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Siri for Apple Music, BBC iPlayer coming to Apple TV next year

While Apple Music will be available on the new Apple TV early next week, the ability to use Siri to search Apple Music won’t be available until early next year, according to Buzzfeed News. The new set-top box already incorporates Siri voice search commands for finding video content — even across multiple platforms — but it appears that this won’t be enabled for Apple Music out of the box. Considering that Siri can already be used with Apple Music on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, this seems like an odd omission and suggests that Apple’s resources have been stretched thin in getting the new Apple TV ready for release.

Nintendo announces first smartphone ‘game’ Miitomo, coming in March 2016

Nintendo has announced its first official smartphone “game,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Expected to debut in March 2016, the first new release by the famous video game developer will be titled “Miitomo” and will be a free-to-play app with in-app purchases that can be used to buy “attractive add-ons.” According to Nintendo CEO Tatsumk Kimishima, future iOS games released by the company will be pay-to-download titles — the company still plans to release four other apps by March 2017.

It’s not entirely clear whether Miitomo should be called a game, per se, as it appears to be more focused on allowing users to design their own avatars — Nintendo Miis -— to communicate with other users. In this sense, Miitomo appears to be more of a social app than a game, and Nintendo Executive Shinya Takahashi noted that the company is building the app to try and find ways to encourage shier users to talk and share things about themselves in the app. For example, it appears that Miis will automatically communicate with other Miis without your knowledge, helping people who are hesitant to talk about themselves to participate in the social aspect and “reveal a side of your friends you never knew.” It also appears that Mii avatars can be ported back into games on Nintendo hardware, suggesting this new release may be designed more as a companion app for current Nintendo fans rather than an entirely standalone experience.

Apple Stores to start selling new Apple TV this Friday

Employees have confirmed that Apple Stores will begin selling the new Apple TV on Friday, 9to5Mac reports. Apple Stores are already receiving shipments of the new devices and stores will be reorganized Thursday night to begin promoting sales on Friday. Earlier in the day Best Buy announced it will begin selling the device in its stores on Nov. 4.

Best Buy taking preorders for new Apple TV

Best Buy’s U.S. website is now accepting preorders for the new Apple TV, listing a release date of Nov. 4 for in-store pickup and offering free shipping for those who don’t want to visit a store. Users of Best Buy’s Canadian site are still only seeing the third-generation Apple TV listed for sale. The new device went on sale for both U.S. and Canadian users on Apple’s own website Monday, with the earliest possible arrival date listed as Oct. 30 for those opting for expedited shipping. Apple hasn’t informed customers when the new devices will be available for purchase in Apple Stores.

Notes from Apple’s Q4 2015 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s conference call announcing its record-breaking numbers for Q4 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company had its largest absolute revenue growth ever, noting that Apple’s growth in one quarter was greater than the full year revenue of almost 90 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500. Cook also noted that in this past quarter Apple crossed 100 billion cumulative downloads from the App Store, debuted Apple Pay in the U.K., Apple Music in over 100 countries, and Apple News in the U.S. Cook mentioned that the company is ending the year on a “high note” with a record-breaking September quarter, and that while momentum for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remains strong, the company also set a new launch record for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Another 5.1 billion dollars in service revenue, fuelled by the App Store, was also an all-time record. Cook also highlighted that the App Store now has over 13,000 Apple Watch apps, over 1300 of which are native apps, and the numbers are growing rapidly.

Apple Q4 2015: Record $51.5B revenue, 48M iPhones, 9.8M iPads

Apple reported its fourth quarter 2015 financial results today, with 48 million iPhones and 9.8 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $51.5 billion and quarterly net profit of $11.1 billion, or $1.96 per diluted share. In Q4 2014, Apple had revenue of $42.1 billion and net profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.9 percent compared to 38 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 62 percent of this quarter’s revenue.

