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Report: AirPods delay due to problems with wireless audio synchronization

A new report in The Wall Street Journal sheds some insight on the reasons for Apple’s delay in shipping its new AirPods wireless earphones. Citing people familiar with the product’s development, the report explains that the main reason for the delay has been related to engineering challenges around the AirPods unique new wireless technology, specifically in ensuring that one AirPods is able to properly transmit a synchronized audio signal to the other.

Apple offering hands-on demos of Super Mario Run in stores

In advance of Nintendo’s Dec. 15 iOS release of Super Mario Run, Apple is now offering playable demos of the game on display iPhone and iPad units in Apple retail stores. Nintendo has also been promoting the title, with an appearance by Nintendo U.S. head Reggie Fils-Aimé on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, who led a TV demo and allowed Fallon to run through a level of the game.

Report: Apple pursuing studio agreements for early movie rentals

Apple is attempting to negotiate with Hollywood studios to offer access to movie rentals — possibly as early as two weeks after they open in theaters — according to a new report by Bloomberg. The move appears to have been initiated by several of the big studios, including 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, which have confirmed that they are looking for ways to offer “high-priced” video rentals of new movies shortly after they open in theaters. People familiar with the matter have said that the studios are considering a deal with iTunes as a possible option, although Apple is not necessarily the only company that the studios have been in talks with. Sources have suggested that one of the main concerns regarding whether iTunes will be a suitable choice centers on the security of the platform to avoid jeopardizing box office sales from pictures that are still in theaters. Despite Apple’s tight FairPlay DRM security on existing iTunes rentals, studio executives are concerned that users could still use a camera to record a movie playing on a TV screen; by comparison at least one competing startup named in the report has implemented watermarking technology that would in theory allow the source of a leak to be tracked to a specific end user, thereby discouraging piracy.

Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Only two days after a sixth iOS 10.2 beta was released to developers, Apple has now released a seventh beta for the upcoming iOS version today. The latest beta, with a build number of 14C92, actually comes in as a 1.98GB OTA update, unlike prior beta updates that were generally under 100MB; the larger size points to the possibility that this latest beta may be a final “GM” release leading to an impending general release of iOS 10.2 to the public. We’ll update with any notable findings.

Apple acknowledges Apple Music now includes ‘all the benefits of iTunes Match’

Apple has quietly made a change to its Apple Music Membership FAQ, explaining that Apple Music members no longer need to subscribe separately to iTunes Match. The FAQ appears to have been updated within the last three to four weeks, and unequivocally states that users who subscribe to Apple Music do not need to also subscribe to iTunes Match, as “Apple Music includes all the benefits of iTunes Match to make all of your music available on all of your devices.”

Apple blames ‘external factors’ for iPhone fires in China

Apple’s investigation into a series of iPhone fires in China has uncovered “no cause for concern,” with the company blaming physical damage to the devices, the BBC reports. Eight users filed complaints with Shanghai’s consumer protection agency, claiming their phones spontaneously caught fire or exploded. The report quoted one woman who said her iPhone 6s Plus exploded in August, “shattering the screen and leaving the battery and back of the phone blackened.” Apple has recently offered battery replacements for some users whose phones are experiencing sudden shutdowns, but has offered assurances that the problem isn’t a safety issue and blamed the fires reported in China on external physical damage “which led to the thermal event.”

Top Apple supplier Foxconn planning U.S. investment

Foxconn, Apple’s biggest assembly partner, is in the early stages of discussions to expand its U.S. operations, Bloomberg reports. The company confirmed the news after a document displaying Foxconn’s logo was shown by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and SoftBank Group Corp.’s Masayoshi Son during the announcement of a $50 billion investment in the U.S. by the bank. While the page listed the figures “$7 billion in U.S.” and “50,000 new jobs in U.S.” on the same page as Foxconn’s logo, the company said “the scope of the potential investment has not been determined” in an official statement, adding, “Those plans would be made based on mutually-agreed terms.”

Apple releases fifth beta for tvOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released the fifth beta for Apple TV’s tvOS 10.1 to developers. We’ll update if any major changes are found, but it’s more likely these updates will offer minor tweaks for features added in previous betas, including the new TV app and Single Sign-On feature.

