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Apple TV gets 21 new Aerial screensavers

Apple has added 21 new Aerial screensavers for the fourth-generation Apple TV, with scenery from five new locations, including Greenland, Dubai, Hong Kong, Liwa (UAE), and Los Angeles. Three new scenes from China have also been added. With the exception of Liwa and China, all of the new locations include both day and night scenery. tvOS downloads new screensaver footage on a cyclical basis according to whichever schedule you have set, so users may not see the new screensavers for a while, depending on their download schedule; users can view all of the screensavers at iDownloadBlog, which discovered the new entries and has published a list of links to stream the footage directly from Apple’s servers.

Report: LG Display to supply foldable OLED displays to Apple

A new report from South Korean IT News site ETNews claims that LG Display has come to an agreement with Apple to begin mass-producing and supplying foldable OLED displays beginning in 2018. Although several rumors have pointed to Apple producing at least one OLED iPhone model next year, Apple is reported to be testing multiple prototypes, and current plans suggest a curved, rather than a foldable display. Current speculation on an OLED iPhone model suggests that Samsung would be the current supplier, so any deal with LG for foldable displays may simply be part of a longer-term strategy for Apple. [via MacRumors]

AirPods coming to Apple retail stores Monday Dec. 19

Apple is planning to begin selling AirPods in its retail stores this coming Monday, Dec. 19, according to a new report by MacRumors. While Apple previously announced that AirPods would be in stores sometime next week, more specific information has surfaced that product is already in transit to retail locations and is expected to go on sale Monday morning. Shipments are also en route to Apple Authorized Resellers and carrier stores, so AirPods should be available at most retail locations come Monday morning, although initial stock will likely be limited; Apple has noted that its retail locations will continue to receive regular shipments, however.

Apple reveals service pricing for lost AirPods, battery replacements

Apple has updated its iPhone Service Pricing page with a section detailing the service prices related to its new AirPods. The update reveals that Apple will replace a single lost AirPod or AirPod battery case for a fee of $69, while out-of-warranty replacements for battery issues will cost $49 per AirPod, as well as $49 for the AirPod charging case. The full $69 replacement fee also applies to replacing AirPods that are accidentally damaged, and therefore not covered under Apple’s standard one-year warranty. [via TechCrunch]

Super Mario Run now available on App Store

As expected, Nintendo has released Super Mario Run today on the App Store. Originally introduced by Nintendo at Apple’s special event back in September, Super Mario Run is a mobile-optimized game featuring Nintendo’s classic character in an endless runner game that has Mario automatically running to the right, with on-screen taps used to have Mario jump and collect coins. The game is designed for easy one-handed operation, however Mario tap timings are used to make Mario behave slightly differently. Three game modes are available — World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder — that allow for simple single-player gaming, challenges and tournaments, and the ability to build your own kingdom with coins and Toads collected in the other game modes. The game is free to download, but it costs $10 to play most of the levels, which is done via in-app purchase.

Apple clarifies relationship between Apple Music and iTunes Match

An Apple Senior Product Specialist has confirmed to iLounge that Apple Music has been expanded to include all of the key features of iTunes Match, clarifying the update to the Apple Music Membership FAQ that we reported on last week. The specialist confirmed that Apple Music subscribers can now download DRM-free versions of “matched” tracks without an iTunes Match subscription, although he clarified that this won’t necessarily be the case for older DRM-laden songs purchased from the iTunes Store — basically, those tracks purchased prior to the 2007-2009 period when Apple began selling music without DRM. Specifically, an iTunes Match subscription is still required to download 256-kbps DRM-free versions of any of those older purchased iTunes Songs — provided the DRM-free versions are available on the iTunes Store — whereas users without an iTunes Match subscription will be limited to the originally-purchased 128kbps DRM-protected versions from their purchase history.

