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Apple to sell limited-edition Olympic Apple Watch bands exclusively in Brazil

Apple is planning to jump on board the fashion trends for the 2016 Olympic Games with a lineup of special edition Apple Watch bands representing the flags of fourteen of the major countries who will be participating in the Games. A new report in GQ reveals that the new limited-edition nylon bands will be sold exclusively at the Apple Store, VillageMall in Barra da Tijuca for $49 beginning in early August, and will include bands for the U.S.A., Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and The Netherlands.

Report: Apple Car team running into challenges, launch may slip to 2021

A detailed profile in The Information (via Macrumors) of three brothers allegedly working on Apple’s new car initiative, codenamed “Project Titan,” notes that the rumored 2020 launch date may be slipping to 2021 due to a number of challenges that the team has encountered. According to people “briefed about aspects of Titan,” the group has been struggling, and the January departure of Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky, who was believed to be heading up the project since 2014, has not helped both in terms of direction and morale. Despite this, however, the project remains at an early stage, and with another several years of research and development ahead, it would not be unexpected for Apple’s roadmap to change even further — last fall the Wall Street Journal reported that the Apple Car was targeted to ship as early as 2019.

Apple under fire for providing refurbished replacements under AppleCare+

A new class action lawsuit has been filed in California alleging that Apple is not living up to the terms of its AppleCare+ service plan by providing refurbished service stock replacements to customers rather than new devices. The suit takes specific issue with Apple replacing damaged devices with refurbished devices, focusing on the clause in the AppleCare+ terms that state that devices replaced under the program are “equivalent to new in performance and reliability” with lawyers for the plaintiffs arguing that refurbished means “a secondhand unit that has been modified to appear to be new” and therefore can’t be considered to be equivalent to a new unit in durability or functionality.

Report: Apple acquires cloud music provider Omnifone? [Update: No]

A new report by Macrumors suggests that Apple may be behind the recent acquisition of Omnifone, a cloud-based music provider behind the MusicStation service as well as providing the foundation for mobile partnerships through companies including Samsung, Vodafone, LG, Blackberry, Sony, and others, powering Samsung’s Milk, Sony’s Music Unlimited and Blackberry’s BBM Music services. A report earlier this month in Music Ally indicated that Omnifone’s tech business and assets had been purchased by a “mystery buyer” in the U.S. for $10 million, and sources back in May of this year suggested to Music Ally that Apple was believed to be interested in the company. Despite earlier reports that Apple might purchase Omnifone for its patent portfolio, documents covering the sale note that the patent portfolio was excluded, as were all debts and investments, although the terms did include a “royalty bearing license” that the company claims will help it to determine the value of its patent collection; Omnifone holds a number of patents related to downloading music, digital rights management, and generating recommendations that would likely appeal to streaming music companies.

Update: Jim Dalrymple of The Loop notes that although the original report does indicate a “mystery buyer” of Omnifone, his sources have told him that Apple is not the buyer.

Apple releases second iOS 10 public beta

Apple has released the second public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Corresponding to the third beta released to developers earlier this week, the latest public beta continues enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News, the new lock screen, today widget, and notification system, and on-device intelligence for face, scene, and object recognition in the Photos app on 64-bit devices. iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE users in the United States should also now be able to take advantage of the new beta transcription service in the Visual Voicemail app. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program 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.

India clears the way for Apple to open retail stores

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet is finally clearing the way for Apple to open retail stores in India after a series of delays hampered the company’s plans for expansion into the country, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the discussions said the cabinet is likely to approve a three-year exemption to the country’s requirement that single-brand retailers obtain 30 percent of their products’ materials locally, overruling the country’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which ruled in May that Apple had to comply with all of the restrictions. To justify the exemption, the government is making it easier for foreign companies like Apple to meet the criteria to be listed as a provider of “cutting-edge technology,” according to sources who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.

Apple Stores providing $5 iTunes Gift Cards with Apple Pay signup

Apple is adding an additional incentive for Apple Store customers in the U.S. and U.K. to activate Apple Pay by offering a $5/£5 iTunes Gift Card, according to a new report by Macrumors. Customers making an in-store purchase will be asked by Apple Store staff whether they will be paying with Apple Pay, and customers who do not already have Apple Pay set up on their iPhones and wish to do so will be taken through the process by the Apple Store employee and receive an iTunes Gift card in return for setting up Apple Pay and using it to make their purchase. The promotion will be available for any purchase made in an Apple Store, regardless of whether the customer is purchasing an Apple product, third-party accessory, or even an Apple Store or iTunes Store gift card.

Iran threatens to ban, seize iPhones unless Apple registers in the country

In an effort to crack down on phones being imported into the country by smugglers, Iranian officials have demanded that Apple officially register in Iran or have its products banned, The Japan Times reports. “If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office told Tasnim News Agency. The director’s name wasn’t provided in the report. The new project, running under the president’s office, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database.

Apple releases third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The third round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases; the third round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the second round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. A new voicemail transcription beta is available in the iOS 10 beta 3 on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE with Siri language set to English (United States), and a new beta of the Apple TV Remote app is also available.

Apple’s Eddy Cue: ‘We’re not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast.’

