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Apple admits Apple Music still needs work, says iTunes downloads remain strong

Speaking to The Guardian, Apple has admitted that it still has “homework to be done” on the Apple Music service. Oliver Schusser, the vice president of iTunes International, told the Guardian that a lot of work is still being put into improving the service, with “teams all around the world” focusing on editorial and playlists, but also adding features and “cleaning up certain things.” When asked about usability criticisms that have been levied against the service, Schusser reiterated that the service remains a priority for Apple, noting that it was a very big launch and they’re getting a “ton of feedback” but are “obviously trying to make it better every day.” Schusser also confirmed that Apple remains on track to launch Apple Music for Android devices and Sonos players this fall.

Schusser also stated that the download business has been “really, really healthy,” and iTunes continues to be a big part of Apple’s business on which they are still focused, as well. Dr. Dre’s recent release of “Compton: A Soundtrack Album” was streamed 25 million times in its first week, however, it still sold nearly 500,000 iTunes downloads in the same time frame. Schusser holds up Compton as a “really good example of how streaming and downloads can be successful side-by-side,” stated that they’ve proven “when there’s great content, customers will buy as well as listen.”

Judge approves $415M settlement in anti-poaching lawsuit

A U.S. judge has approved a $415 million settlement in the anti-poaching lawsuit against Apple and several other Silicon Valley companies, Reuters reports. The class-action antitrust lawsuit, filed in 2011, accused Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe of conspiring to avoid poaching employees from each other, thereby allowing them to also hold down employee salaries. While the four companies offered up a $324 million settlement in April 2014, that proposal was rejected by the judge as falling “below the range of reasonableness” after an objection from one of the plaintiffs. In January of this year, the four came back with the offer of $415 million, which received final approval from Judge Koh in a ruling on Wednesday, finding that the deal was “fair to the thousands of plaintiff workers in the class action.”

Report: Apple to debut ‘iPad Pro’ on Sept. 9

A new report from 9to5Mac suggests that Apple may in fact debut the long-rumored “iPad Pro” during next week’s event, although the new larger tablet is still not expected to be available until November. Sources indicate that Apple plans to ship the new iPad in November, with it expected to be available for pre-order in late October. There has allegedly been some discussion within Apple indicating that the company may reveal the new iPad during next week’s event — however, this has not yet been confirmed and sources have also indicated that it is still possible that it could be held back for an October event. It also apparently remains unclear whether Apple will be able to source enough components to meet the demand expected by the enterprise market for the larger device.

The report also reveals that a new fourth-generation iPad mini would also be revealed alongside the iPad, but suggests that this may be tied to whether Apple chooses to announce the larger version next week. A third-generation version of the iPad Air is not expected to be revealed, as sources indicate it’s planned for a 2016 release.

iPhone 6S to use 7000 series aluminum from Apple Watch Sport

The new iPhone 6S models will be constructed from the new 7000 series aluminum first introduced in the Apple Watch Sport earlier this year, 9to5Mac reports. When it was released for the Apple Watch, the new alloy was touted by Apple as being 60 percent stronger than typical aluminum alloys while remaining very light. With Apple having developed the new alloy for the Apple Watch, it makes sense that the material would find its way to the new iPhone 6S models, and should serve to help increase durability, particularly in the larger iPhone 6S Plus. Apple is expected to debut the two new iPhone 6S models a week from now on Sept. 9, and if past releases are any indication, the new models will go on sale September 18.

CBS Sports to stream Super Bowl 50, select NFL games on Apple TV

CBS announced it will stream Super Bowl 50, four NFL playoff games and and two regular season games through its CBS Sports app, available on Apple TV and several other platforms. The live streams are available for free and won’t require authentication to be viewed. The October 4 game between the Jets and Dolphins in London will be the first to stream live, followed by the November 26 Thanksgiving Day game between the Panthers and Cowboys. All of CBS’ AFC playoff coverage will be streamed as well, including Wild Card, Divisional, and Championship games.

Report: New Apple TV gets A8 chip, but not 4K support

The fourth-generation Apple TV will have a faster processor, but will lack support for 4K video streaming, 9to5Mac reports. Sources said the new Apple TV will contain the A8 chip found in current iPhones — making it much faster than the previous Apple TV model — and run an iOS 9 core capable of reducing the size of App Store apps and improving load times for gaming. But even with all its hardware upgrades, the new Apple TV won’t feature 4K support for content streaming or AirPlay and sports the same HDMI and USB ports as the current Apple TV box. There is still speculation about whether the new Apple TV will feature the same 8 GB of internal storage as previous models, with sources saying Apple has considered making a 16 GB model the new standard — or at least offering a model with 16 GB of storage for a slightly higher price. Either way, sources seem to agree that some model of the new set-top box will start at $149.

The device’s motion-sensitive metal remote control will now come in a black/gray color, as opposed to the silver remote found with past Apple TVs. A Siri and Home button will be found beneath a touchpad, with rocker buttons on the side that may act as volume controls.

