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Apple and Hollywood still discussing plans for early movie rentals

Movie studios are still considering plans to offer premium early access movie rentals via iTunes, Bloomberg reports. Despite objections from cinema chains, Hollywood wants to forge ahead in offering digital rentals of films only weeks after they arrive in theatres, according to people familiar with the matter. Discussions about possible studio agreements between Apple and the studios began late last year, and have been ongoing for months since, although the two sides have been struggling to arrive at a means for offering a $30–$50 premium movie-download solution that would be mutually beneficial.

Apple joins other companies in opposing warrantless use of location data

Apple joined more than a dozen other prominent technology companies in filing a brief with the Supreme Court opposing warrantless use of a cellphone’s location data, CNET reports. The case in question concerns armed robbery charges against Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted in 2011 based on his cellphone’s location data. In the friend-of-the-court brief, the companies argue “that users rely on technology companies to process their data for limited purposes does not mean that they expect their intimate data to be monitored by the government without a warrant.” Apple has made a habit of being uncompromising with regards to its preservation of user privacy, despite being sued by the Department of Justice and criticized by President Donald Trump for doing so.

Apple hires adds to video executive team, plans $1B investment in video content

Apple has hired former WGN America President Matt Chreniss to oversee a $1 billion investment in acquiring new video content, The Wall Street Journal reports. After hemming and hawing on the sidelines for years and dabbling in video projects to bolster its Apple Music product, Apple is ready to produce as many as 10 original TV shows, according to sources familiar with the matter. The $1 billion investment is about half of what HBO spent on its own content last year and roughly on par with what Amazon spent in 2013, the year after it moved into the video content business. Apple has been feeling out original content deals with Hollywood power players for months — if not years — but got serious in June when it hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two senior television executives from Sony Pictures Television. Erlicht and Van Amburg, hired to oversee all aspects of the company’s video programming efforts, have been holding meetings to see what types of shows are available for outright purchase and have brought on Chreniss to oversee development.

Group of Chinese developers launch antitrust complaint over App Store policies

A group of Chinese developers has filed a complaint against Apple alleging that the company has violated antitrust regulations in that country, Reuters reports. The group consisting of 28 developers is being represented by the Beijing-Based law firm Dare & Sure, and is accusing Apple of charging excessive fees and arbitrarily removing apps from the Chinese App Store without explanation. According to Lin Wei, an attorney at the firm, “During its localization process Apple has run into several antitrust issues ... after an initial investigation we consulted a number of enterprises and got a very strong response.” The law firm extends an invitation to developers in April to participate in the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday with China’s two anti-trust regulators — the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. The law firm did not provide any details on which developers are involved in the complaint.

International Trade Commission looks into Qualcomm’s request to ban US iPhone imports

The U.S. International Trade Commission has announced it is investigating Qualcomm’s claims that Apple devices violate its patents, the latest front in Apple’s ongoing legal war with the chipmaker. Qualcomm asked the ITC to ban imports of iPhones into the U.S. in May, and the commission said it will set a target date for the completion of the investigation within 45 days. WHile the back and forth in the courts could take years, the ITC promised to “make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time.” Apple didn’t comment on the development, but CEO Tim Cook has previously said, “I don’t believe that anyone is going to decide to enjoin the iPhone based on that. I think that there’s plenty of case law around that subject, but we shall see.”

Apple patents way to use FaceTime camera and sensors to take health measurements

A recent Apple patent describes new ways to use the FaceTime camera and accompanying sensors in current iPhones to take health measurements. The process “uses one or more of the camera and the proximity sensor to emit light into a body part of a user touching a surface of the electronic device and one or more of the camera, the ambient light sensor, and the proximity sensor to receive at least part of the emitted light reflected by the body part of the user,” much like the Apple Watch uses reflected light from the sensors in contact with a user’s skin to take its measurements. With added sensors in future devices to boost what is already there, Apple claims it might be able to provide “a blood pressure index, a blood hydration, a body fat content, an oxygen saturation, a pulse rate, a perfusion index, an electrocardiogram, a photoplethysmogram, and/or any other such health data.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple reportedly interested in deal for Bollywood movies and music

Apple is one of a handful of companies pursuing a deal with Indian movie production house Eros, Reuters reports. Apple’s video content strategy has been disorganized to say the least, and iTunes Store is losing its dominance in movie rentals and sales. A source familiar with the matter said the discussions are in a very early stage for what could be a $1 billion deal. Eros owns the rights to several Bollywood hits and has recently expanded into other Indian languages, claiming to now have a library of more than 3,000 films. Apple declined to comment, but is making a big push in India on multiple fronts.