Wireless charging startup Energous is teaming up with Apple supplier Dialog

Energous, a startup that many have speculated has been working with Apple on wireless charging solutions, has just signed a big deal with Apple chip supplier Dialog Semiconductor, Fast Company reports. According to a source, Dialog presently makes about three-quarters of its revenue supplying power management chips to Apple, suggesting that the new partnership could put Energous into a position to more effectively deal with Apple in bringing wireless charging to future iPhone models. Energous has been working on a long-range wireless charging technology known as WattUP RF that would allow devices to recharge wirelessly at distances of up to 15 feet away from a charging transmitter —  technology that certainly seems like the practical type of wireless charging solution that Apple would be interested in, as opposed to current implementations based on plug-in charging mats. The report goes on to suggest that WattUP RF technology could be incorporated into Macs to allow an iPhone to be charged when it’s simply sitting on the table within a few feet of a powered Mac.

Apple releases first developer betas of iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1

Only four days after the public debut of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1, Apple has already released the first betas of iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1 to registered developers. The sparse release notes and very minor version numbering suggest that both of these releases are focused primarily on bug fixes and minor improvements. A new watchOS beta is notably missing at this point, which may be due in part to Apple still addressing recent problems in the watchOS 3.1.1 release earlier this week.

Apple loses $2 million lawsuit over employee breaks and paychecks

Apple has been ordered to pay $2 million to more than 21,000 employees who sued the company over unfair working conditions, Apple Insider reports. The suit—which was filed in 2011 and gained class-action status in 2014—claimed the company denied retail workers adequate breaks and took months to issue paychecks. Apple hasn’t made a statement on the ruling, but barring an appeal, each employee will receive a maximum of $95, with those payments also subject to legal fees.

Apple hiring engineers away from automotive mapping company

Over the last few months, Apple has hired at least six employees from Berlin-based Here, an automotive mapping company owned by Audi, BMW, and Daimler, Business Insider reports. One of the engineers, Konstantin Sinitsyn, declined to confirm how many people Apple had hired from Here, and no other employees responded to requests for comment. Apple doesn’t have an official office in Berlin, but in April a German website claimed the company was operating a secret facility in the city staffed by 15 to 20 “top-class” employees of the German automotive industry. At the time they were believed to be working on Apple’s Project Titan electric car project, but the company has since scaled back its automotive ambitions to focus on autonomous driving systems. Former employees from Here could be a natural fit within that scheme, with many of the new hires showing they’re assigned to the Apple Maps team on LinkedIn.

Scaled-back Tinder app lands on Apple TV

Tinder has joined the ranks of apps making themselves available on Apple TV, detailing the move in a blog post. The ad campaign seems geared toward making the selection of prospective mates on Tinder more of a group experience, encouraging users to get their family and friends involved in the decision-making process. Like most crossover Apple TV apps, Tinder provides limited options on the big screen, allowing users to swipe right and left or view information in the profiles or others, but lacking the ability to edit your own profile or message other users.

Apple launches official Support app for iOS in U.S.

After releasing its Apple Support app in the Netherlands last month, Apple has now made it available to U.S. customers, allowing users to search for troubleshooting information, and call, chat or email with Apple support staff. The app keeps a list of all the devices associated with a user’s Apple ID and provides other handy features, including the ability to schedule callbacks, make appointments for repairs at an Apple Store or Authorized Service Provider, and view logs of all the customer service interactions they’ve had with Apple.

Apple TV’s universal search adds support for 10 more apps in U.S.

