Apple has invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing, CNBC reports. In a statement regarding the move, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that the investment was intended to “help the company better understand the critical Chinese market.” With Apple’s sales flagging in China, and the company coming under pressure from Chinese regulators who seem to be moving to a “China first” economic policy, the move could also be seen as an attempt by Apple to encourage the Chinese government to perceive Apple’s business interests in the country in a more favorable light by directly supporting the Chinese economy. Cook stressed that he remains confident in the Chinese market, and noted that the deal “reflects our excitement about their growing business ... and also our continued confidence in the long term in China’s economy.”
Apple has been unable to recover any data from the iPhone belonging to the teen who went missing last summer, the Sun Sentinel reports. Fourteen-year-old boys Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen went missing at sea last summer, with no clues as to their fate until this past March, when their capsized vessel was discovered by a Norwegian supply ship, with some of their belongings, including Austin’s iPhone, still on board. Apple offered to help recover data from the iPhone when approached, but with the device having been submerged in salt water for over eight months, the chances of recovering any information were considered to be slim from the very beginning.
Although Canada’s major banks have finally gotten on board with Apple Pay, a new report in The Globe and Mail (via iPhone in Canada) suggests the banks paid a “steep price” for Apple Pay when it came to negotiations, despite the fact that many would have expected the “Big Five” banks to have the upper hand. The negotiations for Apple Pay apparently took months, and multiple sources have revealed that the terms of the deal would “suggest that the banks were not in the driver’s seat at the negotiating table.” Although neither Apple nor any of the Canadian banks have revealed any of the details, two sources told the Globe and Mail that they agreed to “15 basis points” which equates to $0.15 for every $100 transaction made through Apple Pay for credit cards, and $0.04 per transaction for debit card payments. While the base fee is reportedly similar to the original terms negotiated with U.S. banks when Apple Pay first launched, sources told The Financial Post that Apple got a slightly better deal in that credit card transaction fees lower to four basis points — or $0.04 per $100 — after an annual payment of $0.50 per card is reached. This arrangement has been described as more in line with Apple’s deals with banks in Australia and the U.K.
Following the more widespread launch of Apple Pay in Canada earlier this week, Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey revealed more details about the launch in an interview with The Financial Post, explaining some of the reasons for the delay of the more general launch in Canada. A Canadian launch of the mobile payments service appeared to be on the horizon for last fall, with early reports from the Wall Street Journal pegging a November launch date, and leaked bank websites in October making many believe that a launch was imminent. Despite this, however, it had appeared to many that negotiations between Apple and the major Canadian banks broke down, and in the end Apple Pay launched in Canada on AMEX only.
In the latest episode of his podcast, The Talk Show, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has revealed “scuttlebutt” he’s heard regarding the long-term plans for the iPhone. In the discussion, Gruber confirms the wide range of rumors suggesting that this year’s iPhone model will likely remain in the same form factor as the prior iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s models, with a few distinguishing features to differentiate it. Gruber adds that he’s hesitant to even call this year’s model the “iPhone 7” right now for that reason, and suggests that this may be Apple’s first major departure from the traditional two-year ‘S” cycle, citing the iPhone SE as an example of an older design that’s now been used for a third time. Interestingly, Gruber also speculates that rumors about the dual-camera lens system only coming to the larger, 5-5-inch “Plus” iPhone model “doesn’t sound like Apple” and suggests that perhaps the rumor mill only has leaked schematics from the 5.5-inch iPhone and the 4.7-inch schematics haven’t leaked. While Gruber noted he was unwilling to “bet against it” as so much of the rumor mill has been suggesting it, the 4.7-inch iPhone is the best selling model, so it seems unusual that the dual-camera feature wouldn’t also be available on that unit.
Leaked ‘iPhone 7 Plus’ renderings show larger camera cutout and Smart Connector, lack headphone jack
Another round of alleged schematics provided to uSwitch appear to show that the iPhone 7 Plus will have a dual camera and Smart Connector, but lack a headphone jack. Leaked images sourced from Steve Hemmerstoffer of NowhereElse depict renderings of an iPhone 7 — which appears much like the iPhone 6s minus a headphone jack — and an iPhone 7 Plus that looks decidedly different. In addition to showing the three dots associated with the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, the back of the larger phone has a bigger, oval-shaped camera cutout that lends more credibility to the rumor that the new Plus will feature a dual camera setup.
Nintendo’s next two smartphone games will be free-to-play, The Wall Street Journal reports. Smartphone game maker DeNA—who partnered with Nintendo to release the Miitomo app in March and has plans to release four more games by March 2017—announced that upcoming titles Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing will be “free-to-start apps.”
Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is in the final stages of selecting a site in the Indian state of Maharashtra for its new iPhone manufacturing plant, The Economic Times of India reports. Sources familiar with negotiations said the Foxconn factory will cost an estimated $10 billion and focus exclusively on iPhone production. Negotiations are ongoing between Foxconn and India’s government, but a finalized deal is expected soon once Foxconn chooses the final location for its 1,200-acre facility.
As of this morning, Apple is allowing Canadian users with accounts at certain banks to add MasterCard and Visa cards to their Apple Pay account. MasterCard released a statement confirming that users with credit cards through Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian Tire Bank and ATB Financial can use Apple Pay starting today, with BMO Financial Group to follow suit “in the coming weeks.” Visa hasn’t released a similar statement as of this writing, but the Apple Pay site lists CIBC and RBC Visa cards as compatible with Apple Pay.
