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Apple softens position on template-based apps

Apple has revised its App Store guidelines on template-based apps, TechCrunch reports, providing much-needed clarity and a more balanced approach following a report earlier this month that many small businesses were being pushed off the App Store. Apple’s guidelines were intended to reduce the number of low-quality apps and “spam” apps that provide little functionality for users, but the hardline approach banning template apps outright ended up affecting a wider market of small businesses and non-profit organizations that relied on third-party app development houses to gain a legitimate presence on the App Store.

Chinese clothing brand sues Apple over App Store logo

Apple has been sued by Chinese clothing brand Kon over the similarity of that company’s logo and that of the App Store, Phone Radar reports. When Apple changed the old App Store logo — consiting of a pencil, a ruler and a paintbrush in the shape of an ‘A’ — to a simple format that’s just three overlapping lins in the shape of an ‘A,’ Kon claims the company violated Chinese copyright law since their company already has the rights to a very similar design. Kon wants an apology, compensation and for Apple to stop selling devices with the new App Store logo. The Beijing People’s Court has accepted the case and is expected to rule on it in the next couple of weeks. This isn’t the first time Apple has been sued over trademarks in China, and the company lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in the country in a case against Xintong Tiandi Technology, which was granted a trademark on “iPhone” in 2010 to be used in connection to a line of leather goods the company sells.

Apple releases second developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5

Apple has released a second round of developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5. Most of the updates seem to revolve around bug fixes, but the iOS update includes a fix that allows developers to continue from a breakpoint in ARSesssion without breaking VIO, leaving visual objects placed in a real-world location visible.

Report: Apple expected to update AirPods next year

A new research note from well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors indicates that Apple is planning on releasing a second-generation version of the AirPods mid to late next year. Kuo noted that the new AirPods will incorporate a “smaller quartz component,” but didn’t provide any other details on what might be expected in the next-generation wireless earbuds. These predicted second-generation AirPods are distinct from the new inductive AirPods charging case that Apple is expected to begin including with the current model, which is also expected to be released in time for Apple’s new AirPower charging mat which will debut next year.

EU court rejects US intervention in ongoing battle over Apple’s Irish taxes

Europe’s General Court has rejected the US government’s request to intervene in Apple’s challenge against the EU’s order for the company to pay $15 billion in taxes to Ireland, Reuters reports. The court said the US government failed to prove it had a “direct interest” in the case’s outcome, rejecting arguments that the decision would have negative effects on US tax revenues and bilateral trade deals with EU countries. The court also ruled against the Irish IBEC trade organization intervening in support of Ireland and Apple, saying the group failed to prove its members’ interests would be affected by the case’s outcome.

Apple orders sci-fi show from ‘Outlander,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica’ show runner

Apple has placed a straight-to-series order for a new sci-fi drama from Ronald D. Moore, who currently serves as the show runner for “Outlander” and previously developed the hit remake of “Battlestar Galactica,” Variety reports. The as-yet-untitled series takes place in a world where the global space race never ended. Moore has some serious sci-fi chops, previously working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” That high-profile network TV pedigree is in line with Apple’s rumored desire for shows that can appeal to a broad audience and steer clear of the nudity and violence common in hit shows from Netflix and HBO, and Apple has shown other interest in the sci-fi genre as well, reviving Steven Spielberg’s popular sci-fi/horror series “Amazing Stories.”

Apple snags more TV execs from Hulu, Legendary

Apple is continuing its high-powered TV executive hiring spree, stealing Philip Matthys from Hulu and Jennifer Wang Grazier from Legendary Entertainment, Variety reports. Matthys started as head of business affairs for Apple’s Worldwide Video division last month after holding a similar role at Hulu, where he oversaw dealmaking and policy for all of Hulu’s original content. Wang Grazier is expected to start on the same team in January — reporting to Matthys — after serving as executive vice president for business and legal affairs at Legendary for two years.

Apple expands Everyone Can Code program to half a million kids in Chicago schools

Apple has been expanding its coding classes for kids and even hinting at bringing the program to schools, and now the company is making good on its talk, expanding its Everyone Can Code initiative to nearly 500,000 kids in Chicago’s public schools according to a press release. “At Apple we believe coding is an essential skill, so we’ve designed Everyone Can Code to give everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Starting this spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials to reach students citywide, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Apple trying to block shareholder votes on climate change, human rights

After going to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to ask for permission to exclude a shareholder proposal mandating more diversity hires, Apple is asking the SEC for a similar pass to dodge votes on proposals about climate issue and human rights concerns, Reuters reports. In a letter to the SEC, Apple argued that at least four of the proposals it has fielded from shareholders relate to “ordinary business” and can be left off the proxy it is about to publish ahead of its annual shareholder meeting. Apple’s attorney specifically cited new guidance from the SEC issued in November, which gives company boards wide latitude in deciding which resolutions raise policy issues that warrant being put to a vote.

Jony Ive returns to leadership position on Apple’s design team

After handing off some of his day-to-day management responsibilities while Apple constructed its new campus, Jony Ive is back in direct charge of the product design teams, Bloomberg reports. Ive was named Chief Design Officer in 2015 after spending years as Senior Vice President of Design, handing off many of his management tasks to Vice President of Industrial Design Richard Howarth and Vice President of User Interface Design Alan Dye. But now, “with the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said.

