Apple has recruited Timothy Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon’s Fire TV unit, to be the new vice president heading up Apple TV’s product marketing, Bloomberg reports. The move has pushed out the role’s former occupant, Pete Distad, who sources say will now be working with Eddy Cue on Apple’s ongoing efforts to secure new streams of content. Twerdahl brings plenty of experience in the streaming content and set-top device industry, spending time as an executive at Netflix and vice president at Roku before he landed at Amazon.
In an interview with Variety, Apple Music chief Jimmy Iovine discussed his vision for building Apple’s streaming music service into a blending of “the worlds of Silicon Valley and the entertainment industry,” sharing some passing insights on Apple’s aims for its much-rumored original content strategy and how he believes streaming can be done “right.” In speaking to Apple’s move into original video content, Iovine made it clear that the company’s plans are focused entirely on material that fits in with and enhances the Apple Music experience in order to “make the music service a cultural point of reference” and that it’s not in any way about competing with Netflix.
To me it’s all one thing. It’s Apple Music, and it happens to have video and audio. … It has nothing to do with what Netflix is doing.
Apple has given third-party Apple TV accessory makers access to tvOS specs that will allow them to make use of App Launch and a slew of new accessibility features, 9to5Mac reports. The tvOS 10.0.1 update released in October added support for the new features, but Apple only recently made the necessary information available to partners in the Made-for-iPhone/iPad/Apple TV licensing program. Now accessory makers producing things like game controllers can instruct the device to prompt users to install companion apps like iOS devices already do, simplifying the installation process and handling things like firmware updates. WiFi Accessory Configuration is also enabled to allow wireless devices piggyback off of the Apple TV to avoid manually selecting the correct network and entering the password to connect. VoiceOver features to provide audio cues for what’s on the screen for the visually impaired is also now possible.
Apple is preparing to adopt a new connector type for accessories, known as the Ultra Accessory Connector (UAC). The company has launched a developer preview of the new connector type, 9to5Mac reports. Sources claim this new, smaller connector could replace the use of Lightning and USB connectors in some cases. The 8-pin connector would be thinner than USB-C, and about half the width of Lightning and USB-C. According to the report, use of the connector is currently specified to be used on headphone cables — Apple would allow for Lightning to UAC, USB-A to UAC, and 3.5mm headphone jack to UAC connectors. While the smaller UAC would certainly “allow accessory makers to save space inside their designs,” this news will likely give rise to plenty of speculation on how the UAC will be incorporated into future Apple devices. There was plenty of confusion in 2012 when Apple introduced its Lightning Connector, so we’ll have to wait for official word on just how the company plans to use the UAC.
Update: Apple has clarified that the new connector in question has actually been around for years, The Verge reports. The ‘Ultra Accessory Connector’ is actually just Apple’s name for an 8-pin connector used in several products, including Nikon cameras. Apparently multiple cable manufacturers have their own names for the connection type and Apple was simply standardizing the naming convention, not creating a new connection type. To clarify, use of this connector is new to the MFi program, but that’s all.
The delayed BeatsX will be available at Apple stores in the U.S. and on the company’s website starting February 10, CNET reports. The $150 neckband-style headphones will feature Apple’s new power-efficient W1 chip already seen in AirPods, and will come in white or black. Beats has also announced gray and blue colors will be added, but there’s no official timeline for when those will appear or when international stores will be getting the headphones.
