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Early 'iPhone 8' Case Has Vertical Camera Cutout, Suggests Front-Facing Touch ID

Mobile phone leaker KK Sneak Leaks posted an image on Twitter this morning purporting to show one of the first third-party protective cases for Apple's upcoming redesigned OLED iPhone, which isn't expected to launch until at least September.

The transparent case has a few features that are consistent with recent schematics purporting to depict the front-running design of the so-called "iPhone 8". Most prominent is the cutout on the upper left of the case which indicates vertically aligned dual cameras, as opposed to the horizontal alignment on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Purported third-party case for "iPhone 8" via KK Sneak Leaks

Conspicuous in its absence however is any sort of opening for a fingerprint sensor located on the rear, suggesting Touch ID will remain a front-facing feature. Apple is rumored to be trying to build Touch ID into the iPhone's display, but the company has reportedly been struggling with perfecting the technology, suggesting it could resort to putting the sensor on the rear of the device.

The pill-shaped volume buttons shown in the picture on the right side appear to be in their normal places, but the power button on the left looks longer than on previous iPhones, which is something we've also seen on recent dummy models. Elsewhere, the bottom of the case indicates standard speaker grille locations either side of what will presumably be an all-in-one Lightning connector.

Early case leaks have historically been fairly accurate indicators of new iPhone designs, with some exceptions, but this is a uniquely challenging year for third-party case manufacturers looking to nail down the final design.

Apple is still thought to be testing multiple prototypes for its upcoming "10th anniversary edition" iPhone, and rather than be privy to the final design, case makers may simply resort to following the most likely one based on the same leaks covered by rumor sites, so bear those caveats in mind.

Apple's 4.7-inch OLED iPhone is likely to be sold alongside two standard "S" cycle iPhones with LCD displays, which are said to be similar in size to the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Rumors suggest the leading candidate for the final chassis is a stainless steel frame sandwiched between front and rear symmetrical glass. Apple is also supposedly working on an inductive wireless charging solution for its "premium" handset model.

Rumors also suggest Apple's "iPhone 8" supplies may be highly constrained when the new range of phones launches, making it harder to obtain in the first few months of release, although this is not an unusual claim in the months preceding a new iPhone launch.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)

Apple to Provide Song Snippets for Music Video App Musical.ly

Apple is teaming up with popular music video app Musical.ly to promote Apple Music, reports Re/code. Apple will soon provide song snippets and clips to the service, which is designed to let users create and share their own music videos.

Apple Music content will be replacing content from UK-based provider 7digital as soon as tomorrow.


Through the partnership with Apple, and with Apple's access to licensing deals, Musical.ly will be able to expand the number of countries where it is available from 30 to 120.

Musical.ly, which calls itself an entertainment social network, has been around since August of 2014, but has recently seen a surge in popularity among teenagers. In exchange for the right to use Apple Music content, Musical.ly will promote the Apple Music service to its users and will let Apple Music subscribers listen to full songs within the Musical.ly app.

Lexus SUV Being Used for Apple's Self-Driving Software Test Spotted on the Road

Apple recently obtained a permit allowing the company to test its self-driving software on public roads in several Lexus SUVs, and now Bloomberg has shared details on the equipment Apple is using after one of the vehicles was spotted leaving an Apple facility.

Earlier this week, a white Lexus RX450h SUV was seen leaving an Apple building and was captured in a series of photos by an unnamed source who shared the images with Bloomberg. The vehicle is equipped with multiple sensors, cameras, and radar.

The sensors included Velodyne Lidar Inc.'s top-of-the-range 64-channel lidar, at least two radar and a series of cameras. The sensors appear to be products bought off the shelf from suppliers, rather than custom-made, according to an industry expert who saw the photos.
The vehicle is distinct from the vehicles used for Apple's mapping project, which uses a series of Dodge Caravans to capture data across the United States for the purpose of improving the Apple Maps app.

Apple was first granted a DMV permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads on Friday, April 14. At the time, a DMV spokesperson said the company had registered three 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs to be driven by six Apple employees with expertise in autonomous vehicles.


Apple's permit application and the appearance of the SUV confirm its work on a car-related project. Rumors originally suggested Apple was developing its own autonomous electric vehicle, but Apple is said to have since transitioned to building an autonomous driving system rather than a complete car.

In California, where Apple is testing its vehicles, companies that participate in the DMV's Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program must file Disengagement Reports that outline how many miles were covered with self-driving vehicles and whether any accidents occurred, so Apple won't be able to keep much of the testing on public roads a secret.

