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Apple ends development of wireless routers

Apple has shuttered its wireless router division, transferring the engineers to teams developing the Apple TV and other products, Bloomberg reports. Apple has been slowly shutting down the router team over the last year, sources familiar with the matter said. Apple hadn’t released a new AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule since 2013, but a company spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s future plans for the product lines. Apple’s router offerings have always lagged behind competitors in adopting new standards due to the company’s focus on integrating the devices into its device ecosystem, and the entire AirPort line only accounts for a tiny percentage of Apple’s overall sales.

Apple launches repair program for iPhone 6 ‘Touch Disease’

Apple has launched a new Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus, intended to address complaints about a problem dubbed “Touch Disease” that was brought to light by iFixit back in August. The issue, believed by iFixit to be the result of a design defect in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, resulted in a problem where touch functionality would become glitchy or unresponsive and flickering gray lines would appear at the top of the iPhone screen. With many of the affected iPhones out of warranty, Apple Stores generally refused to recognize the problem as being a real issue, prompting a class action lawsuit to be filed against Apple.

Sony brings PlayStation Vue to Apple TV

Sony has announced the launch of an updated PlayStation Vue app that adds Apple TV support, bringing the gaming network’s streaming video service to users of Apple’s set-top box. In addition to providing access to viewing PlayStation Vue content, the app also includes unique features such as cloud DVR capabilities and simultaneous streaming, while maintaining the standard look and feel of the PlayStation Vue service with Siri Remote support. Existing PlayStation Vue users can simply download the app onto their Apple TV, link their subscription and start streaming right away, while new users can sign up for a plan through the PlayStation Vue website (an in-app purchase option does not appear to be available).

Report: Apple exploring possibility of manufacturing iPhones in U.S.

Apple has been asking its suppliers to study the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., according to a new report by Nikkei Asian Review. Back in June, Apple reportedly approached both of its major iPhone assemblers, Foxconn and Pegatron, asking them to look into making iPhones in the U.S.; Foxconn agreed, but Pegatron declined due to cost concerns. Sources for the report indicated that although Foxconn has been working on outlining a plan for Apple, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had been “less enthusiastic” about it as production costs would inevitably rise — the cost of producing an iPhone in the U.S. would be expected to more than double. The move from Apple appears to be due to concerns about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to push U.S. based companies back to domestic manufacturing, promising to slap a 45 percent import tariff on any goods made in China. In addition to increased costs, however, moving full iPhone production into to U.S. may not even be feasible due to a lack of skilled workers and a cluster of domestic suppliers of components.

Report: Apple storing iPhone call logs in iCloud

A new report from Elcomsoft, a company that develops iPhone cracking tools, reveals that Apple is storing user’s iPhone call log histories in iCloud, according to Forbes. According to Elcomsoft’s CEO Vladimir Katalov, the call logs are stored separately from iCloud Backups, and cannot be disabled without switching iCloud Drive off entirely. Katalov also explains that the scope of logging has increased with iOS 10’s new CallKit support, logging not only calls made within the Phone app, but also calls made with third-party apps such as Skype that are CallKit-compatible — an understandable scenario considering iOS 10 CallKit apps log their call history in the Phone app’s Recent Call list alongside traditional phone calls. Katalov goes on to note that this data is stored in “almost real-time” and that it could be valuable to law enforcement looking to gain access to a user’s iPhone data, and also claims that Apple hasn’t properly disclosed just what data is being stored in iCloud in this case.

Apple to reduce cut of in-app subscription payments for streaming video services

Apple is planning to reduce its portion of fees for streaming video service subscriptions sold via the App Store, Bloomberg reports, a move that appears to be aimed at encouraging tighter integration streaming video apps on the iOS and Apple TV platforms. This is the second big move in Apple’s attempts to adjust its in-app subscription pricing models, after the company announced earlier this year that developers would see their share increase for every customer subscription that is retained beyond the first year. With this reported change, Apple will be giving streaming video apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO access to the better deal — reducing Apple’s revenue share to 15 percent — right out of the gate in the first year, provided they integrate with Apple’s forthcoming TV app.

