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Apple near deal to begin manufacturing in India

After a meeting with Apple representatives today, a government official in India said an agreement to get the company to open manufacturing facilities in the country is “almost a done deal,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Despite earlier concerns that offering concessions to Apple would prove too costly and bring little benefit to the country, an official with direct knowledge of the negotiations now claims, “Many of the incentives sought by Apple are workable.” Apple has requested a 15-year tax holiday on the duties usually collected on imported components and equipment to open up shop in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been actively working to draw foreign investment in India, and a top bureaucrat in Modi’s office said the government intends to “settle with Apple.” For Apple’s part, a company spokeswoman said only, “We appreciate the constructive and open dialogue we’ve had with [the] government about further expanding our local operations.”

iOS 10.3 to improve in-app rating experience, allow developers to respond to App Store reviews

Apple has revealed plans to allow developers to respond to customer reviews on both the iOS and Mac App Stores as of the public release of iOS 10.3. The “What’s New in iOS” section of Apple’s Developer Documentation notes that developer responses will be posted “in a way that is available for all customers to see,” presumably allowing developers to counter negative reviews with official explanations. Little other information is given, such as whether customers will be able to respond in turn to comments from developers, or what other moderation processes may be implemented. Apple also notes a new API being introduced in iOS 10.3 will allow developers to more efficiently handle in-app review requests without having to take the user out of the app and send them to the App Store. A new option in the iTunes & App Store settings in iOS 10.3 will also allow users to opt out of being prompted for in-app ratings and reviews, although it’s likely this setting will only affect apps that are updated to use the new iOS 10.3 API for requesting reviews.

Apple releases first iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2 betas

Following yesterday’s release of iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1, Apple has rolled out its first betas of iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2. Featuring a build number of 14E5230e, the iOS 10.3 beta adds Location and Play Sound for AirPods as part of the Find My iPhone feature, allowing users to initiate a high volume sound emission from AirPods to aid in locating them, although there is no mention in the release notes of the “theater mode” that was rumored to be included in iOS 10.3. The release notes for iOS 10.3 beta 1 also mention that new SiriKit car commands are in development — although the notes do not expand on the feature — and that the emergency SOS feature remains supported only in India. Enhancements to WebKit will allow web developers to create alternative page styles that respect the “Reduce Motion” setting on iOS devices.

The release notes for tvOS 10.2 beta 1 note that the update now adds accelerated scrolling support for UIKit and TVMLKit apps that will allow users to scroll through large views of content much more quickly using large swipes of the Siri Remote, as well as an index that can be accessed by swiping on the far right side of the Siri Remote. Device Enrollment and Mobile Device Management support has also been expanded for provisioning Apple TVs in enterprise and education environments.

Report: India likely to reject Apple’s tax break requests

Indian government officials are likely to reject Apple’s request for a lower tax bracket, customs duty holidays, and other concessions in exchange for setting up manufacturing facilities in the country, the Economic Times of India reports. Apple officials are set to meet with representatives from India’s government Wednesday to lay out the company’s case for the incentives, but government representatives signaled last week that any changes made to benefit Apple would have to apply to all 42 other companies currently building mobile phones in India. One unnamed official told The Financial Times they were doubtful there would be enough incentive for the country to approve such a sweeping change. “Since there is a strong co-relation between value-addition and job creation, value-addition remains a priority for us. The ‘Make in India’ program would suffer if every foreign player starts to demand concessions without actually doing much of value addition here,” the source said.

Apple releases iOS 10.2.1

Apple released iOS 10.2.1 to the public today. The update for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch offers bug fixes and performance improvements — a minor update, all things considered. We’ll let you know of any particularly notable improvements or surprising new features. iOS 10.2.1 is rolling out now, so it should be available shortly if you don’t see it yet. As always, it can be downloaded through iTunes, or over-the-air in Settings > General > Software Update.

Foxconn considering $7B investment in ‘highly automated’ U.S. facility for Apple

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., Nikkei Asian Review reports. Gou estimated the proposed facility would create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs — local production could be a better solution for Foxconn than importing screens from China as demand increases. The company is also planning a new molding facility in the U.S., considering Pennsylvania as a possible location if investment details can be worked out with local officials.

