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

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.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple may release iPhone with glass casing and AMOLED Screen in 2017

Apple will reportedly switch to non-aluminum casing, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed.

He noted some Apple’s competitors now offer smartphones with aluminum casings, and he believes next year’s iPhone will be provided with a glass back to stand out from the competition.

In a new report, Kuo said, that the iPhone will receive a major redesign in 2017, returning to the glass chassis. The company already adopts OLED technology in the wearable Apple Watch, but its iPhone lineup has relied on LCD technology since it first released in 2007.

“Apple already uses glass casing for iPhone 4/ 4S, and non-Apple brands have also been using glass casings. We therefore think a drop test will not be problematic for glass casing. A glass casing may be slightly heavier than an aluminum one of the same thickness, but the difference is so small that the use of the thinner and lighter AMOLED panel will compensate for that.”

Kuo suggests, a new AMOLED display panel will be thinner and lighter to compensate for the slight weight increase of glass compared with metal exteriors. Last week, the company reportedly reached a $2.6 billion agreement with Samsung to supply OLED panels for iPhone displays.

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A number of sources have already stated that Apple will introduce an OLED-based iPhone as early as 2017, with possible suppliers eventually including Samsung, LG Display, AU Optronics, Japan Display, Foxconn-owned Sharp, and others.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

iPad Pro comes to the MLB dugouts this season

Apple and Major League Baseball have signed a multi-year deal that will see the sports league’s coaching staffs use iPad Pros in dugouts to make better use of data during games.

Sport managers and coaches have traditionally used notebooks, or just paper to monitor data. The new deal means, that MLB will provide 12.9 inch iPad Pros to every team in the league to keep track of player statistics, stat breakdowns, interactive data and more. 

Teams will be able sift through performance stats from current and past seasons, weigh potential pitcher-hitter matchups, look at “spray charts” showing where a player is likely to hit a ball, even cue up videos of plays from previous games.”

“We’re not just replacing binders with tablets, we’re actually helping them do things that weren’t possible before,” said Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. 

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The iPads will be equipped with a custom app titled ‘MLB Dugout’, created by MLB’s media division with help from Apple. The Dugout app will allow each team to view only their own data rather than league-wide data well. The app will be preloaded before each match, but the MLB plans to update the app so that data could be provided in real time. Pllayers will now have access to videos of pitchers during the game rather than having to retreat to the locker room.

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Such deal became possible because of a recent change to the rules which worked on the ban on smartphones, tablets and laptops in the dugouts. 

iPad is expected to help speed up the pace of matches, making baseball more interesting to a younger generation drawn to fast action sports.

Apple isn’t the first company to offer such deal. Microsoft has agreed to a similar deal with the NFL, to feature Surface tablets prominently during games.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple aiming to debut OLED iPhone in 2017

Apple is reportedly planning to push up the debut of the OLED iPhone to 2017, which is a year earlier than previous estimates, reports Nikkei, who was among the first publications to report on iPhone’s rumored switch to OLED.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Apple has contacted LG and Samsung to talk about ramping up OLED production in time for next year’s handset launch.

If true, the company will debut OLED displays two years earlier than predicted by noted analyst Ming Chi Kuo. Last year, Kuo said that he believes Apple to continue using existing TFT-LCD panels until at least 2019.

Apple has long shown interest in OLED technology and even revealed a number of patents related to the tech. In addition, December report claimed that the company had opened a secret lab with at least 50 engineers working on advanced OLED and LCD projects.

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OLED displays are said to be thinner and more power-effeicent than LCD technology and will allow for deeper blacks. The iPhone maker currently uses OLED technology in the Apple Watch.

Apps Lists, iPad, News/Rumors

Next iOS 9.3 Beta will return Apple Pencil Navigation Functionality

According to the Apple’s statement to The Verge, the Pencil’s ability to be used as a finger replacement for the user interface navigation will return in the next iOS 9.3 beta.

“We believe a finger will always be the primary way users navigate on an iPad, but we understand that some customers like to use Apple Pencil for this as well and we’ve been working on ways to better implement this while maintaining compatibility during this latest beta cycle,” a company spokesperson said. “We will add this functionality back in the next beta of iOS 9.3.”

The early iOS 9.3 betas removed key functionality from the Apple Pencil, and there were rumors saying the feature removal was intentional.

The first iOS 9.3 beta didn’t allow its users to use the Apple Pencil for such tasks like choosing text, scrolling, swiping between apps, accessing menus, and general editing functions in non-drawing apps. All these options are available in iOS 9.2, and their absence from four betas made users suggest the removal was both permanent and intentional. 

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A lot of iPad Pro owners complained for the inability to use the Apple Pencil for navigating and a number of customers noted they were not planning to upgrade to the new operating system if it meant being unable to use the iPad Pro outside of drawing apps.