‘An Autonomous Car Is a Robot’: Apple’s Tim Cook on Apple Car Plans

BY ROB STUMPF

AUTOMATION IS PIVOTAL TO AN APPLE-BRANDED CAR EVER HAPPENING, LET ALONE SUCCEEDING.

It’s been a few weeks since we talked about the never-ending rumor regarding Apple and its supposedly upcoming autonomous car. Until recently, hearsay on the matter suggested that the tech giant may have considered partnering with Hyundai or Kia to build the vehicle, and despite its earlier position on the matter, Hyundai later reneged saying that it wasn’t in talks with Apple, period.

So what are the newest haps with Apple’s reported automotive endeavor? To touch on that, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently sat down with Kara Swisher on the New York Times‘ Sway podcast where he briefly discussed his opinions on the core fundamentals of vehicle autonomy and Apple’s future in the car industry. 

It became crystal clear that if Apple was to develop a vehicle, the focus would be on autonomy and driver assistance functions rather than building yet another car for consumers to buy. After all, pivoting from an electronics manufacturer to an automaker is a big leap—why take that on unless there’s a software offering that makes the vehicle more attractive than a tried and true option already on the road?

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Apple Watch able to monitor frailty in cardiovascular disease patients

by Bob Yirka

A team of researchers at Stanford University has found that the Apple Watch in association with an iPhone can be used to monitor frailty in cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients. The project group, which was funded by Apple, has posted a paper describing experiments they conducted with the Apple Watc on the open-access site PLOS ONE.

People with CVD often lose physical abilitiesbecause the heart is unable to keep up with increased demands. Thus, many such patients develop frailty, which is defined in this case as an inability to walk distances greater than 300 meters in six minutes. The test has been named the six-minute walk test (6MWT) and is used as a standard means of assessing the health of CVD patients—it is generally conducted in a clinical setting. In this new effort, the team at Stanford has assessed the capabilities of an Apple Watch app they developed called VascTrac that has been designed to conduct the 6MWT on CVD patients.

The team tested the app and device by enlisting the assistance of 111 CVD patients. Each was given an iPhone and Apple Watch running the VascTrac. The volunteers were then asked to test the app by attempting to walk for six minutes—both at home and in a clinical setting.

The researchers found the system could assess the frailty of the volunteers in the clinical setting with a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 85%. At home, the numbers were 83% and 60%. The researchers say that their 6MWT system was able to provide clinically useful information for patients regarding their health in a home environment. They also note that their system could be particularly useful during emergency situations, such as a pandemic, when many CVD patients are afraid to visit a doctor’s office. They also note that their experiments were conducted over many months in 2018 and 2019. Apple has since added the VascTrac abilities to the WatchOS, which means users of new Apple Watches can take advantage of the capabilities without having to download an app.

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iPhone Assembler Foxconn Sets Up Auto Arm as Apple Car Looms

By Debby Wu

  • Taiwanese company joins forces with Chinese carmaker Geely
  • Venture to offer production, advisory services to automakers

Apple Inc.’s Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group is setting up a car venture, strengthening its automotive capabilities at a time when technology companies including its California ally are looking to expand in vehicles.

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Apple Project Titan to start electric vehicle production in 2024, says Reuters

By Tiernan Ray 

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Central to Apple’s electric car strategy is a novel battery technology, says Reuters.

Apple plans to start producing its own electric vehicle in 2024, according to a report this afternoon by Reuters that says the company’s on-again, off-again Project Titan has a renewed momentum.

According to the report, by Reuters‘s Stephen Nellis, Norihiko Shirouzu, and Paul Lienert, multiple unnamed sources have told the news outlet that Project Titan is aiming to make a passenger vehicle for the mass market. 

The article relates that sources say things at Project Titan have “progressed” since Apple brought in a veteran of both Tesla and Apple, Doug Field, to take over operations in 2018. The car effort has seen something of a revolving door of executives over the years.

The New York Times in 2016 said the effort had been rebooted at Apple, and that dozens of layoffs happened. 

A key element, the article claims, is a “a new battery design that could ‘radically’ reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range,” according to a source who has seen the design of the battery. 

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Apple is going big into AR technology after acquiring Dream Works’ former project spaces

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 KEY POINTS

  • Apple is serious in its push for augmented reality technologies
  • The company recently bought a small VR startup
  • The results and benefits of the acquisition remain unknown at the moment

Apple recently acquired a virtual reality experience company, signaling its intention to further its push for augmented reality.

