Apple, VW sign driverless car deal for Apple campus shuttles, NY Times sources say

Apple, VW sign driverless car deal for Apple campus shuttles, NY Times sources say
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/ A T9 Transporter van like this could soon shuttle Apple employees.

The New York Times reported this evening that Apple entered into a partnership with Volkswagen Group to pair a number of electric T6 Transporter vans with Apple’s proprietary autonomous vehicle software. The vans will reportedly be used to shuttle employees around Apple’s company campus, and it’s not clear whether the deal will extend from there.

The Times says that this deal only comes after Apple tried to find a partner in BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The company has shed hundreds of employees on the project, in a department that once boasted about 1,000 workers.

According to the Times‘ sources—”five people familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly”—BMW and Mercedes-Benz rejected a partnership with Apple due to requirements from the Cupertino-based firm to turn over all data and some design aspects of the car.

Apple reportedly gave up trying to build its own car years ago and settled on building self-driving software that could potentially be licensed out to more experienced automakers.

Three sources told the Times that the current deal to build shuttle buses with VW is “behind schedule and consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention.”

About one year ago, Apple applied to the California DMV for a license to test autonomous vehicles on state roads. The request was granted for “three 2015 Lexus RX540h SUVs and six drivers.” Last June, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg that Apple was “focusing on autonomous systems,” suggesting the company had decided to forego building an actual vehicle and would settle with creating the software.

Apple is missing out on billions of dollars by skirting the hottest trend in software

Apple is missing out on billions of dollars by skirting the hottest trend in software

Apple still makes the bulk of its money selling iPhones. But in trying to show investors that it can thrive in high-margin software, the company has built a services unit that’s now approaching $40 billion in annual revenue. But it’s leaving money on the table by failing to embrace the biggest trend in the software industry: subscriptions

Salesforce, Workday and ServiceNow in enterprise software and Netflix and Spotify in the consumer world. But unlike those companies and older software vendors such as Adobe and Microsoft, which have migrated to the cloud in recent years, Apple hasn’t fully embraced subscription software.

Apple has a suite of products called Pro Apps, used primarily by audio and visual professionals, that customers buy and download onto their local hard drives — the way software worked in the pre-cloud days. Users of Mac computers go to the App Store to purchase Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, Motion, Compressor and MainStage 3. They each have separate prices — Final Cut Pro X costs $300 — and the whole package costs $630.

Those are all products that Apple could conceivably host in the cloud and charge monthly subscriptions to use (Apple Music, for example, costs $10 a month for unlimited streaming). The model, known in the technology world as software as a service, provides less revenue up front but potentially much more over time if customers see the value and renew annually. Last year Apple said Final Cut Pro X had 2 million users, but none are paying for the video production software on a recurring basis.

Report: Apple in deal with Volkswagen for self-driving shuttle effort

Report: Apple in deal with Volkswagen for self-driving shuttle effort

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to supply vans that the iPhone maker would use to create a self-driving shuttle for employees.

The bottom line: While not in the fast lane, Apple’s self-driving car effort is apparently chugging along. Apple has gotten permits to test autonomous vehicles in California.

Apple cracks down on CallKit-enabled apps in China’s App Store

Apple cracks down on CallKit-enabled apps in China’s App Store

ymgerman / Getty Images News

A new group of apps in China’s App Store is facing scrutiny from Apple. According to a report from 9to5Mac, the iPhone maker is curtailing apps with CallKit framework due to a “newly enforced regulation” from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Apple started sending notices to developers whose apps use the CallKit framework, notifying them that CallKit functionality isn’t allowed in China due to the new regulations. Developers reportedly have two options: remove CallKit framework from their apps, or remove their apps from China’s App Store entirely.

Apple introduced CallKit with iOS 10. It allows developers to build calling services into related applications, but it doesn’t actually make calls. CallKit provides the interface, allowing the application to have a more native look, while developers can use a VoIP system on the back-end to handle making the calls.

The Chinese government frowns upon VoIP services, since they can allow users to bypass surveillance measures that the government has put in place. It’s believed that Skype was removed from the App Store for a similar reason last year. The popular Chinese chat app WeChat supported Apple’s CallKit briefly, but the functionality was removed shortly after implementation.

The new crackdown comes more than a year after Apple removed all VPN apps from China’s App Store due to the local government forbidding the use of VPN services within the country that don’t have government approval. VPN services let Chinese users bypass the country’s “Great Firewall” for uncensored access to various websites like YouTube, Google, and Facebook. Apple stated that VPN apps would only be reinstated to the App Store in the country after they had complied with local rules and obtained the appropriate licenses from the government.

The Chinese government cracks down hard on most services that it cannot control. Many Apple Watch Series 3 users were not able to connect their new wearables to wireless networks due to the government blocking eSIM connectivity. Apple Watch models with LTE use embedded eSIMs to connect to a wireless network in order to make calls, receive texts, and complete other features without having a smartphone nearby. China’s government regulates SIM card use in mobile phones, but it appeared that the government did not know how to regulate eSIM use at the time of the Watch’s debut last year.

Apple has struggled to comply with the rules of China’s government in the past, and the company has come under fire, as some believe it has given in to China’s government too quickly. Apple wants to offer devices and services in China, and it likely feels it has to abide by the Chinese government’s rules if it wants to continue to do so.

Apple co-founder: Maybe time to break up tech giants

Apple co-founder: Maybe time to break up tech giants

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks that it may be time for regulators to consider breaking up large tech companies, according to an interview with Business Insider.

Why it matters: Wozniak hasn’t been with Apple for decades, but remains a well-respected voice in the tech community.