Report: Apple’s video strategy has Hollywood confused

Apple recently tried to work out an exclusive video deal with Chris Rock, but walked away from the discussions and let the comedian’s two stand-up specials go to Netflix instead, The Information reports. This latest chapter in Apple’s scattered efforts to acquire exclusive video content has added to the confusion in Hollywood over what types of media Apple has an interest in acquiring. The company has been working aggressively to land movies for iTunes—most recently securing the rights to offer Michael Moore’s “TrumpLand” earlier than other online providers—and has picked up shows like “Carpool Karaoke” that fit into its strategy for promoting Apple Music. But after meeting with TV producers and movie studios about developing original content for iTunes, Eddy Cue was quoted as saying Apple is “not in the business of trying to create TV shows,” adding that the company is more interested in offering suggestions and guidance. Apple is refusing to commit the large sums of money necessary to compete with streaming rivals like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, leading analysts to worry the company’s hesitation “could stymie Apple’s ability to increase market share for its streaming video device, the Apple TV, and lock more people into the Apple ecosystem.” [via MacRumors]

‘808’ documentary about iconic drum machine will be Apple Music exclusive

Apple Music has secured the exclusive rights to ‘808,’ a documentary about the impact the Roland TR-808 drum machine had on music, CNET reports. Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe narrates the movie, which first premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival and features interviews with music industry superstars like Pharrell, Questlove, David Guetta, and Rick Rubin. The documentary debuts on Apple Music December 9 and will be available to rent or buy from iTunes on December 19.

Apple releases third developer beta for watchOS 3.1.1

Following Monday’s release of iOS 10.2 beta 3 to developers, Apple has now also released a third developer beta for watchOS 3.1.1. As with other recent watchOS betas, the accompanying release notes list few significant changes, with the new version likely being primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Registered iOS developers can download the new watchOS beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Report: Three new iPhones next year; two with dual camera, one with OLED screen

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling down on previous rumors that Apple will release three new iPhones next year — two phones with dual-camera setups and one without. He foresees two large phones in the 2017 lineup boasting dual cameras: A deluxe redesigned model with an OLED screen, and one more like the current iPhone 7 Plus with the same type of LCD display. The smaller 4.7” model, also featuring a more traditional LCD display, will keep the single camera, possibly as a result of size constraints limiting the space for components inside the phone.

Apple releasing photo book chronicling 20 years of its designs

In time for the holidays, Apple is releasing “Designed by Apple in California,” a book with 450 photographs of some of the company’s most iconic products. Starting with 1998’s iMac and ending with 2015’s Apple Pencil, the images Apple has released so far show images of the products standing out on a white background, letting the designs speak for themselves. The press release also promises insights into the “materials and techniques used by Apple’s design team over two decades of innovation.” Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, said the book is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs and illustrates the company’s thinking and creative inspiration.

“The idea of genuinely trying to make something great for humanity was Steve’s motivation from the beginning, and it remains both our ideal and our goal as Apple looks to the future,” Ive said. “This archive is intended to be a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years. We hope it brings some understanding to how and why they exist, while serving as a resource for students of all design disciplines.” The book is clearly aimed at hardcore Apple design enthusiasts, as the prices demonstrate: Designed by Apple in California is available in two sizes, 10.20” x 12.75” ($199) and 13” x 16.25” ($299). It will be available starting Wednesday on Apple’s website and in select stores.

TV app begins appearing on Apple TVs running tvOS beta in U.S., Canada

The TV app aimed at streamlining the Apple TV’s content discovery experience has begun appearing in the latest tvOS beta for some users in the U.S. and Canada. For those seeing the update, the Apple TV remote’s TV button now takes users to the TV app rather than the home screen. It’s still unclear whether the app’s appearance on Canadian Apple TVs is intentional, as Apple has previously said the feature would be U.S.-only. The app is clearly still a work in progress, with the most recent update cleaning up issues with fonts and menus displaying improperly, although the “Get Started” button on the welcome screen doesn’t yet do anything. The Canadian version also seems to lack access to features, with the “Store” screen showing no content and the app itself of course only providing access to iTunes movies and TV shows since other participating content apps are not available outside of the U.S.

