Apple Blocks Update of ChatGPT-Powered App

Apple has delayed the approval of an email-app update with AI-powered language tools over concerns that it could generate inappropriate content for children, according to communications Apple sent to the app maker. The software developer disagrees with Apple’s decision. From a report: The dispute shows the broad concerns about whether language-generating artificial-intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, are ready for widespread use. Apple took steps last week to block an update of email app BlueMail because of concerns that a new AI feature in the app could show inappropriate content, according to Ben Volach, co-founder of BlueMail developer Blix, and documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. BlueMail’s new AI feature uses OpenAI’s latest ChatGPT chatbot to help automate the writing of emails using the contents of prior emails and calendar events. ChatGPT allows users to converse with an AI in seemingly humanlike ways and is capable of advanced long-form writing on a variety of topics.

“Your app includes AI-generated content but does not appear to include content filtering at this time,” Apple’s app-review team said last week in a message to the developer reviewed by the Journal. The app-review team said that because the app could produce content not appropriate for all audiences, BlueMail should move up its age restriction to 17 and older, or include content filtering, the documents show. Mr. Volach says it has content-filtering capabilities. The app’s restriction is currently set for users 4 years old and older. Apple’s age restriction for 17 and older is for categories of apps that may include everything from offensive language to sexual content and references to drugs. Mr. Volach says that this request is unfair and that other apps with similar AI functions without age restrictions are already allowed for Apple users.

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How Apple’s ‘Reality Pro’ Headset Will Work

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: Apple’s first AR/VR headset could be unveiled sometime this spring, and rumors continue to offer more information about what Apple has in the works. A wide-ranging new report from Bloomberg now offers a slew of details on Apple’s “Reality Pro” headset, including that the “eye- and hand-tracking capabilities will be a major selling point” for the product. Using external cameras, the headset will be able to analyze the user’s hands, while internal sensors will be used to read the user’s eyes.

The report explains: “The headset will have several external cameras that can analyze a user’s hands, as well as sensors within the gadget’s housing to read eyes. That allows the wearer to control the device by looking at an on-screen item — whether it’s a button, app icon or list entry — to select it. Users will then pinch their thumb and index finger together to activate the task — without the need to hold anything. The approach differs from other headsets, which typically rely on a hand controller.”

More details on the hardware of the headset include that there will be a Digital Crown similar to the Apple Watch for switching between AR and VR. The VR mode will fully immerse the wearer, but when AR mode is enabled the “content fades back and becomes surrounded by the user’s real environment.” This is reportedly one of the features Apple hopes will be a “highlight of the product.” To address overheating concerns, the Reality Pro headset will use an external battery that “rests in a user’s pocket and connects over a cable.” There will also be a cooling fan to further reduce the likelihood of the headset overheating. “The headset can last about two hours per battery pack,” Bloomberg reports. The battery pack is “roughly the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Maxes stacked on top of each other, or about six inches tall and more than half an inch thick.” Another tidbit from the report is that the headset will be able to serve as an external display for Mac. “Users will be able to see their Mac’s display in virtual reality but still control the computer with their trackpad or mouse and physical keyboard,” reports Bloomberg. Apple is also “developing technology that will let users type in midair with their hands.”

Additionally, FaceTime on the headset will “realistically render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality.”

A team of more than 1,000 people have been reportedly working on the first version of the device for the past seven years. It’s slated to cost “roughly $3,000” when it debuts sometime this spring.

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Tim Cook: ‘No Good Excuse’ For Lack of Women In Tech

AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there are still “not enough women at the table” at the world’s tech firms — including his own. He said there were “no good excuses” for the lack of women in the sector. Apple has just launched its founders’ development program for female founders and app creators in the UK. “I think the the essence of technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table,” Mr Cook says. “Technology’s a great thing that will accomplish many things, but unless you have diverse views at the table that are working on it, you don’t wind up with great solutions.”

