Apple has quietly removed its requirement that all games for tvOS be playable using the Siri Remote. The updated support document for game programmers now states that, “When designing a tvOS game, you may require the use of an MFi game controller, but where possible you should also support the Siri Remote.” Apple had such a suggestion in place when tvOS debuted last year, but soon began requiring all tvOS games to offer support for using the Siri Remote as a controller.
Expectations are high ahead of today’s WWDC keynote, with big improvements to Siri assumed to be a focal point of the event. Apple is expected to release a third-party Siri SDK for developers and is rumored to be putting out some kind of Siri-capable hardware device to rival Amazon’s Echo, though the latter isn’t expected to make an appearance today. “Sweeping changes” to Apple Music are also anticipated as part of the iOS 10 unveiling, with a more intuitive user interface and enhanced 3D Touch features among expected improvements.
The U.S. Justice Department has asked that the Supreme Court overturn a smartphone patent litigation favoring Apple over Samsung, Reuters reports. The case stretches back to a 2012 jury verdict in which Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $930 million for multiple patent infringements by a wide range of Samsung devices. The amount was later reduced to $548 million by an appeals court, although the original patent infringement claims were upheld.
In an interview with The Verge, Apple worldwide marketing chief Phil Schiller revealed that the company is planning on announcing a major shift to its revenue-sharing model for app developers at next week’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, which will put a greater emphasis on selling apps as subscriptions rather than one-time purchases. Schiller explained that Apple would retain the standard 70/30 revenue split for normal app purchases and initial subscriptions, but that developers who can maintain subscriptions with customers longer than a year will see a shift in the revenue-sharing model to an 85/15 split. As part of this change, the option for selling subscriptions will be opened up to all developers across all categories of apps — and Schiller says “that includes games, which is a huge category.”
The U.K. has passed a bill giving its spy agencies wide-reaching powers to hack computer systems and engage in bulk surveillance, but protests from Apple and other technology companies kept out requirements for weakened encryption, Bloomberg reports. Tim Cook expressed concerns that there would be “dire consequences” if the bill passed as it was first offered, with language mandating access points that subverted encryption to provide government access. The law allows for collecting metadata and using malware to infiltrate the computers and mobile phones of terror suspects, but makes it clear that companies aren’t responsible for building backdoors into their encryption. Under the law, companies will only be required to remove encryption at the government’s request if it’s “technically feasible and not unduly expensive.” How those provisions will be interpreted by British judges going forward is an open question.
Apple has made another high-profile hire for its efforts to improve and expand HealthKit, Fast Company reports. Rajiv Kumar, who specializes in treating children with diabetes, drew attention in 2015 when he created a HealthKit-enabled diabetes monitoring system for kids. His former employer, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, confirmed Kumar will maintain a part-time appointment at the hospital, but CEO Christopher Dawes said, “We can’t compete with companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook when they really want one of our own.”
India’s government may allow Apple to open retail stores in the country and provide a 2-3 year exemption from local sourcing requirements, The Times of India reports. Apple was expected to be completely exempted from laws requiring companies to source 30 percent of their products’ material locally because of the company’s status as a provider of “cutting-edge technology”, but the company’s application to bypass those rules was rejected by India’s finance minister two weeks ago. Sources now say that discussions have begun between the finance ministry and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion aimed at granting Apple the waiver, but only in the first few years of Apple’s retail store operations.
Apple has hired Sinisa Durekovic, the software engineer behind the development of satellite navigation systems for several luxury carmakers, Bloomberg reports. Durekovic, who has more than 20 years of experience in developing satellite navigation software, was previously the principal architect and chief engineer for navigation at Harman International Industries, which develops in-car navigation systems for several high-end car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. According to the report, Durekovic joined Apple in an “unspecified role” back in October, although it seems logical that his skills will be put to use in areas such as improving Apple Maps, CarPlay, or Apple’s much-rumored electric car project. Apple has recently made a stronger push toward Apple Maps development, opening an office in Hyperabad, India last month, where it will employ 4,000 staff focused on developing its mapping platform. Spokespersons for Apple and Harman had no comments to make on the hiring; Durekovic didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for 2016, providing a free pair of Beats headphones to eligible students purchasing a new Mac, iPad, or iPhone for college or university. Students purchasing any new Mac model will receive a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $300, while those purchasing an iPad Pro, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, or iPhone 6s Plus will get Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $200. As with prior promotions, the promotion takes the form of an instant credit for the pre-tax price of the headphones, meaning the customer will still be responsible for any sales taxes that might otherwise apply. Standard Apple student discounts also apply on Mac and iPad purchases. The Apple Back to School promotion runs from today through Sept. 5, and users can take advantage of the offer by purchasing a Mac, iPad Pro, or iPhone at any Apple Retail Store of the online Apple Store for Education, and buyers must be enrolled in an eligible college, university, or similar higher education institution in order to qualify.
