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Apple unveils Swift open source community

As promised earlier this year, Apple has officially released its Swift programming language to the open source community. Originally unveiled at WWDC 2014, the Swift programming language was intended to provide iOS developers with a simpler and higher-performance alternative to Objective-C, which had been the core development language for the iOS SDK since the debut of the App Store in 2008. Apple integrated Swift into its set of Xcode development tools and SDKs, and streamlined the process of gradually migrating apps to Swift by allowing Objective-C and Swift code to be mixed seamlessly. By making Swift open source, Apple hopes the programming language will be adopted across a wider range of platforms, including not only mobile apps but also desktop and cloud applications.

Authors Guild and Booksellers Association challenge Apple e-book ruling

A group representing authors and booksellers has filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to overturn the decision against Apple in the e-book price fixing conspiracy, according to a new report by The Bookseller. Following the court’s judgement earlier this year that Apple violated anti-trust laws by conspiring to raise and fix e-book prices at higher levels than those previously charged by Amazon, the group, which includes the Authors Guild, Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble, has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. asserting that the government’s focus on Apple’s “allegedly anti-competitive activities” was “misplaced.”

More details emerge on rumored 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’

A new research note by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has seemingly added weight to Wednesday’s report that Apple is indeed planning to release a 4” iPhone 6c in early 2016. Kuo believes the new model will resemble an upgraded iPhone 5s while including an A9 chip, NFC support for Apple Pay, and a metal casing with multiple color options. The camera specs are believed to be the same as on the iPhone 5s. Kuo notes that demand still exists for 4” smartphones, and estimates sales of 15-17m 4” iPhones by the end of this year, with the new iPhone 6c expected to account for 8 to 9 percent of total iPhone shipments in 2016. The price of the new iPhone 6c is expected to fall somewhere in the $400 to $500 range. Kuo also suggests that the addition of Apple Pay support will be a strong incentive for Apple to launch a new 4” model in order to expand that ecosystem to users who may wish to take advantage of the new payment system but don’t necessarily want to tote a larger iPhone to do so. [via MacRumors]

Apple opens registration for Hour of Code children’s workshops

Parents of kids 6 and older can register their children for an ‘Hour of Code’ introductory workshop set for Thursday, Dec. 10 at Apple Stores around the U.S. The program offers kids a free one-hour class about the basic of computer programming courtesy of Code.org, which encourages kids to learn computer skills with tutorials centered around characters from their favorite movies and video games. Special events celebrating Computer Science Education Week are also running Dec. 7–12 at larger Apple Stores in New York, Tokyo, Sydney and other major cities.

Rumor: 4-inch iPhone 6c with metal body coming in February

Citing unnamed sources inside Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn, Chinese site TechWeb claims a new 4” iPhone 6c will be announced in January and hit stores in February. The alleged insider said the new phone will have a metal body—flying in the face of previous reports that the 6c would have a plastic case similar to the 5c—but will still come in a variety of colorful options like the 5c. The new phone is expected to cost $400-$500 and offer Touch ID support, but no 3D Touch capabilities. Rumors about the 6c have been all over the map, but a few respected analysts expect the smaller phone to enter production in the first half of 2016. [via iDownloadBlog]

Apple’s Eddy Cue shares his hopes for Apple News

Apple SVP Eddy Cue laid out the company’s vision for Apple News in an interview with CNN, touting the app as more of a public service than a money-making venture. Cue said Apple is working hard to steer clear of the economics of the news business, focusing more on building the platform for news organizations to leverage on their own. While Apple offers to sell the ads that display next to content—claiming 30 percent of the revenue for ad space it sells—the company also gives publishers the ability to sell their own ads and keep 100 percent of the profits. (It’s unclear how many news organizations sell their own ads, and how many rely on Apple at this point.) Cue said the app aims to clear away hurdles that keep publications from delivering content to consumers. “News organizations today have lots to worry about: Each of them has to worry about building their own apps, the interfaces, the user experience,” Cue said. “This gives them an opportunity to focus on what they do really well, which is the journalism part, and let us handle the technology piece of building the apps and distributing them.”