Apple files lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of withholding patent royalties

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing it of monopolizing the wireless chip market as well as withholding $1 billion in retaliation for cooperating with South Korean antitrust authorities, Bloomberg reports. In the suit, Apple claims that Qualcomm is holding back $1 billion in money that was supposed to be a rebate for licensing fees, stating that Qualcomm is doing so as a punishment in response to Apple’s cooperation with Korean antitrust regulators. Apple is also challenging several key Qualcomm wireless technology patents in the complaint, asking the court to either declare the patents invalid, or if they are upheld, to significantly reduce the royalty amounts that Qualcomm is presently charging for their use.

Apple releases updated iOS Developer Design Resources

Apple has announced a new set of design resources to assist developers in building apps for iOS 10, providing guidelines and templates for all of the UIKit controls, views, and glyphs available to developers within the iOS SDK, and recommendations for the appropriate ways in which to use them to match the iOS design language. The new Apple UI Design Resources page also includes templates that can be opened in Photoshop and Sketch, complete with icon and glyph production files that have been preconfigured to automate asset production in the appropriate tools.

Apple’s exclusive audiobook deal with Audible ends in Europe following EU antitrust scrutiny

The European Commission has announced a joint decision between Apple and Audible to end their exclusive arrangement for the sale of audiobooks on the iTunes Store, potentially opening up competition in downloadable audiobook distribution in Europe. Audible has been Apple’s exclusive supplier of audiobook titles for the iTunes Store since its debut in 2003, preventing other companies that provide downloadable audiobooks from accessing the iTunes Store, as well as precluding Audible from supplying its titles to other third-party platforms — although the agreement has not prevented Audible, which is now owned by Amazon, from selling its audiobooks directly to consumers. The new agreement between Amazon/Audible and Apple came following communications with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, who were looking into antitrust concerns around the exclusivity arrangement following a complaint raised by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, which raised several other complaints against Audible as well.

GarageBand 2.2 adds Logic Pro X integration, Alchemy synth, Multi-Take Recording

Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS, adding new integration with Logic Pro X 10.3, along with a number of more sophisticated music creation options. With GarageBand 2.2, Logic Pro X users can now create GarageBand-compatible versions of Logic projects in iCloud that can be opened on iOS devices to add new recordings while on the go, with new recordings automatically synced back to the original Logic project the next time it’s opened on Mac. The new update also includes the Alchemy synthesizer well-known to Logic Pro users, with a rich collection of more than 150 Apple-designed patches across a variety of genres. Alchemy’s Transform Pad also lets users morph between eight sonic snapshots in real-time for more expressive performances.

 

FTC files complaint against Qualcomm citing royalty deal with Apple

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Apple supplier Qualcomm, accusing the company of “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones.” The FTC alleges that Qualcomm violated the law by forcing cell phone manufacturers to agree to its preferred license terms to gain access to its processors. The company is also accused of suppressing competition by charging Apple reduced patent royalties from 2011 to 2016 to keep the company loyal.

India mulling manufacturing regulation changes which could woo Apple

Government officials in India have signaled they won’t be providing Apple with its desired 15-year exemption on duties typically charged to electronics manufacturers in the country, but they are open to relaxing the regulations on the industry as a whole to boost the “Make in India” campaign, The Economic Times reports. After being denied an exemption to India’s requirement that at least 30 percent of the materials in devices it sells in the country be sourced locally, Apple reportedly asked for a full exemption on the 12.5 percent duty that India charges manufacturers on imported raw materials, equipment and components in order to save on setting up local manufacturing facilities.

U.S. appeals court resurrects App Store antitrust lawsuit against Apple

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that iPhone users are free to sue Apple for its alleged App Store monopoly on iPhone apps, Reuters reports. This latest ruling resurrects a legal challenge that was originally filed back in 2012, which accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by restricting iPhones to only run apps purchased from Apple’s own App Store, thereby artificially inflating the prices of apps by stifling market competition. In response, Apple argued that users did not have any standing to sue Apple because apps are sold by individual developers, and that Apple simply provides the storefront for developers, in return for a cut of app sales. A lower court originally sided with Apple on the matter, however, Judge William A. Fletcher of the appellate court ruled this week that since iPhone users purchase apps directly from Apple, iPhone users have a right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.

