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'Today at Apple' Sessions About Art, Music, and Coding Expanding to Every Apple Store in May

Apple today announced that it will be expanding its "Today at Apple" educational sessions to all of its 495 retail stores around the world in May.


"Today at Apple" will offer programs with more than 60 different hands-on sessions in creative skills. The free sessions, which have been offered at Apple's flagship Union Square store in San Francisco since last year, will cover topics such as photography, videography, music, coding, art, and design.
“At the heart of every Apple Store is the desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president, Retail. “‘Today at Apple’ is one of the ways we’re evolving our experience to better serve local customers and entrepreneurs. We’re creating a modern-day town square, where everyone is welcome in a space where the best of Apple comes together to connect with one another, discover a new passion, or take their skill to the next level. We think it will be a fun and enlightening experience for everyone who joins.”
Many sessions will be taught by highly-trained Creative Pros, which Apple describes as the "liberal arts equivalent" to its technical Geniuses. In select cities, Apple says world-class artists, photographers, and musicians will also teach sessions from "basics and how-to lessons" to "professional-level programs."

"Today at Apple" will cater to all skill levels and ages, with special programs such as Teacher Tuesday and Kids Hour targeted towards families and educators respectively. Other sessions will focus on professional software such as Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X, or coding with the Swift Playgrounds app for iPad.
Teachers can come together for Teacher Tuesday to learn new ways to incorporate technology into their classrooms, or aspiring coders of all ages can learn how to code in Swift, Apple’s programming language for iOS and Mac apps. Families can join weekend Kids Hour sessions ranging from music making to coding with robots.
Apple said each of its stores will receive large displays created specifically for "Today at Apple" sessions. Each store will also have updated seating and sound. Apple has already renovated dozens of its existing retail stores with these next-generation features since 2015, with dozens more locations to follow this year.

Apple has been redesigning its stores under the leadership of retail chief Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of luxury fashion brand Burberry. Ahrendts wants to position Apple Stores as not only shopping destinations, but also as gathering places for the community. "Meet me at Apple," she envisions someone as saying.

Video is available in the United States only

Ahrendts, in a new interview with CBS This Morning:
“A lot of the big online guys have said they’re opening stores. Amazon’s investing in stores. Google’s investing in stores. ... Starbucks figured it out, you know? Being a gathering place for – right? ‘Meet me at Starbucks,”’ Ahrendts said. “And you know, I’ve told the teams, ‘I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, “Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?”’”
Apple's latest next-generation store will open at Dubai Mall on April 27, the company recently announced.

Questionable Rumor Claims Apple Will Debut Two iPhones This Year, Not Three

A Chinese tech blog bucked the iPhone rumor trend today by claiming it had received insider information from the Apple supply chain that Apple will release two iPhone models this year rather than the expected three.

Micgadget.com posted the rumor in the early hours of Tuesday, citing "some [of] our friends from Foxconn" who apparently "confirmed" that Hon Hai had received an order for two models, corresponding to two versions of Apple's radically redesigned OLED iPhone, the so-called "iPhone 8".

"iPhone 8" rendering from KK Sneak Leaks

Rumors say that Apple will release two iPhone 7S and one iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition) models. Today we can tell you, that it's not true. This fall we can see only two models with new technology. Very interesting that rumors leaked new iPhone 8 and big iPhone 8 Plus will have similar dual cameras.
It's highly unusual for a supply chain rumor to go against the prevailing assumption this late into the iPhone cycle, and Micgadget.com has a mixed history of releasing information on Apple's plans. The site has also been pushing the idea that Apple will release an additional "iPhone 8 Plus" since at least February with little evidence to back up the claim, so we're covering this rumor merely to highlight our current doubts regarding its veracity.

For some time now, analyst expectations and supply chain hints have indicated that Apple will break away from its annual tradition of launching two models of iPhone and will instead reveal a radically overhauled smartphone in addition to its usual "S" refresh model updates.

The rumor trail began all the way back in March of 2016, when noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo laid out his expectations that Apple would launch 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch LCD iPhones alongside a standout "premium" OLED model, because of supply constraints on AMOLED technology. Multiple reports have since corroborated this scenario, with Apple said to be aiming for a more complete transition to Samsung-made OLED displays in 2018 when supplies become more available.

Indeed, it's possible Micgadget.com is misinterpreting information from its purported Foxconn source for precisely this reason. Multiple reports suggest Apple will debut its redesigned OLED iPhone in September, but it could still face severe supply shortages until perhaps as late as October or November. Therefore, while orders for Apple's two LCD-based iPhones may have been cemented in good time for the usual August-September ramp-up in production, orders for an "iPhone 8" at the supply chain level may have still not been pegged down.

