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.”
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]
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]
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.
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.
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.
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 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’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.