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Apple gets approval to build proposed data center in Ireland

Over a year after announcing plans to build a new data center in County Galway, Ireland, Apple has finally received approval from Irish authorities to begin construction on the new facility. Apple has been granted permission to build only a single data center for now, but the company reportedly plans to build as many as eight facilities on the site over the next decade or so, although the company will have to reapply for planning permission to expand beyond the single one. The project is part of a plan by Apple to bring 1,000 new jobs to Ireland, and will be used to support Apple’s online services such as the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for European customers. The data center will be constructed in a forest just outside the small town of Athenry, and Apple notes that it will be powered completely by renewable energy and build on land that a state forestry company used to grow and harvest non-native trees; Apple promises to restore native trees to the forest and create a new outdoor education space for local schools as part of the project. [via Business Insider]

Apple patent reveals possible electrocardiographic wearable health device

A new Apple patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outlines the design for a new wearable health device that would be capable of recording electrocardiographic signals and detecting and correcting for inversions in electrocardiographic measurements based on where the device is worn on the body. The patent, titled Method Of Detecting the Wearing Limb of a Wearable Electronic Device discusses a number of methods of wearable health technology, including not only a watch, but also a ring, pendant, brooch, wrist band, and bracelet, and would be designed to take accurate electrocardiographic measurements based on the electrode’s relative position to the heart automatically, based on the ability to determine where on the body that the device is being worn. It could then adjust the measurements accordingly. Interestingly, the patent comes on the heels of a report earlier this week suggesting that Apple is working on new health-related hardware for release next year that would more accurately collect information like heart rate, pulse, blood sugar changes, and more. [via Patently Apple]

Apple SVPs Cue and Federighi provide more insight into Apple Maps data gathering

A follow-up article today by Fast Company provides a more detailed transcript of its interview with Apple Senior Vice Presidents Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi discussing Apple’s challenges surrounding the introduction and ongoing development of its Maps platform. The in-depth comments provide some additional insight into how Apple has been rising to the challenge of improving the quality and accuracy of real-time data in Maps, highlighting some interesting approaches, such as determining where new businesses are opening by tracking geolocated app usage on iPhones, and determining road closures by analyzing traffic activity from users’ iPhones.

India creates new path for Apple to open stores

After last month’s news that India was clearing the way for Apple to open retail locations, the country’s finance minister has approved a proposal exempting the company from local sourcing requirements, Bloomberg reports. An anonymous source said the new rules will give India’s information technology ministry the authority to label a retailer of a single brand as a “cutting-edge technology” provider, opening a new path for Apple to gain a three-year exemption to the country’s requirement that it obtain 30 percent of its product materials locally. Apple can now reapply to open stores in India after failing to gain the exemption on its first attempt.

Report: South Korean battery maker claims to be partner in Apple car project

A South Korean battery company has allegedly signed on to supply batteries for Apple’s rumored car project, ETNews reports. The website cites a battery industry source who claims the unnamed manufacturer signed a non-disclosure agreement after meeting with an Apple employee. The company in question is said to have around 20 employees and hold international patents for hollow lithium-ion batteries. Maintaining an open center makes for a cooler-running battery, decreasing the need for cooling systems and preventing overheating.

Apple claims Australian banks’ request would damage iPhone security

After the three largest Australian banks filed an application to make their own mobile payment apps available on the iPhone, Apple has countered with claims that opening up its NFC technology could damage the device’s security, the Australian Financial Times reports. The company told Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission that Apple Pay “upholds very high security standards for our customers when they use Apple devices to make payments. Providing simple access to the NFC antenna by banking applications would fundamentally diminish the high level of security Apple aims to have on our devices.”

Apple releases fifth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the fifth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The fifth 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; the fifth round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the previous round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. We’ll update if any major developments pop up.

Russia investigating Apple for price fixing (Update: Apple denies wrongdoing)

Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has opened an investigation after receiving price-fixing allegations against Apple, Reuters reports. The agency said a citizen provided information showing that identical prices had been set for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models at 16 major resellers, and an independent investigation showed the resellers kept their prices at the same level for a certain period of time. Euroset, one of the retailers mentioned in the statement, denied coordinating prices with anyone. An Apple representative in Russia did not return a request for comment.

UPDATE: In a statement to Reuters, Apple has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the company didn’t require Russian resellers to fix prices. “Resellers set their own prices for the Apple products they sell in Russia and around the world,” the company’s press release said.

Rumor: Apple building new health-related hardware for 2017 release

Supply chain sources are claiming Apple has a new piece of health tracking hardware in the works that will more accurately collect information like heart rate, pulse, blood sugar changes and lots of other personal measurements, the Taiwan-based Economic Daily News reports. The vague report doesn’t give any specifics about what the device will be or how it will be used, but Macotakara referred to it as a “new smart home terminal.”

Eddy Cue: Apple Maps debacle led to release of public betas

In an interview with Fast Company, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue admitted that the company’s embarrassment over its dismal Maps rollout directly led to its offering of public betas today. When the Maps app debuted in 2012 with bridges plunging into rivers, shopping malls marked as hospitals, and airport runways labeled as navigable roads, Apple went into crisis mode. “We had completely underestimated the product, the complexity of it. All the roads are known, come on! All the restaurants are known, there’s Yelp and OpenTable, they have all the addresses,” Cue said. “The mail arrives. FedEx arrives. You know, how hard is this?”

