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Apple seeking to have four Qualcomm patents invalidated

Apple is now challenging four key patents as part of its ongoing legal battles with Qualcomm, Bloomberg reports. Specifically, Apple has filed petitions asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel four Qualcomm patents, claiming that the ideas that they cover aren’t new and therefore cannot be patented. All four are part of a patent-infringement lawsuit that Qualcomm filed against Apple last year in response to a patent royalty lawsuit initiated by Apple. The fight predominantly centers around whether the royalty fees that Qualcomm is demanding are excessive, and multiple hearings are already either scheduled or underway in the U.S., China, and Germany.

Apple part of consortium working on Digital Car Key spec

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), an organization dedicated to creating ubiquitous connectivity solutions between vehicles and mobile devices, has announced the Digital Key Release 1.0 Specification, which defines a standard that would allow drivers to download and store a digital key on their smartphones. Apple is part of the CCC, alongside car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, General Motors, and Hyundai, and Volkswagen, as well as other technology companies including LG, Panasonic, Samsung, NXP, and Qualcomm. The digital key spec defines way to securely transfer a vehicle key onto a smart device such as an iPhone, which can then be used via NFC to lock or unlock a car or star the engine. Keys can also be easily securely shared with other smartphone users. The application of the spec would go beyond personal consumer vehicles with uses in car sharing and car rental services as well. While some of these already implement their own server-based keyless entry systems, the new spec would allow for direct communication between a mobile device and the vehicle security system, rather than needing a request to be sent to a central provide and communicated back to the vehicle over a cellular data network. [via MacRumors]

AirPower to run stripped down version of iOS, now expected to arrive in September

Apple’s AirPower has gotten another more specific release date, this time from a slightly more reliable source, with Bloomberg reporting that the wireless charging mat is now on track for a September release. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also provides some insight into why the release has taken longer than expected — although Apple only said “2018” when AirPower was announced last year, many anticipated the device would be available earlier in 2018, with some reports suggesting March. Gurman notes that although Apple has been quiet about AIrPower, saying basically nothing since the initial announcement, the company has been actively working on the accessory behind the scenes, dealing with challenges such as making sure the charger doesn’t overheat and addressing the complexity of the circuitry. Unlike traditional Qi chargers, the AirPower is designed to charge up to three devices simultaneously, support the Apple Watch, and allow users to place any of their devices anywhere on the charging mat rather than having to aim for a specific spot.

Kristen Wiig departs upcoming Apple comedy amidst scheduling conflicts

Kristen Wiig has had to bow out of an upcoming Apple comedy series due to scheduling conflicts, Variety reports. Wiig was originally slated to star in an Apple adaptation of Curtis Sittenfield’s upcoming collection of short stories, “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” but will be unable to as a result of shooting conflicts with her role as Cheetah in “Wonder Woman 1984.” The ten-episode series was Apple’s first scripted comedy order, and would have represented Wiig’s first return to television since she turned her attention to feature films after her stint on SNL ended in 2012. Sources have told Variety that Apple is still continuing with its plans for the series despite Wiig’s exit, however, and Wiig will remain on as an executive producer alongside Reese Witherspoon, Colleen McGuinness, and Lauren Neustadter.

Apple releases second developers betas for iOS 12, tvOS 12

Apple has released a second set of betas to registered developers for iOS 12 and tvOS 12, following the initial developer preview releases following WWDC at the beginning of the month. iOS 12 beta 2 features a build number of 16A5308e and according to the release notes resolves a number of issues from the first beta, including compatibility with certain third-party apps, accessibility issues, problems confirming Apple Pay payments in some cases, CarPlay alarms, Personal Hotspot, and issues with Phone, FaceTime and Screen Time features. The release introduces new problems as well, including the Weather widget, AirPods, CarPlay compatibility with certain vehicles, FaceTime, Screen Time, and Siri shortcuts. The second beta of tvOS 12 features a build number of 16J5303e and includes a smaller list of resolved and new issues. Both versions are available as over-the-air updates or via direct download from Apple’s developer pages. Public betas for iOS 12 and tvOS 12 aren’t expected to materialize until July, and will likely come following the third developer beta release.

Apple fined $9m in Australia over ‘Error 53’ bug

Apple has been fined $9M AUD ($6.6m USD) by an Australian Federal Court for misleading iPhone and iPad owners regarding third-party screen repairs, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. The court action was initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after it received complaints about the “error 53” issue that was [known for disabling iOS devices] that had received third-party screen repairs a few years ago. ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that several customers alleged that they were “being refused a remedy of any kind by Apple on the basis that their device had had unauthorised repairs” even if those repairs were as minor as having a cracked screen. Ms. Court added that under Australian Consumer law, customers are free to have repairs done by third parties without being penalized by the original manufacturer. For its part, Apple admitted that it made false and misleading statements to consumers between February 2015 and February 2016, and the ACCC identified at least 275 customers in Australia who were affected, although Court notes that it was more widespread, and further investigation through an outreach program suggested as many as 5,000 Australian consumers may have been impacted. [via 9to5Mac]

