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Apple continues to expand video content team with four more Hollywood execs

Apple is continuing to expand its video content team with the hiring of four more Hollywood executives, Variety reports. Not surprisingly, most of the new hires are veterans from Sony Pictures Television, following on from Apple’s hiring of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony in June. The new executives include Kim Rozenfeld who previously headed up current programming at Sony Pictures Television and will be joining Apple as the future head of current programming and the lead executive responsible for documentary series development. Max Aronson and Ali Woodruff are also coming from Sony to join Apple as “development executives,” previously serving as VP of Drama development and Director of Creative Affairs, respectively. Rozenfeld, Aronson, and Woodruff will report to Erlicht and Van Amburg, while the last member of the new team, Rita Cooper Lee, comes from a role as head of publicity for WGN America and will lead communications for the new video unit, reporting to Tom Neumayr, Senior Director of App Store, Apple Music and Apple TV PR.

Apple rumored to be bidding for James Bond franchise

Apple is rumored to have entered the running to buy the rights to the James Bond franchise, a property worth between $2 billion and $5 billion, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Major film studios like MGM, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. have been pursuing a deal since the franchise’s deal with Sony expired in 2015, and Apple’s entry into the bidding has ratcheted up the intensity. Apple is also reportedly in discussions to buy or lease iconic Hollywood powerhouse The Culver Studios to house its burgeoning content operation, and industry analysts view the potential for the James Bond franchise as possibly as big as the Marvel and Star Wars brands for TV shows, toys, merchandising and more.

India ups pressure on Apple to approve anti-spam app

Apple’s refusal to approve India’s anti-spam app could cause problems for the company’s efforts to expand its sales in the country, Bloomberg reports. Apple has thus far refused to make the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s app — which blocks annoying unsolicited calls and texts — available on the App Store, drawing the ire of the TRAI’s leadership. Apple doesn’t permit third-party apps to access SMS details and call records, which are necessary for the app to function, but the TRAi is currently taking public comments ahead of drafting new policies about how much control users have over their personal information.

Apple ending Apple Music Festival after 10-year run

Apple has confirmed that it’s pulling the plug on the Apple Music Festival the company has hosted for the past 10 years, Music Business Worldwide reports. Originally named the “iTunes Festival,” the annual event was hosted at London’s Roundhouse for an audience of competition winners and broadcast live around the world over more than a week of performances. Popular artists like Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Beck, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Pharrell Williams have all taken a turn on the stare during the festival’s decade-long run, but Apple now seems to be shifting its focus more to one-off events and backing the tours of artists like Drake, with whom the company has a wide-ranging arrangement for exclusives.

Apple Events app gets update ahead of Sept. 12 keynote

Apple has updated its Apple TV Events app with a listing for its September 12 event — the first to be held at the new Steve Jobs Theater. As previously reported, at 10 a.m. Pacific time that day Apple is expected to reveal its new iPhones — including the tenth-anniversary iPhone 8/Edition — alongside a new 4K Apple TV and a cellular-capable Apple Watch. Apple TV owners will be able to stream the event through the Events app, and as always Apple will live stream the event on its website.

Beats launches Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Beats has announced Studio3 Wireless, the latest model in the company’s iconic Beats Studio lineup of over-ear headphones. The updated version features Apple’s W1 chip providing the same proximity pairing features found on Apple’s AirPods and Beats’ other recent headphones, along with the ability to sync pairing data via iCloud and seamlessly switch between devices. Beats adds that the W1 chip’s increased efficiency allows Studio3 Wireless to provide nearly double the battery life of the company’s prior headphones, promising 22 hours of wireless playback with ANC on or 40 hours of playback in low power mode. “Fast Fuel” rapid charging allows users to gain an additional three hours of playback from just ten minutes of charging via a USB connection.

Happy Labor Day from iLounge

Happy Labor Day from iLounge! Our staff is off today, but we’ll return to our normal posting schedule on Tuesday. Now would be a good time to catch up on our most recent reviews, which can be found here. Have a great day!

Report: New iPhones to be named iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone Edition

According to reputable case vendors claiming to have knowledge of the upcoming iPhone packaging, the two new standard iPhone models expected to be introduced next month will be designated the “iPhone 8” and “iPhone 8 Plus,” rather than using the more traditional “S” designations, while the premium iPhone will be called the “iPhone Edition.” While at IFA in Berlin, 9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub had several behind-the-scenes discussions with case makers who have heard information from Chinese manufacturing sources who claim to have seen packaging for the new iPhone models, and are certain enough fo the information that they are moving forward with preparing packaging for their own cases. Weintraub adds that these are large and reputable case makers, “not small, fly-by-night casemaker outfits,” with brand actually carried in Apple’s retail stores.

Plex adds location support for personal photo libraries

Plex has enhanced its photo library features to include support for geotagged photos, allowing users to see their photos organized by the location where they were taken — provided, of course, they were captured with a GPS-enabled device. With the latest version of Plex Media Server, location data is now read from photos, allowing users to see the locations where photos were taken and automatically grouping them into virtual albums based on location. Related photos and albums can also now be automatically discovered based on location, so users can see what other photos in their library were taken in the same place, regardless of when they were taken.

Apple strengthening push into Hollywood content with eye on iconic studio, bid on high-profile drama

Apple appears to be strengthening its push into producing original content, with the Financial Times reporting that the company is looking to an iconic Hollywood studio as the base for its original content division and bidding against companies such as Netflix on rights to a new high-profile drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Apple sends out press invites for Sept 12 event at Apple Park

As expected, Apple has sent out media invites for its annual fall event, being held Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the Steve Jobs Theatre at the company’s new Apple Park campus in Cupertino. As usual, the media invites include a sneak peek at the theme of the event, along with a tagline which this time simply reads “Let’s meet at our place.” Unlike prior media invites, the tagline is most likely just a direct reference to the venue for the event as opposed to a cryptic clue to what Apple will be announcing.