Apart from an edge-to-edge OLED display in a typical-sized 4.7-inch casing, the "iPhone 8" is expected to include wireless charging, no physical Home button, and perhaps 3D facial recognition and/or iris scanning. In addition, rumors suggest that Touch ID could be embedded in or under a True Tone display, or could possibly be relocated to the rear of the device if Apple can't perfect the under-screen technology in time.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: micgadget.com

Apple Delays Launch of 'Carpool Karaoke' Series

Apple has delayed the release of "Carpool Karaoke: The Series," its first original television series, reports Reuters. The series, which will premiere on Apple Music, was supposed to launch in April, but its debut has been delayed.

Apple, a company known for its precisely coordinated product launches, declined to explain the delays, but said in a statement that "Carpool Karaoke: The Series will premiere on Apple Music later this year."
Apple was originally planning to hold a premiere party for "Carpool Karaoke" in March, but the party was postponed. The party was then supposed to take place on Monday, but it was again pushed back due to the show's delayed launch.

"Carpool Karaoke: The Series" is based on the popular Carpool Karaoke segment from "The Late Late Show with James Corden." Apple purchased rights to the show back in mid-2016 and showed off the first trailer for the series in February of 2017.

The show, composed of 16 half-hour episodes, will feature celebrity pairs "riding along in a car together as they sing tunes from their personal playlists." According to Apple, the show's stars will also "surprise fans" who are not expecting to see "big stars belting out tunes one lane over."

"Carpool Karaoke: The Series" will star James Corden, Will Smith, Billy Eichner, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane, Chelsea Handler, Blake Shelton, Michael Strahan, John Cena, Shaquille O'Neal, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, and more, with a different host for each episode.

Apple is aiming to drive more subscribers to Apple Music with "Carpool Karaoke," and the show, when it launches, will be available only to Apple Music subscribers.

Apple Hires NASA Augmented Reality Expert Jeff Norris

Apple has hired Jeff Norris, an augmented reality expert who founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, reports Bloomberg.

Norris has reportedly joined Apple as a senior manager working on the augmented reality team led by Mike Rockwell, who formerly ran Dolby Labs. The team is said to be working on the previously-rumored augmented reality smart glasses as well as AR features for future versions of the iPhone.

Prior to joining Apple, Norris worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was employed since 1999. Along with founding the Mission Operations Innovation Office, he founded the JPL Ops Lab for developing human-system interfaces for mission operations, and he led multiple projects focused on human-system interaction with an emphasis on virtual and augmented reality.

On his website, Norris features a speech he gave on augmented reality and Nasa's JPL Ops Lab, much of which was focused on augmented reality headsets and their uses.


Under Norris' leadership, the JPL Ops Lab provided the Microsoft HoloLens to astronauts onboard the International Space Station and developed software for virtually working on Mars with the HoloLens.


For the last couple of years, Apple has taken a deep interest in augmented and virtual reality, and is said to have a large team of employees working on the technologies and exploring ways they could be used in future Apple products.

Apple has been working on both virtual reality headsets and augmented reality smart glasses, with the aim of launching the latter in 2018. We've also heard rumors suggesting augmented reality functionality could be incorporated into the iPhone, perhaps as early as the iPhone 8 set to be released this September.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed his excitement about augmented reality several times in recent months. "I think AR is that big, it's huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives," he said in February of 2017.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: bloomberg.com, NASA

Galaxy S8 Preorders Were Samsung's 'Best Ever'

Samsung's trouble with the Galaxy Note 7, which notably caused several fires due to battery troubles and led to a full recall, hasn't affected demand for its newly launched Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

According to a statement released this morning by Samsung (via VentureBeat), Samsung saw 30 percent year-over-year growth in preorders compared to the Galaxy S7. While Samsung did not give specific sales numbers, the company said it saw its "best ever" preorder period.

"We are delighted to see the response to the Galaxy S8 and S8+," remarked Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter. "The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are a result of that recommitment and the market has responded -- with a more than 30 percent year-over-year growth in pre-orders versus the record pre-orders we had with Galaxy S7, making it our best ever. The response is humbling, energizing and points to a great launch week. We aim to push the boundaries of what's possible in the name of a better, smarter, more exciting experience for our consumers."
The Galaxy S8 shares many features that could potentially be coming in Apple's 2017 OLED iPhone, including an edge-to-edge OLED display, iris scanning, a rear fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, IP68 water resistance, and camera improvements, though it does not feature a dual-lens setup as the iPhone 8 will.

