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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from iLounge

Happy holidays from iLounge! Our editorial staff is currently on Christmas break, and we will return Wednesday, Dec. 27, with new updates. In the meantime, check out our Best of the Year Awards for 2017 and our recent Reviews and Gear articles to help with all of your last-minute and post-holiday gift card shopping, and for anyone finding a new Apple device under the tree, our Tips archive should be of great help.

Apple softens position on template-based apps

Apple has revised its App Store guidelines on template-based apps, TechCrunch reports, providing much-needed clarity and a more balanced approach following a report earlier this month that many small businesses were being pushed off the App Store. Apple’s guidelines were intended to reduce the number of low-quality apps and “spam” apps that provide little functionality for users, but the hardline approach banning template apps outright ended up affecting a wider market of small businesses and non-profit organizations that relied on third-party app development houses to gain a legitimate presence on the App Store.

Chinese clothing brand sues Apple over App Store logo

Apple has been sued by Chinese clothing brand Kon over the similarity of that company’s logo and that of the App Store, Phone Radar reports. When Apple changed the old App Store logo — consiting of a pencil, a ruler and a paintbrush in the shape of an ‘A’ — to a simple format that’s just three overlapping lins in the shape of an ‘A,’ Kon claims the company violated Chinese copyright law since their company already has the rights to a very similar design. Kon wants an apology, compensation and for Apple to stop selling devices with the new App Store logo. The Beijing People’s Court has accepted the case and is expected to rule on it in the next couple of weeks. This isn’t the first time Apple has been sued over trademarks in China, and the company lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in the country in a case against Xintong Tiandi Technology, which was granted a trademark on “iPhone” in 2010 to be used in connection to a line of leather goods the company sells.

Shazam iOS app gets offline mode after Apple acquisition

Not long after Shazam was acquired by Apple, the iOS app has been updated to include an offline mode. Since it won’t have access to the information it needs to identify whatever it’s listening to, the offline mode of the app will simply save the sample and then produce a result once the device is back online. Sources claim Apple could have paid more than $400 million for the company, and it’s still unclear exactly how Apple plans to use the technology — and whether it will continue to make the service available for use on Apple Music competitors like Spotify.

Apple reportedly planning combined iPhone, iPad and Mac apps to create unified experience

Apple is looking to change the way developers design apps, aiming to create a single set of apps that work on iPhones, iPads and Macs, Bloomberg reports. While developers currently have to create different apps for iOS and macOS, sources familiar with the development claim Apple is ramping up a push to have developers create a single application that can worth with either a touchscreen or a mouse and trackpad while performing equally well across multiple devices. The move is aimed at freshening up the Mac App Store, which features fewer apps and versions that routinely lack the updates of their iOS counterparts.

Apple TV now listed on Amazon after Prime Video app release

After the release of Amazon’s Prime Video tvOS app, both the Apple TV 4K and fourth-generation Apple TV are now for sale on Amazon’s site. The price is the same as buying directly from Apple, but the devices had been banned from Amazon for more than two years because Apple refused to offer Amazon’s streaming content on tvOS. For some reason all of the Apple TV models listed on Amazon are showing as temporarily out of stock, so it’s unclear if shoppers will be able to land one from Amazon in time for Christmas.

Apple releases second developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5

Apple has released a second round of developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5. Most of the updates seem to revolve around bug fixes, but the iOS update includes a fix that allows developers to continue from a breakpoint in ARSesssion without breaking VIO, leaving visual objects placed in a real-world location visible.

Sylvania announces HomeKit-enabled Smart Filament Bulb

Sylvania has announced another new addition to its bridge-free HomeKit-enabled light bulb lineup in the form of the Smart+ Soft White A19 Filament Bulb ($32), the first bulb of its type to be HomeKit-enabled. The standard sized light bulb provides a retro look for those who prefer filament lighting to modern LED or CFL lights, and uses Bluetooth to connect directly to a HomeKit-enabled iOS device or Apple TV without the need for an intermediate bridge, reducing the complexity and cost of implementing HomeKit lighting.

Report: Apple expected to update AirPods next year

A new research note from well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors indicates that Apple is planning on releasing a second-generation version of the AirPods mid to late next year. Kuo noted that the new AirPods will incorporate a “smaller quartz component,” but didn’t provide any other details on what might be expected in the next-generation wireless earbuds. These predicted second-generation AirPods are distinct from the new inductive AirPods charging case that Apple is expected to begin including with the current model, which is also expected to be released in time for Apple’s new AirPower charging mat which will debut next year.

EU court rejects US intervention in ongoing battle over Apple’s Irish taxes

Europe’s General Court has rejected the US government’s request to intervene in Apple’s challenge against the EU’s order for the company to pay $15 billion in taxes to Ireland, Reuters reports. The court said the US government failed to prove it had a “direct interest” in the case’s outcome, rejecting arguments that the decision would have negative effects on US tax revenues and bilateral trade deals with EU countries. The court also ruled against the Irish IBEC trade organization intervening in support of Ireland and Apple, saying the group failed to prove its members’ interests would be affected by the case’s outcome.

iTunes not making it into the Microsoft Store this year

After promises from Microsoft that iTunes would be making its way into the Microsoft Store by the end of the year, Apple said that won’t be the case, ZDNet reports. “We have been working with Microsoft to deliver the full iTunes experience to our customers and we need a little more time to get it right,” an Apple spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. The plan is still to offer iTunes at some point, but the delay leaves Windows 10 S users — who can only run apps available through the Microsoft Store — out of the loop.Neither Apple nor Microsoft have revealed the cause of the holdup or a timetable for the app’s release.

