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Big pharma firms looking to integrate ResearchKit

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest drug developers, is “currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months,” Buzzfeed reports. GSK didn’t provide specifics on its plans, but Michelle Crouthamel, a project manager with the company’s Digital Platform Performance unit, said ResearchKit offers a chance “to improve patient engagement and data collection.” Purdue Pharma, another large drug developer, is also in the early stages of exploring possible uses for ResearchKit. Larry Pickett Jr., Purdue’s vice president, said his company has vetted the platform, but hasn’t committed to building an app to utilize it, nor has the company even determined what types of data they’re be interested in collecting.

While the apps developed so far using ResearchKit have come from non-profits and academic research centers, Apple’s Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams says the company doesn’t limit who can use the platform in the name of medical advancements. ““We’re open to working with anybody that is going to make an impact on people’s health,” he said. “So we’ve made ResearchKit open-source so Apple won’t even control who uses it. We will control what we put on our App Store, but we won’t control who uses it.” Even so, not all big pharmaceutical companies have obvious interest in ResearchKit’s capabilities — Gilead Sciences and Pfizer both confirmed they have no current plans to use the platform.

M.I.A. project joins the ranks of Apple Music-exclusives

M.I.A. has joined Pharrell Williams, Drake and Dr. Dre in offering exclusive content through Apple Music. An expected release today for her “Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than a Border” project — which includes two songs and and a short film featuring music from her upcoming album — was teased by a tweet from Apple Music’s Twitter account. Three preview clips for the project have appeared on Connect, but the songs and film still don’t seem to be accessible at the time of this writing. Other exclusive Apple Music projects from artists like Diddy, Purity Ring and James Bay are also rumored to be in the works. [via Pitchfork]

Apple’s cut of streaming music rivals’ profits sparks antitrust inquiry

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether Apple’s cut of profits taken from rival streaming music apps violates antitrust laws, Reuters reports. Apple takes 30 percent of the $10/month subscriptions sold through iOS apps for streaming music competitors like Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others, leading those companies to complain that the higher-than-normal cut Apple takes forces them to charge more than they do on other platforms or see their profit margins eroded. Raising the price would mean making streaming subscriptions for competing music apps more expensive than Apple Music’s $10/month fee. Rivals could deny Apple its cut if users signed up for music subscriptions through their web browser instead of in-app, but Apple’s terms of service specifically prohibit advertising the app’s availability from other sources or linking to the company’s website from the app. These policies are more stringent than the ones Google places on app makers, and three industry sources said the FTC is looking at whether Apple’s tighter rules break any laws, but hasn’t the commission hasn’t yet started a formal investigation. Neither the FTC nor Apple commented on the issue.

New iPods coming July 14?

A recent rumor about new upcoming iPods seems to have picked up more steam, with French site iGen.fr claiming Apple will introduce new iPods early next week, possibly on Tuesday, July 14. Speculation first popped up when iTunes 12.2 had images of iPods in heretofore unseen colors, such as a dark blue iPod touch — that iPod touch in question notably shows a “Tuesday 14” date. It’s believed that while iPod nano and iPod shuffle may only get new color options, the iPod touch may be in line for a more noteworthy update, featuring an upgrade to a 64-bit processor.

Apple releases iOS 9 public beta

Apple has released the public beta of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan in its new iOS Public Beta program that began earlier this year. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 will allow non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

Facebook planning Apple Music competitor? (Update: No)

Facebook is in early talks to launch its own music streaming service according to a new report by Music Ally. Talks with labels are said to be linked to the company’s trial of ad-supported native videos, which are expected to expand to music videos soon. However, the report claims that the social network has ambitions to follow that up with an audio music service that would compete directly with Apple Music and Spotify, among others. In the shorter term, Facebook plans to monetize music videos with a Content ID system similar to YouTube to pay royalties to music rightsholders while allowing them to identify and take down or claim user-uploaded videos of their music and collect associated ad revenues. A rollout of the music video service is expected “in the next few months” although a specific schedule for the arrival of an audio streaming service is more nebulous, as the report notes that the company has to “get the monetised-video service right first.”

Update: A Facebook spokesperson has denied the report, telling The Verge that the company has “no plans to go into music streaming,” with a source familiar with the matter reporting that “the last thing Facebook wants to do right now is take on Apple in a streaming war.”

