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Apple exploring options for bundling original TV content, Apple Music, and magazine subscriptions

Apple is reportedly considering building a single subscription offering that would bundle its original TV content with Apple Music and digital magazines, according to a new report from The Information (via MacRumors). Citing sources with knowledge of the company’s plans, the report notes that Apple is planning to launch a digital news subscription service next year, which will use its recent acquisition of Texture to bring magazines to Apple News. In the longer term, however, sources suggest that Apple will eventually bundle that digital news subscription service with both Apple Music and all of the original TV content that is currently in the works, although the sources weren’t able to provide any details on when this will happen or how much it’s going to cost. Further, Apple will apparently continue offering Apple Music as a standalone service as well, suggesting that it will do the same for digital magazines and its original TV content service. Decisions are said to still be ongoing, however, as to what the services will look like, so nothing has yet been finalized.

Apple notifies users of very old OS versions about upcoming payment security changes

Apple has begun sending out notices to some iTunes and App Store customers advising them of some upcoming payment security changes that will limit compatibility with older iOS, macOS, and Apple TV software versions. The emails appears to have been sent out only to those users that Apple has identified as still using one of the older versions, and specifically notes that users of iOS 4.3.5 or earlier, macOS 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion) or earlier, and Apple TV Software 4.4.4 or earlier will no longer be able to change their payment information from those devices. The change also appears to only affect the ability to change payment methods, not to access or make purchases the store itself from these older devices. Considering that the listed operating system versions are all over five years old, and that only the original 2007 iPhone, the 2008 iPhone 3G, and the first two generations of iPod touch devices are incapable of being upgraded to iOS 5, the problem seems very unlikely to impact most iTunes or App Store users.

Zagg unveils Nomad Book and Messenger Folio keyboard cases for iPad Pro

Zagg has announced two new iPad keyboard cases in its lineup combining protection and ease of use for iPad users on the go. The new Nomad Book ($100) features two detachable bumpers so that it can be used with a variety of tablets, including not only the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but also the older 9.7-inch Pro, 9.7-inch standard iPad, and even older iPad models, and includes multi-device pairing so that the keyboard can be used not only with the associated iPad but also an iPhone or other Bluetooth device. Nomad Book can be set up in different modes for typing, reading, or watching video, and features a reverse kickstand and adjustable screen angle for optimal viewing, and a rechargeable battery that provides up to two years of life between charges. Messenger Folio ($60), on the other hand, is designed specifically for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, providing users with a lightweight keyboard that doubles as a case with a simple, minimalist design. A magnetic clasp holds the case securely closed, and the Bluetooth keyboard provides up to three months of battery life on a single charge. Messenger Folio also features a built-in holder for stowing away an Apple Pencil when it’s not in use while still keeping it readily accessible.

Elgato rebranding as ‘Eve Systems’ to focus exclusively on smart home products

Elgato has announced that it will be shifting its focus entirely to its Eve smart home product line, rebranding itself as Eve Systems, and selling off its streaming accessory division. Elgato has been a strong name in Mac peripherals for well over a decade, known years ago for its popular streaming and video capture products such as EyeTV and turbo.264. The company later evolved these products to target game capture applications, but was also one of the first partners to get on board with Apple’s HomeKit in 2015 with its Eve product lineup. Over the past three years, Elgato has continued to release a very solid set of Bluetooth-based HomeKit accessories, making the Eve focus is a logical new direction for the company to head in. Elgato founder Markus Fest explains that the change to “Eve Systems’ was at least partly because the company’s successful gaming business is “inextricably linked to the Elgato brand” that has been around for twenty years. On the other hand, the Eve product line has evolved into its own brand that’s not as strongly associated with the Elgato name. Elgato Gaming, the streaming accessory division, is being sold to Corsair, a leading gaming peripherals maker, and it appears that these accessories will continue to be marketed under the Elgato brand.

iTunes Remote lives on with iPhone X update

Apple today released an update to iTunes Remote, it’s iOS app for remotely controlling music playback from the iTunes app running on a Mac or Windows PC. iTunes Remote 4.4 includes compatibility with the iPhone X along with stability and performance improvements and an all new design on both the iPhone and iPad platforms. The app was last updated in early 2017, and with Apple having split off Apple TV control into a standalone Apple TV Remote app shortly before that, it was unclear whether the iTunes-focused version would continue to exist, and even less certain with the recent rollout of AirPlay 2 support now providing the multi-speaker playback capabilities that were previously the exclusive domain of iTunes. The latest update suggests that Apple intends to continue supporting iTunes Remote for the foreseeable future.

