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Apple rumored to be releasing second-generation iPhone SE next year

After rumors about an updated iPhone SE went nowhere this year, China’s Economic Daily News is again claiming that there will be a second-generation version of the device coming, this time in the first half of 2018. The new assembly plant in Bangalore, India that helped Apple get its foot in the door in India is now rumored to be the likely site to produce the new model as well. While Apple skipped updating the iPhone SE in 2017, markets like India and China still have high demand for a smartphone at a lower price point than the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. Last month a questionable report from Tekz24 speculated about the hardware inside a new SE, including an upgrade to the A10 Fusion chip and slightly larger battery than the current device.

OtterBox reveals Star Wars-themed cases ahead of new movie’s release

OtterBox has released five Star Wars-themed versions of its Symmetry Series cases ahead of the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The cases are available for the iPhone 7/8 ($45) and iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus ($55), but not the iPhone X. The cases feature stylized versions of the Star Wars logo, a Storm Trooper, lovable robot BB-8, protagonist Rey and the ultimate villain Darth Vader and include the trademark OtterBox raised beveled edge to keep the touchscreen tucked away from harm during drops.

Freedom Mobile to begin offering iPhones on Dec. 8

Freedom Mobile is set to begin offering new iPhones for the first time, MobileSyrup reports. Freedom will provide the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X at all of its retail locations across Canada, alongside other older models in its western stores. Network upgrades have hindered the roll out of the older devices in eastern Canada, with Freedom promising to support those by “early 2018.” All of the iPhones are available for no money down and Freedom’s monthly payments amount to hundreds of dollars in savings over the outright price of the devices.

Sega makes Sonic The Hedgehog 2 free to play on iOS

In honor of Sonic The Hedgehog 2’s 25th anniversary, Sega has made the game free to download on iOS. The free version is ad-supported and gives users new features like leader boards, cloud saves, and controller support. For those who want an ad-free experience, they can pay $2 in the app itself to remove them.

Apple acquires AR headset company Vrvana

As Apple reportedly plugs away at getting a wearable augmented reality device to market by 2020, the company has bought another startup that could prove useful in the development, TechCrunch reports. Apple has purchased Canadian AR headset startup Vrvana for around $30 million according to two sources familiar with the deal. Vrvana gained notoriety with its Totem headset — which combines both AR and VR technologies to create an “extended reality” — but never shipped a consumer product. The Totem relies on several cameras to capture the outside world and broadcast that to its attached OLED screen, creating a much more detailed and intricate overlay with more capabilities than competitors like Microsoft’s HoloLens. The cameras even track a user’s hands, allowing them to manipulate virtual objects. The drawback is Vrvana’s products so far have been the same kind of bulky headsets that Apple would never ship, so time will tell how Apple chooses to use the technology it has acquired.

Report sheds light on slow development, various prototypes of HomePod

A new report from Bloomberg claims Apple’s HomePod project began long before the appearance of Amazon’s Echo, but that the endeavor underwent false starts, cancellations and multiple redesigns to get to the product Apple expects to release next year. Sources close to the development said Apple was blindsided by the appearance of the Echo after spending two years developing its own similar product. As executives struggled to figure out how to produce something that fit in with Apple’s existing products—at one point envisioning a 3-foot tall speaker — the home speaker that started as an Apple employee side project became something that is much more an accessory than its own standalone product.

Apple admits that student interns in China worked illegal overtime on iPhone X assembly line

Six high school students said they “routinely work 11-hour days assembling the iPhone X at a factory in Zhengzhou” despite that type of workday being illegal for student interns under Chinese law, The Financial Times reports. The six claim they’re only a few of the 3,000 students sent from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to work at the local Foxconn factory in September. They were all told the three-month stint on the assembly line was “work experience” necessary for graduation, depite one student saying, “The work has nothing to do with our studies.” Apple admitted that an audit “confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime.” The students told a different tale, with one saying, “We are being forced by our school to work here.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple drops Skype from China’s App Store at government’s request

Apple has confirmed that Skype — one of the last foreign-operated methods for online communication inside China — has been pulled from the App Store at the request of the Chinese government, The New York Times reports. Chinese users have been complaining they were suddenly unable to use Apple’s systems to pay for Skype services. “We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” Apple said in a short e-mailed statement. Skype is still technically functional in the country, but its removal from the App Store could leave it destined to join apps like WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Telegram and Line that have been rendered unusable by government filters. The Chinese government has also insisted on the removal of other foreign apps, like that of The New York Times.

Apple warns developers that watchOS apps need to be native by April 1

In a blog post, Apple has warned developers that all watchOS apps need to be native apps by April 1. Apple will no longer be accepting updates to watchOS 1 apps after that date, meaning all submissions will have to be built with the watchOS 2 SDK or later, and new apps “should be built with the watchOS 4 SDK or later.” It appears that existing non-native apps will likely still remain on the App Store after April 1, 2018, however developers will not be able to release updates to those apps without rebuilding them with the newer watchOS2 SDK.

FBI served search warrant to unlock Texas shooter’s iPhone

After trying and failing to compel Apple to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, the FBI has issued a new search warrant to the company asking for help unlocking Texas church gunman Devin Kelley’s iPhone, mySA reports. The warrant requests “files stored on Kelley’s iPhone, a second mobile phone found near his body and for files stored in Kelley’s iCloud account.” Court records show Kelley had an iPhone SE and a lower tech LG 328BG in his possession. Apple’s iCloud policy states that information stored on the service can be provided to law enforcement in answer to a search warrant, but Apple refused to comment on the story.

