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Apple recruits two Google Satellite Executives

Apple has hired two top Google satellite executives for a new hardware team that it is creating, Bloomberg reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report notes that Apple has recently hired John Fenwick former lead of Google’s spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, who headed up satellite engineering at Google. Both now allegedly report to Greg Duffy, the Dropcam cofounder who joined Apple in January. Speculation on Duffy’s hire earlier this year suggested that he was “likely to be leading a special project at Apple that is operating like a startup within the company” but no further details were available at the time as to what such a project would be; the two most recent hires, however, suggest that Apple is pursuing another entirely new line of research and development.

Apple releases JavaScript API for playing Live Photos on the web

Apple has unveiled LivePhotosKit JS, a new JavaScript API that will allow web developers to incorporate support for playback of iOS Live Photos into their web pages. The API presents the player as a DOM element in a similar way to an image or video tag, and can be customized with photo and video resources and developers can choose to either control playback programmatically or provide controls to the end user. The new API is also relatively easy for web developers to implement, requiring only that they embed the JavaScript in their webpage and then enable JavaScript strict mode; an NPM installer is also available. Inline players are then added to HTML blocks using declarative markup. The new LivePhotosKit JS player is supported by most modern browsers, including Safari and Chrome on iOS and macOS, Chrome and Firefox on macOS and Windows, Edge and Internet Explorer 11 on Windows, and Chrome beta on Android devices.

Nike unveils new Nike-exclusive ‘Apple Watch NikeLab’

Nike has unveiled Apple Watch NikeLab, a new limited edition version of the Apple Watch Nike+ that debuted last fall. The new neutral-toned Apple Watch is essentially just a design change, pairing up a space grey Apple Watch Series 2 with a black and white sports band, and otherwise continues to include the same features of the other Nike+ models, integrating the Nike+ Run Club app with the standard Apple Watch hardware and watchOS 3. The new model is expected to be available on April 27 via nike.com, at NikeLab stores, and at an Apple Tokyo pop-up store in Isetan. Notably, the limited edition model will not otherwise be sold directly by Apple, either online or at retail. Pricing has not been announced.

Prince single ‘Deliverance’ disappears from Apple Music

Only hours after Prince’s “Deliverance” went live on Apple Music, the track now appears to have been pulled from not only Apple Music, but several other streaming services as well, AppleInsider reports. The single track debuted early yesterday morning as the title track to Prince’s upcoming album, scheduled to be released on Friday, but later disappeared for unknown reasons. Reports speculate that the removal was likely in response to a contractual dispute between Prince’s estate and sound engineer George Ian Boxill, who co-wrote and co-produced all of the tracks, as to the rights to publish the album independently. There appears to be no judicial order for the removal, suggesting that the retraction was taken as a precautionary measure.

Apple releases 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report

Apple has released its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, outlining details throughout fiscal year 2016 on the company’s efforts in making all of its operations more eco-friendly. In addition to Apple’s continued push toward completely renewable energy sources, this year’s report highlights a new ambitious area of environmental focus for the company — to end reliance on the mining of finite resources altogether in favour of using only renewable resources and recycled materials.

Condé Nast Traveler reveals cover photo shot with iPhone 7 Plus

Condé Nast Traveler has joined the growing list of publications that have featured photos shot on the iPhone 7 Plus, using one such image for its May cover. The magazine asked a range of travel photographers to highlight the phone’s Portrait Mode, which applies a depth-of-field effect to replicate the focus on a subject and blurred background that traditional cameras provide. “iPhone photography has reimagined the way we gather memories while we travel, making it easier than ever before to capture, with exceptional precision, snapshots of our trips,” the magazine said in a press release. When the iPhone 7 Plus was first released last year, photographers from Sports Illustrated and ESPN used the device to capture sporting events to illustrate how well it captured fast motion shots.

Facebook integrating Apple Music into Messenger app

At its F8 conference, Facebook revealed it is working on integrating Apple Music into the company’s Messenger app “very soon,” The Next Web reports. The feature is part of Messenger’s new Chat Extensions platform tool that will let users perform functions they’d usually need to leave Messenger to complete. Messenger will soon include an app list, and once Apple Music is selected users will be able to search for an artist or song title and share the resulting link through Messenger without exiting the app. Music can also be played from within Messenger, but there’s no word on whether users will be able to sync up their playback for a simultaneous listening experience.

