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Leaked HomePod firmware suggests Apple Pay may use Facial Recognition

Developers are continuing to dig through the leaked HomePod firmware, discovering new insights into features that may be implemented on the upcoming premium “iPhone 8” that Apple is rumoured to be working on. The latest discovery by iOS developer @r_idn suggests that Apple may in fact be preparing to leverage the facial recognition features that are expected to be included in the new flagship iPhone to work with Apple Pay, supplementing or possibly even replacing Touch ID as the authentication method.

Tim Cook dances around questions about autonomous systems, augmented reality

While Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments during yesterday’s earnings call didn’t contain any major revelations, he did reiterate that he expects the cutting edge augmented reality and autonomous systems technology that the company is working on to fundamentally improve the way people live. Earlier this year Apple shifted its focus away from building an electric car and toward constructing an autonomous driving system, but Cook said cars are just one of many applications for autonomous technology, “the mother of all AI projects.” “Autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways. A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that,” he said, although he did add that the company does “have a large project going, and we’re making a big investment in this from our point of view.”

Judge allows FaceTime lawsuit to proceed

A federal judge has ruled that iPhone 4 and 4s users can pursue their class action lawsuit against Apple for intentionally disabling FaceTime on iOS 6 devices, Reuters reports. After losing a patent lawsuit to VirnetX in 2012, Apple was forced to discontinue its direct device-to-device mode for FaceTime, greatly increasing the fees it had to pay to Akamai Technologies — dropping as much as $50 million in one six-month period according to court documents. In developing iOS 7, Apple engineers were able to include a method of peer-to-peer FaceTime communication that didn’t infringe on the VirnetX patents, however, Apple was either unable to unwilling to bring these improvements into an iOS 6 update. Based on internal emails and sworn testimony from the VirnetX case, the new class-action lawsuit claims that Apple made plans to deliberately “break” FaceTime on older iOS versions by forcing a key digital certificate used for FaceTime to expire prematurely.

Apple investing billions in LG’s OLED production

Apple is investing around $2.7 billion in LG’s OLED display production, The Korea Herald reports. That funding will help LG get up to producing 45,000 units each month, of which Apple’s orders alone are expected to account for 30,000. Samsung is currently the sole supplier of the OLED screens expected to debut in the iPhone 8 later this year, but KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes the panels have been “the single most troublesome component for Apple” in constructing the iPhone 8. Kuo said Apple is “committed to having LG Display geared up for its OLED iPhone display business in 2018,” and this latest round of funding seems to back that up. [via 9to5Mac]

HomePod firmware appears to reveal iPhone 8 front design, support for facial recognition

In digging through the newly released firmware for Apple’s HomePod, developer Steve Troughton-Smith has come across an image seemingly confirming the rumored bezel-less iPhone 8 front design and code that shows users will be able to use facial recognition to unlock the phone. Troughton-Smith claims to have found an infra-red face unlock inside BiometricKit — the framework also responsible for Touch ID support — that can detect faces from various angles and even when they’re partially obscured. The framework also guards against using images or 3D models of faces to gain access, but time will tell whether facial recognition is secure and responsive enough to replace Touch ID for things like Apple Pay.

Rumor: ‘iPhone 8’ may not ship until late 2017, Touch ID support still uncertain

A new report from Japanese site Mac Otakara is suggesting that the “iPhone 8” may in fact be delayed until late 2017, seemingly contradicting a report yesterday from tech blogger Benjamin Geskin that indicated that Foxconn has “started trial production of the new model, and that the “iPhone 8 is not delayed.” Mac Otakara on the other hand claims that while the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus are expected to arrive on schedule, the “premium model iPhone Edition” may only be announced at a September event, with availability in “the first half of the first quarter of 2018” (corresponding to Oct – Dec 2017) and an initial supply that will likely be “extremely limited.”  Although it’s arguable whether an October release technically constitutes a “delay,” the Mac Otakara report casts further doubt on the specific availability of the higher-end iPhone model, particularly in light of reports of suppliers struggling to keep up with component demand.

