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Apple acquires ‘dark data’ company Lattice Data

Apple has acquired “dark data” company Lattice Data for around $200 million, TechCrunch reports. Founded in 2015, the company has produced its own AI-enabled inference engine to convert unstructured “dark data” into more structured and usable information. A source claims Apple closed the deal a couple of weeks ago, adding around 20 of the company’s engineers to its ranks. Apple confirmed the acquisition with its usual blanket statement, but gave no indication of how the technology would be used. The company has boosted its research into AI, with CEO Tim Cook sharing his hopes that the technology will transform the way people use their phones “in ways that most people don’t even think about.” The company recently joined the Partnership on AI and began allowing employees to publish their AI research.

Analyst predicts new 10.5” iPad Pro will be revealed at WWDC

Respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims there’s an “over 70 percent” chance that Apple will debut a 10.5” iPad Pro during its WWDC conference next month, AppleInsider reports. Kuo said suppliers are ramping up to begin mass production in early June for the new tablet, which sill be a similar size to the current 9.7” iPad Pro but feature a larger display because of narrower bezels. Other analysts claimed the 10.5” device would launch this spring, but that window is rapidly closing. The analyst also shared some new details about the rumored Siri-enabled home speaker, which he thinks has a 50 percent chance of debuting at WWDC as well. Kuo thinks the device will feature some physical controls in addition to being voice activated, but whether those controls will be basic buttons or a touch screen is still unclear. Other reports have also predicted the device will feature some form of manual controls.

Legend of Zelda game coming to iOS

Nintendo will be adding a Legend of Zelda game to its growing list of iOS titles, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sources said the game is set to be released after the iOS Animal Crossing title debuts later this year, but warned that Nintendo could always change the timing and order of its releases. The Animal Crossing game has already been delayed once. No information on pricing was mentioned, and the company has dabbled in different pricing models, with Super Mario Run costing $10 but other games only charging for in-app purchases. Sources also said The Pokémon Company is planning a new card-game app after the runaway success of Pokémon Go, but neither Nintendo nor The Pokémon Company commented on the story.

Apple publishes ‘How to shoot on iPhone 7’ tutorial series

Apple has posted a new web page with a series of tutorials on taking great photographs using the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Titled How to shoot on iPhone 7, the page hosts sixteen tutorial videos ranging from basics such as taking great portraits, close-ups, and action shots, to more advanced techniques such as shooting from unique angles, working with street lights and backlit subjects, and taking photos during the golden hour. Each video is brief and to the point, running only 30–40 second in length with three to four clear steps presented to accomplish each action, and only background music without narration. The first five videos in the series have also been published on Apple’s YouTube channel.

Report: Apple to announce Prime Video for Apple TV at WWDC

Following a report last week that Apple and Amazon were close to sorting out their differences preventing Amazon Prime from coming to the Apple TV, Buzzfeed News now reveals that the two companies are preparing to make an announcement to this effect at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Citing “sources in a position to know,” the report suggests that not only will Amazon Prime’s video app make its debut on the Apple TV at the June event, but that the set-top box will also see a return to Amazon’s virtual shelves — a logical move considering that Amazon’s rationale for banning sales of the device in 2015 were due to its lack of support for Amazon Prime.

New ResearchKit study reveals Apple Watch to be 97% accurate in detecting abnormal heart rhythms

AppleInsider reports on a new study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, revealing the Apple Watch heart rate sensor to be highly accurate in detecting atrial fibrillation, a common heart condition that can lead to stroke. Conducted in partnership with the Apple Watch app Cardiogram, the study paired a deep neural network with the heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch and then fed it a pool of 139 million heart rate measurements and 6.338 mobile ECG’s collected from 6,158 Cardiogram users who opted to participate in UCSF’s Health eHeart Study.

Presenting the findings at the Hearth Rhythm Society’s Heart Rhythm 2017 conference on Thursday, the report’s senior author Gregory M. Marcus, MD, MAS Endowed Professor of Atrial Fibrillation Research, and Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Cardiology at UCSF, stated that the “results show that common wearable trackers like smartwatches present a novel opportunity to monitor, capture and prompt medical therapy for atrial fibrillation without any active effort from patients.” Dr. Marcus noted that mobile technology isn’t ready to replace conventional methods of monitoring heart conditions, it can help with screening to reduce the number of undiagnosed cases of atrial fibrillation.

