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‘Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow’ game lands on iOS June 29

‘Futurama’ fans who have been waiting for new stories set in that universe since the show went off the air will get their wish on June 29, when Jam City and FoxNext Games release ‘Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow’ for iOS. The free-to-play game combines “simulation, combat, galactic exploration, and choose-your-own-adventure gameplay” to tell a new set of stories featuring the Planet Express crew, and the stories were created in collaboration with the show’s original writers and executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. In keeping with the show’s quirky cameos, geek icons Stephen Hawking, George Takei, Bill Nye, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are all featured in the promo trailer and are actually playable charaters in the game, each with their own unique storyline. Registering for updates on the game’s launch will net users a free in-game gift.

Apple urging developers to prepare for iOS 11 App Store changes after public beta release

After the release of the first public beta for iOS 11, Apple has sent communications to developers urging them to take advantage of changes to the App Store. With beta users already able to access the upgraded store ahead of the official fall release, Apple’s message is pushing developers to fill out new sections on their product pages, including “subtitles, promotional text, additional app previews that you can localize, and up to 20 promoted in-app purchases.” While users on the App Store for iOS 10.3 and later will still see the same page, those users will see fewer details — like being limited to only one preview — so Apple’s tips steer developers to creating a more robust experience for iOS 11 while still keeping an eye to the majority of users who haven’t migrated yet.

Urban Armor Gear rolls out Metropolis Series cases for 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models

Urban Armor Gear has revealed its new Metropolis Series cases for 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models, featuring a smart cover that both protects the screen and functions as a multi-position stand. The case has a spot to keep the Apple Pencil secure when it’s not in use, and corner bumpers provide extra drop protection for the iPad’s display. The case can be removed from the adjustable stand — making the case compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard — and features oversized ports and cutouts to make sure that all the buttons are easily accessible and the device is still able to use various third-party cables and accessories. The 10.5” case costs $60, and the 12.9” costs $90, with both models available in red, black and blue.

Report: Apple acquires computer vision company SensoMotoric Instruments

A paper trail of purchases through shell companies seems to indicate that Apple has secretly acquired German computer vision company SensoMotoric Instruments, MacRumors reports. On May 2, Apple’s vice president of corporate law Gene Levoff signed off on allowing a German law firm to buy SensoMotoric on behalf of Vineyard Capital Corporation — suspected to be a shell company. On June 16, SensoMotoric filed new articles of incorporation and subsequently removed more than a dozen pages that once featured information about its products, also deleting the site’s job listings and contact information, among other things.

Apple partners with Hertz to test self-driving car technology

Apple has leased a “small fleet” of cars from Hertz to test its self-driving car technology, Bloomberg reports. In the latest round of filings with the California DMV, Apple is shown to be leasing more of the Lexus RX450h models that it was originally reported to be using to test its systems, all coming from Hertz’s Donlen fleet-management unit. The deal mirrors a much larger agreement between Alphabet and Avis for a similar arrangement, and Hertz’s stock jumped 18 percent on the news of its relationship with Apple. Neither Hertz nor Apple commented on the report, but a person familiar with Apple’s project said the company has been testing a half-dozen self-driving vehicles on public roads near San Francisco for more than a year.

Apple releases first iOS 11, tvOS 11 public betas, updates to developer betas

For those willing to accept the risks associated with installing a beta OS on your device, Apple has rolled out its first public iOS 11 and tvOS 11 betas. The iOS 11 update provides a greatly expanded and customizable Control Center, the ability to record what’s happening on your screen, a Maps app that includes indoor maps for airports and malls, and new HomeKit functionality, among other improvements. On iPad, iOS 11 provides a new dock and better support for the Apple Pencil. The tvOS 11 upgrade comes with some new bells and whistles as well, including an automatic setting for toggling between Light and Dark Mode, and the ability to store your Home screen layout in iCloud — along with your installed apps — so that this information can be synced across multiple Apple TVs or restored should you ever have to reset or replace your Apple TV. For anyone not already enrolled in the public beta program, you can get started on Apple’s website.

Anki releasing Code Lab addition to Cozmo app to teach kids to program robots

After announcing the global roll out of its Cozmo robots will start in Canada next month, Anki is launching a companion program in its Cozmo app on July 31 to teach kids to code. In a press release, the company laments the current state of coding programs aimed at kids, calling them a “lackluster and disjointed experience.” The company’s Cozmo Code Lab is intended to make for a more intuitive experience, providing a simple visual programming language that allows users to program the robot with basic drag-and-drop actions. “With the launch of Code Lab, Cozmo now helps kids develop the logic and reasoning skills that programming requires,” said Boris Sofman, CEO and co-founder at Anki.  “Based on the Scratch Blocks project, a collaboration between MIT Media Lab and Google, we now have a powerful tool that gives anyone interested in learning to code a robot the opportunity to unleash their creativity.” The Cozmo app will allow owners to program their robots with anything from basic movements to much more complex actions, such as avoiding obstacles, speaking short phrases, playing dozens of animations and reacting to stimuli like a face, a smile, or a frown.

