Apple started paying $15 billion European tax fine

It took a couple of years, but Apple has started to pay back illegal tax benefits to the Irish government. The company has paid $1.77 billion (€1.5 billion) into an escrow account designed to hold the fine. Apple has to pay $15 billion in total (€13 billion). In August 2016, the European Commission said that Apple benefited from illegal tax benefits in Ireland from 2003 to 2014. According to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Apple managed to lower its effective corporate tax rate thanks to a Double Irish structure. By creating two different Irish subsidiaries and allocating profit to the right subsidiary, you can end up paying corporate tax on a fraction of your actual profit. Of course, Apple wasn’t the only tech company that optimized its tax structure. And the company also claimed that everything was legal. The Irish government tried to appeal the decision but the decision
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For Apple, this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is all about education

Following Apple’s education event in Chicago in March, I wrote about what the company’s announcements might mean for accessibility. After sitting in the audience covering the event, the big takeaway I had was Apple could “make serious inroads in furthering special education as well.” As I wrote, despite how well-designed the Classroom and Schoolwork apps seemingly are, Apple should do more to tailor their new tools to better serve students and educators in special education settings. After all, accessibility and special education are inextricably tied. It turns out, Apple has, unsurprisingly, considered this. “In many ways, education and accessibility beautifully overlap,” Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Senior Director of Global
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It turns out Apple could build its new campus in North Carolina

The Washington Post reported just yesterday that Apple was talking with Virginia officials for a new campus in Northern Virginia. But WRAL is now reporting that Apple is about to announce a new campus in North Carolina. According to WRAL’s sources, it’s “a done deal.” The company and legislators plan to talk about a tax break to seal the deal. If North Carolina agrees to reduce the taxes, Apple could create a new campus in the Research Triangle Park. Multiple tech companies already have offices in the Research Triangle Park as it is close to top universities (Duke University, NC State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). IBM and Cisco have established huge offices in the region. It’s also worth noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook got his MBA at Duke University. This report doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple didn’t talk with Virginia officials. The company could
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Apple brings its coding lessons to schools for students who are blind and deaf

Apple this morning announced another expansion of Everyone Can Code, bringing its Swift coding curricula to a number of US schools focused on students who are blind and deaf. The current list includes eight schools in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas.

“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” Tim Cook says in the announcement. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”

According to a release issued around the news, the lessons will be augmented for students using Apple’s accessibility, and tailored to individual needs with help from teachers. VoiceOver will play a key role here, reading step by step on-screen instructions for students with visual impairments. For students with hearing impairments, the

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Apple reportedly looks to Virginia for another US campus

It seems Virginia is for tech lovers.

According to a report in The Washington Post, Apple has been searching for places to put hubs as it contemplates how to spend the $30 billion it has committed for new facilities and 20,000 new employees in the U.S. over the next five years — and it looks like Virginia is on the list.

If Virginia makes the cut, Apple would be the second large tech company to call the state a (second or third) home, as Amazon is also reportedly looking at Virginia as a site for its second U.S. headquarters.

The Post is reporting that Apple could seek to put up to 20,000 employees in a potential Northern Virginia campus that would total 4 million square feet of office space.

Citing conversations between the company and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, the Post reported that state officials had proposed several sites

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Hear from the executives of Innoviz and Oryx Vision about the eyes and ears of the new automobile in Tel Aviv

The success of the autonomous vehicle revolution relies on complicated systems of sophisticated sensors working in harmony to provide the magic of sight to machines.

OmerKeilaf, chief executive, Innoviz

In Tel Aviv, we’ll hear from experts in the field as they discuss the technological marvels that are the driving force behind the transformation of mobility in the modern world. Omer David Keilaf, the chief executive of Innoviz, comes to us with some significant recent wins under his company’s belt. The Innoviz LIDAR technology has been selected by BMW to power its Level 3 to Level 5 autonomous vehicle systems. The company’s solid-state LiDAR sensor, available as a built-in device beginning next year, is much smaller than traditional LIDAR and is stationary. Before founding Innoviz, Keilaf led the system and product definition efforts at the world’s first handheld molecular sensor for mobile devices with ConsumerPhysics. Previous roles include leading
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Music payments startup Exactuals debuts R.AI, a “Palantir for music royalties”

Exactuals, a software service offering payments management for the music industry, is debuting R.AI, a new tool that it’s dubbed the “Palantir for music”. It’s a service that can track songwriting information and rights across different platforms to ensure attribution for music distributors. As companies like Apple and Spotify demand better information from labels about the songs they’re pushing to streaming services, companies are scrambling to clean up their data and provide proper attribution. According to Exactuals, that’s where the r.ai service comes in. The company is tracking 59 million songs for their “Interested Party Identifiers” (IPIs), International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs), and International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) — all of which are vital to ensuring that songwriters and musicians are properly paid for their work every time a song is streamed, downloaded, covered, or viewed on a distribution platform. Chris McMurtry, the head of music
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Didi Chuxing can now test self-driving cars in California

