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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.

Apple celebrates 10 years of the iPhone

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone, which he called “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” Apple is celebrating the iconic iPhone by heralding the many ways the device has changed the industry. Essentially creating the smartphone as we know it, the iPhone was the first device to introduce or popularize many of the features users take for granted today.

Apple Executive Team sees reduced compensation as Apple misses 2016 targets

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other members of Apple’s executive team have received less compensation in 2016 as a result of revenue and profit goals for the year being missed, the Wall Street Journal reports. In its regulatory filing from earlier today, Apple stated that its revenue and operating income for 2016 had missed both its targeted and its stretch goals — the first time the company has failed to surpass its stretch goals since 2009, and the first time ever during Tim Cook’s tenure as CEO. As a result, unlike in prior years, company executives did not receive the full cash incentives specified in their compensation packages. In total, Apple CEO Tim Cook received $8.75 million in compensation for 2016, down from $10.3 million the year prior — a 15 percent decline; other Apple executives named in the regulatory filings saw an average decline of 9.6 percent. Apple has faced declining revenue in 2016 as a result of the first prolonged slump in iPhone sales, which account for 63 percent of the company’s annual revenue.

Canadian Competition Bureau closes Apple iPhone antitrust investigation

The Canadian Competition Bureau has announced that it has closed its investigation into concerns of anti-competitive conduct between Apple and Canadian wireless carriers related to the iPhone, stating that no “abuse of dominance” was found by the Bureau. The move brings to an end the investigation that began over two years ago when the Competition Bureau ordered disclosures from Apple Canada and several wireless carriers in separate court filings outlining concerns that Apple had been unfairly using its iPhone bargaining power to encourage carriers to overprice rival phones or charge higher fees for related wireless services. The Bureau reports that in examining the contracts between Apple Canada and the various Canadian wireless carriers, it “did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that Apple has engaged in an abuse of dominance under the Competition Act” and released a position statement on its website detailing the Bureau’s investigation.

Apple reports iOS 10 now on 76 percent of iOS devices

According to a recent update to Apple’s App Store Developer Page, over 76 percent of compatible iOS devices are now running iOS 10 as of Jan. 4, 2017, suggesting that iOS 10 is being adopted at a somewhat faster rate than iOS 9 was last year, which took until March to reach 79 percent of devices. The metrics presented on Apple’s App Store Developer page are measured based on App Store usage, and are therefore limited to those devices actually downloading apps from the App Store. [via iPhone in Canada]

Energous CEO says long-range wireless charging coming by end of 2017

In a recent interview with The Verge, Energous CEO Steve Rizzone stated that his wireless charging startup is on track to begin shipping its long-range wireless charging solutions by the end of 2017, likely in tandem with the key partner that Energous signed a deal with two years ago. While Rizzone has repeatedly declined to state the name of this partner, he did note that the partnership is with “one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world,” with most speculation pointing in Apple’s direction.

I cannot tell you who it is, but I can virtual guarantee that you have products from this company on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home.

Energous first unveiled its long-range wireless charging solutions at CES two years ago, with promises to begin shipping by the end of 2015. However, those plans changed after the company signed a deal with a “key strategic partner” just a month after the 2015 show ended. The partnership deal gave Energous’ new partner exclusive rights to be the first to ship its charging technology, as well as leading to a renewed focus on miniaturizing the technology. Many initially speculated then that Apple was the “key partner” that Energous was working with, and a new report last month noted that Energous was teaming up with Dialog Semiconductor, one of the largest suppliers of power management chips for Apple’s iOS devices.

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