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Apple announces all facilities now fully powered by renewable energy

Apple has announced that all of its facilities worldwide — from retail stores and offices to data centres and co-located facilities in foreign countries — are now powered with 100 percent clean and renewable energy. This major milestone includes facilities across 43 countries, and nine additional manufacturing partners have also committed to powering all of their Apple production with 100 percent clean energy, bringing to the total number of supplier commitments to 23.

Apple accused of infringing patents in Apple Watch heart rate sensor technology

Apple is facing another patent lawsuit, this time from a Michigan-based technology startup that claims the heart rate technology used in the Apple Watch infringes on its patented technology. The startup,
Omni MedSci, specializes in near-infrasrer and mid-infrared broadband lasers, and says that it met with Apple from 2014 to 2016 to discuss the use of its technology, but Apple broke off partnership discussions before later introducing technology using Omni MedSci’s approach. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern district of Texas on Friday and claims that Apple willfully infringed on its patents and is seeking both damages and an injunction against the company.

Apple unveils (PRODUCT)RED Edition iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Folio for iPhone X

Apple has once again released new (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition versions of its current iPhone models — in this case the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The new colours are similar to last year’s (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, although they of course feature the new glass back design and more interestingly this year Apple has also chosen to go with a black front bezel versus the white bezel used in last year’s models. The new versions are otherwise identical to the standard iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, essentially just adding a new color option to help bolster mid-season sales and continue Apple’s tradition of supporting the (RED) Global Fund in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Apple expresses opposition to repeal of Clean Power Plan

Apple has formally stated its opposition to any repeal of the Clean Power Plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reuters reports, noting that a repeal of the Obama-era program to reduce greenhouse gases would actually “jeopardize the country’s position in the race for investments in clean energy” and place the U.S. at a disadvantage in comparison to countries like China. In a filing to the EPA, Apple stated that “Repealing the Clean Power Plan will subject consumers like Apple and our large manufacturing partners to increased investment uncertainty,” adding that it would also threaten development and investments that the company has already made in renewable power.

Kerry Ehrin takes over Apple’s upcoming morning show drama

Apple has made some staff changes on its upcoming morning show drama, Variety reports, with drama veteran Kerry Ehrin expected to take over the series, which will be starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The prior show runner, Jay Carson, has reportedly left over “creative differences.” Ehrin had previously been under a deal with Universal Television and is best known for her role as co-creator, executive producer and showrunner of A&E’s Emmy-nominated drama “Bates Motel.”  The as-yet-untitled new morning show drama represents Apple’s first big television project, stemming from a November deal with Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res banner and Aniston’s Echo Films and Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banners, with Apple landing an order for two seasons with ten episodes per season. Based on an idea from Ellenberg, the series will reportedly be drawing background material from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter’s 2013 book “Top of the Morning,” which talked about a recent rivalry between major NBC and ABC morning shows.

Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence joins Apple

Apple has scored a “major coup” in the hiring of John Giannandrea, Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, The New York Times reports. Apple announced the hiring late yesterday, adding that Mr. Giannandrea will be in charge of Apple’s “machine learning an A.I. strategy” as one of the 16 key executives who report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. After joining Google in 2010, the 53-year-old Scotland-born Giannandrea became a leading force behind the push to integrate A.I. technology throughout Google’s products, including internet search, Gmail, and Google Assistant. Giannandrea originally came to Google with the company’s acquisition of Metaweb, a start-up that was building a “database of the world’s knowledge” that later became a key component in Google’s direct answer feature.

Apple to introduce web-based feature to allow users to download all of their data

Apple is adding even more privacy controls in light of new European regulations, Bloomberg reports. In addition to new privacy features debuted in iOS 11.3 today, Apple has said that it plans to add a feature to its website in the next few months that will allow users to download a copy of all of their stored data, an approach similar to features already offered by Google and Facebook. The updated Apple ID management tools will also allow users to correct personal information, temporarily deactivate their account, or delete it entirely. According to Apple, these new controls are designed to ensure compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into effect on May 25.

Apple releases iOS 11.3 with Battery Health, Health Records, Business Chat and more

Apple has announced the final public release of iOS 11.3, featuring a significant number of updates for a point release. Originally previewed in late January, iOS 11.3 promises new augmented reality experiences, new Animoji for iPhone X users, a new Business Chat feature that will allow businesses to communicate with customers via iMessage, a Health Records feature that helps users of participating medical institutions more easily view their medical records, enhanced data and privacy controls, and the Battery Health feature that will ensure users know when their performance is being throttled due to aging batteries on older iPhones.

GarageBand gets new “Toy Box” educational sound pack, TrueDepth facial control

Following today’s education event in Chicago, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS unveiling a free new education-themed sound pack, “Toy Box”, along with support for controlling musical effects using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.  The new sound pack includes over 400 Apple Loops, three drum kits, ten keyboard instruments, and five Live Loop grids, focused on education with sounds such as animals, vehicles, and counting to ten in different languages. TrueDepth camera support allows iPhone X users to control effects like guitar wah and synth parameters using facial expressions, and the update also adds a Modern Wah guitar stompbox effect.

Apple updates Clips with new Selfie Scenes, education-themed posters

Apple has released a content update to its Clips app, adding a collection of new styles, fonts, colors, layouts, stickers, and more. Specifically, the update adds four new Live Title styles, for new animated labels, nine new animated stickers, eleven new Apple-designed posters, including education-themed blackboard and notebook designs in line with the education event Apple held earlier today. iPhone X users also gain two new Disney-Pixar Selfie Scenes from “Finding Dory” and “Monsters, Inc.” In addition to the new content, the update also fixes some minor bugs and polishes up some of the design elements.

