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Chris Lattner Says Opportunity to Work on Tesla's Ambitious Self-Driving Efforts Was 'Irresistible'

chris-lattner-portraitEarlier this month, Swift creator Chris Lattner announced he will be stepping down as director of Apple's Development Tools department to lead Tesla's Autopilot engineering team as VP of Autopilot Software.

Lattner did not explain the reason for the move, but he later denied a report claiming he "felt constrained" due to Apple's culture of secrecy. So, we decided to reach out to him to learn about his true motivations.

As it turns out, Lattner told MacRumors the answer is actually very simple: he is ready to move on to something new.
I've been writing code for more than 30 years, and 16 of those years have been in the developer tools space. I love it, but I am ready to move on to something else. Autopilot is clearly incredibly important to the world because of its ability to save people's lives (and increase convenience). It is also a very, very hard technology problem and my experience building large scale software and team building is useful. Of course, I’ve also been a huge Tesla fan for some time.
He added it was "a very difficult decision," but noted the opportunity to work with Tesla's Autopilot team was "irresistible."
This was a very difficult decision, because I care deeply about the technology and people at Apple and because I could see myself staying there for many more years. In the end though, the opportunity to dive into a completely new area and work with the amazing Tesla Autopilot team was irresistible.
At Tesla, Lattner will help the company achieve one of its biggest goals: fully self-driving vehicles. As of October 2016, Tesla said all vehicles produced in its factory, including the Model 3, have the hardware needed for "full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver," and it's now only a matter of time before the technology is enabled.


Tesla:
All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, the car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination or just home if nothing is on the calendar. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed. When you arrive at your destination, simply step out at the entrance and your car will enter park seek mode, automatically search for a spot and park itself. A tap on your phone summons it back to you.
Tesla Autopilot is semi-autonomous in its current state for tasks such as steering and parking. Tesla's second-generation hardware suite has eight cameras that provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve ultrasonic sensors and a forward-facing radar allow for detection of objects, even through heavy rain, fog, dust, and the car ahead.

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Tesla remains committed to enabling full self-driving capabilities by the end of the year, but the process of gaining regulatory approval, which Tesla said may vary widely by jurisdiction, will presumably be a long and challenging process. Once approved, however, the technology will truly change cars forever, and it's easy to imagine why Lattner would want to be part of that change.

At Apple, he led a group of about 200 people responsible for Swift, Xcode, Swift Playgrounds, Instruments, CPU and GPU compilers, and low-level tools, among other things. These tools are used both within Apple and by third-party developers targeting the iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS software platforms.

Lattner was hired at Apple in 2005 to bring his LLVM Compiler Infrastructure to production quality for use in its products. He then started working on the Swift programming language in 2010, and it became a key focus of the Development Tools team in 2013. Swift was ultimately introduced at WWDC 2014.


Swift now has a large community of developers contributing to it since it became open source in late 2015, so Lattner is in a good position to pursue a new opportunity without jeopardizing future development of the language. His duties will shift to Ted Kremenek, who had already been overseeing Swift for some time.

Lattner said Ted has been "one of the quiet but incredible masterminds" behind Swift, which has an "incredible future ahead of it."

Tags: Swift, Tesla

FTC Targeting Qualcomm for Forcing Apple to Use its Modems [Updated]

The United States Federal Trade Commission today filed a complaint against Qualcomm, accusing the company of violating the FTC Act by using anticompetitive tactics to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors (aka LTE chips) for smartphones.

According to the FTC, Qualcomm uses its position and its portfolio of patents to impose "onerous and anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers," negatively impacting its competitors.

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The complaint specifically addresses a deal with Apple in which Qualcomm required Apple to exclusively use its modems from 2011 to 2016 in exchange for lower patent royalties.
Qualcomm precluded Apple from sourcing baseband processors from Qualcomm's competitors from 2011 to 2016. Qualcomm recognized that any competitor that won Apple's business would become stronger, and used exclusivity to prevent Apple from working with and improving the effectiveness of Qualcomm's competitors.
Up until 2016, Apple only used Qualcomm modems in its line of iPhones, deviating from the norm with the iPhone 7. Both Intel and Qualcomm modems were adopted for the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, leading to some compatibility and performance discrepancies.