T-Mobile’s ‘Mobile without Borders’ offers Canada, Mexico coverage for no extra cost

T-Mobile has announced an expansion of its free roaming coverage across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada as part of a new “Mobile without Borders” initiative. The new plan provides calling to land lines and mobile phones and 4G LTE data access across all three countries at no additional cost to subscribers, making the company’s Simple Choice plan the first and only wireless plan that spans the entire continent. The new plans will take effect on July 15, after which calls to, from and between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will be included at no additional charge, and T-Mobile users traveling to Canada or Mexico will be able to use 4G LTE data straight from their existing plan rather than incurring additional roaming charges, effectively allowing those customers to use their phone service just like when they’re in the U.S. While users won’t yet be able to tap into their Data Stash when roaming, T-Mobile’s announcement does indicate that is also expected to arrive “starting later this year.”

Apple releases third iOS 9 beta to developers, adds full Apple Music support

As expected, Apple has released a third beta of iOS 9 to developers, adding full support for Apple Music, which debuted last week with the release of iOS 8.4. Featuring a build number of 13A4293f, the third iOS 9 beta also includes a number of under-the-hood improvements from the second beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5293f has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.

Apple asks suppliers for up to 90 million new iPhones

Apple is planning a much larger initial production run of its new iPhone models, asking suppliers to deliver between 85 million and 90 million units by December 31, The Wall Street Journal reports. Those totals include updated versions of both 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone models, dwarfing last year’s initial production run of 70 million to 80 million for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. After strong sales of Apple’s first larger-screen smartphones, the company seems to be betting that the addition of Force Touch in updated models will bring users back for an upgrade. Apple is considering adding a third assembler, Winstron Corp., to meet the increased demand, according to people familiar with the matter. Last year, Apple’s reliance on Foxconn and Pegatron Corp. resulted in long waits for customers hungry for the larger display phones.

Logitech introduces new Logi label

Accessory maker Logitech has announced big branding changes in a blog post. The company revealed a re-imagined logo, creating a distinct “Logi” label to be applied to a new line of yet-to-be-disclosed products. Logitech has also hired its first chief design officer, Alastair Curtis, and touts a fresh dedication to “put design at the core of everything [they] do.” The new label will appear on the company’s “colorful and bold” new product offerings, but “Logi” doesn’t seem to be replacing “Logitech” as the company’s name completely. Instead, the company says the “Logi” logo will begin popping up “on select products in existing categories” as well as on new offerings.

Judge voids $532.9M ruling against Apple

A federal judge has thrown out a $532.9 million award against Apple and ordered a new trial to determine damages in a patent infringement case, Reuters reports. In February, a jury found Apple guilty of improperly incorporating three patents owned by Smartflash into its iTunes software, but the judge was concerned his instructions on how to calculate damages may have confused the jurors and substantially inflated the award. The new trial to set damages is set for September 14. A second lawsuit between Smartflash and Apple over the same patents is still ongoing.

Updates to iWork iOS apps fix Accessibility bugs

An update to all three iWork apps for iOS has cleared up problems with Accessibility features. Apple says Pages, Numbers and Keynote had “an issue that prevented proper navigation and editing with VoiceOver.” Those problems are resolved in version 2.5.4, which also fixes text blurring in Pages when turning on Speak Screen.

App prices going up in Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey

In an email to developers, Apple has confirmed that app prices are increasing starting Thursday in Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. A value-added tax is driving up prices by 10 percent in South Korea, but Apple has agreed to pay the tax for any developer living outside South Korea. Developers based in South Korea will be responsible for paying the new tax on their own. Users of apps with auto-renewed subscriptions in South Korea, South Africa and Turkey will need to resubscribe to confirm they accept the price increase. Users of similar subscription apps in Mexico won’t have their subscriptions interrupted, but they will still be getting a price increase. Apple is sending out emails to all subscribers in those countries to inform them of the price change and provide users with the necessary links to resubscribe.

Two new low-price tiers are coming to the Indian, Indonesian, Mexican, Russian, South African and Turkish App Stores too, along with updates to pricing in the tiers already in place in China’s App Store. Developers will be able to review the new pricing scheme in the Rights and Pricing section of My Apps. [via 9to5 Mac]

Apple debuts ‘Apple Tested Cases’ web page

Apple has introduced a new web page on its site featuring a list of third-party cases that the company has tested and certified for use with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Titled “Apple Tested Cases,” the page provides details on testing the company apparently does on third-party cases, including ensuring proper fit, performing drop testing, and making certain that cases don’t interfere with the camera, acoustics, various sensors, and cellular, Wi-Fi, and NFC signals. This move follows a report late last year that Apple would be introducing more stringent requirements for MFi case makers, and could be a result of these new standards for case certification. The bottom of the page provides a link to all of the cases sold by the Apple Store, all of which presumably meet all of the specified requirements under the MFi program.