Report: Apple testing dual front cameras, wireless charging, and more in iPhone 7 prototypes

A new report claims that Apple is experimenting with no fewer than five different configurations of the new iPhone 7. According to G for Games, sources in China said prototypes include features like wireless charging, dual front cameras, USB-C ports compatible with headsets, displays able to read fingerprints, and multi-Force Touch capabilities. The company is also said to be testing AMOLED displays, although most rumors estimate that technology won’t makes its way into an iPhone until 2018. The site is quick to point out that its source has been right in the past, but isn’t a “certified” Apple Insider. Still, rumors of Apple getting rid of the Home button in favor of displays that can perform Touch ID fingerprint scans anywhere on the screen date back to June, and Apple has shown an interest in AMOLED screens as far back as 2013, so even if the new configurations don’t end up in the iPhone 7, it’s believable that Apple could be testing them out. Other recent reports claim Apple is mulling doing away with the iPhone’s headphone port entirely.

Apple expands Personal Pickup to 6 more EU countries

Apple has expanded Personal Pickup to six more European countries, German site Macerkopf reports. Customers in Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands can now opt for in-store pickup of items they’ve purchased online if the items are in stock. The option — previously only available in the U.S. — has launched in the U.K., Canada, and Australia in the last few weeks. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Music coming to Sonos Dec. 15 through public beta program

Sonos and Apple have announced that Apple Music will be coming to Sonos on Dec. 15 as part of a public beta program. Apple Music will be able to stream on Sonos’ speakers for the first time on that date, and prospective users can join the beta on Sonos’ site. Of course, this means Apple Music tracks will be able to stream to multiple speakers in separate rooms. All Apple Music features will be supported, and a family account will allow up to six users to connect to Sonos speakers with Apple Music. No timeline has been given for an Apple Music + Sonos final release, or for how long the public beta will last.

Apple to drop headphone jack from next iPhone?

In a bid to slim its new iPhone down even further, Apple is considering removing the traditional headphone jack entirely, a “reliable” source tells Macotakara. The source said the new phones will likely be 1 mm thinner than current models, forcing Apple to ditch the headphone jack, since its port is based on a world standard that can’t be made thinner. While Apple has registered a patent for a thinner headphone plug, the new report suggests the company may be abandoning the idea of creating a completely new type of headphone jack in favor of connecting wired headphones through the Lightning port. The source said new “supplied ear pods” for the iPhone will have the Lightning connector, and Apple already supports Lightning cable MFi headphones, but very few of those have been introduced thus far. Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones would also be an option for getting around the lack of a headphone jack, but obviously any change to the existing headphone jack risks serious blowback from users who would need new equipment to listen to their iPhone.

Amazon Instant Video app could hit Apple TV ‘within a few weeks’

According to an Amazon customer service reply, an app for Amazon Instant Video could be landing on Apple TV “within a few weeks.” The unnamed company representative supposedly told Twitter user Dan Bostonweeks that the company’s technical team is currently working on the tvOS app and expressed optimism that it would launch soon, since the company has “already succeeded in developing an app for the iPhone and iPad.” Other users have received similar messages from Amazon about the tvOS app, but this is the first that included even a rough timetable for launch. Amazon’s Instant Video has been the largest noticeable absence on Apple TV for some time, with other services like Netflix and Hulu having long been available. Amazon also banned sales of the new Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast device on its site in an apparent bid to drive users away from those devices.

Some Apple Music and iTunes Match services may be illegal in the U.K.

The U.K. Intellectual Property Office has officially abandoned a private-copying exemption that made it legal for users to back up their music, putting a spotlight on possible problems ahead for Apple Music and iTunes Match users in the country, 1709 reports. The exemption was put in place last year to protect users backing up their own legally purchased music from the punishments faced by those pirating music online. The IPO’s decision not to submit a revised version after the U.K.‘s high court ruled against the exemption leaves U.K. users to wonder if their music libraries stored on personal devices or the cloud are still legal. While it’s unlikely that individual users will be prosecuted for backing up their music under the existing law, Apple will need to reevaluate the terms on which it offers many services since things like copying tracks into a user’s iTunes Match library or making songs in Apple Music available for offline listening now seem to violate U.K. law. [via Gizmodo]

Australian banks accused of anti-competitive behavior over Apple Pay lockout

While Apple Pay officially launched in Australia last week, the country’s banks are still refusing to link their cards to the digital payment system, prompting calls for the Reserve Bank to examine banks for potential anti-competitive behavior, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Apple’s fees for using the service have been a sticking point in negotiations for months, with the company reportedly demanding the same 15 cents on every $100 of transactions that the company is believed to receive from banks in the U.S., even though banks in Australia make half as much from interchange fees as compared to their U.S. counterparts.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 from iLounge!