Apple has filed a patent for ‘dual mode’ headphones or earbuds that easily can be reconfigured into standalone speakers. Both the headphones and earbuds in the accompanying sketches have the ability to rotate to a freestanding position, which will trigger an internal sensor that tells the speakers to play at a much louder volume than when the device is right against the user’s ear. Apple already employs similar technology in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, using the phone’s ear speaker for stereo sound while the device is being held in a landscape position and reverting to the usual lower volume when the phone returns to the portrait orientation. [via Apple Insider]
In a post on Medium, verify.ly creator Will Strafach claims his team has discovered at least 76 popular iOS apps vulnerable to silent man-in-the-middle attacks. Strafach doesn’t disclose the most vulnerable apps for security purposes, but listed a few of the apps that have a lower degree of security risks, like the ooVoo video calling app, Trading 212 Forex & Stocks trading app and several different file uploaders affiliated with Snapchat. Most of the apps named leave user details like email addresses, user names and passwords open to interception by a third party, and Strafach says iOS’s App Transport Security feature doesn’t help block the vulnerability. The problem lies in commonly misconfigured networking code that Apple is unable to patch on its end, but data is only vulnerable to interception when using a public WiFi network, so Strafach simply recommends turning Wi-Fi off and using the phone’s cellular data when dealing with sensitive information away from home. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released a new batch of second betas to developers today — iOS 10.3 for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, tvOS 10.2 for Apple TV, and watchOS 3.2 for Apple Watch. iOS 10.3 contains Find My AirPods support, tvOS 10.2 boasts improved scrolling support, and watchOS 10.2 brings the screen-disabling Theater Mode to the Apple Watch, among other improvements. A public beta for iOS 10.3 should be available in the near future.
Apple has reopened its request to sell used iPhones in India during its seemingly endless negotiations with the country’s government, Bloomberg reports. India has already rejected Apple’s request to sell the pre-owned devices in their country, but with ongoing negotiations reportedly improving, the company is making a new case for bringing used phones to India to be refurbished. A person familiar with the matter said Apple is claiming it will open the proper facilities in India to ensure that refurbished products are up to local standards, adding the request to a long list of concessions it hopes to win in exchange for bringing manufacturing to the country.
Tech blogger Robert Scoble, who previously claimed that Carl Zeiss was working with Apple to create augmented reality glasses after an encounter at CES, is now claiming that the glasses will debut this year. On a recent episode of the show “This Week in Tech,” Scoble said several sources “at the highest levels” have told him Apple my announce the glasses this summer, possibly in conjunction with the opening of Apple’s new headquarters or release of the 10th anniversary iPhone.
Apple has accused Australian banks of working to “delay or even block” Apple Pay to stifle competition from smaller companies and limit consumer options, Bloomberg reports. Apple is keeping the pressure on after winning a preliminary ruling against a group of Australian banks who wanted Apple to open up the iPhone’s NFC controller for use with their own mobile payment systems. The banks have been boycotting Apple Pay over the fees Apple charges and filed a motion last July requesting the ability to collectively bargain with the company, but Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said in December that, “While the ACCC accepts that the opportunity for the banks to collectively negotiate and boycott would place them in a better bargaining position with Apple, the benefits are currently uncertain and may be limited.”
Apple and 96 other companies have joined together to file an amicus brief opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Bloomberg reports. The companies filed the brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Sunday night, accelerating their timeline after legal challenges began to mount over the weekend, according to sources familiar with the process. “Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies,” the brief reads.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to make an appearance at the University of Glasgow next week to receive an honorary degree and participate in a a “Fireside Chat” Q&A session afterward. The event, which is only open to students and staff of the university, sold out within an hour of being announced; the university appears to have originally planned to include university alumni as well, but announced a half-hour after opening registration that it could no long offer tickets to a alumni due to a high volume of demand.
While a specific agenda has not been published, 9to5Mac notes that the rector of the University of Glasgow is currently Edward Snowden, suggesting that the conversation may touch on privacy, encryption and government policy issues.
Microsoft has announced a major update to its iOS email and calendar app, Microsoft Outlook, bringing support for third-party add-ins, and celebrating two years since the release of an iOS adaptation of the company’s venerable e-mail client. The new add-ins feature allows users to integrate with third-party apps such as Trello, Evernote, and more directly from email messages in their Outlook inbox. Microsoft has announced partnerships with Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Trello, and Smartsheet for an initial set of Outlook plug-ins, and has indicated that they are producing several of their own add-ins available for the platform as well, with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Translator available out of the gate, and “many more” promised to follow. The new add-ins for Outlook on iOS complement the versions already available for Outlook on Windows and Mac and on the web, extending their functionality to iPhone and iPad users. The new add-in features are available for Office 365 today, and Microsoft indicates that they’re “rolling out gradually” to Outlook.com users.
