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Apple Invites Retail Employees in Wheelchairs to Test watchOS 3

Apple last week sent out a memo to employees, inviting those in wheelchairs to help the company test an upcoming watchOS 3 feature that adds a dedicated wheelchair mode to the Apple Watch.

With the wheelchair setting, Activity options can be customized for wheelchair users. Wheelchair pushes contribute to all-day calorie goals, there are wheelchair-specific workouts, and the "time to stand" reminders are replaced with "time to roll" reminders.

During the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple said wheelchair tracking had been in development for months through a partnership with the Lakeshore Foundation and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which saw 300 people in wheelchairs participating in more than 3,000 hours of activity research, and the beta testing period will give Apple more time to refine and perfect the feature.

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In its memo to employees, Apple said it is committed to improving the Apple Watch experience for users in wheelchairs, which is why retail employees in wheelchairs are being invited to test watchOS 3. While retail employees have been invited to test iOS and macOS betas in the past, watchOS 3 betas are restricted to developers and internal corporate testers because downgrading from a watchOS beta is not possible without a proprietary adapter.

It is not clear if employees testing the feature are receiving the same watchOS 3 beta updates as developers, but it seems likely. With the retail beta test and developer testing, Apple is hoping to collect more data on movement and better optimize the new wheelchair exercises available in the workout app.

Apple offers some of the best accessibility features available in smartphones, smart watches, and other devices, and along with wheelchair activity tracking, the company's latest operating system updates bring a range of accessibility improvements to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Apple Simplifies 'Trade Up With Installments' iPhone Program by Relying on Carrier Financing Plans

Apple today made some changes to its recently introduced "Trade Up With Installments" payment plan, which is designed to let prospective customers trade in an old iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone, putting the value of the device towards a new 24-month iPhone installment plan.

Previously, Apple's Trade Up program relied on a 24-month installment loan from Apple partner Citizens Bank, but Apple is simplifying the service and instead relying on financing plans handled by carriers. Trading in a device at the Apple Store will now allow the value of the device to be applied to the purchase of a new iPhone from a carrier. Credits can be used to lower the cost of an outright purchase or to reduce monthly payments.

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It is no longer necessary to undergo a credit check to trade in a device, nor do customers have to agree to a 24-month installment loan or minimum financing. Going through carrier financing does mean iPhones purchased through the program will be locked to the carrier a customer chooses, while phones previously available through Trade-In were unlocked.

Old wording:
Available to qualified customers with a credit check and eligible U.S. credit card. Monthly payment may vary depending on condition and type of device you trade in. Offer only available on presentation of a valid, government-issued photo ID (local law may require saving this information). Requires a 24-month installment loan with a 0% APR from Citizens Bank, N.A. (subject to any interest, fees, or other costs payable to the issuer of the credit card). Requires financing of at least $239.
New wording:
Sales tax on the full value of new iPhone and any applicable fees may be due at time of purchase. Value of your current device may be applied toward purchase of a new Apple iPhone via an available carrier financing plan.
With the changes comes an update to the site explaining the program, with new wording that calls it "Trade Up" instead of "Trade In" and new maximum trade-in values of $250 instead of $300. Apple has also removed all of the information on monthly payments based on trade-in, as pricing will now vary by carrier and trade-in value.

The program is otherwise unchanged, continuing to offer customers a way to apply the value of old devices to a new purchase. Estimated trade-in values, which are based on phone quality, range from $50 for the iPhone 4s to $250 for the iPhone 6 Plus. Customers are also still able to trade in other eligible smartphones from companies like Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, and LG, with all trade-ins done through Apple partner Brightstar.

Apple also continues to offer its dedicated iPhone Upgrade Program, which remains unchanged. With the iPhone Upgrade Program, customers can purchase an iPhone through Apple and trade it in each year for a new device.

Weak iPhone 7 Demand Predictions Continue With 'Conservative' Chip Orders

Apple "is being more conservative" when placing its orders with chip assembler Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, once again suggesting that the 2016 "iPhone 7" will face a weaker demand in comparison to normal cycles, due to a dearth of hardware innovation in the handset (via Nikkei). Apple wasn't specifically mentioned during ASE's recent shareholder meeting, but a reference to "the big client in the U.S." overtly ties in with Apple, which contributed 31.2 percent of ASE's $8.73 billion revenue in 2015.

