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Apple creating new London headquarters

Apple is moving its 1,400 London employees into a new headquarters inside the once-derelict Battersea Power Station, the Evening Standard reports. The London employees are currently scattered across eight sites, but when the new six-floor office space opens in 2021, the entire operation will finally be under one roof. “This is a great opportunity to have our entire team working and collaborating in one location while supporting the renovation of a neighborhood rich with history,” Apple said in a statement. Apple’s facility in Cork, Ireland will remain its main European headquarters, but the new London office will be one of the company’s largest worldwide.

Honeywell debuts Lyric T5 HomeKit-enabled smart thermostat

Honeywell’s new HomeKit-enabled Lyric T5 thermostat ($150) will allow users to control their home’s temperature from anywhere with Apple’s Home app or using Siri voice controls. Priced $50 lower than Honeywell’s previous Wi-Fi thermostats (currently on sale) and $100 cheaper than ecobee’s ecobee3, the Lyric T5 features a touchscreen display, allows for scheduling up to 7 days in advance, and provides push notifications to warn users when their air filter needs changing or when the inside of the house reaches extreme temperatures. The device also uses a phone’s location to track when a user is headed home, changing the temperature in anticipation of the homeowner’s arrival. The Lyric T5 is available for preorder on Amazon, but is currently listed at $249 on that site instead of the $150 that Honeywell lists on its homepage.

Executives talk Apple Music successes and failures

After the launch of iOS 10 and a revamp of the Apple Music interface, Jimmy Iovine, Zane Lowe, and head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes Bozoma Saint John sat down with Buzzfeed to take stock of where the company’s streaming music service has been and where it’s going. Along with a cleaner, simpler user interface, the updated Apple Music adds two new playlist options: My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix. Where the service initially banked exclusively on human curation of playlists, the My Favorites Mix is generated by an algorithm that uses deep historical knowledge of a user’s tastes and listening habits, culled from years of data brought over from iTunes. Songs given high ratings and ones that are played frequently appear on that mix, while the My New Music Mix algorithm uses that profile to serve up recently released songs that music experts think compliment those tracks users already like. “We were too ambitious in the beginning — we probably put too much into it,” Iovine said of the former focus on 100 percent human-curated playlists. “But we’re getting there now, one foot in front of the other, and the stuff we’re creating I don’t think anyone is gonna see coming.”

Apple Q4 earnings call set for October 27

Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Thursday, October 27. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q4 of revenue between $45.5 billion and $47.5 billion, and gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.

Sonos speakers available on Apple’s online store today, in Apple Stores next month

Sonos announced today on Twitter that its wireless speakers will be listed on Apple’s online store today and sold in Apple Stores starting October 5. Customers buying a Sonos system through Apple’s website or in an Apple Store before December 31 will receive a gift card giving them three months of Apple Music for free (ostensibly on top of the three-month free trial Apple already offers to new users). The deal further solidifies Sonos’ ties to Apple Music, following the company’s move earlier this year to make Apple Music available on all of its speakers for users without an Apple device. Apple Music users can add the service by selecting “Add Music Services” from any Sonos controller app, scrolling down to the Apple Music icon, and logging in.

Apple lacks lobbying power in fight with EU

Apple is fighting with the European Union over $14.5 billion in taxes without the usual lobbying force of a major company, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company spent just over $1 million in 2015 lobbying the EU, when Google parent company Alphabet dropped $4.5 million and employs more than 10 full-time lobbyists. American companies lack direct national representation within EU institutions, leaving them at a disadvantage when competing against European countries who can have their national representatives lobby on their behalf. Other companies have built a strong European lobbying presence to sway investigations and potential legislation, but while CEO Tim Cook has personally made the trip to Brussels to clarify the company’s positions directly with the EU’s antitrust chief, Apple is far behind in employing locals charged with keeping a constant eye on developing situations.

Apple to offer ‘Spoken Editions’ of written content from top publishers

Apple will soon offer “Spoken Editions” of written content from some publishers through iTunes, TechCrunch reports. Early versions of podcasts branded Spoken Editions from brands like Time, Wired, and Forbes have begun appearing on iTunes, offering users the ability to get the written news delivered in audio form so they can listen while doing other things.

Apple working to turn HealthKit into diagnosis tool

Apple is making a big push to turn HealthKit into a diagnostic tool, Bloomberg reports. The app currently collects fitness data from a user’s devices, but people familiar with Apple’s plans said the company has scores of health-care experts building improved software to analyze and understand the implication’s of patient information. The team is also working on new apps for the Apple Watch, including one that tracks sleep patterns and another that gauges fitness levels by measuring the time it takes a user’s heart rate to fall from peak to resting levels.

Hackers expose security flaw in iOS 10’s local backups

Apple has acknowledged claims that iOS 10 has weaker password security for local backups and promised it is looking into a fix, Forbes reports. Russian forensics company Elcomsoft discovered that the new iOS uses weaker password protection than previous versions when it comes to manual backups via iTunes. “We discovered an alternative password verification mechanism added to iOS 10 backups,” Elcomsoft’s Oleg Afonin wrote in a blog post. “We looked into it and found out that the new mechanism skips certain security checks, allowing us to try passwords approximately 2500 times faster compared to the old mechanism used in iOS 9 and older.”

Apple releases iOS 10.0.2 to fix headphone controls, iCloud Photo Library

Apple has released iOS 10.0.2, a minor update that fixes a problem with headphone controls on Lightning EarPods reported earlier this week, as well as an issue with enabling iCloud Photo Library and some app extensions. The update follows Thursday’s release of the iOS 10.1 public beta.