Apple bug bounty program offers up to $200K for security vulnerability discoveries

At this week’s Black Hat security conference, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, Ivan Krstic, announced that the company will begin offering cash bounties of up to $200,000 to security researchers who discover vulnerabilities in the company’s products, TechCrunch reports. While companies such as Google and Microsoft have long offered similar programs to encourage hackers to find and disclose vulnerabilities, Apple has traditionally remained a holdout, despite the strong emphasis that the company places on security — particularly in an era when solutions like Apple Pay, HomeKit, and HealthKit are storing more and more crucial data on user’s iOS devices and in Apple’s cloud.

Report: Apple developing custom low-power Bluetooth earbuds

Apple has been working for the past few years on developing a custom low-power Bluetooth radio chip for wireless earbuds, according to a new report in Forbes. The report notes that Apple could launch a set of Bluetooth earbuds as soon as September alongside the new iPhone model, which is expected to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack found on prior models. Recent leaks have suggested that Apple will bundle either Lightning EarPods or a Lightning audio adapter in with the next-generation iPhone models. Low-power Bluetooth headphones could provide another alternative — although it seems likely that such earphones would be sold as a separate option rather than being included in the package.

Report: Apple developing digital TV guide

Apple is working on developing an enhanced digital TV guide service for its Apple TV, according to a new report from Re/code. According to industry sources cited by the report, Apple has been talking to TV programmers and other video companies about a solution that works not only on the Apple TV, but on other Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad. The new service appears to be an expansion of its Universal Search debuted on the fourth-generation Apple TV, letting users see what kind of programming is available in video apps such as HBO, Netflix, and ESPN, and to access shows and movies with a single click.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.4 ‘security update’

Apple has released iOS 9.3.4, a minor update that comes a little more than two weeks following the release of iOS 9.3.3, and purports to fix at least one security issue with the release notes merely describing it as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the next six to eight weeks, 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.

Group of industry-leading design professionals file Amicus brief supporting Apple in Samsung case

A group of over 100 leading industrial design professionals and educators have filed an Amicus brief supporting Apple’s side in its long running design patent case with Samsung, a battle that began with a 2012 jury verdict in which Apple was initially awarded $930 million in damages as a result of Samsung’s copying of Apple’s industrial designs, before a number of other developments allowed the case to continue on without an end in sight.

As Congress correctly recognized, ‘it is the design that sells’ the product and ‘makes it possible to realize any profit at all.’

In the Amicus brief filed today, a group of notable design experts — which include such names as Braun’s Dieter Rams, Microsoft’s Executive Creative Director Raymond Riley, Bentley’s Director of Design Stefan Hans Sielaff, and even Alexander Wang and Calvin Klein, among dozens of others across the automotive, technology, fashion, and food industries — maintains that the industrial design of a product is in fact the most important factor that drives the sales of the product, supporting the original court and jury’s award that awarded the total profits to Apple from the sale of Samsung’s infringing smartphones, based on the fact that Samsung copied Apple’s designs and profited from them by selling more smartphones.

Apple Music for Android leaves beta status

Almost nine months following its initial beta release on the Google Play Store, Apple’s Apple Music app for Android devices has officially dropped the “beta” tag with an update that appeared late yesterday. Although the app remained in beta status up until now, Apple continued to make improvements to the Apple Music experience on Android, adding support for a home screen widget for controlling playback, allowing the ability to save music to SD card storage, and support for Music Videos and purchasing of Family Plan subscriptions from within the app. In addition to removing the beta status, the latest update also adds equalizer settings and “a variety of performance, playback, and stability improvements.”

App Store sees record-breaking month in July

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced via Twitter yesterday that July set a new record for App Store sales, with the “highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.” In a subsequent tweet, Cook went on to say that App Store developers have now collectively earned a total of over $50 billion over the past eight years that the App Store has been in operation.

Last month during the company’s Q3 2016 conference call, Cook revealed that the App Store had reached its highest revenue ever, and that Apple also set a new record for the average amount spent per customer on the App Store. During the same call, Cook went on to say that Apple expects its services revenue to continue to grow, which will be driven largely by App Sales, and that he expects it to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by this time next year.

Apple releases third annual diversity report

Apple has released its third annual diversity report, providing an outline of the company’s efforts toward employment equality in the workplace. The latest data shows that Apple has a current workforce made up of 32 percent women and 22 percent minorities, and 37 percent of new hires globally over the past year were female and 27 percent were from minorities underrepresented in the U.S. Minorities made up 54 percent of new hires by Apple in the U.S. over the past year. This year’s report also includes a section addressing pay equity, stating that Apple reviewed its compensation for U.S. employees, closing any gaps that it found in order to achieve full pay equity in the U.S. The report states that Apple will continue to analyze salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all employees worldwide to ensure that the company maintains pay equity across the board.

Apple countersues Caltech over Wi-Fi patents

Apple and Broadcom have countersued the California Institute of Technology, claiming that the school’s Wi-Fi patents should be invalidated, MacRumors reports. Caltech’s original lawsuit claims Broadcom’s chips—used in several Apple devices—infringe on four of the school’s patents related to improvements in Wi-Fi standards. Apple is arguing that Caltech filing its lawsuit more than six years after publication of the 802.11n wireless standard makes it ineligible to collect damages. The company also pointed out that Caltech doesn’t make, use or sell any product that makes use of the patents.

Apple debuts Smart Keyboard in new languages

Apple’s Smart Keyboard for both 9.7” and 12.9” iPad Pro models is now available in several new languages. Apple’s websites in regions where the new keyboard options are available allow users to select keyboards configured for Arabic, British English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean and other languages. The rollout seems to have been done by region, so the British English model is available on Apple’s United Kingdom-based site and the Arabic option is listed on Apple United Arab Emirates site. So far, sites in Canada and the United States only show the standard English option as available for sale and Apple Stores aren’t offering the ability to order any of the specialized models.

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