Apple has pulled an app that documented U.S. military drone strikes, saying it violated the company’s app guidelines by containing “excessively crude or objectionable content,” Gawker reports. Metadata+ was developed by Intercept editor Josh Begley as a companion app to the Twitter account @Dronestream, which publicizes American drone attacks based on information from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Starting in 2012, Apple rejected the app five times under the name Dronestream for being “not useful or entertaining enough” before finally accepting the app once its name was changed to Metadata+ in 2014. Over the weekend, users were informed through a push notification that the app had been pulled. The move has drawn the ire of critics who point out that an app reporting the news is being banned as offensive, and this isn’t the first time the arbitrary nature of Apple’s app guidelines has come under fire as censorship. Just last week the company sparked concerns when it rejected Ferguson Firsthand, an app that documented various accounts of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and presented them in a 3D environment. Apple hasn’t commented on the story.
Apple announced that Apple Music, iTunes movies and iBooks are available in China starting today. The company pointed to offerings from Chinese artists like Eason Chan, Li Ronghao, JJ Lin and G.E.M. as well as international superstars like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran in pitching Apple Music to China’s users, promising playlists and radio stations tailored to the Chinese audience. Apple also emphasized the availability of movies from Chinese studios alongside Hollywood blockbusters in iTunes, making the best of both worlds available for rent or purchase. China’s user base gets access to paid and free offerings from iBooks as well, with Apple touting that its customers in China will finally have “access to Apple’s entertainment ecosystem with music, movies and books right at their fingertips.” Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue said China has become the largest market in the world for app downloads, and with China making up a large portion of Apple’s record-breaking 13 million iPhone sales last weekend, that pace shows no signs of slowing. Those users adopting Apple Music in China will get the same three-month free trial that American users enjoyed, then be charged 10 RMB per month for a single subscription or 15 RMB per month for a family subscription that covers up to six family members. On iTunes, new release HD movies will cost 5 RMB to rent or 18 RMB to buy, and iBooks will start at 0.5 RMB.
Google has released an update to Google Maps adding support for getting directions using the Apple Watch. This latest update allows users to route to home or work directly from the wearable device, or view any other directions that have been plotted using the app on the iPhone. In addition to Apple Watch support, the Google Maps iOS update also allows users to compare ETAs across driving, transit, walking and biking routes, and call businesses and get directions directly from a list of places in search results.
Apple Pay may be arriving in Canada as early as late October, according to a new report from iPhone in Canada. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was in negotiations with the six major Canadian banks regarding a potential November launch for the mobile payments service, and now this latest report cites trusted sources within the industry that indicate that the banks and Apple appear to be on track. A number of payment processor companies have already begun advertising Apple Pay compatibility for their point of sale terminals, with contactless payments under $100 accepted in much the same way that physical Interac Flash, VISA PayWave, and MasterCard PayPass cards work now. Transactions over this limit are also “currently being worked on,” likely similar to the limits on Apple Pay in the U.K. At least one payment processor is also scheduled to meet with Apple in early October to discuss the rollout of Apple Pay. Plans are apparently to soft launch Apple Pay at Apple’s own retail stores and select restaurant chains, potentially at the end of October, with a wider rollout expected in November.
Google has announced a Family Plan for its Google Play Music All Access service, 9to5Google reports. Mirroring Apple Music’s similar offering, the new Family Plan allows up to six family members to share a single plan on separate Google Accounts for $15 per month, with the ability to listen on any device, and recommendations that are tailored to each account. A single user Google Play Music All Access plan costs $10 per month, and although Google originally allowed up to four devices to stream music simultaneously with a paid account, this ability now appears to have been limited to a single device, much like competing streaming music services. Google’s new Family Plan will allow streaming from multiple devices, although it’s unclear whether users will need to use separate accounts for this capability, or if they can share a single account and music library. Rival service Spotify also announced discounted additional $5 per user memberships for family members last year, resulting in “family plans” that range from $15-$30 per month, and has yet to make those available in all countries. It is unclear at this time whether Google will be initially launching its Family Plan in the U.S. only or in all countries where the service is available.
