Kohl’s has become the first company to integrate its in-store rewards points system with its charge card in Apple Pay, according to a release from the company. By the end of the month, all customers using their Kohl’s charge account through Apple Pay will be able to link their account to a Yes2You Rewards card so that loyalty points are processed during the same single-tap transaction.
Apple has hired former Nest executive Yoky Matsuoka to work on the company’s health intiatives, Fortune reports. Matsuoka is a famed robotics expert who co-founded Google’s X lab, helped develop a revolutionary robotic arm at MIT and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for using technology to help disabled people and stroke victims regain the use of their limbs. She left her position as Nest’s head of technology in 2014 when Google bought the company and planned a move to Twitter before announcing she had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Apple said Matsuoka is working for COO Jeff Williams, who oversees the company’s growing HealthKit, ResearchKit and CareKit frameworks.
Apple has lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in China, Legal Daily reports. The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled in favor of 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. Apple filed applications to trademark “iPhone” for sales of electronic goods in 2002, but was only granted the trademark in 2013. Apple sued in 2012 over Xintong Tiandi’s use of “iPhone” on its handbags, phone cases and other leather products, but the courts ruled that Apple couldn’t prove it was a well-known brand in China before Xintong Tiandi filed for its trademark in 2007. Apple’s iPhone first went on sale in China in 2009.
Apple will reveal sweeping changes to Apple Music at this year’s WWDC in an effort to draw new interest in the streaming music service, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the plans said the company is trying to make Apple Music’s user interface much more intuitive after the first version was met with tepid reviews and failed to draw the numbers that competitors like Spotify boast. Insiders said development of that first product was complicated by internal culture clashes within Apple that had been brewing ever since the company acquired Beats two years ago, with the company still struggling to integrate the two groups of employees and unite its streaming and download businesses into one coherent music promotion strategy.
Apple has released the fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and tvOS 9.2.1. As with prior betas, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. The much smaller number of “Known Issues” in the release notes as compared to prior betas suggest that both versions may be nearing final release.
The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.
Bowers & Wilkins, a U.K. maker of high-end audio equipment, has been acquired by Silicon Valley-based EVA Automation. The companies said the merger will pair Bowers & Wilkins’ acoustic engineering talents with EVA Automation’s A/V technologies to enable both companies to grow in new directions. Former Bowers & Wilkins owner Joe Atkins will stay on as CEO and EVA founder Gordon Yu will act as executive chairman for the combined company. We reviewed Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Wireless Speaker and P5 Wireless Headphones last year.
India has rejected Apple’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, an unnamed telecommunications ministry source told Bloomberg. Apple wanted permission to sell used devices to draw in cost conscious buyers left in the cold when the company discontinued sales of the iPhone 4s and 5c in February, driving the price of an entry-level iPhone from 12,000 rupees to 24,000 rupees. But after rivals made the case that Apple was essentially turning India into a dumping ground for electronic waste and skirting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India program, the company’s application to sell used devices seems to have fallen flat.
A photo posted on Chinese site Weibo purports to show an internal component from the upcoming iPhone 7 that would prove the phone will still have a 3.5mm headphone jack. If true, the news would fly in the face of months of speculation that Apple planned to drop the traditional headphone jack in favor of wireless or Lightning port options for connecting headphones. Just last week an alleged leak of iPhone 7 schematics supported the rumor that the headphone jack was being ditched, but this new photo shows a similar configuration to the same component in the iPhone 6s, with spaces for both a headphone jack and a Lightning port.
Apple is reportedly upholding its pledge to make every effort to access the iPhone 6 of a teen who was lost at sea, but whatever data they find is now going to the courts rather than the family, ABC News reports. Blu Stephanos contacted Apple for help accessing his son Austin’s phone after it was discovered aboard the 14-year-old’s ship, but Pam Cohen, mother of the other teen who went missing during the voyage, took the issue to court, fighting to have the phone handed over to experts instead.
