Virtual Reality Coming to iOS Within 2 Years, Claims Gene Munster

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple plans to put iOS at the center of several forthcoming augmented reality and VR innovations set to launch within the next two years.

In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Munster claims a timeline of recent purchases and hires by the company suggests that iOS support for „mixed reality“ applications could be set for launch as soon as 2018.

The analyst points to a LinkedIn search which reveals at least 141 Apple employees with a background in AR, although it should be noted that the same search returns 425 and 267 people with similar experience working at Microsoft and Google, respectively.

Of particular interest to Apple is the concept of „mixed reality“ wearables, or advanced optics that use embedded cameras and sensors to blend holographic imagery with real-life objects, claims Munster.

Intellectual property gained via research and development projects as well as strategic acquisitions, such as Apple’s purchase of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense, are said to be behind the recent drive.

We believe 10 years from now Generation Z will find reality inefficient. We believe the concept of an ‘inefficient reality’ is evident through smartphone use today — the precursor to mixed reality — offering users the ability to find more information as needed.

The analyst goes on to suggest a natural progression in the personal technology market from smartphones to AR/VR and believes Apple is looking at VR as an iPhone peripheral, much like the Apple Watch. The prospect of Apple releasing hardware on this front in the near term is seen by Munster as unlikely, although by 2018 Apple may be ready to offer developers an official software framework for licensed third-party hardware solutions, similar to the company’s MFi Program for iOS devices.

Munster has made questionable assertions in recent years, with predictions such as Apple’s rumored television set having failed to materialize. Still, the note does follow a recent report by Financial Times claiming that Apple has built a „secret research unit“ in which hundreds of employees are experimenting with AR and VR technologies. The team is said to be made up of, among others, experts plucked from Microsoft and live-action VR company Lytro.

Apple’s interest in virtual reality has gained pace over the last few years, with the filing of multiple patents for VR-related products, like video goggles, motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces for iOS devices, and 3D „hyper reality“ displays. More recently, Apple has made a spate of AR/VR-related acquisitions, including Metaio, Faceshift, Emotient, and image-recognition app creators Flyby Media. Last month, the company hired Doug Bowman, said to be one of the leading VR experts in the United States.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster
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Law Firms Consider ‘Error 53’ Lawsuits Against Apple as Some Stores Authorized for Repairs

Several law firms are considering lawsuits against Apple following news that the company disables iPhone 6 models that have third-party repairs that affect Touch ID, reports The Guardian. The „Error 53“ controversy started last week when news circulated about customers who have had their iPhones disabled and rendered unusable by a mysterious „error 53“ message.

It turns out Apple disables the iPhones of customers who have had unauthorized repairs on their devices. As explained in a thorough post from iFixit, a repair made by a third-party service using non-original components cannot pass a Touch ID validation check because mismatched parts don’t sync up properly.

According to an Apple spokesperson, when the iPhone’s parts can’t be properly validated because of a repair done to a component affecting the Touch ID sensor, the error message is triggered in an intentional effort to keep Touch ID and the secure enclave that stores fingerprint information safe. Damaged phones also have the potential to give the error.

„We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.“

A UK barrister told The Guardian disabling iPhones „could potentially be viewed as an offense“ under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which covers the destruction of property, and a Seattle-based law firm, PVCA said it wants to bring a class action lawsuit against Apple, calling on affected customers to get in contact. PVCA is planning to represent customers for free and has outlined the issue on its website, suggesting Apple is violating consumer laws by forcing customers to use Apple-sanctioned repair services.

We believe that Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third party repair shops. Where you could get your screen replaced by a neighborhood repair facility for $50-80, Apple charges $129 or more. There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products.

Apple may be planning to proactively head off lawsuits and assuage customer outrage. MacRumors has heard from a retail source that certain Apple Stores have received the go ahead from Apple to replace third-party screens and other third-party components to resolve the error 53 issue. The standard out-of-warranty fee is charged for the repairs and the replacement of non-genuine parts with Apple parts is limited to those affected by the error.

It is not yet clear if all Apple Stores have been authorized to repair error 53 iPhones as Apple’s only official statement is that it’s a security measure required to prevent fraudulent Touch ID sensors from being installed.

Tag: Error 53
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Apple Music for Android Now Supports Saving Songs to SD Card

Apple today updated its Apple Music app for Android users, adding a new feature that allows them to save downloaded songs to an SD card on compatible smartphones. „You can now keep more music offline,“ reads the update note.

Several Android-based phones allow users to upgrade their storage using SD and microSD cards. As The Verge points out, with the ability to save downloaded content, Android users can potentially have access to more music than iOS users who are limited to a maximum of 128GB of storage on iPhones and iPads.