Report: New Apple TV will feature universal search, cost $149

The fourth-generation Apple TV will cost $149 and feature a universal search, enabling users to enter the title of a movie or TV show once and view results from multiple sources, BuzzFeed reports. Sources familiar with Apple’s plans said the universal search feature is the cornerstone of the new Apple TV, finally providing for searches across multiple streaming services and the iTunes Store. Users will also be able to run more targeted searches, or search by specific actors or directors. Sources said the new search incorporates Siri, as well as features once provided by Matcha — an iOS app that searched for available content from streaming services, TV providers and digital stores like iTunes and Amazon before being bought by Apple in 2013 and shut down. Matcha’s functionality has resurfaced in the new Apple TV, addressing a long-standing user complaint that the search methods on previous Apple TV models are frustrating and not intuitive.

Retrial for damages in Apple patent case set for March or April

A retrial to set damages in Apple’s long-standing patent dispute with Samsung is set for March or April of next year, Apple Insider reports. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh set the timeline after getting an official mandate from the Federal Circuit’s Court of Appeals, less than a week after putting a freeze on filings in the case ahead of the appeals court’s recommendation. The new trial will calculate the damages Samsung must pay Apple over five of its products that infringed on six Apple patents. Samsung previously argued an initial $930 million judgement down to $548 million and is hoping to knock more off that total now that some of the Apple patents cited in the initial ruling have since been deemed invalid. Koh ordered Apple to respond to Samsung’s latest round of objections by Sept. 8, ahead of a case management conference for both sides set for Sept. 16.

Google omits HealthKit support from Android Wear iOS app

Although Google released an iOS app able to link certain Android Wear watches to iPhones, the new interface doesn’t yet include support for Apple’s HealthKit, BuzzFeed reports. While Android watches can track steps, heart rate and other fitness metrics, the data won’t show up in Apple’s Health dashboard like data collected from the Apple Watch does. Instead, the information will be routed through Google’s competing health dashboard, Google Fit. An Apple spokeswoman was quick to point out that the choice not to integrate Android Wear watches with HealthKit was entirely Google’s, leading to speculation that Google is happy to tap into Apple’s iPhone user base, but reluctant to allow its watches to share data with competing platforms. It’s possible that Google could change its mind in the future and allow Android Wear to interact with HealthKit.

Apple eyed Bill Simmons for exclusive podcast deal

Amid rumors of Apple showing interest in generating its own original programming, Re/code reports that the company held talks with former ESPN star Bill Simmons aimed at signing the sports commentator to an exclusive podcast deal. Sources familiar with the discussions said Apple media boss Eddy Cue floated the idea to Simmons a couple times over the summer, before Simmons ended up signing an exclusive “multi-year, multi-platform agreement” with HBO in July that includes a podcast set to debut in October. Apple also reportedly pursued the stars of BBC’s “Top Gear” for its own content — they ended up at Amazon. Before launching Apple Music, sources said Apple executive Jimmy Iovine was also toying with the idea of exclusive contracts for recording artists before settling on more modest exclusive offerings.

Amazon Video app update lets Prime users download movies, TV shows for offline viewing

An update to the Amazon Video iOS app now allows Amazon Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Austria to download movies and TV shows for offline viewing at no added cost. A new download icon has appeared alongside the play button next to individual pieces of content within the app. To locate and view videos after downloading, iPhone or iPad users can open their Library, tap Refine and then select the On Device option. Users can also watch content by tapping Watch Now from the Prime movie or TV show page, which is also where they’ll go to delete downloads once they’re done watching.  Amazon is touting the move as setting its service apart from competitors like Netflix by making content available for viewing even when an Internet connection isn’t available.

Report: Apple considering move into original programming

After going head-to-head with Spotify in streaming music, Apple is considering taking on the likes of Netflix and Amazon in the original programming business, Variety reports. One high-level Hollywood executive who had talks with the company said Apple is looking to start its own development and production divisions to create long-form content for streaming. The source didn’t know whether the focus would be on TV series, movies or both, but said the company is looking to start hiring in the next few months with hopes of the new venture being operational next year. Other sources claimed Apple’s interest in creating its own content is still in a much more preliminary stage, but the company is said to have made a bid to secure the stars of “Top Gear” after they left their BBC show earlier this year — only to lose the show to Amazon in July. Apple has been buying up content on the independent film circuit for distribution on iTunes for years, and has made a big push to incorporate local content into its upcoming paid subscription TV service to set it apart from competitors’ offerings. While starting its own in-house production company could be expensive, Apple holds more than $200 billion in cash and has proven with Apple Music that the company is willing to enter a new market with original, exclusive content. Apple declined to comment on the story.

