not willfully infringed on the university’s patent. On Monday Conley added another $272 million to the award, saying that the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was owed the additional money and interest because Apple has continued to infringe on the patent until it expired at the end of last year. Apple has filed to appeal the ruling, but didn’t comment publicly about the case.

Cochlear reveals first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor

Cochlear Limited is rolling out its new Nucleus 7, the first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor to aid the hearing impaired. The new implant allows users to stream the sound directly from compatible iPhones, iPads and iPods over Bluetooth. Reuters reports that Cochlear’s previous sound processors only worked with mobile phones when implant wearers connected the sound processor to an intermediate Bluetooth device that would then pair with the phone or tablet. “It’s the first time people with an iPhone will be able to pick up the phone normally, or just listen to music, without any additional devices,” Jan Janssen, senior vice president of research and development at Cochlear, said. Apple developed the protocols with hearing aide firms like GN ReSound and Starkey, and is now licensing it to the other firms for free. Sarah Herrlinger, director of global accessibility policy for Apple, said developing a solution for users whose doctors recommend different devices for each ear — often from different manufacturers — was a big challenge. “We had to figure out how you could do a bi-modal solution where you’re able to simultaneously pair, control and hear both of them running at the same time,” she said. “That was a really interesting engineering opportunity for us to solve.”

Trump claims Apple is building ‘three big plants’ in U.S.

President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed the company to building “three big plants, beautiful plants” in the U.S. While Apple has reportedly discussed having its manufacturing partners move some of their facilities to the U.S., Apple has never publicly expressed any plans to open facilities in the U.S. In January, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his company is considering a $7 billion investment with Apple in a “highly automated” display production facility inside the U.S., creating between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs. Gou said that Trump’s tough talk on the campaign trail about implementing high tariffs on imports led him to conclude that an increase in protectionist policies is “inevitable,” but warned of rising prices if production is moved to the U.S.

Qualcomm rips tech group for ‘misdirecting’ trade regulators in Apple case

Qualcomm is disputing arguments made by other tech companies in its case with Apple, claiming its critics are involved in a “coordinated effort aimed at misdirecting” trade regulators, Reuters reports. The lobbying group — which includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung, among others — took issue with Qualcomm’s attempt to block imports of the iPhone while the legal battle over royalties plays out in court, saying such a move would help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices.” In its own filing, Qualcomm dismissed the idea that its import ban on iPhone would hurt competition, since ““Apple can purchase and utilize any LTE modem it chooses so long as it does not infringe Qualcomm’s asserted patents.” The problem with that is the Intel chips Apple is currently using still fall under Qualcomm’s patent for the time being, leading Intel to call Qualcomm’s import ban request ” a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm’s only remaining rival.”

Samsung, Intel and others rally to Apple’s side in Qualcomm legal fight

A group representing major tech companies has filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission backing Apple in its legal fight against chip maker Qualcomm, Reuters reports. The Computer & Communications Industry Association — a group that represents Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Intel, among others — opposed Qualcomm’s request to block the import of foreign-assembled iPhones with Intel chips, claiming the move would cause “significant shocks to supply” of the devices. “If the ITC were to grant this exclusion order, it would help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices,” Ed Black, the CEO of the group, said in a statement. “What’s at stake here is certainly the availability of iPhones and other smartphones at better prices.”

Apple reportedly involved in R&D project with automotive battery maker

Apple is working with Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. on an secret automotive battery R&D project, Yicai Global reports. CATL split from Apple’s largest battery supplier — Amperex Technology Ltd. — in 2011 and has gone on to produce car batteries for National Electric Vehicle Sweden, according to Electrek. Apple didn’t comment on the story and has reportedly shifted its focus away from building an entire electric car on its own and toward autonomous driving systems, so what the company is researching and how it would be applied to Project Titan are unclear. [via 9to5Mac]

ARKit developer videos show maps, navigation overlaid on live camera feed

Two new videos posted to Twitter by iOS developer Andrew Hart show points of interest and navigation directions overlaid on what the device’s camera sees, illustrating one possible use for the company’s upcoming ARKit. In the first video, Hart moves his phone around from a London rooftop as the app points out points of interest in the skyline. In the second video, Hart types in “Starbucks” and is greeted by floating red arrows and a blue line displayed over the roads seen in his camera feed, leading him to his destination. The idea is similar to an Apple patent filed late last year for “Augmented Reality Maps” that layer map information and directions over live iPhone video, although the Apple model is displayed with the phone held horizontally and Hart said he’s only been able to get his working with the phone held vertically due to issues in ARKit. Hart said he plans to have his library up on GitHub this week.