Rumor: iPhone 8 not delayed, enters trial production

Despite multiple rumors that the iPhone 8 could be delayed over design and production issues, tech blogger Benjamin Geskin claims to have a source who confirms Foxconn has “started trial production of 3 new iPhones (7s,7s Plus, “8”)” and that the “iPhone 8 is not delayed.” Many of the rumors around Apple’s possible iPhone 8 delays center around problems with the embedded Touch ID sensor, but Geskin claims, “Fingerprint identification was under-screen in testing machine,” which is being produced at a rate of “about 200 units per day” at this point. Geskin seems confident about Apple’s production schedule, but his optimism comes amid reports that Apple’s suppliers are struggling to meet the company’s demand for components, so time will tell.

Apple releases third round of public betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11

Apple has released a third series of public betas for iOS 11 and tvOS 11, as usual 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. The release notes continue to list a large number of known issues that are still pending. To enroll in Apple’s public beta program, visit the company’s website.

Apple releases fourth round of developer betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11 + watchOS 4

Apple has released a fourth series of betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4, as usual 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. The release notes continue to list a large number of known issues that are still pending. Public betas for iOS 11 and tvOS 11 will likely follow within the next day or two.

ARKit developer videos show maps, navigation overlaid on live camera feed

Two new videos posted to Twitter by iOS developer Andrew Hart show points of interest and navigation directions overlaid on what the device’s camera sees, illustrating one possible use for the company’s upcoming ARKit. In the first video, Hart moves his phone around from a London rooftop as the app points out points of interest in the skyline. In the second video, Hart types in “Starbucks” and is greeted by floating red arrows and a blue line displayed over the roads seen in his camera feed, leading him to his destination. The idea is similar to an Apple patent filed late last year for “Augmented Reality Maps” that layer map information and directions over live iPhone video, although the Apple model is displayed with the phone held horizontally and Hart said he’s only been able to get his working with the phone held vertically due to issues in ARKit. Hart said he plans to have his library up on GitHub this week.

Apple releases iOS 10.3.3, tvOS 10.2.2, watchOS 3.2.3

Apple has released minor updates to iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3, focused exclusively on bug fixes and security improvements. iOS 10.3.3, tvOS 10.2.2, and watchOS 3.2.3 will likely be the last updates to be released prior to the rollout of iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 expected in September, although it’s possible Apple may release one or two more very minor iOS 10 patches in the future for legacy 32-bit devices such as the iPhone 5 that won’t be capable of running iOS 11.

Samsung to produce processors for Apple’s 2018 iPhones

While the speculation swirling around this year’s iPhones is still at a fever pitch, Samsung already has its sights set on the 2018 model, with The Korea Herald reporting the company has purchased specialized equipment to produce seven-nanometer processors for Apple. Samsung is the sole provider of the iPhone 8’s OLED display and was a major chip maker for Apple as well until TSMC adopted the seven-nanometer process before its rivals. Since then Samsung has caught up and begun purchasing the extreme ultra violet lithography machines necessary to build Apple’s processors again. Sources claim Kwon Oh-hyun, the Samsung CEO who oversees component production, clinched a deal to produce at least some of the processors again starting in 2018, but how much business the company ends up taking back from TSMC remains to be seen.

Apple showcases new emoji headed to iOS, watchOS, macOS later this year

Apple has released a sneak peek at the new emoji coming to iOS, macOS and watchOS later this year. The update includes more mundane changes like adding a sandwich to the food items and a bearded face alongside more socially conscious changes like a woman in a headscarf and a breastfeeding mother. A T-Rex has made his way into the animals section and zombies and elves will make their first appearance. To further celebrate World Emoji Day, the company is highlighting apps to create or utilize emoji in the App Store and has replaced some movie titles with emoji versions over in iTunes.