Twitter and NFL to stream year-round live daily programming worldwide

Twitter and the National Football League have announced a new partnership that would have the social media service streaming “uniquely packaged” official NFL content worldwide and on a daily basis throughout the year. Twitter released an Apple TV app last fall, on the heels of a deal with the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football games, and with this new partnership, the NFL and Twitter will now be cooperating to expand NFL content to include video clips that provide game highlights, breaking news, analysis, and “Throwback Thursday” along with a 30-minute live digital show that will air five days per week during the NFL season to cover breaking news, game highlights, and more, as well as live pre-game coverage during the season. [via iPhone in Canada]

iTunes coming to Windows Store

During it’s Build conference today, Microsoft announced that iTunes will be made available on the Windows Store by the end of 2017. The move will ensure that iTunes will be available to Windows 10 S users, who will be limited to running apps downloaded from the Windows Store.

According to TechCrunch, the Windows Store version of iTunes will include full iPhone synchronization support and essentially the same user experience offered by the current Windows version of iTunes. Microsoft hasn’t shared too many specifics about the arrangement, but there is some hope that Apple may revise the design of iTunes for Windows as part of this process to match Microsoft’s new Fluent Design standards.

LG Innotek tagged to supply facial recognition camera modules for ‘iPhone 8’

LG Innotek has inked a deal with Apple to supply facial recognition camera modules for a next-generation iPhone model, according to a new report by The Korea Herald. A report in Korea Economic Daily noted that LG has built a new 269.7-billion won ($238.5 million) facility that will be dedicated to fulfilling Apple’s orders, with the initial order estimate to be about 200 billion won ($177 million). LG already supplies Apple with the rear-facing dual camera module used in the iPhone 7 Plus, and while it’s unclear at this point whether this will continue to be the case with the ‘iPhone 8,’ this deal indicates that LG will at least be providing the front-facing module, which will reportedly be smaller than the current one.

Apple Music opens Giphy channel

Apple has expanded its social media marketing efforts for Apple Music into a new Giphy channel, tweeting out a GIFs from the trailer for the upcoming “Harry Styles: Behind the Album” documentary, and linking back to the channel which includes 85 GIFs from other exclusive Apple Music content and marketing campaigns.

In addition to several GIFs from the Styles documentary, the Giphy channel also includes excerpts from Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour Concert video, along with music videos and Apple Music ads featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled, Ray Liotta, and Drake. Apple’s promotion of the new Giphy channel suggests that the company plans to continue adding new animated GIF content to it for other marketing campaigns and exclusive releases going forward. [via AppleInsider]

Leaked photo allegedly shows new glass-backed iPhone SE model

A photo posted on Slashleaks appears to show the rear shell of a glass-backed iPhone on top of a document referring to Ion-X glass. Ion-X is the type of glass used in the non-sapphire Apple Watch Sport screen, and while the SE hasn’t been specifically mentioned as a candidate for a glass-backed update, there has been no shortage of rumors about Apple going that way for its new iPhones. The case features what appears to be a camera opening that doesn’t protrude from the back and another hole underneath, possibly for the flash. Apple has been mum on its plans for the SE line of iPhones since releasing its first—and so far only—model last March. Instead of updating the SE this March, Apple simply doubled the storage of the device at the same price, which led most to believe that was the only update it would get this year. The photo provides no context for scale, making it impossible to confirm the actual dimensions of the pictured phone, so it’s also possible the image shows an iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, if it’s even real.

Support app now allows scheduling repairs at authorized service providers

Apple has added authorized service providers to its iOS Support app, allowing users to schedule repairs at those locations in the same way they would at a Genius Bar. The move brings the app in line with Apple’s support site — which made a similar change at the end of last year — and allows service locations to be sorted by distance, carrier and appointment availability. The update also added support for iOS 10 rich notifications when chatting with technical support.

Apple acquires Beddit sleep monitoring system

Apple has acquired the Beddit Sleep Monitor system, according to an update to the company’s privacy policy. Beddit’s system includes an app that syncs up with a ribbon-shaped sensor placed between a user’s mattress and sheet to monitor everything from heart rate and breathing to room temperature and snoring. The app then provides tips on how to improve the user’s sleep based on the collected data, and Beddit’s site now touts the ability to link its own app to the iPhone’s Health app through HealthKit. The move further underscores Apple’s ambitious push into health monitoring technology, hinted at last year by CEO Tim Cook when he admitted that the Apple Watch might not be the only device needed to meet his ultimate vision. “The holy grail of the watch is being able to monitor more and more of what’s going on in your body,” Cook said at Startup Fest Europe. “If you could have a device that knew so much about you, it would be incredible, and would extend life and extend quality. I’m not saying one device will do all of that.”