Apple cuts 58,000 Chinese apps from the App Store

From June 10 to 21, Apple cut around 58,000 Chinese apps from its App Store, a number six to 10 times larger than usual, People.cn reports. Beijing-based data analysis firm ASO 100 noticed the sudden spike, leading to some grumbling that the move could be seen as retaliation against Tencent, owner of the WeChat app at the center of a debate about Apple’s insistence on taking a 30 percent cut of “tips” sent through social media apps in the country. But after looking at the data, ASO 100 claims Apple’s move didn’t seem to target WeChat’s tip service or other apps that allow developers to bypass Apple’s vetting process for sending out patches. While Apple has pulled apps like The New York Times’ at the request of the Chinese government in the past, the latest spike in removals seems to be part of Apple’s greater push to delete duplicate and low-quality apps as reported last week by TechCrunch. Apple also recently stopped returning search results for 32-bit apps in an effort to discourage users from downloading old, out-of-date apps.

Apple hires Stanford digital health head amid HealthKit push

Apple is boosting its push into the digital health realm once again, hiring Dr. Sumbul Desai, the former head of Stanford’s Center for Digital Health, Internet Health Management reports. The center, created this January to connect the university’s researchers with technology companies to further their health goals, has close ties to Apple. Stanford was an early adopter of Apple’s HealthKit platform, using it as early as 2014 in studies of children’s diabetes. Desai has worked at Stanford since 2008, serving as Vice Chair of Strategy and Innovation at Stanford’s Department of Medicine and as the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Stanford Healthcare. The company is in the middle of a major push to reshape the health care field, and Desai is the second high-profile hire coming from Stanford, joining Dr. Rajiv Kumar who was hired last summer. [via Apple Insider]

Virgin Mobile USA to become first ‘iPhone-only’ carrier

Virgin Mobile USA plans to become the world’s first “iPhone-only” network as part of a new deal with Apple to begin selling the carrier’s wireless plans through Apple’s retail network, Reuters reports. The carrier, which is a subsidiary of Sprint that licenses its name from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is revamping its business to remove Android devices from its lineup in the coming years. Branson, who was directly involved with the deal, told Reuters in an interview that he felt it was a good fit due to the similarities between the Apple and Virgin brands in advocating for human rights and other social causes, and that Apple’s retail head Angela Ahrendts was “tremendously supportive” of the partnership, and that Virgin was basically “knowing on an open door” in approaching Apple.

Indoor Maps for Airports and Malls now appearing in iOS 11 betas

Early signs of Apple’s new Indoor Maps feature in the iOS 11 Maps app have begun appearing for specific airports and shopping malls as of the second beta of iOS 11 released earlier this week. According to MacRumors, indoor maps are now available for Philadelphia International Airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport, Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, California and Westfield San Francisco Centre in San Francisco, California. The new feature, similar in design to the indoor maps feature introduced in Google Maps in 2013, provides detailed floor plans airports and shopping malls to allow users to help locate way to key points of interest ranging from stores to facilities such as washrooms, boarding gates, security checkpoints, baggage claims, information kiosks, and more.

Apple releases fourth betas of iOS 10.3.3, tvOS 10.2.2 to developers

Apple has released fourth developer betas for iOS 10.3.3 and tvOS 10.2.2; a new beta of watchOS 3.2.3 has not been released at this point. As with the last round of betas, these all include only minor updates and bug fixes, alongside the iOS 11 developer releases that are currently in beta with major new features, expected to be debuted in the fall.

Apple seeking lower rates in renegotiations with record labels

With current contracts with record labels set to expire at the end of this month, Apple is looking to reduce what it pays the labels for streaming music, Bloomberg reports. According to people familiar with the matter, the talks are part of larger negotiations to revise Apple’s relationship with the music industry overall, and cover not only the Apple Music streaming service, but also content available for sale on the iTunes Store. The new terms Apple is seeking would bring the company closer to the rate that Spotify is currently paying the record labels, who are reportedly more optimistic now about the future health of the music industry, following worldwide growth of 5.9 percent last year that was directly attributable to Spotify and Apple Music.

Apple releases second set of betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4

Apple has released a second round of betas for iOS 11, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11, addressing a number of issues in the initial developer previews released during WWDC. As only the second betas of major new OS releases, however, the release notes continue to list a large number of known issues that are still pending. iOS 11 beta 2 also enables the new Do Not Disturb while Driving feature, which was not implemented in the first beta, as well as Hindi dictation in Siri, a new sync system for Safari Bookmarks and Reading List, and several other developer changes under the hood.