Apple releases Schoolwork for iPad

Apple has announced the release of its free Schoolwork app for iPad, a new tool that teachers can use in conjunction with its Classroom app to create assignments, collaborate with students, track student progress, and more. Teachers can use Schoolwork to create and send out assignments with a wide variety of different content and even tie activities into supported educational apps, while students can use the Schoolwork app to stay organized and track assignments and due dates. Schoolwork integrates with popular education apps such as Explain Everything, Tynker, GeoGebra and Kahoot! to allow teachers to assign activities to students within those apps, taking them right to a specific challenge, lesson, or related resources, and teachers can also leverage these apps to get insights into how each student is performing and track their progress both individually or as a group. More information on Schoolwork and Classroom can be found on Apple’s Educational Tools page

Public betas arrive for iOS 12 and tvOS 12

Apple has released the first public betas of iOS 12 and tvOS 12, corresponding to the second developer betas released last week. As in previous years, Apple’s Beta Software program allows members of the public to sign up to receive pre-release beta versions of Apple’s latest iPhone/iPad and Apple TV operating systems ahead of the fall release. Public beta releases normally mirror the developer beta releases, with the public beta versions becoming available one to two days after the developer betas. Note that watchOS is still not included in Apple’s public beta program. Users who are interested in living on the edge and trying out the latest iOS and tvOS versions can sign up on Apple’s Beta Software Program page.

Apple posts fourth iOS 11.4.1,  tvOS 11.4.1 developer betas alongside third watchOS 4.3.2 beta

Apple has released the fourth betas for iOS 11.4.1 and tvOS 11.4.1, only one week after the company pushed out its third round of the two minor releases. The release notes continue to provide no information on anything that’s changed, meaning they’re likely just addressing issues that are too minor to even be noteworthy. A third beta of watchOS 4.3.2 also appeared today, slightly later in the cycle compared to its iPhone/iPad and Apple TV counterparts.

Report: Higher-end AirPods may be coming in 2019

Apple is planning on releasing a pair of higher-end AirPods next year, according to a new report from Bloomberg, which backs up another report from earlier this year. Back in February, Bloomberg noted that Apple could be releasing a new model of AirPods later this year that would include an upgraded wireless chip and handsfree Siri support, and hinted at a subsequent 2019 model that would add water resistance. This latest report expands on the 2019 plans, suggesting that these may be a higher-end version released alongside the current AirPods — kind of like an “AirPods Pro” version — since they will likely carry a higher price tag. The new premium AirPods are expected to include noise cancellation technology and water resistance, as well as increased range. The water resistance, however, isn’t geared toward swimmers, but rather intended to protect against rain and perspiration, according to sources. Sources also reveal that Apple has been contemplating adding biometric sensors to future AirPods, such as a heart-rate monitor, to push them into the area of health-related accessories, although these are currently speculative features that aren’t likely to make it into any of the 2019 models.

Apple seeking to have four Qualcomm patents invalidated

Apple is now challenging four key patents as part of its ongoing legal battles with Qualcomm, Bloomberg reports. Specifically, Apple has filed petitions asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel four Qualcomm patents, claiming that the ideas that they cover aren’t new and therefore cannot be patented. All four are part of a patent-infringement lawsuit that Qualcomm filed against Apple last year in response to a patent royalty lawsuit initiated by Apple. The fight predominantly centers around whether the royalty fees that Qualcomm is demanding are excessive, and multiple hearings are already either scheduled or underway in the U.S., China, and Germany.