In a new front in the ongoing fight over iPhone encryption, federal officials in Los Angeles obtained a warrant allowing them to force a woman to unlock an iPhone by holding her fingerprint to the Touch ID scanner, the Los Angeles Times reports. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld decisions allowing police to access phone data with a search warrant and law enforcement’s right to compel a person in custody to provide a fingerprint without a judge’s permission, but legal experts worry that the combined use of these two abilities to unlock a personal device could violate a person’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Fashion website Haute Écriture claims a Coach store employee said the company will be releasing bands for the Apple Watch as early as June. The writer claims to have seen photos of eight bands in white, black, red and brown, some with charms attached and others with stitched patterns. The pricing guide showed the bands will likely cost $150.
Invoxia has added support for Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service to its acclaimed Triby connect kitchen speaker, making it the first non-Amazon device to add support for the voice assistant. Following the launch of its Echo voice controlled speaker last year, Amazon also debuted the Alexa Skills Kit, a free SDK allowing third-party developers to integrate the service into their devices, and Invoxia has now risen to the challenge and added Alexa support for all existing Triby owners via a software update. As per Invoxia’s support FAQ, Triby users will need to be running software version 10.35 or above and have the latest version (2.9) of the Triby iPhone app, available from the App Store. Once enabled through the iPhone app, an Alexa icon will appear in the top-left corner of Triby’s e-ink display, and users can simply call out “Alexa” to begin asking questions.
Apple has provided more detailed information for developers on how to take advantage of the new Apple Music API introduced in iOS 9.3. In a document titled Apple Music Best Practices for App Developers, Apple summarizes how third-party iOS apps can integrate with Apple Music, including some of its functionality in their apps. Specifically, the Apple Music API will allow develoePrs to directly control Apple Music playback as well as determining if a user is currently a member, determine which country the user’s account is based in, queueing up songs for playback, and reading playlists already in a user’s music library and creating new playlists with a title and description. Developers can also participate in the Apple Music Affiliate Program, earning a one-time commission if a user signs up for a paid Apple Music account using their app. A new section has also been added to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines specifying the limitations that developers should work in when using the API, such as such as requiring explicit user action for playback, exposing and respecting standard media controls, and not monetizing access to the Apple Music API through in-app purchases, advertising, or requesting user information.
Several apps have already been updated to take advantage of the new Apple Music API, most notably Shazam, which allows users to add discovered tracks to an Apple Music playlist directly from within the Shazam app. At this point, however, Apple has not yet taken any steps to note on highlight those apps on the App Store which provide Apple Music integration.
Apple has released an update to its Apple Music app for Android devices, adding support for watching music videos on Apple Music and signing up or upgrading to a Family Membership. Users who had already signed up to a Family Membership via an iOS device or iTunes on Mac or PC could use their account in the Android app, however this latest update means that new users can now sign-up for a new Family Membership, or upgrade their single-user account to a family plan from directly in the app. The Android version now also provides access to the music video content from the Apple Music catalog, including the ability to browse popular videos from the New section or search for music videos directly. Apple Music for Android was launched in beta last November, and recent upgrades since its initial launch have brought support for a home screen widget for controlling playback and the ability to store offline downloads onto an SD card. [via 9to5Mac]
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took a large position in Apple three years ago, how now sold his stake over concerns with the company’s situation in China, CNBC reports. Speaking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Icahn stated that “We no longer have a position in Apple,” while adding that Apple is a “great company” and that he feels that CEO Tim Cook is still “doing a great job.”
Icahn cited China’s current attitude toward Apple as being the main incentive for him to exit his position, noting concerns that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult” for Apple to do business there. The Chinese government can be capricious, as evidenced by its sudden turnaround on iTunes Movies and iBooks sales last week. Icahn added, however, that he would likely buy back into Apple if China “was basically steadied.” Icahn previously owned slightly under one percent of Apple’s outstanding shares, which have fallen over six percent this week following the company’s latest earnings call; Icahn said he made roughly $2 billion on Apple, and still touts the stock as “cheap” despite his reservations.