A design sketch that French site NowhereElse claims to have obtained from an employee of an Apple subcontractor appears to show the height and width measurements of the new iPhone 7 to be the same as the iPhone 6s. The thickness isn’t labeled and there is no side view, so the new image sheds no light on whether Apple is doing away with the headphone jack. The camera cutout is slightly larger, hinting at some improvement to the camera and appearing similar to another leaked chassis photo from March. Both of those images look decidedly different than leaked schematics that purported to show an iPhone 7 “Pro” with a much larger camera cutout, which could mean one is wrong or that Apple has plans to make both.
During a meeting with Apple, seven top podcasters voiced serious concerns over the company’s apparent lack of interest in their business, The New York Times reports. Despite essentially creating the format for downloading “digital audio shows” in 2005, Apple’s cumbersome process for promoting shows and lack of solid tools for artists to share and monetize their work drew serious criticism, according to two attendees of the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Leaked screenshots obtained by MacRumors show only minor tweaks coming to Apple’s iTunes 12.4 redesign, expected to launch in late May or early June. The toggler to switch between types of media has been changed from the existing icons to a dropdown menu, with forward and back buttons that can also be used to flip between sections. The updated left sidebar provides quicker access to specific songs or albums within iTunes. Both the media toggler and sidebar can be edited to display only desired types of content.
A review left on Amazon by someone claiming to work for Apple hints at an Apple-designed HomeKit app coming in iOS 10. MacRumors matched the name of the reviewer to that of a LinkedIn profile for someone who works in Apple’s marketing department, and later confirmed the review was written by that employee. The review recommends a few existing apps to control smart home devices before concluding, “The next version of iOS due this fall will have a standalone ‘HomeKit’ app as well.”
A new post by Japanese site Macotakara indicates that Apple may be abandoning its rumored plans to include a Smart Connector on the upcoming iPhone 7. The rumor that the iPhone 7 could include a Smart Connector similar to the one found on the iPad Pro surfaced when Chinese site Bastille posted a leaked image purporting to show an iPhone 7 with what appeared to be a Smart Connector on the back. The leaked image was never corroborated by other sources, however, and it was unclear whether it represented an actual iPhone 7 prototype or simply a conceptual mockup.
Among the sweeping changes the Apple apparently has in the works for the Apple Music app in iOS 10, the company appears to also be planning on not only leaving Apple Music Connect basically unchanged, but in fact demoting it from its own tab on the Music app home screen. A new report from 9to5Mac notes that the Connect feature has not lived up to Apple’s expectations of the service, and may be gradually suffering the same fate as the company’s earlier “Ping” social network. Multiple sources have revealed that the feature will be losing its dedicated tab and instead become integrated into the “For You” recommendations page. Connect will also apparently remain accessible from applicable artist pages.
Apple is among several technology companies that have been seeking large parcels of land in the San Francisco Bay Area for autonomous car facilities, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Victor Coleman, chief executive of Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. — a company with extensive real estate holdings in the area — told analysts that his company is “seeing a definitive movement” and “hot demand” for autonomous-car research-and-development facilities. Demand is coming not only from the expected players such as Toyota, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford, but also Apple, who is reportedly looking to secure 800,000 square feet for their autonomous cars.
Apple is adding a new student discount for its Apple Music service that will offer the service at 50 percent off the regular price for eligible college or university students, TechCrunch reports. The new tier is being rolled out today in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and will provide an Apple Music single-user membership for 50 percent off the individual plan price in each of those countries for up to four years following sign-up. Notably, the four years of eligibility can be non-contiguous, allowing users to take breaks between semesters, or resume their membership when later pursuing a post-graduate degree. Apple is reportedly working with a third-party student verification company, UNiDAYS, to validate eligibility for new student memberships, although it’s unclear at this point what form this validation process will take.
Apple has announced a partnership with enterprise application software leader SAP to build a new software development framework that would allow SAP developers to build native iOS applications that integrate with the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, providing organizations with efficient mobile access to SAP enterprise data within their organizations. The two companies will deliver a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK that will be available exclusively for iOS, which will empower SAP’s 2.5-million member global developer community to build mobile enterprise apps for SAP’s open platform. The platform will have a new design language — SAP Fiori for iOS — that will combine the SAP Fiori user experience with the consumer-grade iOS experience, and a new SAP Academy for iOS will offer tools and training for SAP developers. The new SDK, design language and academy are expected to begin rolling out later this year.
Apple has added a new Accessibility category to its online store, highlighting accessories specifically designed for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The new section also includes specific sub-categories to allow users to filter by accessories geared to assisting in visual, physical and motor skill, and learning & literacy areas. The Accessibility section is limited in selection compared to other sections in Apple’s online store, with only 15 different accessories available at this point.
The Los Angeles Police Department successfully hacked into a locked iPhone 5s belonging to the slain wife of “The Shield” actor Michael Jace, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times. Reviewing court papers, The Times discovered that LAPD detectives were able to hire an outside an outside “forensic cellphone expert” who was able to “override the locked iPhone function” and gain access to the data. The case notably involves an iPhone 5s, which has previously been considered more secure than the iPhone 5c involved in the San Bernardino case, although it wasn’t specified which version of iOS the phone was using, or whether Touch ID was enabled.