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Apple patents construction method for cylindrical device that could be Siri speaker

Apple has been granted a patent for techniques to mount multiple components inside a cylindrical device, fueling further speculation that the device in question is the rumored Siri speaker. The patent covers the methods used in mounting speakers, microphones, sensors, lights, touch displays and other electronic parts so that they will lay flush with an outer cylinder-shaped casing. Methods for using gaskets to surround components to seal them against the outer wall while still allowing for openings for acoustics and airflow are of particular interest, since this would be necessary for the multiple-speaker setup rumored to be coming in the Siri speaker. While the Mac Pro is also assembled inside a cylinder, the methods outlined in the new patent provide for a more sealed off device. [via AppleInsider]

Apple acquires ‘dark data’ company Lattice Data

Apple has acquired “dark data” company Lattice Data for around $200 million, TechCrunch reports. Founded in 2015, the company has produced its own AI-enabled inference engine to convert unstructured “dark data” into more structured and usable information. A source claims Apple closed the deal a couple of weeks ago, adding around 20 of the company’s engineers to its ranks. Apple confirmed the acquisition with its usual blanket statement, but gave no indication of how the technology would be used. The company has boosted its research into AI, with CEO Tim Cook sharing his hopes that the technology will transform the way people use their phones “in ways that most people don’t even think about.” The company recently joined the Partnership on AI and began allowing employees to publish their AI research.

Apple publishes ‘How to shoot on iPhone 7’ tutorial series

Apple has posted a new web page with a series of tutorials on taking great photographs using the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Titled How to shoot on iPhone 7, the page hosts sixteen tutorial videos ranging from basics such as taking great portraits, close-ups, and action shots, to more advanced techniques such as shooting from unique angles, working with street lights and backlit subjects, and taking photos during the golden hour. Each video is brief and to the point, running only 30–40 second in length with three to four clear steps presented to accomplish each action, and only background music without narration. The first five videos in the series have also been published on Apple’s YouTube channel.

Report: Apple to announce Prime Video for Apple TV at WWDC

Following a report last week that Apple and Amazon were close to sorting out their differences preventing Amazon Prime from coming to the Apple TV, Buzzfeed News now reveals that the two companies are preparing to make an announcement to this effect at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Citing “sources in a position to know,” the report suggests that not only will Amazon Prime’s video app make its debut on the Apple TV at the June event, but that the set-top box will also see a return to Amazon’s virtual shelves — a logical move considering that Amazon’s rationale for banning sales of the device in 2015 were due to its lack of support for Amazon Prime.

Apple Music opens Giphy channel

Apple has expanded its social media marketing efforts for Apple Music into a new Giphy channel, tweeting out a GIFs from the trailer for the upcoming “Harry Styles: Behind the Album” documentary, and linking back to the channel which includes 85 GIFs from other exclusive Apple Music content and marketing campaigns.

In addition to several GIFs from the Styles documentary, the Giphy channel also includes excerpts from Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour Concert video, along with music videos and Apple Music ads featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled, Ray Liotta, and Drake. Apple’s promotion of the new Giphy channel suggests that the company plans to continue adding new animated GIF content to it for other marketing campaigns and exclusive releases going forward. [via AppleInsider]

Apple reportedly debuting Apple Store updates May 17

Apple will be doing overnight updates to its older stores on May 16 and debuting the new look the following morning, 9to5Mac reports. Apple sources said the changes are coming to “older and smaller stores that aren’t suitable for the full redesign we’ve seen in flagship stores.” Since not all locations can support the massive updates see in flagship locations like San Francisco and New York City, the company has put together a “halfway house” update to reflect Apple’s new look while working within the available space. While there are no firm details on what the updates will entail, Apple has but a greater focus on redefining their stores as community gathering places, adding in new spaces for its “Today at Apple” educational sessions and incorporating natural materials like wood and granite into their sleek designs.

Apple restores Workflow features, adds Apple Music actions

Apple’s latest version of the Workflow automation app has added back in support for Google Chrome and Pocket along with brand new actions using Apple Music. The app — which allows users to tie together functions from various apps to perform automated processes — now features actions for “Add Music to Up Next” and “Clear Up Next” to quickly reset or add music to Apple Music’s playlist. While Apple has added support for some Google software back in, Workflow still limits map-related actions to Apple Maps instead of the popular Google Maps app, and other actions using Uber, Telegram, and LINE are also still unavailable. [via MacRumors]

Apple posts new web page emphasizing U.S. job creation

Apple has published a new web page highlighting U.S. domestic job creation by the company, reiterating and expanding on numbers shared by CEO Tim Cook during Tuesday’s earnings call. As the new web page points out, Apple is “one of the biggest job creators in the United States,” both directly and indirectly supporting more than two million jobs across all 50 U.S. states, and having spent over $50 billion into the U.S. economy through deals with American suppliers, developers, and partners. Apple’s new web page breaks down the numbers more specifically, citing 80,000 employees in the U.S. directly employed by Apple, 450,000 jobs through U.S.-based suppliers, and then adds over 1.5 million jobs attributed to the App Store ecosystem. Interestingly, the page also specifically breaks down the number of jobs in each U.S. state, along with a few key apps that originated in those states (not surprisingly, California represents the largest numbers), and a map showing where App Store ecosystem jobs have been created across the U.S.

