Your Apple device could one day warn you against spending too long in the sun

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Apple Watch tan line
There's a difference between a healthy tan and sunburn. Your Apple device might soon know it.
Photo: Jjprojects/Flickr CC

Your iPhone can track your number of steps, and your Apple Watch can advise you if you have an erratic heart rate you might want to get checked out by a doctor. Could your friendly neighborhood Apple device also one day let you know if you need to put on more sunscreen, too?

That’s the basis for a new patent application published today. And rather than just being in response to sunny days on Apple’s Weather app, it’s actually pretty darn smart technology. Here’s how it might operate.

Facebook’s scary plan to record your conversations while you watch TV

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the Facebook logo on an iPhone 6 Plus
Facebook’s new patent is as worrying as it sounds.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Some believe Facebook is already using our smartphones to hear our private conversations. That’s not true, but the social network is certainly considering it.

Facebook has applied for a new patent that describes a method of tapping into our microphones to listen to our reactions to TV ads. It’s just as invasive as it sounds.

Legal battle may be to blame for Apple breaking its FaceTime promise

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FaceTime
Apple's open wish for FaceTime never happened.
Screenshot: Apple

At WWDC, Apple revealed that it will finally make it possible to do FaceTime group calls for up to 32 people. That’s great news — provided that all your friends, family and co-workers use Apple devices.

But it didn’t have to be like this. Back in 2010, when Steve Jobs introduced FaceTime, he made a big point about how it was set to become an open industry standard that could be used by Apple’s competitors, as well as Apple. Nearly a decade on, that still hasn’t happened. And now a theory has emerged as to why.

How Apple could smartify iOS’ Do Not Disturb feature

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Patent
"Do Not Disturb" could get a lot more intelligent.
Photo: Apple/USPTO

With iOS 11, Apple introduced a “Do Not Disturb” feature that texts callers to let them know you’re driving or otherwise engaged if they try and phone when you’re busy. But a future version of the technology could perform a more useful feat by texting context-specific responses to the person calling.

In a patent application published today, Apple describes how your iPhone could analyze available information — ranging from fitness tracking apps to your calendar and location information — to figure out the most useful response to a message.

Apple and Samsung will meet in court again today

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Samsung
"Phil? Phil Connors?"
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple and Samsung are heading back to court again today for the latest chapter in their never-ending legal battle.

Seven years after Apple first sued Samsung for copying the iPhone, this is the third retrial over the same five patents being contested in the suit. And we don’t expect it to be the last retrial, either!

A round Apple Watch isn’t totally out of the question

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Round Apple Watch
Would you buy a round Apple Watch?
Photo: Aicion

The Apple Watch has come a long way since it was first introduced back in 2015. One thing it hasn’t done? Gone circular, with Apple instead opting to stick with its rectangular display for all iterations of the wearable device.

But that could (possibly) one day change, based on a granted Apple patent that was published earlier today.

Every Apple Car on the road will make the others smarter

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Apple car
Apple's Lexus has been upgraded with lots of new sensors.
Photo: Idiggapple/Twitter

Apple is investigating new ways to make self-driving care systems drive more like humans, based on a recent patent filing from the iPhone-maker.

The USPTO finally published Apple’s first patent application related to autonomous vehicle systems today, giving some insight into the strategies Apple might use to make its mark in the emerging self-driving car market.

Siri could soon whisper back when you need quiet

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whisper pic
"Psssst, Siri!"
Photo: Evan Long/Flickr CC

Apple is exploring new ways to make Siri smarter — and one of them involves letting Siri know when you want to keep the noise level low by whispering.

According to a patent application published this week, Apple is interested in, “a digital assistant that is capable of detecting a whispered speech input and providing a whispered speech response.” That could be useful in scenarios such as protecting your privacy, while still letting you use its speech capabilities, or settings where high volume levels are prohibited.