Samsung's smartphone is, however, launching without one of its key features -- support for Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant built on Viv technology acquired from the original developers behind Siri. Bixby's English-language launch has been delayed due to performance issues, leaving one of the buttons on the Galaxy S8 non-functional.

Despite the missing functionality, the S8 and S8+ have received largely positive reviews. The AMOLED display is said to be "wonderfully vibrant and sharp," while the phone itself has been described as "slimmer and more attractive" than the iPhone 7 Plus but with a bigger screen.

Camera reviews suggest the low-light camera performance of the S8 beats the performance of the iPhone 7 Plus, but that's comparing a new device to a previous-generation device. Rumors suggest a major camera overhaul is coming with the iPhone 8, which appears to feature a dual-lens vertical camera that could result in both better images and augmented reality functionality.

Apple's iPhone 8 won't be coming until September, and even then, rumors suggest the higher-end OLED model could be constrained until late 2017 or early 2018.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale on April 21 in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 starts at $750, while the larger 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ starts at $850.

Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.5 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Too]

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming macOS Sierra 10.12.5 update to developers, one week after seeding the third beta and one month after releasing macOS Sierra 10.12.4, which introduced Night Shift for the Mac.

The fourth beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.5 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.


According to the release notes accompanying the beta, the update "improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac."

Apple's release notes don't often provide a lot of insight into what's included in new beta software, so we don't know what features or bug fixes might be included in the 10.12.5 update.

No notable changes or major bug fixes were discovered in the first three betas, but should anything pop up in the fourth macOS Sierra 10.12.5 beta, we'll update this post.

Update: Apple has also provided the fourth beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.5 to public beta testers.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra

Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of iOS 10.3.2 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming iOS 10.3.2 update to developers, one week after seeding the third iOS 10.3.2 beta and one 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 fourth iOS 10.3.2 beta from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed.


Apple doesn't typically provide detailed release notes for its iOS 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, 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 features were found in the first three betas, but if anything new is found in the fourth iOS 10.3.2 beta, we'll update this post.

Update: Apple has also provided the fourth beta of iOS 10.3.2 to public beta testers.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

Ming-Chi Kuo Agrees iPhone 8 Will Launch in September With 'Severe' Shortages Due to Delayed Production

As more alleged design schematics and dummy models of the "iPhone 8" leak online, one of the biggest questions remains the smartphone's actual launch date. Although some industry sources believe the tenth-anniversary iPhone will still launch in September -- perhaps in very short supply -- Japanese site Mac Otakara earlier this year suggested the OLED iPhone 8 would launch "very much" behind the the LCD models.

Today, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has published a report supporting the theory that Apple will debut the OLED iPhone in September, but the device will face "severe supply shortages" for some time. Kuo believes that production ramp-up on the OLED iPhone model won't begin until as late as October-November, two months later than previous ramp-ups in August-September. Similar delayed production rumors have been circulated by Bloomberg, analysts from Barclays, and Brian White.


Kuo believes that this delay "won't undermine actual demand," as long as the iPhone 8 lives up to the hype, but the heaviest demand might be pushed back until as far as the first quarter of 2018, when the bulk of users could get their hands on the device according to Kuo.
Production ramp up of OLED iPhone could be delayed to October-November (previously estimated to be August-September, as in previous years). That said, if new features, such as 3D sensing, can provide good user experience, a temporary supply shortfall won’t undermine actual demand, which may be deferred to 1H18. In that case, potential contribution starting late-2Q17 from OLED iPhone could be partially delayed by 3-6 months for related suppliers.
This delayed production ramp-up is listed by Kuo as a "potential downside risk to shipments" of all three iPhone models believed to launch this year, with a second risk coming from Apple's competitors. Samsung, Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi are all gearing up to launch "high-end full-screen smartphones" in 2017, and all could have an impact specifically on the LCD models of the 2017 iPhone, according to Kuo, because those models "do not have full-screen form factors."

Because of these potential risks affecting the iPhone's shipments this year, Kuo adjusted shipping estimates for the device accordingly. The analyst believes that the "worst case scenario" could see iPhone shipments decrease by 15 to 20 percent and result in 80 to 90 million units shipped, versus a previous estimate of 100-110 million units (a 60:40 weighting is placed for the OLED and LCD iPhone models). Ultimately, Kuo said that, "We see a higher probability of the worst case scenario coming to pass."

