In his first trip to Japan as Apple CEO, Tim Cook painted a grand future for the artificial intelligence that will soon be developed in the company’s Yokohama facility, telling Nikkei it will be “horizontal in nature, running across all products.” Cook said new AI developments will transform the way people use their phones “in ways that most people don’t even think about,” helping with everything from increasing battery life in iPhones, to locating cars in a crowded parking lot. Cook sees an “incredible future ahead” as the smartphone industry matures, and other smart devices expand into new business and medical uses.
Apple has shifted its automotive ambitions away from building its own electric car in favor of developing an autonomous driving system, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the project said hundreds of employees from Project Titan have been been “reassigned, let go, or left of their own volition” in the past few months. Apple executives are displeased with the lack of progress and want the car team to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system. It’s been said the team must decide on a final direction by “late next year” — the deadline was imposed after months of “strategy disagreements”, leadership changes, and supply chain problems. The shift in strategy is expected to help Apple keep open the option of partnering with existing carmakers, while not fully closing the door on the possibility of the company designing its own vehicle in the future. Apple declined to comment on the story.
Apple has started selling SIM-free iPhone 7 models in the U.S. online Apple Store, allowing customers who wish to purchase an unlocked iPhone outright without signing a carrier contract the opportunity to do so. A new “SIM-free” option now appears on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ordering pages as an alternative to the traditional carrier selection options. As the SIM-free iPhone models are not subsidized by carrier contracts, customers will pay the full retail purchase prices, ranging from $649 for a 32GB iPhone 7 up to $969 for a 256GB iPhone 7 Plus. SIM-free models appear to be the A1660 and A1661 versions, which include CDMA support for use on Sprint or Verizon Wireless in addition to AT&T and T-Mobile.
Apple has updated its Apple Watch Nike+ web page, adding an Oct. 28 release date for the new special edition of the Series 2 Apple Watch. When Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 2 last month, the company announced a special running-focused Nike+ model would be coming in “late October.” The Nike+ watch includes exclusive watch faces, a special perforated band, and a custom Nike app which more proactively promotes and tracks running workouts, allowing users to compete with other Apple Watch Nike+ users. It remains unclear whether this app will be exclusive to the Apple Watch Nike+ edition or be made available for other Apple Watch models after the Nike+ edition’s release.
Following Monday’s release of iOS 10.1 beta 3 to developers, Apple has now also released a third developer beta for watchOS 3.1. As with the iOS 10.1 beta, the accompanying release notes list few significant changes, with the new version likely being primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Registered iOS developers can download the new watchOS beta from Apple’s Developer site.
In a new interview with Billboard, Jimmy Iovine said Apple’s approach to pairing music industry veterans with technology experts to deliver a constantly evolving product like Apple Music was a far more complex process than people understand. While Spotify and YouTube have recently hired music industry power players, Iovine said simply bringing in those individuals and expecting results oversimplifies a much larger issue of finding music industry veterans who understand the technology side as well. “So people that hire record executives—I don’t know what these people can or can’t do—but Larry [Jackson] and Trent [Reznor] and Luke [Wood] were guys that I just knew, instinctively and through working with them, that they could learn this,” Iovine said of the technology side. “That’s very important. Because every time I read, ‘Oh, they’re hiring music people!’ How naïve!”
Apple is setting up a research and development center in Shenzhen to bolster the company’s rocky relationship with China, Reuters reports. The announcement of the Shenzhen facility comes just two months after Apple’s promise to place a similar center in Beijing. While in China, CEO Tim Cook touted the company’s search for local software developers to work closely with Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partners.
Apple has removed popular API documentation browser Dash from the App Store, claiming that an account linked to the app’s parent company Kapeli engaged in App Store review manipulation. In a statement to The Loop, Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr said almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were discovered across the 2 accounts and 25 apps associated with Kapeli. Who posted the reviews and which apps received those reviews is still unclear. “Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful,” Neumayr said. “We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers.”
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 10.1 to registered iOS developers today. The company also released its third beta for tvOS 10.0.1. These new releases come less than a week after the second beta releases were released to developers.
Olloclip has announced three all new lens sets for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — the Active Lens Set ($120), Core Lens Set ($100), and Macro Pro Lens Set ($80). The new lens kits boast improved optics and a new Connect interchangeable lens system, which lets users swap out the included lenses with other Connect-compatible lenses. Active Lens Set comes with a Telephoto 2x optical zoom lens — it’ll be interesting to see how this works or compares with the iPhone 7 Plus optical zoom — and an Ultra-Wide 155-degree “action camera” lens. Core Lens Set will likely have the widest appeal, as it comes with a mix of Fisheye, Macro 15x, and Super-Wide lenses. Macro Pro Lens Set includes three separate macro lenses for magnification shots — Macro 7x, 14x, and 21x. Olloclip claims the Macro 21x lens can achieve “nearly 100x magnification” when paired with the iPhone’s own digital zoom. The lens sets are currently available for pre-order, and they should hit the market in early November.