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"The big client in the U.S. is a little more conservative when placing orders this year," said Tien Wu, ASE's chief operating officer, ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting.

"In the smartphone market, meanwhile, other players besides Apple are more aggressive regarding booking chips this year," Wu said. But, he added, "I don't think anybody is overly aggressive this year, so I don't think there would be any serious inventory correction issue similar to last year."
The doom and gloom forecast for iPhone sales this year have reached a high point in the middle of 2016, with recent reports suggesting the iPhone 7 is unlikely to reverse recent year-over-year declines in sales for the company. Most rumors cite the same reasons: consumer apathy due to a lack of innovation in comparison to last year's iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

The biggest hardware revisions of the iPhone 7 are predicted to center around the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the addition of a new dual-lens camera (possibly only on the 5.5-inch model), and restructured antenna bands. Otherwise, the devices are expected to look similar to the iPhone 6s form factor, with a mega-cycle upgrade hitting in 2017 in time for the line's ten-year anniversary.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: nikkei.com

Florida Man Sues Apple for $10+ Billion, Says iOS Devices Copy His 1992 Drawings

Florida resident Thomas S. Ross has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, claiming that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod infringe upon his 1992 invention of a hand-drawn "Electronic Reading Device" (ERD). The court filing claims the plaintiff was "first to file a device so designed and aggregated," nearly 15 years before the first iPhone.

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Between May 23, 1992 and September 10, 1992, Ross designed three hand-drawn technical drawings of the device, primarily consisting of flat rectangular panels with rounded corners that "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992."
What Ross contemplated, was a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touch-screen that was back-lit. He further imagined that it could include communication functions, such as a phone and a modem, input/output capability, so as to allow the user to write notes, and be capable of storing reading and writing material utilizing internal and external storage media. He also imagined that the device would have batteries and even be equipped with solar panels.
Ross applied for a utility patent to protect his invention in November 1992, but the application was declared abandoned in April 1995 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to pay the required application fees. He also filed to copyright his technical drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2014.

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While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience "great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money," he has demanded a jury trial and is seeking restitution no less than $10 billion and a royalty of up to 1.5% on Apple's worldwide sales of infringing devices.

Ross v. Apple, Inc. was filed with the Florida Southern District Court on June 27. The case number is 0:2016cv61471.

New 3D Touch Action in iOS 10 Lets You Prioritize App Downloads

After a few weeks of new iOS 10 features slowly being discovered by beta testers, one new 3D Touch-enabled shortcut was stumbled upon recently that will let users prioritize the bulk download of apps. When more than one app is installing, users on iOS 10 can 3D Touch to select "Prioritize Download" and temporarily pause the installation of other apps while the selected one gains favor.

ios 10 prioritize download twitter
On devices running iOS 9 and earlier, bulk downloads require users to run through every app downloading and tap to pause them, leaving only their favored app downloading. Apple's streamlined process in iOS 10 should greatly alleviate the frustration in moments where multiple apps are waiting to be downloaded and installed onto an iPhone.

(Thanks, Eric!)

Related Roundup: iOS 10
Tag: 3D Touch

Here's the Upcoming Apple TV 'Remote' App

At its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled an all new "Remote" app for iOS devices, which has been entirely overhauled to make it easier than ever to control a fourth-generation Apple TV with an iPhone.

In the video below, we took a look at the Remote app to give MacRumors readers an early glimpse at what's in store. The new Remote app, which connects to an Apple TV via Bluetooth, mimics the exact layout of the Siri Remote for a navigation experience that's streamlined across different input methods.


When content like movies or music is playing, the Remote app includes a full "Now Playing" view for control purposes, along with a dedicated Menu button and a Siri button. As with the physical Apple TV Remote, navigation through the iOS app is done via touch gestures.

Entering text, like passwords and usernames, is much easier with the iOS Remote app because any text field automatically brings up a keyboard. Full Siri voice commands are supported, as is dictation. Because it includes the same gyroscope and accelerometer in the Siri Remote, an iPhone can be used as a dedicated game controller for playing games on the Apple TV.

