Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple reportedly working on Amazon Echo-like device, will provide Siri SDK

According to a new report, Apple is working on a device similar to the Amazon Echo and is going to introduce a Siri SDK.

Apple is upping its game in the field of intelligent assistants. After years of internal debate and discussion about how to do so, the company is preparing to open up Siri to apps made by others. And it is working on an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer,” The Information reported.

A week ago Google officially presented its Amazon Echo competitor Google Home, while earlier this month the original Siri creators revealed their latest personal assistant Viv. 

The report says that the iPhone maker will give access to its Siri personal assistant to outside app developers by releasing an SDK. With its help, app developers will be able to make their apps and services accessible through Siri, similar to Amazon, Google, and Viv.

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Apple has previously cooperated with a number of third-party services, includingYelp, but those deals came from Apple working on a company-by-company basis. An SDK will allow any developer to integrate their app with Siri. The report also notes that the app developers would be responsible for ensuring that Siri connected to their app when appropriate.

Apple is expected to make the Siri SDK available in time for WWDC in just a few weeks. However, it is unclear when the actual hardware device will be available. The company is believed to bring Siri to the Mac at WWDC.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Alleged iPhone 7 prototype сase leak indicates 4 speakers

French language blog Nowhereelse.fr shared a set of photos purporting to demonstrate a prototype rear case for the next-gen iPhone featuring four separate speakers, two at the top top and an additional two at the bottom.

According to previous suggestions, the company may drop the headphone jack in the new iPhone and replace it with a second speaker that would let users take advantages of an additional audio amp provided by Cirrus Logic, which would additionally supply the noise-cancellation smart codec in an also-rumored Lightning-equipped headphone accessory.

The posted image was likely borrowed from a promotional video created by an Italian case maker which obtained this prototype case in anticipation of the upcoming iPhone 7 refresh. The photo shows the wider camera lens hole and no horizontal antenna lines.

The case also features a stacked camera and LED flash package setup, now aligned across the vertical axis in the upper left corner as opposed to horizontal alignment like on all current iPhones.

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According to other iPhone 7 rumors, the device may get the 3.5mm headphone jack, the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector and a dual-lens camera setup for better low light performance, better light sensitivity and the ability to adjust focus after the image has been taken.

Some other leaks suggest the company’s new iPhones will have look similar to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s series, bringing only minor tweaks to the design, while the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus model is expected to feature a dual-lens camera system and Smart Connector.

Apple is expected to announce the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this fall at a special media event in September.

iPhone, Mac, News/Rumors

Apple can allow users to unlock Mac via Touch ID on iPhone with OS X 10.12

Apple engineers are reportedly working on a remote unlock function that is tasked to let an iPhone unlock a Mac when in close proximity.

The auto-unlock feature may be integrated into OS X 10.12 update, which is expected to come in just a few weeks at its annual WWDC event.

There are also rumors speculating that Apple might also allow users to unlock a Mac using only an Apple Watch, though the company would have to devise a way to ensure security. This is similar to the functionality offered by the third-party app Knock. Last month, Knock’s developers even brought support for the Apple Watch, breaking real barrier to Apple adopting the same concept.

The feature, which uses Bluetooth LE frameworks, will likely serve as the automatic unlocking function on the Apple Watch, which allows an unlocked device to bypass the passcode restriction on a connected Apple Watch. iPhone’s Touch ID button would possibly be used as a verification method for simpler logins. 

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Apple is reportedly planning to reveal OS X 10.12, alongside iOS 10 and other platform updates, during its developer conference in San Francisco next month.

The 2016 Worldwide Developer Conference is set to take place from June 13th through June 17th in San Francisco.

In addition to the unlocking feature, the company is also working on integrating Siri into the Mac. Users may also see some improvements to Photos and iTunes. 

News/Rumors

Apple hiring wireless power engineers from uBeam

Multiple reports indicate that Apple has hired two engineers with an expertise in wireless charging from uBeam.

