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Spotify partners with ‘Spotty’ developer to create official Apple Watch

Developer Andrew Chang has announced on Reddit that he will be partnering with Spotify to help develop and official Apple Watch app for the popular streaming service. Chang originally announced development of a third-party Apple Watch app for Spotify back in February, with a hand-on video walk through posted by 9to5Mac, with plans to include advanced features such as offline playback, allowing music to be stored on and played from the Apple Watch without an iPhone in range. Chang initially ran into some opposition from Spotify’s legal team in relation to his choice of name, forcing him to rebrand his app as “Snowy,” however Chang updated his Reddit post yesterday to announce that he’s now going to be “working closely with Spotify to bring Snowy to the Apple Watch as part of an official Spotify iOS app.” Chang notes that he was able to build the app independently thanks to Spotify’s iOS SDK, but that with “the expertise and tools available at Spotify” he expects that he’ll be able to “take things to the next level.” While Chang did not provide any estimate on when the official Spotify Apple Watch companion app will be available, he states that it’s definitely “in the pipeline.” [via iPhone in Canada]

Analyst says integrated fingerprint scanner could hold up ‘iPhone 8’ release

While other rumors have claimed that adding 3D imaging technology and OLED screens are hindering progress on the iPhone 8, Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company believes it’s the integrated fingerprint sensor that’s the main issue, AppleInsider reports. “For the 5.8-inch OLED version, the biggest bottleneck remains integrating an under-glass fingerprint sensor into the display — the current yield rate of Apple’s in-house AuthenTec solution remains low and AAPL seems unwilling to use other vendors’ products,” Arcuri wrote in a note to investors. Arcuri said Apple is faced with three options in the face of the problem: Ditch Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, move the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone or delay production of the iPhone 8. He sees the first two options as pretty unlikely, expecting to see the iPhone 8 announced alongside new iPhone 7s and 7s Plus models but possibly becoming available for purchase later.

NYU student documents 6 weeks working on iPhone assembly line

New York University grad student Dejian Zeng spent his 2016 summer vacation inside Pegatron’s ChangShuo factory — a facility that produces iPhones for Apple — and he shared some of his experiences on the factory floor with Business Insider. When he started, Zeng was in charge of connecting iPhone 6s speakers to the back case and putting one screw in to hold it in place for more than 12 hours a day (including overtime). Two-hour stretches of work were punctuated by 10 minute breaks where many people try to catch any sleep they can, sometimes choosing to close their eyes over going to the bathroom for a drink of water. “It becomes a struggle when you’re very sleepy but also you need to drink some water,” Zeng said. “You can only do one thing. It’s just go to the restroom or come back and take some sleep.” The 50-minute lunch break in the middle of the day is also a popular time to sleep, with employees flocking to sofas scattered through a lounge area. But the factory has its own peculiar protocols for these naps as well, mandating that employees are allowed to sleep, but not allowed to lay down. “There are people walking around. If they see you lay down, they will swipe the ID and take a record of it,” Zeng said. “And they put the record in your profile. And then they will publish it to your whole assembly line, so your manager would come and yell at you later. Sometimes if it happens multiple times, they deduct money.”

Qualcomm countersues Apple, seeks damages for breach of contract

Qualcomm is counter-suing Apple in the companies’ ongoing patent dispute, claiming Apple breached its contract and asking for an unspecified amount in damages, CNET reports. In the filing, Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, admits Apple has played a key role in bringing mobile technology to the masses, but argues “Apple could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise that has made it the most profitable company in the world, capturing over 90 percent of smartphone profits, without relying upon Qualcomm’s fundamental cellular technologies.” In its lawsuit, Apple claims Qualcomm is charging excessive royalties “despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards” and asked the court to declare Qualcomm’s patents invalid or reduce the royalty amounts the company is able to charge for their use.

Report: Apple may drop Dialog Semiconductor, build its own power management chips

An analyst at Bankhaus Lampe claims that there is “strong evidence” Apple could cut ties with Dialog Semiconductor and begin producing its own power management integrated circuits, Reuters reports. Another source said Apple is “poaching like crazy” from Dialog, hiring top engineers from the company and ramping up to begin its own in-house efforts. Neither Apple nor Dialog commented on the report, but Dialog’s stock lost as much as 36 percent in one day on the news.