Particularly noteworthy is that, for the first time Apple has taken the unusual step of listing compatibility issues with several third-party apps in the iOS 11 release notes, including Tweetbot, VSCO, Square Cash, Citi Mobile, KakaoTalk, SlingTV, Kindle Books, Skype, Pinterest, and Facebook Messenger; it’s unclear why Apple has chosen to single out those particular apps out of the two million apps available on the App Store, since it’s normally expected that problems will occur with third-party apps when using early betas for major iOS releases.

Qualcomm claims its technology is ‘at the heart of every iPhone’ in latest filings

After Apple expanded its lawsuit against the wireless chip maker earlier this week, Qualcomm has responded with claims that its “innovations are at the heart of every iPhone and enable the most important uses and features of those devices,” MacRumors reports. Apple claims Qualcomm is “double-dipping” by forcing manufacturers to pay unreasonable licensing rates and royalties to gain access to its chips. Qualcomm fired back that “Apple knows well that Qualcomm has been the de facto R&D arm of the industry” and claimed that Apple is “rarely first to market with any new technology, which shows it is relying heavily on the R&D investments in the most revolutionary technologies by companies like Qualcomm.” How integral Qualcomm’s technology is to the iPhone has become the central question of the case, with Apple arguing that Qualcomm charging royalties on the entire value of the device is unfair given the company only supplies one component. “As Apple innovates, Qualcomm demands more. Qualcomm had nothing to do with creating the revolutionary Touch ID, the world’s most popular camera, or the Retina display Apple’s customers love, yet Qualcomm wants to be paid as if these (and future) breakthroughs belong to it,” Apple said in its complaint.

Apple still undecided on fingerprint scanner for iPhone 8, unlikely to ship before October

In a new memo, Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri claims Apple’s fingerprint scanner for the iPhone 8 is “still being worked out,” Apple Insider reports. The company is still considering three options: Putting a pinhole in the glass to use an optical or ultrasonic sensor, using a capacitive or infrared “film” sensor embedded in the display, or simply thinning the display’s glass over a sensor area. However they decide to solve the problem, Arcuri sees a delay of at least one or two months in production, leaving the phone shipping in October at the earliest. Arcuri is also voicing doubts about whether the expected iPhone 7s and 7s Plus will even materialize, but still notes that the devices could still boost Apple’s sales in September by offering options like wireless charging.

Ex-iOS head Scott Forstal talks about the grudge that helped create the iPhone

In a rare interview with the Computer History Museum, former iOS head Scott Forstal revealed that the original iPhone would never have existed without Steve Jobs’ dislike of one particular Microsoft employee. The technology that would eventually create the entire smartphone industry as we know it started as a tablet project conceived by Jobs after a particularly irritating encounter, Forstal said. “We had been working on a tablet project and it began because Steve hated this guy at Microsoft,” Forstal recalled. “Every time Steve had any social interaction with that guy, he would come back pissed off. He came back one time and that guy was talking about how Microsoft had solved computing. Steve came in on Monday with a set of expletives and said ‘Let’s show them how it’s really done’.”

Apple Camp registration for kids’ summer classes now open

Apple has opened up registration for its summer Apple Camp classes aimed at kids 8 to 12, with sessions set to begin in July. There at three courses available at Apple Stores across the US and in select other locations, all of which utilize Apple products and software. The Creating Characters and Composing Music course will encourage kids to create their own stories by sketching characters with an Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, then creating a musical track with vocals in GarageBand. The three-day Stories in Motion with iMovie course will teach students to storyboard their ideas, then learn about camera angles and editing during shooting before presenting their finished product. During the Coding Games and Programming Robots session, kids will use Tynker to solve puzzles before learning to program a Sphero robot. All of the courses are free to attend.

New photos compare size of alleged iPhone 8 dummy to the iPhone 7 Plus

New photos that 9to5Mac received from Israeli tech blogger Shai Mizrachi show an alleged iPhone 8 dummy model next to an iPhone 7 Plus, allowing for the first real idea of its size. Like the purported iPhone 8 in previous photos, the device features a black glass back, silver trim and a vertical dual camera that appears larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus despite being in a smaller handset. An accompanying video shows the device from all angles and a side-by-side size comparison with the iPhone Plus, placing it much closer to the footprint of the iPhone 7 if not exactly the same size. The device is never turned on, so it’s difficult to say how the edge-to-edge display’s size compares with that of the iPhone 7 Plus, but there is no visible home button on the front or back of the device, lending more credibility to the idea that Apple has introduced a fingerprint scanner embedded under a certain area of the screen.

Apple has former NSA, FBI investigators cracking down on leaks of company information

Apple has hired investigators who previously worked for the NSA, FBI, Secret Service and US military in an effort to crack down on product leaks coming from the company’s employees, The Outline reports. In a briefing titled “Stopping Leakers - Keeping Confidential at Apple,” members of the Global Security communications and training team laid out how Apple investigators are working to prevent information from getting into the hands of the press, counterfeiters and competitors, as well as hunting down the sources of the leaks. In a video played during the presentation, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Vice President of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing, said, “This has become a big deal for Tim. Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can’t tolerate this any longer.”

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