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, provided some interesting perspective into Apple’s strategy in regards to television services and providers, tacitly denying many recent reports suggesting the company is pushing into original content. Cue emphatically denied that Apple is looking to acquire a studio or launch its own streaming TV service anytime soon, suggesting that Apple’s strategy is instead to work with many content providers and allow end users to “consume content in a much better way.”

Apple issues open casting call for ‘Planet of the Apps’ show

Apple has put out an open casting call for app developers looking to be featured in the company’s original series “Planet of the Apps.” Announced earlier this year, the show will follow developers as they receive hands-on guidance from experts in the tech community, funding from top venture capitalists, and featured placement in the App Store. Online applications are being accepted until August 26, and applicants must agree to have “an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21.” The first season will film in Los Angeles from late this year into early 2017, so those hoping to be on the show will need to be available for that period.

Patent lawsuit claims Apple infringed on battery technology

Somaltus has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that batteries in the iPhone 6s and similar devices infringe upon its patent on a complex battery technology, MacRumors reports. The suit seems to focus on the iPhone’s process of charging faster until the battery reaches 80 percent, then switching to “trickle-charge mode” after that. Somaltus can be described as a “patent troll,” as the company seems to exist simply to collect money from patents, providing no obvious products or services, but the company has won settlements from Ford and Nissan related to the same patent.

Leaked photos appear to show Apple EarPods with Lightning connector

Photos that have popped up on Chinese search website Weibo appear to show new Apple EarBuds with a Lightning connector in place of the old 3.5mm headphone plug. Since Apple bundles EarPods with all of its iPhones, this is another indication that rumors about Apple ditching the headphone jack may be true. The Lightning connector on the pictured EarPods is a bit thicker than the one that comes with the current iPhone’s cable—perhaps due to the added bulk of the technology required to transfer digital audio—which could be an issue for some iPhone cases if the images prove to be legit. [via NowhereElse]


Blind Apple engineer discusses company’s commitment to accessibility

Apple underscores its dedication to making its products accessible to the blind and low-vision community in a new story fromMashable, told from the perspective of engineer Jordyn Castor. Blind since birth, Castor said Apple’s iPad took her existing love for technology to another level because of the features aimed directly at people like her. “Everything just worked and was accessible just right out of the box,” Castor said. “That was something I had never experienced before.”

Apple expected to release iOS 10 public beta today

Following the release of the second iOS 10 Developer Beta earlier this week, Apple is expected to be releasing the first public beta of iOS 10 for non-developers through its Apple Software Beta Program. Unveiled last month at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 10 is being billed as the biggest iOS update that Apple has ever released, with major redesigns and enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News, an entirely new lock screen, today widget, and notification system, and breakthrough on-device intelligence for face, scene, and object recognition in the Photos app. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions later today; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site. [via CNET]

Apple releases fifth developer betas for iOS 9.3.3, tvOS 9.2.2

Apple has released the fifth developer betas for iOS 9.3.3 and tvOS 9.2.2, in parallel with the iOS 10 and tvOS 10 development cycle. As with prior betas, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements. The minimal list of “Known Issues” in the release notes as compared to prior betas suggest that both versions may be nearing final release and will likely be the last updates in the iOS 9 and tvOS 9 series before the release of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 in the fall. 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 releases second developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the second developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The second round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases; the second round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the first round of betas, with the release notes indicating several items fixed in each beta, as well as the introduction of promised features such as auto unlock for watchOS 3 and macOS Sierra users, the Emergency SOS feature for the Apple Watch, an updated design for Apple Music in tvOS 10, and improvements to Apple Music in iOS 10. The updates 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 being sued by China over broadcast rights to propaganda film

A subsidiary of China’s broadcasting regulator has sued Apple over the rights to a 1994 propaganda film, The Associated Press reports. The suit from Movie Satellite Channel Program Production Center accuses the developer of the Youku HD app of enabling users to watch “Xuebo dixiao,” a film that depicts Chinese forces fighting Japanese soldiers in the 1930s. The plaintiff claims that by making the app available for download, Apple has infringed its exclusive rights to broadcast the film online, resulting in “huge economic losses.”  The production company is asking both companies to stop broadcasting the film and pay damages amounting to around $10,000. Apple declined to comment.

Apple adding organ donor registration to Health app

When Apple rolls out iOS 10 this fall, the Health app will be getting a small update that CEO Tim Cook hopes will make a big difference for people waiting for an organ transplant, The Associated Press reports. The improved Health app will include a simple sign-up button allowing users to enroll in the National Donate Life Registry quickly and easily. Cook said the issue hit home for Apple since he and many others witnessed the “excruciating” wait Apple co-founder Steve Jobs endured while awaiting a liver transplant in 2009. More information on enrollment through the Health app and Donate Life America can be found on Apple’s website.

Apple accuses Spotify of ‘asking for preferential treatment’ in response letter

Apple has responded to Spotify’s “public attacks” in a letter from Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell. Spotify recently made the public claim that Apple blocked the update to its latest app for anti-competitive reasons — Spotify is the top streaming rival of Apple Music. Sewell maintains that Apple’s guidelines are applied equally to all developers, and that Spotify has benefitted greatly from its App Store. “To imply that Spotify should not have to pay” would give the service a “tremendous advantage over other developers,” Sewell wrote, claiming this would be “preferential treatment.” Sewell also noted the Spotify app currently on the App Store is in violation of Apple’s guidelines. [via Buzzfeed]

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