Showtime’s standalone Apple TV channel arrives with free trial

Confirming reports from last month, Showtime’s standalone channel launched today on Apple TV. Unlike last year’s addition of Showtime Anytime – which requires a traditional cable subscription to access content — the standalone Showtime channel will make the network’s offerings available for non-cable subscribers for $11 a month, undercutting HBO’s $15-a-month charge for the similar HBO Now service. Like HBO, Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial to attract users and is launching its channel on Apple TV before expanding to other platforms. A Showtime app for iOS isn’t available yet, but should be available soon.

Update: The Showtime iOS app is now available, as well.

Apple redesigning third-party accessory packaging for its stores

Apple is now co-designing packaging for third-party accessories sold in its Apple Stores, 9to5 Mac reports. Apple has been working with select accessory makers over the past six months, and redesigning boxes to be more in line with the packaging of Apple’s own products. According to a memo to Apple Store employees, the new packaging will be mostly white and include simpler fonts, better compatibility labeling and new product photography. The boxes will also be made of higher-quality materials, underscoring Apple’s emphasis on controlling the sourcing of its packaging products. Apple has helped produce new packaging for Tech21, Sena, Incase, Mophie, Logitech and LifeProof. As packaging that doesn’t fit the Apple look is phased out, the company will work with more accessory makers to expand the new packaging style. No hard timeline for the change has been released, but new boxes have already started showing up in larger Apple Stores.

As we’ve seen — and were told earlier this year — Apple has been pushing out many third-party case options in order to develop a “boutique” feel in stores. This new move to co-design third-party packaging follows those same lines.

Apple aims to bring back Home Sharing for music in iOS 9

A week after Apple quietly dropped the popular Home Sharing feature from the Music app in iOS 8.4, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has promised the company is “working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9.” In a tweet, Cue confirmed that Apple is trying to bring back the missing feature, which allows an iOS device to stream music from a computer running iTunes on a local Wi-Fi network. With Home Sharing going missing just as Apple Music debuted, some have speculated that the feature was removed because it competed with the new streaming service and the company’s paid iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library options. Home Sharing is still available in the Videos app, and other than Cue’s tweet, Apple hasn’t hasn’t commented on the change.

Report: iPhone 6S may be slightly thicker than iPhone 6

An alleged schematic revealed by Engadget Japan alludes to the iPhone 6S as being slightly thicker than the iPhone 6. If true, the 6S will be 7.1 mm thick, a very slight increase over the existing iPhone 6’s 6.9 mm profile. The increase in size could be explained by rumors that Force Touch will be making its iPhone debut in the new model. Sources have claimed that any change to the 6S won’t be big enough to alter how existing iPhone 6 accessories fit.

Apple Pay set to launch in UK on July 14?

Internal communications sent to employees at multiple U.K. retailers appear to confirm that Apple Pay will be accepted for mobile payments in their country starting on July 14, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has also informed its own retail employees they’ll be getting training for Apple Pay support on July 12, just ahead of the launch date for retailers. It’s possible that Apple Pay will launch later at some stores, but July 14 seems like it could be a fairly widespread start date. Apple confirmed a July launch at WWDC, and an FAQ released a few weeks later explained that U.K. Apple Pay users won’t need to enter a PIN for purchases, but will still face the usual £20 limit currently imposed on contactless transactions. That limit is being increased to £30 nationally this September.

Report: New iPhone’s base storage could stay at 16GB

An examination of photos of an iPhone “6S” prototype shows that baseline models of the new phone could still start at 16GB of storage, 9to5Mac reports. Analysts agreed that a Toshiba memory chip spotted in the photos has a 16GB capacity, though whether that chip will actually ship with production models is unknown. The guts of the new model feature fewer chips and the ones that remain are notably smaller, hinting at Apple’s attempt to reduce power use while maintaining functionality. For all the changes inside, the photos seem to back up rumors that, despite adding Force Touch, the new iPhone’s size is identical to the iPhone 6, so using existing cases and other accessories shouldn’t be a problem. A leaked document from last week claimed that the new phone’s upgraded 12-megapixel camera will be able to record 4K video.

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