Apple has sent out media invitations to its upcoming event, slated for Sept. 7. The invite features a series of colored dots and a simple caption: “See you on the 7th.” The event is being held at 10 a.m. Pacific time, in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It’s expected that we’ll see the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debut at the event, along with launch dates for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. It’s also conceivable that we’ll see new Apple Watch models and new MacBook Pro models. We’ll have live coverage on Twitter during the event, with all the vital information to follow here on iLounge.com.
Apple has released the seventh public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program, continuing enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site. The company also released the corresponding developer beta for iOS 10 along with a seventh developer beta of tvOS 10. As usual, the latest round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, and the beta cycle continues to ramp up as the new operating systems move closer to final release, with the latest iOS 10 developer beta representing the third new beta released in the past two weeks.
Apple is planning to release new technology in the next generation iPhone that will support mobile payments and tap-to-pay for transit in Japan, Bloomberg reports. While most countries use payment terminals compatible with the NFC standard already used by Apple Pay in current iPhone models, Japanese systems use a Sony-designed technology known as FeliCa. Sources reveal that Apple plans to include this hardware technology in the next-generation iPhone, although the functionality could be held back until later depending on how Apple’s negotiations with Japan-based payment networks go. The feature would allow customers in Japan to store their public bus and train passes on their iPhones, which could then be tapped against entrance scanners in place of a physical card. Although the FeliCa chip is used across the board, there are still multiple providers of transit payment cards for different types of transit and regions within the county, and Apple intends to work with multiple providers to ensure maximum coverage for the feature. The FeliCa chip is also used by Japanese point-of-sale systems, so the move would allow Apple to effectively roll out Apple Pay in Japan as well.
Apple has released iOS 9.3.5, its third minor update in the past six weeks, coming only a little more than three weeks on the heels of the release of iOS 9.3.4. As with the prior release, the latest update appears to be another minor patch, with release notes merely describing it once again as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the near future, iOS 9 updates will likely be limited to security patches such as these to accommodate older devices incapable of being updated to iOS 10.
Apple has been working on a new video sharing and editing application with a focus on social networking, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Sources familiar with Apple’s strategy suggest that the move is aimed at taking on apps such as Facebook Messenger and Snapchat. The move would likely expand on new features in iOS 10’s new Messages app, which will bring new animated effects, stickers, and tools expandable via third-party App Store plug-ins — features clearly designed to bring the Messages app more into line with apps like Snapchat to appeal to a younger set of users.
Apple has announced the complete lineup of artists that will be performing at this year’s Apple Music Festival, scheduled to run from Sept. 18-30. The event will be headlined by popular artists including Alicia Keys, Bastille, Britney Spears, Calvin Harris, Chance The Rapper, Elton John, Michael Bublé, OneRepublic, Robbie Williams and The 1975, with the full lineup announced today on Beats 1 by London’s Julie Adenuga. Apple Music subscribers will also be able to access exclusive Festival content such as playlists, artist news, and backstage interviews throughout the month of September, and subscribers will be able to watch the ten nights of performances both live and on-demand via any device supporting Apple Music.
While Siri is the usual public focus of Apple’s artificial intelligence endeavors, a new Backchannel story points out that much of the behavior iPhone users notice in their device is also powered by the company’s increasing push to improve its AI. When the iPhone guesses which apps you’ll want to use next when you swipe your screen, that’s Apple’s AI at work, but the device also lashes together pieces of information from several places to provide a more complete picture. Machine learning helps Apple devices do everything from extending battery life between charges to identifying a caller who isn’t in its contact list by referencing emails. It’s also responsible for the iPad Pro knowing the difference between the Apple Pencil’s touch and the palm being dragged alongside it while a user is drawing, accepting the Pencil’s input while rejecting the palm’s. “If this doesn’t work rock solid, this is not a good piece of paper for me to write on anymore — and Pencil is not a good product,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. “If you love your Pencil, thank machine learning.”
Apple has announced that its annual Apple Music Festival will run from Sept. 18-30 this year at London’s Roundhouse. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but U.K. residents will soon be able to apply to win tickets through Apple Music and Apple’s media partners. As always, Apple plans to make performances available for free to Apple Music users live and on demand. The event has been held in London annually under the iTunes Music Festival name since 2007, but was rebranded last year.
Nikkei Asian Review claims Apple is planning to release three iPhone models next year, including a premium device that will feature a curved display. A source familiar with Apple’s plans said, “There will be a 4.7-inch model, another that will be 5.5-inches and a premium handset that will be either 5.5-inches or larger equipped with a screen bent on the two sides,” noting the first two phones will feature the flat screen found on current Apple devices.
