Apple is planning on sending out airborne drones in the U.S. to improve data for its Maps application, Bloomberg reports. The company is also developing indoor mapping features for public buildings such as airports and museums. Apple applied for an FAA exemption in late 2015 that would allow it to fly drones for commercial purposes, and received approval earlier this year. The company has reportedly been putting together robotics and data collection experts to get the program underway. Drones would allow Apple to update map information much more quickly than the ground-based vehicles the company is currently using. Sources indicate that drones would examine street signs, track changes to roads, and monitor construction zones, with data fed back to Apple teams for rapid updates to the database behind the Maps app. Interestingly, the report also reveals that Apple has hired at least one person from Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery division to help run the drone team, which is being assembled in Seattle — where Amazon’s headquarters is also located.
In an email reply to a frustrated customer, Tim Cook has given a hint to when Apple’s AirPods will ship, MacRumors reports. In response to the customer complaint that he can’t charge his iPhone while listening to music, Cook allegedly wrote in regards to AirPods, “Sorry for the delay—-we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks.” MacRumors seems to believe the email is legit, but Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The wireless earbuds were supposed to be released in late October, but were delayed after the company determined they needed “a little more time” to get them ready. Retailers have expected release dates all over the place between December and January, but Apple’s site still shows them as unavailable and “coming soon.”
Apple has announced it is taking part in the (RED) charity fundraiser to combat AIDS for the 10th straight year. Apple is adding four new products to its (PRODUCT)RED lineup, offering an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE Case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones and Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker. All of the new products are available starting today. Apple is also donating a dollar to the cause for every purchase made with Apple Pay at the Apple Store, on the company’s website or through the Apple Store app, all the way up to $1 million.
Emails obtained by MobiHealthNews show Apple has been meeting with the FDA since July about two cardiac monitoring products. In the messages, Apple lawyer Robin Goldstein discussed “an introductory meeting where we will want to talk about two possible (and related) products in the cardiac space, as well as the associated regulatory and quality systems and requirements.” The emails don’t contain any information about the products, but the company recently patented a wearable electrocardiographic health device that could have been part of the discussion. CEO Tim Cook has hinted at ambitious plans for Apple in the health field, admitting that the scope of his vision might require devices other than the Apple Watch. Goldstein ‘s exchanges with FDA Associate Center Director for Digital Health Bakul Patel show a concern on Apple’s part about keeping the discussion private, with Goldstein at one point asking to cancel a larger gathering in favor of “a smaller meeting to discuss how Apple may engage with the FDA in a way that’s ‘non-regulatory’ so we can learn about your processes and thinking, and vice versa.”
Apple has seeded the fourth betas of iOS 10.2 and watchOS 3.1.1 to developers today. It’s now likely that iOS 10.2 will get its full public release soon, possibly next week. We’ll update with any noteworthy findings from the betas.
As expected, Apple has launched its Black Friday promotions in U.S. and Canadian Apple Stores, once again offering gift cards in place of discounts, as the company has done over the past few years. Apple is including a $150 gift card for customers purchasing a Mac, $100 for the iPad Pro, $50 for the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE, and $25 Apple Watch Series 1, and fourth-generation Apple TV. Notably, Apple’s most recent product releases — such as the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, and new MacBook Pro models — are not eligible for the gift card promotion, and refurbished and educationally-priced products do not qualify.
In a post on its website, Apple is teasing Black Friday deals. There’s no information for which items will be discounted and by how much during the one-day sale, nor any indication of when the sale will start. Apple hasn’t offered its own Black Friday sale since 2014, opting to let other retailers handle the discounting of its products last year. Apple is offering free shipping for products ordered online, and items bought between November 10 and December 25 can be returned until January 8. In-store pickup is also available for online orders, and many Apple stores have extended hours listed online for the event.
Apple has shuttered its wireless router division, transferring the engineers to teams developing the Apple TV and other products, Bloomberg reports. Apple has been slowly shutting down the router team over the last year, sources familiar with the matter said. Apple hadn’t released a new AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule since 2013, but a company spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s future plans for the product lines. Apple’s router offerings have always lagged behind competitors in adopting new standards due to the company’s focus on integrating the devices into its device ecosystem, and the entire AirPort line only accounts for a tiny percentage of Apple’s overall sales.
Apple has launched a new Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus, intended to address complaints about a problem dubbed “Touch Disease” that was brought to light by iFixit back in August. The issue, believed by iFixit to be the result of a design defect in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, resulted in a problem where touch functionality would become glitchy or unresponsive and flickering gray lines would appear at the top of the iPhone screen. With many of the affected iPhones out of warranty, Apple Stores generally refused to recognize the problem as being a real issue, prompting a class action lawsuit to be filed against Apple.
Apple has been asking its suppliers to study the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., according to a new report by Nikkei Asian Review. Back in June, Apple reportedly approached both of its major iPhone assemblers, Foxconn and Pegatron, asking them to look into making iPhones in the U.S.; Foxconn agreed, but Pegatron declined due to cost concerns. Sources for the report indicated that although Foxconn has been working on outlining a plan for Apple, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had been “less enthusiastic” about it as production costs would inevitably rise — the cost of producing an iPhone in the U.S. would be expected to more than double. The move from Apple appears to be due to concerns about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to push U.S. based companies back to domestic manufacturing, promising to slap a 45 percent import tariff on any goods made in China. In addition to increased costs, however, moving full iPhone production into to U.S. may not even be feasible due to a lack of skilled workers and a cluster of domestic suppliers of components.
