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Apple releases second iOS 10 public beta

Apple has released the second public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Corresponding to the third beta released to developers earlier this week, the latest public beta continues enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News, the new lock screen, today widget, and notification system, and on-device intelligence for face, scene, and object recognition in the Photos app on 64-bit devices. iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE users in the United States should also now be able to take advantage of the new beta transcription service in the Visual Voicemail app. 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.

India clears the way for Apple to open retail stores

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet is finally clearing the way for Apple to open retail stores in India after a series of delays hampered the company’s plans for expansion into the country, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the discussions said the cabinet is likely to approve a three-year exemption to the country’s requirement that single-brand retailers obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, overruling the country’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which ruled in May that Apple had to comply with all of the restrictions. To justify the exemption, the government is making it easier for foreign companies like Apple to meet the criteria to be listed as a provider of “cutting-edge technology,” according to sources who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.

Apple Pay launches in Hong Kong

Just a few hours after going live in France, Apple Pay became available for customers in Hong Kong as well. Apple’s website lists the Bank of China, Hang Seng Bank, DBS, HSBC and Standard Chartered as participating partners at launch. Users can link Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards issued by those banks to their Apple Pay accounts, with the company promising future agreements with BEA and HKT. Apple has been ramping up its efforts to expand Apple Pay in recent months, with a particular focus on Asian countries.

Apple Stores providing $5 iTunes Gift Cards with Apple Pay signup

Apple is adding an additional incentive for Apple Store customers in the U.S. and U.K. to activate Apple Pay by offering a $5/£5 iTunes Gift Card, according to a new report by Macrumors. Customers making an in-store purchase will be asked by Apple Store staff whether they will be paying with Apple Pay, and customers who do not already have Apple Pay set up on their iPhones and wish to do so will be taken through the process by the Apple Store employee and receive an iTunes Gift card in return for setting up Apple Pay and using it to make their purchase. The promotion will be available for any purchase made in an Apple Store, regardless of whether the customer is purchasing an Apple product, third-party accessory, or even an Apple Store or iTunes Store gift card.

Kia offering free CarPlay upgrades on some new and used models

Kia has announced that it will be offering a free Apple CarPlay update to certain vehicles equipped with a compatible navigation system or UVO3 display. Owners of new and pre-owned Forte, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Sedona, Soul, Soul EV, Sorento and Sportage vehicles can register at myuvo.com to see if their car is eligible for the upgrade and get instructions on how to download and install the required software. Customers will be notified by email at the end of July when the software is available.

Report: Army switching from Android to iPhone for tactical smartphone

A new report from Military.com claims the U.S. Army Special Operations Command is ditching its Android tactical smartphone in favor of the iPhone. An Army source not authorized to speak to the media said the iPhone 6S is slated to be used in an iPhone Tactical Assault Kit, a special-operations version of the Army’s Nett Warrior battlefield situational awareness tool. The source said the Army is making the switch because the iPhone is “faster, smoother. Android freezes up” and has to be restarted often.

Iran threatens to ban, seize iPhones unless Apple registers in the country

In an effort to crack down on phones being imported into the country by smugglers, Iranian officials have demanded that Apple officially register in Iran or have its products banned, The Japan Times reports. “If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office told Tasnim News Agency. The director’s name wasn’t provided in the report. The new project, running under the president’s office, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database.

Apple bringing full iTunes Match capabilities to Apple Music subscribers

Apple is in the process of rolling out the more sophisticated audio fingerprint capabilities from its iTunes Match service to all Apple Music subscribers, according a new post by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop. Although Apple Music provides the ability to integrate a user’s own iTunes library tracks into a cloud-based “iCloud Music Library,” as Dalrymple’s post explains the matching capabilities of the Apple Music service have been limited in comparison to Apple’s $25/year iTunes Match service, meaning that users who subscribed only to Apple Music without also paying for an iTunes Match subscription were stuck with a “metadata version of iTunes Match” which relied on track information rather than acoustic fingerprinting to match a user’s own tracks with Apple Music’s collection, resulting in significantly less accurate results, such as live versions of songs being replaced by studio versions.

Apple Pay launches in France

Apple Pay has officially launched in France, supporting Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards from Banque Populaire, Caisse d’Epargne, Carrefour Banque and Ticket Restaurant. The French Apple Pay website also promises that Boon and Orange will soon be added as well. Earlier this year Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay, revealed the company is working to rapidly expand the electronic payment method, with its sights set on Brazil, Hong Kong, India and several countries across the Asia Pacific region. With the addition of France Apple Pay is now available in 8 countries.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The third round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases; the third round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the second round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. A new voicemail transcription beta is available in the iOS 10 beta 3 on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE with Siri language set to English (United States), and a new beta of the Apple TV Remote app is also available.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.3, watchOS 2.2.2, tvOS 9.2.2, iTunes 12.4.2

Apple released a big set of of updates yesterday afternoon, as iOS 9.3.3, watchOS 2.2.2, tvOS 9.2.2, and iTunes 12.4.2 were all launched to the general public. The updates mostly contain bug fixes and minor enhancements, but the iTunes update resolves a playback issue with short Apple Music songs in your Up Next queue. The updates are currently available. We’ll add to this piece this afternoon if there are any other major findings.

