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Canada bans locked cellphones and unlocking fees, effective Dec. 1

The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced that as of Dec. 1, 2017, all cell phones and other mobile devices sold in Canada must be provided unlocked. Further, as of that date, Canadian cellular carriers will also be prohibited from charging any fees for individual and small business wireless service customers to have their mobile devices unlocked.

Apple looking to expand HealthKit to store medical records

Apple is undertaking efforts to expand HealthKit to become a portable repository of all of a person’s medical records, CNBC reports. The idea would be to expand the iPhone beyond a place to simply record health and wellness data into a database of a user’s entire medical history — doctor’s visits, lab results, prescriptions, and more — keeping all of this data easily at hand. According to the CNBC report, another secretive team in Apple’s health unit has already been in discussions with various medical professionals and hospitals about bringing clinical data to the iPhone. The data would be stored locally — and presumably securely and privately — on the device, and users would have the option of sharing it from there with third parties, such as when changing doctors or being admitted to a hospital. A source also said that Apple has been looking at possible acquisitions among cloud hosting start-ups as part of this plan.

iPhone supplier confirms shipping 3D sensor lenses, but doesn’t mention Apple

Largan, a key supplier of camera lenses for the iPhone, says it will be shipping out lenses for 3D sensing modules later this year, leading to speculation that they will make their way into this year’s iPhones, Nikkei Asian Review reports. “We will have lenses for 3-D sensing [module used in smartphone] ready to ship in the second half this year,” said Largan CEO Adam Lin. Those lenses are essential in enabling facial and iris recognition-capabilities rumored to be coming in new iPhones. Lin didn’t say anything about Apple being the recipient of the lenses, but Jeff Pu, an analyst at Yuanta Investment Consulting, said Apple is the only one in the world expected to release a device with those features this year. While even a July shipment schedule seems to create a tight timeline for getting the special lenses into the new iPhones, several sources including well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have predicted Apple will include a “revolutionary” front-facing camera as a tentpole feature in its iPhone 8.

Apple updates iWork apps with autocorrect improvements, hundreds of new shapes

Apple has updated its free Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps on iOS and Mac, adding autocorrect improvements and a library of more than 500 professionally drawn shapes that can be used in presentations and documents. There are also new options for replying to comments and joining in on threaded conversations, improvements to pan and zoom functionality, and an updated ability to add the most recent stock and currency information that syncs up with the previous day’s market closings. The iOS version of Keynote also received the Light Table view that was already featured on Mac, and both versions can now edit presenter notes while still in the Light Table view.

Teardown reveals the components that make 10.5” iPad Pro a formidable tablet

After giving the new 10.5” iPad Pro a complete teardown, iFixit found the device much more logically arranged and repairable than previous models. Display cables are arranged in the center of the iPad—away from the edges where prying tools could snip them while opening the device — and Phillips screws now hold down the display cable bracket instead of the special tri-point screws found in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. That’s not to say Apple intends the device to be friendly for home repair jobs, since there’s still plenty of plastic shielding that has to be melted and glue that has to be pried apart to access components like speakers and batteries, but once they’re accessed the speakers come out intact and cleanly for those willing to take the plunge.

Apple releases third round of betas for iOS 10.3.3, tvOS 10.2.2, watchOS 3.2.3

Apple has released a third set of developer betas for iOS 10.3.3, tvOS 10.2.2, and watchOS 3.2.3. As with the second round of betas, these all include only minor updates and bug fixes. iOS 11 is expected to be debuted next week at WWDC, with a public release likely to follow alongside the new iPhone models in the fall.

Sony’s PlayLink games will use iOS devices as PS4 controllers

The new line of PlayLink games for PS4 announced by Sony today at E3 will use the touchscreen and cameras on iOS devices as controllers. The new titles are designed to be played in group settings and range from quiz-show style games and choose-your-own-adventure detective thrillers to arcade-style minigames and karaoke singing using the device’s microphone. After downloading the companion app, a user’s iOS device will provide the ability to “swipe, pinch, drag, tilt, rotate or even snap selfies and draw crafty doodles, depending on the game.”