Today’s Android update also adds a full schedule for Beats 1 shows and it includes My Music options for browsing by Composers and Compilations, features previously available to iOS users.

Apple Music for Android first launched in November, marking Apple’s first major app for Android users. The Android-based app, available in all the countries where Apple Music for iOS is available, allows Android users to subscribe to the Apple Music service.

The Android Apple Music app, which remains in beta, can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for free. It comes with a free three-month Apple Music trial.

Tags: Android, Apple Music
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Apple Could Owe More Than $8 Billion in European Tax Probe

Apple could owe more than $8 billion in back taxes if the European Commission finds issue with the iPhone maker’s corporate tax policies in Ireland, according to analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Apple is one of several multinational corporations that have been scrutinized for corporate tax avoidance in Europe over the past few years. The European Commission began Apple’s tax probe in June 2014, and formally accused the iPhone maker of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland three months later.

The company’s $64.1 billion in profit generated from 2004 to 2012 could be subject to a 12.5% tax rate, compared to its current foreign tax rate of about 1.8%, depending on the outcome of the investigation. A decision in the probe is expected in Brussels by March, possibly after the 2016 Irish election.

Apple’s tax breakdown in Ireland (Image: Bloomberg Intelligence)

Apple operates multiple subsidiary companies in Ireland to pay significantly less tax outside the U.S., where it earns about 55% of its revenue. Apple continues to deny any wrongdoing, and both the company and Ireland vow to take the European Commission to court over any negative verdict.

Last month, Apple agreed to pay 318 million euros in Italy to settle an investigation that accused the company of booking profits generated in Italy through an Irish subsidiary, in an effort to lower its taxable income base and save 879 million euros between 2008 and 2013. Italian regulators concluded that tax probe in March.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: corporate tax, European Commission, Ireland
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Best Buy Offering Up to $100 Off Apple Watch Today Only in Pre-Black Friday Sale

Best Buy is hosting an early access online-only sale today that includes significant discounts on the Apple Watch and the iPad Air 2 ahead of the traditional Black Friday shopping holiday.

Customers can get $50 off the Apple Watch Sport and $100 off the stainless steel Apple Watch, dropping entry-level prices to $299 and $449, respectively. The discount applies to all Apple Watch models that Best Buy sells and is available online only.

To get the discount, enter the code AWSPORTDEAL when checking out with an Apple Watch Sport or AWDEAL when checking out with the stainless steel Apple Watch.

Best Buy is also offering up to $125 off iPad Air 2 models. The 16 and 64GB iPad Air 2 models can be purchased at a $100 discount when using the promo code IPADAIR2DEAL at checkout, while 128GB models can be purchased at a $125 discount with the promocode IPADSAVE125DEAL.

Best Buy’s Early Access sale will end on 11/24/15 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time. That translates to 9:59 p.m. Pacific Time and 12:59 a.m. Eastern Time.

When Black Friday rolls around, Best Buy will be offering additional discounts on the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and a selection of MacBooks. Several other retailers are also offering similar deals, all of which can be found in our dedicated Black Friday roundup.

Related Roundup: Black Friday
Tag: Best Buy
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Apple must wait until 2016 for tax break verdict

Having previously said that he expected to receive the European Commission’s verdict on Apple’s Irish tax arrangements by Christmas, Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan now claims that an announcement is likely to be delayed util next year. The delay in the long-running investigation is the result of regulators asking for additional information from the Irish government, which will […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Streamlined bike computer captures all the data you need

Lust List: Super GPS bicycle computer by Lezyne It seems silly to call something with so much technology packed into it “simple,” but this is the word I keep coming back to when describing Lezyne’s new bicycle computers. They are simple. They are also powerful and sleek — and they just might be the perfect […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Maps Now Using ‘Business Listings’ Data From Foursquare

As of October, Foursquare has become one of the companies that contribute data to Apple’s Maps app, providing information on „Business listings data.“ This likely includes details on restaurants, retail stores, and other venues, given Foursquare’s focus on unearthing the „best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city in the world.

Rumors about a data sharing deal between Foursquare and Apple first surfaced in 2012, but Apple Maps Marketing, a site that keeps an eye on Apple’s Maps partners, notes that Foursquare was not added as a partner until October 22.

For those unfamiliar with Foursquare, it’s essentially a Yelp competitor that helps people find nearby venues. Several years ago, Foursquare was popular as it had a built-in check-in feature that let people share the places they’d visited, but Foursquare has always had trouble securing revenue.

