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Sennheiser releases Apple-exclusive version of Ambeo Smart Headset

Sennheiser has introduced a new all-back version of its Ambeo Smart Headset that will be sold exclusively in Apple Stores for $300. Unveiled last month at CES and designed expressly for iOS devices, the company’s new Ambeo headset connects via the Lightning port and features microphones on the outside of each earpice to provide 3D sound when recording audio or video, effectively creating what the company calls an “immersive life-like 3D sound.” The headset also leverages the external mics to employ noise-cancelling capabilities that let the user head outside sounds while listening to music. [via The Verge]

Apple loses Amazing Stories showrunners over creative differences

Apple has lost two of the production staff for its new “Amazing Stories” project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Showrunner Bryan Fuller reportedly left the project this week citing “creative differences” that may have stemmed from Apple’s insistence on keeping its content “PG”. Fuller had developed Amazing Stories for NBC before the project moved into Apple’s purview, but reportedly was looking to a more edgy show in the style of Black Mirror, which sources suggest was not what Apple was looking for. A subsequent update to The Hollywood Reporter article noted that Fuller’s partner, Hart Hanson, has also exited the project, leaving Apple and Universal Television searching for a new showrunner.

YouTube for Apple TV gets a major facelift

Google has released significant update to YouTube for Apple TV, overhauling the user interface with an entirely new design that’s more resemblant of the user interface found in the YouTube apps on other platforms, and a departure from the more traditional Apple TV UI layout that YouTube had been following since the days before the tvOS App Store was unveiled two years ago.

Apple releases second watchOS 4.3 developer beta alongside new public iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 betas

Apple has released a second watchOS 4.3 beta along with new public betas for iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3, matching the second developer betas released yesterday. While the release notes are sparse, it appears from the betas that watchOS 4.3 will be bringing iPhone music control back to the Apple Watch and allow Nightstand mode to work in portrait orientation.

Microsoft Cortana gets updated with iPad support

Microsoft’s Cortana app has been updated for the iPad, offering a native interface for Apple’s tablet device. While the design remains largely the same as the iPhone version, which was released over two years ago but received a UI facelift last fall, the release notes also indicate that the app has gained some performance improvements, launching 20 percent faster than before — an important boost for a third-party voice assistant app, since unlike Siri, Cortana can only receive commands when running in the foreground. [via MacRumors]

ESPN to launch $4.99/month standalone streaming service

Disney is set to launch its first direct-to-consumer streaming service in the form of ESPN Plus, providing access to over 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year from all of the usual leagues such as MLB, NHL, and MLS. Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger told CNBC that the service will also “include an array of live programming that is not available on current channels” and that it will roll out in the spring alongside a redesign of Disney’s ESPN app. The new service will be priced at $4.99/month and will be available for both iOS and the Apple TV when it launches. [via Engadget]

2017 iPhone models less susceptible to performance throttling

It appears that Apple may have made hardware improvements in its 2017 iPhone models to mitigate the need for the controversial performance throttling experienced by users of iPhone 6, 6s, and 7 series models. A new section in an updated support document on “iPhone Battery and Performance” referenced in the second beta of iOS 11.3 notes:

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models use a more advanced hardware and software design that provides a more accurate estimation of both power needs and the battery’s power capability to maximize overall system performance. This allows a different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown. As a result, the impacts of performance management may be less noticeable on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

The support document doesn’t go as far as saying that performance won’t suffer as batteries age in these newer models, but it does suggest that the level of throttling may not be as severe, indicating that Apple was likely able to solve some of the power consumption issues that previously resulted in unexpected shutdowns from older iPhone batteries.

Apple seeds iOS 11.3 beta 2 to developers with promised ‘Battery Health’ feature

Apple has released the second beta of iOS 11.3 to registered developers (a public beta is likely to follow soon), incorporating the promised Battery Health feature that should provide users with more insight into performance throttling that occurs on older batteries. As one might expect, the new feature can be accessed from the Battery section of the iOS Settings app, and provides a percentage indicator showing the battery’s relative health compared to when it was new, along with a section on “Peak Performance Capability.” A note at the top points out that batteries come less effective as they age, and provides a link to an Apple support article on iPhone Battery and Performance.

Apple’s health team loses medical researcher Stephen Friend

Apple has been making some high-profile hires in the medical research world, but one of its recent hires is already departing the company, CNBC reports. Stephen Friend, a well-known medical researcher who joined Apple in 2016 with a background in creating patient-focused research programs, is now listed as an “independent entrepreneur” on his LinkedIn page. The former Harvard Medical School professor joined Stanford’s Dr. Sumbul Desai, the former head of that schools Center for Digital Health as the company was working on “a medical records beta launched with the support of a dozen leading hospitals to aggregate all of this health information in one place.” That beta was released last month, allowing users to store information about allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and other vitals in partnership with hospitals like Cedars-Sinai, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Penn Medicine and the University of California, San Diego.

Apple Music hires music journalist Alex Gale to head up editorial operations

Veteran music writer Alex Gale has been hired to head up Apple Music’s editorial department, Variety reports. Gale has worked as a journalist covering the music industry for Billboard, Vibe, Complex and XXL, and will now be leading the team responsible for all of the written content found on Apple Music and iTunes. Gale is also expected to contribute to Beats 1 and may even cross over into video projects as Apple expands its operations in that area. Gale comes in at a big moment for Apple Music, which is set to surpass Spotify in paid subscribers this year.