Quite a number of companies — 53, to be exact — have received permits to test self-driving cars with a safety driver in California. One of the more notable companies that has received a permit is China-based Didi Chuxing, which officially opened up its U.S.-based research lab last March. Also on the list of permit holders is Udacity, which partnered with Didi last year to host a contest for the development of an Automated Safety and Awareness Processing Stack. In April, the California Department of Motor Vehicles introduced some new regulations and permit application processes for self-driving car companies. The new system entails three autonomous vehicle permit options: testing with a driver, driverless testing and deployment. Most of the new elements of the regulations are around driverless testing and deployment. For example, in order to conduct driverless testing, companies must have previously tested the vehicles in controlled conditions.
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Apple’s App Store redesign improved app discovery, report finds

When Apple introduced its completely redesigned App Store last fall, one of its goals was to improve app discovery by placing a larger emphasis on editorial content – including things like “app of the day” picks, lists, how-to’s and even interviews with app developers, among other things. Now, a new study from Sensor Tower reveals those changes appear to have been working. According to Sensor Tower’s findings, more apps are being discovered by way of browsing the App Store following the redesign launched in September. Before, browse-driven downloads accounted for around 10 percent of all downloads. With the new App Store, they’ve grown to more than 15 percent. And that increase has held steady into 2018, even as the initial excitement around the App Store revamp has worn off. Despite the growth in app discovery by browsing, searching for app by typing keywords into the search box is still, by
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Lenovo teases a slick, all-screen smartphone that doesn’t have a notch

Lenovo has teased a new arrival that might top Apple’s iPhone X in a bid to deliver a true all-screen smartphone. Apple’s iPhone X goes very close but for a tiny bezel and its distinctive notch, but Lenovo’s Z5 seems like it might go a step further, according to a teaser sketch (above) shared by Lenovo VP Chang Cheng on Weibo that was first noted by CNET. The device is due in June and Cheng claimed it is the result of “four technological breakthroughs” and “18 patented technologies,” but he didn’t provide further details. The executive previously shared a slice of the design — see right — on Weibo, with a claim that it boasts a 95 percent screen-to-body ratio. Indeed, the image appears to show a device without a top screen notch à la the iPhone X. Where Lenovo will put the front-facing camera, mic, sensors and other components isn’t clear right now. A
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Nike debuts its most ambitious SNKRS stash drop for the Championship Tour featuring Kendrick Lamar and SZA

On a mild Thursday night at the Los Angeles Forum, Nike’s public relations team and a group of journalists from some of the country’s leading lifestyle, tech, and general interest websites gathered to see the debut of Nike’s most ambitious SNKRS stash drop. Launched in conjunction with Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment, the collaboration between Nike and Lamar marks a series of firsts for the world’s largest sports and lifestyle brand. The combined effort is the first capsule collection that Nike has done with a musician. It’s also the first time that anyone currently working at the company can remember the apparel company signing on with a musician for select tour merchandise, and the debut of the stash drop through the SNKRS app was the largest the company’s tech had tried to tackle. For concertgoers, rolling up to the concert in Supreme sweats, Yeezys, Adidas, Pumas… and, of
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The UK and USA need to extend their “special relationship” to technology development

The UK and the USA have always had an enduring bond, with diplomatic, cultural and economic ties that have remained firm for centuries.

We live in an era of profound change, and are living with technologies set to change things ever faster. If Britain and America work together to develop these technologies for the good of mankind, in a way that is open and free, yet also safe and good for our citizens, we can maintain the global lead our nations have enjoyed in the fields of innovation.

Over past months we have seen some very significant strides forward in this business relationship. All of the biggest US companies have made decisions to invest in the UK. Apple is developing a new HQ in the

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Apple hit with lawsuit over the “completely reinvented” Macbook keyboard it rolled out back in 2015

A little more than three years ago, Apple announced a new MacBook with a “butterfly” keyboard that was 40 percent thinner and ostensibly four times more stable than the previous “scissor” mechanism that MacBooks employed. The promise was to more evenly distribute pressure on each key. Not everyone loved this “reinvention,” however, and now, Apple is facing a class action lawsuit over it. According to a complaint lodged in the Northern District Court of California yesterday and first spied by the folks over at AppleInsider, “thousands” of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops produced in 2015 and 2016 experienced failure owing to dust or debris the Butterly design that rendered the machines useless. The complaint further alleges that Apple “continues to fail to disclose to consumers that the MacBook is defective, including when consumers bring their failed laptops into the ‘Genius Bar’ (the in-store support desk) at Apple stores to request technical support.
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The many twists and turns of hardware

Note: This is the final article in a three-part series on valuation thoughts for common sectors of venture-capital investment. The first article, which attempts to make sense of the SaaS revenue multiple, can be found here; the second, on public marketplaces can be found here.