Apple's car team, led by Bob Mansfield, reportedly has until the end of the year to prove the feasibility of an Apple-designed autonomous driving system.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

New Apple Watch NikeLab Now Available for Purchase

Nike's latest Apple Watch, the Apple Watch NikeLab, is now available for purchase from the Nike website, Nike Lab stores, and the Apple Watch pop-up shop at the Isetan department store in Tokyo.

First announced last week, the Apple Watch NikeLab pairs a Space Gray Apple Watch Series 2 aluminum case with a black and cream perforated Nike band.


According to Nike, the Apple Watch NikeLab is limited edition and designed to be the "ultimate style companion" for runners. Like the existing Apple Watch Nike+, the Apple Watch NikeLab features a Nike watch face and integration with the Nike+ Run Club app.

Apple Watch NikeLab has the same pricing as an aluminum Apple Watch Sport at $369 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model. The new watch is available exclusively from Nike and the Isetan department store, marking the first Apple Watch that is not available in Apple retail stores and from the Apple website.

Apple and Nike first teamed up in September of 2016 for the Nike+ Apple Watch that launched alongside Apple's own set of Series 2 Apple Watch devices. Apple offers two Apple Watch Nike+ models in Silver and Space Gray aluminum along with standalone Apple Watch Nike+ bands.

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

Apple Increases App Store Pricing in Mexico, Denmark, and Countries That Use the Euro

Apple today sent out an email to developers announcing App Store pricing increases in Denmark, Mexico, and all territories that use the Euro currency. The new pricing changes will go into effect before the end of next week, with Apple citing changes in foreign exchange rates as the reason behind the price hike.
Due to foreign exchange rate changes, prices for apps and in-app purchases (excluding auto-renewable subscriptions) will increase in Denmark, Mexico, and all territories that use the Euro currency in the next 7 days. Auto-renewable subscription prices will not be affected. You can change the price of your subscription at any time in iTunes Connect with the option to preserve prices for existing subscribers.
French site iPhoneAddict has shared a chart listing the new pricing tiers in Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, and Slovakia. In those countries, app pricing will now start at 1.09 euros, up from 0.99 euros. Similar pricing increases will be seen in the other affected countries.


Along with the App Store price change, Apple has announced that a value added tax (VAT) rate of five percent will go into effect for customers in Taiwan starting on May 1, 2017. Apps and in-app purchases will be affected.
On May 1, 2017, a value added tax (VAT) rate of 5% will go into effect for customers in Taiwan buying apps and in-app purchases. We will administer the collection of taxes from customers and the remittance of taxes to the appropriate tax authority in Taiwan. Your proceeds will be reduced accordingly, and will be calculated based on the tax exclusive price.
Apple's App Store price hike in Denmark, Mexico, and countries that use the Euro comes just a few days after Apple announced a significant decrease in its affiliate program commission rate. Sites linking to the App Store used to receive a 7 percent cut when someone purchased an app, but that number will drop to 2.5 percent next week, impacting many websites that rely on App Store commissions.

Tag: App Store

Apple Seeds Fifth Beta of iOS 10.3.2 to Developers

Apple today seeded the fifth beta of an upcoming iOS 10.3.2 update to developers, just a few days after seeding the fourth iOS 10.3.2 beta and a little over a month after introducing iOS 10.3, which included features like a new Find My AirPods feature and Apple File System. Apple also released a minor iOS 10.3.1 update in early April, which focused on security improvements.

Registered developers can download the fifth iOS 10.3.2 beta from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed.


Apple doesn't provide detailed release notes for its beta updates, so we don't yet know what features, improvements, or bug fixes might be coming in iOS 10.3.2, aside from some fixes for SiriKit car commands that were outlined in the release notes for the first beta.

As a minor 10.x.x update, we can expect iOS 10.3.2 to offer bug fixes and performance improvements rather than outward-facing features. No notable changes were found in the first four betas, but if anything new is found in the fifth iOS 10.3.2 beta, we'll update this post.

Update: iOS 10.3.2 beta 5 has also been released for public beta testers.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

Huawei Continues to Catch Apple, But Still Fighting to Gain Popularity in United States

Huawei, the world's third-largest smartphone maker, continued to gain on Apple in the first three months of the year, with an impressive 21.7 percent growth, according to market research firm IDC.


Huawei shipped an estimated 34.2 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter, capturing 9.8 percent market share, based on data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. That's up from an estimated 28.1 million smartphones it shipped in the year-ago quarter.