Apple provides look at how self-driving car technology handles pedestrians, rainy weather

Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research, shared some new details about the company’s AI developments that all seemed to revolve around self-driving cars, Wired reports. During a lunch talk at tech conference, Salakhutdinov discussed how the company is creating detailed 3D maps, teaching vehicles to navigate in unfamiliar areas and using camera and sensor data to spot cars, pedestrians and other obstacles on urban streets. The system was even able to pick out pedestrians when they were partially obscured by cars, which Salakhutdinov credited to recent leaps ahead in machine learning. “If you asked me five years ago, I would be very skeptical of saying ‘Yes, you could do that,’” he said.

Apple hires TV veteran Michelle Lee onto Apple Worldwide Video team

Apple has added another high-profile name to its television content team with the hire of programming veteran Michelle Lee, Variety reports. Lee comes from Universal Television-based True Jack Productions, where she developed and executive produced a number of series, and has been named a creative executive at Apple’s Worldwide Video unit where she will report to former WGN America head Matt Cherniss who joined Apple in August.

Apple quickly works to patch HomeKit vulnerability in iOS 11.2

Apple has quickly closed the door on a HomeKit vulnerability introduced in iOS 11.2, 9to5Mac reports. The security flaw, demonstrated privately to 9to5Mac, allowed “unauthorized control of accessories including smart locks and garage door openers.” The report does not describe the vulnerability in detail and adds that it “was difficult to reproduce” but that it did allow access to pretty much any HomeKit-connected accessory once at least one iOS 11.2 device was connected to a HomeKit users’s iCloud account. Apple has apparently rolled out a server-side fix immediately that closes the hole and temporarily disables remote access to shared users; an iOS update is expected next week that will properly fix the problem and restore remote shared access.

Apple unveils best Apps, Music, Movies, and TV Shows for 2017

Apple has announced its editorial picks for the best apps, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts available from its various online content stores. The App Store team noted four rising trends for 2017, including the introduction of augmented reality apps with iOS 11, a rise of real-time competitive gaming, and an increased focus on mental health and mindfulness as well as storytelling and reading. The 2017 iPhone App of the Year was the health and fitness app, Calm, while the very popular Affinity Photo won 2017 iPad App of the Year. In games, Splitter Critters was the top iPhone pick, and the open-ended exploratory puzzler The Witness was the 2017 iPad Game of the Year.

Apple stands to be biggest beneficiary of GOP tax plan

Apple could see as much as $47 billion shaved off its US tax bill under current Republican proposals, making it the largest beneficiary of the tax plan, Fortune reports. The Senate and House still have to reconcile their different versions of the tax bill to send it to President Donald Trump for signing, but the two chambers seem mostly in agreement that the $1.3 trillion that American companies are keeping offshore should be taxed at no more than 14.5 percent — a much lower rate than the current 35 percent rate for money brought home from overseas by corporations.

Apple acquires Pop Up Archive startup that helps make podcasts searchable

Apple has acquired Pop Up Archive, a startup that specializes in technology that transcribes and organizes audio files to make them more searchable, Nieman Lab reports. The company is known for producing podcast search engine Audiosear.ch, which shut down on November 28 — possibly after being acquired by Apple. The deal comes on the heels of Apple announcing in-episode analytics for podcasts at some point after the release of iOS 11.

Apple wins trademark court battle against Xiaomi

Apple has successfully prevented Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from getting an EU trademark on the name “Mi Pad,” arguing that’s too similar to Apple’s own iPad moniker, Reuters reports. In its decision, the EU’s General Court ruled, “The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from the presence of the additional letter ‘m’ at the beginning of “Mi Pad”, is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity between the two signs.” Xiaomi filed its trademark application in 2014, prompting Apple to complain to the EU Intellectual Property Office. Xiaomi can still appeal the decision to Europe’s highest court, but there’s no word yet on whether the company will.

Report: Apple manufacturer Quanta lands deal to produce AR displays for Lumus

Apple manufacturing partner Quanta Computer has landed a $45 million deal to produce augmented reality displays that project information into the user’s field of vision, Bloomberg reports. Lumus designed the displays, but has granted Quanta the option to produce the product for other technology companies, Lumus Chief Executive Officer Ari Grobman said. “This means that the most expensive key enabling technology in the AR glasses teardown will now be affordably priced, effectively bringing down the overall cost of consumer AR glasses,” Grobman said.

Tim Cook touts privacy, security at Chinese conference promoting internet censorship

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered a surprise keynote at China’s World Internet Conference, touting the value of privacy, security and “humanity,” Bloomberg reports. The tone of the conference was decidedly different than Cook’s speech, with officials calling for more government data collection online to combat terrorism and other criminal activities. Wang Huning, one of the key officials in the Politburo Standing Committee that makes policy on government regulation of online activities, went so far as to call for a “global response team” that could operate well beyond China’s borders. Apple is facing increased pressure in China — its main manufacturing location and a lucrative smartphone market — as the government continues crackdowns on social media, news organizations and other in-app transactions. “The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said in his mostly generic comments that didn’t note obvious censorship and privacy violations proposed by official government speakers.

Apple supplier Dialog takes big stock hit on report Apple could design its own power chips

Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor lost up to 19 percent of its stock value by simply mentioning the possibility that Apple could begin designing its own power-management chips, Reuters reports. CEO Jalal Bagherli said there was no risk to existing supply deals for 2018 and that the company was already in the process of working with Apple on “2019-type products” that could lead to new contracts by March, but investors became panicked by his admission that, “Apple has the resources and capability to internally design a PMIC and could potentially do so in the next few years.” Apple accounts for more than half of Dialog’s revenue, and the company has proved that it can be devastating for a supplier to lose its Apple deals. Apple severing ties with Imagination Technologies essentially cut that company’s revenue in half, and has led Imagination’s CEO to float the possibility of legal action if Apple’s new graphics chips infringe on his company’s patents.

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