Qualcomm is also accused of refusing to license its standard-essential patents to competing suppliers and implementing a "no license, no chips" tax policy where it supplies its baseband processors only when manufacturers agree to Qualcomm's preferred licensing terms, causing smartphone makers to pay higher royalties to Qualcomm when a competitor's modem chips are used.

The FTC has asked the court to order Qualcomm to put a stop to its anticompetitive conduct and take action to "restore competitive conditions."

Update: According to Qualcomm, the FTC's complaint is based on "flawed legal theory, a lack of economic support and significant misconceptions about the mobile technology industry." Qualcomm says it has never withheld or threatened to withhold chip supply to obtain unfair licensing terms.
"This is an extremely disappointing decision to rush to file a complaint on the eve of Chairwoman Ramirez's departure and the transition to a new Administration, which reflects a sharp break from FTC practice," said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel, Qualcomm Incorporated.

"In our recent discussions with the FTC, it became apparent that it still lacked basic information about the industry and was instead relying on inaccurate information and presumptions. In fact, Qualcomm was still receiving requests for information from the agency that would be necessary to an informed view of the facts when it became apparent that the FTC was driving to file a complaint before the transition to the new Administration. We have grave concerns about the two Commissioners' decision to bring this case despite a lack of evidence supporting the allegations and theories in the complaint. We look forward to defending our business in federal court, where we are confident we will prevail on the merits."


Tags: FTC, Qualcomm

Verizon Cracking Down on Customers Still Using Faulty Galaxy Note 7 Devices

Though Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 has been discontinued for several months because of battery issues, there are still "thousands" of Verizon customers who are continuing to use the devices against the company's advice.

To put a stop to the rogue Note 7 users, Verizon tells Fortune that it's prepared to take more extreme steps to disable the devices. Verizon has already issued a carrier update that stops the Galaxy Note 7 from working, but some customers have been able to avoid installing it.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Verizon plans to make it so calls placed on remaining Galaxy Note 7 devices will only connect to the company's customer service representatives, with the exception of 911 calls. Verizon is also considering charging customers who continue to use the Note 7 for the full retail price of the device, as it has sent out refunds.
"In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase," a Verizon spokeswoman tells Fortune. "The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them."
Verizon customers who return a Note 7 device to the company continue to be eligible for a $100 bill credit and no upgrade fee as an incentive to choose a new smartphone.

Samsung has not officially announced the results of an internal investigation it conducted on the Galaxy Note 7, but company sources yesterday told Reuters that Samsung has concluded the battery was the reason behind the fires. Samsung was able to replicate the fires during its investigation, though the cause was not able to be explained by hardware design or software.

Samsung's official results will be shared on January 23, and the company is also expected to share details on measures it will take to prevent similar battery issues in the future.

AT&T Shuts Down 2G Network and Ends Cellular Connectivity for Original iPhone

AT&T yesterday announced that its 2G wireless network was officially shut down on January 1, 2017, following four years of planning for its discontinuation.

As The Verge points out, the end of the 2G network means the original first-generation iPhone (also known as the iPhone 2G) will no longer receive cellular service from the AT&T network, effectively shutting it down.

Few people appear to have been using the original iPhone as there were no complaints from iPhone owners two weeks ago when the network was shuttered, but going forward, customers who keep the device as part of a collection will only be able to use it on WiFi.

iphone.jpg
Originally released in June of 2007 and discontinued in 2008, the first iPhone was made obsolete by Apple back in 2013, and it has not received software updates since the 2009 release of iPhone OS 3, later renamed iOS 3.

While the end of the 2G network seems to have had little impact on iPhone owners, it did manage to cause significant issues for the San Francisco Muni bus and train system. NextMuni, used to predict arrival times of buses and trains, ran on AT&T's 2G network. Muni vehicles without upgraded systems installed don't show up on NextMuni, a problem that the San Francisco transit agency believes could take weeks to solve.