The Apple TV Remote app is currently available to developers and can be downloaded through the Apple Developer website. It's not clear when the Apple TV Remote app will be released, but it may be released alongside tvOS 10 and iOS 10 this fall. The developer beta of the app only requires iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1, so there's a possibility it may launch ahead of the new operating systems.

For details on new Apple TV features coming in tvOS 10, make sure to check out our tvOS 10 roundup. Don't miss out on our previous videos, which have covered iOS 10, watchOS 3, and macOS Sierra:

- WWDC 2016 Overview in Seven Minutes
- iOS 10's Overhauled Lockscreen
- The New iOS 10 Photos App
- The New iOS 10 Messages App
- macOS Sierra - Siri
- iOS 10 Hidden Features
- watchOS 3 Overview
- iOS 10's Redesigned Apple Music Experience
- 3D Touch in iOS 10
- The New Home App for Controlling HomeKit Devices
- Everything New in tvOS 10

We've also got roundups for all of the upcoming operating systems, including watchOS 3, macOS Sierra, and iOS 10.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Rumored 'Deep Blue' iPhone 7 Said to Actually Be Very Dark Space Gray

Following a sketchy rumor last week that said Apple is planning to introduce a "Deep Blue" color option for the upcoming iPhone 7, Japanese blog Mac Otakara has clarified to AppleInsider that the new color will actually be a "much darker" variant of space gray that is "close to black, though not quite black."

iPhone-5-vs-5s-space-gray
Black and slate iPhone 5 on left vs. space gray iPhone 5s (Mike Cronin via YouTube)
Monday's indications from Macotakara sources appear to be a clarification from earlier reports that suggested Apple would ditch space gray for a "deep blue" color option. Sources who claim to have seen the next-generation iPhone coloring apparently mistook the darker space gray for a blue shade.
The so-called "new, darker shade" could more closely resemble the look of the "space black" stainless steel Apple Watch, pictured below, which is darker than the "space gray" aluminum Apple Watch Sport. Meanwhile, Apple will reportedly continue to offer the iPhone 7 series in silver, gold, and rose gold color options.

Apple has used different shades of "space gray" and "black and slate" across its iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch lineups over the years. The iPhone 6s and iPad Pro, for example, each have a lighter shade of "space gray" compared to the iPhone 5s and original iPad Air respectively.

Space-Gray-Apple
Apple's vision of "space gray" has changed over the years (MrHarryT via Reddit)

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus/Pro in September. The 4.7" and 5.5" smartphones are rumored to feature a thinner iPhone 6s-like design, sans a 3.5mm headphone jack, while each may have a faster Apple A10 processor, improved waterproofing, repositioned antenna bands, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi. A dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM may be exclusive to the 5.5-inch model.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: macotakara.jp

Google Reportedly Working on Own-Branded Phone Set for Release This Year

Google is set to launch its own smartphone by the end of the year in an effort to compete more directly with Apple and Samsung devices, according to The Telegraph.

Citing "senior sources" familiar with the matter, the report claims that the company plans to unveil a Google-branded handset that is separate from its Nexus range of phones, which are designed and manufactured through partnerships with the likes of LG and HTC. Google is also said to be in discussions with mobile operators about the release of the phone by the end of 2016.

nexus_6_lollipop
The Nexus 6 handset by Motorola, one of Google's manufacturing partners.

If true, the news would signal a significant shift in ambitions for the company's mobile arm, which has historically focused on software development with its Android OS and left handset design largely in the hands of hardware manufacturers.

By contrast, Google's own internal handset division will take full control over "design, manufacturing and software," the newspaper reported. No other details were offered by the sources, while Google declined to comment on the story.

Last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company was "investing more effort" into phones, although this was interpreted to mean it wanted to work more closely with existing Nexus device makers. Similarly, in April, Recode reported that former president of Motorola Rick Osterloh was returning to Google to take over hardware development on the company's Nexus phones and its OEM partnerships, but no indication was given that an own-branded phone was in the works.

