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Apple Stores Getting All-New 'Lead' and 'Schedule Planner' Positions

22 July, by Joe Rossignol[ —]
MacRumors has learned that Apple is introducing two all-new Apple Store positions named Lead and Schedule Planner. Apple today informed existing retail employees that applications open Monday, July 24, although it appears that select stores started interviewing candidates as early as a few weeks ago.


Apple says the Lead position will give team members the chance to learn the ins and outs of running an Apple Store firsthand. The majority of a Lead's time will be spent as the Support Leader on the Floor, responsible for managing employee breaks and zoning in the store, and addressing customer concerns.

Support Leader on the Floor also entails communicating daily objectives, reinforcing store policies, and motivating team members by delivering feedback for career development, according to one employee's LinkedIn profile.

Apple says Leads will also support opening and closing, and perform a number of other administrative responsibilities, suggesting these employees could be key holders, count and balance cash, and be able to perform overrides when necessary. These have typically been duties carried out by the Store Manager.

It appears that Store Managers will continue to perform some of those responsibilities, in addition to HR and store development.

Meanwhile, working closely with Store Leaders, Apple says the majority of a Schedule Planner's time will be spent planning and creating the weekly schedule for the entire store. Schedule Planners will also identify trends and make resourcing recommendations to improve team and customer experiences.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: Apple retail

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Verizon Throttling Netflix Traffic as Part of Temporary Video Optimization Test

21 July, by Juli Clover[ —]
Some Verizon Wireless users this week began noticing throttled streaming speeds when watching content from streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and Verizon today confirmed to Ars Technica that it has indeed been throttling speeds as "part of a temporary test" of a "new video optimization system."
"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."
Reports of throttled speeds first surfaced on reddit earlier this week, after Verizon users noticed that Netflix's speed test site was returning streaming speeds limited to approximately 10Mb/s, while other speed test tools, like Ookla Speedtest, were returning normal results. Similar throttled speeds were also seen when using YouTube and the actual Netflix service.


It wasn't clear what was going on until this morning, when Verizon told Ars Technica that it was conducting a temporary test of a new optimization system. According to Verizon, the optimization test did not impact actual quality of video, which is true in most cases, but some YouTube users noticed downgraded quality resolved through using a VPN. Other video services, including Verizon's own Go90 video service, are also impacted.

With Netflix, the 10Mb/s limit doesn't impact Netflix video quality when watching on a mobile device, but it has the potential to be an issue when tethering and watching on a device that can stream Netflix's Ultra HD 25Mb/s video. According to Verizon, the video optimization limits are used regardless of whether a user is tethering.
But will that actually harm your Netflix video? Probably not, as long as you're watching on your mobile device and not tethering. Netflix says its Ultra HD quality video can require 25Mbps but that's apparently just for non-mobile devices. For mobile devices, Netflix offers a few quality settings including "Unlimited," which it says "may use 1GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds."
When Verizon introduced its unlimited streaming data plan in February of 2017, the company said it would not throttle video or manipulate data, and Verizon was noncommittal when asked by Ars Technica if the alleged "temporary test" marked a change in policy. "We deliver whatever the content provider gives us," the company said. "We're always looking for ways to optimize our network without impacting our customers' experience."

As The Verge points out, what customers experienced appeared to be more of a hard cap than network optimization, raising some questions about Net Neutrality.

Verizon says its testing should be completed shortly, after which speeds will presumably go back to normal.

Tag: Verizon

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Apple Appoints Deirdre O'Brien to New 'Vice President of People' Role

21 July, by Juli Clover[ —]
Apple today announced that it is promoting Deirdre O'Brien to a new head HR role, "vice president of People." O'Brien, who previously served as vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations, has been at Apple for nearly 30 years.

According to the news release, O'Brien will lead all HR functions, like talent development, recruiting, benefits, compensation, and business support, plus she'll oversee Apple University, where employees are trained. She will be reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

"As long as I've been at Apple, Deirdre has been the glue that bonds our operations, sales, marketing and finance teams to deliver products to our customers," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "Deirdre deeply understands Apple's unique culture and that people join Apple to do the best work of their lives. She is a superb leader and I'm thrilled she will be bringing her experience and talent to this critical role."
O'Brien first joined Apple in 1988 and has had a "key role" in each Apple hardware product launch over the past 20 years. She will start her new position as vice president of People in the fall.
"I love Apple and, like so many of my colleagues, I'm honored to have made it my life's work," said Deirdre. "I'm excited to begin this new chapter, supporting 120,000 incredibly talented people around the world who are motivated to do amazing things every day. It is a privilege to work among such a diverse and talented team, and to help them thrive here at Apple."
Apple has recently taken to announcing high profile hires and promotions on its news site, most recently sharing the hiring of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony Pictures executives who will lead Apple's original programming efforts, and the promotion of Isabel Ge Mahe to Managing Director of Greater China.
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Apple Has Spent Record $2.2 Million Lobbying Trump Administration Over Past Three Months

