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Judge upholds $234M judgment against Apple

A federal judge has upheld the $234 million in damages handed down by a jury that found Apple guilty of infringing on a University of Wisconsin-Madison patent earlier this month, according to Apple Insider. After the initial verdict, Apple filed a motion arguing that its A7 and A8 chips didn’t meet the strict criteria detailed in the suit, and filed another motion attempting to avoid damages by passing blame to chip manufacturer Samsung, but U.S. District Court Judge William M. Conley dismissed the motions and upheld the the jury’s ruling. A second lawsuit filed by the university, claiming similar grievances over Apple’s use of the same patent in processors found inside the iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, is still pending.

Users report overnight iOS updates shutting off iPhone alarms

Some users opting to update their iPhone’s operating system overnight have noticed the process turns off any alarms they have set, Apple Insider notes. Overnight updates became available starting with iOS 9.0 and Apple addressed some problems with alarms in its iOS 9.0.1 release, but users began reporting the overnight alarm bug after last week’s iOS 9.1 update. Users have taken to Twitter to complain, but so far Apple hasn’t publicly addressed the issue.

Select Apple Stores to send some iPhones off-site for repair, offer loaners

According to several employees, select Apple Stores are about to begin testing a repair program that sends some iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus devices off-site for repairs, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has previously completed all repairs in-store while customers wait, but the new pilot program will have Genius Bar employees shipping phones to a repair center if they’re unable to power on, won’t boot up past the Apple logo, or can’t connect to iTunes on a computer. Apple has communicated to employees that the change is being made because these specific issues take a significant amount of time to repair, increasing wait times for customers with simpler issues. A new automated system within the Genius Bar will determine whether the device can be fixed in-store or needs to be shipped out, and those customers agreeing to have their phones sent out for repair as part of the pilot program will be loaned a 16GB iPhone 6 to use for the three-to-five business days that it’ll take to service their device. Select stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan are taking part in the pilot program, but Apple hasn’t publicly announced the change or commented on which specific locations will be taking part.

Verizon asks for FCC permission to enable Wi-Fi calling

Less than a month after AT&T was granted FCC permission to enable Wi-Fi calling in iOS 9, Verizon is asking for permission to do the same, The Verge reports. The company submitted a petition to the FCC asking for a similar waiver to the one granted to AT&T, allowing it to enable Wi-Fi calling despite the lack of TTY support for the hearing impaired. T-Mobile and Sprint simply enabled the feature without FCC approval, but the regulatory agency has rejected AT&T’s request that the rival carriers be punished for doing so. In its own appeal to the FCC, Verizon said it takes the position that “neither the existing rules nor the AT&T Waiver Order require such a waiver” for the company to enable Wi-Fi calling, but it is applying for one before making the feature available “out of an abundance of caution.” Verizon already offers an app that lets its customers make use of Wi-Fi calling, but the waiver will allow the company to support the integrated Wi-Fi calling feature in iOS 9.

U.S. dismisses Apple’s iOS encryption arguments

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected Apple’s arguments against helping the government break into iPhones, saying the company’s operating system is “licensed, not sold” to users, The Daily Dot reports. In a case where police requested access to the iPhone of a suspect indicted for methamphetamine possession, the DOJ argued that Apple not only manufactured and sold the device — which is subject to a search warrant — but that the company also “wrote and owns the software that runs the phone, and this software is thwarting the execution of the warrant.”

Apple sued for activating Wi-Fi Assist by default

Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit for enabling Wi-Fi Assist automatically without informing users, Apple Insider reports. The new iOS 9 feature uses cellular data to boost a user’s Internet speed when the local Wi-Fi network quality is poor, which plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege has cost users more than $5 million in cellular data charges. The complaint centers around the fact that Apple set the feature to be enabled by default when users update to iOS 9 and only worked to inform the public about the possibility of extra data usage after a series of stories outed the problem. Apple has addressed the issue, saying that average users won’t see much of an increase in data usage with Wi-Fi Assist enabled, but the lawsuit claims that “reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data.”

iOS 9.1 adds multi-device Wi-Fi calling for Sprint customers

Sprint has announced that with today’s release of iOS 9.1, its customers can now take full advantage of Wi-Fi calling on other non-iPhone iOS devices. While Apple’s iOS 8 Handoff feature has allowed users to take iPhone calls on their iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, the feature normally requires the iPhone to be on the same Wi-Fi network as those other devices. iOS 9 introduced the ability for T-Mobile users to place and receive Wi-Fi calls on any other compatible iOS or OS X device, even when the user’s main iPhone is switched off or out of coverage, and iOS 9.1 now expands this capability to Sprint customers as well. Apple has also updated its Wi-Fi Calling support article, explaining the new feature and adding Sprint to the list of supported carriers for placing Wi-Fi calls from other devices.