Apple TV has added 10 new apps to its universal search list for U.S. users, including some major cable channels. Movies and TV shows on Apple Music, Animal Planet GO, Crunchyroll, CuriosityStream, Investigation Discovery GO, Science Channel GO, TBS, TNT, TLC GO, and Tribeca Shortlist can now be found with a simple search on the fourth-generation Apple TV. For users in Canada, the U.K., and Australia, Apple has added the ability to search kids network Hopster and movie service MUBI. Apple’s website provides a full list of the apps compatible with the Apple TV’s universal search, arranged by country. [via MacRumors]

Apple pulls watchOS 3.1.1 update after reports of bricked Apple Watches

After a series of user complaints about watchOS 3.1.1 bricking Apple Watches, Apple seems to have pulled the update all together. Apple Watch users looking for the most recent version of the operating system are now seeing watchOS 3.1. Apple has not publicly commented on the problem, so it’s unclear what the issue is or how long it will take the company to resolve it. Users who had their Apple Watches locked up by watchOS 3.1.1 are being encouraged to contact Apple Support directly, since retail stores are unable to service the devices. [via MacRumors]

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.4 with TV app and Touch Bar support

Apple has released iTunes 12.5.4, adding support for the new TV app introduced with the releases of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 earlier this week. The latest iTunes update also adds support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro models, providing a scrubber that allows users to jump to different parts of songs, movies, and TV shows.

Some users report watchOS 3.1.1 update bricking Apple Watches

A series of users posting on Reddit and elsewhere are reporting that yesterday’s watchOS 3.1.1 update has hopelessly locked their Apple Watches, leaving the device displaying a red exclamation point and directing them to visit the Apple Watch help page. While many users are seeing the update run on their watches without a hitch, those with bricked devices have been told by Apple support that they have to send their watch off for a fix. Apple Stores are unable to service the watches, but have been facilitating arranging for replacements. Series 2 watches seem particularly susceptible to the problem, though the cause is currently unknown. [via AppleInsider]

Report: Apple’s BeatsX earphones could be delayed 2-3 months (Update: Coming in February)

AirPods won’t be the only Apple headphones suffering from lengthy delays this holiday season, if a recent report proves true. The release of its BeatsX wireless earphones may be delayed another two to three months, according to MacRumors. The report claims that authorized reseller B&H Photo Video emailed a customer this weekend regarding the earphones, and the reseller wrote that “the manufacturer has informed us that they still do not know when they will begin shipping this item but they do know that it will take at least 2-3 months.” This timeline would put the BeatsX release into February or March. Apple’s AirPods still have yet to see a release, though there’s been speculation that a pre-holiday launch is forthcoming.

Update: Apple’s website now lists the BeatsX headphones as “Coming February.”

AirPods now available on Apple’s website, deliver by Dec. 21 (Update: Shipping slips to two weeks)

After being pushed back from an October release, AirPods are now available on Apple’s website. They’ll deliver to some U.S. locations as early as Dec. 21, with some international locations seeing earlier delivery dates. People familiar with the development process said the release was delayed due to problems ensuring that one of the AirPods is able to properly transmit a synchronized audio signal to the other. The W1-equipped earbuds will be Apple’s first wireless offering under its own brand, and our full review will follow shortly after the release.

Update: As expected, after a flood of online purchases the shipping estimates for new AirPod orders in the U.S. has already slipped to two weeks.

WSJ: Apple held talks to invest $1B in SoftBank technology fund

Apple has reportedly held talks about investing up to $1 billion in SoftBank Group’s technology fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. Japanese corporation SoftBank is aiming to raise $100 billion for its SoftBank Vision Fund, and Apple’s investment could enable the Cupertino company to “gain insight on emerging technologies,” the report notes. Sources note nothing has been finalized, and it’s unclear where the talks are at this point.

SoftBank is investing $25 billion of its own money in the fund, which seeks to lead the way in still-emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. The company was in the news recently for its announced $50 billion investment in the U.S. SoftBank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, made a public appearance with President-elect Donald Trump.

Apple releases iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1.1

After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.2 to the public today. The release features the new TV app for accessing video content across multiple apps, 100 new emoji, and new screen effects in Messages, along with many other updates, new features, and improvements. Apple also released tvOS 10.1, with its own version of the TV app, and watchOS 3.1.1 for Apple Watch. Users can download iOS 10.2 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

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