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New details from Aetna meeting show concerns about Apple Watch privacy, costs

Mandi Bishop, now running a startup called Lifely Insights after running Dell’s health analytics section, said Apple was very focused on privacy at the previously reported meeting between the company, Aetna and other health influences, CNBC reports. Aetna employees asked about how data sharing with outside vendors would be handled and if it would be possible to extract measurements like heart rate and other vitals to be store in a personal health record. “Both companies wanted to make sure that we knew what data is shared and what isn’t,” Bishop said. Privacy is particularly important for employees of self-insured companies, who could potentially target their workers for termination if doing so would cut their insurance rates substantially.

iOS 11 introduces way to prevent Touch ID from opening device with fingerprint

Those testing the iOS 11 public beta have discovered pressing an iPhone or iPad’s lock button five time or opening a Medical ID now disables Touch ID and forces a user to enter their passcode to unlock the device. A source told 9to5Mac that the behavior is intentional, claiming it’s aimed at protecting people who have fallen unconscious from having their fingerprint used to access their private information. However Apple ends up presenting the feature, it can also clearly be used to protect information from police if used before an arrest, as at least some judges have proved willing to compel suspects to allow their fingerprint to be used to discover data that could incriminate them.

Report: iPhone 8 facial recognition unlocks in ‘millionths of a second’

The iPhone 8’s facial recognition sensors “can deeply sense a user’s face in the millionths of a second,” The Korea Herald reports. The source claims 3D sensors will be integrated in both the front and rear cameras to provide augmented reality experiences in real time, but provided scant information on how they would work. In an effort to answer that question, The Wall Street Journal points to Apple’s 2013 acquisition of PrimeSense, an Israeli company that helped develop Kinect motion sensors for the Xbox 360. That depth-sensing technology — referred to as “structured light” — emits thousands of tiny infrared dots and senses their reflection to gather highly accurate depth information that could even be used to unlock the device in total darkness. Apple declined to comment, but leaked firmware for the HomePod seems to reveal that the iPhone will have some form of depth and facial recognition sensors.

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.

Despite cellular capabilities, next-gen Apple Watch unlikely to support phone calls

Although several recent reports have suggested that the next-generation Apple Watch will be adding cellular capabilities, a new note from reputable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates that it’s unlikely that the new device will support direct cellular phone calls as Apple’s priority will be to improve the “user experience of data transmission.” Kuo’s note, however, suggests that support for traditional phone calls is likely still on the horizon, simply saying that the Apple Watch “probably” won’t provide the support “this year” but leaving the possibility open for future models.

iDevices adds Dimmer Switch to its lineup

In its first release since being acquired by Hubbell, iDevices has introduced its Dimmer Switch, featuring customizable dimming and LED night light functions. The device can operate without a hub and be controlled through its own app or with Siri, providing in-app dim range settings designed to prevent low-level bulb flicker and the ability to remember the setting from when the light was last turned off. The Dimmer Switch — available on iDevice’s website for $100 — can be installed like a traditional wall switch and is compatible with single pole, three- and four-way setups with no extra wiring needed.

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.

ESPN tvOS app now streams 4 games at once; Walmart’s streaming service coming to Apple TV

ESPN’s Apple TV app has been upgraded to include a new MultiCast feature that allows users to view up to four streams at the same time, according to Variety. EPSN typically features 30 or more live events on a given day, all of which will be available for simultaneous viewing. The company has also released an update to its iOS app, adding a “Watch” tab that provides live streams of events and shows. In other tvOS app news from Variety, Walmart’s streaming service will be landing on Apple TV next week. While Apple TV users have previously been able to use AirPlay to play Vudu’s movies and TV shows, the dedicated Vudu app is expected to become “widely available” starting August 22.

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.

Report: iPhone 7s slightly larger than iPhone 7 due to glass backing

German blog Giga Apple claims to have renderings showing the iPhone 7s will be about 0.1mm larger than the iPhone 7 on all sides, possibly complicating the use of existing cases despite keeping mostly the same form factor. Apple made a similar move with the change to the iPhone 6s from the iPhone 6, slightly increasing the size of the device to add 3D Touch capabilities. This time around it’s possible the addition of glass backings could be the cause of the slightly larger size, but the report also claims that the redesign will reduce the camera bump on the device (or at least bury it within the extra glass on the back). How that change in size will affect the fit of an iPhone 7 case is anyone’s guess, since most iPhone 6 cases fit the iPhone 6s despite the small boost in size while others didn’t. [via 9to5Mac]

Cellular Apple Watch said to be launching alongside iPhone 8 in September

Backing previous rumors about a cellular Apple Watch, CNBC is reporting that the device will arrive in September alongside three new iPhones. A source with knowledge of the development said the new Apple Watch with an embedded SIM will launch at the same time as the full version of watchOS 4, delivering new music features and Siri-based watchface capabilities that will directly benefit from being able to operate untehtered to an iPhone. Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said both LTE and non-LTE version of the Apple Watch 3 will appear this year — although he was less specific as to when — and expects the devices to maintain the current form factor rather than implementing a drastic redesign. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases developer betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11 + watchOS 4; public betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11

Apple has released a sixth series of developer betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4, adding new icons for Maps and the App Store as well as addressing a number of issues in the prior developer previews and moving all three of the operating systems closer to their expected release this fall. Public betas were made available for iOS 11 and tvOS 11 too, breaking with the usual process of waiting a few days after the developer release to roll them out. The release notes continue to list a large number of known issues that are still pending.