Apple releases iOS 9.1, watchOS 2.0.1

Apple has officially released iOS 9.1 to the public. After going through a very rapid developer beta cycle following the major release of iOS 9.0, this latest update is primarily a maintenance release with fixes for Apple’s new Live Photos feature on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — which now uses the accelerometer to avoid capturing frames when you raise or lower your iPhone — as well as more than 150 new emoji characters available in the iOS keyboard. Additional fixes highlighted in the release notes include improved stability for CarPlay, Music, Photos, Safari, and Search, improved performance in the Multitasking UI, and fixes related to Calendar, Game Center, Mail, recent contacts, carrier activation errors, and App Store app updates. The new version also adds new APIs for developers to allow displaying and sharing Live Photos in third-party apps. As usual, iOS 9.1 is available either as an over-the-air update or by updating via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Apple can’t access encrypted data on newer seized iPhones

Apple has stated that it is “impossible” to access encrypted data on devices using the latest version of iOS, Reuters reports. Although the company conceded that it has the “technical ability” to help law enforcement access older iPhones, in a brief filed in a U.S. court it said that for devices running iOS 8 or higher it “would be impossible” to grant a request by the Justice Department to help authorities access the data on a seized iPhone due to strengthened encryption algorithms in the latest versions of iOS.

Apple ordered to pay $234 million for patent infringement

A U.S. jury has ordered Apple to pay $234 million for infringing on a University of Wisconsin-Madison patent, Reuters reports. The company was facing up to $862 million in damages for using the university’s microchip technology in the A7, A8 and A8X processors found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus and several versions of the iPad, but U.S. District Judge William Conley limited the damages, ruling that Apple had not willfully infringed on the university’s patent. Apple has vowed to appeal the verdict, claiming that the patent entitles the university to as little as 7 cents per device sold, in contrast to the university’s request for $2.74 per device. The university has also filed a second lawsuit claiming similar grievances over Apple’s use of the same patent in processors found inside the iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Report: Intel has 1,000 employees working on iPhone modem chips

Intel has 1,000 employees working to outfit next year’s iPhone with the company’s 7360 LTE modem chip, Venture Beat reports. All iPhone modems are currently produced by Qualcomm, but sources close to the situation said Apple is considering sourcing LTE modems for the iPhone 7 from both Intel and Qualcomm. During a recent earnings call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel’s 7360 modem will begin showing up in devices next year, and a source said Apple’s iPhone business is a “must-win for Intel,” forcing the company to dedicate a small army of people to winning the Apple account. While Apple hasn’t signed a contract with Intel yet, sources said Apple engineers have been making trips to Munich to work on the new modem chip with Intel engineers.

Apple updates Pages, Numbers, Keynote with iOS 9 + 3D Touch features

Apple has released updates to its suite of iWork apps for iOS, adding new iOS 9 related features as well as 3D Touch support for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. All three of the apps, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, have been updated with support for Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture features on supported iPad models, a new Shortcut Bar on the iPad for quick access to formatting tools, support for new Multi-Touch gestures on the iPad, new keyboard shortcuts for use with external keyboards, and 3D Touch support. The three apps now gain the ability to open documents from older versions, with Pages ‘06 and ‘08, Numbers ‘08, and Keynote ‘06 and ‘08 supported. Shared documents can now also be previewed in iOS and Android browsers, version history allows users to view and restore previous changes made to a document, and many accessibility improvements have also been added. New templates and themes are available in each of the apps, and compatibility with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats has also been improved.

Apple announces autism, epilepsy, and melanoma ResearchKit studies

Apple has announced that its ResearchKit framework is being used for new research studies on autism, epilepsy, and melanoma, allowing subjects to voluntarily opt-in to share data collected through the iOS Health app to contribute to these studies. An autism study being run by Duke University, Duke Medicine and other partners such as Peking University in China is leveraging the iPhone’s front-facing camera to detect signs of developmental issues at a younger age than previously believed possible, using “novel emotion detection algorithms” to measure a child’s reaction to videos shown on the iPhone. In another area, Johns Hopkins has developed a new EpiWatch app designed to test whether the Apple Watch can be used to detect the onset and duration of epileptic seizures; the initial phase of the study has patients triggering a one-touch complication on the Apple Watch face to capture accelerometer and heart rate data to attempt to built a digital signature of a seizure and send an alert to a loved one. Participants will also be able to track medication adherence, screen for side effects, and compare their condition with others in the study. In a third new study, Oregon Health & Science University is looking to use digital images taken on an iPhone to gain more information about mole growth and melanoma risks, with the aim of helping people to better manage their skin health.

