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Report: iPhone ‘5se’ to have A9 + M9 chips, always-on Siri

Apple’s upcoming 4” iPhone — which may be called the iPhone 5se — will likely have “variants” of the iPhone 6s’ A9 and M9 chips, 9to5Mac reports. The iPhone will come in 16GB/64GB capacities, and will feature always-on Siri, in addition to Apple Pay support. It’s believed the new iPhone will have curved glass and resemble a smaller iPhone 6/6s — a recent photo posted on One More Thing’s forums (and pictured above) purports to show the new iPhone next to the iPhone 5.

Report: 4-inch ‘iPhone 5se’ to support Apple Pay, Live Photos

The upcoming iPhone with a 4” display will likely be called the “iPhone 5se,” according to 9to5Mac. Sources have said the “iPhone” posted in a recent video is a fake, and that the iPhone 5se — the “se” perhaps meaning “special edition” — is best thought of as an upgraded iPhone 5s, instead of a shrunken iPhone 6s. The iPhone will still retain a headphone port, but there will be a number of upgrades and changes, including an NFC chip for Apple Pay without use of an Apple Watch, the addition of Live Photos from the 6s, and the A8 and M8 chips and 8MP/1.2MP cameras from the iPhone 6. The straight, shiny edges of the 5s will be replaced by curved glass as seen in the 6 and 6s. 3D Touch reportedly won’t be making its way to the iPhone 5se, which probably isn’t a surprise to most. The phone is still expected to debut in March before a March or April release.

Google paid Apple $1B to be iOS default search engine

A transcript of court proceedings between Oracle and Google has revealed that Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to remain the default search engine on iOS devices, Bloomberg reports. An Oracle attorney said that Google and Apple have an agreement which gives Apple a percentage of the revenue Google generates through iPhone. While a revenue share of 34 percent was discussed, a Google attorney attempted to get the number stricken from the record, saying, “We are talking hypotheticals here.” The magistrate judge refused this request, but Google and Apple have filed to seal and redact the transcript. Both Apple and Google declined to comment on the proceedings.

California bill would require ‘back door’ access to encrypted phones

Following New York’s introduction of a very similar bill, California is now considering a bill that would require smartphones to have a “back door” for access to encrypted content, ZDNet reports. Assembly Bill No. 1681, which has been presented as legislation for “Human Trafficking Evidentiary Access,” would “require a smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Any smartphone that couldn’t be decrypted on demand would subject a seller or lessor to a $2,500 fine. If the bill became law, iPhones (and many other smartphones) could not be sold in California if their current encryption features remained intact. The bill was introduced by California assembly member Jim Cooper, who told Ars Technica, “For the industry to say it’s privacy, it really doesn’t hold any water. We’re going after human traffickers and people who are doing bad and evil things. Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

iOS 9.3’s Night Shift may get Control Center button

Apple’s Canadian preview page for iOS 9.3 reveals something the American preview page didn’t — a toggle for the upcoming Night Shift mode within Control Center. First spotted by Reddit user nickjosephson, the Canadian page shows a small lamp button for Night Shift, next to the brightness slider within an iPad’s control center. The toggle allows a user to select between “Turn On For Now” or “Turn On Until Tomorrow.” The new Night Shift mode makes screen colors warmer at night, to minimize the affect of blue light on a user’s sleep cycle. While this toggle hasn’t appeared yet in any released iOS 9.3 beta, the image is still up on the page, which makes us think we’ll be seeing it sooner rather than later.

Video shows purported 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’

A new video purports to show Apple’s upcoming 4” iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 6c. The video, posted by M.I.C. Gadget, shows a phone that looks almost exactly like the iPhone 6s. M.I.C. Gadget claims the iPhone is “one of the first demo examples from Foxconn,” but noted that they don’t have additional tech specs or information about the device. The validity of such videos should always be taken with a grain of salt, but this isn’t completely dubious. Though it’s not always easy to judge scale, this alleged iPhone does appear to be a bit smaller than the 4.7” iPhone 6s. It’s been rumored that a 4” iPhone with a metal body would be coming this spring, and a familiar design wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Apple introduces new, free Music Memos app