Facing delays, Apple is buying its own equipment to produce circuit boards

Apple has purchased “tens of millions of dollars” in equipment to produce the rigid flexible printed circuit boards it needs to build the new OLED iPhone 8, The Korea Herald reports. Apple doesn’t have its own production facilities, but has reportedly begun leasing the equipment to manufacturers to ensure its supply of the RFPCB components. The company was supposed to be securing the RFPCBs from Korea’s Interflex and Youngpoong Electronics and another Taiwanese company, but a source claims the supplier in Taiwan has backed out of the arrangement after the difficult work and strict quality controls made the project much less profitable. Interflex and Youngpoong Electronics are still expected to share the estimated 100 million RFPCB orders — with Apple shelling out to boost their capacities — but Apple is still looking for a new supplier in Korea to fill the gap.

Apple considering rear 3D laser for ARKit applications and autofocus

A new report from Fast Company reveals a previously undisclosed technology that Apple is working on for the company’s upcoming “iPhone 8” in the form of a rear-facing 3D laser sensor system that would be used to provide a more accurate autofocus for photography as well as enabling better depth detection for augmented reality apps. The report’s source suggests that the new VSCEL laser system is “probably intended for the 10th anniversary iPhone,” expected to arrive later this year, although that remains uncertain in light of all of the other technical hurdles that Apple is reportedly struggling with. The source suggests that the main issue in this case is integrated the laser system into the iPhone, rather than the system itself.

Rumor: ‘Sense of panic’ at Apple over iPhone 8 software problems

A source claiming to have knowledge of Apple’s iPhone 8 development said there’s a “sense of panic in the air” among engineers and designers over software problems, Fast Company reports. In addition to the wireless charging software problems reported earlier this week, Apple is reportedly having trouble with the new 3D sensors rumored to be used in a new facial recognition process for unlocking the device. With other rumors claiming that Apple is also having problems with the iPhone 8’s under-the-glass fingerprint scanner, facial recognition has been seen as a possible alternative for authentication, leaving the company in an even more precarious position if that software is not functional at launch.

Report: Apple has ‘just weeks’ to fix iPhone 8 fingerprint scanner or risk Apple Pay problems

In a new research note, Barron’s claims Apple is down to the wire with “just weeks to fix its fingerprint problem” or be forced to either delay the iPhone 8’s launch or do away with Touch ID altogether. Problems with the speed and accuracy of sensors embedded under the iPhone 8’s OLED screen has led Apple to delay orders on the necessary chips to run a fingerprint sensor, leading analyst Andy Hargreaves to conclude that if Apple doesn’t place the necessary orders by early August, the company will have to delay the device’s launch or drop the fingerprint scanning feature.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 11 and tvOS 11

Apple has released third betas for iOS 11 and tvOS 11, addressing a number of issues in the prior developer previews The release notes continue to list a large number of known issues that are still pending. A new beta for watchOS 4 has not yet appeared. Apple released the second set of betas on June 21, followed by very minor updates a week later, immediately prior to the release of the public bets for iOS 11 and tvOS 11.

iPhone 8 rumored to come in four colors, may not ship with wireless charger

Tech blogger Benjamin Geskin claims the iPhone 8 will come in four colors, including a new mirror finish. Geskin posted images of a reflective case on a current iPhone to illustrate his point, but said an unnamed source hinted at a black or silver reflective backing joining some of Apple’s existing colors. If his information proves reliable, that would mean Apple is scaling back on its available colors since the iPhone 7 is available in five colors (or six if you count the special PRODUCT(RED) version that’s still available). The tweet didn’t provide any information about which colors would be cut from the existing slate.

2017 32GB iPhone 6 model now available in Canada

Apple’s resurrected iPhone 6 is now being sold in Canada by Bell, Virgin Mobile, and Koodo, MobileSyrup reports. Quietly launched in Asia back in March, the 32GB iPhone 6 is a “new” version of the 2014 iPhone 6, featuring the same specifications as the original model, but available in the previously-unavailable 32GB capacity, and only available in Space Grey. Bell, Canada’s second-largest carrier, and Virgin Mobile, which operates on Bell’s network, are providing the special edition iPhone for free on select two-year contracts, or for outright purchase for $484 CAD; while Koodo is offering it for between $100 and $220 on various 24-month “Tab” contracts.

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