Google's Android OS is used on over 1.4 billion mobile devices globally, but differences in handsets have sometimes seen the company struggle to ensure rollout consistency between software updates.

A Google-branded phone would therefore make sense from a software point of view and allow the company to control the hardware running its OS and let it showcase its other mobile software services.

Such a move however isn't without risk. In April, the European Commission formally charged Google with monopoly abuse, accusing it of using the success of Android to unfairly push its search engine and Chrome browser on users. Not only that, much of the company's mobile service revenue is made through iOS devices, so Apple could potentially make life hard for Google if it felt threatened by its move into mobile hardware design.

Tags: Google, Android

Latest Alleged Leaked Image of iPhone 7 Depicts Larger Rear Camera

Two images have emerged online this morning allegedly showing the rear cases of an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus leaked from the Chinese supply chain.

The first image posted by French site nowhereelse.fr claims to show the back of the upcoming 4.7-inch iPhone 7 with the expected antenna bands restricted to the edges of the casing, rather than running along the rear.

Alongside the usual microphone and LED flash, it also appears to show a larger protruding camera cut-out, which is consistent with rumors that the device will feature a larger back camera with likely improved CMOS sensor.

iPhone 7 leak
Interestingly, Engadget's take on the same alleged leak cites a couple of claims from its source at Chinese repair shop Rock Fix that we've heard before. One is that the headphone jack is "here to stay" on the 4.7-inch handset, the other is that the iPhone 7 will come in two flavors: a base model to replace the iPhone 6, alongside the expected flagship model.

The first claim comes despite widespread and apparently confirmed rumors indicating that Apple will switch exclusively to Lightning and Bluetooth audio output for wired and wireless headphones.

The second claim appears to be associated with an earlier leaked image from Rock Fix depicting a trio of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus display components that could just as easily be from early prototype stages. Both claims seem unlikely at this late stage in the rumor cycle.

iphone 7 plus leak dual lens
Meanwhile, the alleged shot of an iPhone 7 Plus case depicts the now-familiar pill-shaped camera enclosure, corroborating widely circulated rumors that Apple plans for a superior dual-lens camera to be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch handset.

In the close-up shown here, the top of the plastic shell enclosing the case also appears to have an unusual opening in the centre. Nowhereelse.fr suggests this could indicate the presence of a sensor or port of some kind, although such an inclusion would be unusual at this location.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 series in September. The smartphones are also expected to retain iPhone 6s-like designs with faster Apple A10 processors, dustproofing and waterproofing, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: nowhereelse.fr

tvOS 10 Overview: Single Sign-On, Dark Mode, New Siri Abilities and More

tvOS, the operating system that runs on the fourth-generation Apple TV, is also set to receive some updates this fall alongside iOS, macOS, and watchOS.

tvOS isn't getting as many changes as these other operating systems, but as can be seen in the video below, there are some important new features being added that make it easier to find content and easier to watch live television.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

New in tvOS 10 is Siri's ability to search for movies by topic, bringing up content around a theme. Queries like "Show me high school comedies from the 80s" or "Find me movies about dinosaurs" now work. Siri's also gaining the ability to open live channels directly through a Live Tune-In feature that works when you say something like "Watch CBS News" or "Watch ESPN," and Siri can also manage HomeKit accessories.

At WWDC, Apple mentioned that YouTube search is on the way, allowing users to ask Siri to find cute kitten videos or videos of hamsters eating tiny burritos, but that's actually a feature that's going to be available ahead of the fall release of tvOS.

A new Single Sign-On option for pay TV apps is available in tvOS 10, allowing users to sign in once with their cable credentials to access live cable content available through their cable subscription. Apple plans to introduce a new Remote app for iOS devices that mirrors the layout of the Siri remote, and developers are getting a lot of new APIs to build into their apps.

For the first time, games will be able to require a controller, so more complicated controls will be possible, and there are also APIs for recording and live broadcasting, using HomeKit, and accessing iCloud Photo Library photos.

Other new features in tvOS include a dark mode, a Continuity option for easier text input on the iPhone, automatic app downloads, a "Memories" feature in Photos, and a redesigned Apple Music app.