Apple issues $1 billion green bond to fund clean energy

On the heels of the US exit from the Paris Climate Accords, Apple has issued a $1 billion green bond to fund investment in renewable energy, Bloomberg reports. The company issued a $1.5 billion green bond last year and is now adding to that total with a second round, planning to use the proceeds to bankroll efforts to increase energy efficiency and build up renewable energy resources in the hopes of creating a “closed-loop supply chain” where products are made using only renewable resources and recycled materials, according to a statement. The bonds are expected to mature in 2027 and yield 95 to 100 basis points more than Treasuries, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Leaked images show glass backs for iPhone 7, 7s and 8; claim all will have wireless charging

A pair of leaked images posted on Reddit show what the poster claims to be the black glass backs of an iPhone 7, 7s and 8 along with the front screen for the iPhone 8. The iPhone 8 back is a similar size to the iPhone 7, but features the vertical dual camera cutout seen in previous leaks. The front glass for the iPhone 8 is also in line with current rumors, with a much narrower bezel all along the edges and a small top cutout for the camera and speaker. The poster claims the photo came from a “friend in the industry,” saying Chinese manufacturers got the components in last week and have confirmed that all three models are going to feature wireless charging. The back of the iPhone 8 also features a series of markings that raised some red flags from commenters, but are actually in line with regulatory requirements of countries like Canada. One thing the back of the iPhone 8 lacks is a Touch ID sensor, casting doubt on previous leaks that showed a back cutout for that component and lending more credibility to rumors that Apple has devised a way to put the scanner under the screen.

Cook calls autonomous driving system ‘the mother of all AI projects’

In an interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted the company is working on an autonomous driving system for vehicles, calling it “the mother of all AI projects.” After being particularly secretive about Apple’s Project Titan vehicle research for years, Cook revealed that the company sees self-driving technology, electric vehicles and the expanding ride-hailing industry as “three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame” within the automotive industry. Apple has invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing—China’s biggest ride-hailing service—and decided last year to shift the focus of its endeavors away from making an electric car and toward perfecting autonomous driving technology. Apple has been granted permits to test its self-driving systems on California roads, but what form their product will eventually take is still an open question. “It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on. So autonomy is something that is incredibly exciting for us,” Cook said. “But we’ll see where it takes us — we’re not really saying from a product point of view what we’ll do. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.”

Audeze iSine now available in Apple-exclusive Colorway

Back in January, we reviewed the innovative Audeze iSine 10 in-ear planar magnetic headphones and thought they were pretty amazing. In fact, we think Audeze’s Sine and iSine headphones are still the best expression of what can be done with headphones and the Lightning jack.

For those still on the fence, Audeze just announced a new colorway for the iSine10 which will be exclusive to Apple’s online store and retail locations. The new Black/Steel version has a silver grille which we think complements the design nicely. Like the original iSine10, the new version comes with Audeze’s CIPHER Lightning cable with inline DAC & amplifier, works with any iOS device with a Lightning Port, and is upgradeable and tuneable using the free Audeze iOS app. The price remains the same at $399.

Apple eliminates ability to use custom prompts for app review requests going forward

After rolling out the ability to use its StoreKit API to simplify in-app review prompts in iOS 10.3, Apple’s App Store Review guidelines now say the company will no longer allow custom prompts going forward. The new process allows the user to leave a rating and/or review without ever leaving the app and eliminates the need for developers to write their own code to create the review prompt, but there are also drawbacks. Apple now limits the maximum number of requests to three per year and prevents apps from prompting too frequently, where before it was at the whim of the developer. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple allowing resellers to cut prices on older iPhones to make inroads in India

Apple is allowing resellers to slash prices on its older iPhone models to break into India’s cell phone market, Bloomberg reports. While Apple’s official website is only currently selling the iPhone 6S and SE in India, resellers like Amazon and Flipkart are offering the iPhone 5, 5S, and 6 for a substantial discount over what other parts of the world would pay. Varuni T.V., a business professor in India, recently bought her first iPhone 5S for $300, while the similar iPhone SE retails in the US for $400 before taxes and fees. Indians are expected to buy more than a billion smartphones in the next 5 years, and Apple currently only accounts for 3 percent of sales in the country. The company has already moved manufacturing to India to gain access to the market and is now hiring “affordability managers” to help potential customers negotiate with banks and other lenders to come up with the necessary capital to buy an iPhone. Reducing the price of older models is making it easier for younger customers to buy an iPhone, which then opens up new sales opportunities for Apple with its App Store, iTunes and online service ecosystem.

Ad loophole in App Store search is letting scammers promote expensive, useless apps

A new post on Medium shows just how easy it is for scammers to use Apple’s App Store Search Ads to dupe users into paying hundreds of dollars for undelivered services from useless apps. Author Johnny Lin came across one app in particular — “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN” — that raised his attention with multiple misspellings and poor grammar in its listing, but still somehow managed to take in $80,000 a month in revenue and rank 10th in the App Store’s top grossing productivity apps list. After downloading, the app requests access to contacts and provides useless features like checking the phone’s available space and memory. Pressing the “Secure Internet” option — theoretically what people download the app to do — leads to a game pop-up ad and then to a “Free Trial” button that actually leads to a Touch ID prompt that will enroll the user in a $100-per-week subscription for a virus scanning service the app isn’t even able to provide because of how Apple sandboxes third-party apps.

