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Microsoft Announces Surface Book i7, Desktop PC 'Surface Studio,' and Windows 10 Creators Update

At its media event today in New York City, Microsoft announced a new update coming to Windows 10 devices that's focused on creativity and productivity tools, as well as two major new pieces of hardware: the Surface Book i7 and Surface Studio. The Surface Book is the second generation of last year's original model, while the Surface Studio is the company's all new, all-in-one desktop PC that's aimed at the high-end, enterprise market with a starting price of $2,999.

Windows 10 Creators Update

Coming in early 2017, Microsoft today announced the newest update for Windows 10 devices, which it calls the "Creators Update." In the update, the company aims to enhance user productivity with a collection of 3D creation tools, including a new update to Paint called "Paint 3D," that use simplified interfaces to let anyone work and produce fully 3D artwork and projects. With a Windows Phone -- and eventually coming to more devices -- users can even scan real-world objects into digital form to send to friends and family.

Microsoft also showed off the upcoming "3D magic" in the Creators Update using Hololens, including a way for users to preview pieces of furniture in their own homes from a web browser. Windows 10 is gaining support for various VR headsets from companies like HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, that all let users interact with the Creators Update's "mixed-reality" abilities, including a feature called "Holo Tours" that transports Windows 10 users into 360-degree videos taken around the world.

Priority contacts will be placed on the Windows 10 toolbar in the Creators Update, making it easy to send documents, PowerPoint presentations, pictures, videos, and more by simply dragging and dropping the information onto the corresponding contact. Likewise, these contacts will gain urgent priority when sending anything to you so users can "cut through the noise," and avoid missing emails and texts from close family and friends.

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Apple Said to Debut Three Glass-Backed iPhone 8 Models, Including New 5-Inch Size, in 2017

Apple is working on three new iPhone 8 models to be released in 2017, all of which will include glass-backed bodies, reports Japanese news site Nikkei. Previous rumors have also pointed towards three iPhone 8 models, but past information suggested that Apple would release one "premium" glass-backed model with an OLED display and two "standard" aluminum models rather than three models with a glass body.

Citing a supply chain source, Nikkei says Apple will release the three iPhones in the following sizes: 5.5 inches, 5 inches, and 4.7 inches. The site still believes one premium model with a curved edge-to-edge OLED display will be sold alongside two models that have standard LCD displays.

Edge-to-edge iPhone concept image via ConceptsiPhone
"Apple has tentatively decided that all the 5.5-inch, 5-inch and 4.7-inch models will have glass backs, departing from metal casings adopted by current iPhones, and Biel and Lens are likely to be providing all the glass backs for the new iPhones next year," the source said.
All three iPhone 8 models will use glass supplied by Biel Crystal Manufactory and Lens Technology in China for both the front and back, which will be held together with an aluminum frame. Foxconn has been working on glass backs, but Biel is said to have the technological edge.

Because it is early in the development cycle, Nikkei warns that Apple's plans could still change and it could decide to scrap plans to offer three devices. In 2016, early iPhone 7 rumors also pointed towards three devices, including one 4.7-inch iPhone and two 5.5-inch models, one with dual cameras and one with a single camera. The single camera model was reportedly scrapped six months ahead of the iPhone 7's launch.

Rumors suggest Apple is planning on introducing significant design changes in the iPhone set to be released in 2017. Along with an edge-to-edge display that includes built-in Touch ID and other sensors, the device is said to include no Home button, advanced biometric features, an improved Taptic engine, and wireless charging.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)

Apple to Announce New App Focused on TV Show Discovery at Tomorrow's Event

apple_tv_diagonalApple plans to announce a new app that will help viewers discover TV shows at its "Hello Again" media event tomorrow, according to Dawn Chmielewski for USA Today.

The app, dubbed "The Watch List" internally but expected to have a different name, will reportedly recommend TV shows based on the content users access through their Apple TVs.

For example, an FX Networks subscriber might receive a recommendation to watch the new dramatic series Atlanta.
For network programmers, it provides a central hub for promoting new shows — a helpful tool at a time when old programming tricks for launching a new series, such as wedging a freshman show next to a hit program, don’t work in the digital world.
The report suggests an Apple TV focus, but it does not specifically mention if the app will be for iOS, tvOS, or both platforms.

Apple's "Hello Again" event kicks off at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday at its Cupertino, California headquarters.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tags:, October 2016 event
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

Tim Cook: 'We Don't Buy' the Need to Give Up Privacy for AI

iOS-9-SiriDuring today's fourth quarter 2016 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about Siri, artificial intelligence, home assistants vs. mobile assistants, and balancing AI with security, which led to some interesting new insights into Siri's popularity and Apple's privacy stance.