Tim Cook dances around questions about autonomous systems, augmented reality

While Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments during yesterday’s earnings call didn’t contain any major revelations, he did reiterate that he expects the cutting edge augmented reality and autonomous systems technology that the company is working on to fundamentally improve the way people live. Earlier this year Apple shifted its focus away from building an electric car and toward constructing an autonomous driving system, but Cook said cars are just one of many applications for autonomous technology, “the mother of all AI projects.” “Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways. A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that,” he said, although he did add that the company does “have a large project going, and we’re making a big investment in this from our point of view.”

Apple wants tax breaks for suppliers to produce iPhones in India

Apple has requested tax breaks for its suppliers to set up a manufacturing hub in India, Reuters reports. The company has been actively pursuing its own incentives in India to offset the costs of moving more of its production to the country and has now begun putting pressure on the Indian government to extend the same concessions to its suppliers. Apple started assembling iPhones in India earlier this year in order to break into the Indian market, but the two sides have been negotiating about Apple’s list of “prerequisites” to get to the point where Apple is building the iPhones from scratch in India.

Judge allows FaceTime lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge has ruled that iPhone 4 and 4s users can pursue their class action lawsuit against Apple for intentionally disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 devices, Reuters reports. After losing a patent lawsuit to VirnetX in 2012, Apple was forced to discontinue its direct device-to-device mode for FaceTime, greatly increasing the fees it had to pay to Akamai Technologies — dropping as much as $50 million in one six-month period according to court documents. In developing iOS 7, Apple engineers were able to include a method of peer-to-peer FaceTime communication that didn’t infringe on the VirnetX patents, however, Apple was either unable to unwilling to bring these improvements into an iOS 6 update. Based on internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX case, the new class-action lawsuit claims that Apple made plans to deliberately “break” FaceTime on older iOS versions by forcing a key digital certificate used for FaceTime to expire prematurely.

Apple Store app now supports payments via Touch ID

Apple has updated its Apple Store app for iOS, adding the ability to use Touch ID to authorize payments and make changes to account information. Although Apple originally added Touch ID support to the Apple Store app back in 2015, the feature was originally limited to viewing orders, accessing EasyPay receipts, and making online reservations at an Apple Store, and still required the user to enter their Apple ID password to access stored payment information or actually place orders.

FCC grants license to Apple for 5G wireless testing

Apple has been granted a license by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin testing 5G wireless networking technology, according to a new report by DSLReports. Apple filed an application with the FCC back in May for an experimental license, looking to set up two fixed locations in Cupertino and Milpitas, California. The FCC approval doesn’t appear to add anything significant to the original application, merely granting permission for Apple to begin testing the experimental millimeter wave technology at the designated locations, using the already FCC-approved 28 and 39 GHz bands. Details of Apple’s plans for the new technology remain somewhat unclear, particularly since the 5G standard remains incomplete at this time, however the company’s application states that the company is interested in collecting “engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

Apple discontinues iPod nano and iPod shuffle, updates iPod touch prices and capacities

Apple has officially discontinued the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, signalling the end of an era as the last remaining traditional iPod models in its lineup disappear. Both devices have been removed from the Apple online store, which now points only to the iPod touch, which has also been updated with lower pricing, lowering the prices of the 32GB and 128GB models to $199 and $299, respectively, while entirely discontinuing the 16GB and 64GB models that were previously sold at those prices.

Apple ordered to pay $506 million in patent dispute

Apple has been ordered to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double the damages initially imposed by the jury in the case, Reuters reports. Despite facing up to $862 million in damages for improperly using the university’s patents in its A7, A8 and A8X processors, a jury awarded the school’s patent licensing arm $234 million after U.S. District Judge William Conley limited the damages, ruling that Apple had not willfully infringed on the university’s patent. On Monday Conley added another $272 million to the award, saying that the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation was owed the additional money and interest because Apple has continued to infringe on the patent until it expired at the end of last year. Apple has filed to appeal the ruling, but didn’t comment publicly about the case.