Report: Inventec involved in producing Apple’s Siri-enabled home hub speaker

Inventec, a long-time Apple partner that produces the company’s AirPods, is also being used to produce the company’s new Siri-enabled home hub speaker, the Economic Daily News reports. Whether the company is creating components and/or assembling the finished devices is unclear, but the report claims production may have already started. Earlier this week both tech blogger Sonny Dickson and KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the device—which would allow for control of HomeKit devices using Siri in addition to being a speaker—could launch as early as WWDC in June. [via AppleInsider]

Notes from Apple’s Q2 2017 earnings call

Opening Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of numbers for Q2 2017, CEO Tim Cook described the results as representing a “strong March quarter” that accelerated revenue growth and earnings per share up by 10 percent over last year. Cook noted that iPhone sales were in line with Apple’s expectations and demand for the iPhone 7 Plus continued to be strong. He explained that the installed base of iPhones grew by double-digits year-over-year and that based on the latest IDC data, the iPhone gained market share in nearly every country.

Cook went on to outline how services revenue topped $7 billion in this quarter, with a deep level of customer engagement across all services. The number of App Store developers increased by 26% over last year, and Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage also saw double-digit revenue growth. The total number of paid subscriptions, both for Apple’s own services and third-party content offered on the App Store, now exceed 165 million.

Apple Q2 2017: $52.9B revenue, 50.8M iPhones + 8.9M iPads sold

Apple reported its second quarter 2017 financial results today, with 50.8 million iPhones and 9.8 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $52.9 billion and quarterly earnings of $2.10 per diluted share. In Q2 2016, Apple had revenue of $50.6 billion and earnings of $1.90 per diluted share.

For Q3 2017, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $43.5 billion and $45.5 billion, and gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website. We’ll have a recap shortly after.

Report: Apple’s Siri-enabled home control hub may debut at WWDC (Update: KGI agrees)

Tech blogger Sonny Dickson claims Apple is “finalizing designs” for its answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, MacRumors reports.

Dickson says the device will “carry some form of Beats technology” and that “someone inside Apple” described the shape as “fat” like the Google Home, with a concave top for the controls and speaker mesh coving most of the device’s surface. A report from last September claimed the device will go beyond simply providing a basic “Hey Siri” interface for home and device control, possibly also adding a camera with facial recognition technology to detect who is in the room to allow it to more proactively apply HomeKit rules and other actions. Dickson said the device is expected to run some variant of iOS and could be revealed as early as the WWDC in June.

Apple now withholding royalty payments to Qualcomm as dispute escalates

Apple has now suspended all licensing payments to Qualcomm related to the iPhone amidst the legal dispute between the two companies, Bloomberg reports. The battle between the two tech firms began earlier this year when Apple filed lawsuits accusing Qualcomm of withholding $1 billion in patent royalties, allegedly as a punishment in response to Apple’s cooperation with Korean antitrust regulators. A subsequent lawsuit filed in Beijing by Apple claimed that Qualcomm had abused its position in the chip industry and failed to deliver on its promises to inexpensively license “standard essential patents.” Qualcomm followed those filings up its own countersuit earlier this month, accusing Apple of breaching its contract and asking for an unspecified amount in damages.

According to Qualcomm, Apple has now stated that it will be withholding all future payments until the legal matters between the two companies are resolved. Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg added that “While Apple has acknowledged that payment is owed for the use of Qualcomm’s valuable intellectual property, it nevertheless continues to interfere with our contracts,” and that “Apple has now unilaterally declared the contract terms unacceptable; the same terms that have applied to iPhones and cellular-enabled iPads for a decade.” In a statement to The Financial Times, an Apple spokesperson responded “We’ve been trying to reach a licensing agreement with Qualcomm for more than five years but they have refused to negotiate fair terms. Without an agreed-upon rate to determine how much is owed, we have suspended payments until the correct amount can be determined by the court. As we’ve said before, Qualcomm’s demands are unreasonable and they have been charging higher rates based on our innovation, not their own.”

