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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]

Qualcomm CEO floats idea of out-of-court settlement with Apple

Despite a heated on-going court battle over patents and intellectual property, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf still sees the potential for an out-of-court resolution to the dispute with Apple, Fortune reports. Mollenkopf compared the case to others the company has fought over the years with other tech giants. “There’s not really anything new going on,” Mollenkopf said during the Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen. “Those things tend to get to resolved out of court and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t expect that to be the case here.” That said, Mollenkopf admitted he had no real news on a possible resolution to the case, and rhetoric on both sides is fairly intense. While Qualcomm claims its technology is “at the heart of every iPhone,” Apple argues that, “As Apple innovates, Qualcomm demands more. Qualcomm had nothing to do with creating the revolutionary Touch ID, the world’s most popular camera, or the Retina display Apple’s customers love, yet Qualcomm wants to be paid as if these (and future) breakthroughs belong to it.”

Apple showcases new emoji headed to iOS, watchOS, macOS later this year

Apple has released a sneak peek at the new emoji coming to iOS, macOS and watchOS later this year. The update includes more mundane changes like adding a sandwich to the food items and a bearded face alongside more socially conscious changes like a woman in a headscarf and a breastfeeding mother. A T-Rex has made his way into the animals section and zombies and elves will make their first appearance. To further celebrate World Emoji Day, the company is highlighting apps to create or utilize emoji in the App Store and has replaced some movie titles with emoji versions over in iTunes.

Australian government holds meeting with Apple over turning over user data on terrorists, criminals

Australian Attorney General George Brandis will meet with Apple this week to discuss gaining access to encrypted information from “suspected terrorists and criminals,” Sky News reports. Brandis said he hopes companies can be convinced to comply voluntarily, but said the country “will also be legislating so that we do have that coercive power if need be if we don’t get the cooperation we seek.” Facebook and other tech companies have raised serious concerns they will be forced by security agencies to hand over their user data. Apple won a very public fight with the FBI over the company’s refusal to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone and has supported the fights of tech giants like Google against having their data seized as well, but is under increased pressure in places like China to keep tabs on users and limit which apps are available.

Apple announces 2017 Back to School Promo, offering free Beats headphones with Mac purchase

Apple has announced its annual Back to School Promotion for 2017, once again providing free or discounted Beats headphones with select Mac or iPad purchases. This year’s promotion is similar to the deal Apple offered last year, although it notably excludes the iPhone from the list of eligible products. This year, qualifying educational customers purchasing just about any Mac model can choose to receive a free pair of Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones, or BeatsX Earphones, while those purchasing one of the new iPad Pro models can receive a free pair of BeatsX Earphones, or alternatively choose to purchase a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones for $150 or Powerbeats3 for $50 — basically receiving a discount equal to the price of the otherwise-free BeatsX Earphones.

Apple setting up data center in China to comply with new cybersecurity rules

Apple is setting up its first data center in China to comply with new cybersecurity regulations, CNBC reports. The company will build the data center in partnership with local data management firm Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co as part of a $1 billion investment in Guizhou province, an Apple spokesman said in a statement. “These regulations require cloud services be operated by Chinese companies so we’re partnering with GCBD to offer iCloud,” the statement read. Apple has faced increased pressure from China in the last year, with the government ordering the company to monitor mobile app users and pull The New York Times app from the county’s App Store. China has also voiced concerns over live streaming apps, but an Apple representative claims all of Apple’s safeguards for privacy are still in place. “No backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” the company’s statement said.

Apple earns four out of five stars from online privacy watchdog

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s newest “Who Has Your Back” report on how companies handle government requests for user data gave Apple four out of five stars, docking points only for the company’s lack of support for reforming the NSA’s surveillance programs. The EFF tweaks Apple for “not publicly [calling] for reforms to Section 702 to curtail the surveillance of innocent people,” but otherwise delivers high marks, including lauding Apple’s constant efforts to provide users with transparency whenever their data is accessed by government order. Many information requests also come with an indefinite gag order to keep Apple from disclosing when the government collects its data, and Apple’s standard procedure includes appeals for judicial review within 30 days of why each gag order should stay in effect. “If Apple receives notice that the nondisclosure order no longer applies, it will notify the affected customer(s) pursuant to Apple’s customer notice policies,” the EFF found. The company also scored high marks for its legal fight with the FBI after a terrorist shooting in San Bernardino led to a government request to develop a method to break into locked iPhones. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple to open second renewable-powered data center in Denmark

Apple is planning to open a second data center in Denmark, to be run entirely on renewable energy, Reuters reports. The center is expected to power online services like the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for European customers. “The planned facility in Aabenraa, like all of our data centers, will run on 100 percent renewable energy from day one, thanks to new clean energy sources we’re adding,” said Erik Stannow, Nordic manager for Apple. The first announced facility in Denmark is scheduled to go online later this year, and the newly announced project should be up and running by mid-2019. Stannow said ‘the reliability of the Danish grid” was a key factor in choosing the county for two data centers, as well as an abundance of wind and biomass energy.

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