Cochlear reveals first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor

Cochlear Limited is rolling out its new Nucleus 7, the first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor to aid the hearing impaired. The new implant allows users to stream the sound directly from compatible iPhones, iPads and iPods over Bluetooth. Reuters reports that Cochlear’s previous sound processors only worked with mobile phones when implant wearers connected the sound processor to an intermediate Bluetooth device that would then pair with the phone or tablet. “It’s the first time people with an iPhone will be able to pick up the phone normally, or just listen to music, without any additional devices,” Jan Janssen, senior vice president of research and development at Cochlear, said. Apple developed the protocols with hearing aide firms like GN ReSound and Starkey, and is now licensing it to the other firms for free. Sarah Herrlinger, director of global accessibility policy for Apple, said developing a solution for users whose doctors recommend different devices for each ear — often from different manufacturers — was a big challenge. “We had to figure out how you could do a bi-modal solution where you’re able to simultaneously pair, control and hear both of them running at the same time,” she said. “That was a really interesting engineering opportunity for us to solve.”

Trump claims Apple is building ‘three big plants’ in U.S.

President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed the company to building “three big plants, beautiful plants” in the U.S. While Apple has reportedly discussed having its manufacturing partners move some of their facilities to the U.S., Apple has never publicly expressed any plans to open facilities in the U.S. In January, 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., creating between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs. Gou said that Trump’s tough talk on the campaign trail about implementing high tariffs on imports led him to conclude that an increase in protectionist policies is “inevitable,” but warned of rising prices if production is moved to the U.S.

Qualcomm rips tech group for ‘misdirecting’ trade regulators in Apple case

Qualcomm is disputing arguments made by other tech companies in its case with Apple, claiming its critics are involved in a “coordinated effort aimed at misdirecting” trade regulators, Reuters reports. The lobbying group — which includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung, among others — took issue with Qualcomm’s attempt to block imports of the iPhone while the legal battle over royalties plays out in court, saying such a move would help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices.” In its own filing, Qualcomm dismissed the idea that its import ban on iPhone would hurt competition, since ““Apple can purchase and utilize any LTE modem it chooses so long as it does not infringe Qualcomm’s asserted patents.” The problem with that is the Intel chips Apple is currently using still fall under Qualcomm’s patent for the time being, leading Intel to call Qualcomm’s import ban request ” a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm’s only remaining rival.”

Samsung, Intel and others rally to Apple’s side in Qualcomm legal fight

A group representing major tech companies has filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission backing Apple in its legal fight against chip maker Qualcomm, Reuters reports. The Computer & Communications Industry Association — a group that represents Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Intel, among others — opposed Qualcomm’s request to block the import of foreign-assembled iPhones with Intel chips, claiming the move would cause “significant shocks to supply” of the devices. “If the ITC were to grant this exclusion order, it would help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices,” Ed Black, the CEO of the group, said in a statement. “What’s at stake here is certainly the availability of iPhones and other smartphones at better prices.”

Apple reportedly involved in R&D project with automotive battery maker

Apple is working with Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. on an secret automotive battery R&D project, Yicai Global reports. CATL split from Apple’s largest battery supplier — Amperex Technology Ltd. — in 2011 and has gone on to produce car batteries for National Electric Vehicle Sweden, according to Electrek. Apple didn’t comment on the story and has reportedly shifted its focus away from building an entire electric car on its own and toward autonomous driving systems, so what the company is researching and how it would be applied to Project Titan are unclear. [via 9to5Mac]

ARKit developer videos show maps, navigation overlaid on live camera feed

Two new videos posted to Twitter by iOS developer Andrew Hart show points of interest and navigation directions overlaid on what the device’s camera sees, illustrating one possible use for the company’s upcoming ARKit. In the first video, Hart moves his phone around from a London rooftop as the app points out points of interest in the skyline. In the second video, Hart types in “Starbucks” and is greeted by floating red arrows and a blue line displayed over the roads seen in his camera feed, leading him to his destination. The idea is similar to an Apple patent filed late last year for “Augmented Reality Maps” that layer map information and directions over live iPhone video, although the Apple model is displayed with the phone held horizontally and Hart said he’s only been able to get his working with the phone held vertically due to issues in ARKit. Hart said he plans to have his library up on GitHub this week.

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