By comparison, Apple shipped an estimated 51.6 million iPhones in the quarter for 14.9 percent market share. Apple essentially saw no smartphone growth in the quarter as the market remains highly saturated, and due to seasonality factors as consumers anticipate a widely rumored trio of new iPhone models.


Huawei has previously outlined its ambitions to dethrone Samsung as the world's largest smartphone maker within the next four years, a tall task that would require leapfrogging Apple in the process.

"We want to grow into top two market share, and, in the future, top one by 2021," Huawei's consumer head Richard Yu said in February.

Huawei's biggest problem is that it still lacks considerable brand awareness in the western world. In the United States, it does not even crack the list of the top ten most popular smartphone brands, largely because it lacks agreements with the country's biggest carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

American customers have to resort to retailers such as Best Buy or Walmart, or Huawei's direct sales website, to purchase one of their unlocked devices, reducing the brand's visibility in the country.

Huawei has yet to reveal any larger plans for the United States, but in Canada, the company will begin selling its flagship P10 and P10 Plus smartphones through nationwide carriers Rogers and Bell starting in early June. Huawei has also been pushing its brand in Canada during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If Huawei can find success in Canada, then perhaps it will consider tackling the much larger U.S. market next.

Tags: IDC, Huawei

Apple Again in Talks for Peer-to-Peer Mobile Payments, May Launch Its Own Visa Debit Cards

Apple is once again rumored to launch its own Venmo-like service, allowing iPhone users to pay friends and family members also on Apple's ecosystem. Sources speaking with Recode mentioned that Apple intends to announce the service -- which could have a name like "Apple Cash" -- later this year, potentially at its fall iPhone event.

Sources conflict on whether or not an announcement and release date have yet to be set, however, with another person familiar with Apple's plans suggesting that the company's Venmo-like service is still very early in development. Today's news of a potential ramp up of an in-house, peer-to-peer payments service from Apple comes over a year after the company was first rumored to be discussing such a service with a collection of U.S. banks.

Apple’s on-again, off-again flirtation with building its own money-transfer service appears to be back on.

The company has recently held discussions with payments industry partners about introducing its own Venmo competitor, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The service would allow iPhone owners to send money digitally to other iPhone owners, these people said.
The unnamed Apple payments service would include a major partnership with Visa, according to the sources, allowing users to obtain digital pre-paid cards that would run on Visa's debit network but be tied directly into Apple's peer-to-peer service, and could also be added into Apple Pay. In this way, users could get paid through so-called "Apple Cash" from a friend, and use the Visa card and Apple Pay to spend the money at a retail location or online, "without having to wait for it to clear to their bank account."

The peer-to-peer platform is being looked at as a way to boost Apple Pay adoption and usage, which Apple itself has admitted to be slow over its first two years, but which the company believes to be on the path to replace cash and cards. Apple is expected to not charge users of the new payments service, so the company's only profits from the platform would come from those who opt-in to use the Apple/Visa debit card, which some banks are concerned about.
The potential of Apple getting its own debit card, however, is not sitting well with some bank executives, sources told Recode. Some plan to raise their concerns with Visa next week during an annual summit that the credit card company is hosting for its bank partners.

“Banks spent heavily in insuring their cards were top of wallet when they all built and rolled out Apple Pay,” said Cherian Abraham, a digital payments executive at Experian. “So it’s justifiable to be concerned that Apple will have its own card and could potentially be top of wallet. If you are top of wallet, you are top of mind.”
There remain many questions in regards to Apple and Visa's potential partnership, including whether or not concerns from banks would scare Visa away, or if Apple would launch an enticing enough rewards program to convince people to ditch their current credit or debit card for the new one. To gain the most traction, sources believe that Apple could be targeting teens and young adults with the new service, because the pre-paid card would make it easy to spend the money sent to them from friends and parents through "Apple Cash."

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: recode.net

Mixtile Hub Smart Home Bridge Won't Support HomeKit After All

At CES 2017 earlier this year, Chinese company Focalcrest debuted the Mixtile Hub, a supposedly MFi-certified smart home bridge that promised to bring HomeKit connectivity to various connected home products that would not otherwise be able to interface with Apple's smart home platform.


Specifically, Focalcrest said the Mixtile Hub would be able to interface with Z-Wave and ZigBee devices and sensors, as well as connect to various smart home devices through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

As it turns out, however, the Mixtile Hub won't support HomeKit after all. At some point between CES and now, Focalcrest removed any mention of HomeKit from its press release—see the original for comparison—and the company now plans to launch the Mixtile Hub with Amazon Alexa support only.

