After an investigation that started last August, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service has found Apple guilty of price fixing, The Financial Times reports. The FAS claims Apple told 16 Russian retailers to set prices at a specific level and threatened to terminate sales agreements with those who refused to comply. In its statement, the FAS said Apple’s Russian subsidiary has been monitoring resellers’ pricing since the release of the iPhone 5s and when it found “unsuitable” prices, Apple “sent emails to resellers with a request to change them.” Apple hasn’t released a statement on the current ruling, but previously denied any wrongdoing. The company now has 3 months to file an appeal if it so desires. If the ruling stands, Apple could be fined as much as 15 percent of its sales in Russia. [via 9to5Mac]
New images obtained by Motherboard appear to show the specially designed “iPhone Calibration Machine” that Apple uses for screen replacements. One former Apple employee said the machine appeared after the release of the iPhone 5s and was “not very Apple-like at all.” The ex-Apple Genius said the machine had a much more utilitarian feel than Apple’s consumer devices, resembling something more like “a big clunky machine that honestly looked like someone built it in their backyard.” The device requires different iPhones to be placed in specific molds before being placed inside and has at least one liquid inside the machine that forces employees to wear gloves to prevent damage to their hands.
Apple has released a sixth set of new betas to developers today — tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. The tvOS 10.2 update boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 3.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements.
Well-known forensic scientist and digital security advocate Jonathan Zdziarski has announced on his blog that he’s been hired by Apple. Zdziarski has exposed back doors into iOS in the past and is a popular security consultant for journalists whenever news about Apple security flaws breaks. After clearly getting Apple’s attention, Zdziarski said he has now “accepted a position with Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture team, and [is] very excited to be working with a group of like minded individuals so passionate about protecting the security and privacy of others.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has joined Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco in filing an amicus brief in support of Google’s refusal to hand over email records to the FBI, Business Insider reports. The FBI’s warrant requests records stored in Google’s servers overseas, and Google has argued against applying the Stored Communications Act to data stored outside the U.S. The brief filed by the other companies argues that seeking emails from a foreign data center would be perceived as an “extraterritorial act on the part of the U.S. government” and invite other nations to begin demanding records currently kept on U.S. soil for their own investigations. A Pennsylvania court has ruled that Google must surrender the documents to the FBI, but the company has said it will fight the ruling.
Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital have found that health data collected from Apple’s ResearchKit platform for one asthma study is reliable when compared to other methods, The Verge reports. The difficulty involved in recruiting study participants has made collecting data from smartphones—which is considerably easier—more appealing, but questions have always lingered about the accuracy of the data. The Mount Sinai study published in Nature Biotechnology suggests that the asthma study run with a smartphone app and that had data collected and reported by ResearchKit produced similar results to existing patient studies conducted with traditional methods.
Apple could be preparing to release new iPad models as early as next week, according to a new report from MacRumors. Citing “reputable supply chain analysts,” the report suggests that Apple is expected to release “new products” later this month, pointing to the week of Mar. 20–24 as the most likely timeframe. While the research firm MacRumors spoke with did not provide any details on which products it expects Apple to announce, it did indicate that the information came from its own first-hand sources.
Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3 to registered developers, with a build number of 14E5273a. The rapid beta cycle and increasingly sparse release notes suggest that iOS 10.3 is nearing public release. Unlike most prior beta update cycles, this time around no corresponding watchOS or tvOS betas have been released as of yet. A corresponding public beta update is expected in the near future.
Apple has placed a renewed emphasis on updating its improved HomeKit page with updates on newly announced products, but may have let the cat out of the bag too early on the ecobee4 in the process. Apple recently updated the page with a new design, marking unreleased products with either “Announced” or “Coming Soon” tags and grouping HomeKit-compatible products into categories like Security, Fans, Lights, etc. where the devices were previously sorted by brand. Since Apple revealed the updated page less than two weeks ago, iDevices Wall Switch, iDevices Wall Outlet, and Netatmo by Starck Smart Thermostat have all lost the “Coming Soon” tag as they’ve been released, showing Apple’s commitment to maintaining and updating the page in real time. But in an interesting turn of events, the ecobee4 was originally listed as “Announced,” but now has been removed from the list entirely. With no other mentions of the product at all, it seems Apple may have spilled the beans on the new device before its own parent company was ready to make an official announcement.
While many AI researchers suggest that Siri is lagging behind competitors such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, one area in which Apple’s voice assistant clearly has the lead over its competitors is in its extremely wide language support. A new report from Reuters notes that Siri can speak and understand 21 different languages, with localized dialect support for over 36 countries in total. By comparison, Microsoft Cortana supports only eight languages for 13 countries, Google’s Assistant speaks four, and Amazon’s Alexa is limited to only English and German. Reuters also notes that Siri will also be adding support for Shanghainese, a special dialect of Wu Chinese spoken only around Shanghai.
Apple has released a fifth set of new 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. The betas are also accompanied by a fourth beta of Xcode 8.3. A public beta for iOS 10.3 should be available in the near future.
Apple statement on the WikiLeaks CIA files: "Many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS" pic.twitter.com/yUoUeTTaXN— kif leswing (@kifleswing) March 8, 2017
In a statement posted by Kif Leswing on Twitter, Apple claims that it is working on assessing all of the iOS vulnerabilities detailed in yesterday’s WikiLeaks release, but claims, “many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS.” The company touted its ongoing commitment to protecting customer security and privacy and urged users to make sure their devices are running the latest version of iOS. WikiLeaks claims the CIA has put a “disproportionate focus on iOS” as a hacking target and kept known vulnerabilities from Apple in defiance of prior U.S. government promises of disclosure.
