A new report from The Information (subscription required), reveals that Apple is preparing to release a Siri SDK for third-party developers, as well as possibly releasing a standalone Siri-capable hardware device, similar to the Amazon Echo. The report suggests that a Siri SDK will likely be unveiled at WWDC next month, allowing third-party developers to make services available directly through Siri — something that many iOS developers and users have been hoping to see since Siri was first introduced by Apple five years ago. While Apple has provided direct integration with a small number of third-party services like OpenTable and Shazam, and “deep links” introduced in iOS 9 last year provide some integration for searches to open within apps, an open SDK would likely allow any iOS developer the ability to tie Siri requests directly into their own apps.
The report notes that the Siri hardware device is likely a little farther off, although sources suggest that the device has been in development by Apple since before the Amazon Echo was introduced last year. The Siri hardware device is expected to include a speaker and be web-connected. It should also include deep integration with HomeKit — a feature still lacking on even the fourth-generation Apple TV — and the device should be able to use AirPlay. An actual timeframe for the release of the Siri hardware device is unclear. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s attempt to bypass Indian rules to open its own retail locations in the country has been rejected, Bloomberg reports. The company was expected to qualify for an exemption from rules forcing single-brand retailers to obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, applying as a provider of cutting-edge technology. But sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board ruled Apple has to comply with the regulations, refusing to certify Apple for the exemption.
The Spotlight search on iOS devices now provides results for certain emoji. Searching with the hamburger emoji, for example, provides a list of nearby burger joints in Maps. Searching using the dress or pants emoji returns Maps results for clothing stores, while a dress shirt with a tie emoji curiously returns results for clothing retailer apps before the Maps listings. Searching the stack of American cash emoji returns results for nearby banks, but searching the stack of yen or Euros only provides web results.
During Startup Fest Europe, Tim Cook compared Apple’s ambitious hopes for improvements to Apple Watch functionality to a car’s computer monitoring system, Bloomberg reports. “If you drive for a while and your car gets too hot, it says pull over. If you need an oil change, it says check your oil. What’s the equivalent for the body?” Cook said to the crowd. The current Apple Watch monitors vital signs and encourages users to move around or exercise at regular intervals, but Cook hopes to see a watch that will know more about the body and even be able to recommend a doctor’s visit when it’s necessary.
The latest alleged leaked iPhone images, dug up by HDBlog off of the Chinese Baidu forum, show schematics and metal casts of what appear to be the rear shells of an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As mentioned in some previous reports, the new images show the larger dual camera setup to be exclusive to the larger phone. Smart Connector holes are also nowhere to be seen on either model.
Apple has released the first betas for iOS 9.3.3 and tvOS 9.2.2 to developers today. Both betas are likely to be minor updates; we’ll update if there are any major findings. Apple just released iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1 to the public one week ago.
Another alleged iPhone 7 leak from Chinese social network Weibo shows a more refined, similar design to past leaks and schematics (via Nowhereelse.fr), with a protruding circular camera on the rear shell. Antenna lines are also seen once more at the top and bottom of the device. The new leak, however, doesn’t match another recent leak which featured two holes between the camera and the flash. There’s also no Smart Connector seen on the rear of the iPhone on this new leak, which we previously learned was a possibility.
Apple has pulled the iOS 9.3.2 update for the 9.7” iPad Pro and is working on a fix, according to a tweet from Rene Ritchie of iMore. A report earlier today at MacRumors noted that they have received a number of reports that the update has been causing an “Error 56” message on some 9.7” iPad Pro devices, although not all iPad Pro users are impacted by the problem and the larger 12.9” iPad Pro also appears to be unaffected. Users who have encountered the problem have found their devices rendered unusable. Users are prompted to plug their devices into iTunes to restore, however, an iTunes restore does not fix the problem, leaving the affected iPad Pro devices bricked. MacRumors notes that they have heard several reports that Apple is replacing iPad Pro devices that have been bricked by the update as no other fix is available for the problem. Users who have not updated to iOS 9.3.2 should see iOS 9.3.1 as the latest version available; other iOS devices appear to be unaffected and the update remains available for all other models.
BMW may finally be bringing CarPlay support to at least some of its vehicles, according to a new report at Bimmerpost News. The report notes that the German price list and catalog for the X5M and X6M, which take effect in August, list several new technology options, including a touchscreen LCD and Apple CarPlay. An analysis of the report by 9to5Mac highlights that the translated price list text also reveals the possibility of wireless CarPlay support, although it acknowledges that it’s unclear whether the translation refers to wireless CarPlay or simply standard Bluetooth capabilities independent of CarPlay support. While it’s unclear which specific models will feature CarPlay support, several commenters on the original Bimmerpost News article have pointed to press releases stating that the 3 series will be included with CarPlay to come as an update later in the year.