Apple calls for more regulation amid Facebook data scandal

In light of the use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica in unauthorized voter targeting efforts, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for stronger government regulations on how data can be used, Bloomberg reports. Apple has usually come down on the side of privacy in showdowns with the government, and now the company is asking the U.S. Congress to create “well-crafted” regulations that prevent use of data without a user’s knowledge. “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook said. “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life — from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”

Report: Apple could launch its original video service as early as next March

Apple has at least 12 major video projects in the works and could be ready to launch its new video offerings to the public as soon as next March, The New York Times reports. The overall video project — which Apple reportedly is willing to spend upwards of $1 billion on — now has around 40 permanent staffers and is preparing to outspend Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and many other traditional TV studios to carve out its place in the landscape. The report emphasized what we’ve previously heard about Apple looking to pick up shows that have a ‘bright, optimistic’ tone that reflects Apple’s broad user base and efforts at remaining family-friendly.

Apple expected to launch new low-cost iPads at next week’s education event

Apple is expected to unveil at least one new low-cost iPad model at next week’s education event, Bloomberg reports. The event, announced last week, is being held on Tuesday at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, and is the first time Apple has held an education-related event since 2012 when it unveiled textbooks and the iBooks Author tool. According to Mark Gurman, Apple will be showing off a new version of its entry-level iPad, presumably an update to the fifth-generation iPad which debuted around this time last year starting at the previously unheard of price of $329. While there has been speculation that Apple may lower the price even further this year or introduce Apple Pencil support to the lower-end iPad, Gurman doesn’t provide any insight into that.

Apple Store app gains new ‘Sessions’ section

Apple has released a significant update to its Apple Store app, promising users “a more personal, relevant in-store experience” with recommendations for products and in-store training sessions. The highlight of the update is a new “Sessions” tab which allows users to more easily find daily sessions be held in local Apple Stores on creative subjects such as photography and music, and sessions can be filtered based on the products that a user already owns. Users can also now view stock levels for their favorite products, and scan accessories using their iPhone in-store to get more information on a product, including information such as device compatibility. New order management features also allow users to view invoices, edit shipping details and custom engraving messages, and cancel individual items in an order — all capabilities that previously required a visit to Apple’s website.

Apple confirms fix is in the works for bug that allows Siri to access hidden notifications

In a statement provided to MacRumors, Apple has confirmed that it already has a fix underway for a bug reported earlier this week in which Siri could bypass privacy restrictions on third-party messaging apps, allowing for otherwise hidden messages to be read aloud, even when an iPhone is locked.

Apple up to 45 vehicles in its fleet of self-driving cars as Uber crash casts shadow on the industry

Apple has grown its fleet of self-driving cars from just three when the program started in April 2017 to a whopping 45 as of its most recent filings, The Financial Times reports. Those filings for legal purposes are the only indication Apple has given that the program even exists, and even sources inside the company still aren’t sure what final form of self-driving technology Apple may eventually offer to consumers, if any. Since Apple is so secretive about the project, it’s also unclear if the company has made any changes after a self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian earlier this week. Like Uber, Apple requires a human operator inside the vehicle during testing for safety purposes, but it’s unclear if the Uber driver even had time to react to the pedestrian who was killed. Uber has temporarily suspended its own testing in wake of the death, but preliminary reports seem to indicate the pedestrian was at fault in the accident.

Democrats interested in Apple’s download records on Trump administration officials

A memo released last week by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee could put Congress on a legal collision course with Apple if Democrats take back the House of Representatives, The Intercept reports. On page 20 of the document protesting the Republican decision to end the HIC’s Russian collusion inquiry, the Democrats proposed the committee go after Apple’s “records reflecting downloaded encrypted messaging apps for certain key individuals” of interest in the investigation. Encrypted communications app WhatsApp is another target of the proposed inquiry, but the Democrats won’t have subpoena power over any of the companies in question if they can’t manage to flip the House in November.

Apple announces education-focused event for March 27

Apple has announced that it will be holding an education-related event at a Chicago high school on March 27, Bloomberg reports. While specific details are vague, the choice to hold this event away from the usual vicinity of its Cupertino campus makes it a particularly unusual one. The invitation for the March 27 event simply notes that Apple will share “creative new ideas for teachers and students” and lists the location as Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. It’s been several years since Apple has made any major announcements specifically targeted at the education market; the company held a similarly-themed education event in New York City in 2012, where it unveiled the iBooks Author tool, digital textbooks from major publishers on the iBookstore, and the advent of iTunes U as a standalone app targeted at handling online courses.

Apple’s new ‘Families’ page provides a unified collection of tips for parents

Apple has set up a new Families page on its website providing a one-stop collection of tips on all of the parental controls and other options that are available to support parents in helping their kids use their Apple devices safely and responsibly. The new page appears following recent concerns from investors that the company hasn’t been doing enough to protect children from the negative effects of increased device use, and the new Families page emphasis the efforts Apple has put into designing its products with families in mind, noting that the company has “put a lot of thought into helping parents choose what their kids can do with their devices.”

Apple announces WWDC 2018

Apple has officially announced details for its 29th Annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held from June 4 – 8, 2018, once again at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. While this year’s announcement comes about a month late compared to WWDC 2017, registration has already opened today, two weeks earlier than last year. The opportunity to purchase tickets will once again be offered by random selection, and only those who are members of the Apple Developer Program as of today will be eligible to register for the conference, and registration will close on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

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