Supplier claims HomePod will ship in December, but supplies will be limited

Inventec Appliances — the supplier responsible for producing Apple’s AirPods — claims the HomePod home speaker will be available in limited quantities in the fourth quarter of this year, Nikkei Asian Review reports. “We will finally ship the smart home device this year, but its contribution will be fairly limited and hopefully that will improve next year,” Inventec Appliances President David Ho said during his company’s earnings call, never specificallly mentioing the HomePod by name. An unnamed source, however, confirmed Inventec would have the HomePod available by December, backing up Apple’s earlier availability estimate, along with the likely reason behind its expected release in only three countries. Apple is rumored to be dealing with supply constraints on the iPhone 8 ahead if its launch as well, and the AirPods already being supplied by Inventec have also been in notoriously low supply since their launch last year.

Developing Smart Connector accessories proving to be a challenge for everyone but Logitech

While Apple touted the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector as a valuable new port for charging and linking accessories, so far only Apple itself and its close collaborator Logitech have produced anything to make use of it, Fast Company reports. While Apple has confirmed “multiple companies are now developing Smart Connector accessories,” those in the industry are looking at a daunting task when examining the market advantage Logitech has in being able to launch its iPad Pro-friendly keyboard offerings on launch day or shortly after. “With an iPad Pro keyboard on the market already, we are evaluating the market’s appetite for another iPad Pro keyboard and identifying if there are any gaps that we can fill,” said Kelly McElroy, a spokeswoman for Incipio. “So we are developing with having a point of difference in mind rather than developing to be quick to market.”

New videos appear to show assembly processes, dummy models of iPhone 8 in 3 colors

YouTube star Danny Winget claims to have obtained dummy models of the iPhone 8 in three colors, showing the mockups off in his latest video. Winglet’s non-functional devices show the silver and copper/gold coming with white front bezels and cutouts, leaving the black as the only model with the black bezels and cutouts if Apple sticks to three colors as previously rumored. The silver has a glass back with shinier stainless steel sides, and the copper/gold features a similar split between a flat bronze color on the back and a shinier gold look on the edges. The models also sport no visible home button or Touch ID sensors (either front or back) and as expected come in at about the same size as the iPhone 7.

Fifth beta of iOS 11 hints at German Apple Pay rollout

New details found in iOS 11 and watchOS 4 suggest that the launch of Apple Pay in Germany may be coming sooner than expected. While Apple’s website hinted at a German launch last fall, more recent reports from last spring have suggested that negotiations have moved more slowly than expected. However, iOS developer Philipp Ebener told MacRumors that the fifth regional betas of iOS 11 and watchOS 4 now include the option to add German bank cards to Apple Pay for the first time. While Ebener reports that he wasn’t able to actually register any of his German cards, the fact that the feature appears to now have been partially enabled suggests that full activation could come with the official public launch of iOS 11 in the fall.

iOS 11 drops ‘beta’ status for Portrait Mode, allows effect to be removed from existing photos

It appears that Apple has decided that the iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode feature will be ready for prime time with the release of iOS 11. The latest iOS 11 beta removes the “beta” status of the feature, first introduced in iOS 10.1 last fall, and also adds the ability to remove the effect from existing photos after the fact.

[via AppleInsider]

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.

IKEA Tradfri lineup gets HomeKit support via firmware update [Update: Not yet]

As promised earlier this year, IKEA has quietly release firmware updates adding HomeKit support to its TRÅDFRI smart lighting product lineup. IKEA’s TRÅDFRI lineup is comprised of a wide range of inexpensive smart bulbs that associate with a residential gateway for use with a physical remote control or companion IOS app. With individual bulbs selling for as low as $12 and the bridge priced at $30, IKEA’s system is now one of the most inexpensive HomeKit-enabled lighting solutions on the market.

Unreal Engine updated with basic ARKit support

The latest version of Unreal Engine includes some basic support for Apple’s new ARKit, which the accompanying blog post calls “an early, experimental version.” The plug-in is based on the work done by director Peter Jackson’s Wingnut AR studio and will allow developers to get familiar with the new features before official support begins with the release of iOS 11 in the fall. Unreal Engine has been a popular platform for game creation since it was introduced in 1998, and we first made available on iOS in September 2010. [via AppleInsider]

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