Apple releases second betas of iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1

Apple has rolled out a second beta of iOS 10.3.2 to its registered developers, along with new betas of watchOS 3.2.2 and tvOS 10.2.1. This latest iOS beta fixes issues with SiriKit and third-party VPN apps, while the new watchOS and tvOS betas appear to include only bug fixes and security improvements.

Apple among companies buying commercials created by ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast

Apple is among a handful of companies making deals with NBC Universal to have “Saturday Night Live” cast members write and star in commercials, Variety reports. This weekend’s broadcast of the show featured an ad for Verizon penned by Colin Jost and featuring Keenan Thompson, created in the hopes that spicing up the content of the commercials that run during the show will draw more people to the live broadcast. Two sources familiar with the discussions said Apple will be the next advertiser with a custom spot, which will look decidely different than the Verizon ad and appear in “a few weeks’ time.”

Apple may be adding Beats 1 DJ booth to Fifth Avenue store

Apple’s store on Fifth Avenue in New York City may include a DJ booth for Beats 1 broadcasts when it reopens to the public, MacRumors reports. A source said the store’s ongoing renovations are including a “very unique area” for broadcasting to Apple Music’s Beats 1 station, but didn’t get into specifics. Ebro Darden, the Beats 1 DJ based in NYC, currently broadcasts from a studio in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Fifth Avenue store has been closed since January 20 and Apple has given no indication of when it will reopen, but the renovations are expected to more than double the square footage.

Well-connected developer claims future Apple CPUs won’t support 32-bit apps

In a series of tweets, well-connected developer Steve Troughton-Smith claims that Apple’s future A-series chips probably won’t support 32-bit apps. After several notifications from Apple that future versions of iOS won’t support 32-bit apps, developers have been speculating that the change will hit with iOS 11 when this year’s new iPhones are launched, and with the launch of iOS 10.3 the company started alerting users to the coming change whenever they open a 32-bit app. But Troughton-Smith has gone a step further, saying it “sounds like” Apple’s hardware won’t even support 32-bit and speculating that the move could free up “performance/die space.” [via 9to5Mac]

Report: ‘iPhone 8’ pre-orders to begin in Sept. to ship ‘several weeks later’

A new research report from long-time Apple analyst Brian White (via MacRumors) suggests that Apple will likely announce the 5.8-inch “iPhone 8” at a September event, alongside the two lower-end 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch “S” models, but that the premium model will only be available for pre-orders around that time, with delivery not expected until “several weeks later.” White notes that while the higher-end iPhone would still be expected to arrive in time for the Christmas holiday season, “challenges around the 3D sensing technology” would cause the more advanced model to not go into production until later in the year. This confirms a report earlier this week suggesting there would be delays related to not only the 3D sensors but also OLED screen lamination, but White adds that his contact was “emphatic about the delay,” but that it’s still early enough in the year that the situation could improve.

Social media companies reach $5.3m settlement in iOS contacts privacy lawsuit

Eight social media firms have agreed to a settlement of $5.3 million in response to a class action lawsuit that had accused them of breaching privacy by uploading users’ personal contact information on iOS devices, AppleInsider reports. Citing a report by Law360 (subscription required), the settlement agreement was filed earlier this week in a San Francisco federal court, proposing that Foodspotting, Foursquare, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik, Path, Twitter, and Yelp pay into a $5.3 million fund that will then be dispersed to qualifying claimants — anybody in the U.S. who used any of the identified apps between 2009 and 2012 — after attorney fees are paid, of course.

Apple releases Clips

Apple has just released its new Clips social video sharing app as a free download on the iOS App Store. Announced two weeks ago alongside Apple’s new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone updates, Clips is a new app that will allow users to create videos that combine photos, music, and other video clips with very simple editing features for adjusting clip length, reordering them, and adding more content. Users can use their voice to make animated captions over their videos, and add Snapchat-like filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. Facial recognition features will also allow the app to identify people in the videos and offer to send copies to them via Messages, or share their resulting videos via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Australian consumer commission suing Apple over ‘Error 53’ iPhone failures

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Apple over last year’s Error 53 problem that disabled iPhones which had undergone third-party repairs, The Wall Street Journal reports. The ACCC, which is an arm of the Australian government focused on consumer law and competition regulation, is alleging that Apple was in violation of Australian laws by “bricking” iPhone devices and refusing to subsequently repair them at no cost to customers on the basis of the devices having been previously serviced by third-party service providers. The regulator is seeking monetary penalties that could amount in up to $829,000 (A$1.1m) per breach if the courts find Apple liable.