Apple looking to Intel for 5G modems as fight with Qualcomm continues

As Apple slugs it out in court with longtime modem supplier Qualcomm, the company is cooperating with Intel to prepare its devices for the switch to 5G technology, Fast Company reports. Qualcomm’s current 5G chips offer more specialized features, but a source said since many of those features won’t be widely adopted by carriers it’s likely Intel’s 5G modem will be more than sufficient for future iPhones. The source claims Intel has “multiple thousands” of employees working on the technology, calling the iPhone contract a “must-win” for the company. Apple first started splitting orders between Qualcomm and Intel with the iPhone 7 in 2016 and Intel has proved more than willing to customize its products for Apple. With Verizon abandoning the older CDMA networks that required Apple to keep some of its modem business with Qualcomm, Apple has one less reason to split orders for future devices.

Apple reportedly integrating streaming sports into TV app next month

Apple’s TV app is set to gain live streaming sports from ESPN next month, 9to5Mac reports. A source from a “major sports network” confirmed the launch date, claiming the update will arrive as part of iOS 11.2 on or around December 4, as well as being enabled on tvOS 11.2 at the same time. The app will gain live games from ESPN along with live scores and game clocks in a single interface. The app also includes the ability to receive live alerts for close games so users can switch back and forth. The feature is not yet live in any of the iOS 11.2 apps we’ve seen so far.

HomePod release delayed until 2018

After promising a December release, Apple has pushed that back to next year, 9to5Mac reports. In a statement confirming the delay, Apple said, “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers.” The statement only said “early 2018” for a release date, and it’s far from the first time Apple has delayed a launch to make sure it got everything right. Last October Apple pushed back the release of its AirPods, finally releasing the product in December.

iOS 11.1.2 update released, fixing cold temperature problem with iPhone X screen

Apple has released the iOS 11.1.2 update, which contains a fix for the iPhone X’s screen becoming unbresponsive in cold weather. The update also fixes distortion problems in Live Photos and videos recorded by the iPhone X along with other minor bug fixes.

Coach releasing new Apple Watch bands for fall

Coach is releasing limited quantities of new Apple Watch bands for fall, Haute Ecriture reports. Some of the old bands have been renamed and new bands are available in colors like heather grey, melon, beige and a brown with darker patches to mimic a camo look. Many of the bands also feature embroidered embellishments, like stars, a leaping shark and a penguin holding a martini glass. The bands retail for $150-$175, but some are only available for the 42mm Apple Watch.

International Trade Commission investigating patent infringement claims against Apple

The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating patent infringement claims against Apple, Reuters reports. This particular inquiry stems from complaints made by Aqua Connect Inc and Strategic Technology Partners over technology used in iPhones, iPads, iPods, Apple TVs and Macs. The USITC is also currently conducting a separate investigation into Qualcomm’s claims that Apple devices violate its patents, on of many fronts in Apple’s ongoing legal war with the chipmaker.

Apple to help design anti-spam app to end stalemate with Indian regulators

After refusing to allow India’s anti-spam app onto the App Store over privacy concerns, Apple is going to provide “limited help” to the Indian government to develop a suitable substitute for iOS, Reuters reports. Apple’s refusal to approve the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s app has drawn the ire of the TRAI at a very inconvenient time for the company, which is trying to expand its presence in India’s massive smartphone market. Google’s Android system already supports the app, which accesses the device’s SMS details and call records to enable users to report numbers and block numbers that have been reported. But Apple doesn’t provide third-party apps the ability to access those details, so the government’s app won’t function even though iOS does feature other apps that identify and block calls through other means.

Apple assembly partner hints at AR headset coming in 2019

Apple assembly partner Quanta Computer’s Vice Chairman C.C. Leung said he sees a “significant” augmented reality device “available in the market no later than the year 2019,” Nikkei Asian Review reports. He said the AR product is a “headset-like gadget with a fully transparent lens that allows users to see through and interact with the environment,” leading analysts to speculate he’s referring to the rumored AR headset being developed by Apple. A previous report claimed Apple is working to have an augmented reality headset developed by 2019 and shipped out to consumers as early as 2020, trying to get away from the traditional model of using a smartphone as the screen and engine. Leung said the device would need to cost less than $1,000 to be a hit in the market, solidly undercutting devices like Microsoft’s Hololens headset, which has a $3,000 price tag.

First GymKit-compatible equipment goes online in Australia

A Fitness First gym in Australia is the first to feature GymKit-compatible equipment, 9 News reports. In a demonstration of the new capabilities, reporters saw users tap their Apple Watches to a treadmill to send data back and forth automatically, with the watch pre-loading all of the user’s vital stats and the treadmill sending calories burned and incline information back to the watch during the workout. There’s no word on when the specialized gym equipment necessary for the connection will appear in the U.S., but Apple has previously said compatible machines from TechnoGym, Life Fitness, Matrix, StairMaster and Schwinn will start rolling out by the end of thew year. [via 9to5Mac]

10-year-old boy unlocks mom’s iPhone X with Face ID

In the latest case of mistaken Face ID verification, a video showing a 10-year-old boy unlocking his mom’s iPhone X underscores previous reports that even non-identical family members may be able to access the devices, WIRED reports. While hackers using sophisticated 3D mapping to create elaborate masks might not be of much concern to the average iPhone X owner, knowing that a child could fool the device and scroll through their texts or order food off GrubHub may give some pause. In an interview with WIRED, Attaullah Malik puzzled over his son’s ability to unlock his wife’s iPhone X reliably but not his, since “People generally say he looks more like me.”

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