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Apple to join the fiercely competitive race to design Self-driving Cars

The California Department of Motor Vehicles had awarded a permit for the company to start testing its self-driving car technology on public roads in the state.

The Apple logo is shown above a store location entrance, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in Dallas. Apple is schedule to release their iPhone 5S on Friday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez), VOA

San Francisco, April 15, 2017: Apple is joining the fiercely competitive race to design self-driving cars, raising the possibility that a company that has already re-shaped culture with its iPhone may try to transform transportation, too.

Ending years of speculation, Apple’s late entry into a crowded field was made official Friday with the disclosure that the California Department of Motor Vehicles had awarded a permit for the company to start testing its self-driving car technology on public roads in the state.

The permit covers three vehicles — all 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs — and six individual drivers. California law requires people to be in a self-driving car who can take control if something goes wrong.

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Apple Goes Mobile … In a New Way

Apple confirmed its arrival in the self-driving car market, but wouldn’t discuss its intentions. Its interest in autonomous vehicle technology, however, has long been clear .

The Cupertino, California, company pointed to a statement that it issued in December. “Apple is investing heavily in machine learning and autonomous systems,” the company said then. “There are many potential applications for these technologies, including the future of transportation.”

Apple released that statement after Steve Kenner, a former Ford Motor executive who is now Apple’s director of product integrity, notified federal regulators of the company’s interest in self-driving cars in a letter.

Like others, Apple believes self-driving cars could ease congestion and save millions of people who die annually in traffic accidents often caused by drunk or distracted motorists.

Self-driving cars could also be a lucrative new market. And Apple has been searching for its next act for a while, one that will take it beyond its mainstay phones, tablets and personal computers.

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A Next Big Thing

Although iPhone’s ongoing popularity has helped Apple remain the world’s most valuable company, the company hasn’t had a breakthrough product since the 2010 debut of the iPad, currently in the throes of a three-year sales slump. The dry spell has raised doubts as to whether Apple lost some of its trend-setting magic with the death of co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

Apple will be vying against 29 other companies that already have California permits to test self-driving cars. The list includes major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen and Tesla, as well as one of its biggest rivals in technology, Google, whose testing of self-driving cars has been spun off into an affiliate called Waymo.

Since Google began its work on self-driving vehicles eight years ago, Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars has logged more than 2 million miles on the road.

That means Apple has a long way to catch up in self-driving technology. But it has often been a follower in markets that it eventually revolutionized. It wasn’t the first to introduce a digital music player, smartphone, or tablet before its iPod, iPhone and iPad came out.

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Deep Pockets

With $246 billion in cash, Apple also could easily afford to buy technology that accelerates its development of self-driving cars. There has been recurring speculation that Apple might eventually acquire Tesla, which has a market value of about $50 billion. Neither Apple nor Tesla has given any inkling that they’re interested in joining forces, though.

Speculation about Apple’s interest in expanding into automobiles began swirling in 2015 amid media reports that the company had begun secretly working on building its own electric car under the name project “Titan.” Apple never confirmed the existence of Titan, which is now believed to be dead. (VOA)

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Apple’s ‘Families’ to help curb kids’ screen addiction

Not only Apple, Facebook, which has over two billion users, is also making drastic changes to its News Feed that will allow users to see more updates from family and friends

Apple logo. Pixabay
  • Apple has introduced new ‘Families’ page to this website
  • The aim is to curb children’s addiction to screens
  • The app will benefit the community

To help parents control their children’s screen addiction touted as a “growing public health crisis”, Apple has introduced a new page called “Families” on its website.

The page has features like “Ask To Buy” tool that lets parents approve or decline app purchases from their device. “Find My Friends” feature lets parents keep track of their kids’ locations, get alerts when they leave or arrive somewhere, and see distances and travel times to where they are.

Apple got lukewarm response for iPhone X. Pixabay
Parents can even track the activities of their children. Pixabay

Another app management feature lets users automatically block in-app purchases. It has the option to limit adult content on kids’ devices and restricts browsing to only pre-approved websites.

“We’ve also made it easy for parents to set privacy controls on their kids’ devices. We’re continually designing new features to help make sure kids use them in the ways you want,” Apple said on the new page.

Two key Apple shareholders had requested the Cupertino-based iPhone maker to take urgent steps to safeguard young users from the ill-effects of iPhone addiction.

Also Read: Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

In a letter, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System told Apple to make its products safer for the younger users.

Not only Apple, Facebook, which has over two billion users, is also making drastic changes to its News Feed that will allow users to see more updates from family and friends than posts from businesses, brands, and media.

Facebook is also concentrating more towards friends and family of its users. VOA

According to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has got a feedback from the community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. IANS