Malware steals 225,000+ Apple account logins from jailbroken iPhones

Malware has stolen login credentials for more than 225,000 Apple accounts from jailbroken iPhones, according to network security company Palo Alto Networks. The malware, now named “KeyRaider,” is distributed through Cydia repositories in China — Cydia is an (obviously) unofficial App Store alternative for jailbroken devices. Users in 18 countries are said to be affected, with Palo Alto Networks claiming, “We believe this to be the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware.” The stolen data appears to have already been accessed more than 20,000 times, with the data also having been uploaded online. Some infected iPhones have have been disabled for ransom requests, and some affected users have already seen abnormal charges in their app purchasing history. [via Ars Technica]

Apple announces partnership with Cisco for iOS business users

Apple has announced a partnership with Cisco to “create a fast lane for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps.” In addition to optimizing Cisco networks and iOS devices to work together, the two companies are also focused on make iPhone more collaborative with Cisco’s “voice and video environments” to make a “seamless experience” between a user’s iPhone and desk phone. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has also written a blog post about the new partnership.

Report: New Apple TV to support Bluetooth gaming controllers

Anticipation is building for Apple’s new, feature-packed Apple TV, and the new set-top box will also feature Bluetooth controller support, according to 9to5Mac. Apple TV will support certain third-party Bluetooth controllers, in addition to coming with its own motion sensitive remote that can be used as a game controller. We’ve been expecting such capabilities to be included in a new Apple TV for a few years now. The new set-top box will support Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac wireless standards. This new report also claims Siri will not just be a feature, but a “main focus” of the new Apple TV, allowing for much easier navigation of the device.

Google releases iOS app that links some Android Wear watches to newer iPhones

Google announced on its official blog that an iOS app rolling out today will finally let users pair some Android Wear watches with newer iPhones. Android Wear for iOS will let users running iOS 8.2+ on an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus connect their phone to the LG Watch Urbane. Google said all future Android Wear watches — including those from Asus, Huawei and Motorola — will support the iOS app as well, but for now, only the Urbane offers support. Once connected, the watch will mirror the notifications on a user’s iPhone, display messages, and show info about incoming phone calls. In the announcement, Google makes a point of noting that Android Wear’s always-on display means users won’t have to move their wrist to “wake up” their watch — a clear dig at how the Apple Watch only turns its screen on to display notifications after a user rotates their wrist or taps the smartwatch. Android Wear is going after Apple Watch on the health front as well, allowing iPhone users to track heart rate, distance traveled, and progress toward fitness goals. The app also attempts to provide an alternative to Siri in offering the “OK Google” capability, which allows users to get responses to questions, check traffic or flight information, and create to-do list reminders on the fly.

Apple to make Apple Camp program available year-round

In a note to employees, Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts said the company plans to make its popular Apple Camp summer program available to students year-round, 9to5Mac reports. The expansion will also make field trips and programs for teachers a year-round enterprise, with Ahrendts touting “the impact they make on so many lives and the energy they bring to the store” in her message. While the website for Apple Camp hasn’t yet been updated to reflect the upcoming year-round status, the change dovetails with Apple’s retooling of its in-store workshops.

Apple hiring ex-Microsoft employee hints at augmented reality plans

Apple’s hiring of a former Microsoft employee is fueling rumors that the company is working on an augmented reality interface, Street Insider reports. In a note to clients, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said, “Based on recent acquisitions of augmented reality companies, hiring of a key Microsoft Hololens employee, and conversations with industry contacts within the virtual and augmented reality spaces, we believe Apple has a team exploring the AR space.” According to 9to5Mac, that former employee of Microsoft’s Hololens team is Nick Thompson, whose LinkedIn profile shows he moved to Apple in July. The report comes on the heels of Apple’s acquisition of augmented reality company Metaio in May, and plans to integrate augmented reality features into Apple Maps.

Judge limits further filings in patent case between Apple and Samsung

After a week of rapid-fire filings in the never-ending court struggle between Apple and Samsung over patents, a U.S. judge has banned any further filings without the consent of the court, Apple Insider reports. A week after Samsung lost its appeal to overturn a $548 million fine for infringing on certain Apple patents, the U.S. Patent office issued a non-final action saying some of those patents shouldn’t have been granted to Apple in the first place. With Samsung still hoping to have the case go before the U.S. Supreme Court, Apple filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh proposing a partial final judgment that wouldn’t take the invalidated patents into account. That sparked an angry response from Samsung, a response to that response from Apple, a motion for judgment as a matter of law from Samsung, and one final Samsung objection to Apple’s partial judgment request that sent Koh over the edge. “The Court has not yet received the mandate from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,” Judge Koh wrote in her order. “Despite this, the parties have already filed a letter, two responses, an objection, and a motion. The parties shall not file any further motions, briefs, or letters with the Court until authorized by the Court.”

Report: New Apple TV less than $200, arriving in October

The fourth-generation Apple TV will cost less than $200 and is on pace to be available in October, 9to5Mac reports. Sources say Apple executives haven’t finalized the price, but that it will likely come in somewhere between $149 and $199, either of which will make it more expensive than the $99 starting price asked for the third-generation Apple TV when it launched in 2012. Apple plans to keep the third-generation model available — it’s now priced at $69 — to compete with similar products from Roku, Google and Amazon.  The new Apple TV is expected to be introduced at Apple’s September 9 event and the new set-top box is said to include new features like Siri integration, a motion-sensitive remote, and a drastically redesigned user interface.

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