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Apple appeal of App Store antirust case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Apple’s appeal over a lower-court decision that resurrected a seven-year-old class-antitrust lawsuit, Reuters reports. In 2011, a group of consumers filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple was maintaining a monopoly on the sale of iPhone apps, driving up prices because the App Store is the only place where such apps can be purchased. Apple asked for the suit to be dismissed in 2013, asserting that there was nothing illegal about creating a closed system, and arguing that it is developers, not Apple, that set prices for apps. A U.S. District Judge ruled later that same year that the plaintiffs couldn’t continue the lawsuit simply because they hadn’t actually bought the apps in question, and therefore couldn’t demonstrate that they had “personally suffered an injury” based on the conduct that they were accusing Apple of. While a lawyer for the plaintiffs at the same said the case could easily be refiled to meet the requirements, that didn’t surface until early last year, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that iPhone users are free to sue Apple for its alleged monopoly on iPhone apps, although Apple maintained its original argument at the time that users had no standing to sue Apple because the App Store is simply a storefront, however the appellate court judge disagreed, saying that since iPhone users must purchase apps directly from Apple, they have a right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.

Apple opens registration for Summer 2018 Apple Camp for kids

Apple is once again running its Apple Camp summer program for kids aged 8 to 12, with registration now available on the Today at Apple website. Sessions are set to begin in July, and kids can sign up for three different courses at their local Apple Store which will teach various skills using Apple products and software. Courses include Coding with Sphero Robots, which will teach kids coding and problem-solving fundamentals, Beat Making and Songwriting with GarageBand where kids can discover how to create beats and compose their own songs, and Telling Stories with Clips which covers how to use Apple’s new Clips app to create a story with video. Each course consists of three 90-minute sessions held over the course of a single week. All of the courses are free to attend, although spaces are limited and many fill up fast.

iOS 12 will introduce automatic location sharing with 911 call centres

Apple has [announced] that users will be gaining automatic location data sharing with 911 and other emergency services as part of the iOS 12 release later this year. The new feature will incorporate Apple’s HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) system released in 2015 that uses services such as cell towers, GPS, Wi-Fi access points, and more to estimate a mobile 911 caller’s location along with a partnership with emergency technology company RapidSOS to deliver the HELO data to 911 call centres. RapidSOS already has infrastructure in place that integrates with the software used by many 911 call centres, which operate on industry-standard protocols, and Apple notes that location data will only be shared with the responding 911 call center during an emergency call and cannot be used for any non-emergency purposes.

Apple Maps search and navigation features down

In a rare outage, Apple Maps’ search and routing/navigation features are down this morning, affecting users’ ability to search for new locations and get directions in Apple Maps. The issue also affects entering locations in Apple’s iOS and macOS Calendar and Reminders apps, since they use the same Apple database to look up their information. The issue does not appear to affect the simple display of Apple Maps, and traffic information also remains available despite the outage. Further, it appears that users are still able to search for and find locations from their search history, although directions are not available even in these cases. This issue is clearly with Apple’s back-end databases and is therefore affecting Apple Maps on all platforms, along with any other apps that use Apple’s Maps APIs to look up address information. It’s not clear how long the outage will last, although user’s can check the current status on Apple’s System Status page.

Apple confirms security lockdown of Lightning port in iOS 12

Apple has confirmed plans to tighten security in iOS 12 to block the use of external hacking devices such as Grayshift’s GrayKey box by locking down the Lightning port on iOS devices, Reuters reports. A feature recently discovered in iOS 11.4 was designed to prevent the Lightning port from accepting USB device connections when nothing had been connected in seven days, and after the first iOS 12 beta came out, it was discovered that the feature had been adjusted to reduce the time limit down to a mere one hour — meaning that when connecting a USB device to an iPhone running iOS 12, users will be prompted to unlock their iPhone unless a USB device has already been connected in the past hour. While Apple had previously been silent on the issue, this week an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that the feature is being implemented, but clarified that the move is being undertaken to protect all customers, and not specifically to thwart law enforcement efforts, as some have suggested.

Apple expands Siri support for World Cup, adds new themed content

Apple is going all-out for the 2018 World Cup tournament, announcing expanded support, coverage, and tournament-related content throughout multiple apps and services. In addition to the 26 other countries in which sports information is already generally available via Siri, users in Brazil, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Israel will also be able to ask Siri for scores, schedules, standings, and team rosters. The editorial team on the new App Store will also be highlighting the favorite apps and games of various football stars and posting other articles with tips for following the games, including key apps for following and watching the tournament. Users in the U.S. and Canada can follow the action through the Sports feature in Apple’s TV App, and will even be able to favorite specific teams to follow their matches in the “Up Next” section and get notifications of when teams are playing or when games are close.