According to AT&T, shutting down its 2G network frees up valuable spectrum for future network technologies, including 5G. AT&T says the spectrum will be repurposed for LTE.

Tag: AT&T

Apple's Bozoma Saint John on Apple Music: 'We're Developing Something Very Special'

Apple Music executives Larry Jackson, Bozoma Saint John, and Zane Lowe sat down for an interview with Complex, where they discussed Apple Music's performance over the last eighteen months and where the streaming service is going to go in the future.

According to the trio, Apple Music has evolved and is continuing to evolve, with Apple now focusing heavily on pop culture and expanding beyond music into TV and movies.

applemusicteam
Image via Complex

"Every day something is changing or moving or evolving for people who love music and entertainment," said Lowe. "We're all still working it out, and even when you don't have the answer, it's still a privilege to be in the conversation." Saint John, meanwhile, described Apple Music as a "living, breathing brand."

When discussing the topic of the music industry, Saint John went on to share what she hopes Apple Music will look like five or 10 years in the future. According to Saint John, Apple is "developing something very special."
We're developing something very special and we just want people to pay attention to it. My five-year vision is that I want every single person on the planet to be engaged on Apple Music. I truly believe we've created something very, very special. I don't think anyone else can do this. I will scream from the mountain top until everyone knows. Can I add one thing, too? This is a love fest right now, but I also feel like our conflict makes us better, too. There's plenty of times where I have screamed at Larry. And though he has not screamed back, I have felt his frustration.
As we've learned over the last few months, Apple is making a serious push into original television programming to better compete with other music services like Spotify and Pandora. Apple is already working on two Apple Music-related shows, a documentary called "Vital Signs" starring Dr. Dre and a reality television show based on the "Carpool Karaoke" spot made famous by "Late Late Show" host James Corden.

More original, scripted television shows, even those unrelated to the music industry, will follow, and movies could be on the horizon as well.


For more details on Apple Music, make sure to check out the full interview over at Complex.

Apple Possibly Planning to Launch iPhone 6 Battery Exchange Program [Updated]

Apple may be preparing to launch an iPhone 6 battery exchange program for undisclosed reasons, according to Japanese website Mac Otakara.

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It is unclear if the iPhone 6 program would be related to Apple's existing iPhone 6s battery replacement program. Apple launched that program in November after it determined that a "very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down" due to a manufacturing issue.

A number of iPhone 6s users said their devices typically shut down with around 30% battery life remaining. Apple noted the shutdowns are not a safety issue, but rather a feature designed to protect the iPhone's internal components from low voltage. However, affected batteries still need to be replaced.

Apple also has an iPhone 5 battery replacement program, which it launched in August 2014 after it determined that a "very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently," so an iPhone 6 program would not be unprecedented.

Mac Otakara accurately leaked several iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus features, including the removal of the headphone jack and a glossy black color, but some of its rumors, such as a new Jet White color for iPhone 7, have yet to materialize or proven incorrect. File this rumor in the "maybe" cabinet.

Update: Apple has reportedly told AppleInsider that "there are no plans" for an iPhone 6 battery exchange program.
"We constantly evaluate service statistics," one source inside Apple corporate said. "There are no plans or grounds for a wide iPhone 6 battery exchange program at this time."


Apple Hikes U.K. App Store Prices By At Least 25 Percent Due to Weak Pound

App StoreApple today announced changes to its App Store pricing policy in India, Turkey, and the U.K., citing fluctuating foreign exchange rates and taxation changes as reasons behind the move.

In the United Kingdom, Apple is raising the prices for apps and in-app purchases by at least 25 percent, in light of the weak pound exchange rate, which has been down against the dollar by about 19 percent since the Brexit vote.

Apps on sale for $0.99 cents will now cost an equivalent £0.99, rather than £0.79. Apps at price Tier 2 will cost £1.99, up from £1.49, with similar equivalent hikes for higher tiers and in-app purchases. Subscription prices will not be affected.