Apple has introduced a new free iOS app geared toward songwriters, Music Memos. The company sent out a press release and has also set up a webpage dedicated to the app. As Apple describes the app, Music Memos “can record any musical instrument through the iPhone’s built-in microphone in a high-quality, uncompressed format, then name, tag and rate it to start building a library of your ideas. The app can analyze rhythm and chords of acoustic guitar and piano recordings, and instantly add drums and a bass line to provide a virtual, customizable backing band that plays along to match the feel of your song. Music Memos can even provide basic notation that displays the chords that were played.” Think of it as a Voice Memos app for songs. Though the app may not be showing up in the App Store yet on your iOS device, it is indeed already available for download through iTunes. Music Memos requires iOS 9.1 or later, and it works on any compatible iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Apple Watch Hermès to be sold online starting Friday

Apple Watch Hermès, a special edition of Apple Watch which has only been sold in select boutiques, will be available for purchase online starting this Friday, Jan. 22, Fashionista reports. The watch will be available at both Apple and Hermès’ online stores. Prices for Apple Watch Hermès range from $1100-$1500, and come in 10 variations, differing by size and band. While some high-end shoppers may have been waiting for Apple Watch Hermès to become more widely available, it might make sense for any prospective Apple Watch buyer to wait just a bit longer to see if Apple will indeed introduce a new, revised Apple Watch this spring.

Apple looks to open retail stores in India

Apple has formally filed an application to open its own retail stores in India, according to India’s Economic Times. Currently, Apple sells its products in India through independent, authorized franchisee stores. A report from late 2014 claimed Apple was looking to open smaller “iOS” stores in the country, and although details are still unclear, those plans might be expanded to include full-sized Apple Stores. India recently relaxed foreign direct investment rules that should make it easier for Apple to establish stores in the country. Apple’s recently submitted proposal is currently being examined, India DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant said.

ESPN president says Apple ‘frustrated’ by lack of progress in developing TV service

It’s still very unclear when Apple’s much-discussed TV service will make its debut on Apple TV, and ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the company’s frustrations in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Skipper said ESPN has “had discussions with Apple” about a streaming TV service. When asked if Apple had a “path to being a player in the TV industry,” Skipper was relatively upbeat, saying the company is “creating a significantly advantageous operating system and a great television experience,” but he also noted that Apple has “been frustrated by their ability to construct something which works for them with programmers.”

While Apple has long been working on its own TV subscription service, the company wasn’t able to ready the service for the debut of the fourth-generation Apple TV last year, and it’s unclear at this point just when such a service may debut. Judging by Skipper’s recent comments — and bolstered by past reports and whispers — it doesn’t appear the service will be ready anytime soon. Apple has recently been linked to both the NFL and Time Warner, but it’s unknown how much interest — if any — Apple has in getting involved with either entity as related to its TV service.

Apple releases iOS 9.2.1

Apple has released iOS 9.2.1, a minor update that contains security updates and bug fixes. Also included is a “fix for an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server.” The update is available now through Settings > General > Software Update. Apple just released the iOS 9.3 public beta last week.

Apple wins sales ban on obsolete Samsung products in patent battle

The U.S. District Court in San Jose has ruled that Samsung must stop “making, using, selling, developing or designing software or code that helps its products infringe” on three particular Apple patents Bloomberg reports. While the patents in question deal with autocorrect, slide-to-unlock, and data detection, this ruling only affects devices no longer sold by Samsung, including the Galaxy S II, S III, and Note smartphones. Though the ruling will have a minimal effect on Samsung’s business, Apple will seemingly have a stronger position going forward in arguing that Samsung’s more recent devices still infringe on the same patents, as the companies continue to square off on patent issues. A statement from Samsung said that even though American consumers wouldn’t be directly impacted by the ruling, the company is still “very disappointed.”

Revised, ‘minor’ Apple Watch model on the way?

It was reported in December that Apple may introduce its Apple Watch 2 at a March event, but a new report from TechCrunch muddies those waters just a bit. According to the report, Apple may introduce a “minor revision” to Apple Watch, which may include “a FaceTime camera and not much else.” The update wouldn’t feature a new casing, or “major” improvements. The same report also speculates that the timing of such a release may differ from March, or that an update might not show up in coming months at all. Reports — and increasing speculation — have led many to believe that Apple’s rumored new 4” iPhone may be introduced at an upcoming event, and an Apple Watch update may be featured at that time, as well. But for now, details are still unclear.

Apple investigating iPhone 6s/6s Plus battery percentage issue

Apple has released a support document acknowledging a battery percentage issue on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. As the document notes, “If you change the time on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus manually or change time zones when traveling, you might notice that the battery percentage doesn’t update.” The document instructs users to restart the iPhone, then turn on Set Automatically in Settings > General > Date & Time. Apple says that it is “aware of this issue and is investigating the cause and a solution.”