A report from The Verge reveals that the iPhone maker has recently hired Jonathan Bolus and Andrew Joyce, two engineers who formerly worked at uBeam, a startup that specializes in wireless charging technology.

UBeam is developing wireless energy from ultrasound, using high-frequency sound to power devices. The company’s technology utilizes a high frequency transmitter that emits inaudible ultrasonic sound through the air. The highly focused beam then targets receivers actively requesting power.

“Like a microphone, the receiver picks up the sound and converts it into usable electrical energy using our proprietary energy-harvesting technology,” says uBeam.

However, the company has recently been the subject of controversy as one former engineer criticized its technology in a blog post, noting it doesn’t work as promised.

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Earlier this year Bloomberg reported that Apple was planning to add wireless charging to the new iPhone it releases in 2017. The Cupertino company desires to implement a much more advanced technology that could allow users to walk around a room and have their device charging the entire time.

Apple isn’t a newcomer to wireless charging and has filed patents in the past, according to which, phones would be charged wirelessly up to three feet.

News/Rumors

Tim Cook meets Didi Chuxing’s president to discuss Didi acquisition

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Liu Qing, president of Didi Chuxing, visited an Apple Store in Beijing on Monday morning, just several days after Apple’s announcement about a $1 billion investment into Didi.

Accordung to the report by the state-controlled China Daily, the main goal of Tim Cook’s visit to Beijing was for an App Store “developer activity.” Apple CEO also revealed that app developers in China have now earned over $7 billion, half of which came in the past twelve months alone.

Then Cook stated that the company made its investment because Didi “has a very great management team,” and “its objective is also environmental, hoping to help reduce pollutions by making more efficient use of cars.”

Named the Chinese Uber, Didi is a ride sharing service and Apple’s investment happens at a time when the company is much rumored to be secretly developing an electric car project. Apple CEO said The Cupertino firm and Didi shared concerns for the environment.

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Previously Cook also stated that the Didi investment happened “for a number of strategic reasons,” including “a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market.”

China is the iPhone maker’s second-largest market by revenue which has been making moves to strengthen domestic firms.

News/Rumors

Apple invests $1B in Chinese ride sharing service Didi Chuxing

Apple is investing $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.

The step is a strategic investment that will help the Cupertino company better understand the Chinese market, CEO Tim Cook said to Reuters.

“We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market,” Cook said. “Of course, we believe it will deliver a strong return for our invested capital over time as well.”

Didi currently provides different transportation services in the country, including taxi and private car hailing, designated drivers and peer-to-peer products like ride-sharing. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal revealed the Chinese company was planning to raise a total of $1 billion from investors in a bid to compete against global ride sharing technology powerhouse Uber.

Didi currently controls China, facilitating more than 11 million rides each day. The firm rely on apps as a key mode of connecting passengers with drivers.

“That is what we do today in the car business, so we will have to see what the future holds,” Apple’s CEO, referring to Apple’s CarPlay infotainment platform.

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Didi Chuxing claimed that the investment by Apple is the single largest investment it has ever got. The firm also added that it now holds more than 87 percent of the private ride-hailing market in China.

Apple is rumored to be developing  an electric car under its Project Titan initiative. The iPbone maker is also working to revitalize itself in China.

News/Rumors

Foxconn reportedly deals to open $10 billion iPhone manufacturing plant in India

According to a new report from The Economic Times of India, Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is close to signing a deal with the Indian government to open an iPhone manufacturing plant in the country.

Foxconn is reportedly interested in 1,200 acres of land in Maharashtra, India. The manufacturing plant built on this land plot will reportedly focus mainly on iPhone manufacturing and would cost $10 billion.

Foxconn is reportedly planning to open 10 to 12 manufacturing plants in India by 2020. The firm previously manufactured Nokia products in India, but stopped production after losing Nokia as a client in 2014.