Apple adds new ‘Customer Support’ role for App Developers

Apple has added a new “Customer Support” role to the iTunes Connect portal for app developers, allowing companies to provide designated representatives with the ability to respond to customer reviews on the App Store. The new role complements the change earlier this year that allowed app developers to begin responding to reviews on the App Store. Previously, only members of the developer’s team with the Legal, Admin, App Manager, or Marketer roles had the ability to respond to customer reviews; this new more specific role allows developers to more easily delegate this task to other members of their team without the need to provide unnecessary extra privileges.

Apple updates ‘Clips’ app with Disney and Pixar content

Apple has released an update to Clips, the video app that the company debuted earlier this year designed to help users easily create videos fro their photos, music, and video clips. The new version adds content from Disney and Pixar, allowing users to include Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, as well as popular characters from Toy Story and Inside Out. New Disney-designed posters have also been included that can be added to videos as title cards, joining 10 new Apple-designed overlays and 12 posters. The update also makes improvements to Live Title editing, sharing, and provides other fixes to streamline the creation process.

Apple and Balmain unveil Beats Special Edition Headphones

Apple has released a new high-end collection of Beats headphones in partnership with French design house Balmain. Providing a new fashion-forward take on both Beats Studio and Powerbeats 3 headphones, the new models are priced at $250 for the Balmain Special Edition Powerbeats 3 — a $50 premium over the normal selling price — and $600 for the Balmain Special Edition Beats Studio — a markup of $220 over the standard Beats Studio headphones. The new style is available in two different color options: a neutral pinkish “Safari” version that is available exclusively through Apple and a green-tinted “Khaki” version which is exclusive to Balmain. Both versions have gold accents and feature Balmain logos and include suede, Balmain-branded carrying cases.

Apple starts online AI journal to publish research

Apple has started an online journal with artificial intelligence development research papers written by the company’s engineers, making good on its promise to allow employees to publish their findings to the great academic world. Last year Apple announced that it was breaking with its strict privacy rules to allow AI researchers to publish their work, ostensibly because it was becoming increasingly difficult to recruit top talent with such stringent rules in place. So far the site features a welcome message and the first article, “Improving the Realism of Synthetic Images,” an in-depth look at using realistic images to cost-effectively train neural nets.

Apple backs four manufacturing partners in suing Qualcomm

As part of its ongoing fight with Qualcomm, Apple is backing four of its manufacturing partners in their antitrust fight against the chip maker, Reuters reports. Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron and Compal Electronics have accused Qualcomm of violating US antitrust law in response to Qualcomm’s attempt to force the companies to pay royalties that Apple told them to stop paying. “Qualcomm has confirmed publicly that this lawsuit against our clients is intended to make a point about Apple and punish our clients for working with Apple,” said Theodore J. Boutrous, a lawyer representing all four companies. “The companies are bringing their own claims and defenses against Qualcomm.”

Apple back to selling Nokia’s digital health products after patent dispute settlement

Apple has added Nokia’s digital health products back to its online store months after settling a patent dispute with the company. Nokia’s Thermo Thermometer, Body Cardio Scale, Body+ Scale, and BPM+ Blood Pressure Monitor are now all available on Apple’s website and available for pickup at Apple retail stores starting at the end of this week. Apple previously sold the items under the Withings brand, which Nokia officially retired last month after buying the company about a year ago. Apple has returned the health products to its store as part of a multi-year patent license, which will see Nokia providing certain network infrastructure products and services to Apple. The companies are also exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives as Apple continues its push into the health field. [via MacRumors]

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