Apple has sent out press invites for the keynote to kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference later this month. The keynote will be held on Monday, Jun. 13 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It’s expected that Apple will announce new versions of its various mobile and desktop operating systems — iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and OS X — along with changes to Apple Music, a Siri SDK for developers, web-based support for Apple Pay and Maps, and possibly even the announcement of new hardware products. It is expected that the keynote will be broadcast on the web and via the Apple TV as Apple has done with past keynote presentations.
Apple has tweaked its TV App Store algorithm to hide apps already installed on the device. After a brief scare when their new app went missing from the Top Charts in Germany, app designer Equinux figured out that the update eliminates apps that users already have from app store lists, presumably to provide more visibility for lesser-known apps and keep customers from having to trudge past all the apps they already have while seeking out new ones.
The California Institute of Technology has sued Broadcom and Apple over use of the school’s encoding and decoding patents in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips, Patently Apple reports. Apple has used Broadcom’s technology since 2012 in most of its devices, including the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, Apple Watch and others.
New technology obtained from Apple’s acquisition of VocalIQ last year is poised to drastically improve Siri’s search capabilities, Business Insider reports. One unnamed source said VocalIQ’s AI was able to answer complex questions like, “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and Wi-Fi that’s kid-friendly,” 90 percent of the time, greatly improving on the 20 percent averaged by Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
India’s government dealt Apple’s plans for expansion another setback Monday, formally rejecting the company’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, Live Mint reports. Tim Cook had defended Apple’s request during his Indian tour, saying the company has similar programs in countries all over the world to sell refurbished phones that the company has restored to a “pristine level’ but made available at a lower price.
Apple may be planning to include facial recognition technology in its rumored Siri device, according to CNET. Sources for the report indicated that Apple has “explored putting a camera in its device” with facial recognition technology that could detect who is in a room, and could then activate personal music and lighting profiles.
A new report claims that Apple is working on a Siri-based competitor to Amazon’s Echo, but suggests that the solution will come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV set-top box, rather than the standalone speaker reported earlier this week. A source has told VentureBeat that the plan is to build on the Apple TV to “solve problems with the existing box and remote control,” noting that Apple wants the “Apple TV to be just the hub of everything.” Apple is said to have considered several options, and a standalone speaker was indeed under consideration at one point — however, that option was dropped due to the amount of money Apple has spent on the development of the new Apple TV.
Apple’s SVP Eddy Cue reportedly floated the idea of Apple making a bid to buy Time Warner late last year, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Three sources who were briefed on a meeting between Cue and Olaf Olafsson — Time Warner’s Executive VP of Corporate Strategy — at the end of last year revealed that Cue broached the idea of a bid to purchase the media company, although discussions did not go beyond a very preliminary stage and never included any higher-level Apple or Time Warner executives. The purpose of the meeting, held at Time Warner’s Manhattan headquarters, was to discuss ways in which the two companies could build a business relationship, such as including Time Warner’s cable channels in the streaming service that Apple has been developing.
Apple’s attempt to bypass Indian rules to open its own retail locations in the country has been rejected, Bloomberg reports. The company was expected to qualify for an exemption from rules forcing single-brand retailers to obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, applying as a provider of cutting-edge technology. But sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board ruled Apple has to comply with the regulations, refusing to certify Apple for the exemption.
The decision still needs to be ratified by the government, meaning it could be overturned, but the ruling is a significant blow for Apple’s prospects in the country given most of its products are made in China and don’t meet the FIPB criteria. Apple already trails Samsung and Micromax in India due to the high price of its products. The company has ramped up advertising efforts in India in recent months, with Tim Cook likening the market there to China a decade ago.
Update: Bloomberg reports India’s finance minister has ratified the FIPB’s ruling, seemingly ending Apple’s plans to open its own stores in the country for the time being. The company will have to begin procuring at least 30 percent of device components in India if it wants to sell them through its own retail stores.
Apple has begun talking to charging station companies about how to charge electric cars and is hiring engineers with expertise in the field, Reuters reports. After years of ongoing speculation about Apple’s automotive ambitions, the company appears to be tackling software issues and laying the groundwork for infrastructure to power an electric vehicle. Apple specifically seems to be responding to a longstanding gripe with electric cars — “filling up” the battery. Overcoming the hurdles presented by a lack of public charging stations and the extended time currently necessary to charge a car’s battery could be the opportunity Apple is looking for to make its mark on the industry.
Apple has rehired a top encryption expert to bring stronger security to a range of its products, Reuters reports. Jon Callas, who worked at Apple in the 1990s and again from 2009 to 2011 to design the Mac’s encryption system, has rejoined the company to address security concerns in the wake of Apple’s public spat with the FBI. Both Apple and Callas declined to discuss his role at the company, but he is the brains behind several well-respected secure communications companies, including PGP Corp, Silent Circle and Blackphone. Callas has publicly stated he is opposed to companies being compelled to break into their own encryption by law enforcement, but has floated the idea that the government should be allowed to take advantage of undisclosed software vulnerabilities to hack into systems, provided they disclose the vulnerabilities afterward so they can be patched. The FBI hasn’t bought into that type of arrangement, withholding its method of breaking into iPhones from Apple thus far.