Apple bans cryptocurrency mining apps

Amidst Apple’s other recent updates to its App Store Review Guidelines last week, AppleInsider has discovered a section explicitly prohibiting cryptocurrency mining apps. Tucked away in the “Hardware Compatibility” section is a prohibition on apps running “unrelated background processes” that specifically mentions cryptocurrency mining as an example, and an entirely new section, 3.1.5 (b) has been added under “3.1 Payments” specifically outlining restrictions on cryptocurrency mining apps.

Apple releases Carpool Karaoke trailer featuring ‘Stars of Tag’

Apple will be release a special episode of its Carpool Karaoke series this week featuring Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms and Jon Hamm, the stars of the upcoming comedy film TAG, as part of a promotion for the film. A one-minute trailer posted to Apple’s YouTube provides some highlights for this coming Friday’s episode, showing the trio singing parts of classic rock songs like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name. While CBS and Apple renewed Carpool Karaoke for a second season earlier this year, there haven’t yet been any announcements as to when the new season is coming, and this episode appears to be a special, rather than the premiere of season two. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple will be adding App Prototyping to ‘Today at Apple’ sessions

Apple has announced plans to expand its “Today at Apple” courses with a new session on app prototyping, targeted at would-be developers who want to get into making apps but aren’t quite sure where to get started. The new initiative was announced in a Tweet by Apple retail VP Angela Ahrendts, who added that it’s based on a popular WWDC talk, and are expected to begin at Apple retail locations later this month.

Apple acquires rights to develop novel ‘Shantaram’ into TV drama series

Apple has another drama series in the pipeline based on Gregory David Robert’s novel “Shantaram,” Variety reports. In what was described as a “competitive situation,” Apple has acquired the rights to the 2003 novel which tells the story of a man on the run from an Australian prison who finds a new life in the underworld of Bombay. Apple is not the first to attempt to develop “Shantaram” into a film, with Johnny Depp having previously acquired the rights to the book and Warner Bros. developing it most recently. The series will be produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, which won the rights to the book after a bidding war in January, and also hold the rights to the sequel novel “The Mountain Shadow.” The series will be written and executive produced by Eric Warren Singer, known for “American Hustle,” “The International,” and “Only the Brave,”along with David Manson, Andrea Barron, Steve Golin, Nicole Clemens also serving as executive producers.

Apple orders new series to be produced by J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles

Apple has placed another straight-to-series order for a new dramedy, Variety reports. The new half-hour series “Little Voices” includes J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles among its executive producers, and is described as a “love letter to the diverse musicality of New York” and appears to be focused on twenty-somethings searching for their “authentic voices.” Bareilles will provide original music, and the series will be written by Jessie Nelson, who is known for her previous work on “I Am Sam,” “Stepmom”, and “Corrina, Corrina”, who will also serve as executive producer and showrunner and is slated to direct the first episode. Nelson and Bareilles also previously worked together on the Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress.”

Apple releases web-embeddable Apple Maps framework

Apple has released a long-anticipated web framework allowing web developers to embed Apple Maps into their web sites, 9to5Mac reports, similar to what has long been possible with Google Maps. The new Apple MapKit JS library is launching in beta form this week, and is essentially a web-based version of the MapKit API that’s available to native IOS apps. The MapKit JS API was first discovered on Apple’s WWDC website back in 2016, leading to speculation back then that Apple would open up the web framework to wider availability, and while it has taken a couple of years, it would appear that it’s finally here.

Apple temporarily pulls first watchOS 5 beta amidst ‘update issues’

As first reported by 9to5Mac, it appears that Apple has temporarily removed the first beta of watchOS 5, less than 24 hours after it was first released following Monday’s WWDC keynote. While Apple doesn’t elaborate on specific reason for doing so, the note on the developer download page suggests that it was probably related to a problem that some users encountered while updating to the newest beta, which seems to be borne out by several developers who have reported problems ranging from getting Apple Watch to finish the beta update to actually ending up with a red exclamation mark and instructions to contact Apple support.

Seed 1 of watchOS 5 is temporarily unavailable. We are investigating an issue that may occur while updating. If you’ve experienced any issues, please contact AppleCare.

The configuration profile used to provision the Apple Watch for over-the-air updates to watchOS 5 betas has been pulled from the Apple Developer website, and the actual over-the-air update has also apparently been removed from the queue, so that even users who have already installed the profile won’t see the beta update until Apple decides to either make it available again or release an updated version.

Revised App Store Review Guidelines now allow for free trials

In addition to changes allowing for apps like Valve’s Steam Link noted earlier this week in Apple’s revised App Store Review Guidelines, it appears that Apple has now also opened up the gates for time-based trial periods. MacRumors discovered the change in section 3.1.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines, which adds a section stating that non-subscription apps may now offer an explicit free time-based trial period as a zero-dollar in-app purchase.

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