Apple releases fifth beta of iOS 10.3.2

Only three days after the release of iOS 10.3.2 beta 4, Apple has already rolled out a fifth beta of iOS 10.3.2 to registered developers. The release notes appear to be basically unchanged from the prior beta, listing SiriKit, VPN, and Siri fixes and a few outstanding notes on managed and shared devices, openURL, WebKit, and SOS (which continues to be supported only in India).

Report: Apple’s Jimmy Iovine still has ambitious video plans for Apple Music

Apple Music impresario Jimmy Iovine is continuing to take a slow and steady approach to developing the popular streaming music service into a cultural centre point that goes beyond being merely “a bunch of songs and a few playlist.” In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Iovine touched on several of the projects that he’s working on with various artists and Hollywood moguls, from already announced projects like “Carpool Karaoke” and “Planet of the Apps” to several documentaries, suggesting that Apple could release as many as 10 original series by the end of the year. While Iovine didn’t go into details on any unannounced projects, sources suggest that two will about the legendary hip-hop labels Bad Boy Records and Cash Money Records, while another is about Clive Davis.

I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture, everything from unsigned bands to video. We have a lot of plans. We have the freedom, because it’s Apple, to make one show, three shows, see what works, see what doesn’t work until it feels good.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering his roots, Iovine remains focused on music-related projects at this point. A possible sequel to R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” is said to be in the works, and Iovine is developing another show “loosely based” on the life of Dr. Dre. However, Iovine notes that he eventually does plan to go beyond music and has already had discussions with Hollywood producer Brian Grazer and director J.J. Abrams. As Iovine describes it, “Apple music is nowhere near complete in my head,” but emphasizes that he plans to grow the service slowly “no matter what,” much like how he founded and built Interscope back in 1989, beginning with a couple of lesser-known artists and slowly growing into one of the world’s most successful record labels.

 

Apple executive talks using AI to boost human memory

Apple executive and AI expert Tom Gruber told the crowd at the TED conference that he sees artificial intelligence providing a boost to human memory in the future, Axios reports. He was hesitant to make predictions about the specific technology that would be involved, but Gruber said in the near future computer intelligence could help people clearly remember everything from people they met only once to food they ate years ago. While privacy would be a key concern with preserving such a massive amount of very personal information, Gruber said the benefits — especially for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s — could make a huge difference in quality of life in a person’s later years. He added that a friend of his who is blind and quadriplegic is already enjoying the life-changing benefits of AI, using Siri to meet other people online. “Here’s a man whose relationship with AI helps him… with genuine human relationships,” Gruber said.

Apple rolling out ‘Today at Apple’ educational courses starting in May

All of Apple’s 495 stores will begin featuring ‘Today at Apple’ educational sessions focusing on a wide range of topics starting sometime in May, the company announced today. While most will be led by Apple employees, the company also teased that in select cities participants will be treated to sessions from “world-class artists, photographers and musicians.” The free programs will focus on activities centered around Apple devices, like iPhone photography, drawing with the Apple Pencil and coding classes for kids that teach the company’s Swift programming language. For more advanced users, Pro Series courses will also provide “a deep dive into Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X with sessions on color correction and grading to post production, or audio mixing to editing for emotion, and more.”

Apple releases fourth betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a fourth set of iOS 10.3.2, tvOS 10.2.1, and watchOS 3.2.2 betas to registered developers. The iOS 10.3.2 beta 4 release notes list SiriKit, VPN, and Siri fixes, while tvOS 10.2.1 beta 4 fixes an issue that caused the Apple TV to sometimes wake from sleep with an AirPlay error.

Apple works on alternative power sources, new uses for waste heat in Denmark data center

Apple’s latest data center in Denmark will be powered by renewable energy, some of which will come from local farm waste, MacWorld reports. Apple is working with Aarhus University to create a system that uses agricultural waste products to generate methane, which can then be used to power its data center operations. The reaction also produces a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be returned to the farms, a “mutually beneficial relationship” according to Apple’s recent environmental report. The heat generated by the data center will also be captured and rerouted to the local district’s heating system to warm homes in the community. The Danish facility and another in Ireland expected to be partially powered by energy generated by ocean waves will come online this year.

Training documents reveal safety details about Apple’s self-driving car system

Internal Apple documents have provided the first real look at the company’s self-driving car system, Business Insider reports. The documents, obtained from the California DMV, claim that the system is “capable of sending electronic commands for steering, accelerating, and decelerating and may carry out portions of the dynamic driving task.” Images included in the document show that the three Lexus RX450h SUVs approved for California roads have all been outfitted with Logitech steering wheels and pedals to turn on the autonomous “drive by wire” mode. While the automated system “uses hardware and software to monitor surrounding objects and events,” the document also focuses on how the human occupant can regain control of the car if necessary.

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