New technology obtained from Apple’s acquisition of VocalIQ last year is poised to drastically improve Siri’s search capabilities, Business Insider reports. One unnamed source said VocalIQ’s AI was able to answer complex questions like, “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and Wi-Fi that’s kid-friendly,” 90 percent of the time, greatly improving on the 20 percent averaged by Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
India’s government dealt Apple’s plans for expansion another setback Monday, formally rejecting the company’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, Live Mint reports. Tim Cook had defended Apple’s request during his Indian tour, saying the company has similar programs in countries all over the world to sell refurbished phones that the company has restored to a “pristine level’ but made available at a lower price.
Apple may be planning to include facial recognition technology in its rumored Siri device, according to CNET. Sources for the report indicated that Apple has “explored putting a camera in its device” with facial recognition technology that could detect who is in a room, and could then activate personal music and lighting profiles.
Apple is “working rapidly” to launch Apple Pay farther and wider in the European and Asian markets, Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay revealed an interview with TechCrunch. While Apple Pay is available in only six countries right now — the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, China, and Singapore — Bailey stated that Apple’s goal is to have Apple Pay available in “every significant market that Apple is in. Bailey confirmed Apple’s plans to expand the service to Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific region, noting that the company is “talking to many partners” to determine how rapidly the service can be rolled out elsewhere. Leaks in February indicated that France and Brazil may also be on the list for this year, and Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted earlier this month that Apple may also be considering a rollout in India soon.
A new report claims that Apple is working on a Siri-based competitor to Amazon’s Echo, but suggests that the solution will come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV set-top box, rather than the standalone speaker reported earlier this week. A source has told VentureBeat that the plan is to build on the Apple TV to “solve problems with the existing box and remote control,” noting that Apple wants the “Apple TV to be just the hub of everything.” Apple is said to have considered several options, and a standalone speaker was indeed under consideration at one point — however, that option was dropped due to the amount of money Apple has spent on the development of the new Apple TV.
Apple’s SVP Eddy Cue reportedly floated the idea of Apple making a bid to buy Time Warner late last year, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Three sources who were briefed on a meeting between Cue and Olaf Olafsson — Time Warner’s Executive VP of Corporate Strategy — at the end of last year revealed that Cue broached the idea of a bid to purchase the media company, although discussions did not go beyond a very preliminary stage and never included any higher-level Apple or Time Warner executives. The purpose of the meeting, held at Time Warner’s Manhattan headquarters, was to discuss ways in which the two companies could build a business relationship, such as including Time Warner’s cable channels in the streaming service that Apple has been developing.
Pokémon GO is now open to beta testers in the U.S. while the game is still in active development. The game, first announced last fall, uses an iPhone’s GPS to let users catch, trade and battle over Pokémon based on their location in the real world. Phones will notify players when they are approaching a Pokémon “in the wild” and give them the chance to catch it by using the touch scree to throw a Poké Ball. Poké Balls and other special items can be collected at PokéStops, placed at “interesting places such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments.”
Apple’s attempt to bypass Indian rules to open its own retail locations in the country has been rejected, Bloomberg reports. The company was expected to qualify for an exemption from rules forcing single-brand retailers to obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, applying as a provider of cutting-edge technology. But sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board ruled Apple has to comply with the regulations, refusing to certify Apple for the exemption.
The decision still needs to be ratified by the government, meaning it could be overturned, but the ruling is a significant blow for Apple’s prospects in the country given most of its products are made in China and don’t meet the FIPB criteria. Apple already trails Samsung and Micromax in India due to the high price of its products. The company has ramped up advertising efforts in India in recent months, with Tim Cook likening the market there to China a decade ago.
Update: Bloomberg reports India’s finance minister has ratified the FIPB’s ruling, seemingly ending Apple’s plans to open its own stores in the country for the time being. The company will have to begin procuring at least 30 percent of device components in India if it wants to sell them through its own retail stores.
Apple has begun talking to charging station companies about how to charge electric cars and is hiring engineers with expertise in the field, Reuters reports. After years of ongoing speculation about Apple’s automotive ambitions, the company appears to be tackling software issues and laying the groundwork for infrastructure to power an electric vehicle. Apple specifically seems to be responding to a longstanding gripe with electric cars — “filling up” the battery. Overcoming the hurdles presented by a lack of public charging stations and the extended time currently necessary to charge a car’s battery could be the opportunity Apple is looking for to make its mark on the industry.
Apple has rehired a top encryption expert to bring stronger security to a range of its products, Reuters reports. Jon Callas, who worked at Apple in the 1990s and again from 2009 to 2011 to design the Mac’s encryption system, has rejoined the company to address security concerns in the wake of Apple’s public spat with the FBI. Both Apple and Callas declined to discuss his role at the company, but he is the brains behind several well-respected secure communications companies, including PGP Corp, Silent Circle and Blackphone. Callas has publicly stated he is opposed to companies being compelled to break into their own encryption by law enforcement, but has floated the idea that the government should be allowed to take advantage of undisclosed software vulnerabilities to hack into systems, provided they disclose the vulnerabilities afterward so they can be patched. The FBI hasn’t bought into that type of arrangement, withholding its method of breaking into iPhones from Apple thus far.
