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Apple releases new round of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 betas

Apple has released the seventh 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 corresponding developer beta for iOS 10 along with a seventh developer beta of tvOS 10. As usual, 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, and the beta cycle continues to ramp up as the new operating systems move closer to final release, with the latest iOS 10 developer beta representing the third new beta released in the past two weeks.

Report: 2017 iPhone to eliminate home button

Lending credence to previous rumors and speculation, sources have told Bloomberg that Apple is working on a “major redesign” of the iPhone for 2017 that will remove the Home button and focus “more heavily on the display.” Back in May, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber revealed “scuttlebutt” that the 2017 iPhone would feature an “all-new form factor” getting rid of the top and bottom edges and incorporating the Touch ID sensor behind the glass. Separate reports also suggested Apple is working on an all-glass casing for the 2017 model.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 ‘security update’

Apple has released iOS 9.3.5, its third minor update in the past six weeks, coming only a little more than three weeks on the heels of the release of iOS 9.3.4. As with the prior release, the latest update appears to be another minor patch, with release notes merely describing it once again as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the near future, iOS 9 updates will likely be limited to security patches such as these to accommodate older devices incapable of being updated to iOS 10.

Apple reveals some of its upcoming AI advancements for the iPhone

While Siri is the usual public focus of Apple’s artificial intelligence endeavors, a new Backchannel story points out that much of the behavior iPhone users notice in their device is also powered by the company’s increasing push to improve its AI. When the iPhone guesses which apps you’ll want to use next when you swipe your screen, that’s Apple’s AI at work, but the device also lashes together pieces of information from several places to provide a more complete picture. Machine learning helps Apple devices do everything from extending battery life between charges to identifying a caller who isn’t in its contact list by referencing emails. It’s also responsible for the iPad Pro knowing the difference between the Apple Pencil’s touch and the palm being dragged alongside it while a user is drawing, accepting the Pencil’s input while rejecting the palm’s. “If this doesn’t work rock solid, this is not a good piece of paper for me to write on anymore — and Pencil is not a good product,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. “If you love your Pencil, thank machine learning.”

iFixit highlights ‘Touch Disease’ affecting many iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models

Photo: iFixit

A new report from iFixit highlights a design defect in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that the company believes is affecting thousands of units. Referring to the problem as “Touch Disease,” iFixit describes a scenario where flickering grey lines appear at the top of the iPhone screen and touch functionality becomes glitchy or unresponsive. Apple Stores have generally refused to reocgnize the problem as an issue — particularly as many of the affected iPhones are now out of warranty — leaving many customers stuck with no choice but to purchase a new iPhone or pay for costly repairs. Notably, however, iFixit’s investigation claims that the problem is not even a function of the iPhone display, but is actually caused by two touchscreen controller chips located on the logic board.

Report: Apple planning three iPhone models for 2017, one with curved OLED display

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 releases iOS 10 beta 7 to developers

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.

Report: iPhone 7 to gain optical image stabilization

A new report from Nowhereelse (translated link) revealed a leaked photo of a camera sensor purporting to be from the upcoming iPhone. While the report notes that that photo doesn’t reveal anything meaningful about the technical features of the camera, and that without anything comparative in the photo it’s not even possible to estimate the size of the new sensor, it does indicate that the design of the sensor connects have changed and that it resembles the sensor allegedly designed for the iPhone 7 Plus, suggesting that the iPhone 7 camera will include the optical image stabilization features previously only found in the Plus models.

Report: Apple going with ‘iPhone 7’ name for new phone, not releasing ‘iPhone Pro’

Citing a “reliable information source,” Macotakara is reporting that the new iPhone coming next month will be called “iPhone 7” despite months of speculation that the company would hold back that designation as it moves from a two-year to a three-year refresh cycle. The report also claims the expected dual-camera model will be named “iPhone 7 Plus,” backing previous reports that rumors of an “iPhone Pro” were unfounded. The story bolsters previous leaks about camera improvements, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack and a haptic Home button, saying those changes are enough to warrant the move to a new numbered model over another iPhone 6 designation.

Leaked AT&T schedule hints at Sept. 23 release date for iPhone 7

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.

Rumor: iPhone 7 to offer support for faster charging

A source cited by online tipster The Malignant claims the iPhone 7 will support faster charging speeds. The accompanying Twitter photo shows what appears to be an updated circuit board that the source claims will support “at least” a 5-volt, 2-amp charging speed. Current iPhone chargers are only rated up to 1 amp, but as we’ve pointed out in the past, current iPhones can charge a bit faster at times when using a 2.1A iPad charger. It’s likely that any fast charging possibilities would be designed to get a future iPhone up to a certain battery percentage more quickly than is currently possible. Many Android devices now offer some form of fast charging, and Apple already uses battery technologies that allow for faster charging, but has never chosen to market it as a feature. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases fifth iOS 10 public beta, sixth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

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.

Cook touts artificial intelligence, augmented reality as big parts of Apple’s future

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.”

Report: Secondary speaker holes on new iPhone may be simply cosmetic

A new report from Nowherelese.fr (via MacRumors), suggests the the additional speaker holes shown on leaked photos of the next-generation iPhone may in fact be purely cosmetic in nature to give the device a symmetrical look, rather than indicating stereo speakers as previously speculated. Annotations in a leaked design drawing refer to the area that currently occupies the 3.5mm headphone jack as having simply a microphone and microphone mesh, oddly failing to mention the presence of a speaker in that location.

Apple claims Australian banks’ request would damage iPhone security

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 releases fifth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

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.

Report: Key Apple supplier develops all-glass phone casing

In the wake of rumors that Apple’s 2017 iPhone will feature an all-glass body, Nikkei reports that Apple supplier FoxConn is in the process of developing a glass phone casing. Sources familiar with the developments said FoxConn has been experimenting with the glass chassis since last year, determined to secure its position as a key iPhone assembler. “It is only natural that Foxconn is trying to come up with glass chassis as the capabilities to provide more components will bolster its standing within the supply chain and help with more orders,” one source said. FoxConn declined to comment.

Russia investigating Apple for price fixing (Update: Apple denies wrongdoing)

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.

New photo leaks hint at black iPhone 7

New leaked photos of black SIM card trays seem to suggest that Apple’s new iPhone 7 will include a black color option. The two photos, posted on Twitter by Steve Hemmerstoffer of French site NowhereElse, show black trays alongside others that are silver and rose gold. The lack of a space gray tray alongside the new black version lends some credibility to previous rumors that a possible space gray replacement would be will be a “much darker color,” but the lack of gold trays in the photos could also just mean that both gold and space gray trays are among those that belong in the empty spaces.

Report: Apple developing custom low-power Bluetooth earbuds

Apple has been working for the past few years on developing a custom low-power Bluetooth radio chip for wireless earbuds, according to a new report in Forbes. The report notes that Apple could launch a set of Bluetooth earbuds as soon as September alongside the new iPhone model, which is expected to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack found on prior models. Recent leaks have suggested that Apple will bundle either Lightning EarPods or a Lightning audio adapter in with the next-generation iPhone models. Low-power Bluetooth headphones could provide another alternative — although it seems likely that such earphones would be sold as a separate option rather than being included in the package.

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