For Q1 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $75.5 billion and $77.5 billion, and gross margin between 39 percent and 40 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Apple releases first iOS 9.2 beta to developers

Less than a week after the public release of iOS 9.1, Apple has already released the first beta version of iOS 9.2 to developers. The iOS 9.2 beta release notes reveal little about what’s new in this version, simply noting some minor issues in the beta surrounding Apple Watch support, iCloud Keychain, Safari, and Video, suggesting that these are areas being worked on. The iOS 9.2 beta continues to support the same devices as iOS 9.1. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.2 beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Judge upholds $234M judgment against Apple

A federal judge has upheld the $234 million in damages handed down by a jury that found Apple guilty of infringing on a University of Wisconsin-Madison patent earlier this month, according to Apple Insider. After the initial verdict, Apple filed a motion arguing that its A7 and A8 chips didn’t meet the strict criteria detailed in the suit, and filed another motion attempting to avoid damages by passing blame to chip manufacturer Samsung, but U.S. District Court Judge William M. Conley dismissed the motions and upheld the the jury’s ruling. A second lawsuit filed by the university, claiming similar grievances over Apple’s use of the same patent in processors found inside the iPad Pro, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, is still pending.

Apple expands ‘Nearby’ search results in Maps to four new countries

Apple’s iOS 9 feature availability page shows the company has expanded its ‘Nearby’ search functionality in the Maps app to Canada, Australia, Germany and France. The feature — which allows users to see restaurants, bars, gas stations and other places of interest near their current location — was previously only officially available in the U.S. and China, though some Canadian users reported seeing the feature appear intermittently during the past few weeks.

Users report overnight iOS updates shutting off iPhone alarms

Some users opting to update their iPhone’s operating system overnight have noticed the process turns off any alarms they have set, Apple Insider notes. Overnight updates became available starting with iOS 9.0 and Apple addressed some problems with alarms in its iOS 9.0.1 release, but users began reporting the overnight alarm bug after last week’s iOS 9.1 update. Users have taken to Twitter to complain, but so far Apple hasn’t publicly addressed the issue.

Select Apple Stores to send some iPhones off-site for repair, offer loaners

According to several employees, select Apple Stores are about to begin testing a repair program that sends some iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus devices off-site for repairs, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has previously completed all repairs in-store while customers wait, but the new pilot program will have Genius Bar employees shipping phones to a repair center if they’re unable to power on, won’t boot up past the Apple logo, or can’t connect to iTunes on a computer. Apple has communicated to employees that the change is being made because these specific issues take a significant amount of time to repair, increasing wait times for customers with simpler issues. A new automated system within the Genius Bar will determine whether the device can be fixed in-store or needs to be shipped out, and those customers agreeing to have their phones sent out for repair as part of the pilot program will be loaned a 16GB iPhone 6 to use for the three-to-five business days that it’ll take to service their device. Select stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan are taking part in the pilot program, but Apple hasn’t publicly announced the change or commented on which specific locations will be taking part.

Verizon asks for FCC permission to enable Wi-Fi calling

Less than a month after AT&T was granted FCC permission to enable Wi-Fi calling in iOS 9, Verizon is asking for permission to do the same, The Verge reports. The company submitted a petition to the FCC asking for a similar waiver to the one granted to AT&T, allowing it to enable Wi-Fi calling despite the lack of TTY support for the hearing impaired. T-Mobile and Sprint simply enabled the feature without FCC approval, but the regulatory agency has rejected AT&T’s request that the rival carriers be punished for doing so. In its own appeal to the FCC, Verizon said it takes the position that “neither the existing rules nor the AT&T Waiver Order require such a waiver” for the company to enable Wi-Fi calling, but it is applying for one before making the feature available “out of an abundance of caution.” Verizon already offers an app that lets its customers make use of Wi-Fi calling, but the waiver will allow the company to support the integrated Wi-Fi calling feature in iOS 9.

U.S. dismisses Apple’s iOS encryption arguments

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected Apple’s arguments against helping the government break into iPhones, saying the company’s operating system is “licensed, not sold” to users, The Daily Dot reports. In a case where police requested access to the iPhone of a suspect indicted for methamphetamine possession, the DOJ argued that Apple not only manufactured and sold the device — which is subject to a search warrant — but that the company also “wrote and owns the software that runs the phone, and this software is thwarting the execution of the warrant.”

Apple sued for activating Wi-Fi Assist by default

Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit for enabling Wi-Fi Assist automatically without informing users, Apple Insider reports. The new iOS 9 feature uses cellular data to boost a user’s Internet speed when the local Wi-Fi network quality is poor, which plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege has cost users more than $5 million in cellular data charges. The complaint centers around the fact that Apple set the feature to be enabled by default when users update to iOS 9 and only worked to inform the public about the possibility of extra data usage after a series of stories outed the problem. Apple has addressed the issue, saying that average users won’t see much of an increase in data usage with Wi-Fi Assist enabled, but the lawsuit claims that “reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data.”