In a recent email to MacRumors forum member Macwick, shared with us, Focalcrest vaguely said it believes Apple "doesn't permit bridge products to compatible with different brand devices," which isn't entirely true.
In the past few months, we kept to contact Apple for approval the HomeKit related designs. But this stage really takes a bit long and till now we still don't get a positive reply from Apple.

From our communication with Apple, we feel that they don't permit bridge products to compatible with different brand devices upon some uncertain reasons, as you know, our Mixtile Hub is a bridge product too.
The Philips Hue bridge does support both HomeKit and ZigBee, but that's just for one product, whereas the Mixtile Hub would have essentially made any Z-Wave or ZigBee product compatible with HomeKit. It wouldn't be surprising if Apple refused to certify the Mixtile Hub due to security concerns.

While it's unsurprising that Apple isn't backing the Mixtile Hub, it's disappointing that Focalcrest so prominently advertised HomeKit support prior to receiving certification for the product. Focalcrest admitted that it's uncertain if its "redefined" Mixtile Hub will still be attractive to homeowners.

Tag: HomeKit

Apple Music's Original TV Plans Now Include Potential Shows and Videos From J.J. Abrams and R. Kelly

Jimmy Iovine, one of the heads of Apple Music, has given multiple interviews and visions for the future of Apple's streaming music service over the past few months, mainly detailing how Apple Music will morph into "an entire pop cultural experience" with the advent of original video content. In an interview with Bloomberg posted online today, Iovine continued that pitch by stating, "I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture," detailing plans that include original shows and videos with partners like director J.J. Abrams and rapper R. Kelly.

The expansion of Apple Music beyond streaming new songs and music videos by artists began slowly for Apple, with the company releasing a tour documentary in partnership with Taylor Swift in 2015, as well as a 23-minute short film with Drake in 2016. Those modest beginnings have helped Apple learn what works and what doesn't, with Iovine stating, "We’re gonna grow slowly no matter what, I don’t know how to do it fast."


Iovine further mentioned that Apple's vast resources provide the Apple Music team with enough room for betting on risky projects, so the service can "make one show, three shows" to see what viewers favor.
“A music service needs to be more than a bunch of songs and a few playlists,” says Iovine, 64. “I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture, everything from unsigned bands to video. We have a lot of plans.”

Apple Music’s foray into video programming could be a temporary dalliance, but if Iovine succeeds, the world’s wealthiest company could increase its investment, routinely competing for top projects. “We have the freedom, because it’s Apple, to make one show, three shows, see what works, see what doesn’t work until it feels good,” Iovine says.
Those slow-to-build plans apparently include a largely redesigned, "new edition" of the Apple Music app coming to iOS 11 this fall that will "better showcase video." Because of this update, Iovine said that Apple won't make the same mistakes that rival Spotify has made in producing original video content, but subsequently not promoting it enough to get people to watch. "We’re going to market it like it’s a TV show," Iovine mentioned. "You’re going to know this is out."

Currently, those shows include Carpool Karaoke: The Series and Planet of the Apps, although the former show was recently delayed indefinitely and the latter has only a vague spring launch date. In the immediate future, Iovine said that Apple Music's video ambitions are still very music-related, including Dr. Dre's Vital Signs, and Iovine even wants to produce a sequel to R. Kelly's rap opera Trapped in the Closet.
“For a music streaming service,” Iovine says, “we’re building a very decent slate.”
According to Carpool Karaoke producer Ben Winston, who helped sign the agreement to partner with Apple along with star James Corden, the mere fact that Apple is involved with producing these new shows is all it takes to get people excited to work with them. "If I call LeBron James and I name five networks or cable channels or even different online platforms, I’m not convinced he agrees to sit in a car," Winston says. "If you say you’re doing a new show for Apple, people get excited."

But the company's plans are far bigger than just original content that has a music slant, with Iovine having met with well-known Hollywood creatives to discuss "possible ideas," including director J.J. Abrams and producer Brian Grazer, although talks with Grazer regarding Imagine Entertainment are said to have "fizzled out" for unknown reasons. Of course, any specific details regarding what a J.J. Abrams-produced series on Apple Music might be were not given.

Previous reports of Apple's dealings in Hollywood have been largely critical of the Cupertino company's inability to forge ahead with a consistent, unified vision in the original content space. For Iovine, the almost-two-year-old service still has a ways to go. "Apple Music is nowhere near complete in my head," he said. Achieving his vision for the future of Apple Music has gotten Iovine in hot water with some of his colleagues, as well.
Some ideas get Iovine into trouble. He’s taken meetings with artists and made arrangements to release music without telling anyone in advance, frustrating colleagues. He’s persuaded artists to release music exclusively with Apple, frustrating record labels. But no one doubts his knack for bringing people together.
Everyone from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Apple Music executive Bozoma Saint John have reinforced Apple's future with original content coming to its music streaming service. Earlier this year during an earnings call, Cook said that Apple is starting off slow -- echoing Iovine's comment -- and has a "toe in the water" testing original content, while Saint John said of Apple Music as a whole: "We're developing something very special and we just want people to pay attention."

