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Report: Sources suggest Apple has succeeded in creating a screen-integrated Touch ID sensor

Apple has succeeded at integrating Touch ID technology into the display of the next-generation iPhone, according to a new report unearthed by MacRumors. The original report comes from Chinese-language site Economic Daily News, which claims to have received the information from sources at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), one of Apple’s key suppliers. TSMC sources apparently confirmed Apple’s achievement during a technology convention earlier this week in Taipei. At the symposium, TSMC reportedly discussed the lack of a home button on the redesigned OLED iPhone, attributing it to Apple’s implementation of “an optical fingerprint sensor to enable authentication directly on the screen.”

Apple announces Live Stream of WWDC 2017 Keynote

Apple has added an events page for its upcoming WWDC 2017 Keynote, confirming that the Jun. 5 event will be live streamed, similar to prior years. As usual, Apple will use its own HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) technology introduced in 2010 to broadcast the event so that users of any relatively recent iOS or macOS device can view it in the Safari web browser. PC users can view the event using Microsoft Edge on Windows 10; older versions of Windows don’t appear to be supported. For Apple TV users, the event will be broadcast in the Apple Events tvOS app; interestingly it also appears that Apple will still be broadcasting the event to second- and third-generation Apple TV devices, suggesting the “Apple Events” channel will simply appear on these now-discontinued models in time for the event. [via MacRumors]

Wemo to add support for Apple HomeKit

Belkin has announced that it will at long last be bringing HomeKit to its lineup of Wemo home automation accessories. The added compatibility will come in the form of a new HomeKit-enabled Wemo Bridge that will provide the interface between existing Wemo Smart Plugs and Light Switches — including the company’s recently-launched Wemo Dimmer — to enable them to be used with Apple’s HomeKit system. Although Wemo created some of the earliest iOS-based home automation products, for unknown reasons the company was oddly not on board with HomeKit when Apple first launched, leaving Wemo products as outliers in a home automation ecosystem that’s become increasingly dominated by HomeKit accessories due to their higher degree of interoperability. Despite the lack of HomeKit support, Wemo continued to expand its compatibility in other areas, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, and IFTTT. Much like other HomeKit bridge solutions from companies like Philips and Lutron, the Wemo Bridge will connect to any home Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable, pairing with HomeKit as a single accessory and exposing all associated WeMo devices to the HomeKit platform. The Wemo Bridge for HomeKit is expected to be available later this fall. Pricing will be announced at the time of availability.

Apple creates new Editor-in-Chief position for Apple News

Apple has created a new Editor-in-Chief role for Apple News, appointing veteran editor Lauren Kern to the post, Politico reports (via MacRumors). Describing it as a “move that’s sure to raise eyebrows” in media circles, Politico adds that Kern is one of New York magazine’s “most high-ranking editors” as well as having formerly been a deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. While there’s no information available on what Kern’s responsibilities will be in the new role, which is an entirely new position within Apple, it obviously suggests that Apple is continuing to forge ahead with its News app and service, possibly taking it in some new directions. Apple has not yet confirmed the hiring, and Kern declined to comment.

Apple releases AirPods firmware 3.7.2 update

Apple has released a new AirPods wireless firmware update. While no release notes are provided with AirPods updates at this point, the update likely just includes bug fixes and performance improvements for the wireless earbuds. AirPods firmware updates should be automatically transferred from a paired iPhone to the AirPods whenever they’re connected; users can check the version number from the iOS Settings app, under General, About, AirPods. [via MacRumors]

1Password adds ‘Travel Mode’ to help protect data during border crossings

AgileBits has announced a new “Travel Mode” feature for 1Password that will help to keep confidential data such as passwords, credit cards, and secure notes, safe from unwarranted searches when travelling. The new feature, which is free to all 1Password subscribers, allows users to automatically and completely remove password vaults from their devices with a single click before travelling, and then just as easily restoring them later. Travel Mode is engaged from the 1Password.com web site rather than an option within any of the 1Password apps, so vaults cannot be restored from the apps themselves. By default, all vaults are removed when Travel Mode is engaged, however individual vaults can be flagged as “Safe for Travel” which will leave them on the device, so users can maintain a vault of only those items that they need when travelling, while ensuring all other data remains securely locked away on 1Password.com and not on the local device. In addition, administrators of 1Password for Teams accounts can specify which vaults are safe for travel as well as administratively turning travel mode on or off for individual users.

UK carrier EE begins selling ‘new’ 2017 32GB iPhone 6 model

Apple’s resurrected iPhone 6 appears to now be on sale in the United Kingdom, AppleInsider reports. The ‘new’ 32GB model of the 2014-era iPhone first appeared in on select Asian carriers in March, appearing in Belarus two weeks later, leading many to believe that Apple was releasing it primarily as a lower-cost option for emerging markets. However, its appearance in the U.K. — and the U.S. on Virgin Mobile — suggests slightly more widespread distribution, although it’s still unclear as to why the it remains available on only a few specific carriers.