New Apple TV now available from Apple’s online store

The new Apple TV went on sale this morning on Apple’s online store, as expected. Orders placed today may arrive as early as Oct. 30 with the fastest shipping selection. The 32GB model costs $149 and the 64GB costs $199. Both versions come with the Siri remote, Lightning cable, and a power cord, but users will still need to buy an HDMI cable separately.

Facebook responds to battery problems regarding iOS app

Facebook is taking steps to address some of the recent complaints about its iOS app consuming an inordinate amount of battery power. According to a new Facebook post by Ari Grant, the company’s Engineering Manager, Facebook has been looking into the causes of the reported problems and have identified some key issues and addressed some of them in the recent Facebook app update. Grant notes that they found the problem was mostly related to a “CPU spin” in network code as well as improper management of background audio sessions, with the latter problem having been observed by users affected by the bug, which basically causes the background audio channel in iOS to remain open after watching a video on Facebook, even though nothing is actually playing.

Google launches YouTube Red Subscription service

Google has announced the launch of YouTube Red, its new ad-free YouTube Subscription service. Launched earlier this year in beta as “YouTube Music Key,” the service has now been rebranded with the new name and will offer users the ability to view videos across all of YouTube without ads on both desktop and mobile platforms, as well as saving videos for offline viewing and playing videos in the background on mobile devices. The membership will also work in other YouTube apps, such the Gaming and Kids apps, with the company also planning to launch a YouTube Music app soon, although it’s unclear whether that will be available to iOS devices. As promised during the beta period, YouTube Red will also be integrated with Google Play Music, so users who have already subscribed to Google Play Music should get access to YouTube Red at no additional charge (and vice-versa for new YouTube Red subscribers). YouTube Red will be available in the U.S. starting on Oct. 28 for $10/month, with a one month free trial available. While users of the YouTube iOS app will also be able to purchase a YouTube Red subscription through an in-app purchase, the in-app purchase price is more expensive, at $13/month — presumably to account for the 30 percent cut that developers are required to give to Apple. iOS users can still simply subscribe directly via the YouTube site in their browser and avoid the additional $3/month.

Apple opens tvOS App Submissions

Apple has sent out an email to registered developers announcing that it is begun accepting submissions of third-party apps for the new Apple TV. The email explains that developers will need to build their apps and games using the newest Xcode 7.1 GM, which includes the tvOS SDK, and test them on the tvOS GM seed. This requirement suggests that only developers that have received a new Apple TV as part of the Apple TV Developer Kit will be able to build and submit apps at this point. Apple also notes that it has updated its App Review Guidelines for tvOS. Additional details on building and submitting apps for tvOS can be found on Apple’s tvOS Developer Page.

iOS 9.1 adds multi-device Wi-Fi calling for Sprint customers

Sprint has announced that with today’s release of iOS 9.1, its customers can now take full advantage of Wi-Fi calling on other non-iPhone iOS devices. While Apple’s iOS 8 Handoff feature has allowed users to take iPhone calls on their iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, the feature normally requires the iPhone to be on the same Wi-Fi network as those other devices. iOS 9 introduced the ability for T-Mobile users to place and receive Wi-Fi calls on any other compatible iOS or OS X device, even when the user’s main iPhone is switched off or out of coverage, and iOS 9.1 now expands this capability to Sprint customers as well. Apple has also updated its Wi-Fi Calling support article, explaining the new feature and adding Sprint to the list of supported carriers for placing Wi-Fi calls from other devices.

Apple releases iOS 9.1, watchOS 2.0.1

Apple has officially released iOS 9.1 to the public. After going through a very rapid developer beta cycle following the major release of iOS 9.0, this latest update is primarily a maintenance release with fixes for Apple’s new Live Photos feature on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — which now uses the accelerometer to avoid capturing frames when you raise or lower your iPhone — as well as more than 150 new emoji characters available in the iOS keyboard. Additional fixes highlighted in the release notes include improved stability for CarPlay, Music, Photos, Safari, and Search, improved performance in the Multitasking UI, and fixes related to Calendar, Game Center, Mail, recent contacts, carrier activation errors, and App Store app updates. The new version also adds new APIs for developers to allow displaying and sharing Live Photos in third-party apps. As usual, iOS 9.1 is available either as an over-the-air update or by updating via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

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