Alleged iPhone 8 Schematic Depicts Dual-Lens Vertical Rear Camera, Hints at Wireless Charging

Another alleged iPhone 8 schematic is making the rounds today, shared on Twitter by several "leakers" who often share alleged leaked device images sourced from Weibo and unnamed tipsters. KK Leaks, OnLeaks, and Benjamin Geskin have all tweeted the image, which comes from an unknown source.

It is not clear if the schematic is legitimate, and we're at the point in the rumor cycle where it's difficult to separate what's real from what's fake, so it's best to view all current leaks with some skepticism.


The schematic appears to depict the interior of the OLED iPhone 8, and it matches many previously-leaked design schematics and rumors. The device pictured features a vertical dual-lens rear camera with an LED flash in the middle, and it includes a large circular area, perhaps for some kind of wireless charging functionality. No rear Touch ID button is included in the schematic.

Over the course of the last few weeks, we've seen several alleged design schematics and renderings that are said to represent the iPhone 8, but because Apple is said to be testing multiple prototypes, we appear to be seeing two distinct devices, and it's not clear which one represents Apple's final 2017 iPhone.

One device, which seems to be similar to the device in the schematic above, features an edge-to-edge display with a small 4mm bezel, what appears to be a glass body (perhaps with a stainless steel frame), and a Touch ID Home button that appears to be embedded in the display, while the other features an edge-to-edge display with slightly wider top and bottom bezels, an aluminum body, and a Touch ID Home button located on the rear of the device.

Both are said to be representative of different designs Apple has pursued, and Apple is reportedly experimenting with a rear Touch ID button due to difficulties implementing it under the display. It's not yet known if a Touch ID button under the display will pan out.

While we're seeing different designs at the current time, there are several rumors that are consistent. The OLED iPhone is said to be similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone but with a display closer in size to that of the 5.5-inch iPhone, and almost all current rumors point towards a vertical dual-lens camera for improved images and perhaps some kind of augmented reality or 3D functionality.

Not much has been said about wireless charging recently, but Apple is supposedly implementing some kind of inductive charging solution, and we can count on an improved A11 processor in the device.

Apple plans to sell the OLED iPhone alongside two standard iPhones with LCD displays, which are said to be similar in size to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. With many of the rumors focusing on the flagship OLED iPhone, not much is known about the other two iPhones and their specific design also remains unclear.

Recent rumors are suggesting the OLED iPhone may be severely constrained when it launches in September, so it could be difficult to get for several months. That's a common rumor that we hear every year ahead of the debut of a new iPhone, but the rumors, coming from trusted sources, are especially emphatic and dire this year, suggesting there's some truth there.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)

Apple AI Expert Says Computers Should Augment Human Capabilities

Apple product designer and Siri co-founder Tom Gruber gave a TED Talk today, where he covered his vision of the future of computers and artificial intelligence. Both Axios and Business Insider shared details on his talk.


According to Gruber, computers should be used to lessen human failings, like memory, and augment human capabilities. He believes computers should log every aspect of our lives, allowing us to remember every person we've met and every aspect about them, like favorite sports, family members, and name pronunciation.
"I believe AI will make personal memory enhancement a reality. I think it's inevitable," he said onstage, adding that he doesn't know when or how it will happen. [...]

Gruber imagines that this kind of technology will not only be useful for satisfying data geeks who want to optimize their health and happiness, but it could also assist those who suffer from diseases like dementia and schizophrenia. "It's the difference between a life of isolation and one of dignity and connection," he said.
Privacy, is of course, a key part of artificial intelligence and future computing capabilities. "We get to choose what is and is not recalled," said Gruber. "It's absolutely essential that this be kept very secure."

Apple has already taken the first steps towards linking artificial intelligence and memory, with its Photos app. Photos on Mac and iOS devices includes a "Memories" feature that intelligently organizes photos into dynamic events that can be relived through the app. It also incorporates facial recognition and deep levels of privacy - facial recognition features are not cross-device and do not sync over iCloud.

Gruber also highlighted other useful applications for artificial intelligence, like cancer detection and more advanced personal assistants like Siri.