Apple’s feud with Qualcomm could leave iPhone 8 lagging behind in download speeds

Apple’s aversion to solely using Qualcomm modems in its new iPhones will likely leave the devices unable to take advantage of 1-gigabit-per-second download speeds offered by cellular providers, Bloomberg reports. While AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers have upgraded their networks to be capable of gigabit transfers — which are up to 100 times faster than previous speeds — only Qualcomm’s modems can currently handle downloads at that speed. Apple’s insistence on splitting its modem orders between Qualcomm and Intel, plus the serious court showdown with Qualcomm over royalties, means the company would be forced to disable some of the capabilities of devices running with a Qualcomm modem to keep its products consistent, since Intel’s modem with the same capacity won’t be ready for the new iPhone’s launch, according to people familiar with Apple’s decision. Samsung’s Galaxy 8 and HTC’s U11 are both already capable of the new faster download speeds due to their Qualcomm modems.

Taylor Swift returns to Spotify, ending Apple Music exclusive

Following her falling out with Spotify three years ago, Taylor Swift has announced that she will be returning to the streaming service, in addition to several others, ending her exclusive deal with Apple Music. The move comes in celebration of her album, 1989, hitting sales of 10 million, and overall sales of 100 million songs. Swift’s full back catalog will become available not only on Spotify, but also on Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Pandora Premium, and several others. Notably, TechCrunch reports that Swift’s song will be available on the free ad-supported tier of Spotify as well — which was reportedly the issue over which Swift pulled her content from the service three years ago.

Fox Now app adds FX and National Geographic content

Fox Networks has updated its Fox Now app for iOS and Apple TV, adding shows from FX and National Geographic in addition to the normal set of Fox content. Available in the U.S., the Fox Now app requires that users already subscribe to an existing pay-TV service, and provides access to up to 500 hours of content across the network’s brands, including current episodes and seasons. The separate FXNow and Nat Geo apps will still be available. Fox Now will also be expanding its platform later this year to a wide range of other devices, including the older third-generation Apple TV. [via Variety]

Anki announces global launch of Cozmo

Anki has announced that its robotic sidekick, Cozmo, will be launching in Canada this July, followed by a broader rollout in the U.K., France, Germany, and Nordic countries later this year. Best known for its Anki Drive that took the stage at WWDC 2013 four years ago, Anki is a robotics and AI company that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to consumer experiences. Released in the U.S. last fall, Aniki’s newest product, Cozmo, is a sophisticated consumer robot that was built by a world-class team of roboticists, animators, and game developers to create an interactive experience powered by advanced AI. Cozmo not only responds to interactive commands, but uses learning algorithms to adapt its behaviour to its experiences and interactions with its owner, exhibiting an endearing personality in the process through complex facial expressions displayed on its OLED face, as well as face detection algorithms that allow Cozmo to recognize people and pets and respond to them in different ways.

Apple opens up HomeKit accessory prototyping

Apple has loosened the reins on HomeKit accessory development, a new report from Forbes reveals. During a WWDC developer session on Wednesday, Apple announced that it is opening up HomeKit to allow any Apple developer to build and prototype smart home accessories without first needing to apply for and be granted an MFi license. Developers who wish to release a HomeKit product will still need to pursue MFi certification, but the new policy will make it easier for new companies to get started with the process of developing HomeKit-compatible products.

Even more significantly, however, Apple is going to begin allowing developers to integrate HomeKit security into their products at the software level, rather than requiring an Apple-designed authentication chip. This software-based authorization will be available to existing products as well, meaning that for the first time many legacy home automation products will be able to join the HomeKit club with merely a firmware update, rather than requiring users to replace hardware components to gain HomeKit compatibility. Apple emphasized that all of the same heavy-duty encryption would still be incorporated into the software design.

Logitech releases Slim Combo keyboard case for 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models

After Apple unveiled its new 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pro models at yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Logitech revealed its Slim Combo keyboard case for the new devices. The detachable backlit keyboard connects through the device’s Smart Connector and is powered by the iPad, so there’s no need for a battery. The case provides a 50-degree range for reclining the iPad to find the right angle for viewing and has a place to store the optional Apple Pencil accessory. The Slim Combo for the 10.5” iPad Pro costs $130 while the 12.9” version is $150, and both are currently available on Logitech’s website and in Apple’s online store.

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