Apple loses patent lawsuit, could face $862 million in damages

Apple may face up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury found the company guilty of infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reuters reports. Apple argued that the 1998 patent — which improves processor efficiency — was invalid, but the jury upheld the patent and found that Apple’s A7, A8 and A8X processors infringed upon technology developed by the university. U.S. District Judge William Conley, who is presiding over the case, said the company may be liable for up to $862.4 million in damages since the underlying technology in question is found in the iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus and several versions of the iPad. As the first lawsuit plays itself out in court, the university has filed a second lawsuit claiming the A9 and A9X chips found in the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus and iPad Pro violate the same patent.

Apple now selling SIM-free iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

Apple is now selling SIM-free, unlocked versions of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in its online store. This option lets users purchase a phone without immediately tying it to a carrier. The SIM-free iPhones do not come with a nano-SIM card — you have to get a card from a supported carrier. Customers will pay full retail price for these options, of course, which range from $649 for an unlocked iPhone 6s to $949 for a 128GB SIM-free iPhone 6s Plus. We’d prefer that Apple offer this option at launch, but it’s available now.

AT&T opens up Wi-Fi calling for iPhone

Despite FCC related delays last month, AT&T has now opened up Wi-Fi calling to all of its customers. While Wi-Fi calling had been available to users during the iOS 9 beta period, AT&T had delayed wider use due to pending approval on an FCC requirement to ensure that the new Wi-Fi calling feature can reliably accommodate the hearing impaired. The carrier was officially granted the waiver this week, enabling Wi-Fi calling for all subscribers with supported devices, including the iPhone 5c and later, running iOS 9. Following the granting of the FCC waiver, however, AT&T has publicly expressed concern that rival carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint have “flaunted” FCC rules in enabling the feature without approval, and disappointment that the FCC has chosen to simply invite them to apply for similar waivers, ignoring their previous disregard for the rules. Users can now enable Wi-Fi calling by going into the iOS 9 Settings app and enabling the Wi-Fi calling option under the Phone section. Users will be taken through a setup process that will require them to supply an up-to-date emergency address to be placed on file for E911 services. [via 9to5Mac]

Battery impact of Samsung vs TSMC A9 chips overestimated? (Update: Apple response)

After revelations last month that Apple chose to use two different A9 chip fabrications in its new iPhone 6s models, a number of benchmarking tests have surfaced to suggest that the TSMC variant may offer longer battery life than its Samsung counterpart. A new report by MacRumors, however, suggests that many of these tests may have overestimated the impact of the larger Samsung chip on battery life under real-world conditions.

iBooks adds exclusive enhanced editions of Harry Potter series

Apple announced that enhanced versions of all seven of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are now available in the iBooks Store for download on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac. These exclusive editions contain “interactive animations and elaborate artwork” as well as the full original text of the saga. This is the first time the Harry Potter books have been available digitally outside of the series’ own online store, the Pottermore Shop. Each book is currently available for $10 on the iBooks Store in English, with French, German, and Spanish versions of the books coming next month.

“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” J.K. Rowling said.

Apple releases fourth iOS 9.1 beta, third tvOS beta to developers

Less than a week after the last iOS 9.1 beta release, Apple has now released a fourth beta of iOS 9.1 to developers. iOS 9.1 appears to be primarily focused on adding developer-level support for features such as 3D Touch and Live Photos on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, with this latest beta focusing on fixing a number of issues from prior betas. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site; a public version of the beta will likely be following soon.

In addition, Apple has also released a third beta of tvOS for the new Apple TV, intended to allow developers to get a head start on Apple TV App Development prior to the public release of the new set-top box. The tvOS beta is intended only for those developers who have already received a development kit for the new Apple TV, as it only runs on the not-yet-released model.

Apple taking reservations for new iPhones in six European countries

Apple is accepting iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reservations in six of the 40 countries where the new phones are set to debut this Friday. Customers in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands can pick the model, color and storage size they want and reserve a phone for in-store pickup Friday, although iPhone 6s Plus models are still in limited supply at most locations. Reservations are limited to two per customer and valid government-issued ID may be required for pickup.

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