A new class action lawsuit has been filed in California, accusing Apple of deliberately “breaking” FaceTime for iOS 6 users in order to force them to upgrade to iOS 7, thereby violating California’s unfair competition laws, AppleInsider reports. Citing documents disclosed in the VirnetX patent lawsuit, the class-action filing alleges that Apple secretly took this step in order to reduce high monthly data relay charges it was incurring from Akamai as a result of the “relay method” being used at the time to handle some FaceTime calls between iOS devices, which transmitted FaceTime data through Akamai’s servers — a relay service which Apple was paying for based on usage.
IBM and United Airlines have announced a new collaboration to develop a new suite of iOS business applications to help drive the airline’s digital transformation, as part of IBM’s MobileFirst partnership with Apple. United Airlines currently has more than 50,000 iOS devices being used by its front-line employees, and this new collaboration will see IBM developing a set of both market-ready and custom iOS apps for improving a number of aspects of United Airlines’ customer-facing operations, such as providing flight attendants and gate personnel readily available access to customer travel data at their fingertips without being tied to a fixed workstation or podium position.
A hacker who allegedly stole over 900 GB of data from Israeli forensics company Cellebrite has publicly released a cache of the files related to older iPhones, in addition to Android and BlackBerry devices, Motherboard reports. The stolen data suggested that Cellebrite, the company rumored to have helped the FBI in the San Bernardino forensics case, had also sold its technology to a variety of oppressive regimes such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. The hacker’s motivation appears to be focused on stirring up the debate around backdoors and their use by authoritarian societies, as well as demonstrating that tools created to hack devices like iPhones are certain to make it out in the wild. Apple CEO Tim Cook made a similar point that such backdoors are ““too dangerous to create” when he penned an open letter last year opposing the FBI’s attempts to force Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
Apple is working with several organizations, including Facebook, Uber, and Google parent company Alphabet, to draft a letter to President Donald Trump opposing the travel ban that has recently been imposed. Recode reports that while the effort is being led by tech companies, they are working to involve other industries in what will be the first major push from large U.S. corporations to try and support more open immigration in the wake of President Trump’s recent executive order suspending travel from seven largely Muslim countries and barring Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. completely. Recode was also able to obtain the following draft of the letter.
The European Commission has announced that negotiators have come to a deal that will put an end to wireless roaming charges in European Union member countries as of June 15, 2017. Representatives of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission have agreed on how wholesale roaming markets will be regulated such that Europeans will be able to travel within the EU without incurring any additional charges for roaming to different countries, effectively creating a “roam-like-at-home” system where travelers will be able to place calls, send text messages, and use data on their mobile devices anywhere in the EU at the same prices they pay in their home country. Regulators also agreed to wholesale caps on rates for voice calls and text messages, as well as a staged reduction over the next five years for wholesale data charges; these new wholesale caps represent the maximum charges that customers will pay while roaming if they exceed their contract limits.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is considering legal action and contacting “very, very senior people in the White House” in an effort to reverse President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, The Wall Street Journal reports. Cook said the order suspending travel from seven countries has affected hundreds of Apple employees. In a note to employees, Cook offered Apple’s full support to anyone impacted by the order, advising the company’s legal, human resources and security teams to do everything they can, but declined to get specific about what Apple’s possible legal action would entail, saying only that “we want to be constructive and productive.” Cook said he has heard numerous “heart-wrenching stories” about the order’s impact on his employees. “These are people that have friends and family, Cook said. “They’re co-workers. They’re taxpayers. They’re key parts of the community.”