Apple increases maximum tvOS app size to 4GB

Apple has announced to developers that the size limit for tvOS app bundles has been significantly increased, with the new maximum size going up to 4GB from the prior 200MB limit. This change will allow developers to include more media content bundled in their app package so that it installs at the same time the user installs the app on their Apple TV, which should minimize the number of games and other apps that need to download additional content when first opened. tvOS apps can also now host up to 20GB of additional content on the App Store using On-Demand Resources.

This is likely to have an impact on users’ Apple TV storage capacities, meaning users with a lot of larger apps and the lower capacity 32GB Apple TV model may find themselves constrained for space as their apps are updated to include media content within the app bundles. The prior 200MB limit kept the apps small and allowed storage on the Apple TV to be optimized by discarding on-demand data from apps when the Apple TV ran low on space; this will not be an option for an app that stores a large amount of media content within the app bundle itself. This could also be a sign that Apple is preparing to release higher-capacity Apple TV models in the near future.

Apple releases fourth iOS 10.2.1 beta

Apple quietly released a fourth beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers late in the day on Thursday. The new beta features a build number of 14D27 and eliminates virtually all of the “known issues” in the release notes, suggesting that a public release is imminent. The single listed issue remaining simply notes that the Emergency SOS feature which debuted in iOS 10.2 continues to only be supported in India, which appears to be a test area that Apple is using for the new feature. watchOS 3.1.3 and tvOS 10.1.1 have not received new beta updates, and there also still appears to be no sign of the iOS 10.3 beta that was rumored to appear this week.

Apple looking to produce original TV content for Apple Music subscribers

A new report in The Wall Street Journal has resurrected speculation from last year that Apple is still working on creating original television — and movie content — to offer as part of a subscription service. Citing people familiar with the matter, the WSJ report indicates that Apple is looking to “build a significant new business” in the area to make it a bigger player in Hollywood to offset slowing sales of its iPhone and iPad devices. Sources suggest that Apple would offer this programming to existing Apple Music subscribers to give it a competitive edge over rival streaming music services.

FBI releases heavily redacted information about cracking iPhone

The FBI has released 100 pages of documents related to its efforts to break into a locked iPhone owned by terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, but most of the useful information has been redacted, The Associated Press reports. The release excludes the name of the group paid to unlock the phone, the cost of the services rendered, and the method used to unlock the phone, essentially shedding very little light on how the government gained access to the device. The documents do reveal that the FBI signed a nondisclosure agreement with the vendor who finally unlocked the phone, and show that at least three other companies expressed interest in the job but couldn’t deliver a solution fast enough.

Rumor: Apple working on lightweight augmented reality glasses with Zeiss

Blogger Robert Scoble is stoking rumors that Apple is working with Carl Zeiss to create augmented reality optics after an encounter at CES. Scoble said he noticed that the Carl Zeiss booth was located in the AR section at CES despite not having any products to showcase. When he suggested to an employee that reason was, “Tim Cook didn’t let you,” Scoble said all of the “employees around me smiled nervously.” Other commenters on the thread said Carl Zeiss confirmed to them that they were “in development with a lead customer” on a pair of light AR or mixed reality glasses, but declined to say who the customer was. Scoble is speculating that the glasses could be released as early as this year, but given his sourcing it’s difficult to put too much stock in the rumor at this point. Zeiss currently offers the VR One Plus headset that turns smartphones into VR optical devices. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases iOS 10.2.1 beta 3, tvOS 10.1.1 beta 2, watchOS 3.1.3 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the third beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers today, after a holiday break of sorts — the second beta was released before Christmas. A public beta release should soon follow. While a recent tweet claimed an iOS 10.3 beta would introduce “theatre mode” this week, that seems unlikely to happen so soon. Additionally, Apple has also released both the second betas for tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3 to developers.

Russia orders Apple to pull LinkedIn app

Apple has pulled the LinkedIn app from its App Store in Russia, The New York Times reports. The move came after Russia blocked the social networking site for not complying with local laws requiring them to store data on Russian citizens. Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn, said the company was “disappointed” in Russia’s decision, adding the move “denies access to our members in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses.” Apple confirmed it was asked to remove the LinkedIn app in Russia, but declines further comment on the issue. Apple also confirmed that China has indeed requested the company remove The New York Times’ app, illustrating the direct blocking of websites — common in more repressive countries — is now creeping into the App Store.

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