Future iPhones could have curved screens, respond to a wave of your finger

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Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple knows the smartphone market is becoming more crowded and homogenous, and the company wants to make its iPhones stand out. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is experimenting with two new features that could make it into future iPhone models: touchless gesture controls and curved screens. Those familiar with the plans claim that if Apple continues to develop these new technologies for the iPhone, they likely will not make their debut for another two or three years.

Gesture control would allow users to complete some tasks on the handset by moving their finger near the screen without actually touching it. Proximity of the finger to the screen would be the key, as the technology being developed is reportedly being built into the screen itself.

Samsung offered similar gesture controls, dubbed Air Gestures, on its Galaxy S4 smartphone years ago. Air Gestures allowed users to move their hand near the top of the handset to accept calls, scroll through webpages, and more. However, Samsung’s feature used a motion sensor on the phone’s bezel rather than technology built into the display panel.

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Tim Cook says Apple’s customers are not its product, unlike Facebook

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Enlarge / Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an event at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (credit: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with MSNBC and Recode on Wednesday that Silicon Valley, and notably Facebook, should be far more careful with its customers’ data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica disclosures.

“I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said, according to Recode. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”

Cook reiterated points that he and former CEO Steve Jobs made previously, that Apple’s business model—unlike Google, Facebook, and many other tech companies—is predicated on selling physical products rather than capturing data about customers.

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Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad offers Pencil support for $329

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Enlarge (credit: Eric Bangeman)

CHICAGO—Apple today announced an updated version of the iPad—its cheapest yet, the company says. And the new device comes with a focus on education. The new iPad starts at $ 329 for general consumers, but educational institutions can get it for a little cheaper at $ 299. It’s available to order today, and shipments start next week.

This new, 9.7-inch tablet closely resembles existing models. However, it adds support for the Apple Pencil peripheral, which was previously only supported on the iPad Pro. Apple will also release new versions of its productivity software Pages, Keynote, and Numbers to support the Apple Pencil.

Unfortunately, the Apple Pencil is not included with the iPad. It is available separately for $ 99. Apple also announced that numerous other accessories are coming to the iPad, including a $ 49 “Crayon” accessory from Logitech that is more affordable than the Apple Pencil.

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You don’t have to buy an iMac Pro to get a space gray Magic Keyboard and Mouse now

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Samuel Axon

The space gray versions of Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Numeric KeypadMagic Mouse 2, and Magic TrackPad 2 are now available to purchase separately from the company’s new iMac Pro.

Previously, the space gray versions of the accessories were only available alongside Apple’s newest all-in-one desktop computer, which starts at $ 4,999 and is aimed at professional users. White-and-silver versions of Magic Keyboard, Mouse 2, and TrackPad 2 have been available, but the other models’ exclusivity led to complaints from some Apple users.

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Analysis: New iPads will help Apple in education but probably not enough

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Enlarge / Apple VP of Product Marketing Greg Joswiak speaks at Apple’s event in Chicago on March 27, 2018. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

In today’s Apple event at Lane Tech High School, Apple CEO Tim Cook reminded the audience that Apple has been in the education business for 40 years. I can’t speak to the 1978-80 timeframe, but I do remember showing up for my sophomore year of high school in the fall of 1981 and walking into the computer lab to find that my beloved Challenger 2P computers, nine-inch black-and-white TVs, and cassette players were gone. In their place were a handful of Apple ][ computers with green-screen monitors. After messing around with them for a day or so, I decided they were an improvement.

That has been the hook for Apple in the education market for the last four decades: it’s an improvement. Back when Microsoft was struggling to put together a polished Graphical User Interface, Macintoshes offered a lower barrier to entry for students and teachers. Unfortunately, that lower barrier generally came with a higher price tag.

Despite that, the combination of a dedicated education sales force, less-expensive hardware created for and targeted at the .edu market—like the eMac, and before that, the Power Macintosh 7500/75—and software tailored to the needs of teachers enabled Apple to make serious inroads in the school system. Apple’s reputation as a secure platform likely helped in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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Apple makes iOS more school-friendly with ClassKit educational framework

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Enlarge / Apple has unveiled a new feature that allows students to share an iPad across multiple accounts. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

CHICAGO—Educators will have new ways to use iOS in schools thanks to Apple’s latest software update. On a stage at a school in Chicago today, Apple announced ClassKit, a new framework for making educational apps on iOS.

We first learned of ClassKit when Apple users were sifting through a beta of iOS 11.3. It’s a software development framework, in the tradition of prior Apple-developed frameworks like ARKit, HealthKit, and SpriteKit. This framework is focused on taking care of some of the heavy lifting for developers who are making apps for use in schools and other educational contexts.

Schoolwork and Classroom

Apple created a few native school programs with ClassKit and promised that more apps using the API are forthcoming. The new Schoolwork app gives students and teachers a digital space to assign, complete, and review assignments. The free, cloud-based app lets teachers assign work to students and see each student’s progress while they complete the assignment in their own version of the Schoolwork app. Teachers can even grade these assignments directly in the app, making assignment management much easier than if dozens of students were to hand in individual papers.