Apple is planning to reduce its portion of fees for streaming video service subscriptions sold via the App Store, Bloomberg reports, a move that appears to be aimed at encouraging tighter integration streaming video apps on the iOS and Apple TV platforms. This is the second big move in Apple’s attempts to adjust its in-app subscription pricing models, after the company announced earlier this year that developers would see their share increase for every customer subscription that is retained beyond the first year. With this reported change, Apple will be giving streaming video apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO access to the better deal — reducing Apple’s revenue share to 15 percent — right out of the gate in the first year, provided they integrate with Apple’s forthcoming TV app.
Following Monday’s release of iOS 10.2 beta 3 to developers, Apple has now also released a third developer beta for watchOS 3.1.1. As with other recent watchOS betas, the accompanying release notes list few significant changes, with the new version likely being primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Registered iOS developers can download the new watchOS beta from Apple’s Developer site.
In time for the holidays, Apple is releasing “Designed by Apple in California,” a book with 450 photographs of some of the company’s most iconic products. Starting with 1998’s iMac and ending with 2015’s Apple Pencil, the images Apple has released so far show images of the products standing out on a white background, letting the designs speak for themselves. The press release also promises insights into the “materials and techniques used by Apple’s design team over two decades of innovation.” Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, said the book is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs and illustrates the company’s thinking and creative inspiration.
“The idea of genuinely trying to make something great for humanity was Steve’s motivation from the beginning, and it remains both our ideal and our goal as Apple looks to the future,” Ive said. “This archive is intended to be a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years. We hope it brings some understanding to how and why they exist, while serving as a resource for students of all design disciplines.” The book is clearly aimed at hardcore Apple design enthusiasts, as the prices demonstrate: Designed by Apple in California is available in two sizes, 10.20” x 12.75” ($199) and 13” x 16.25” ($299). It will be available starting Wednesday on Apple’s website and in select stores.
Apple is considering creating its own digital glasses as part of a further push into wearable technology, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the matter said the company is in the “exploration phase” with the glasses, which would pair wirelessly with an iPhone to display images and possibly project augmented reality elements into the user’s field of vision. Apple recently patented an augmented reality mapping system, and KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects the company to begin integrating AR into its existing product lines within the next few years.
Apple has released new betas for iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 to developers today. The company seems to be keeping up a weekly schedule of new beta releases at this point. We’ll update if any major changes are found, but it’s more likely these updates will offer minor tweaks from last week’s betas. A public iOS beta release should follow shortly.
Apple has released iBooks StoryTime for U.S. Apple TV users, an interactive spoken-word books app for kids. iBooks StoryTime includes a small selection of handpicks children’s titles with Read-Aloud narration and colourful illustrations that allows children to view and listen to stories on the Apple TV. The Siri Remote can be used to swipe between pages, and parents can turn off Read-Aloud narration to read the story to their children themselves. Additional Read-Aloud books can be purchased using the iBooks app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and books purchased by all family members will automatically appear in the iBooks StoryTime library on the Apple TV.
In Twitter’s first annual #TwitterAwards, the social network has presented Apple with the Gold #Customer Award for its highly successful launch of the @AppleSupport Twitter account in 2016 — the first time Apple has operated any kind of official support account on a social networking site. In publishing the award, Twitter noted that the @AppleSupport account has “received outstanding customer feedback and generated more than 150,000 likes and Retweets since its launch in March 2016” effectively placing it number one among all of the support accounts from various companies on Twitter for average engagements. Twitter also commended Apple for jumping into conversations with customers to offer assistance and its use of rich media in responses.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out an internal email to U.S. Apple employees calling for unity in the aftermath of the U.S. election results. The memo, obtained by Buzzfeed, encourages Apple employees to “move forward together” and reaffirms Apple’s strong commitment to social progress and equality.
While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed. Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world — regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love.
Cook notably avoids mentioning any candidates by name or making any specific comments on their election campaigns, simply stating that the “aftermath leaves many [...] with strong feelings” and reiterating that Apple’s “very diverse team of employees” includes supporters of both candidates. Cook encourages employees to reach out to their fellow “co-workers if they are feeling anxious.”
Apple has announced to developers that they can now generate direct links to Apple TV applications that will preview in a user’s web browser, similar to the way in which iOS and macOS links presently work. Links to universal apps — those that include iOS and tvOS versions in the same application package — will still go to the iOS app by default, and no specific Apple TV references appear in those app previews; however, apps that exist solely for the Apple TV can now be previewed on the web, with full descriptions, screenshots, and reviews. Notably, it appears that Mac/PC users will still need to visit the Apple TV App Store to actually download or purchase tvOS apps — unlike iOS apps, a “View in iTunes” button does not appear for tvOS-only apps. However, links opened on an iPhone or iPad will automatically take the user to the iOS App Store, where the app can be purchased and then automatically downloaded to the Apple TV.
Apple’s online store has begun selling refurbished iPhone 6s models, allowing customers to save money on last year’s iPhone models by purchasing certified refurbished versions. A variety of colors and capacities are available, with prices starting at $449 for a 16GB iPhone 6s — about $100 less expensive than a brand new entry-level iPhone 6s, although it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple has doubled storage capacities on this year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models, making the refurbished iPhones arguably less of a deal — a brand new 32GB iPhone 6s sells for $549. All refurbished iPhone models currently being sold appear to be unlocked and SIM-free, meaning they can be used on any carrier.