Questionable photos claim to show ‘iPhone 7 Pro’

A new round of photos unearthed by NowhereElse on Chinese search engine Weibo purport to show three new iPhone models, an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and the rumored iPhone 7 Pro. When viewed from the screen side, the devices labeled Plus and Pro are virtually identical in size and shape. But in images of the back, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both feature a single camera lens, where the iPhone Pro features a dual-lens camera and what appears to be a Smart Connector.

Apple proposes flat rate for streaming music royalties

Apple has filed a proposal with the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board suggesting that songwriters and royalty holders be paid a flat rate for online streams, Billboard reports. Apple suggests a simple, “all-in” statutory rate of 9.1 cents per 100 plays, which the company said is “fair, simple and transparent, unlike the incredibly complicated structure that currently exists.” The move would directly undercut rivals like Spotify and YouTube, who pay songwriters and publishers a percentage of the revenue they generate from streaming.

Report: Apple will source iPhone 8 ‘A11’ CPU solely from TSMC

After dropping Samsung to source its new iPhone 7’s A10 CPU exclusively from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) earlier this year, Apple has made TSMC the exclusive manufacturer of its upcoming A11 chip as well, Chinese-language site Economic Daily News reports. Apple split its A9 chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC, but a number of reports claimed the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some benchmark tests. Unnamed sources said the new A11 chip will be built with TSMC’s new 10nm manufacturing process, with the company starting small-volume production as early as the second quarter of 2017. [via Digitimes]

New video shows alleged iPhone 7 lacks headphone jack, still has mute switch

A new, longer Weibo video comparing a purported iPhone 7 and an iPhone 6s shows extended views of what was seen in a much shorter video last week, seeming to confirm that the new device lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack and features an updated camera, redesigned antenna lines and two speaker grills. The new video also provides one new update: The new phone still has a mute switch just like the iPhone 6s, contrary to other leaked photos that showed the switch would be eliminated in an iPhone featuring a dual-camera setup.

Katy Perry releases surprise single ‘Rise’ exclusively on Apple Music

Music sensation Katy Perry has just released “Rise” her first new single in over two years, exclusively on Apple Music and iTunes, reports Entertainment Weekly. The new single, released for the 2016 Rio Olympics, came as a surprise to music fans, and is described as an “uplifting track with a dash of electronic influence” written by the pop star herself. Perry described the track as something she was eager to finish sooner than expected as an encouraged for “our world to unite” and “rise above the fear” and that the Rio Olympics were a great symbolic example of the message she’s trying to convey in the song.

Elgato updates Eve firmware with support for HomeKit triggers

Elgato has released a firmware update for its Elgato Eve Weather sensor to enable the accessory to be configured to trigger HomeKit scenes. Prior to iOS 9.3, Apple did not provide a way for actions or data from Bluetooth-based HomeKit accessories to be used as triggers in HomeKit automation. So, for example, you could not set up a scene to activate when unlocking or opening a door or changing a temperature reading. With iOS 9.3, Apple released a new BTLE 2.0 HomeKit spec that introduced this capability, however, vendors of Bluetooth LE accessories need to release firmware updates to their products in order to take advantage of this new functionality.

Apple’s Eddy Cue: ‘We’re not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast.’

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, provided some interesting perspective into Apple’s strategy in regards to television services and providers, tacitly denying many recent reports suggesting the company is pushing into original content. Cue emphatically denied that Apple is looking to acquire a studio or launch its own streaming TV service anytime soon, suggesting that Apple’s strategy is instead to work with many content providers and allow end users to “consume content in a much better way.”

Video of alleged iPhone 7 shows lack of headphone jack, other features

A short video has been posted by unknown sources on Chinese site Weibo purporting to be of the next-generation iPhone 7, seems to corroborate many of the prior rumors and leaked photos seen up to this point. Specifically, the video shows a larger opening for new camera hardware, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, and redesigned antenna lines on the back of the device. [via 9to5Mac]

Prototype iPhone 7 molds reveal no change to color options?

A new set of photos from Macitynet purporting to be of molds for the next-generation iPhone suggests that the new model will come in the same set of colors as the iPhone 6s, casting some doubt on prior rumors that Apple would offer a “deep blue” color option. While these types of molds are provided to MFi program partners to fit cases and other accessories against the new body design, it’s unable to be certain that what is shown in the leaked photos are molds provided directly by Apple, or if they were designed by a third-party for the same purpose, based on rumored or incomplete specifications.

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