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Icahn pulls out of Apple over China concerns

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took a large position in Apple three years ago, how now sold his stake over concerns with the company’s situation in China, CNBC reports. Speaking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Icahn stated that “We no longer have a position in Apple,” while adding that Apple is a “great company” and that he feels that CEO Tim Cook is still “doing a great job.”

Icahn cited China’s current attitude toward Apple as being the main incentive for him to exit his position, noting concerns that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult” for Apple to do business there. The Chinese government can be capricious, as evidenced by its sudden turnaround on iTunes Movies and iBooks sales last week. Icahn added, however, that he would likely buy back into Apple if China “was basically steadied.” Icahn previously owned slightly under one percent of Apple’s outstanding shares, which have fallen over six percent this week following the company’s latest earnings call; Icahn said he made roughly $2 billion on Apple, and still touts the stock as “cheap” despite his reservations.

Apple launches CareKit, with four apps debuting today

Apple has officially launched its new CareKit platform today, with four new apps available out of the gate, and more expected to come. Announced last month, CareKit is an extension of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives, designed to better facilitate doctor-patient communication by allowing users to automatically share health information with care providers and loved ones. The new apps already available with CareKit support include Glow Nurture, Glow Baby, Start, and One Drop.

Notes from Apple’s Q2 2016 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q2 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported again that Apple sold 51 million iPhones, but noted that the numbers fell short of the iPhone sales in the year-ago quarter. Cook noted that iPhone sales remain healthy and strong in all purchase target markets, with slightly higher upgrades in the iPhone 6s cycle that are higher than in the iPhone 5s cycle two years ago, but slower than in the iPhone 6, which contributed to Apple’s sales a year ago. The Apple CEO also highlighted the fact that iPhone customers are very loyal with a 95 percent satisfaction rate, and indicated that Apple has added more switchers from other platforms in the past six months than in any other quarter ever, and that iPhone sales continue to be strong in emerging markets, such as India where iPhone sales are up 56% over a year ago.

Speaking to services revenue, Cook noted that services in the March quarter equalled $6 billion, with App Store revenue up 35 percent, beating last quarter’s all-time record, and Apple Music continuing to grow, reaching 13 million subscribers this quarter. As a result, Apple’s music revenue has now hit an inflection point after many quarters of decline. Cook reiterated Apple’s installed base of one billion devices, noting that they are an important recurring source of revenue, with the purchase value of services tied to devices reaching $9.9 billion in the March quarter, up 27 percent over last year, and accelerating from the December quarter. Apple Pay also continues to expand, following its successful launch in China and last week’s rollout in Singapore, growing the user base by more than five times, adding one million new users per week, and noting that over ten million contactless-ready locations are available in countries where Apple Pay has launched today, with 2.5 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the U.S.

Apple Q2 results: $50.6B revenue, 51M iPhones, 10M iPads sold

Apple reported its second quarter 2016 financial results today, with 51.2 million iPhones and 10.2 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. In Q2 2016, Apple had revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 67 percent of this quarter’s revenue. For Q3 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion, and gross margin between 375 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Apple extends iPhone Upgrade Program to online store

After its launch in retail stores last year, Apple has finally made its iPhone Upgrade Program available to those buying their iPhone online. After clicking the “Buy” option for an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the first screen of the checkout process includes the option to enroll in the program for $32.41 per month for a 16GB 6s or $36.58 per month with the 16GB 6s Plus. The price goes up as the storage options increase.

Apple reportedly ‘willing to help’ reactivate missing teen’s iPhone

The father of a teen who was lost at sea said Apple is attempting to reactivate his son’s iPhone in the hopes of learning more about his fate, ABC News reports. The phone was found aboard the boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were on when they went missing. Blu Stephanos said, “We’ve been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months.”

DOJ drops second court fight with Apple over unlocking iPhone

The Department of Justice has dropped its appeal of a decision that prevented the government from forcing Apple to unlock a convicted drug dealer’s iPhone, Bloomberg reports. The DOJ had pledged to fight on after a judge ruled the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel Apple’s assistance was illegal, but dropped the case after obtaining the passcode to access the device from a third-party. That leaves a 50-page ruling supporting Apple’s view in the encryption dispute as the final word on the matter, and while that decision isn’t binding in other cases, it could still influence future court battles.

Apple requiring all new Apple Watch apps to be native apps

Apple has let developers know that starting June 1, apps designed for the Apple Watch will have to be native apps built with watchOS 2 SDK or later. The move makes a clean break with the non-native apps that initially launched with the Apple Watch, which made the Apple Watch seem like more of a second screen for the user’s paired iPhone instead of a device in its own right. Apps designed with the native SDK that launched with watchOS 2 have proven much faster and more responsive because they don’t rely on the iPhone for all of the required processing.

Apple ordered to shut down iBooks and iTunes Movie sales in China

Only six months after Apple began selling iBooks and iTunes Movies in China, the company has now been ordered by a Chinese Government agency to shut down sales, The New York Times reports. Although Apple originally had the Chinese government’s approval to introduce the services, a government regulatory agency — the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television — stepped in last week and demanded the services be shut down. While Apple has been unusually successful in introducing new products into the Chinese market, this about-face could be a sign of future problems brewing in China, which is Apple’s second-largest market.