According to Cook, Apple is now getting more than 2 billion Siri requests per week. "It's very large," he said, "and to the best of our knowledge, we've shipped more assistant enabled devices than anyone out there." He went on to highlight Apple's efforts to deliver a great Siri experience around the world. While most AI services are limited to the United States, Siri is available in many countries. "We put a lot of energy into that," Cook said.

Cook also said that he believes there's more value in having a phone with a personal assistant built in, like Siri, than a home device. "We live in a mobile society," he said. "People are constantly moving from home to work and to other things they may be doing. And so the advantage of having an assistant on your phone is that it's with you all the time." He went on to say that there's still a market for a home assistant like the Amazon Echo, but that usage on a phone "will likely be much greater."

On security, Cook said that Apple does not believe there's a need to compromise security for the sake of artificial intelligence.
In terms of the balance of privacy and AI, this is a long conversation, but at a high level, this is a false tradeoff. People would like you to believe you have to give up privacy to have AI do something for you, but we don't buy that. It might take more work, it might take more thinking, but I don't think we should throw our privacy away. It's sort of like the age old argument between privacy and security. You should have both. You shouldn't have to make a choice.
In the past, rumors have suggested that Apple's staunch dedication to privacy has held back the development of Siri. Apple is said to employ "policy czars" that make sure Apple services are not collecting customer data, something that has restricted the way Siri can be used.

Apple has, however, made some important steps forward with Siri in recent years through the use of machine learning and a neural network, advancements Cook highlighted earlier in the call. Just this year, Apple was able to open up Siri to third-party developers, and the company is said to be hard at work on some major improvements that will allow Siri to do more and to be built into products like a rumored Echo-like smart home device.

Tim Cook Comments on Apple Car Rumors, Says There are Technologies That Will 'Revolutionize' Car Industry

Apple-car-silhouetteApple held its fourth quarter 2016 earnings call this afternoon, where Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about the Apple Car by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Cook didn't comment on Apple's plans, of course, and said there's "nothing to announce today," but he did give some insight into how Apple approaches new technologies and new product categories and said the car space is "interesting" because of the potential for new technologies.
I can't speak about rumors, but as you know, we look for ways we can improve the experience and the customer's experience on different sets of products. We're always looking at new things and the car space is an area where it's clear there are a lot of technologies that will become available... or will be able to revolutionize the car experience. It's interesting from that point of view. But certainly nothing to announce today.
Cook was also questioned about Apple's R&D spending, which has accelerated in recent quarters and has sparked speculation that it's evidence a major car project is in the works. On the subject of R&D, Cook said Apple is "confidently investing in the future" and that's the reason for the increase in R&D spending.

Recent rumors have suggested Apple has refocused its car project. The company has shelved plans to build a an electric car for now, and is instead working to build a self-driving software platform.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Apple Reports 4Q 2016 Results: $9B Profit on $46.9B Revenue, 45.5M iPhones

Apple LogoApple today announced financial results for the third calendar quarter and fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $46.9 billion and net quarterly profit of $9 billion, or $1.67 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $51.5 billion and net quarterly profit of $11.1 billion, or $1.96 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 38 percent compared to 39.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 62 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.57 per share, payable on November 10 to shareholders of record as of November 7. The company currently holds $237.6 billion in cash and marketable securities.

For the quarter, Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones, down from 48 million in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were down to 9.3 million from 9.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, and Mac sales fell to 4.9 million from 5.7 million.

For the full fiscal year, Apple generated $215.6 billion in sales with $45.7 billion in net income, down from $233.7 billion in sales and $53.4 billion in net income for fiscal 2015. As predicted, 2016 marks the first full-year revenue decline for Apple since 2001.
“Our strong September quarter results cap a very successful fiscal 2016 for Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re thrilled with the customer response to iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2, as well as the incredible momentum of our Services business, where revenue grew 24 percent to set another all-time record.”
Apple's guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2017 includes expected revenue of $76-78 billion and gross margin between 38 and 38.5 percent.

Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q4 2016 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.

Conference Call and Q&A Highlights are available in reverse chronological order after the jump.

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Tag: earnings

Images of New MacBook Pro With Magic Toolbar Leaked in macOS Sierra 10.12.1

macOS Sierra 10.12.1, released yesterday, includes hidden Apple Pay images that depict the brand new MacBook Pro with an OLED touch panel that's set to be announced by Apple on Thursday, October 27.

In addition to confirming that such a product is in the works, the images give us our first full look at the redesigned MacBook Pro ahead of its launch. An OLED touch panel is located on top of the keyboard, where the function keys would normally be placed, and it very clearly supports Touch ID, as it is seen used with Apple Pay.

As has been rumored, the touch panel, which may be called the "Magic Toolbar," appears to be contextual, changing based on what's on the screen. In the images, Apple Pay dialog is depicted, asking a customer to confirm a purchase with a finger on the panel. It appears Touch ID is built into a nearly-invisible power button located next to the display.