China meeting with Apple to discuss concerns over live streaming apps

Chinese officials in charge of regulating the internet have met with Apple representatives to discuss live streaming apps available in the App Store, Reuters reports. China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the Beijing Cyberspace Administration is urging Apple to “tighten its checks” on apps that make it possible to live stream video. The government recently ordered three live-streaming websites in the country to “rectify management loopholes,” but the restrictions that were put in place aren’t entirely clear. The country’s live-streaming market has become lucrative, producing $4.36 billion in revenue last year despite crackdowns on sites that provide illegal content. Earlier this year Apple pulled The New York Times’ apps from China’s App Store at the government’s request, but there’s no word yet on which live-streaming apps are at issue and whether there will be restrictions or outright bans placed on them.

New Prince single available on iTunes, Apple Music; EP available for pre-order

Deliverance, the title track of the posthumous EP from Prince set to be released this Friday, is now streaming on Apple Music and available on iTunes for $1. The full six-song record is also available for pre-order for $4. Parts of Prince’s back catalog began streaming on Apple Music earlier this year after previously being exclusive to Tidal.

Apple makes iWork apps, iMovie and GarageBand free to download

Apple has made GarageBand, iMovie, Numbers, Pages and Keynote free to all Mac and iOS users on the App Store. All of the programs have been free since 2013 with a new Mac or iOS device purchase (and by extension to any other device owned by the user since all purchases are shared between multiple devices courtesy of the App Store), but now the company has made them free to anyone. With the exception of iMovie, the latest versions of all the apps require iOS 10 or later, and since the iPhone 5 is the only device capable of running iOS 10 that came out before the apps went free, most users with devices capable of running the newest versions will already have received them for free with new device purchases. But for those with devices that couldn’t make the leap to iOS 10, we tested the downloads on a fifth-generation iPod Touch running iOS 9.3 and found that Apple still offers the older versions of the apps for devices that are unable to run the most recent version, so users with older devices will still be able to take advantage of the change.

iPhone 8 prototype’s edge-to-edge display fits iPhone 7 Plus-sized screen into iPhone 7-sized device

For its deluxe iPhone 8 model, Apple is “testing a screen that covers almost the entire front of the device,” Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the development process said the overall size of the prototype is close to that of the iPhone 7, but the removal of the home button and narrowing of the bezels makes for a display that’s a bit larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus. Multiple prototypes are still being tested, some of which feature “symmetrical, slightly curved glass on the front and the back” that fits into a steel frame, similar to the iPhone 4’s design. Another version featured more dramatic curves, but with suppliers struggling to reliably produce such an extreme curve sources close to the development said Apple is more likely to go with the “more subdued curves,” or even a simpler aluminum-backed design.

Apple releases third betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a third beta of iOS 10.3.2 to its registered developers, along with new betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1. This latest betas all appear to include only bug fixes and security improvements.

Apple offering superior iPad Air 2 for fourth-generation iPad replacements

Customers eligible for a replacement of their fourth-generation iPad could also receive something of an upgrade, 9to5Mac reports. With stock of the discontinued fourth-generation iPad running out, Apple sent a memo to retail stores that stated, “Starting March 30th, iPad 4th generation whole unit repairs may be substituted to iPad Air 2.” Owner replacing a 16GB or 64GB fourth-generation iPad will likely be particularly happy with the upgrade, as they’d also be getting a storage upgrade since the iPad Air 2 only comes in 32GB and 128GB sizes. The iPad Air 2 is also discontinued, but Apple will offer it as a replacement until supplies run out.

Rumor: iPhone 8 with Touch ID under glass one of two prototypes being tested

Photo: iDrop News

The latest iPhone 8 rumor out of iDrop News claims Apple is testing two iPhone 8 prototypes, one with a Touch ID sensor on the back and another with the sensors placed under the glass. The new leak—purportedly from a Foxconn employee—supports last week’s images of a supposed rendering of an iPhone with the Touch ID, placing that model in contention with another that would place the sensor on the front like current models, but embed it under the glass rather than putting it in a dedicated home button. The report claims Apple is down to two models under consideration, a big reduction from the “more than ten prototypes” estimates we heard last fall. This latest prototype is also said to feature an “invisible” front-facing camera under the display itself—allowing for 4mm bezels around all four edges of the phone—and a large power button with two points of contact for some as-yet-unknown reason.