In 2014, Foursquare split its app into Foursquare, for local listings, and Swarm, its check-in app, which ended up being an unpopular decision. Since then, Foursquare has struggled to find its niche among competitors, so this data sharing deal with Apple could be a huge boon for the company.

Tags: Apple Maps, Foursquare
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Apple Improves App Store Search Algorithms

Apple appears to have made some significant improvements to the way App Store searches work in recent weeks, returning more relevant, intelligent results whenever a keyword search for an app is conducted, reports TechCrunch.

Several developers, including Tapbots’ Paul Haddad and Contrast’s David Barnard began noticing changes to App Store search results starting in early November, with a major algorithm update occurring on November 12.

App rankings for search results now appear to take into account factors that go beyond simple keyword listings, like partial keyword matches and competitor brand names, somewhat de-emphasizing the keywords that developers enter manually. As an example, a search for „Twitter“ now brings up relevant apps like Tweetbot, something that didn’t happen before the shift.

It’s also the first time the App Store has ranked apps for keywords that are not in the title or the „keyword,“ slot, we understand.

For developers searching against their own app name, what this change means is that they’ll now see a number of competing apps that didn’t show up before, and an overall expanded list of matches.

AppFigures CEO Ariel Michaeli told TechCrunch the App Store uses a new suggestion function that takes into account the „essence of the app“ and puts more emphasis on on-page components.

Apple is constantly making changes to the way apps come up in charts and through search, in an effort to improve app discovery. The recent search algorithm changes appear to be bringing up much more useful results, but as TechCrunch points out, Apple could make further improvements by utilizing metrics like whether an app was featured, positive reviews and press mentions from the web, and its overall usage.

Tag: App Store
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Tim Cook Reminds Employees ‘Apple Is Open’ After Australian Retail Store Employee Bars Black Teens

Earlier this week, a group of black teenagers were asked to leave an Apple Store in Australia by employees who were concerned about theft. The exchange was caught on video and has since gone viral, leading to a series of apologies, from the store’s senior manager and from Apple.

Image via The Sydney Morning Herald

Apple has released two statements on the matter, one from Apple CEO Tim Cook who said he wants „every customer visiting our stores or calling for support to feel welcome,“ and a second general statement clarifying Apple’s core values.

„Inclusion and diversity are among Apple’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions. We’ve looked into the details of the situation and we apologize to the customers involved. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure all our customers are treated the way they should be.“

Following the public apology, Tim Cook has now sent an internal memo to its employees, which has been shared by BuzzFeed. In the letter, Cook calls what happened „unacceptable“ and says the video „does not represent our values.“

He goes on to remind employees that „Apple is open“ to people from „all walks of life“ regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language, or point of view.

I’m sure you are all aware of the unacceptable incident which took place at our store at the Highpoint shopping center in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday. Several young men, who are students at a nearby school, had been asked by a security guard to leave the store. In an attempt to address the situation, one of our store employees gave an answer which shocked many of us.

What people have seen and heard from watching the video on the web does not represent our values. It is not a message we would ever want to deliver to a customer or hear ourselves. Our employee immediately expressed his regret and apologized to the students.

None of us are happy with the way this was handled. But we can all be proud of Kate, one of the senior managers at the Highpoint store.

On Wednesday, she greeted the same group of students to express a heartfelt apology on behalf of our store and our company. She reassured these young men that they and their fellow classmates would always be welcome at our store. The school’s principal later told a reporter that she delivered her message „with good grace,“ and one of the students said, „It feels like we have justice now.“

Her words that day echoed a message you’ve heard many times from me and from Angela. It’s a simple pledge we all make to our customers and to ourselves:

Apple is open.

Our stores and our hearts are open to people from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language or point of view. All across our company, being inclusive and embracing our differences makes our products better and our stores stronger.

The Apple Store Highpoint is staffed by people who share these values and illustrate our commitment to diversity. The team is made up of coworkers from Australia, as well as Egypt, Italy, India and five other nations. Collectively they speak 15 languages, including Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin.

While I firmly believe that this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores, we will use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement. These are concepts and practices they know well, but can always stand to reinforce.

Respect for our customers is the foundation of everything we do at Apple. It’s the reason we put so much care into the design of our products. It’s the reason we make our stores beautiful and inviting, and extend their reach to benefit the communities around them. It’s the reason we commit ourselves to enriching people’s lives.

Thank you all for your dedication to Apple, to our values, and to the customers we are so very fortunate to serve.

Following the incident, the senior manager at the Apple Store where the teens were ousted invited them back along with their school principal to make a formal apology and to make it clear they are welcome in the store any time. Following the apology, one of the teens said „She apologized to us and told us that we are welcome here anytime. It feels like we have justice now.“

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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