IKEA bringing HomeKit support to its smart lighting products

IKEA has announced plans to add support for HomeKit to its complete range of TRÅDFRI smart lighting products. According to the company’s press release, updates are expected to arrive “during the summer and early autumn” that will not only provide HomeKit integration but also add support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Released last month, IKEA’s TRÅDFRI smart lighting provides a plug-and-play solution that allows users to simply swap out existing bulbs and use a remote control or companion iOS app to adjust lighting intensity and colour temperature for different moods. While the announcement doesn’t specify how IKEA plans to deliver the updates, German site phone-ticker.de (translated link) suggests that it will be made available as a software update to the TRÅDFRI Gateway and the TRÅDFRI App. Although adding HomeKit support to existing accessories typically requires hardware updates due to Apple’s security requirements, it’s possible that the TRÅDFRI system already includes the necessary hardware and is merely waiting for the necessary software update to enable it. [via MacRumors]

Apple to begin testing ‘5G’ wireless technology

Apple has filed an application with the FCC to begin testing “5G” wireless technology, Business Insider reports. The application for an experimental license for the new technology was filed by Apple and made public by the FCC earlier this week, and states in part that, “Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum,” and that “These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.” The application outlines Apple’s plans to test the technologies at two locations in Cupertino and Milpitas, California, transmitting from two fixed points at Apple facilities at these sites. While it’s not entirely clear what Apple’s goals are for this testing, the technology has the potential to significantly increase the speed and bandwidth of iPhone cellular connections, however the 28GHz band that Apple intends to test has also been allocated for earth-to-space transmissions, suggesting a possible connection to Apple’s rumoured move into satellite communications research.

Apple and Nokia settle patent dispute

Apple and Nokia have announced a resolution to the patent dispute that began late last year. In addition to settling all litigation related to the intellectual property dispute, the two companies have also agreed to a multi-year patent license, which will see Nokia providing certain network infrastructure products and services to Apple, and Apple returning Nokia’s digital health products (formerly Withings) to its store shelves. The two companies are also exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives, with regular summits between their top executives to maintain the business relationship. Details of the agreement remain confidential, however Nokia will receive an up-front cash payment from Apple, with additional payments made during the term of the agreement.

Cases and renderings show possible new 10.5” iPad Pro design

A new series of case images tweeted by prolific leaker Benjamin Geskin (via MacRumors) show the possible physical design of the upcoming 10.5” iPad Pro. The cases include the expected cutouts for the Lightning connector, speakers, and microphone, as well as a cutout for a 3.5mm headphone jack; however the camera cutout suggests a camera with a vertically aligned flash. Cases for an upcoming 12.9” iPad Pro were also shown, and Geskin adds that no new iPad mini is expected this year, confirming rumours last week that Apple may be planning to discontinue the smaller tablet. Geskin also shared several mockups and renderings with MacRumors of what the new 10.5” iPad Pro might look like based on the case designs that he’s seen. In his tweet, Geskin also claims that the 10.5” iPad is “100% confirmed. Already in mass production,” supporting claims made last week by KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that there’s an “over 70 percent change” that the new 10.5” iPad Pro will see its unveiling at WWDC in two weeks.

Apple denies responsibility for in-flight Beats headphone explosion, points to third-party batteries

Apple has pointed to third-party batteries as the cause of a woman’s Beats headphones exploding on a plane in February, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was sleeping on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne when she was woken up by the sound of an explosion and a burning sensation on her face. The woman’s face, hands, and hair were burned, and she sought compensation from Apple for the replacement of the headphones and clothing which was ruined as a result of the incident. In a statement released by the woman’s lawyers, an Apple representative stated that the investigation “indicated the issue was caused by a third-party battery.” The woman had purchased a standard set of AAA batteries in Australia, and noted that she was extremely disappointed with Apple’s decision as the headphones require batteries, however Apple does not specify a specific brand of batteries anywhere on the headphones or their packaging.

Report: Tim Cook testing Apple Watch connected blood glucose monitor

Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly been field testing a blood sugar monitoring device attached to an Apple Watch, CNBC reports. According to a source, Cook was spotted at the Apple campus wearing a prototype glucose-tracker on the Apple Watch, pointing to Apple’s continuing efforts to add more advanced health monitoring capabilities to the wearable device. A report last month revealed that Apple has been ramping up its efforts to create a new type of sensor that could non-invasively and continuously monitor blood glucose levels. During his visit to the University of Glasgow in February, Cook obliquely shared that he had been “wearing a continuous glucose monitor for a few weeks” and had only removed it before leaving for Scotland, although he didn’t specifically mention it as an Apple initiative, but explained that it was helping him to understand how his blood sugar levels were responding to the foods he was eating, and spoke generally about Apple’s commitment to health and the struggles faced by people with diabetes.

