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Apple’s AirPort Base Station stock dwindling

Apple’s stock of AirPort base stations is beginning to sell out, MacRumors reports, following the company’s formal exit from the Wi-FI router business last month. MacRumors notes that the AirPort Extreme is already being listed as “sold out” on Apple’s online store in the U.S., although it remains available in limited quantities in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The smaller AirPort Express and storage-equipped AirPort Time Capsule models still remain in stock online in several countries, although the entire AirPort lineup has disappeared entirely from Apple’s online store in several European countries. Apple stated last month that its AirPort products will continue to be sold “while supplies last” although nothing was said about what those supply levels are.

Apple’s reputation falling behind in China

The perception of Apple in China is starting to fall behind that of domestic smartphone makers like Huawei, according to a new survey reported by the South China Morning Post. Conducted by an independent research company, Reputation Institute, the survey reveals a decline in Apple’s reputation among Chinese consumers, placing the company in 12th place, in a ranking of 155 companies, both Chinese and multinational. Huawei placed second overall, while Google ranked in fourth place. According to the survey, many Chinese consumers also believed that Huawei “stands out from the crowd” and is more “genuine” than Apple. Approximately 30,000 Chinese consumers were polled in the survey, which includes 280 companies, of which only the top 155 made the final list. For the most part, the survey indicated a shift toward more home-grown Chinese brands, although the Chinese domestic search engine, Baidu, ranked far behind Google, landing in the 125th spot, while Intel, Rolex, Nokia, and Lufthansa all ranked in the top 10, with Intel taking first place. [via iPhone in Canada]

 

Apple teams up with educators to bring Everyone Can Code to blind and deaf students

Apple has announced that it is now teaming up with leading educators to bring its Everyone Can Code program to schools for blind and deaf communities in the U.S. Starting this fall, the company plans to bring accessible coding to schools supporting students with vision, hearing, or other assistive needs, working with the schools to tailor the lessons to leverage Apple’s accessibility technology to augment the curricula as needed, including providing additional tools and resources like tactile maps for use by non-visual learners.

Twitter extends API shutdown deadline to August, third-party apps may still lose functionality

Twitter has announced that it will delay its controversial API changes until August 16, providing developers of third-party twitter clients with more time to update their apps. A coalition of Twitter developers raised a public protest against the upcoming changes last month, noting that even thought Twitter had announced a new Account Activity API in April 2017, the company had yet to actually make the new API available to developers even a year later, despite a looming shutdown of the legacy APIs on June 19, 2018. Today, Twitter announced the general availability of the new Account Activity API that developers have been waiting for, while also extending the deadline to allow developers to actually take advantage of it, noting that “Site Streams, User Streams, and legacy Direct Message endpoints, originally slated for retirement on June 19th 2018, will be deprecated on Wednesday August 16, 2018 which provides 3 months from today’s release of the Account Activity API for migration.”

Another report suggests 2018 iPhones will ship with faster charging adapters, includes renders

A new report from ChargerLab backs up rumours from earlier this month that Apple plans to include USB-C Fast Charge power adapters with at least some of this year’s iPhone models. Citing sources from “inside production lines,” the report confirms that it will be an 18-watt USB-C to Lightning plug, and includes renders of a European version of the adapter. The new design also appears to be in line with the earlier Weibo report that the charger would see a change from the traditional square shape used since the iPhone 3G, making it more convenient and portable. The iPhone has supported at least 2.1-amp charging since 2014, but despite this, Apple has continued to bundle only the original anemic one-amp adapter in every box, up to and including last year’s fast-charge-capable iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models.

Berkshire Hathaway moves into second place among Apple shareholders

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has confirmed in a recent regulatory filing that it is now Apple’s second-largest shareholder, Reuters reports. The filing notes that Berkshire invested $14.8 billion more in equities during the last quarter, most of which went to Apple, increasing its stake in the company to 239.6 shares valued at more than $40 billion — or roughly five percent of Apple stock. According to Reuters, this moves Berkshire Hathaway into second place among Apple investors, passing BlackRock and trailing behind Vanguard Group. Buffett recently told shareholders at Berkshire’s annual meeting that he might but more Apple stock for the right price, and two days later declared to CNBC that he’d “love to own 100 percent” of Apple.