Report: Apple’s Siri home hub has reached the prototype stage

Apple’s rumored standalone Siri home control hub may be getting closer to a reality, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Rumors earlier this year suggested that Apple was working on a standalone “Siri home speaker” that would rival Amazon’s Echo, with subsequent reports suggesting that it might go farther than merely being an Echo-like speaker, integrating a camera and possibly other technology. Citing people familiar with the project, the latest Bloomberg report reveals that it’s been in the works for more than two years, and has now reached the prototype testing stage where key Apple employees are now using prototypes of the device in their own homes.

Apple acquires machine learning company Tuplejump

Apple has acquired machine learning company Tuplejump, TechCrunch reports. According to the report, Apple had specific interest in the company’s “FiloDB”, an opensource project designed to “efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in.” Apple gave its typical response to the reported acquisition, saying that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple releases iOS 10.1 public beta

Following yesterday’s release of the iOS 10.1 developer beta, Apple has now released a public beta version of iOS 10.1 through its Apple Software Beta Program. The iOS 10.1 public beta notably adds the “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect for iPhone 7 Plus, which Apple demonstrated at its event earlier this month — an enhancement that may encourage iPhone 7 Plus users to sign up for the public beta program to take an early peek at the feature. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

iOS 10.1 beta adds ‘Portrait’ Depth of Field effect

Apple has brought the promised “Portrait Camera” depth of field effect to the iPhone 7 Plus as part of the iOS 10.1 beta released earlier today, suggesting that the company will likely exceed most expectations on its goal to deliver the feature “later this year.” The new feature places an additional “Portrait” mode on the slider in the camera app, between Photo and Square, and seems to require a higher level of lighting to make the feature work. There appear to be no additional controls related to the feature, although it automatically requires the use of the second 2X lens and requires the subject to be approximately two to eight feet away from the camera.

The feature is presently labelled as being in “beta” although even in this state is appears to work quite well in our preliminary testing, as these photos indicate. It’s unclear whether this designation only represents the state of iOS 10.1 itself or may continue following the public release of the iOS update, as other features like Visual Voicemail Transcription have.

Apple releases first iOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1, tvOS 10.0.1 developer betas

Only a little more than a week following the general release of iOS 10.0.1, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10, Apple has now seeded the first developer betas for all three platforms — iOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1, and tvOS 10.0.1 — to registered iOS developers. The documentation accompanying the new betas lists no significant changes, suggesting the new versions are primarily focused on fixing bugs, improving performance, and polishing up the major iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 releases. Registered iOS developers can download the new betas from Apple’s Developer site.

Report: Apple considering acquisition of high-performance car maker McLaren (Update: and Lit Motors)

Apple is in talks to acquire British supercar maker McLaren, the Financial Times reports. Three people briefed on the negotiations said the talks began months ago, with Apple exploring options that could include a full takeover or a strategic investment in the auto maker. McLaren would bring automotive engineering skills, on-board computer expertise, and experience using materials like carbon fiber and aluminum in chassis manufacturing to Apple’s rumored car project. The company currently produces luxury sports cars that can cost as much as $1 million each, but operates at a loss despite being valued somewhere between $1.3 billion and $1.95 billion. McLaren also operates an F1 racing team, the fate of which would be unclear if Apple were to buy the company. [via 9to5Mac]

Update: Apple is also in talks with Lit Motors about a possible acquisition, according to The New York Times. Lit Motors is a startup that develops two-wheeled vehicles, including a electric motorcycle which self-stabilizes with the use of gyroscopes.

Google brings Allo messaging app to iOS

Google has brought its new Allo messaging app to iOS, making an effort to pack as much functionality as possible into the messenger so that users don’t have to leave it to get outside information. The main selling feature is integration with Google’s other services, integrating search and calendar functions into the chat to give users the ability to look up information and make plans without toggling between multiple apps. The app includes a preview edition of the Google Assistant as well, giving users the ability to type @google to ask for help to find an address, look up a dinner location or find and share a YouTube video, all within the conversation in real time.

Apple working on fix for Lightning EarPods glitch

After iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus owners started taking to Twitter to complain that the volume controls on their new Lightning EarPods stopped working, Apple said it is working on a fix, Business Insider reports. Some users have noticed that after a while of being plugged into the Lightning port, the EarPods keep playing music but the volume control dongle stops working, preventing them from using it to change the volume, answer calls or activate Siri.

DisplayMate says iPhone 7 has the ‘best performing mobile LCD display’

A new report by DisplayMate compares the display used in the new iPhone 7 with the one found in the iPhone 6, assessing a number of factors such as color accuracy, color gamuts, viewing angles, contrast ratios, performance in different lighting conditions, and display calibration and picture quality. From the comparison, DisplayMate concludes that the iPhone 7 is a “Truly Impressive Top Performing Display” and that it’s “by far the best performing mobile LCD display that we have ever tested.” The report goes on to say that the display is a significant upgrade from the prior iPhone models and breaks many display performance records, as well as being “the most color accurate display that we have ever measured” being “Visually Indistinguishable from Perfect” and “very likely considerably better than on any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have.” The iPhone 7 Plus wasn’t mentioned in the article.

Apple investigating claims of sexism within its ranks

Photo: Recode

Apple Human Resources Chief Denise Young Smith said the company is investigating accusations of sexism among its employees, Recode reports. In emails first reported by Mic, a female employee said her male coworkers publicly joked about rape and created a “very toxic atmosphere” that persisted despite several complaints to management. She finally escalated the issue directly to CEO Tim Cook. “Rape jokes in work chat is basically where I completely draw the limit.” she wrote to Cook in an email. “I do not feel safe at a company that tolerates individuals who make rape jokes.”

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