21 July, by Joe Rossignol[ —]
Apple spent an all-time high $2.2 million lobbying Donald Trump's federal government between April 1 and June 30, 2017, according to a disclosure form filed by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Image: Drew Angerer—Getty Images

That amount is by far the most Apple has ever spent on lobbying in a single quarter, eclipsing the previous record of nearly $1.4 million spent during Trump's first three months as President of the United States. Apple has now spent nearly $3.6 million on lobbying during the first six months of his term.

The extra $800,000 that Apple spent between April 1 and June 30 of this year, compared to January 1 to March 31, is its largest ever quarter-over-quarter increase in lobbying expenses. Apple had never increased its lobbying spending by more than $330,000 from one quarter to the next before now.

Apple's surge in spending is perhaps no surprise, as the company has disagreed with Trump on a number of fundamental issues, ranging from his temporary immigration ban to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

"There are clearly areas where we're not nearly on the same page," said Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Nonetheless, Cook has showed a willingness to work with Trump so far.

By comparison, Apple spent $1.12 million lobbying between April 1 and June 30 of 2016, the final year of Barack Obama's administration, meaning it has nearly doubled its spending in just one year. Apple spent around $730,000 during the first six months of Obama's presidency, according to 2009 disclosure forms.

Apple continued to lobby the government about issues related to corporate tax reform, climate change, diversity in the workplace, green technology, patent reform, privacy, education, accessibility, music licensing, and regulation of mobile medical applications, according to the latest disclosure form.

Apple has gradually increased its lobbying spending over the past decade. In 2007, the final year of George W. Bush's administration, the company spent $1.3 million, compared to nearly $4.7 million in 2016. Apple is well on pace to smash that record this year after spending $3.6 million in the first six months alone.

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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ARKit Roundup: Turn-by-Turn Directions, Precise Room Measurements, and Pac-Man

21 July, by Mitchel Broussard[ —]
Since the announcement of Apple's new augmented reality developer platform at WWDC in June, developers have been sharing interesting new AR experiences on iOS devices, including practical applications like measuring tape apps and basic character model demos.

Today, we've rounded up the newest examples of how ARKit could work in real-world scenarios, starting off with a maps addition that could bolster directions in Apple Maps. As with all ARKit demos, today's examples are not confirmed to be the final launch products for augmented reality apps coming down the line, but they are intriguing glimpses into what users can expect when the AR features debut on iOS 11 this fall.

Images via @AndrewProjDent

Shared by iOS developer Andrew Hart on Twitter, the first example of the AR-enhanced maps software overlays destinations on points of interest when looked at through the camera of your iPhone or iPad, giving an estimation of how far you are from each location.

Burrowing deeper into getting directions to a specific location, Hart used ARKit and Apple developer framework Core Location -- which lets developers integrate the geographic location and orientation of a device directly into their software -- to create augmented reality turn-by-turn directions.

Acquisitions of mapping companies and patent filings dating back to 2009 have long suggested that Apple is interested in adding AR features into Apple Maps, but the technology prior to ARKit has likely not been promising enough for such an implementation.


Continuing on the measuring AR app trend, a new tool was shared on the Made With ARKit Twitter account recently, allowing users to perform precise square foot measurements of an entire room. The last few measuring apps detailed in our ARKit roundup in June centered upon AR-enabled measuring tapes that could only provide distance estimates in a straight line.


For those interested in gaming AR apps, developer Kobi Snir shared a real-life version of Pac-Man that uses ARKit to place users directly within the game's maze, filled with dots and ghosts. The players take on the role of Pac-Man, and move around the maze to eat every dot while avoiding the ghosts. Another recent gaming-related ARKit example showcased what Minecraft would look like in the real world.


Games have been a core part of ARKit from the day it was announced, with Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi touting Pokémon Go as one of the first apps that will receive ARKit-related enhancements this fall. "The Pokémon is so real, he's right there on the ground," Federighi said at WWDC. "As the ball bounces, it actually bounces right there in the real environment. It's AR like you've never seen it before."