Apple orders sci-fi show from ‘Outlander,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica’ show runner

Apple has placed a straight-to-series order for a new sci-fi drama from Ronald D. Moore, who currently serves as the show runner for “Outlander” and previously developed the hit remake of “Battlestar Galactica,” Variety reports. The as-yet-untitled series takes place in a world where the global space race never ended. Moore has some serious sci-fi chops, previously working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” That high-profile network TV pedigree is in line with Apple’s rumored desire for shows that can appeal to a broad audience and steer clear of the nudity and violence common in hit shows from Netflix and HBO, and Apple has shown other interest in the sci-fi genre as well, reviving Steven Spielberg’s popular sci-fi/horror series “Amazing Stories.”

Apple patent application would help Siri detect whispers, whisper back

A new patent application from Apple aims to create “a digital assistant that is capable of detecting a whispered speech input and providing a whispered speech response,” Gizmodo reports. While Siri is becoming more useful all the time, her replies are still always issued at the device’s regular volume, which isn’t the greatest when a user is hanging out at the library or in a crowded office where hushed tones are more the norm. In an application that also cites “protecting the user’s privacy” as a reason for the advancement, Apple pitches the idea of helping Siri detect when a user is whispering and issue a reply in a whispered tone as well. The device would simply detect the input’s amplitude and frequency and adjust Siri’s response accordingly, so some day Siri might be able to tell us where the nearest bathroom is without alerting everyone else around.

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The latest edition of iLounge Weekly will once again be coming to subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge. It’s a summary of the previous week’s news, reviews, and feature articles, meant to get you caught up on recent events. It also often features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Fishball 360 lens for iPhone fully funds on Indiegogo

The Fishball 360 lens has just fully funded on Indiegogo, so the clip-on attachment is likely to see production. The lens simply snaps over the iPhone’s camera with no batteries or cables required and captures 360-degree images using the iPhone’s existing camera in tandem with the attachment’s lenses. The makers call the lens “futureproof” and promise it will remain compatible with future iPhones, saying it is currently compatible with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and X. Images taken with the lens can be posted to any platform that supports 360-degree photos, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo. The lens is expected to ship by June 2018 and is still available on the Indiegogo page for $49.

Apple invests $390M in Finisar, company that makes lasers for iPhone X

Apple has announced a $390 million investment in Finisar, the company that produces lasers used in the iPhone X’s Face ID technology, according to a press release. The money is expected to be spent on research and development and high-volume production of the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers that power Face ID, Portrait mode selfies and even the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. Finisar will be remodelling a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas to add more than 500 jobs for engineers, technicians and maintenance teams to dramatically increase production. This is the second grant from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which previously invested $200 million in Corning’s “revolutionary glass production methods.”

weMessage brings some iMessage functionality to Android devices

Messaging app weMessage is bringing iMessage to Android devices, albeit without some of the iOS app’s functionality. The app works by using a Mac as a sort of server to relay iMessages from the computer to the weMessage app on any other device, which includes Android phones. The app supports group chats, read receipts, AES encryption and a variety of audio, image and video attachments, but won’t support more proprietary things like Apple Pay Cash. For Android users looking to get in on the iMessage conversations of their Apple using friends, weMessage is a decent tool, but it’s far from a fully functioning replacement for iMessage.

Apple snags more TV execs from Hulu, Legendary

Apple is continuing its high-powered TV executive hiring spree, stealing Philip Matthys from Hulu and Jennifer Wang Grazier from Legendary Entertainment, Variety reports. Matthys started as head of business affairs for Apple’s Worldwide Video division last month after holding a similar role at Hulu, where he oversaw dealmaking and policy for all of Hulu’s original content. Wang Grazier is expected to start on the same team in January — reporting to Matthys — after serving as executive vice president for business and legal affairs at Legendary for two years.

Apple expands Everyone Can Code program to half a million kids in Chicago schools

Apple has been expanding its coding classes for kids and even hinting at bringing the program to schools, and now the company is making good on its talk, expanding its Everyone Can Code initiative to nearly 500,000 kids in Chicago’s public schools according to a press release. “At Apple we believe coding is an essential skill, so we’ve designed Everyone Can Code to give everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. Starting this spring, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago will expand Everyone Can Code curriculum and materials to reach students citywide, helping students build skills around coding and app development.

Report: Leaked bank documents show Apply Pay is coming to Brazil

Leaked documents from Itaú Bank, one of Brazil’s larger banks, show that Apple Pay will soon be available there, iHelp BR reports. After years of rumors and failed negotiations with that country’s banks, the Twitter handle @ApplePayBR has posted what appears to be the terms and conditions of using Apple Pay with Itaú Bank accounts, the strongest indication yet that Brazil will finally be getting Apple Pay. Itaú Visa Platinum Personnalité cardholders have confirmed that they get the posted message when trying to add their cards to the Wallet app in iOS, but those with different cards or other banks are simply getting an error message saying the service is still unavailable in Brazil.

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