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and we at iLounge would like to wish you a happy holiday and express how grateful we are for your readership and support. We will be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday; we will return to normal updates on Monday, November 30th. Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple reaches deal with UnionPay to bring Apple Pay to China

Apple has struck a preliminary agreement to use UnionPay’s point-of-sales network to bring Apple Pay to China, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the negotiations said UnionPay, China’s largest payment network, aims to introduce Apple Pay as soon as next year, but noted that the two companies haven’t signed firm agreements with Chinese banks on linking local bank cards to the service. That information seems to conflict with yesterday’s report that Apple had reached deals with China’s four largest state-run banks to link Apple Pay with local bank accounts, with sources now saying some banks have lingering concerns about the fees charged by Apple Pay and the low number of users the service has worldwide. Apple Pay takes in 0.15 percent of each purchase made through its system — which comes out of the 2 percent fee paid by retailers in the U.S. — but that rate has proven too high in China, where the total fee paid by some retailers is only 0.38 percent.

DisneyLife subscription-based app launches in the U.K.

Disney has launched the subscription-based app DisneyLife for U.K. residents ahead of a planned global roll out, offering unlimited access to movies, shows, music, books, and more for £9.99 a month. The service provides unlimited streaming within the U.K. and downloads that expire after 30 days without an Internet connection. Users running the app on Apple devices with iOS 8 or iOS 9 installed can stream HD content, but videos downloaded for offline viewing aren’t available in HD. While there’s no native Apple TV version of the app, content from the app is supported on Apple TV through AirPlay with one catch: All audio and video is streamed in standard definition.

Apple buys motion capture company Faceshift

Photo: TechCrunch

Apple has acquired Faceshift, a motion capture company best known for its work on creating animated characters for the new Star Wars film, TechCrunch reports. Faceshift’s technology records a person’s facial expressions in real time, allowing that information to be used in creating realistic faces for animated characters in movies or rendering custom avatars for players within video games. With several Faceshift employees now working for Apple out of Europe, speculation about how Apple will use Faceshift’s capabilities has centered around identification or security applications. Apple kept quite about buying the company when rumors first circulated earlier in the year, and has since issued its usual statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Apple already owns several patents in the areas of facial recognition, augmented reality and motion capture.

Apple CarPlay included in 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi is the latest auto maker to jump on the Apple CarPlay bandwagon, adding the feature to its 2017 Mirage. The hatchback is the first Mitsubishi model to offer the entertainment system, putting the company a year behind competitors GM and Volkswagen, which included CarPlay in select 2016 models.

Apple aims to launch Apple Pay in China by February

Apple is planning to launch Apple Pay in China by early February, The Wall Street Journal reports. After grueling negotiations, the company has struck deals with China’s four major state-run banks, people familiar with the discussions said. While Apple may still face serious regulatory hurdles, the company is hoping to launch its digital payment service before China’s Spring Festival on Feb. 8. Apple officially began the process of bringing Apple Pay to China in June, when it registered to operate in the Shanghai free-trade zone as Apple Technology Service (Shanghai) Ltd. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said he’s “very bullish on Apple Pay” in China — where iPhone sales are actually starting to outpace demand in the U.S. — but several other competing mobile payment options already exist within the country. Apple Pay is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia.

MasterCard giving Apple Pay users free trips on London’s public transit system

Starting today, MasterCard is offering four “Fare Free Mondays” on London’s public transit system for cardholders using Apple Pay. The promotional periods running today, Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 extend from 4:30 a.m. that day until 1 a.m. the next day. During that time, customers using their U.K. MasterCard through Apple Pay to pay for travel on London Buses, London Underground, London Trams, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line and most National Rail services in London will be billed for the trip, but can expect to see their fares refunded within 28 working days, up to a maximum value of £27.90 per cardholder. The offer excludes travel on Thames Clipper River Bus services. While the promotion is very specific, we’re left to wonder whether we’ll be seeing other similar spot promotions aimed at getting users enrolled in Apple Pay, and getting them familiar with how the technology works.

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