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WSJ: Apple ‘in talks’ to acquire Tidal

Apple is exploring the idea of buying competing music streaming service Tidal, The Wall Street Journal reports. The report claims Apple is “exploring the idea” of buying Jay-Z’s streaming service due to Tidal’s connections to such artists as Kanye West and Madonna. Terms are unknown at this point, and the talks “may not result in a deal,” sources said — a Tidal spokesman denied that such talks had taken place. Tidal currently has 4.2 million paying subscribers, who either pay $10 for a standard monthly plan, or $20 for a hi-fi plan. Apple recently noted that Apple Music has 15 million paying subscribers.

Spotify claims Apple anti-competitively blocking Spotify app update

Spotify has claimed that Apple is blocking the latest update of its iOS music streaming app because it competes with Apple Music, Re/code reports. A letter sent by Spotify to Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell accused Apple of “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” as a result of its rejection to an update to its iOS app. While Apple has not publicly commented on the reasons for rejecting the update, Spotify’s letter claims the company cited “business model rules” and demanded that the app use Apple’s billing system — which requires Spotify to give a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue to Apple — if “Spotify wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions.”

We cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon.

The comments in Spotify’s letter are similar to a public statement the company made earlier this week in response to Senator Warren’s speech accusing Apple and other tech giants of locking out competition. It appears that Spotify will be using this latest standoff to bolster its ongoing fight over Apple’s longstanding in-app subscription rules, which require iOS apps to either use the in-app purchasing system to sell subscriptions — and give Apple a 30 percent cut — or rely on outside purchase methods, such as web-based signups, that cannot be linked to nor even advertised from within the iOS app. In the letter to Sewell, Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez stated that “This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law,” and “continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify … we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accuses Apple, others, of locking out competition

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has accused Apple, Google, and Amazon of using their size to “snuff out competition.” In a speech delivered yesterday in Washington reported by Re/code, Warren singled out the three tech giants of using their dominant positions in the market to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” specifically noting that Apple “has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services” that compete with Apple Music. Warren went on to acknowledge that the three companies have “created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” but that opportunities to compete must “remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.” Warren’s comments, which also included other corporate giants such as Walmart and Comcast, were directed primarily at regulators and politicians that she feels are no longer fulfilling their obligations to “restore and defend competition.”

 

Cirrus Logic releases development kit for Lightning headphones

With Apple rumored to be doing away with the headphone jack on its new iPhone, Cirrus Logic is offering a development kit to aid headphone makers looking to simplify the switch to Lightning connectors. The company’s MFi Headset Development Kit includes reference designs for creating Lightning port connected headphones and a development board to be used in programming, debugging and testing audio performance. The design is compatible with earbuds or over-the-ear headphones and pre-programmed to support both digital audio playback and voice capture. With very few Lightning-connected headphone options currently available, the area is poised for rapid expansion.

Report details Apple Music’s vision for exclusive content

The man in charge of Apple Music’s original content said he’s trying to make the streaming service akin to “MTV in its Eighties and Nineties heyday,” Rolling Stone reports. Larry Jackson got his big break producing Lana Del Rey for Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, and he saw that focusing hard on the Internet rather than radio promotion was the recipe for success in the modern era. By pouring money into videos that then went viral, Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’ debuted at number two on the Billboard charts without any singles in radio rotation.

China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users

On the heels of severely tightening restrictions on mobile games, China is mandating that companies like Apple start monitoring mobile app users, Bloomberg reports. The new regulations posted Tuesday by China’s Cyberspace Administration require Apple to establish user’s identities, monitor their posts and report items that contain banned content to the Chinese government. The legitimacy of developers must also be verified, and app stores are now require to log each user’s activity for 60 days.

South Korea regulators investigating Apple

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has opened an investigation into “some matters” related to Apple, Reuters reports. FTC Chairman Jeong Jae-chan refused to disclose any further details of the investigation, but earlier this month domestic news outlets reported that the FTC was looking into Apple’s contracts with the country’s mobile telecom providers.

Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 26

Apple has announced that it will release its Q3 financial results on Tuesday, July 26. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q3 of revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion, and gross margin between 33.5 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.

Apple’s UK tax bill under scrutiny

Apple’s UK corporation tax last year amounted to £12.9 million, but with £12.9 billion in profits in the last three months of 2015 alone, the Daily Mail is questioning whether the company is paying its fair share. Apple’s tax bill for 2015 was actually up from £11.8 million the previous year, but with the company still under EU investigation for routing its European profits through Ireland, suspicion that Apple is cooking the books is rampant.