Ford releases SYNC 3 update with CarPlay support for 2016 models

Ford has announced an update to its SYNC 3 system that brings support for CarPlay to its model-year 2016 vehicles. Ford included CarPlay in most of its 2017 models last summer, including the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Mustang, SUVs including the Escape, Explorer and Expedition, F-Series trucks and Ford’s electrified vehicles. This latest update means that 2016 model owners with a SYNC 3 system will be able to take advantage of CarPlay support as well, although Ford notes that they may also need to purchase a USB hub upgrade from a Ford dealer. Customers can install the update by downloading the software from owner.ford.com and loading it onto a USB drive or visiting a dealership. For the first time, customers with Wi-Fi enabled vehicles will also be able to automatically receive the update wirelessly using their designated Wi-Fi network by enabling Automatic System Updates.

Apple bans ‘tips’ in popular Chinese social media apps, equates them to in-app purchases

Apple has told several Chinese social-networking apps, including WeChat, that the popular “tip” functions in their apps are in violation of App Store policies, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal. Executives at WeChat and other companies have told the WSJ that Apple has deemed the “tip” feature in their apps, which allows users to send money to content creators, to be equivalent to in-app purchases, thereby entitling Apple to a 30 percent cut of the revenue involved. As most of the social networking apps involved typically offer these capabilities for free to encourage user engagement, Apple’s decision is naturally not sitting well with industry executives, who feel that Apple “gets 30% for doing nothing” when even the companies themselves aren’t making any money directly from the feature. Apple has informed at least two of the developers that unless they make the necessary changes, no further updates of their apps will be accepted, and the apps in question may even be removed from the App Store.

Google launches The Google Assistant, announces Google Photos improvements

At Google’s annual Google I/O conference, the company announced several Google product enhancements coming to its iOS offerings, including the release of The Google Assistant, improvements coming to Google Photos, and a new Smart Reply feature for Gmail on iOS.

As rumoured earlier this week, Google took the wraps off The Google Assistant today, announcing its availability on any iPhone running iOS 9.1 or later. Google also announced several general enhancements to the service that will also be available on iOS, including the ability to schedule new calendar appointments and create reminders using Google Home, making hands-free calls to mobile and landline phones in Canada and the U.S. for free, and access music, movies, and TV shows from Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, HBO NOW, CBS All Access, and HGTV. Assistant is also coming to Chromecast later this year, providing visual responses on users’ TV screens. Google also announced plans to add a new feature, dubbed Google Lens, to Assistant to allow users to take action based on data from their iPhone camera, such as reading a marquee to pull up relevant concert information. Google Assistant remains available only in the U.S. for now, however Google also announced that it plans to roll the service out to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan later this year.

Qualcomm sues Apple suppliers over withholding royalties

Qualcomm is suing four Apple suppliers over withholding royalties, Reuters reports. The move is the latest in an ongoing battle between Qualcomm and Apple over licensing payments Qualcomm charges for the use of patents the company holds on several integral components used in iPhones. Apple suspended all licensing payments to Qualcomm last month, and Qualcomm’s latest filing goes after Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron and Compal Electronics for their part in the proxy war. “While not disputing their contractual obligations to pay for the use of Qualcomm’s inventions, the manufacturers say they must follow Apple’s instructions not to pay,” Qualcomm said in a statement. Apple has agreed to indemnify its partners against any damages resulting from their refusal to pay Qualcomm, but Qualcomm is now seeking a court order to force the manufacturers to comply with existing contractual obligations.

Apple begins production of iPhone SE in India

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Apple confirmed it has started production of the iPhone SE in Bangalore and plans to start shipping the devices to customers in India this month. Sources close to the production said the first handsets could hit store shelves as early as this week, although it’s unclear how much the phones will cost. Indian government officials say they’re hopeful the final price will land somewhere near $200, but resellers are currently charging around $320 for the iPhone SE.

Apple launches new site for Today at Apple educational programs

Apple has launched its Today at Apple website to support the company’s new educational programs, allowing users to select their local Apple Store and see which programs are available. The site provides the ability to sort by date and type of training, and adds in results from nearby Apple Stores to expand the range of programs that users can select. Clicking on the Details button attached to any event provides a brief description of the training offered and directions for those looking to attend. All of the programs are free to attend. On a related note, Apple Stores around the world revamped their store layouts last night to accommodate the new requirements for the tutorials.

Apple Pay goes live in Italy

Italy has become the 15th country to adopt Apple Pay, supporting Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards issued by Carrefour and UniCredit backs as well as Boon prepaid cards. Apple also recently added a German translation of its Apple Pay guide to it website, but negotiations in that country are apparently not going well according to iPhone Ticker, with banks pushing back against the fees Apple demands from them when customers use the service.

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