Aside from the OLED touch panel, the new MacBook Pro looks similar in design to the existing models. It looks like the 13-inch MacBook Pro is used in the images, suggesting the machine will gain speakers located at the side of the keyboard.

Thickness can't be determined from the orientation of the MacBook Pro in the images, but rumors suggest the new machine is thinner and lighter weight than existing models. A redesigned hinge can be seen in the images, suggesting it is indeed quite a bit thinner. Also visible are much flatter keys, similar in design to the keys of the Retina MacBook, which use a new butterfly mechanism.

Ports are not visible, but based on past part leaks, we're expecting four USB-C ports and a headphone jack, with the HDMI port, MagSafe port, and SD card slot being eliminated.

Apple will announce the new MacBook Pro on Thursday, October 27 at 10:00 a.m. A new MacBook Air model is also expected, and new iMacs are a possibility. MacRumors will provide live coverage of the event both on and on the MacRumorsLive Twitter account.

(Thanks, Richard!)

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tag: October 2016 event
Buyer's Guide: Retina MacBook Pro (Don't Buy)

Apple Has Dozens of Engineers Working on Car Operating System in Canada

Apple-car-silhouetteAt an Apple research and development facility in Kanata, Canada, Apple has two dozen former BlackBerry QNX employees helping develop a car operating system, reports Bloomberg.

The operating system is described as the "software core" of a future car platform, similar to iOS or macOS Sierra. It would be the base used to power other software, such as a self-driving car program that's being developed by a separate Apple team or a rumored heads-up display feature.
The autonomous software was only one of many features once planned to run on the car operating system. For example, Apple engineers envisioned a heads-up display showing apps such as maps that could be manipulated by the company's voice-based digital assistant Siri, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The BlackBerry employees, who work with dozens of other software engineers at the Canadian location, formerly developed the BlackBerry QNX platform, which powers many in-car infotainment systems. Among those employees is Dan Dodge, who ran BlackBerry's automotive software division and developed QNX before he joined Apple in July. Dodge is said to have a key role overseeing the development of the software project.

While the Canadian team is developing Apple's in-car software platform, several other "Project Titan" teams are working on other features. A self-driving platform simulation group, which includes VR expert Doug Bowman, has created simulators that use virtual reality to test Apple's self-driving software, for example.

Over the course of the last few months, Apple's car project has shifted focus from building a vehicle to developing a self-driving car system. Apple is said to have shelved its car plans "for now," and is instead working on a software platform that could allow it to partner with existing carmakers or return to developing its own car in the future.

Hundreds of employees on the car team have been reassigned, laid off, or have left the company since August, just a few months after longtime Apple executive Bob Mansfield took over the project. Apple has continued hiring for new software-related positions, however, and executives have given the automotive team until late 2017 to "prove the feasibility" of a self-driving car platform.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

What to Expect at Apple's 'Hello Again' Mac Event

Apple is planning to hold an event on Thursday, October 27, which will focus solely on giving the Mac lineup some much-needed attention. Many of Apple's Macs have gone more than a year without an update, like the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, while others, like the Mac mini and the Mac Pro, have gone several years without a refresh.

This is Apple's first Mac-only event in years and the biggest Mac announcement since the Retina MacBook debuted in early 2015.

MacBook Pros

The MacBook Pro received a major redesign in 2012, and four years later, it's about to receive another complete overhaul. With a new body, radical new features, and revamped internals, the MacBook Pro is expected to be the headlining product of Apple's October 27 event. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has even called the MacBook Pro "the most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple."

The MacBook Pro will continue to be available in 13 and 15-inch size options, but it will feature a thinner and lighter form factor than the current MacBook Pro, bringing it more in line with the 12-inch MacBook.

The body of the machine will not be tapered like the MacBook Air or the Retina MacBook, but it is said to have shallower curves around the edges, a wider pressure-sensitive Force Touch trackpad, metal injection mold-made hinges, thin speaker grilles next to the keyboard, up to 2TB of storage space, and a flatter MacBook-style keyboard with more stable keys that use a butterfly mechanism and single LED backlighting.

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New macOS Virtual Keyboard Layouts Confirm Rumors of MacBook Pro OLED Touch Bar

A collection of new assets within the system resources for the virtual keyboard on macOS 10.12.1 essentially confirms Apple will be releasing new notebooks that include a touch-based OLED bar in lieu of the physical function key row seen on all current Macs, as has been rumored for the upcoming MacBook Pro.

On 10.12.0, the System Preferences assets for Apple's virtual keyboard - which lets users type on a Mac without a physical keyboard - include a number of different keyboard image files covering the physical key layouts used across Apple's product lineup, including full-height versus half-height function rows and different international layouts. Each file represents an image of macOS Sierra's virtual keyboard that mirrors the user's current physical keyboard layout, including a row across the top for function keys, Escape, and a power or eject key.

