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Apple patents another way to scan fingerprints without Touch ID sensor

Apple has been granted a patent for a new type of fingerprint reading technology that doesn’t require a dedicated scanning sensor. The patent was originally filed by LuxVue before that company was bought by Apple in 2014. The design uses a combination of micro-LED light and infrared diodes to detect a pattern, making it possible to scan a fingerprint without the use of the capacitive metal ring in Apple’s current Touch ID sensor. The improvement could allow Apple to finally get rid of the dedicated home button and increase the iPhone’s screen size while still allowing the device to be unlocked with a fingerprint. The technology could also lead to other new features for the iPhone’s display, such as the ability to partially dim the screen depending on the available light, or even to dim certain areas of the screen to tackle glare. [via Apple Insider]

Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Following yesterday’s Fireside Chat at the University of Glasgow, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly met with UK Prime Minister Teresa May at her home at 10 Downing Street. A tweet from James Cook of Business Insider UK noted Cook’s appearance at the Prime Minister’s residence and later published a statement from a government spokesperson about the meeting.

According to the statement, Cook and May had a “positive and useful discussion” concerning Apple’s recent announcements about its investment in the U.K., the importance of government and business on developing digital skills, and May’s plans to negotiate the U.K.‘s exit from the EU.

Tim Cook discusses immigration ban, Steve Jobs’ influence at ‘Fireside Chat’

During Tim Cook’s visit to the University of Glasgow yesterday, the Apple CEO participated in a “Fireside Chat” with staff and students of the university, fielding questions on a number of topics, including politics, the environment, and Apple’s design philosophy. The University posted a number of photos and short video clips on its Twitter account, and one attendee posted a video of the full hour-long event on YouTube. The video was recorded from within the audience using an iPhone 7 Plus as dedicated cameras were not permitted at the event, so while it’s not an official video, it covers the entire event, including Cook receiving his honorary degree as well as the chat that occurred afterward.

Apple developing new ‘Ultra Accessory Connector’ for Made-for-iPhone accessories (Update: No)

Apple is preparing to adopt a new connector type for accessories, known as the Ultra Accessory Connector (UAC). The company has launched a developer preview of the new connector type, 9to5Mac reports. Sources claim this new, smaller connector could replace the use of Lightning and USB connectors in some cases. The 8-pin connector would be thinner than USB-C, and about half the width of Lightning and USB-C. According to the report, use of the connector is currently specified to be used on headphone cables — Apple would allow for Lightning to UAC, USB-A to UAC, and 3.5mm headphone jack to UAC connectors. While the smaller UAC would certainly “allow accessory makers to save space inside their designs,” this news will likely give rise to plenty of speculation on how the UAC will be incorporated into future Apple devices. There was plenty of confusion in 2012 when Apple introduced its Lightning Connector, so we’ll have to wait for official word on just how the company plans to use the UAC.

Update: Apple has clarified that the new connector in question has actually been around for years, The Verge reports. The ‘Ultra Accessory Connector’ is actually just Apple’s name for an 8-pin connector used in several products, including Nikon cameras. Apparently multiple cable manufacturers have their own names for the connection type and Apple was simply standardizing the naming convention, not creating a new connection type. To clarify, use of this connector is new to the MFi program, but that’s all.

Apple patents ‘dual mode headphones’ that transform into standalone speaker

Apple has filed a patent for ‘dual mode’ headphones or earbuds that easily can be reconfigured into standalone speakers. Both the headphones and earbuds in the accompanying sketches have the ability to rotate to a freestanding position, which will trigger an internal sensor that tells the speakers to play at a much louder volume than when the device is right against the user’s ear. Apple already employs similar technology in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, using the phone’s ear speaker for stereo sound while the device is being held in a landscape position and reverting to the usual lower volume when the phone returns to the portrait orientation. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases second betas for iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2, and watchOS 3.2 to developers

Apple has released a new batch of second betas to developers today — iOS 10.3 for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV, and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. iOS 10.3 contains Find My AirPods support, tvOS 10.2 boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 10.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements. A public beta for iOS 10.3 should be available in the near future.