Apple has won an appeals court ruling against Samsung for $119.6 million, reinstating a previous patent-infringement verdict, Bloomberg reports. Related to several Apple parents, including the slide-to-unlock feature, this ruling overturns a prior three-judge ruling that threw out the verdict from February, after a jury trial resulted in the original award. The U.S. Court of Appeals decided in an 8-3 ruling that the three-judge panel was wrong to throw out the earlier verdict, and in fact ordered the trial judge to consider whether the amount should be increased based on intentional infringement by Samsung.
The FBI is attempting to gain access to the iPhone that belonged to Dahir Adan, the culprit in the recent stabbing attack in a Minnesota mall, Wired reports. Last month, Adan randomly stabbed 10 people in the mall before being shot by police; at a press conference today in St. Cloud, Minnesota, FBI special agent Rich Thornton noted that the agency has obtained Adan’s iPhone, which is locked with a passcode, and is “in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.” Thonton did not reveal any details about the iPhone such as the model or version of iOS being used on the device, which will be key factors in whether the FBI will be able to circumvent its security measures.
Apple Music has begun allowing unofficial remixes, TechCrunch reports. Apple struck a deal with Dubset in March which heralded the move to allowing remixes and DJ mixes to be included in Apple Music, although it’s taken until now for any remixes to actually appear on Apple Music. Unofficial remixes have traditionally been surrounded by licensing issues, since they can feature multiple songs that require multiple royalty payments to different artists and labels; Dubset brings a proprietary technology to the table that can analyze remixes so appropriate royalties can be paid, allowing Apple Music and other services to stream them while complying with copyright requirements. Only single-track remixes appear to be available on Apple Music at this point, although Dubset’s CEO indicates that multi-song mixsets are coming soon.
Samsung has acquired Viv, the AI system developed by the original creators of Siri, TechCrunch reports. Siri was originally a company acquired by Apple in 2010, which was developed into Apple’s own integrated voice assistant of the same name. A little over a year later, Siri’s co-founder and CEO, Doug Kittlaus, left Apple to pursue new opportunities, ultimately founding Viv Labs in 2012. A demonstration of Viv was shown at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference earlier this year — the demo revealed a more conversational and personal system that allows users to interact with multiple services through an open developer platform, allowing for more complex queries than Siri can typically handle. Viv also incorporates a “dynamic program generation” feature that allows it to better understand user intent and build routines to handle tasks on the fly.
Apple is working on bringing together its various Cloud Services teams into a single campus to improve product development, Bloomberg reports. Although they all come under the oversight of Apple SVP Eddy Cue, teams for services such as Siri, Maps, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple News, Apple Music, and iTunes generally work in isolation from each other, at various office park locations rented out throughout Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California. With Apple’s new futuristic Apple Campus 2 scheduled to open next year, Cue feels that unifying his Cloud Services teams at the current Apple Campus will improve his organization in terms of improvement development time and product stability, and will continue to build on Apple’s rapidly growing cloud services business.
A new study from Citizens for Tax Justice claims that Apple tops the list of U.S. companies profiting from keeping its money in foreign countries. According to the study, Apple booked $214.9 billion in revenue offshore in 2015, revenue on which the company would have paid $65.4 billion if that money wasn’t kept outside the country. The report mentions a 2013 investigation into Apple’s two Irish subsidiaries that were structured to be “tax residents of neither the United States, where they are managed and controlled, nor Ireland, where they are incorporated.”
Omar Johnson, the chief marketing officer who helped make Beats into a household name, is leaving the company next month, Fast Company reports. Johnson joined Beats as vice president of marketing in 2010 and was named CMO in 2012. His unique ad campaigns — which feature personal looks at the athletes and musicians who endorsed the product — catapulted the company to prominence in pop culture. In a statement, Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine said, “Omar Johnson is a one of the most talented marketing executives I’ve ever met and we couldn’t have built Beats without him. He has my support in his future endeavor.” Jason White, who has worked for Johnson since 2014 when Apple acquired Beats, will become Beats’ executive vice-president of marketing.
Apple has officially discontinued the third-generation Apple TV, communicating the news to education partners and pulling the device from its online store, 9to5Mac reports. The company began phasing out the device last month, instructing employees to pull the third-generation models from Apple Store shelves and send them back to Apple. In an email, Apple promised to fulfill backlog orders of the device, but redirected partners to other products for new purchases. Refurbished models are still being sold on Apple’s website.
Apple has now released a second set of developer betas for iOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1, and tvOS 10.0.1 to registered iOS developers. The documentation accompanying the new betas lists few significant changes, suggesting the new versions are primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Registered iOS developers can download the new betas from Apple’s Developer site.
Apple has rescheduled the earnings call for its Q4 financial results to Tuesday, October 25. The call was originally scheduled for October 27, but the company moved the event up two days citing a “scheduling conflict.” 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.