Patent application shows Apple considering Apple Pencil that works on any flat surface, in midair

A recent patent spotted by Techtastic shows Apple is considering creating an Apple Pencil that works without an iPad. The patent — credited to three Apple engineers — describes monitoring a stylus using some combination of motion and orientation sensors, cameras and electromagnetic or sound-based triangulation methods to determine the stylus’ position and record its movements. The data would then be processed to create text or drawings.

Apple pulled Telegram app over child pornography concerns, returned it with a fix in place

Apple temporarily pulled the Telegram app from the App Store last week, and now 9to5Mac has confirmed that the app was pulled over the app being used to deliver child pornography. When the app was pulled, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said Apple had dropped it over concerns about “inappropriate content,” and a e-mail response from App Store head Phil Schiller now confirms his team “was alerted to illegal content, specifically child pornography, in the apps. After verifying the existence of the illegal content the team took the apps down from the store, alerted the developer, and notified the proper authorities, including the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).” Schiller said his team has worked with Telegram to remove the offending content, ban the users who posted it and verified that the app developer “put in place more controls to keep this illegal activity from happening again” before adding the app back to the App Store.

Nike offering Apple Music, exercise program and merchandise rewards for working out with Nike+ app

Nike is offering a new set of rewards for those using the Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club apps to document their workouts, TechCrunch reports. The NikePlus Unlocks program will provide exclusive playlists from Apple Music, guided meditations from the Headspace app, credits for the ClassPass fitness app and more. Other offers for purchasing Nike gear through the app also have special rewards, like a free four-month subscription to Apple Music for buying certain shoes, for example.

Apple Music on pace to overtake Spotify in number of paid subscribers this year

Apple Music is on pace to overtake Spotify in paid subscribers this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Spotify is seen to be the dominant force in music streaming, but many of its users aren’t paid subscribers and limit their use to the free, ad-sponsored service. Sources in the record industry said Apple Music has been adding subscribers at a five percent monthly rate, compared with Spotify’s two percent rate. If those rates remain the same, Apple Music will outpace Spotify by this summer, and is already ahead if users on Apple Music’s three-month free trial are taken into account. Apple confirmed that it currently has 36 million paying customers.

Report: Apple to ditch Qualcomm chips completely for Intel versions in 2018 iPhones

Amid Apple’s ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is now saying the company may be ditching Qualcomm’s baseband chips all together, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said he expects Apple to use Intel’s chips exclusively in its 2018 iPhones since Intel chips now meet Apple’s technical requirements at a more competitive price, but he added Apple may be forced to return to Qualcomm if it turns out Intel can’t get ready for 5G networks fast enough. Previous reports claimed Qualcomm’s current 5G chips offer more specialized features, but sources said since many of those features won’t be widely adopted by carriers it’s likely Intel’s 5G modem will be more than sufficient for future iPhones.

Some iPhone X users unable to answer calls as screen fails to wake

Some iPhone X users are unable to answer calls because their phone displays aren’t waking up when a call comes in, The Financial Times reports. Users report that the ringtone will play for an incoming call, but the screen won’t wake up for several seconds, sometimes resulting in a missed call. A restart seems to resolve the problem temporarily, but after 15 to 20 calls the problem reappears. Users who have had their iPhone X replaced by Apple are reporting the same issues with the replacement units, but it’s still unclear whether a hardware or software problem is to blame. Apple is “looking into these reports,” but hasn’t provided any further information on a fix.

Apple providing free repairs for ‘No Service’ problem on some iPhone 7 models sold in US

Apple is offering free repairs to certain iPhone 7 models that are showing “No Service” in the status bar even when cellular coverage is available. The company has admitted a component on the logic board on some of the devices manufactured between September 2016 and February 2018 is prone to failure, and users have taken to Twitter to complain that their cellular service and Bluetooth capabilities suddenly stopped working. Models A1660, A1779, and A1780 qualify for the free repair and can be taken to Apple Authorized Service Providers or Apple retail stores to be sent back to the company for repair.

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Report: Apple struggling to police fake apps in Chinese App Store

A new report from TechCrunch suggests that Apple may be struggling to properly vet content in its App Store in China, particularly where copycat apps are concerned. The report cites the example of a Japanese app called “Tabi Kaeru” (“Travel Frog”) that became an unexpected hit in China, resulting in more than 30 knock-off copycat apps looking to profit off its success. While Apple has become very successful at dealing with such apps within the U.S. App Store, the company was clearly not as well-prepared to deal with the issue in the Chinese App Store, where at least one knock-off, an app named 旅行青蛙, managed to not only survive long enough to generate significant revenue for the developer, but also rise to the top of the App Store charts, displacing the original genuine app for the better part of a day.

Apple now selling refurbished iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple TV 4K units

Apple has now begun selling refurbishing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and Apple TV 4K models on its U.S. online store for the first time, offering customers a chance to pick up these units at about a 10 percent discount as compared to the prices of brand new models.

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