The new Google News lands on the App Store

Google’s overhauled News app is now available on the App Store. Originally unveiled at Google’s I/O conference last week, the new Google News features not only a redesigned user interface that promises “an improved reading experience,” but also new AI-powered machine learning to try and create a personalized news feed for each user, using algorithms that try to stay on top of breaking news and organize it into more relevant storylines, allowing users to more easily sift through the news and focus on the topics they’re interested in. The new Google News app — which replaces Google’s former Play Newsstand app — appears to borrow some of its UI concepts from Apple News; for example, a new “Your briefing” section provides an overview of user-tailored content in one place, mixing headlines, local news, and breaking developments on a focused set of topics. “Full coverage” allows users to dig deeper on a given story, highlighting different perspectives and providing a timeline of key events and other relevant info.

Mercedes unveils lineup of branded iPhone accessories

Mercedes has launched a new line of branded iPhone accessories, including a number of cases and even a Lightning cable. CarScoops reports on the new lineup, which features cases for the iPhone 7/8, iPhone 7/8 Plus, and iPhone X made from materials such as liquid silicone, genuine leather, and carbon fibre variations. Silicon cases include a microfiber inner liner and are available in navy blue, black, red, or beige, while the leather versions use a perforated design in walnut brown, Marrakech, black, red, crystal grey or white. Other variations include carbon fiber and aluminum and carbon fiber and smooth leather versions. A dual-headed Lightning/Micro-USB to USB cable is also available sporting the Mercedes-Benz name on the Lightning end and the logo on the USB end. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple now has the second-largest self-driving car test fleet in California

Apple is once again expanding its self-driving car fleet in California, according to new numbers obtained from the California DMV by macReports. According to the information, Apple now has 55 vehicles and 83 drivers listed on its permit for testing autonomous vehicles, adding ten more vehicles since March to a program that began with only three vehicles last spring. This also notably puts Apple in second place for the number of self-driving cars behind tested, behind GM Cruise which currently has 104 vehicles on the road. macReports also notes that the California DMV has advised them that Apple has not yet applied for a driverless testing permit, a new type of permit that the department began issuing last month. [via Macrumors]

Apple releases fifth betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1

Apple has just posted a fifth set of developer betas for iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3.1, again only a week after the fourth round of betas went out. Unsurprisingly, the release notes at this point list only extremely minor changes since the last beta, and it remains unclear whether iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 will in fact incorporate AirPlay 2, which also made a brief appearance in the iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year before being removed before the final release, a fate similar to that of Messages in iCloud, which is still listed in the release notes as being included “for testing and evaluation purposes.”

Apple highlights progress improving technology accessibility for people with disabilities

In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day this week, CNET published a report highlighting some of the efforts Apple has been making to design its devices to help people with disabilities. Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, discussed how Apple is always trying to add in new accessibility options year over year to improve the usability of its devices by people with various disabilities. CNET also spoke with Austin Pruitt, a two-time US Paralympian who has cerebral palsy from the knees down, and competes by racing in a wheelchair. Pruitt explained how the Apple Watch replaces a whole complicated set of sensors that he used to have on his wheelchair to track his workouts, adding “This has everything. This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one.”

 

Carpool Karaoke Season 1 now free in Apple’s TV app

Apple has now made the first season of its “Carpool Karaoke” show available for free streaming through the TV app. First reported by Billboard, the series went live on Friday night at 6 p.m. ET, with the report noting that episdoes will “trickle” into the app with new episodes appearing every Friday at the same time. Carpool Karaoke originally debuted last August as an exclusive for Apple Music subscribers, however it appears now that Apple has renewed it for a second season, the company has decided to make the first season episodes available to all Apple TV and iOS users.

Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular now on sale in four new countries

Apple has begun selling the cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 in Sweden, India, Denmark, and Taiwan, 9to5Mac reports. This brings the number of countries where the LTE model is sold to 16 in total. While Apple announced the new additions to the roster last month, the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular goes on sale in those new countries today.