The iPhone maker has also been working to open Apple Stores in India, a step that would help to increase brand visibility and provide buyers first-party purchasing and service options.

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India has been very strict when foreign firms want to open retail stores in the country, but the government has been loosing up on those regulations over the past year. Apple has reportedly been given approval to open retail stores in the country thanks to its “cutting edge technology,” although the government did reject its plan to sell used devices.

Additionally, Apple is also planning to open a development center in Hyderabad, India. Work is expected to involve 150 employees, although 4,500 people will be employed during the construction process.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple Music introduces student membership subscription at 50% discount, $4.99 per month

Apple is today introducing an Apple Music student plan that allows students to subscribe to Apple Music for $4.99 per month. This discount is available for those who are enrolled in an eligible college or university. 

The offering will be accessible today in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and more countries. Prices may differ from region to region but the discount should be around 50% of the normal Apple Music price.

The new plan lets any academic student in the United States get an individual Apple Music membership for $4.99 a month, rather than pay the standard $9.99 subscription rate.

The student discount can be used for up to four continuous or non-continuous years after sign-up, so students can take gap years or breaks between semesters and still sign up again when they return to study. Moreover, the plan is offered to all students of all ages, regardless of degree. 

To qualify, students must be members of any eligible university or college.  Apple has cooperated with UNiDAYs to verify those who sign up to the student plan are legitimate students attending a school.

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The company stated it has reached 13 million paying Apple Music subscribers as of last week. Apple’s music service is also reported to get a significant design overhaul with iOS 10  with an emphasis on black and white backgrounds and text as well as more of a focus on album art.

In addition, the “New” tab in Apple Music will be replaced with a “Browse” option with improved organizational tools for finding new content, and the company will ask users to use a simplified “For You” category. The new Apple Music app is expected to launch at WWDC in iOS 10 and will be introduced through an iTunes update on the Mac.

iPhone, News/Rumors

TIME: Apple’s iPhone is most influential gadget of all time

TIME Magazine published its list of the 50 most influential gadgets of all time and Apple’s iPhone sits in the No. 1 spot.

The magazine reported that the iPhone is the most influential gadget of all time because of it “fundamentally changed our relationship to computing and information.”

“The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks,” TIME says, noting that iPhone marked a fundamental shift in computing. 

Meantime, Apple’s products appear on the list more than once. The company’s original Macintosh and iPod also made the top 10, coming in at No. 3 and No. 9, respectively. 

The Macintosh appears in the list thanks to its graphical interface, user-friendly mouse, and “overall friendly design.” “It forever set the standard for the way human beings interact with computers,” TIME reports.

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Apple’s iPad sits at No. 25 and iBook at No. 38. TIME praises iBook for being the first laptop to offer WiFi:

“The iBook’s brightly-colored, plastic trim may look dated now, but it was the first laptop to offer wireless networking.”

Sony took two top-5 spots with the No. 2 Trinitron television set and No. 4 Walkman, a gadget on which iPod iterated.

News/Rumors

FBI reportedly paid less than $1 million to unlock San Bernardino iPhone

A new report claims the U.S. Federal Bureau of investigation paid less than $1 million for the tool it used to unlock the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone 5c.

The FBI had to go through a third-party to gain access, as Apple refused to create a tool to do it. They now will be reportedly able to apply the technique to unlock other iPhone 5C models running iOS 9 without additional payment to the contractor who gave it.

However, even Comey doesn’t know who his agency contracted for the job.

It was first rummored that the FBI spent at least $1.3 million to get access to the device, as FBI director James Comey announced it cost “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months.”

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently examining the contents of the device attempting to find information to fill gaps in their investigation of the shooting last December which killed 14 people and wounded 22, two U.S. government sources. Investigators are trying to find out if shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, had associates or co-conspirators.

The FBI and the iPhone maker once again faced off in Congress last week to discuss encryption.