Of course, these are just a handful of recent examples of ARKit that developers have shared. Others include a graffiti doodling app, a shopping app (similar to IKEA's planned ARKit app), and an inter-dimensional portal. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said AR makes him so excited that he just wants to "yell out and scream," telling Bloomberg Businessweek last month that, "When people begin to see what’s possible, it’s going to get them very excited—like we are, like we’ve been."

Tag: ARKit

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Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 Expected to Debut at Upcoming August 23 Event

21 July, by Juli Clover[ —]
Samsung today sent out invitations announcing an upcoming Unpacked event set to be held on August 23 in New York City.

The South Korean company is widely expected to introduce its next-generation Galaxy Note device at the event, with the new smartphone hinted at through a "Do Bigger Things" slogan and a stylized image of an S Pen next to a smartphone-sized device.


Rumors suggest the upcoming Galaxy Note 8 will feature a design that's similar to the existing Galaxy S8 with thin bezels, rounded corners, and a 12-megapixel dual-lens camera system. It is expected to feature a larger curved display than the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, measuring in at 6.3 inches.

Galaxy Note 8 rendering via BGR

Other features may include Bixby integration, 6GB RAM, an upgraded S Pen, iris scanning functionality, and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Note device will be the first since the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which the company was forced to recall after exploding batteries caused problems in both original Note 7 devices and their replacements.

The recall and the exploding Note 7 devices were highly publicized, even leading to an FAA ban that prevented them from being carried on airplanes. The debacle cost Samsung up to $5.4 billion, but Samsung is reportedly intent on continuing to use the Note brand despite the incident.

To avoid future problems and to assuage customer fears, Samsung has implemented an 8-Point Battery Safety Check procedure that involves putting all batteries used in Samsung devices through "extreme testing, inside and out, followed by careful inspection by X-ray and the human eye."

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 will come just a few weeks before Apple is expected to introduce its highly anticipated iPhone 8, which is rumored to feature an edge-to-edge OLED display, a vertical dual-lens rear camera, a faster A11 processor, and a front-facing camera equipped with 3D sensors to enable AR and facial recognition features.


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Apple May Replace Some Original Apple Watch Models in Need of Repair With Series 1 Models

20 July, by Juli Clover[ —]
Apple today informed retail store employees and Apple Authorized Service Providers that some original first-generation Apple Watch models that require repairs can be replaced with Series 1 Apple Watch models.

The substitutions are limited to aluminum Apple Watch models in Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold, and are only available in some countries, which were not specified in Apple's directive.
In some countries, Apple Watch Aluminum (1st generation) parts (in all colors) may be substituted with Apple Watch Aluminum (Series 1) parts. The parts substitution should now be working properly in MobileGenius and Repair Central.
Apple Watch Series 1 models, which were introduced alongside the Series 2 Apple Watch in September of 2016, are nearly identical to original Apple Watch models, with the exception of the processor. In Series 1 Apple Watch models, there's an upgraded dual-core S1P chip, which is similar to the S2 chip in the Series 2 but without GPS capabilities.

Original Apple Watch models are no longer covered by Apple's one-year warranty, but customers who purchased AppleCare for their watches are still eligible for no-cost repairs of manufacturing issues for two years from the date of purchase.


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Apple Updates 'Clips' Video App With Disney Characters, New Graphics Overlays

20 July, by Juli Clover[ —]
Apple today updated its video creation app Clips with a handful of new features, introducing new graphic overlay options and support for Disney and Pixar characters.

Clips, first released back in April, is designed to let users combine several video clips, images, and photos with voice-based titles, music, filters, and graphics to create videos that can be shared in Messages and via social networks.


With today's update, Apple has added dozens of new graphic overlays and animated poster designs to enhance text-based additions that are added to videos. Posters range from glistening water to slow motion billowing smoke and 3D art.

Apple has also partnered with Disney to introduce animated overlays featuring classic Disney and Pixar characters. Animated overlays, which are akin to stickers, can be added to videos and photos. Available characters include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, along with those from both Toy Story and Inside Out.

Clips was released as a standalone app in April, but Apple has made it a default pre-installed app on new iOS devices, making it more readily available to customers.

The new update is available today from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Clips

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Apple Reportedly Working With Chinese Manufacturer of Electric Vehicle Batteries

20 July, by Joe Rossignol[ —]
Apple is quietly working with Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited on automotive battery research and development, according to Shanghai-based Yicai Global.