Apple negotiating to sell used iPhones in India after earlier denial

Apple has reopened its request to sell used iPhones in India during its seemingly endless negotiations with the country’s government, Bloomberg reports. India has already rejected Apple’s request to sell the pre-owned devices in their country, but with ongoing negotiations reportedly improving, the company is making a new case for bringing used phones to India to be refurbished. A person familiar with the matter said Apple is claiming it will open the proper facilities in India to ensure that refurbished products are up to local standards, adding the request to a long list of concessions it hopes to win in exchange for bringing manufacturing to the country.

Report: Blogger claims Apple augmented reality headset may arrive this year

Tech blogger Robert Scoble, who previously claimed that Carl Zeiss was working with Apple to create augmented reality glasses after an encounter at CES, is now claiming that the glasses will debut this year. On a recent episode of the show “This Week in Tech,” Scoble said several sources “at the highest levels” have told him Apple my announce the glasses this summer, possibly in conjunction with the opening of Apple’s new headquarters or release of the 10th anniversary iPhone.

Apple joins 96 other companies in filing legal brief to oppose immigration order

Apple and 96 other companies have joined together to file an amicus brief opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Bloomberg reports. The companies filed the brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Sunday night, accelerating their timeline after legal challenges began to mount over the weekend, according to sources familiar with the process. “Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies,” the brief reads.

Tim Cook to receive honorary degree from University of Glasgow, participate in ‘Fireside Chat’

Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to make an appearance at the University of Glasgow next week to receive an honorary degree and participate in a a “Fireside Chat” Q&A session afterward. The event, which is only open to students and staff of the university, sold out within an hour of being announced; the university appears to have originally planned to include university alumni as well, but announced a half-hour after opening registration that it could no long offer tickets to a alumni due to a high volume of demand.

While a specific agenda has not been published, 9to5Mac notes that the rector of the University of Glasgow is currently Edward Snowden, suggesting that the conversation may touch on privacy, encryption and government policy issues.

New lawsuit accuses Apple of deliberately ‘breaking’ FaceTime to force users to upgrade to iOS 7

A new class action lawsuit has been filed in California, accusing Apple of deliberately “breaking” FaceTime for iOS 6 users in order to force them to upgrade to iOS 7, thereby violating California’s unfair competition laws, AppleInsider reports. Citing documents disclosed in the VirnetX patent lawsuit, the class-action filing alleges that Apple secretly took this step in order to reduce high monthly data relay charges it was incurring from Akamai as a result of the “relay method” being used at the time to handle some FaceTime calls between iOS devices, which transmitted FaceTime data through Akamai’s servers — a relay service which Apple was paying for based on usage.

IBM announces Enterprise iOS app collaboration with United Airlines

IBM and United Airlines have announced a new collaboration to develop a new suite of iOS business applications to help drive the airline’s digital transformation, as part of IBM’s MobileFirst partnership with Apple. United Airlines currently has more than 50,000 iOS devices being used by its front-line employees, and this new collaboration will see IBM developing a set of both market-ready and custom iOS apps for improving a number of aspects of United Airlines’ customer-facing operations, such as providing flight attendants and gate personnel readily available access to customer travel data at their fingertips without being tied to a fixed workstation or podium position.

Apple drafts joint letter with Alphabet, Facebook, Uber, in opposition to Trump travel ban

Apple is working with several organizations, including Facebook, Uber, and Google parent company Alphabet, to draft a letter to President Donald Trump opposing the travel ban that has recently been imposed. Recode reports that while the effort is being led by tech companies, they are working to involve other industries in what will be the first major push from large U.S. corporations to try and support more open immigration in the wake of President Trump’s recent executive order suspending travel from seven largely Muslim countries and barring Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. completely. Recode was also able to obtain the following draft of the letter.

Apple considering legal action against Trump’s immigration order

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is considering legal action and contacting “very, very senior people in the White House” in an effort to reverse President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, The Wall Street Journal reports. Cook said the order suspending travel from seven countries has affected hundreds of Apple employees. In a note to employees, Cook offered Apple’s full support to anyone impacted by the order, advising the company’s legal, human resources and security teams to do everything they can, but declined to get specific about what Apple’s possible legal action would entail, saying only that “we want to be constructive and productive.” Cook said he has heard numerous “heart-wrenching stories” about the order’s impact on his employees. “These are people that have friends and family, Cook said. “They’re co-workers. They’re taxpayers. They’re key parts of the community.”