Apple planning to launch branded ‘Apple Pay’ credit card

Apple is partnering with Goldman Sachs to launch a new joint “Apple Pay” branded credit card, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The new card could launch as early as 2019 and would replace Apple’s current rewards-card partnership with Barclays. The move would also signal Goldman Sachs’ first foray into credit cards, and people familiar with the matter have indicated that Apple and Goldman are still hashing out the specific terms and benefits of the card, such as planned perks for customers, but that the two companies seem to already have an agreement in principle to move forward. The partnership is also expected to extend into other services such as Goldman offering in-store loans to Apple customers purchasing iPhones and other hardware, likely similar to the current Barclays-backed Apple Rewards card that provides interest-free financing on Apple devices and allows customers to earn points toward Apple gift cards. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple scraps plans for Irish data center due to lengthy court delays

Apple has announced that it has abandoned plans for a new data center in Ireland, citing delays with the government approval process, The Independent reports. Apple committed to building an €850m ($1b)  data centre in Athenry, Co Galway three years ago, alongside a similar facility in Denmark, however despite receiving approval from Irish authorities in 2016, and from the Irish High Court late last year, Apple began wavering in its decision last fall after concerned citizens filed appeals with the High Court regarding the completion of environmental assessments and concerns about the impact on Ireland’s national electricity grid.

Apple may be adding Video Subscriptions to its TV app

Apple has plans to begin selling subscriptions to video services directly through its TV app, according to a report by Bloomberg, likely consolidating subscriptions previously available through individual iOS and tvOS apps. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report suggests that the aim is to both simplify the subscription process as well as make the TV app a more prominent one-stop hub for all video content.

Apple vying to participate in U.S. drone trials

Apple is among the companies who have applied to take part in a new series of drone tests that the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to announce today, according to Reuters. Citing people familiar with the matter, Apple joins a roster of 200 companies which also include Amazon, Intel, and Qualcomm, who are looking to participate in the program that would allow for testing of drones in otherwise restricted use cases, such as night flights and those that extend beyond an operator’s line of sight. The experiments will be hosted by ten winning state, local, or tribal governments that have in turn partnered with companies that will be participating in the tests, and a U.S. official notes that the list of winners include projects focused on package delivery, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight and integrating drones near airports, although it’s unclear where Apple may fit into this, although a late 2016 report suggested that Apple has been at least contemplating the use of drones for improving Apple Maps’ data. [via MacRumors]

Another new Unicode text bug discovered affecting iOS Messages

The iPhone is prone to another Unicode text bug, being dubbed the “black dot” bug. Outlined in a new video by EverythingApplePro (via 9to5Mac), the bug was first discovered on WhatsApp on Android, although it affects several other platforms as well, including the iOS Messages app. The bug was originally spread with the “black dot” emoji, but actually relies on the crafting of Unicode text strings that contain thousands of invisible Unicode characters that cause the receiving device to churn through CPU cycles in an attempt to process them, and such a string received as an iMessage will cause the recipient’s Messages app to repeatedly crash, much like other special-text bugs recently encountered.

Apple pulling apps that share location data with third parties without consent

Apple appears to be cracking down on apps that are sharing location data with third parties, according to a report by 9to5Mac. Over the last several days, Apple has been pulling apps from the App Store, informing developers that they violate sections 5.1.1 and 5.1.2 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, which cover privacy and obtaining user consent before collecting any kind of personal data, which of course includes location information. Emails sent to developers are advising them that Apple has determined “upon re-evaluation” of their apps that they are in violation of these sections of the App Store Review Guidelines, and that they will need to “remove any code, frameworks, or SDKs that relate to the violation” before resubmitting their app to the App Store.

Lightning port security mode looks to return in iOS 11.4

When Apple rolled out the first iOS 11.3 betas earlier this year, one smaller feature mentioned in the release notes was a new security protocol that would lock down a user’s Lightning port if it hadn’t been used for anything other than charging for more than a week. Specifically, Apple noted that users would be required to re-enter their device passcode to authorize a Lighting-connected USB accessory if it has not been connected to the device for more than a week. Although much like AirPlay 2 and Messages in the Cloud, this feature never made it into the final iOS 11.3 release, Elcomsoft notes that it’s back in the iOS 11.4 betas, with a report on exactly how it works and some of the ramifications of the new feature for iOS forensics.

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