In India, a service tax of 14 percent as well as levies of 0.5 percent were introduced by the government from December 1, 2016. In Romania, the tax rate has increased from 19 to 20 percent. In Russia, a value added tax (VAT) rate of 18 percent has been introduced. Apple will submit the collected revenue to authorities on developers' behalf.

Apple's email notification to developers today covered the iOS and Mac App Store, but price increases are likely to come into effect across iTunes purchases like TV shows and movies. In October, Apple hiked Sterling prices across its Mac lineup for similar reasons.

The App Store price increases are set to go live in the next seven days. The announcement comes on the same day U.K. inflation surged to 1.6 percent, an increase put down to rises in air fares and the price of food, as well as prices for motor fuels.

Tag: App Store

New 15-Inch MacBook Pro With Kaby Lake and 32GB of Desktop-Class RAM Coming Later This Year

Apple will release updated Mac notebooks with Intel's next-generation Kaby Lake processors later this year, according to the latest research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

2016_macbook_pro_lineup
Kuo said new 12-inch MacBook models with Kaby Lake processors will enter mass production in the early second quarter, which starts in March, and noted a 16GB of RAM option could be added—presumably as a high-end or built-to-order configuration. The two current 12-inch MacBook configurations include 8GB of RAM.

Likewise, Kuo said new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Kaby Lake processors will start mass production in the early third quarter, which starts in July. The research note did not specify how much RAM these models will have, but 16GB could remain the limit due to the restrictions of current memory designs.

Interestingly, Kuo also mentions a "15-inch MacBook" that will include 32GB of RAM and enter mass production in the early fourth quarter, which starts in September. He said this model will be "the most significantly redesigned product this year," and he believes it will adopt desktop-class RAM to satisfy high-end users.

Given the high-end specifications, it is likely that this 15-inch MacBook would be part of the MacBook Pro lineup, but Kuo did not specify. Beyond faster processors and increased memory, Kuo said most other specifications and the design of all of the notebooks will be similar to equivalent models released in 2016.

Kuo believes the new Kaby Lake notebooks will be power efficient, which may positively affect shipments. He estimates that Mac notebook shipments will resume year-over-year growth at about 10% on the strength of the new models, while shipments will be quicker as production delays affecting 2016 models are resolved.

Kuo also expects Apple to discount the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a standard row of function keys this year as that model gradually replaces the 13-inch MacBook Air in Apple's notebook lineup.

While no release dates were mentioned, Kuo previously said he expects new MacBook Pro models with 32GB of RAM to launch in the second half of 2017.

Apple Warns You When Your Display is Using Significant Energy in Latest macOS Beta

Apple advertises that the latest MacBook Pro models provide up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge for web browsing and iTunes movie playback, but a user's mileage may vary based upon factors such as display brightness, which apps are running, and external devices connected.

For this reason, Apple lists apps using a significant amount of energy under the battery menu in the macOS menu bar. The feature enables users to monitor which apps are drawing a lot of power and impacting battery life, whether it be the built-in Spotlight tool or a power-hungry web browser with several tabs open.

mac-apps-using-significant-energy
Now, Apple has gone one step further and expanded the feature to include display brightness. On the latest macOS Sierra beta, when a Mac's display is set above 75% brightness—or at least 13 out of 16 notches—a new item called "Display Brightness" is listed under the battery menu.

Clicking on "Display Brightness" lowers the Mac's brightness to 75%. Likewise, when we updated a new MacBook Pro to the fourth beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.3, the display's brightness was automatically lowered to 75%. This is the same brightness level as Apple used during its latest MacBook Pro battery tests.

mac-significant-energy-display-brightness
New: "Display Brightness" is now listed and "Apps" has been dropped from the title

Battery life on the latest MacBook Pro models has been a controversial topic since the notebooks launched in October. A subset of users have reported getting as little as three to six hours of battery life on a single charge, sometimes even with only basic web browsing and other non-intensive tasks.

Apple has consistently stood by its advertised battery life for the latest MacBook Pro. It did, however, remove the "time remaining" battery life indicator on macOS Sierra 10.12.2, noting the estimates "couldn't accurately keep up with what users were doing" because of the "dynamic ways" people use their Macs.