During a conversation with his former BBC boss, Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe expressed some doubts about the future of Apple Music’s flagship radio station, The Telegraph reports. When Ben Cooper, controller of BBC’s Radio 1, asked Lowe if Apple Music needed Beats 1, Lowe candidly responded, “I’m not sure it does,” before going on to call the station a work in progress. Lowe left Radio 1 after more than a decade there and relocated his family to Los Angeles to take over hosting duties for Beats 1, but with Apple Music’s free trial period winding to a close for many users the host hinted at uncertain times ahead. “We’re working this out, time will tell,” he said. “We’ve been going three months, I don’t have the answers. I hope that there’s a place for it.” Apple has started sending notifications to Apple Music users whose free trials are ending in the hopes of converting those users into paid subscribers and is in the beta testing stage of making the service available on Android phones, but even Apple Music’s early successes have been met with skepticism from the music industry and Apple’s leaders have publicly admitted the app still needs work.
After Apple split orders for its new A9 chip between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung, Chipworks is reporting that Samsung A9 chips are 10 percent smaller than TSMC A9 chips found in the same iPhone 6s models. While Apple has split orders for components to meet supply demands before, this is the first time such a critical component has not come from a single supplier, hinting that Apple faced serious supply issues in obtaining enough A9 chips to meet demand. Tests comparing performance and power use of the two different chips aren’t currently available, but in February sources said that Apple returned to Samsung because the company had a technological advantage over TSMC in its ability to shrink the size of transistors on its chips, allowing for a smaller chip that consumes less power. A Taiwan court has ruled that Samsung used trade secrets stolen from TSMC to construct its own A9 chip in the first place, but how that ruling will affect future A9 chip orders and Samsung’s relationship with Apple is unclear. In recent years Apple has tried to distance itself from Samsung, sending orders for the A8 chip in the iPhone 6 to TSMC before returning to Samsung as the primary manufacturer of the A9. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Tuesday, Oct. 27. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q3 of revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.
Apple is set to pay the Los Angeles Unified School District $4.2 million of a proposed $6.4 million settlement regarding a failed plan to provide the entire district with iPads, the Los Angeles Times reports. The remainder of the money will be made up by not paying for recently purchased Lenovo laptops. The district’s board of eduction will vote on the settlement next month, and if approved, it will bring about the end of the ill-fated partnership between Apple and the district. The original $1.3 billion program aimed to provide iPads to every student, teacher, and administrator in the district. But early problems were exacerbated by claims that Apple and subcontractor Pearson, which provided the curriculum, were given an advantage in the bidding process.
Emoji depicting same-sex couples have prompted Russian police to launch an investigation into whether Apple is breaking local laws against “promoting homosexuality,” The Telegraph reports. A lawyer in Russia’s Kirov region filed a complaint with local authorities, arguing emoji that came with iOS 8.3 and later versions which depict gay couples kissing and holding hands violate Russian laws against promoting homosexuality to minors. If found guilty, Apple could be fined 800,000 to 1 million rubles and be suspended from operating in Russia for up to three months. Apple has taken heat from Russia over the issue before, with Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov suggesting a ban on Apple products last year, because Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay. The company also faced scrutiny over its free download of U2’s album “Songs of Innocence,” which Russian legislator Aleksandr Starovoitov called “gay propaganda.”
Some iOS users are claiming that iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist feature — which uses cellular data to boost browsing speed when an iPhone is connected to a poor quality wireless network — has resulted in large amounts of unforeseen data usage. The feature is automatically turned on when users update to iOS 9, and while the specifics of exactly how much data the feature uses aren’t entirely clear, users without unlimited data plans may want to turn Wi-Fi Assist off to avoid overages. The off switch is somewhat buried, located in Settings>Cellular near the very bottom of the screen, under the cellular settings for all of the apps installed on the phone.