Report: ‘Political infighting’ slowing iCloud, iTunes technical fixes

Apple’s efforts to fix certain technical problems with iCloud and iTunes have been hampered by “political infighting” among two engineering teams in the company, The Information reports. One manager has already resigned from Apple, with more departures “expected soon.” Apple reportedly wishes to take the cloud infrastructure used in Siri and bring it to more of its services, some of which are within the realm of the iCloud team — iCloud engineers are said to be concerned about job security as the Siri infrastructure encroaches on their domain. Apple is also working to bring all of its iCloud infrastructure in house. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases second developer betas for iOS 9.3.2, watchOS 2.2.1

Apple has released the second developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and watchOS 2.2.1. As with the prior beta, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

Apple to pay $24.9 million to settle Siri patent lawsuit

Apple has agreed to pay $24.9 million to a Dallas company that claims Siri’s voice technology violates one of its patents, Albany Business Review reports. The years-long case alleged Siri was developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2007, four years before Apple introduced the voice assistant with the iPhone 4s. Dallas-based Dynamic Advances licensed the patent from Rensselaer and stands to gain $5 million from Apple after dropping its case, with the remaining $19.9 million to be paid after other, undisclosed conditions are met.

FBI found no relevant information on terrorist’s hacked iPhone

The FBI has told CNN that it found no useful information on San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, but said the lack of information actually provided some answers. At issue was an 18-minute gap during which authorities couldn’t account for the actions of Farook and his wife. The iPhone hack eliminated the possibility that the couple used the phone to engage in communication with a third party, allowing the FBI to rule out contact with other ISIS supporters.

Apple releases data showing how often it complies with government data requests

Apple has published a Report on Government Information Requests covering how it handled demands for information from law enforcement agencies received during the second half of 2015. The company said the “vast majority” of those requests were for information about lost or stolen devices, about which Apple complied 80 percent of the time within the United States. Totals outside the U.S. fluctuated between 52 and 80 percent.

Embedded Apple Map on WWDC site leads to speculation about public MapKit web API

The code behind Apple’s WWDC map has led to speculation that the company is preparing to release a web version of its MapKit framework, allowing users to embed an Apple Map view into a website, 9to5Mac reports. The map includes the pan and zoom features you’d expect from Apple’s MapKit, which is currently exclusive to iOS and Mac apps. With a built-in core of users already accustomed to Apple Maps on their devices and recent expansions in map research and development, the company’s entry into the web could pose the first serious challenge to Google Maps, which is now used nearly any time a map is required on a web site.

Apple reportedly courting ‘triple A-list’ talent for original TV shows

Sources who visited Apple’s “iTunes Lounge” at the Sundance Film Festival said the company is courting “triple A-list” talent for original TV series to be launched on an “exclusives” app for Apple TV and sold on iTunes, Fast Company reports. The stealthy conversations at Sundance led to meetings in Los Angeles where Apple executives heard pitches for original TV shows from producers who kept things so quiet they were reportedly referring to Apple as the United Fruit Company. Five different sources who have spoken directly to Apple executives or have been briefed on Apple’s plans said the company is still “disorganized” in its approach and hasn’t yet presented a unified strategy for its original programming.

Siri announces WWDC to be held June 13-17

It appears that Apple has announced the dates for its annual Worldwide Developers Conference through Siri. Asking Siri “When is WWDC?” gets the response, “The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held June 13 through June 17 in San Francisco. I can’t wait!” It’s possible this response went live earlier than expected, as Apple hasn’t updated its WWDC website yet to reflect this year’s dates, at least as of this writing. It’s assumed that Apple will debut iOS 10 at the event, and there will also likely be some buzz about the possible introduction of new hardware as the event gets closer.

Longtime Apple board member Bill Campbell dies

Bill Campbell, a trusted mentor in the tech world and a longtime member of Apple’s Board of Directors, has died, Re/code reports. Campbell’s death comes after a long battle with cancer. Campbell resigned from Apple’s board in 2014, and was replaced by Susan L. Wagner. A 2014 Fortune interview with Campbell, which came as he was stepping down from the board, details his relationships with past and present Apple CEOs John Sculley, Tim Cook, and of course, Steve Jobs — Campbell was known to some as “Steve’s guy” while on Apple’s board.

Rumors swirl around German facility thought to be working on Apple car

In the latest round of speculation around Apple’s car project, German website Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claims that the company’s secretive Berlin facility is staffed by 15 to 20 “top-class” employees of the German automotive industry. Sources familiar with the matter said the small team operates the lab as an incubator for ideas on future vehicles, after leaving traditional car companies where they were held back by management.

Apple considering ‘paid search’ option for App Store developers

A number of possible changes to the App Store being explored by Apple in recent weeks include the possibility of implementing a Google-like “paid search” feature, Bloomberg reports. Among the possibilities being considered by a secret team at Cupertino would be a plan to charge developers a fee to have their apps more prominently displayed in search results for specific terms, similar to the business model used by Google. The effort, reportedly being spearheaded by former iAd chief Todd Teresi, would be intended to cash in on the increasingly large marketing budgets of major app developers, which have become significant sources of revenue for companies such as Facebook and Twitter. Teresi’s team is said to consist of about 100 Apple employees, including many engineers from the now-defunct iAd advertising group, suggesting that this strategy may mark a directional shift for that group into pursuing other advertising and marketing-related opportunities, after recent reports that the advertising service suffered at the hands of Apple’s strict customer privacy policies.

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