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Apple may surpass $1B content budget, new shows could debut in March 2019

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(credit: Steve Rhodes)

Despite underwhelming performance thus far, Apple isn’t giving up on its original programming ambitions. According to a report from The New York Times, the tech giant’s entertainment plans are slowly but surely taking shape. Apple could reportedly push out a number of original series and films any time between March 2019 and summer of that same year.

The process may seem slow, but Apple isn’t wasting time building out its projects. Since last fall, the company signed 12 content deals. Nine of those are “straight-to-series” shows, meaning they skip the traditional pilot-episode stage and will immediately become full series. New hires and former Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg lead Apple Worldwide Video and are expanding the staff to about 40 people. They’ve also ordered separations within the entertainment division devoted to adult dramas, children’s shows, and Latin American and European programming.

Only broad details about Apple’s overall entertainment strategy have been revealed. According to the New York Times report, producers and executives that have met with Apple claim the company is partial to programming that’s in line with “its bright, optimistic brand identity,” signaling that we probably won’t see any dark, Game of Thrones-esque shows coming from the iPhone maker.

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Liveblog: Apple’s March 2018 education event in Chicago

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Enlarge / An exterior shot of the Apple Store on the Chicago River. (credit: Apple)

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An Apple event in Chicago? It’s unusual, but that’s what’s going down on March 27 at 10am CDT/8am PDT/11am EDT. The event is education-focused, and both hardware and software announcements are possible from the company. Apple is looking to gain ground on the dominant platform for students K-12: Google’s Chromebook.

Apple has said this event will not be livestreamed—though a video will be made available after the fact—but Ars Technica Managing Editor Eric Bangeman will be in attendance, liveblogging the announcements for Ars readers.

We’re not yet certain what Apple plans to announce, but reports suggest a new, cheaper iPad is coming—possibly with Apple Pencil support, a feature previously reserved for the iPad Pro line. Apple will likely announce software updates for iOS updates, possibly including ClassKit, a rumored developer framework for educational apps.

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The Mac gaming console time has forgot

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Enlarge / Nope, that’s not an Xbox, Playstation, or even a Dreamcast… (credit: Macgeek.org’s Museum)

Apple in mid-1993 was reeling. Amidst declining Mac sales, Microsoft had gained a stranglehold over the PC industry. Worse, the previous year Apple had spent $ 600 million on research and development, on products such as laser printers, powered speakers, color monitors, and the Newton MessagePad system—the first device to be branded a “personal digital assistant,” or PDA. But little return had yet come from it—or indeed looked likely to come from it.

The Newton’s unreliable handwriting recognition was quickly becoming the butt of jokes. Adding to the turmoil, engineering and marketing teams were readying for a radical transition from the Motorola 68k (also known as the 680×0) family of microprocessors that had powered the Mac since 1984 to the PowerPC, a new, more powerful computer architecture that was jointly developed by Apple, Motorola, and IBM. Macs with 68k processors wouldn’t be able to run software built for PowerPC. Similarly, software built for 68k Macs would need to be updated to take advantage of the superior PowerPC.

It was in this environment that COO Michael Spindler—a German engineer and strategist who’d climbed through the ranks of Apple in Europe to the very top layer of executive management—was elevated to CEO. (The previous CEO, John Sculley, was asked to resign.) Spindler spearheaded a radical and cost-heavy reorganisation of the company, which harmed morale and increased the chaos, and he developed a reputation for having horrendous people skills. He’d hold meetings in which he’d ramble incoherently, scribble illegible notes on a whiteboard, then leave before anybody could ask a question, and his office was usually closed.

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Apple reportedly developing microLED displays for its mobile devices

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Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Apple is reportedly taking a big step into making its own displays, and it isn’t using the technology you may be most familiar with. According to a Bloomberg report, a secret facility in California close to Apple Park houses engineers developing microLED displays for Apple mobile devices. While Apple has been making its own chips for its mobile devices for a few years, this would be the first time the company has attempted build its own displays.

MicroLED technology is still in its infancy, particularly in its application in consumer electronics. We last saw microLEDs show up in Samsung’s gigantic, 146-inch TV dubbed “The Wall,” which it debuted at CES in January. Making microLED displays is no easy task since the panels are made up of individual pixels that need to be individually calibrated. Each pixel is self-emitting as well, meaning microLED displays do not require individual backlights. But microLEDs produce displays that are incredibly bright, with deep blacks and high contrast ratios; they are also slimmer and don’t require as much power as their LCD counterparts.

Due to the complexity of microLED display development and application, Apple is reportedly still in the experimental phases when it comes to these panels. The company reportedly has about 300 engineers working on the initiative, reportedly codenamed “T159n” which is being overseen by Lynn Youngs, who helped develop touchscreen display technology for the original iPhone and iPad. Apple also gleaned some intellectual property about microLED development when it acquired the screen-tech startup LuxVue back in 2014.

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