Not all tvOS features are working in the developer beta now, including Single Sign-On, but Apple will likely add functionality as the beta testing process progresses.

For full details on the new features coming in tvOS 10, make sure to check out our tvOS 10 roundup. Don't miss out on our previous videos, which have covered iOS 10, watchOS 3, and macOS Sierra:

- WWDC 2016 Overview in Seven Minutes
- iOS 10's Overhauled Lockscreen
- The New iOS 10 Photos App
- The New iOS 10 Messages App
- macOS Sierra - Siri
- iOS 10 Hidden Features
- watchOS 3 Overview
- iOS 10's Redesigned Apple Music Experience
- 3D Touch in iOS 10
- The New Home App for Controlling HomeKit Devices

We've also got roundups for all of the upcoming operating systems, including watchOS 3, macOS Sierra, and iOS 10.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Apple's New Differential Privacy Feature is Opt-In

When Apple introduced iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 at the 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference, it also announced plans to implement a new technology called Differential Privacy, which helps the company gather data and usage patterns for a large number of users without compromising individual security.

At the time, Apple said Differential Privacy would be used in iOS 10 to collect data to improve QuickType and emoji suggestions, Spotlight deep link suggestions, and Lookup Hints in Notes, and said it would be used in macOS Sierra to improve autocorrect suggestions and Lookup Hints.

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There's been a lot of confusion about differential privacy and what it means for end users, leading Recode to write a piece that clarifies many of the details of differential privacy.

First and foremost, as with all of Apple's data collection, there is an option to opt out of sharing data with the company. Differential data collection is entirely opt in and users can decide whether or not to send data to Apple.

Apple will start collecting data starting in iOS 10, and has not been doing so already, and it also will not use the cloud-stored photos of iOS users to bolster image recognition capabilities in the Photos app.
As for what data is being collected, Apple says that differential privacy will initially be limited to four specific use cases: New words that users add to their local dictionaries, emojis typed by the user (so that Apple can suggest emoji replacements), deep links used inside apps (provided they are marked for public indexing) and lookup hints within notes.

Apple will also continue to do a lot of its predictive work on the device, something it started with the proactive features in iOS 9. This work doesn't tap the cloud for analysis, nor is the data shared using differential privacy.
Apple's deep concern for user privacy has put its services like Siri behind competing services from other companies, but Differential Privacy gives the company a way to collect useful data without compromising the security of its customer base.

As Apple's VP of software engineering Craig Federighi explained at the WWDC keynote, Differential privacy uses hashing, subsampling, and noise injection to enable crowd-sourced learning without simultaneously gathering data on individual people.

Related Roundups: iOS 10, macOS Sierra

New Thunderbolt Display With Integrated GPU Still in the Works

Apple yesterday announced plans to discontinue the 5-year-old Thunderbolt Display, leaving it unclear if Apple's display business is coming to an end or if another model is in the works for a future release. According to BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, Apple isn't done with Thunderbolt displays.

In a tweet shared this morning, Paczkowski said he's heard from unspecified sources that a next-generation display will feature an integrated GPU, a possibility that was first bandied about in early June, ahead of WWDC.


A Thunderbolt Display with a built-in graphics card would be able to work with almost any Mac because it would be driven by an internal graphics card rather than the machine it's connected to.

It's believed Apple has not introduced a 5K display to match the 5K iMac because there are no machines that could run it over a single stream cable, a fact that will remain true even in upcoming machines like a rumored Skylake Retina MacBook Pro.

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Paczkowski doesn't include other details about the display Apple has in the works, but rumors have suggested it will feature a resolution of 5120 x 2880 and it's also likely to include USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 3.

Stock shortages ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference led to speculation that Apple could refresh the Thunderbolt Display at the event, but that did not end up happening. There is no word on when Apple might release a new display, but with an integrated GPU, it would not have any specific requirements and could theoretically debut at any time.

If a new Thunderbolt Display is planned for 2016, a logical guess at a release date might be in the fall alongside rumored redesigned Retina MacBook Pros.

Related Roundup: Thunderbolt Display
Buyer's Guide: Displays (Don't Buy)