Notes from Apple’s Q1 2017 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q1 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the quarterly results represented the highest revenue in Apple’s history, along with breaking unit and revenue records for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, services, and Mac, as well as four out of five major geographic segments where Apple operates. Cook explained that the iPhone had a tremendous quarter thanks to exceptional demand, and that the iPhone 7 Plus demand was especially strong and represented a higher portion of the new product mix than Apple has ever seen with prior “Plus” models. Apple Pay users more than tripled over the past year, with four new countries added in the past quarter, bringing Apple Pay into a total of 13 markets; hundreds of millions of transactions and billions of dollars in purchases were made using Apple Pay in the December quarter alone. Cook also noted that Apple Pay on the web has been a success with over two million small businesses now able to accept online invoice payments using Apple Pay via services such as Intuit and Freshbooks, and revealed that soon Comcast customers will be able to pay their bills online using Apple Pay. Mac also returned to growth in the prior quarter with the release of the new MacBook Pro models and generated its highest quarterly revenue ever. Cook noted that most customers in the quarter were buying their first Mac, with the majority coming from the Windows platform.

Apple Q1 2017: $78.4B revenue, 78.3M iPhones + 13M iPads sold

Apple reported its first quarter 2017 financial results today, with 78.3 million iPhones and 13 million iPads sold. The company posted all-time record quarterly revenue of $78.4 billion and quarterly earnings of $3.36 per diluted share. In Q1 2016, Apple had revenue of $75.9 billion and earnings of $3.28 per diluted share.

For Q2 2017, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $51.5 billion and $53.5 billion, and gross margin between 38 percent and 39 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.

Apple deletes ‘Check Activation Lock Status’ page from iCloud website

Apple has deleted the Activation Lock checker from its website, effectively removing one method which helps customers verify that used products haven’t been stolen. First spotted by 9to5Mac, the change is also reflected in Apple’s Find My iPhone support documentation, which used to recommend running the serial number of a device though the ‘Check Activation Lock Status’ page on iCloud before buying it. Now the page that once hosted the verification tool ends in a 404 error.

Cook opposes Trump’s immigration order as proposed visa change may pose problem for Apple’s hiring

In a note to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook voiced his opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from seven countries and said the company’s legal, human resources and security teams were in the process of supporting employees “directly affected” by the ban, The Verge reports. Cook said he made it clear to the White House that he opposes the ban, explaining “the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.” A copy of Trump’s proposed changes to the work-visa program obtained by Bloomberg shows Apple may soon have more to worry about, with the draft executive order demanding companies work harder to hire American workers first and give priority to hiring higher-paid foreign workers over those making low wages. “Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers—our forgotten working people—and the jobs they hold,” the draft order reads.

Report reveals insights into Apple’s HomeKit strategy and vendor requirements

A new report by Reuters comparing Apple and Amazon’s home automation strategies provides some interesting insight into the very different approaches that the two companies are taking to the home automation market. Suggesting that Amazon’s recent successes in the home automation arena may pose new competition for Apple, the report details some of the challenges that Apple and its partners face in delivering HomeKit solutions that are up to the company’s standard. Apple takes a stringent approach in ensuring that its home automation platform remains secure, so manufacturers who wish to produce HomeKit-compatible solutions must incorporate special chips into their products — this is the main reason why HomeKit support cannot be added to legacy products via firmware updates — and Apple also requires developers to incorporate specific Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips into their hardware. These requirements increase costs, although even companies purchasing in smaller volumes suggest that the numbers are only around $0.50 to $2 per chip for the specialized chips. Additional costs for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips weren’t discussed.

Apple moving international iTunes operations to Ireland

Apple is planning to move its international iTunes operations to Ireland in early February, AppleInsider reports. Apple announced to developers this week that Apple Distribution International will be transferring the iTunes business — which includes the iTunes Store, Apple Music, App Store, and iBooks Store for over 100 countries — to Cork, Ireland on Feb. 5. Apple’s overseas iTunes operations have been based in Luxembourg since 2004. Apple has been working to streamline the transition for content owners since last fall, transferring contracts to the new Irish holding company, and making arrangements for special exporter status in Ireland, which — among other things — means apps made by developers in Ireland will be free or Irish VAT. The transfer is estimated to involve approximately $9 billion in assets, and are no doubt connected to many of the other business projects that Apple has been building within Ireland over the past year.

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