Report: Apple actively seeking to phase out Lightning connector on future iPhones

Apple is actively working to remove the Lightning connector from future iPhone models, and in fact considered removing it from the iPhone X, according to a follow-up from MacRumors on today’s report on AirPower development. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted in the original report that “Apple weighed removing the wired charging system entirely” during the development of the iPhone X — which Gurman confirmed to MacRumors would have meant removing the Lightning connector entirely — but opted not to do so due to the lower speed of wireless charging and the added cost of including a wireless charging accessory in the box. That said, reports have circulated for the past few years that Apple is looking to remove most of the external ports and even buttons on the iPhone — a process that began with the controversial elimination of the headphone jack in 2017 — so it seems reasonable that as the cost and performance of wireless charging reaches an acceptable level, the Lightning port will be phased out entirely, and this also makes it seem unlikely that Apple is seriously pondering a switch to a native USB-C port. That said, the removal of the Lightning port is likely still a few years away, although with an increased focus on wireless headphones and wireless sync — compared to a few years ago, relatively few users tether their iPhone to a computer anymore — it definitely seems like something that is possible. It would also eliminate one of the most significant security vulnerabilities in the iPhone by preventing any direct connections at all — something Apple has already been working to tighten up in iOS 12.

Apple part of consortium working on Digital Car Key spec

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), an organization dedicated to creating ubiquitous connectivity solutions between vehicles and mobile devices, has announced the Digital Key Release 1.0 Specification, which defines a standard that would allow drivers to download and store a digital key on their smartphones. Apple is part of the CCC, alongside car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, General Motors, and Hyundai, and Volkswagen, as well as other technology companies including LG, Panasonic, Samsung, NXP, and Qualcomm. The digital key spec defines way to securely transfer a vehicle key onto a smart device such as an iPhone, which can then be used via NFC to lock or unlock a car or star the engine. Keys can also be easily securely shared with other smartphone users. The application of the spec would go beyond personal consumer vehicles with uses in car sharing and car rental services as well. While some of these already implement their own server-based keyless entry systems, the new spec would allow for direct communication between a mobile device and the vehicle security system, rather than needing a request to be sent to a central provide and communicated back to the vehicle over a cellular data network. [via MacRumors]

AirPower to run stripped down version of iOS, now expected to arrive in September

Apple’s AirPower has gotten another more specific release date, this time from a slightly more reliable source, with Bloomberg reporting that the wireless charging mat is now on track for a September release. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also provides some insight into why the release has taken longer than expected — although Apple only said “2018” when AirPower was announced last year, many anticipated the device would be available earlier in 2018, with some reports suggesting March. Gurman notes that although Apple has been quiet about AIrPower, saying basically nothing since the initial announcement, the company has been actively working on the accessory behind the scenes, dealing with challenges such as making sure the charger doesn’t overheat and addressing the complexity of the circuitry. Unlike traditional Qi chargers, the AirPower is designed to charge up to three devices simultaneously, support the Apple Watch, and allow users to place any of their devices anywhere on the charging mat rather than having to aim for a specific spot.

Apple developing kids’ programming in partnership with Sesame Workshop

Apple is expanding its video content ambitions to include children’s programming through a new deal with Sesame Workshop, Variety reports. The deal includes a multi-series order and is expected to feature entirely original content including both live-action and animated shows, as well as a puppet series. Sesame Workshop is a non-profit educational organization best known for “Sesame Street” and has won more Daytime Emmys over the course of its 50-year history than any other children’s production company.

Apple Pay goes live in Norway, Poland; may be coming soon to Czech Republic

Apple has rolled out Apple Pay in both Poland and Norway this week, 9to5Mac reports, with the mobile payment service landing on eight Polish banks on Monday, followed by a subsequent launch on three banks in Norway on Tuesday. The service also launched in Ukraine last month, following Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent promise that the service would be rolling out to those three countries. Now, a new report from SmartMania (via 9to5Mac) suggests that Apple Pay will also be landing at Moneta Money Bank in the Czech Republic sometime in August. Meanwhile, Apple Pay also continues to expand in the U.S., with over 30 more new banks recently added.