Consumer Reports initially failed to recommend the latest MacBook Pro because of battery life inconsistencies, but it later worked with Apple and learned that a Safari bug triggered by its own testing configuration was to blame for the mixed results. Apple fixed that bug in macOS 10.12.3, and Consumer Reports has since reversed course and now recommends the latest MacBook Pro after retesting.

The new feature is currently limited to beta testers. It will be widely available when macOS 10.12.3 is officially released over the coming days.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, macOS Sierra
Tag: battery life
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

Apple and Tim Cook Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Apple today has honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a full-page tribute on its website. A photo of Dr. King is accompanied by a quote of his: "Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."

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Apple CEO Tim Cook also tweeted a photo of Dr. King and said "we honor [him] by working to help achieve justice and equality."

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States to commemorate Dr. King around his birthday. The iconic Civil Rights Movement leader would have turned 88 years old on Sunday.

Jimmy Iovine Says Apple Music Will Be 'An Entire Pop Cultural Experience' With New TV Shows

After a report by The Wall Street Journal stated that Apple is planning a push into original television series production for 2017, Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine spoke to reporters over the weekend and explained why the company is looking to add TV to its streaming music service (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Iovine said that the company's main concern is enticing users into choosing Apple Music over competitors like Spotify and Pandora, which offer free, ad-supported tiers for users. Ultimately, Iovine and other Apple Music executives believed that another basic streaming music service with on-demand access to music at $10 a month would not be enough to keep it alive. He called the move into TV Apple's attempt to build "an entire pop cultural experience."

Key Speakers At The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC)
"At Apple Music, what we're trying to create is an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video," he told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

"If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you're not musicians, you know?" Iovine continued when pressed about the report. "We're going to do whatever hits popular culture smack on the nose. We're going to try."
The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the Dr. Dre-starring Vital Signs could be among the first of Apple's scripted television series to launch this year, with six episodes rolling out all at once, following the Netflix strategy. Despite all of the information known about Vital Signs since its announcement nearly a year ago last February, it's still unclear whether or not users will be able to stream the new Apple Music TV shows on an Apple TV, or just on iOS.

Besides Vital Signs, Apple is said to be working on a reality competition series called Planet of the Apps as well as an updated version of Carpool Karaoke. For its new push into television, the company plans to create original shows comparable to HBO's Westworld and Netflix's Stranger Things.

Apple Shares New 'Pairing,' 'Siri' and 'Notes' AirPods Ads

Apple today shared three ads highlighting the newly-released AirPods on its YouTube channel. Two of the ads are focused on AirPod features, like Siri and instant pairing, and star dancer Lil Buck while the third ad is centered on showcasing the device's design.


In "Pairing," Lil Buck simply flips open the AirPods charging case and watches them instantly pair with his iPhone 7. He then proceeds to dance on the side of a car as the camera zooms in. Eventually, Apple's "Practically Magic" iPhone 7 slogan pops on screen.


In "Siri," Lil Buck double taps an AirPod to activate Siri and then asks her to play a song. She does, and the man proceeds to dance on the street before dancing on the side of a wall.


In the final ad, "Notes," the AirPods are used as musical notes on a black background playing the piano part of Marian Hill's "Down." The ad eventually cuts to a quick shot of an AirPod charging case opening and the AirPods pairing to an iPhone.

All three ads feature the song "Down" from Marian Hill. They are the first set of ads for the AirPods, although all of them also make sure to include mentions of iPhone 7. "Pairing" and "Siri" are the only two that use iPhone 7's "Practically Magic" slogan.


Apple also uploaded a new Apple Watch Series 2 ad to its YouTube channel called "Close Your Rings." The ad features three people exercising and trying to complete their daily move, exercise and stand goals, one of the more popular fitness features on the Apple Watch.

Update: Apple has uploaded a fifth AirPods video, entitled "Stroll." The new video is the longest in the AirPods ad series at one minute, and it features the same general theme as the other videos.



Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: Apple ads, AirPods