Some Betabound users have received emails inviting them to take part in a beta test for Apple Music on Android devices, Tech Aeris reports. While Apple Music’s landing page has said all along that support would be coming for Android this fall, Betabound’s email is the first evidence of the company’s efforts to make that possible. Betabound’s email simply states, “We’re excited to invite you to come test Apple Music for Android. If you’re a current Android user that would like to join the beta for the new music streaming service, you won’t want to miss this opportunity. To learn more and apply, click the link below. Best of luck! The Betabound team.” The application page lists two requirements — that the user own an Android smartphone and regularly listen to music on a smartphone — and makes applicants sign up for a Betabound account before posing a set of music-related questions. [via 9to5Mac]
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to lure Apple to set up a manufacturing facility in his country, The Times of India reports. Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs, told reporters that Apple CEO Tim Cook responded positively to the request, noting that Foxconn, one of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners, has decided to set up a manufacturing base in India. Cook stopped short of saying Apple would be moving manufacturing to India, but discussed bring Apple Pay to the country, expressed a desire to be a partner in the prime minister’s Digital India initiative, and hinted at an expanded role for India in the company’s future, saying, “We are fortunate to have many passionate customers along with a fast-growing developer community, and we’re investing to expand our operations throughout the country.” If opening Apple retail stores in India is part of that expansion, Apple will have an even greater incentive to move at least some of its manufacturing to the country, since 9to5Mac reports India’s trading laws prohibit manufacturer-owner retail stores unless a certain percentage of the products sold there are made within the country.
Including pre-orders, Apple sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units last weekend, setting a new three-day sales record for the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the new phones in a statement, saying “Customers’ feedback is incredible and they are loving 3D Touch and Live Photos, and we can’t wait to bring iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to customers in even more countries on October 9.” Apple will begin selling the new iPhones in 40 additional countries starting Oct. 9 with plans to expand that number to 130 countries by the end of the year. Despite initial concerns over supply, no shortages were reported and the new iPhones are currently available for walk-in purchase in the U.S. at Apple retail locations, through cellular carriers and at select Apple Authorized Resellers including Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
We’ve received the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and have posted unboxing photos of Apple’s newest iPhones. We’ve also included a few shots comparing the new phones to their predecessors, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Look for our full, independent, comprehensive iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reviews on Monday.
As expected, iFixit has posted its complete teardown of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus, confirming some specs while revealing a few new insights. As expected, both devices have the same general outward appearance, although the 6s is a hair larger than the 6, but only by a millimeter or two in each dimension. The iPhone 6s is stamped with a new model number, A1688, while the 6s Plus gets A1687. The new 7000 series aluminum alloy is a noticeable change on both devices, and the report notes that early analysis of the alloy suggests that it’s comprised of around 91.17 percent aluminum, 0.08 percent iron, 7.64 percent zinc, and 0.106 percent tungsten. The 6s is also heaver than its predecessor, coming in at 143 grams, versus 129 grams on the earlier model. The weight increase appears to be primarily due to Apple’s new 3D Touch technology, which increases the weight of the display assembly in both models by about 20g.
Google has released an official Google Keep iOS app for its Google Keep note-taking service. Although Google launched Google Keep for Android more than two years ago, it was one of the few Google services that didn’t seem to be making it onto the iOS platform. Although Keep was available through a web browser, and some third-party apps appeared attempting to provide web wrappers, none of them provides the same seamless experience that Android users enjoyed.
Apple has released iOS 9.0.1, a minor maintenance update that fixes issues with the setup assistant, alarms and timers sometimes failing to play, video problems in Safari and Photos, and custom APN setups via external profiles. The iOS 9.0.1 update is available over the air under General, Software Updates in the iOS Settings app.
The second beta of iOS 9.1 has also been released for registered iOS developers, continuing the development of the next iOS update to add developer-level enhancements for the upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site.
Update (Sept. 24): Apple has now also released the same iOS 9.1 beta 2 as a public beta.
Apple has posted a Q&A on XcodeGhost, the counterfeit software development kit that was used to create malicious apps that were able to be released on the App Store. As expected, the Q&A emphasizes that the problem was created by developers downloading iOS software development tools from third-party sites, rather than Apple’s, but also interestingly notes that OS X protections that Apple has put in place — such as Gatekeeper — had to be “deliberately disabled by the developer for something like XcodeGhost to successfully install.” The Q&A also notes that Apple has no reason to believe that the code was ever actually used to do anything malicious, or that any personally identifiable information could have been transmitted, and that it “did not have the ability to request customer credentials to gain iCloud and other service passwords” as some other reports had suggested.