Apple partner Foxconn said two workers at one of its manufacturing facilities died last week, The Wall Street Journal reports. A 31-year-old employee at the Zhengzhou plant that specializes in production of Apple devices climbed to the top of the building and leapt to his death after finishing his night shift on an iPhone assembly line Wednesday night. The man had been on the job only a month, prompting one fellow Foxconn employee to ask, “Why is it always the entry-level workers who jump?” A female employee from the same facility died in a train accident on her way to work Friday. Foxconn said it is cooperating with authorities investigating both deaths. Foxconn has worked to improve labor conditions since a series of suicides in 2010 and 2011, but as recently as last year an employee at the Zhengzhou plant was reported dead in an apparent suicide. In an official statement, Apple said, “We constantly monitor working conditions to ensure that they meet our strict standards, and we will investigate the incidents in Zhengzhou.”
Apple’s digital health team has made its first known acquisition, a personal health data startup named Gliimpse, Fast Company reports. The Silicon Valley company was started in 2013 and built its own software platform to allow people to collect, personalize and share a picture of their health data. Gliimpse was funded by Anil Sethi, a “serial entrepreneur” who spent the past decade working with health startups and got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the 1980s.
Apple was reportedly one of several companies that held talks over the last few months to consider buying ride-hailing company Lyft, but didn’t end up making an offer, The New York Times reports. Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company in which Apple invested $1 billion in May, was also mentioned as a possible buyer, alongside General Motors, Google, Amazon, and Uber. Didi Chuxing acquired Uber’s operations in China earlier this month, seemingly upending a partnership the company had forged with Lyft to fight Uber’s expansion into new markets. Lyft hasn’t publicly stated whether it will continue working with Didi Chuxing after the merger, which saw Didi founder Cheng Wei and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick join each other’s boards, and gave Uber a 20-percent stake in the combined company.
Only five days after the release of the sixth beta of iOS 10, Apple has released another beta of iOS 10 to registered developers. While the release notes don’t suggest any specific reason for the rapid release of a seventh beta, it presumably fixed some issues in beta 6, and the list of known issues continues to shrink from prior betas as iOS 10 nears its likely release date next month. A corresponding public beta of iOS 10 is also available through the Apple Software Beta Program.
Apple has reached one of its biggest environmental goals in China, bringing all 14 of its final assembly sites into zero-waste compliance, the company said in a press release. All waste from the facilities is now either reused, recycled, composted or burned to create power. The company also announced a commitment from supplier Lens Technology to run its Apple operations on entirely renewable energy by 2018, making an “unprecedented” power purchasing agreement with local wind projects. Apple has made a serious environmental push in China, working to protect sustainable forest land for the fiber used in its packaging and partnering with local companies to create multiple solar energy farms.
Apple is making a documentary with Cash Money Records, home to hip-hop stars like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake, Bloomberg reports. Cash Money co-founder Bryan Williams posted a picture of himself standing alongside Larry Jackson, the head of Apple’s original music content, to celebrate the new deal. People familiar with the arrangement said Apple is funding a documentary about the label, not securing all of Cash Money’s new albums to be Apple Music exclusives as had been speculated. Drake already has close ties to Apple — he hosts his own show on Beats 1 and made his latest album an Apple Music exclusive for its first week.
An AT&T retail schedule obtained by 9to5Mac hints at a Sept. 23 release date for the new iPhone. Previous rumors predicted pre-orders for the new phone will start on Sept. 9, with a likely release date of Sept. 16. The leaked schedule shows AT&T highlighting extra hours needed for a “merchandising rest” on both Sept. 9 and Sept. 23. Either is a possibility: The wait between the start of pre-orders and the official release date for most iPhones since 2011 has been a single week, but last year’s iPhone 6s launch had a two-week lead time for pre-orders.
After buying $1.07 billion of Apple stock in March, Berkshire Hathaway has boosted its total stake in the company to $1.46 billion, Reuters reports. Regulatory filings from the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate showed the company had expanded its Apple holdings by 55 percent as of June 30, doubling down on the investment as other notable investors like George Soros and Carl Icahn are bailing on the company over concerns about Apple’s future prospects in China.
During his latest trip to Beijing, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple is preparing to build its first Asia-Pacific research and development center in China, Reuters reports. The move comes as demand for the iPhone has plunged in China amid the government’s efforts to tighten its grip on Apple’s business, increasing scrutiny of the company’s App Store operations and shutting down iBook and iTunes movie sales. Despite the difficulties, Apple has continued to invest in the country, recently sinking $1 billion into China’s Didi Chuxing ride-hailing service, enabling that company to buy out Uber’s Chinese operations. Cook told Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli that the new R&D facility will be built by the end of the year, according to official Chinese state media.
Apple has released the fifth public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program, continuing enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site. The company also released the sixth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The latest round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases.
In an expansive interview with the Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Apple’s plans for the future, touching on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. While Cook dodged questions on the company’s car project, he was bullish on artificial intelligence’s ability to transform the dwindling cell phone market in the near future, renewing the company’s focus on things that will help users in their daily lives. Touting Apple’s own efforts and those of Uber and Lyft to integrate car-hailing services into Siri, he said the company opening up the personal assistant to third-party developers has unlocked a lot of potential. “Third-party developers are writing tons of those that will be available to the public in the fall,” Cook said of the integrations. “And that’s how we’re broadening Siri in a huge way.”