Apple has posted details about its 2017 WWDC Scholarship program, which provides an opportunity for talented students and STEM organization members to attend the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference free of charge. In addition to receiving a free ticket to the event — which would otherwise cost $1,599 — this year it appears that Apple is offering WWDC Scholarship recipients free lodging in the form of shared accommodations. Applicants with extenuating circumstances may also be eligible for travel assistance. To be eligible for a WWDC scholarship, applicants must be 13 years or older, registered with Apple as an Apple developer, and enrolled part-time or full-time in a course of study or be a member of alumni of a STEM organization. The application process includes submitting relevant personal information, school or STEM membership information, a resume/CV, a “Beyond WWDC” essay, and creating and uploading “a visually interactive scene in a Swift playground that can be experienced within three minutes.” A team within Apple will judge applications based on technical accomplishment, creativity of ideas, and content of written responses. Applications will be accepted beginning at 10:00 a.m. PT on Mar. 27 until 5:00 p.m. PT on Apr. 2, and those selected to receive a scholarship will be notified on Apr. 21. Apple is offering up to 350 scholarships, although not all scholarships may be awarded.
Apple executives have been trying to woo several successful Hollywood TV and film products in recent weeks, according to a new report by The New York Post. A source indicated to The Post that Apple SVP Eddy Cue spoke to executives from Paramount Pictures as well as Sony’s TV and film units, suggesting that Apple is working on “something big.” Reports are that Apple has been vague about its ultimate goal in the discussions, however one executive who spoke with Apple was left with the impression that Apple is looking for a “transformative acquisition” rather than just making a deal to buy TV shows.
Apple has added the second-generation Apple TV to its list of vintage and obsolete products, effectively ending all support for the device in most parts of the world. While the second-generation Apple TV is well out of warranty coverage, Apple still continues to provide parts and repair services for its products for a period of 5-7 years after the last date of manufacture. The “vintage” designation for the second-generation Apple TV applies only in California and Turkey, where Apple is required by law to provide service for up to 7 years; in all other parts of the world, the device has been declared “obsolete” and is no longer eligible for any kind of hardware service. Apple typically declares products Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years. [via AppleInsider]
A U.S. federal appeals court has dismissed the jury verdict from a 2015 patent infringement case that had ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million in damages, Reuters reports. The suit, originally brought against Apple in 2013 by Texas-based Smartflash LLC, had alleged that the Apple’s iTunes software infringed on three of its data storage patents. The original claim sought $852 million in damages as an entitlement to a percentage of sales of all of Apple’s devices capable of accessing iTunes at that time, while Apple claimed that the patents were invalid as Smartflash was purely a patent holding company that made no products, had no employees, and no U.S. presence, while also claiming the damages to be “excessive and unsupportable” due to demanding a share of the full purchase price of an iPhone for the sake of a single infringing feature. Although a federal jury awarded Smartflash $532.9 million in damages, these were vacated by the trial judge a few months later, however the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said this week that the judge should have ruled Smartflash’s patents invalid and set aside the original verdict entirely. The three-judge panel unanimously declared Smartflash’s patents as “too abstract” and stated that they did not provide enough detail in describing an actual invention.
Apple has updated its iOS Home webpage with a new design and improved layout, while also adding a new “Watch the film” link at the top of the page leading to a short promotional video demonstrating “a day in the life” of a HomeKit user. The video clip, which runs for about 45 seconds, shows a woman getting out of bed and beginning her day with a “Good morning Siri” command, and then using the iOS 10 Home app and Home panel in the iOS 10 Control Centre to adjust the temperature on a Honeywell Lyric thermostat and trigger scenes such as “Breakfast Time” to start a coffee machine and other appliances attached to iHome SmartPlugs, a “Lock up” scene to lock a door using the KwikSet/Weiser Premis smart lock, and a “Movie time” scene on the Apple TV to dim lights and close blinds in the evening, among others. The new iOS 10 Home page also provides clearer information on the types of accessories that can be controlled by HomeKit along with a link to a page that shows a list of all of the HomeKit accessories that are either currently available or have been announced, along with a list of leading builders offering HomeKit packages for new homes.
Apple has joined 52 other companies in signing a Supreme Court brief in support of a transgender boy’s fight over the right to use the school bathroom appropriate to his gender identity, the New York Times reports. The brief is being filed by the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality, and is asking the Supreme Court to side with transgender student Gavin Grimm in his discrimination case against the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia. Other tech companies that have signed the brief alongside Apple include Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Airbnb, eBay, Intel, LinkedIn, PayPal, Salesforce, Twitter, Yahoo, Yelp, along with several companies from other industries, including Gap, MAC Cosmetics, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Warby Parker and Williams-Sonoma. In a statement announcing the support, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said “These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs.”
Following yesterday’s release of iOS 10.3 and watchOS 3.2 developer betas, Apple has released a fourth beta of tvOS to developers today, continuing development on a new version that will bring features such as accelerated and improved scrolling within apps that present long lists of content, as well as Mobile Device Management support for enterprise and education environments, and support for the new hardware-accelerated VideoToolbox encoding and decoding framework and Apple File System (APFS).
Apple released its fourth betas for both iOS 10.3 and watchOS 3.2 to registered developers today. iOS 10.3 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch contains the Find My AirPods feature, among other changes, while watchOS 3.2 features the upcoming Theater Mode for Apple Watch. A new public beta for iOS 10.3 should be released in the near future.