Apple execs remain optimistic about Apple Pay, despite slow uptake

Senior executives at Apple remain optimistic about the long-term adoption of Apple Pay, despite the slow pace of adoption by U.S. retailers and consumers. A new article in the Wall Street Journal highlights some of the challenges Apple has faced in gaining more ubiquitous mindshare for its two-year-old mobile payment service, such a consumer wariness over security concerns and reliability and adoption by U.S. retailers. The report notes that Apple has also not done much to market the payment platform, nor made much of an effort to train its own employees, although Apple SVP Eddy Cue said that Apple Pay has been adopted faster than other mobile payment systems, and still believes that it will eventually replace cash, debit, and credit cards, but suggests that Apple is playing the long game with the service,

Scania becomes first company to add CarPlay to semi trucks

Scania, a division of Volkswagen, has announced it will be the first automaker to add CarPlay to a line of semi trucks. Björn Fahlström, Scania’s VP of product management, said the company’s new generation of trucks will include CarPlay starting this June, and earlier devices with the company’s “Infotainment System” that includes a voice control option will also be able to be upgraded. In his comments, Fahlström touted CarPlay’s ability to allow the use of an iPhone and navigation tools without looking away from the road. “For truck drivers, who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, everything that makes life on the road easier, simpler and safer is very much appreciated,” he said.

Apple patent hints at improvement to let Siri recognize specific voices

A new Apple patent spotted by Patently Apple would train Siri to recognize specific voices, creating the potential to limit who the digital assistant recognizes and add new controls. Once configured, a customized combination of a specific phrase and a user’s voice—which Apple’s patent refers to as a “lexical trigger”—would be required to get Siri to respond. Current voice-activated digital assistants respond to specific speech, but not to specific speakers, creating circumstances where a user’s request can be picked up and acted upon by other devices in earshot. In addition to limiting that type of confusion, the change could allow users to place restrictions on everything from who can use Siri’s search on an unattended iPhone to who is allowed to rent movies from an Apple TV.

Apple Music for Android update adds lyrics support, brings design into line with iOS 10 Music

Apple has rolled out a fairly extensive upgrade to its Apple Music app for Android, bringing it more in line with the experience on Apple devices. The update simplifies the user interface to allow for better navigation and makes it easier to find downloaded music that can be played offline. Listeners on Android can now also read the lyrics along with songs as they listen, listen to Beats 1 shows and get For You recommendations for playlists and albums based on their individual music selections. The app is free to download, but requires an Apple Music subscription to function (after the three-month free trial has expired).

Reports: iPhone 8 won’t cost more than $1,000, but launch may be delayed to October or November

Problems with the iPhone 8’s 3D sensors and OLED screen lamination could delay the phone’s launch to October or November, the Economic Daily News reports [via DigiTimes]. While Apple’s new iPhones usually begin shipping in late September/early October, several reports have claimed that Apple’s extensive prototyping and desire to add new features could push production of the device to begin later than usual. This latest claim suggests that the 3D sensors rumored to be bringing depth sensing and facial recognition capabilities to the iPhone 8 have led to “technical issues.”

High-level Apple designer Christopher Stringer leaves the company

Veteran Apple designer Christopher Stringer is leaving the company after 21 years, The Information reports. Stringer has been involved in the creation of some of Apple’s most iconic products, including the first iPhones and iPads. He was also a crucial witness in Apple’s defense against Samsung’s claim that the company stole the iPhone design from them. Stringer is one of a handful of long-time employees who have left the design team after Jony Ive accepted a promotion and turned over day-to-day operations to Richard Howarth. Apple declined to comment on the move.

Apple adds 22 new U.S. banks, credit unions

Apple has added 22 more banks and credit unions to its slate of supported Apple Pay partners in the United States, along with two new financial institutions in Russia. The full list of new U.S. banks is listed below, and a complete list of all Apple’s supported U.S. partners can be found on the company’s website.

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