The report, citing unnamed sources, claims the two companies have signed a confidentiality agreement to work together on a "scheme" related to the field of batteries, but no specific details were provided.

CATL was founded in 2011 as a spinoff of Amperex Technology Limited, a large supplier of batteries for iPhones and other Apple products.

The company, based in Ningde, China, describes itself as a leader in lithium-ion battery research and development, including battery cells, materials, and recycling. CATL says it currently has more than 3,700 full-time R&D personnel from a number of well-known universities and laboratories around the world.

CATL claims it has been the world's third largest manufacturer of hybrid and electric vehicle batteries for the past two consecutive years, behind Chinese rival BYD and Panasonic, which supplies Tesla with batteries. The company's lithium-ion batteries are used in both passenger vehicles and buses.

The purpose of Apple's involvement with CATL remains unknown, as the iPhone maker reportedly abandoned plans for its own electric vehicle, at least temporarily, last year. Apple has instead emphasized its interest in autonomous technologies.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems," said Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in an interview with Bloomberg Television's Emily Chang last month. "It's a core technology that we view as very important."

In recent months, Apple has pivoted to an autonomous driving software platform being developed under the leadership of Bob Mansfield. Apple has been testing its self-driving software using a fleet of Lexus SUVs, which have been spotted on streets in California after Apple received a permit from the DMV.

CATL plans to increase its battery output to 50 gigawatt hours by 2020, which could make it one of the industry's two largest manufacturers. The other, Tesla, expects total output from its Gigafactory in Nevada to reach at least 35 gigawatt hours, with the potential for up to 150 gigawatt hours, by 2020.

The company's other goals by 2020 include significantly reducing battery costs, improving energy density, and increasing the speed of charging. Last year, it demonstrated a 4C fast-charging solution that takes only 15 minutes to charge a lithium-ion electric vehicle battery to the 90 percent level.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tags: China, CATL, yicaiglobal.com

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TSMC Rumored to Be Sole Supplier of A-Series iPhone Chips in 2018

20 July, by Mitchel Broussard[ —]
Earlier this week, a report by The Korea Herald suggested that Samsung Electronics could be returning as a supplier for the so-called A12 chip in 2018's line of iPhones, after being removed from the A-series chip supply chain in 2016 and 2017, years in which Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company took on all of the orders. Now, industry observers reported upon by DigiTimes are predicting that TSMC is "still likely" to retain its title as the sole manufacturer of A-series chips in 2018.

In today's report, TSMC's integrated fan-out wafer-level packaging technology -- which the supplier uses in its 7-nanometer FinFET chip fabrication -- is looked at as largely superior to any progress made by Samsung in the same field. Samsung is said to be "aggressively vying" for A-series orders from Apple ahead of 2018, but DigiTimes' sources state that even the company's close ties to OLED might not be enough for Apple to add Samsung as a secondary A-series supplier for the reported three iPhones launching in fall 2018.


It is unlikely Samsung will be able to regain application processors orders for Apple's iPhone, as TSMC's in-house developed InFO wafer-level packaging will make the Taiwan-based foundry's 7nm FinFET technology more competitive than Samsung's, said the observers.

Samsung has grabbed Apple's A9 chip orders for the new 9.7-inch iPads introduced earlier in 2017, the observers claimed. TSMC, which is already the sole supplier of Apple's 10nm A11 chips for the upcoming iPhones, will still likely obtain all of the next-generation A-series chip orders for Apple's 2018 series of iPhones with its 7nm FinFET process, the observers said.

TSMC's innovation in backend packaging plays a key role in securing exclusive orders for Apple's processors for the upcoming iPhones, the observers noted.
In Tuesday's report, it was rumored that Samsung Electronics co-CEO Kwon Oh-hyun already made a deal with Apple concerning 2018 iPhone chip production during a visit to Cupertino last month. Otherwise, The Korea Herald's report was light on details, with no clear indication on exactly how many orders Samsung might have gained from such a deal besides believing the company would "share some parts" of A-series chip production with TSMC.

If Apple kept TSMC as the sole A-series manufacturer in 2018, it would mark the third year in a row that the supplier created iPhone chips alone, following the A10 in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the A11 in the upcoming "iPhone 8," "iPhone 7s," and "iPhone 7s Plus." Otherwise, a return to dual-sourced A-series chips in 2018 would be the first time Apple made that move since 2015, when both Samsung and TSMC supplied the A9 chip in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which frustrated some users when TSMC's technology was discovered to boast marginally better battery life.


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