A new report from Nikkei Asian Review appears to add credence to other rumors and reports which predict that the 2017 iPhone may have an all-glass body. Allen Horng, chairman and chief executive of Catcher Technology — which supplies metal casings for Apple’s iPhones — stated that as far he knows “only one [iPhone] model will adopt glass casing next year.” He expects that future iPhones would still need a “durable metal frame” and that there would be no iPhones using glass-only casings that don’t at least have metal frames as part of their construction. In addition to comments by KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo back in April, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber also recently revealed scuttlebutt that the 2017 iPhone could feature an edge-to-edge glass display with a Touch ID sensor embedded behind the glass. Horng’s comments about only a single model featuring all-glass construction raise more questions as to exactly what Apple’s plans will be for the iPhone lineup in 2017.
Apple has announced the opening of a new office in Hyderabad, India to focus on the development of the Apple Maps platform. Apple expects to employ up to 4,000 people in the new facility, to be located on the Waverock campus, which will help accelerate the development of the Maps infrastructure for Apple’s iOS and OS X devices. “Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations.”
Tim Cook is meeting with Indian phone companies with hopes of using the country’s expanding 4G network to make Apple devices more appealing, The Economic Times reports. A senior executive at Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile phone operator, said his company is in talks with Apple to create a strategic partnership that may end up including special offers on devices, deals to sell products through retail stores, and new training of company personnel. A senior Reliance executive said bundling of Apple products was also an option, supporting claims that Apple’s leadership sees potential for India’s increased 4G coverage to boost sales of iPads and Apple TVs in addition to iPhones.
After going public with his gripe about Apple Music deleting 122 GB of music off his personal computer, musician James Pinkstone added a new blog entry detailing what happened when Apple sent two engineers to his house to investigate the issue. Running a special version of iTunes designed to document any further mass deletions, the engineers spent hours troubleshooting but weren’t able to replicate the issue. Of particular concern was that there is no pattern to what was deleted, with files of all types, sizes and genres suddenly disappearing.
Chinese authorities are reviewing whether the encryption on Apple devices poses a potential security threat to the country and its consumers, The New York Times reports. Anonymous sources confirmed that China is quietly scrutinizing Apple and other U.S. tech companies, requiring executives or employees of foreign companies to answer questions about their products’ encryption capabilities and data storage. The interviews are being run by a committee tied to the bureau which controls the country’s internet, and it includes experts from military and security agencies.
Apple will open three Apple Stores in India “within the next 18 months,” according to a report from FactorDaily. The retail stores will open in Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai, and each store will reportedly be about 10,000 square feet. Apple’s start-up accelerator in the country will “incubate ideas mostly around applications built for iOS,” and Apple CEO Tim Cook will reportedly announce the incubator during his trip to India this week. After its push into China in recent years, Apple is now making an effort to better connect with the consumer base in India, a country which only trails China in population. A recent report noted that Apple partner Foxconn is looking to finalize a site for a new iPhone manufacturing plant in the country.
Apple has released a whole slew of updates this afternoon, as iOS 9.3.2, watchOS 2.2.1, tvOS 9.2.1, and iTunes 12.4 have all been launched to the general public. The updates are mostly made of bug fixes and minor enhancements, but as alluded to last week, a few design and navigation tweaks have been made to iTunes. Also, the iOS update fixes a Bluetooth audio quality issue with the iPhone SE. The updates are currently available. We’ll add to this piece this afternoon if there are any other major findings.
A photo circulating on Chinese blogging site Weibo purports to show the rear shell of a new iPhone, featuring two holes between the camera lens and flash, Letem Svetem Applem reports. There is no way of confirming the authenticity of the photo, which conflicts with leaked design renderings that show only the single microphone hole between the lens and flash, just like on the iPhone 6s. What the second hole would be used for is unclear, with some speculating it could be used for stereo recording but no one able to explain why one hole is larger than the other.
Less than a week after Apple announced a $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, speculation has ramped up that the company is planning an initial public offering. Bloomberg cites internal sources that claim Didi Chuxing hopes to make an IPO in New York next year, with the timing pegged to how its battle with Uber in China plays out. But a spokesperson from Didi flatly denied the claim to TechCrunch, saying, “We currently have no IPO plan, so there’s no point of talking about location or schedule.” While data on the on-demand ride industry in China is spotty, analysts are in agreement that Didi is well ahead of Uber in China, claiming 14 million drivers and 300 million active users.
SEC filings show billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company has bought $1.07 billion worth of Apple stock as of March 31. The news sent Apple’s stock up more than two dollars per share as of Monday morning, seeming to quiet concerns raised by billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s public dumping of his position in Apple last month. Icahn expressed doubts over Apple’s ability to expand its business into China after the country suddenly halted iTunes Movies and iBooks sales. Icahn had expressed a willingness to to buy back into Apple if the situation in China “was basically steadied.” For its part, Apple shows no signs of slowing its expansion in China, last week announcing a $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.
The CEO of the British driving authority has hinted at the U.K. becoming the first country to make its driver’s license available through Apple Wallet, The Independent reports. Oliver Morley posted a mock up image showing a driving license installed alongside credit cards in Apple Pay with the caption, “So here’s a little prototype of something we’re working on.” There’s no word on when such a system would be up and running or how verification would work, but the image indicates that governments are beginning to see potential to expand on what Apple Pay has accomplished, and they’re placing a high degree of trust in the security of the system Apple has built.