Production delays in this year's OLED iPhone are again sourced from the device's intricate manufacturing processes, thanks to numerous upgrades including its customized OLED panel, new 10-nanometer A11 processor, all-new 3D Touch module, substrate-like printed circuit board, and 3D sensing. Despite these production difficulties, Kuo said that the iPhone 8's announcement and launch time of the new iPhones will remain similar to previous years, suggesting the usual September iPhone event from Apple.
While we believe the announcement and launch time of the new iPhones will be similar to previous ones, production ramp up of OLED iPhone could be delayed to as late as October-November compared to the usual ramp up period of August-September, due to increased production difficulty. In other words, severe supply shortages may persist for a while after the new models are launched, capping total shipments of new iPhones in 2H17.
Kuo also sees a potential loss of appeal by high-end users on the LCD versions of the new iPhone models, due to their lack of a full-screen design, contributing to Apple's potentially weak shipping momentum for the iPhone later this year in addition to the worst case scenario for the OLED model.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: Ming-Chi Kuo, OLED

Dummy 'iPhone 8' Images Appear Online Suggesting Touch ID Embedded in Edge-to-Edge Display

Pictures of a dummy "iPhone 8" model appeared on social media over the weekend depicting a handset with a front and rear made of what looks like 2.5D curved glass and a stainless steel edge design.

The dummy device is purportedly a "CNC model according to Foxconn", according to the original Twitter poster, but there's no way to verify the claim one way or the other, so take the following with a big pinch of salt.


The front of the device appears to have an edge-to-edge screen with no discernible bezels, while around the back there's a vertically aligned dual-lens camera, but no other identifiable markings. That includes no rear-mounted Touch ID sensor, but also no Apple logo, either.


The sides look like stainless steel, similar to those of the iPhone 4. There are volume buttons and a mute switch on the left, and a power button and SIM tray on the right. The power button appears to be longer than on previous iPhones, however.

The poster of the images offered additional details supposedly from a source with links to Foxconn, suggesting that the "iPhone 8" will have a thickness and size similar to the current iPhone 7, while the steel edges will be finished in a polished "Space Black" color.

Apart from a further image showing off the latter feature, the poster has also shown off schematics "based on blueprints" that depict a series of components hidden beneath the top of the display, where the edges of the display are indicated by a red outline. An alleged schematic of the internal components of the next iPhone has also been shared.


Apple is thought to be testing more than 10 prototype iPhone models, so it's not yet clear what we should expect. Most rumors so far suggest the upcoming OLED iPhone will have a 5.5-inch bezel-less screen with Touch ID embedded in the front display, so there will be no home button.

However Apple is said to be having trouble integrating the Touch ID technology into the screen, and leaked design schematics have indicated that the fingerprint sensor could be moved to the rear of the device, so the final design is far from certain.

Some rumors suggest the display itself may feature edges that are curved on both sides like the Galaxy S7, but the phone may have the same slightly curved 2.5D display as the iPhone 7 due to technical challenges manufacturing the more curved version. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the glass will be built around a polished stainless steel frame that's similar in design to the Apple Watch.

More images of the dummy iPhone shown above, including one of a machined chassis, can be found here.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)

Tim Cook Threatened to Remove Uber From the App Store Over iPhone Tagging Tactics

Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to pull Uber's app from the App Store in early 2015 after discovering the ride-hailing company was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app, it emerged on Sunday.

The claim appeared in a New York Times report profiling Uber's risk-taking chief executive Travis Kalanick, who was apparently summoned to Apple's campus for a face-to-face meeting with Cook over the app's behavior.

Travis Kalanick (left) and Tim Cook at a 2016 fashion gala (Image: Reuters)

According to the report, Uber was trying to prevent fraudsters from creating multiple fake accounts on the same device to collect new account bonuses, but to do this it had been recording the UUID serial numbers of iPhones so that it could identify them even after the app had been deleted and the phone wiped.

Knowing that the approach was a clear violation of Apple's app privacy guidelines, Uber implemented the tactic regardless, and even went so far as to geofence Apple's Cupertino campus so that Apple engineers using the app wouldn't see its fingerprinting behavior.
Mr. Kalanick told his engineers to "geofence" Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a way to digitally identify people reviewing Uber’s software in a specific location. Uber would then obfuscate its code from people within that geofenced area, essentially drawing a digital lasso around those it wanted to keep in the dark. Apple employees at its headquarters were unable to see Uber’s fingerprinting.
However, the tactic didn't go unnoticed by Apple engineers for long. Soon after the discovery was made, Tim Cook had a meeting with Kalanick and demanded that Uber stop the fingerprinting immediately, otherwise the app would be removed from the App Store. Facing the loss of millions of iPhone customers which would essentially destroy the ride-hailing business, Mr. Kalanick acceded.