Apple sends out media invites for June 5 WWDC Keynote

Apple has sent out press invites for its the keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, being held from June 5 – 9, 2017 in San Jose, CA. As usual, the keynote is scheduled to open the conference on June 5, and will likely see Apple unveil major new versions of iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS, with developer preview editions to follow shortly thereafter. While new hardware announcements have become less common during the developer-focused event, recent rumours have suggested that Apple could use the event to unveil its new Siri home control hub and speaker. [via MacRumors]

Apple reportedly debuting Apple Store updates May 17

Apple will be doing overnight updates to its older stores on May 16 and debuting the new look the following morning, 9to5Mac reports. Apple sources said the changes are coming to “older and smaller stores that aren’t suitable for the full redesign we’ve seen in flagship stores.” Since not all locations can support the massive updates see in flagship locations like San Francisco and New York City, the company has put together a “halfway house” update to reflect Apple’s new look while working within the available space. While there are no firm details on what the updates will entail, Apple has but a greater focus on redefining their stores as community gathering places, adding in new spaces for its “Today at Apple” educational sessions and incorporating natural materials like wood and granite into their sleek designs.

Apple restores Workflow features, adds Apple Music actions

Apple’s latest version of the Workflow automation app has added back in support for Google Chrome and Pocket along with brand new actions using Apple Music. The app — which allows users to tie together functions from various apps to perform automated processes — now features actions for “Add Music to Up Next” and “Clear Up Next” to quickly reset or add music to Apple Music’s playlist. While Apple has added support for some Google software back in, Workflow still limits map-related actions to Apple Maps instead of the popular Google Maps app, and other actions using Uber, Telegram, and LINE are also still unavailable. [via MacRumors]

Senator reveals FBI paid $900K to hack San Bernardino iPhone

During last week’s questioning of FBI Director James Comey, California Senator Dianne Feinstein inadvertently revealed the amount the agency paid to hack into a terrorist’s iPhone, The Associated Press reports. The FBI has been resisting press requests to release the amount paid and the name of the vendor who broke into Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c, but Feinstein disclosed the $900,000 payment in the process of questioning Comey on unrelated matters. After ending its lawsuit against Apple after the company’s refusal to aid in unlocking the device, the Justice Department argued that the amount of the government’s payment for hacking services was properly classified. Neither the FBI nor Feinstein’s office would comment on her slip. Comey has previously made comments leading to speculation that the hack may have cost more than $1.3 million.

Apple extends repair coverage on iPad Pro Smart Keyboards to three years for ‘functional issues’

One week after extending warranty coverage for Apple Watch Series 1 batteries, Apple has also boosted its coverage of iPad Pro Smart Keyboards, 9to5Mac reports. An internal memo to retail staff and authorized service providers says Apple will now provide free service for up to three years for “functional issues” like sticking or unresponsive keys, sensor problems, connection issues and failures in the magnetic connector. The company will also be issuing refunds to customers who paid for replacement keyboards if they meet the newly announced criteria.

Apple clarifies changes to commissions from affiliate links to in-app purchases

Apple has issued a clarification to the company’s new policy for commissions paid to affiliates linking to apps, explaining that “commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7 percent to 2.5 percent globally.” Last month Apple told affiliate members they would see the reduction on “all app and in-app content,” but the new statement limits the cut to in-app purchases only. The iTunes Affiliate program allows online outlets to claim the commissions if readers click on an embedded link and actually follow through with a purchase. For the time being Apple says “all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7 percent.”

Apple accused of anticompetitive practices in Europe

Spotify and several other companies have submitted a letter to European Union officials claiming Apple and Google have used their positions as creators of operating systems and app stores to become “gatekeepers,” the Financial Times reports. The group claims the large companies prevent fair competition by abusing their position controlling a platform to restrict competitors in other areas, like streaming music. The EU is in the middle of considering new codes of conduct and the possible creation of a body to settle disputes between large companies and their smaller competitors, but there’s still some hesitation over whether such an act would amount to too much meddling in business affairs. The CEOs who signed onto the statement claim the power imbalance makes “specific rules guiding the interactions between platforms and their business users” necessary, but Apple’s position in many different markets complicates the matter. Spotify also accused Apple of blocking its app update last year, claiming “Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon” to protect its own Apple Music business.

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