What’s Up With Apple: New Hire at Apple Car, Feds Seized Dems Records and More

It’s been a while since there was any news from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) about the company’s interest in the auto business. That changed on Thursday with a report that the company has hired a 30-year BMW veteran

who also worked in the German company’s electric vehicles (EVs) division before leaving to become a co-founder of Canoo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOEV), a venture-stage company working on self-driving EVs.

Ulrich Kranz, who stepped down from his position as CEO of Canoo about a month ago, reportedly joined Apple some weeks ago, according to an unnamed source cited by Bloomberg. Kranz is said to be reporting to Doug Feld, who leads Apple’s auto project.

If you’re wondering if (or why) Apple appears to be so serious about cars, it’s worth remembering that the total addressable car market is about 20 times the size of the $500 billion smartphone market. One analyst has suggested that if Apple can corner just 2% of the car market, that revenue will be equal to the company’s one-third share of the smartphone market.

The New York Times reported Thursday that U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors issued subpoenas on Apple in 2017 and 2018 for the personal records of “at least” two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee: ranking member (now chair) Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. The Justice Department was “hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia,” according to the Times.

Apple was subjected to a gag order that prevented the company from revealing that it had complied with the subpoenas. That gag order expired this year and, last month, Apple informed the targets of the investigation of what happened.

One of the most interesting new features of Apple’s next iPhone operating system, iOS 15, is the passkey program, iCloud Keychain, that lets people set up and log in to accounts using only FaceID or Touch ID. No password required. An Apple engineer told the attendees of this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that the new feature is “simultaneously easier, faster, and more secure than almost all common forms of authentication today.”

There are downsides to storing your life on iCloud, though, as ZDNet’s Tiernan Ray reported earlier this week after iCloud wouldn’t allow him to log in to his account.

Finally, MacRumors has a nice explanation of another feature coming to iOS 15. Live Text, as it is called, recognizes text when it appears in the camera’s viewfinder or in a photo you’ve stored, and lets you do things with it. Point your camera at a sign with a phone number and Live Text will give you the option of making a call to that number. The new feature also will support translations.

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