This isn't the first time reports have emerged over the Uber app's dubious-sounding behavior. Concerns were raised late last year when users complained that the app appeared to track them for days or even weeks after they last used the ride-hailing service, forcing an explanation from the company.

The New York Times article offers more detail on the Uber CEO's history of controversial business tactics and can be read here.

Tag: Uber

Apple Autonomous Driving Training Program Confirms Self-Driving Software Platform

Apple has developed a training program to instruct employees on how to handle cars being used to test its autonomous driving software platform, according to documents obtained by Business Insider.

The company's "Development Platform Specific Training" document references an "Apple Automated System" and a "Development platform," alluding to the self-driving software platform Apple is rumored to be building after plans for a full autonomous electric vehicle fell through.

Click to enlarge

Apple recently obtained a permit from the California DMV that will allow it to test self-driving vehicles on public roads, and as part of that process, the company appears to be training employees to use whatever system it's testing. According to the DMV, Apple plans to use three 2015 Lexus RX450h SUVs, which will be driven by six drivers with expertise in areas like machine learning.

Based on the documents, drivers are required to pass seven tests as part of their training before being allowed to work with Apple's software platform. Each driver must complete two practice runs and three trials to pass tests, which cover topics like taking control of the vehicle at tight U-turns, sudden acceleration, sudden braking, and more.

Click to enlarge
According to the training packet, Apple's self-driving car uses a Logitech wheel and pedals to actuate drive by wire, and it supports one person at a time.

Pressing the brake pedal or grabbing the steering wheel in Apple's test vehicles will disengage the electronic driving mode, but drivers can accelerate without overriding the "drive by wire" mode.
Apple's work in the car industry has been something of an open secret for the past three years. The company was originally planning to create its own autonomous vehicle, but pivoted to an autonomous driving software platform following internal strife and leadership issues.

Apple is now said to be creating a driving system under the leadership of Bob Mansfield, with the car team having been given until the end of this year to prove the feasibility of a self-driving car platform. Such a system could potentially allow Apple to partner with car manufacturers as a sort of expansion of CarPlay.

With Apple ready to test the software on public roads, it appears development is fairly far along. Should the company take vehicles out on California streets, its work will need to be publicly shared with the DMV based on California law.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: businessinsider.com

Apple Hires Two Google Executives With Satellite Expertise

Apple has recently hired John Fenwick and Michael Trela, two Google satellite executives, reports Bloomberg. Fenwick led Google's spacecraft operations, while Trela was head of satellite engineering.

Both Trela and Fenwick are reporting to Greg Duffy, the former co-founder of camera company Dropcam. What the two are doing at Apple is unclear, but Bloomberg speculates they're either working on satellites for image collection or satellites for communications.

Rumors have suggested Apple is using a fleet of drones to collect data to improve Apple Maps, with the company having filed for an FAA permit to be able to fly drones for commercial purposes. Apple also acquired Aether Industries in 2015, a previously unknown purchase.

Aether Industries develops high-bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons. On its website, Aether Industries shows off a range of high-resolution aerial imagery and claims to provide a "full imaging and mapping solution for full color aerial images."


There's also evidence Apple is interested in deploying satellites for communication purposes. Boeing has been working on sending more than 1,000 satellites into low-earth orbit for the purpose of providing broadband access, and the company has reportedly been in talks with Apple.
The aerospace company has talked with Apple about the technology company being an investor-partner in the project, a person familiar with the situation said. It's unclear if those talks will result in a deal.

At the annual Satellite 2017 conference in Washington D.C. last month, industry insiders said Boeing's project was being funded by Apple, Tim Farrar, a satellite and telecom consultant at TMF Associates Inc., wrote in a recent blog. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.
Former Boeing executive James Bell also joined Apple's board of directors back in October of 2015, another potential link between Apple and Boeing.

It continues to be unclear if Apple will get involved with Boeing's broadband endeavor, but it's easy to see why Apple might be interested with Boeing aiming for faster speeds than existing cellular systems.

Apple and Google declined to comment on the hiring, while Fenwick, Trela, and Duffy did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comments.