Super Mario Run to debut Dec. 15, full unlocked game to cost $10

Nintendo has announced that Super Mario Run will go on sale in the U.S. and several other regions on December 15. The game can be downloaded for free, giving players a chance to try out the three game modes. For those who want to keep playing, a one-time $10 payment will unlock unlimited access to all game three modes. In the new game, Mario continues to run on his own as a user performs single finger taps to make him “jump over obstacles, avoid enemies, pull off stylish moves, collect coins and reach the flagpole to complete courses.” For anyone who wants to view simulated gameplay or pre-register for the game, Nintendo has created a special website.

Apple considering creating ‘smart glasses’ with augmented reality tech

Apple is considering creating its own digital glasses as part of a further push into wearable technology, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the matter said the company is in the “exploration phase” with the glasses, which would pair wirelessly with an iPhone to display images and possibly project augmented reality elements into the user’s field of vision. Apple recently patented an augmented reality mapping system, and KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects the company to begin integrating AR into its existing product lines within the next few years.

Apple Pay adds support for donations to non-profits

Apple will now allow users to donate to non-profits using Apple Pay, CNET reports. Under its old rules, Apple banned iOS apps from accepting funds for charities or fundraisers through Apple Pay, restricting those transactions to Safari or SMS. Now non-profits can integrate Apple Pay into their website’s checkout page on the web, and add it as an option within mobile apps. Mobile users can authorize their payments with Touch ID right away, and even web users can confirm their payment on an iPhone or Apple Watch after pushing a “donate” button in Safari. Starting today, the American Red Cross, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, and many other charities have begun accepting Apple Pay donations. The full slate of charities currently accepting Apple Pay donations and those working to roll out the payment method soon are listed below.

Apple releases third beta for iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released new betas for iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 to developers today. The company seems to be keeping up a weekly schedule of new beta releases at this point. We’ll update if any major changes are found, but it’s more likely these updates will offer minor tweaks from last week’s betas. A public iOS beta release should follow shortly.

Report: Apple to release curved 5”, 5.8” iPhones without bezels next year

Researchers from Barclays are predicting Apple will release new 5” and 5.8” iPhones next year that have a curved, bezel-free design, MacRumors reports. Citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, the analysts said the move to a borderless design will let the screens of both the iPhone and iPhone Plus “extend vertically as well as horizontally” while allowing the devices to maintain the same overall size as the current models. While other reports have suggested Apple will be eliminating the home button to expand the iPhone’s screen size, Barclays doesn’t think the home button is going to be replaced by a version embedded inside the screen.

Report: New iPads coming in March, with new 10.9” borderless screen version

A new research note by Barclays analysts reveals that Apple may be planning to release three new iPad models in March 2017. Citing Asian supply chain sources, the report indicates that Apple plans to release refreshed versions of the 9.7” and 12.9” iPad Pro models, alongside an entirely new bezel-free 10.9” model. The new model is said to be in the same physical dimensions as the current 9.7” iPad Pro, with an edge-to-edge design on the display itself. This latest information somewhat aligns with an August report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo which predicted a 10.5” iPad Pro model, although Kuo suggested that the new model would replace the 9.7” iPad Pro, rather than coming in alongside it with a different design. [via MacRumors]

Apple releases iBooks StoryTime for Apple TV

Apple has released iBooks StoryTime for U.S. Apple TV users, an interactive spoken-word books app for kids. iBooks StoryTime includes a small selection of handpicks children’s titles with Read-Aloud narration and colourful illustrations that allows children to view and listen to stories on the Apple TV. The Siri Remote can be used to swipe between pages, and parents can turn off Read-Aloud narration to read the story to their children themselves. Additional Read-Aloud books can be purchased using the iBooks app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and books purchased by all family members will automatically appear in the iBooks StoryTime library on the Apple TV.

Twitter awards Gold Customer Service Award to Apple

In Twitter’s first annual #TwitterAwards, the social network has presented Apple with the Gold #Customer Award for its highly successful launch of the @AppleSupport Twitter account in 2016 — the first time Apple has operated any kind of official support account on a social networking site. In publishing the award, Twitter noted that the @AppleSupport account has “received outstanding customer feedback and generated more than 150,000 likes and Retweets since its launch in March 2016” effectively placing it number one among all of the support accounts from various companies on Twitter for average engagements. Twitter also commended Apple for jumping into conversations with customers to offer assistance and its use of rich media in responses.

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