In yesterday's 10.12.1 update to Sierra, a new set of assets was discovered by MacRumors reader Gabriel Lorin, revealing an updated physical keyboard layout coming for machines supporting the new operating system version. Three additional sets of layout files are included in system resources on macOS 10.12.1, with each image depicting a virtual keyboard that lacks the standard tactile row of function keys.

The image files do not directly represent the OLED touch bar and its functionality, which will likely be managed using separate preferences, but the omission of the function row entirely in these new layouts leaves no other reasonable explanation beyond those key functionalities being moved to a separate location such as the rumored touch bar.

The significantly redesigned MacBook Pro, which is expected to be at the forefront of Apple's Mac event on Thursday, has been expected to include an OLED touch bar for some time now, so today's discovery is just another piece in a long line of rumors and evidence leading up to Apple's announcement later in the week. The panel is rumored to include Touch ID so users can gain easy access to a locked MacBook and perhaps direct Apple Pay functionality, and the remainder of the OLED keys will change contextually depending on which app is active on the computer.

Besides a 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro, Apple is believed to be launching a new 13-inch MacBook Air at the event, but recent reports suggest that users may have to wait until 2017 for a refresh to the iMac and a new standalone 5K display.

Apple Has Created 'Detailed Mockups' of iMessage for Android

iMessage-AndroidEarlier in the year, rumors began swirling around the possibility Apple might launch a version of iMessage for Android smartphones due to the company's increased focus on services, "which means opening up certain avenues beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms."

The original report pointed to a potential announcement at WWDC, which came and went with no such news, and an Apple executive later commented that keeping iMessage on iOS has the understandable advantage of helping sales for iPhones and iPads.

In a larger piece today discussing the degree to which iMessage's "stickiness" is acting as the glue to help keep users loyal to iOS, Daring Fireball's John Gruber briefly outlined these previous rumors and provided further fuel to the flames. Gruber mentioned that he's "heard from little birdies" that a handful of "detailed mockups" of iMessage for Android have been shared around Apple.

The user interface of the Android app is said to have gone through numerous designs, from one that looks identical to the version on iOS, to another that has a "pure Material Design," using Google's design language it developed a few years ago. Gruber still thinks iMessage on Android "might happen sooner or later," mainly because of iMessage's new monetized Messages App Store, which could net Apple increased income in its already profitable services category if it translated the app to Android.
I’ve heard from little birdies that mockups of iMessage for Android have circulated within the company, with varying UI styles ranging from looking like the iOS Messages app to pure Material Design.
Apple undoubtedly creates mockups for all types of products and services, the vast majority of which never make it to release, and it's unclear exactly how far along the iMessage for Android preliminary designs were at the time of their circulation through Apple, or when exactly that occurred. Still, Gruber notes that while an Android version of iMessage "may never see the light of day," even the existence of such mockups "strongly suggests that there's no 'of course not' to it."

Apple currently distributes three apps on the Google Play store for Android, including Apple Music, Move to iOS for users who are transitioning from an Android smartphone to an iPhone, and Beats Pill, an app used to interact with a Beats Pill speaker. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said Apple Music is Apple's way of testing the water ahead of bringing additional Apple services to other platforms, so it's a possibility that iMessage could be one of those services.

Apple Forecasted to Report First Full-Year Revenue Decline Since 2001

Apple will report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings results later today, and both the company and analysts project a year-over-year decline in iPhone sales and overall revenue for a third consecutive quarter. Apple will then have posted its first full-year revenue decline since 2001, with the decline expected to continue through the holiday quarter. Wall Street projects Apple will return to growth in 2017.

Apple previously forecasted September quarter revenue of between $45.5 billion and $47.5 billion, which would be up to 12 percent lower than the $51.5 billion in revenue it posted in the year-ago quarter. The consensus among analysts is around $47 billion in revenue, at the higher end of Apple's guidance, according to earnings estimates aggregated by Philip Elmer-DeWitt and Jim Edwards.

Apple analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon has forecasted declining sales across Apple's entire core product lineup, including 43.7 million iPhones, 9.1 million iPads, 5 million Macs, and 1.9 million Apple Watch units. One continued bright spot for Apple is expected to be its services category, projected to rise 20% to $6.1 billion on the strength of the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, and AppleCare.

Apple analyst Brian White of Drexel Hamilton continues to recommend AAPL stock to investors, noting that shares remain undervalued. His price targets remains $185, or nearly 57% higher than Apple's $117.86 price at the time this article was published. White believes Apple's "sales, profit and iPhone cycle have bottomed" and that iPhone 8 sales can drive another year of growth.

Apple will report its fiscal fourth quarter earnings at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time, followed by a conference call to discuss the results at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. MacRumors will be providing full coverage of Apple's earnings results alongside a live transcript of the call. Check back for the latest updates.