Apple had 35% female staff in the US in 2021, according to its own diversity figures. It launched its original Apple Health Kit in 2014 without a period tracker — which led to accusations that this was an oversight due to male bias among its developers. One challenge facing the sector is the lack of girls choosing to pursue science, tech, engineering and maths subjects at school. “Businesses can’t cop out and say ‘there’s not enough women taking computer science — therefore I can’t hire enough,'” says Mr Cook. “We have to fundamentally change the number of people that are taking computer science and programming.” His view is that everybody should be required to take some sort of coding course by the time they finish school, in order to have a “working knowledge” of how coding works and how apps are created. According to Deloitte Global, large global tech firms will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022 on average — with 25% occupying technical roles.

In the interview with the BBC, Cook also commented on the future of augmented reality, saying: “in the future, people will wonder how we lived without AR.” He added: “we’re investing a ton in that space.” Earlier this year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple could announced its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023.

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Apple’s Repair Program Creates ‘Excruciating Gauntlet of Hurdles’, iFixit Says

On Monday, Apple expanded its DIY repair program to include MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops equipped with M1 chips (including the Pro and Max). At least, in theory. The repairability experts at iFixit, who regularly dissect Apple’s gadgets, have taken a look at the new program, and their outlook is…mixed. iFixit’s Sam Goldheart writes that the new MacBook Pro guides “threw us for a loop.” The issue: the documentation “makes MacBook Pros seem less repairable” than they have been in the past. From a report: The repair manual for replacing the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s battery, for example, is a whole 162 pages long. (One of the first steps, of course, is “Read the entire manual first.”) The reason the guide is so long, it turns out, is that replacing these batteries isn’t just a matter of popping the battery out. A user needs to replace the entire top case and keyboard in order to replace the battery. Needless to say, it is unusual for a laptop battery replacement to require a full-computer teardown.

And then, as Goldheart points out, there’s the matter of the money. The “top case with battery” part that you’ll need to purchase for the 2020 and 2021 MacBook Pro models is not cheap — after rooting around Apple’s store, Verge editor Sean Hollister found that you can expect to pay well upwards of $400 for the top case with battery after the repair credit. “Apple is presenting DIY repairers with a excruciating gauntlet of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without getting intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overkill replacement part, decide whether you want to drop another 50 bucks on the tools they recommend, and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing the System Configuration to pair your part with your device,” Goldheart writes in summary. “Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want better repairability?”

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Apple Might Remove the Headphone Jack From Its Next Entry-Level iPad

Apple’s upcoming entry-level iPad is rumored to cut the 3.5mm headphone jack, joining the iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and the entire iPhone lineup. The Verge reports: MySmartPrice says the CAD renders are sourced from a case maker working on accessories for what will be the 10th-generation iPad. It’s a substantial redesign from the classic iPad design that has been left largely untouched for years; Apple increased the display size slightly in 2017 and has made other internal hardware upgrades, but the overall look has remained consistent. It appears that’s about to change, with the new iPad sharing the same flat-sides aesthetic as recent iPhones, iPads, the 14-inch / 16-inch MacBook Pro, and 2022 MacBook Air. Both 9to5Mac and MacRumors reported on the renders. But as always, treat these easily faked images with a healthy amount of skepticism.

The home button remains present, which means so do the sizable bezels above and below the display. MySmartPrice reports that the screen should be larger than the current 10.2-inch model, and there’s a redesigned camera on the iPad’s back reminiscent of the module from the iPhone X. The revamped iPad has a USB-C port, which would complete the transition for Apple’s tablet line. These renders also include quad speakers, and that’s where I get somewhat doubtful of what we’re seeing: only the iPad Pro is currently outfitted with four speakers, so if this pans out, the base-level iPad would be leapfrogging both the iPad Air and Mini in the audio department. That strikes me as unlikely, but it could also serve as Apple’s justification for nixing the headphone jack from a product used in many classrooms and other scenarios where support for affordable wired headphones has been meaningful.

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