Hyundai has released a software update that brings CarPlay to eight additional vehicles. The company didn’t publicly announce the news, but dealers were informed on May 19 that the 2016 Elantra GT, 2015 and 2016 non-hybrid Sonata, 2017 Santa Fe Sport, 2017 Santa Fe, 2015 and 2016 Genesis Sedan and 2016 Tucson would all be eligible for the upgrade as of yesterday.
Plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against Apple after replacement Touch ID sensors resulted in their iPhones becoming non-operational are now fighting the company’s efforts to dismiss the case, Apple Insider reports. The issue cropped up in February, when iPhone owners who had used third-party service centers to replace Touch ID sensors started getting “Error 53” messages that left their devices locked and unusable. Each Touch ID sensor is paired with its unique device and can’t be replaced without causing problems with Touch ID and Apple Pay, but the release of iOS 9.2.1 locked all other functions on iPhones with replacement sensors as well.
A new report from The Information (subscription required), reveals that Apple is preparing to release a Siri SDK for third-party developers, as well as possibly releasing a standalone Siri-capable hardware device, similar to the Amazon Echo. The report suggests that a Siri SDK will likely be unveiled at WWDC next month, allowing third-party developers to make services available directly through Siri — something that many iOS developers and users have been hoping to see since Siri was first introduced by Apple five years ago. While Apple has provided direct integration with a small number of third-party services like OpenTable and Shazam, and “deep links” introduced in iOS 9 last year provide some integration for searches to open within apps, an open SDK would likely allow any iOS developer the ability to tie Siri requests directly into their own apps.
The report notes that the Siri hardware device is likely a little farther off, although sources suggest that the device has been in development by Apple since before the Amazon Echo was introduced last year. The Siri hardware device is expected to include a speaker and be web-connected. It should also include deep integration with HomeKit — a feature still lacking on even the fourth-generation Apple TV — and the device should be able to use AirPlay. An actual timeframe for the release of the Siri hardware device is unclear. [via 9to5Mac]
The Spotlight search on iOS devices now provides results for certain emoji. Searching with the hamburger emoji, for example, provides a list of nearby burger joints in Maps. Searching using the dress or pants emoji returns Maps results for clothing stores, while a dress shirt with a tie emoji curiously returns results for clothing retailer apps before the Maps listings. Searching the stack of American cash emoji returns results for nearby banks, but searching the stack of yen or Euros only provides web results.
During Startup Fest Europe, Tim Cook compared Apple’s ambitious hopes for improvements to Apple Watch functionality to a car’s computer monitoring system, Bloomberg reports. “If you drive for a while and your car gets too hot, it says pull over. If you need an oil change, it says check your oil. What’s the equivalent for the body?” Cook said to the crowd. The current Apple Watch monitors vital signs and encourages users to move around or exercise at regular intervals, but Cook hopes to see a watch that will know more about the body and even be able to recommend a doctor’s visit when it’s necessary.
The latest alleged leaked iPhone images, dug up by HDBlog off of the Chinese Baidu forum, show schematics and metal casts of what appear to be the rear shells of an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As mentioned in some previous reports, the new images show the larger dual camera setup to be exclusive to the larger phone. Smart Connector holes are also nowhere to be seen on either model.
Apple has released the first betas for iOS 9.3.3 and tvOS 9.2.2 to developers today. Both betas are likely to be minor updates; we’ll update if there are any major findings. Apple just released iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1 to the public one week ago.
Another alleged iPhone 7 leak from Chinese social network Weibo shows a more refined, similar design to past leaks and schematics (via Nowhereelse.fr), with a protruding circular camera on the rear shell. Antenna lines are also seen once more at the top and bottom of the device. The new leak, however, doesn’t match another recent leak which featured two holes between the camera and the flash. There’s also no Smart Connector seen on the rear of the iPhone on this new leak, which we previously learned was a possibility.
Apple has pulled the iOS 9.3.2 update for the 9.7” iPad Pro and is working on a fix, according to a tweet from Rene Ritchie of iMore. A report earlier today at MacRumors noted that they have received a number of reports that the update has been causing an “Error 56” message on some 9.7” iPad Pro devices, although not all iPad Pro users are impacted by the problem and the larger 12.9” iPad Pro also appears to be unaffected. Users who have encountered the problem have found their devices rendered unusable. Users are prompted to plug their devices into iTunes to restore, however, an iTunes restore does not fix the problem, leaving the affected iPad Pro devices bricked. MacRumors notes that they have heard several reports that Apple is replacing iPad Pro devices that have been bricked by the update as no other fix is available for the problem. Users who have not updated to iOS 9.3.2 should see iOS 9.3.1 as the latest version available; other iOS devices appear to be unaffected and the update remains available for all other models.
BMW may finally be bringing CarPlay support to at least some of its vehicles, according to a new report at Bimmerpost News. The report notes that the German price list and catalog for the X5M and X6M, which take effect in August, list several new technology options, including a touchscreen LCD and Apple CarPlay. An analysis of the report by 9to5Mac highlights that the translated price list text also reveals the possibility of wireless CarPlay support, although it acknowledges that it’s unclear whether the translation refers to wireless CarPlay or simply standard Bluetooth capabilities independent of CarPlay support. While it’s unclear which specific models will feature CarPlay support, several commenters on the original Bimmerpost News article have pointed to press releases stating that the 3 series will be included with CarPlay to come as an update later in the year.