Apple has officially launched its new CareKit platform today, with four new apps available out of the gate, and more expected to come. Announced last month, CareKit is an extension of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives, designed to better facilitate doctor-patient communication by allowing users to automatically share health information with care providers and loved ones. The new apps already available with CareKit support include Glow Nurture, Glow Baby, Start, and One Drop.
Schematics claiming to be of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 “Pro” have appeared in Japanese magazine Mac Fan, according to a new report by Mac Otakara. The leaked specs support many of rumoured details about the upcoming device, including the reports of a dual-camera system, body design similar to the iPhone 6s Plus, and elimination of the headphone jack. The MacFan report claims the new iPhone will actually measure in at 158.22mm tall by 77.94mm wide by 7.3mm thick — identical to the dimensions of the current iPhone 6s Plus.
A tweet from Nintendo America is teasing the release of more Nintendo games for the iOS platform, specifically mentioning Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing — versions of two existing Nintendo franchises.
A year ago, Nintendo announced that it would be moving into the mobile space, promising the release of one title this year — the company’s Miitomo social app — followed by four more games by March 2017. Mobile versions of Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing presumably account for two of these promised four apps, but details are scarce beyond the company’s tweet; it’s unclear whether these will be new mobile games that are loosely related to their respective franchises or full-fledged ports of the Nintendo Wii and DS counterparts.
The FBI has “provisionally” decided not to reveal the details of the method it used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, Reuters reports. Anonymous sources reveal that the FBI plans to write to the White House within the next few days to explain that the agency cannot share the unlocking mechanism as it was provided by a third-party that retains the sole legal ownership to the method. Sources ”>reported previously that the FBI contractor that unlocked the iPhone was a foreign entity and since U.S. authorities were not provided with the details of the mechanism, the FBI could not share it even if the agency wanted to.
Despite this, however, Reuters reports that the FBI did warn Apple of an unrelated vulnerability in iOS and OS X on Apr. 14 — the first disclosure to Apple under the White House’s Vulnerabilities Equities Process — however Apple noted that the vulnerability that was disclosed involved older versions of both operating systems, identifying issues that have already been addressed nine months ago in the initial releases of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. The move suggests that the FBI’s disclosure may have been little more than a token effort to demonstrate good faith, however an unnamed Apple executive stated that the FBI’s disclosure “did nothing to change the company’s perception that the White House process is less effective than has been claimed.” While Apple declined to provide technical details, the company did state that about 80 percent of iPhones are running a safe version of the operating system, and Apple does not consider the flaw serious enough to issue a patch for the older operating system versions.
Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q2 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported again that Apple sold 51 million iPhones, but noted that the numbers fell short of the iPhone sales in the year-ago quarter. Cook noted that iPhone sales remain healthy and strong in all purchase target markets, with slightly higher upgrades in the iPhone 6s cycle that are higher than in the iPhone 5s cycle two years ago, but slower than in the iPhone 6, which contributed to Apple’s sales a year ago. The Apple CEO also highlighted the fact that iPhone customers are very loyal with a 95 percent satisfaction rate, and indicated that Apple has added more switchers from other platforms in the past six months than in any other quarter ever, and that iPhone sales continue to be strong in emerging markets, such as India where iPhone sales are up 56% over a year ago.
Speaking to services revenue, Cook noted that services in the March quarter equalled $6 billion, with App Store revenue up 35 percent, beating last quarter’s all-time record, and Apple Music continuing to grow, reaching 13 million subscribers this quarter. As a result, Apple’s music revenue has now hit an inflection point after many quarters of decline. Cook reiterated Apple’s installed base of one billion devices, noting that they are an important recurring source of revenue, with the purchase value of services tied to devices reaching $9.9 billion in the March quarter, up 27 percent over last year, and accelerating from the December quarter. Apple Pay also continues to expand, following its successful launch in China and last week’s rollout in Singapore, growing the user base by more than five times, adding one million new users per week, and noting that over ten million contactless-ready locations are available in countries where Apple Pay has launched today, with 2.5 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the U.S.