Free ad-supported iTunes Radio to end Jan. 29

Apple has announced in an email to customers that it will be discontinuing its free ad-supported version of iTunes Radio. Starting on Jan. 29, iTunes Radio will only be accessible with an Apple Music subscription. iTunes Match users will also be losing ad-free iTunes Radio as a perk — the only place to access those stations will be behind the Apple Music paywall. Apple’s Beats 1 station will be the only free remaining music option from Apple. We’d expect that Apple will announce additional free Beats stations — Beats 2-5 — to give customers more free music options, but we’ll see.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 1.1

In an unusual move, Apple has released a minor update to its iOS 9.3 beta released earlier this week. Rather than carrying a “beta 2” designation, the new beta appears in the iOS Software Update as “iOS 9.3 beta 1.1” — the first time we’ve seen a point release of a beta. Designated as build 13E5181f — a very minor update from the original beta’s 13E5181d build number, the release notes indicate that the new beta fixes “some cases of an issue customers encountered while updating to 13E5181d that caused devices to freeze on the Apple logo.” The new “beta 1.1” is available via an over-the-air software update or direct download from Apple’s iOS Developer Site, where it simply remains listed as “iOS 9.3 beta” with no mention of the “.1” update.

Apple may owe up to $8B in European back taxes

Apple may be on the hook for as much as $8 billion in taxes owing to the European Union, Bloomberg reports. A European Commission investigation which began in 2014 called into question Apple’s tax deals in Ireland, where the company’s European operations are headquartered. More recently, Apple agreed to pay $347m in back taxes to Italy after failing to declare revenue to that country’s tax authorities, instead transferring profits to its Irish subsidiary.

The European Commission has been contending that Apple’s deal in Ireland has allowed it to pay lower taxes to the Irish government by calculating its tax bill using lower operating costs in that country. Bloomberg’s analysis suggests that Apple’s foreign tax rate is about 1.8 percent, despite the company generating more than 50 percent of its revenue outside of the U.S. As a result of its findings, the European Commission may decide to enforce a tougher accounting standard that could require Apple to pay eight years of back taxes, covering $64.1 billion dollars in profit from the years 2004 to 2012, at a higher 12.5 percent tax rate. Notably, Apple is not alone in facing scrutiny from EU regulators, with other high profile companies including Starbucks, Amazon, and McDonalds also having had their tax policies reviewed by the Commission. Apple has also listed the investigation as a risk factor to investors in its financial statements for 2015, noting that if the tax rates were to change, Apple’s “financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be adversely affected.” A ruling on the matter could come as early as March.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 public beta

Following the release of the iOS 9.3 Developer Beta earlier this week, Apple has now released iOS 9.3’s first beta for non-developers through its Apple Software Beta Program. In contrast to recent public betas, iOS 9.3 includes a number of new features and enhancements that will likely generate more interest from early adopters. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

New York bill would force Apple to build a ‘back door’ into iPhone encryption

The New York State Assembly is presently considering a new bill that would require Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to build “back doors” into their devices which would allow them to decrypt data upon request from law enforcement, according to a new report by Onthewire. New York state bill A8093, originally drafted last June, would require that any smartphone manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that is “sold or leased in New York” must be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Should the legislation pass, anybody selling a non-compliant smartphone — that is, one manufactured in 2016 that cannot be unlocked or decrypted — could be subject to a civil penalty of $2,500, and would be prohibited from passing that penalty on in the price of the smartphone.

Report: Apple contracting with Samsung to supply flexible OLEDs

A new report in Korea’s etnews indicates that Apple and Samsung Display are very close to an agreement for the display maker to supply Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screens to Apple for its next-generation iPhones. The report suggests that the undertaking will require an investment of $7.47 billion in plant facilities and equipment, and will begin receiving orders from Apple as early as the end of the first quarter for between 30,000 and 45,000 sheets per month, with production likely ramping up to an additional 45,000 sheets per month in 2017. The report suggests that Samsung Display will be the primary supplier of flexible OLED screens to Apple, but not necessarily the exclusive supplier. A past report claimed LG would also supply OLED screens, while another report claimed Japan Display would be the supplier, and that the screens wouldn’t appear on iPhones until 2018.

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