Over the past year, the VC-backed hardware category got a big boost — Roku was the best-performing tech IPO of 2017 and Ring was acquired by Amazon for a price rumored to exceed $1 billion. In addition to selling into large, strategic markets, both companies have excellent business models. Ring sells a high-margin subscription across a high percentage of its customer base and Roku successfully monetizes its 19 million users through ads and licensing fees.

In the context of these splashy exits, it is interesting to consider the key factors that have made for valuable hardware companies against a backdrop of an investment sector that has

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Apple invests $10M in greenhouse gas-free aluminum smelting

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard joined key execs from Apple and industrial manufacturers Alcoa and Rio Tinto to announce a new process for smelting aluminum that removes greenhouse gases from the equation.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto are creating a joint venture in based in Montreal called Elysis, to help mainstream the process, with plans to make it commercially available by 2024. Along with swapping carbon for oxygen as a byproduct of the production process, the technology is also expected to reduce costs by around 15 percent.

It’s easy to see why Apple jumped at investing into tech here, pumping $13 million CAD ($10 million USD) into the venture. The company has been making a big push over the past couple of years to reduce its carbon footprint across the board. This time last month, Apple announced that it had moved to 100-percent clean energy for

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Jony Ive talks about the Apple Watch, finally

Ben Clymer is Anna Wintour of the Watch World, an editor of immaculate taste and deep understanding of the watches and their relationship with culture. He is also the founder of Hodinkee (a True Ventures-backed company), that is at the center of all things watches. So it doesn’t surprise me that he got to sit down with Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive to talk about watches in general and Apple Watch in specific. Watch, it seems to me was a Jony Ive Joint.  Continue reading "Jony Ive talks about the Apple Watch, finally"

iOS will soon disable USB connection if left locked for a week

In a move seemingly designed specifically to frustrate law enforcement, Apple is adding a security feature to iOS that totally disables data being sent over USB if the device isn’t unlocked for a period of 7 days. This spoils many methods for exploiting that connection to coax information out of the device without the user’s consent. The feature, called USB Restricted Mode, was first noticed by Elcomsoft researchers looking through the iOS 11.4 code. It disables USB data (it will still charge) if the phone is left locked for a week, re-enabling it if it’s unlocked normally. Normally when an iPhone is plugged into another device, whether it’s the owner’s computer or another, there is an interchange of data where the phone and computer figure out if they recognize each other, if they’re authorized to send or back up data, and so on. This connection can be taken advantage
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The Velop AC3900 mesh router offers cheaper whole-home Internet

The whole-home wireless craze peaked and waned last year with the rise of Orbi, Eero, Google WiFi, and Linksys’ Velop. These routers use mesh technology to blanket your home in soft, velvety Wi-Fi, ensuring that everything from the front camera/lamp to the Wi-Fi-connected grill in the back yard are connected to the Internet. I’ve tested a number of these so far and have settled on Orbi as the best of the bunch but the original tri-band Velop was excellent and this dual-band model – a cheaper but still speedy whole home solution – has maintained quality and value and holds the crown for the cheapest – and best – mesh network you can buy. This new mesh kit, the Velop AC3900, costs $299 and is slightly smaller than the original AC4400, a tri-band solution that started at $349 for three units. Considering most routers hover around
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Equity podcast: Stocks swing after earnings for Tesla, Apple, Spotify, Snap

It was another big week for earnings on “Equity,” TechCrunch’s podcast about venture capital and the tech business. But this week, it wasn’t all good news. Spotify stumbled after its first quarterly report since joining the stock market. Tesla shares were down after Elon Musk’s unusual earnings call. Snap hit a record low after failing to gain traction with its redesign. Apple, however, surprised Wall Street when iPhone sales didn’t disappoint. We also recapped the successful IPOs for DocuSign and Smartsheet. Our special guest this week was M.G. Siegler, general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures). In a previous life, he wrote for TechCrunch. We also had TechCrunch editor Connie Loizos, who will be helping out with the show now that I’m leaving. Yes, that’s right, I’m sad to say that it’s my last episode of “Equity.” I’ve accepted a new opportunity that I’m excited about
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