Apple has long been rumored to be working on some head-mounted display devices for AR use, such as the so-called “Apple Glass.” Various patents and the advancements seen via ARKit, as well as other technologies present on the iPhone and iPad Pro, show that the company is serious in its AR push.

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Busting up big tech is popular, but here’s what the US may lose

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington.

Lawmakers don’t like them, but what they bring to the competition with China may be too valuable to break up.

The heads of Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon appeared before angry lawmakers Wednesday as Congress prepares to weigh new anti-monopoly regulations, including possibly breaking them up. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg turned to a familiar argument, saying that breaking up the big tech companies would hurt U.S. competitiveness against China in developing new technologies and America’s ability to curb Chinese influence globally.

So are U.S tech giants an asset to the U.S. in its competition with China or a hindrance?

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Didi Chuxing: Apple-backed firm aims for one million robotaxis

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Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing says it plans to operate more than a million self-driving vehicles by 2030.

The robotaxis are to be deployed in places where ride-hailing drivers are less available, according to Meng Xing, Didi’s chief operating officer.

Mr Meng was speaking at an online conference hosted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.

One analyst suggested it was a very ambitious aim.

“I’ll be surprised if we see a million by 2030,” a spokesman for market research firm Canalys said.

“I hope that happens but there’s a lot to take place in meantime.”

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I’m prepared for a future where I never pay cash and rarely go to the store

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Since the coronavirus put New York under lockdown, I’ve completely changed my buying habits.

I haven’t swiped my credit card in at least a month, relying on online payments and Apple Pay with curbside pickup.

I actually prefer paying this way, and I don’t see myself paying with cash or card anytime soon, although I know this isn’t an option for everyone.

The coronavirus has changed just about every part of my daily life. The biggest change is that I now work remotely, and rarely leave my house. But when I do leave my house, it’s also changed my relationship to money. Namely, I almost never touch actual cold, hard cash anymore.

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Researchers used a laser to hack Alexa and other voice assistants

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San Francisco (CNN Business)Usually you have to talk to voice assistants to get them to do what you want. But a group of researchers determined they can also command them by shining a laser at smart speakers and other gadgets that house virtual helpers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications figured out they could do this silently and from hundreds of feet away, as long as they had a line of sight to the smart gadget. The finding could enable anyone (with motivation and a few hundred dollars’ worth of electronics) to attack a smart speaker from outside your house, making it do anything from playing music to opening a smart garage door to buying you stuff on Amazon.

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Apple wants to put AR navigation in your car

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Apple Maps could make driving easier with augmented reality navigation tips.

Apple is exploring ways to build augmented reality into Apple Maps. Rather than top-down views of roads and intersections, the company is considering overlaying route information onto live views of the road ahead of the car.

Apple Maps has always lagged behind Google Maps. Building in AR could help it jump ahead.

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Apple is pulling the plug on iTunes after 18 Years

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs gestures as he announces Apple ‘iTunes’ Music Store in the UK, France and Germany 15 June, 2004 at a press release party in London. The iTunes Music Store will allow music fans in the three countries the same large online2011 AFP

Apple is finally putting to rest the program that started a “music revolution.” iTunes, which helped usher in the mp3 era of music, will shutter after nearly two decades. Bloomberg reports the tech giant will announce the iTunes shutdown at a developer conference that begins Monday.

This development has been rumored for years, as subscription-based streaming services — including the company’s own Apple Music — have overtaken music downloads. According to the RIAA’s 2018 year-end report, streaming amounted to 75% of the U.S. music industry’s revenue.

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Magical new AR demo transforms 2D photos into ‘Harry Potter’-style 3D animations

Imagine if you were able to point your smartphone, tablet or augmented reality (AR) headset at a still image, and watch it come to life before your very eyes. This is something that’s possible using the latest augmented reality technology, such as Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore. However, while we have seen it done before, typically it has been limited to just one or two select images — for instance, as a tool for animating advertising billboards.

Researchers from the University of Washington and Facebook have built something that’s a whole lot more versatile. Their new “Photo Wake-Up” project will animate stationary characters in any image, resulting in them springing into action to sprint toward you out of the background. Because who has time for boring old still images as we reach the final days of 2018?

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