Apple lays out ‘differential privacy’ plan for data collection

Apple is working to explain its new “differential privacy” method of collecting enough user information to make its products more useful while still protecting user privacy, Recode reports. Data collection will begin with the rollout of iOS 10, but will be entirely opt-in, allowing users to decide whether they’re willing to trade a little privacy in return for added functionality. Those opting in will allow Apple to see new words added to their local dictionaries, emojis they type, deep links used inside apps, and hints within notes.

Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance

Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that the opening up of the iOS 10 kernel was an intentional decision on its part, citing performance optimizations as the main motivator for the move. Speaking to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson noted that “The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security.”

Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple

A judge has thrown out the class-action lawsuit against Apple over ‘Error 53’ messages that temporarily left some users’ iPhone locked, Fortune reports. After users who had third-party repairs to their iPhone’s Touch ID sensor began seeing their phones rendered useless upon updating to iOS 9 in February, Apple quickly released a patch to fix the issue and offered to reimburse customers who has been forced to pay for out-of-warranty replacements for their devices.

Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct

The company that won a major patent ruling against Apple in Beijing last week barely even exists, The Wall Street Journal reports. Last week the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models infringe upon the design of Baili’s 100C phone. Since that ruling, phone calls to the company in question — Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services Co. — ring unanswered. The company’s websites are gone and visits to its registered addresses turned up no company offices.

Supreme Court patent ruling bodes well for future Apple cases

The Supreme Court has upheld new government procedures for challenging patents, The Wall Street Journal reports. The upheld ruling is a big win for companies like Apple, which are constantly bombarded by patent lawsuits. The 2011 law in question put in place a quicker and cheaper process for challenging patents, placing the decision-making power in the hands of the patent office instead of a federal judge. Opponents of the law argued that the new process was too friendly to patent challengers and made patents too vulnerable to being overturned.

Apple to pay $400M to consumers over e-book price fixing case

Starting today, millions of people who bought e-books from Apple will receive credits or checks as part of a $450 million settlement, the law firm Hagens Berman confirmed in a press release. Customers who bought e-books published by HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group Inc. and Simon & Schuster from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012 are eligible for payments amounting to $400 million in total.

India eases restrictions, could open up market for Apple retail stores

After months of back and forth, Apple once again seems close to opening retail stores in India after the country relaxed its restrictions on foreign retailers, Bloomberg reports. Apple was denied an exemption to rules that require single-brand retailers in India to source at least 30 percent of their components locally, but on Monday India relaxed restrictions on all foreign investors in an effort to boost investment.

Apple refuses to back GOP convention because of Trump

Apple has notified Republican leaders that it won’t be providing any funding or support to this year’s convention in protest to Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments, Politico reports. Facebook, Microsoft and Google are all providing some support to the GOP’s Cleveland convention, but two sources familiar with Apple said the company decided against donating cash or technology over Trump’s remarks about women, minorities and immigrants.

Apple requiring HTTPS connections from all apps starting in 2017

Apple will be requiring all the apps in its App Store to connect to the web through an HTTPS connection starting on January 1, 2017. TechCrunch reports. The company debuted its App Transport Security feature in iOS 9, but until now developers weren’t required to use it. While the end user won’t really be able to observe any difference, starting next year all connections between apps and servers will be encrypted. Apple has been ramping up its efforts to protect user privacy in iOS after its public fight with the FBI, even though there is still some internal disagreement within the company over how far its privacy mandates should go at the expense of user experience.

Continuity: iOS and watchOS features for macOS Sierra

This week’s WWDC keynote also saw the unveiling of the next-generation version of OS X — now renamed as “macOS” to match its mobile counterparts (and likely to avoid confusion with iOS 10). macOS Sierra introduced a number of new “Continuity” features to build upon the tight integration between Apple’s Macs and iOS devices. Apple SVP Craig Federighi outlined several new features including automatic unlocking, Universal Clipboard, iCloud Desktop and Documents synchronization, and Apple Pay for Safari, all of which tie a user’s Mac into a closer relationship with their iOS and watchOS devices, and make it possible to work seamlessly across multiple devices. Here’s a closer look at those “crossover” features.

Latest tvOS beta removes Siri Remote limitation on games

Apple has quietly removed its requirement that all games for tvOS be playable using the Siri Remote. The updated support document for game programmers now states that, “When designing a tvOS game, you may require the use of an MFi game controller, but where possible you should also support the Siri Remote.” Apple had such a suggestion in place when tvOS debuted last year, but soon began requiring all tvOS games to offer support for using the Siri Remote as a controller.

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