Marshall unveils Wireless Multi-Room Speaker System

Marshall has introduced The Marshall Wireless Multi-Room System, the first Wi-Fi speaker lineup from the iconic audio company. The new multi-room speakers build on the designs of its wireless Bluetooth product range that debuted four years ago with the Stanmore, and the new speakers follow the same style and naming convention, with the classic Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn designs now available in “Multi-Room” versions, starting at $350. The new speakers provide full AirPlay compatibility along with support for Chromecast and Spotify Connect as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a 3.5mm input jack along with RCA inputs to connect a traditional turntable or preamp.

Apple raises over $3 million for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Apple has raised over $3 million in donations for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts, according to an internal e-mail sent by Tim Cook to employees, as reported by BuzzFeed News. Apple began accepting donations on Sunday for Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts via the iTunes Store, with funds going directly to the American Red Cross. In an e-mail sent out on Wednesday afternoon, Tim Cook discussed the effects of Hurricane Harvey, lauding the company’s fundraising impact, and noting that Texas is home to more than 8,700 Apple employees, and that the company has a global crisis management team on the ground in Texas helping to move some of the employees and their families who are impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Cook also added that Apple is matching employee donations two-for-one, in addition to a pledge of $2 million the company has made from its own coffers. Further, Cook also acknowledged Apple employees in the Houston area who have “generously been helping people displaced by the flooding by opening their homes to team members and their families, and in some cases, assisting in rescue operations.”

Apple receives an Emmy for Siri Integration on Apple TV

Apple has received an 2017 Technical / Engineering Achievement Emmy Award in the category of Contextual Voice Navigation for Discovering and Interacting with TV Content for the company’s Siri voice integration on the fourth-generation Apple TV. The award was given to Apple alongside Comcast, Universal Electronics, and Nuance Dragon TV.

New details emerge on ‘iPhone 8’ design, removal of Home Button

A new report from Bloomberg provides an in-depth look at the user interface changes that will likely accompany the buttonless “iPhone 8” expected to make its debut next month. With Apple expected to eliminate the concept of a home button entirely and effectively turn its flagship iPhone into one big screen, many of the classic iPhone user interactions will have to change along with it. The iconic home button has been a key component of the iPhone’s design since it launched in 2007, providing a single an intuitive control that users can click to return to their home screen. While later iOS updates added more functions to the home button accessed via press-and-hold and double and triple-click gestures, the main function of the button has remained the same for the past decade.

Amazon Prime tvOS app may not launch until after Apple’s September event

According to Recode, Amazon’s Apple TV app may not be ready in time for it to debut alongside the new 4K Apple TV next month. Although Apple only said it would be coming “later this year” when it announced Amazon Prime for the tvOS platform, many assumed it would be logical for Amazon to have the app ready to rollout for September’s event, particularly with Apple expected to debut a new Apple TV. The latest information from Recode, included as a footnote to an article discussing today’s earlier news about 4K content, indicates simply that its sources “say the app may not be live in time for next month’s product launch,” although it’s unclear if this actually represents any change to Amazon’s plans for launching the Amazon Prime tvOS app.

WSJ confirms a 4K Apple TV is coming, Apple and Hollywood struggling with pricing for content

Apple and Hollywood studios are once having difficulty coming to terms for movie distribution, this time concerning pricing for the offering of 4K “Ultra-HD” content on the iTunes Store. Confirming rumours of a new 4K-capable Apple TV, a new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that Apple has been “scrambling” to strike deals with the studios to ensure content is available on the new set-top box when it’s expected to launch next month. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple has met resistance from the Hollywood studios in terms of what should be an acceptable price at which to offer ultra-HD content, with Apple pushing to sell movies at a standard price of $19.99 — the same price the company currently charges for new release HD movies — while Hollywood studios want to add a $5 to $10 premium for higher-definition 4K content.

Apple releases eighth developer betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11 + watchOS 4

Apple has released an eighth set of developer betas for iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4, continuing to address a number of issues in the prior developer previews as we inch closer to their expected release next month. Public betas for iOS 11 and tvOS 11 will also likely follow within the next day or so.

Apple to hold product launch event on Sept. 12

A new report from the Wall Street Journal confirms rumours from last week that Apple is planning to hold its fall product launch event on Sept. 12. WSJ cites “people briefed on its plans” who provided the date of the event as well as information about a possible venue, but did not offer any further specifics on what would be launched. Other sources suggest that Apple will unveil three new iPhone models — two modest upgrades to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus along with a premium “iPhone 8” model that would feature and edge-to-edge display and facial recognition technology; other recent reports have suggested a next-generation Apple Watch with cellular capabilities will be announced at the same time as the new iPhone models.

iOS 11 beta code reveals new Apple Watch workouts

More new workout options may be coming to the Apple Watch, according to a new report from MacRumors. Developers have been poring over the recently leaked HomePod firmware and various iOS 11 betas, looking for various pieces of code and other resources that may provide insights into what’s coming from Apple. The latest new discovery, found by iHelp BR, shows code strings and icons within the iOS 11 FitnessUI framework that refer to a fairly extensive list of new workouts for Apple’s watchOS Workout app, including basketball, bowling, climbing, cricket, cross-country skiing, curling, dance, equestrian sports, fencing, fishing, golf, gymnastics, jump rope, pilates, skating, surfing, and more.

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