Apple granted permit to test self-driving car in California

Apple has been granted the necessary permits to test self-driving cars in California, Business Insider reports. Apple’s autonomous vehicle project has been the company’s biggest open secret for years, but on Friday the California DMV added Apple’s name to a list featuring 29 other companies testing self-driving cars. “The permit covers three vehicles, all 2015 Lexus RX450h, and six drivers,” a DMV spokeswoman said, backing up previous reports that Apple is now focused more on the self-driving component than in building its own vehicle from the ground up. Apple declined to comment on the story in its usual fashion, pointing to its previous statement that it is “investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems.”

Happy Easter weekend from iLounge!

We hope that all of you, our readers, have a happy and joyful Easter this year. We’ll be on a limited publishing schedule for Good Friday as we spend time with our families this weekend, and will return to our normal publishing schedule next week. Happy Easter!

iTunes Podcasts gets rebranded as ‘Apple Podcasts’

Apple has announced a full rebranding of iTunes Podcasts to “Apple Podcasts,” complete with a new “Listen on Apple Podcasts” logo and even a renaming of the company’s official Twitter account for podcasts. The announcement came this morning via Twitter from Steve Wilson of Apple’s Podcast marketing team.

In his tweet, Wilson provided an example of the new marketing badge, along with a link to Apple’s Podcasts Identity Guidelines page covering the guidelines for podcasters’ use of official Apple assets and materials to promote their podcasts. The change brings the branding more in line with Apple’s other media services such as Apple Music, although it’s unclear whether this is the first step in a broader rebranding of Apple’s media services to move away from the “iTunes” focus or is merely a case of separating free and subscription content from media sold on the iTunes Store.

Leaked image reveals ‘iPhone 8’ render with vertical cameras, rear Touch ID sensor

A new image posted on /LEAKS earlier today shows what appears to be a manufacturing design render of a next-generation iPhone that features a vertical dual-camera layout and a Touch ID sensor on the rear of the device. The drawing appears to have come from a computer belonging to an Apple manufacturing partner, however there are no other details such as when the photo was taken, or even if it’s authentic. Text in the drawing suggests it’s from the EVT — Engineering Verification Testing — phase, which means it could be related to any one of the “more than ten prototypes” that Apple was reported to be considering last fall, and therefore may not have any connection to the final design of the new iPhone. [via MacRumors]

Apple quietly working on non-invasive blood glucose monitoring sensors

Apple has quietly put together a small team of biomedical engineers to work on a new form of sensor that would be able to monitor blood glucose levels non-invasively and continuously, CNBC reports. Citing people familiar with the matter, the team is part of a “super secret initiative” that was initially envisioned by Steve Jobs, and is located in a nondescript office several miles away from Apple’s corporate headquarters. Numerous life sciences companies have attempted to create such sensors with no success due to the challenges in accurately tracking blood glucose levels without piercing the skin, so the ability to do accomplish this would be a significant breakthrough. The project has reportedly reached the point that Apple has been running feasibility trials at several clinical sites in the Bay Area, and has also hired consultants to attempt to navigate the regulatory channels.

Apple updates TestFlight program with support for multiple builds

Apple has released an update to its TestFlight app for iOS developers and their beta testers, adding support for managing multiple builds, enhancing groups, and improving tester management, as well as extending the beta period time frame to 90 days. With the new capabilities, developers can now distribute multiple builds of a given app at the same time, allowing beta testers to either choose a specific build to test, or creating groups of TestFlight users that are assigned to different builds. Beta testers will also now be able to continue using a build when it goes live on the App Store, avoiding the disruption or having to switch to the App Store version and then later switch back to the TestFlight version when the next beta cycle begins. While the official Apple announcement doesn’t mention any changes to the beta testing timeframe, AppleInsider reports that the validity period for builds has also been extended to 90 days, providing developers with a longer period for their testers to work with development builds.

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