Kristen Wiig departs upcoming Apple comedy amidst scheduling conflicts

Kristen Wiig has had to bow out of an upcoming Apple comedy series due to scheduling conflicts, Variety reports. Wiig was originally slated to star in an Apple adaptation of Curtis Sittenfield’s upcoming collection of short stories, “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” but will be unable to as a result of shooting conflicts with her role as Cheetah in “Wonder Woman 1984.” The ten-episode series was Apple’s first scripted comedy order, and would have represented Wiig’s first return to television since she turned her attention to feature films after her stint on SNL ended in 2012. Sources have told Variety that Apple is still continuing with its plans for the series despite Wiig’s exit, however, and Wiig will remain on as an executive producer alongside Reese Witherspoon, Colleen McGuinness, and Lauren Neustadter.

Apple releases second developers betas for iOS 12, tvOS 12

Apple has released a second set of betas to registered developers for iOS 12 and tvOS 12, following the initial developer preview releases following WWDC at the beginning of the month. iOS 12 beta 2 features a build number of 16A5308e and according to the release notes resolves a number of issues from the first beta, including compatibility with certain third-party apps, accessibility issues, problems confirming Apple Pay payments in some cases, CarPlay alarms, Personal Hotspot, and issues with Phone, FaceTime and Screen Time features. The release introduces new problems as well, including the Weather widget, AirPods, CarPlay compatibility with certain vehicles, FaceTime, Screen Time, and Siri shortcuts. The second beta of tvOS 12 features a build number of 16J5303e and includes a smaller list of resolved and new issues. Both versions are available as over-the-air updates or via direct download from Apple’s developer pages. Public betas for iOS 12 and tvOS 12 aren’t expected to materialize until July, and will likely come following the third developer beta release.

Apple fined $9m in Australia over ‘Error 53’ bug

Apple has been fined $9M AUD ($6.6m USD) by an Australian Federal Court for misleading iPhone and iPad owners regarding third-party screen repairs, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. The court action was initiated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after it received complaints about the “error 53” issue that was [known for disabling iOS devices] that had received third-party screen repairs a few years ago. ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that several customers alleged that they were “being refused a remedy of any kind by Apple on the basis that their device had had unauthorised repairs” even if those repairs were as minor as having a cracked screen. Ms. Court added that under Australian Consumer law, customers are free to have repairs done by third parties without being penalized by the original manufacturer. For its part, Apple admitted that it made false and misleading statements to consumers between February 2015 and February 2016, and the ACCC identified at least 275 customers in Australia who were affected, although Court notes that it was more widespread, and further investigation through an outreach program suggested as many as 5,000 Australian consumers may have been impacted. [via 9to5Mac]

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Apple appeal of App Store antirust case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Apple’s appeal over a lower-court decision that resurrected a seven-year-old class-antitrust lawsuit, Reuters reports. In 2011, a group of consumers filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple was maintaining a monopoly on the sale of iPhone apps, driving up prices because the App Store is the only place where such apps can be purchased. Apple asked for the suit to be dismissed in 2013, asserting that there was nothing illegal about creating a closed system, and arguing that it is developers, not Apple, that set prices for apps. A U.S. District Judge ruled later that same year that the plaintiffs couldn’t continue the lawsuit simply because they hadn’t actually bought the apps in question, and therefore couldn’t demonstrate that they had “personally suffered an injury” based on the conduct that they were accusing Apple of. While a lawyer for the plaintiffs at the same said the case could easily be refiled to meet the requirements, that didn’t surface until early last year, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that iPhone users are free to sue Apple for its alleged monopoly on iPhone apps, although Apple maintained its original argument at the time that users had no standing to sue Apple because the App Store is simply a storefront, however the appellate court judge disagreed, saying that since iPhone users must purchase apps directly from Apple, they have a right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.

Apple opens registration for Summer 2018 Apple Camp for kids

Apple is once again running its Apple Camp summer program for kids aged 8 to 12, with registration now available on the Today at Apple website. Sessions are set to begin in July, and kids can sign up for three different courses at their local Apple Store which will teach various skills using Apple products and software. Courses include Coding with Sphero Robots, which will teach kids coding and problem-solving fundamentals, Beat Making and Songwriting with GarageBand where kids can discover how to create beats and compose their own songs, and Telling Stories with Clips which covers how to use Apple’s new Clips app to create a story with video. Each course consists of three 90-minute sessions held over the course of a single week. All of the courses are free to attend, although spaces are limited and many fill up fast.

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