Apple to start publishing its AI research

Apple is about to start publishing some of its artificial intelligence research findings, breaking with the company’s usually stringent privacy, Business Insider reports. A series of tweets show that Russ Salakhutd, director of AI research at Apple and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, announced the company’s policy reversal to attendees at the annual Neural Information Processing Systems conference. Apple has historically closely guarded its technological breakthroughs, forcing its employees to keep quiet in the name of protecting the company’s intellectual property while competitors like Facebook and Google allow their employees to publish their research findings in a number of fields. Apple’s secrecy has been a point of contention for years, hampering its ability to draw top talent who see publishing their work as a key component of career advancement.

Supreme Court rules against Apple in design patent case

In its first patent case decision in more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with Samsung’s argument that its infringement of design patents held by Apple doesn’t mean it should have to surrender its full profits from smartphone sales, USA Today reports. Apple was initially awarded more than $1 billion over Samsung’s improper use of a number of design and utility patents, but Samsung took the case to the country’s highest court, arguing that lower courts misapplied the law around design patents, specifically when assessing ornamental versus functional aspects of a product’s design.

Apple releases sixth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Apple has released a sixth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers today, along with the fifth beta of watchOS 3.1.1. Some were hoping for a full public release of iOS 10.2 today, but it appears that’ll have to wait at least a little while longer. We’ll update with any notable findings.

Apple lobbies for shared data, more public road access to test autonomous driving systems

In a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Apple has expressed interest in cooperating with other companies to accelerate development of its autonomous driving technology, VentureBeat reports. Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, sent the letter to advocate for a data-sharing program that would let companies swap “de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses” while still maintaining the privacy that the company so closely guards. In the letter Kenner admits, “The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.”

Apple Store app update allows purchases from Apple Watch

Apple has released an update to the Apple Store app, adding the ability for users to purchase accessories directly from their Apple Watch, as well as support for iOS 10 rich notifications. The Apple Watch app doesn’t yet provide access to the full Apple Store catalog, so users will be limited to purchasing accessories that they’ve already marked as favorites from the iOS app or Apple Store web page, and will need to pay using Apple Pay. As with other features in the Apple Store app, Apple notes that not all features may be available in all countries, so it’s unclear where Apple Watch accessory purchases will be available, or whether only certain products are eligible.

Apple releases fifth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Apple has released a fifth beta of iOS 10.2 to developers today, focused primarily on resolving issues with the new TV app expected to debut later this month. Notably, this latest beta release does not appear to be accompanied by corresponding tvOS or watchOS beta updates.

Apple reveals cause of unexpected iPhone 6s shutdowns

In a statement on its Chinese language website, Apple has revealed the source of the battery problem that has been causing iPhone 6s devices to shut down unexpectedly when the battery reaches 30 percent. “We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs,” Apple wrote. “As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur.”

Apple offering battery replacements for iPhone 6s models with ‘unexpected shutdown issues’ (Updated)

Apple is offering free battery replacements for some iPhone 6s users whose phones are unexpectedly shutting down. The program is limited to certain devices manufactured from September to October 2015, and phones are subject to an inspection prior to the repair to make sure the serial number is within the correct range. Customers can contact Apple technical support, an Apple retail store or an authorized Apple service provider to find out of their phone is eligible for the repair. Owners of an iPhone 6s who have paid to replace their battery to remedy the shut down problem are also urged to contact Apple about a possible refund. Before customers take their phone in for service, Apple recommends backing up all personal data.

Update: Apple has added a serial number checker to the program page, allowing users who suspect they may be affected by this problem to enter their iPhone 6s serial number online to see if their device is eligible for replacement under the program.

Apple releases statement on iCloud Calendar spam

Apple has issued a statement in response to a problem that many iCloud users — including members of our iLounge team — have experienced in recent weeks, with spam being sent via iCloud calendar invitations. Spammers have been exploiting the fact that iCloud calendar invitations are sent via a dedicated iCloud communications channel that, unlike email, doesn’t presently include any anti-spam filters. In a statement tweeted by Rene Ritchie, Apple apologized, noting that some users are experiencing the problem. The company is working to address it by identifying and blocking the culprits, and working to filter the invites themselves.

In the meantime, users can work around this problem by logging into their web-based iCloud account online at iCloud.com, going to the Advanced tab in Calendar preferences, and opting to receive event invitations as email messages rather than in-app notifications, where email-based anti-spam filters will likely have better success at catching the bogus calendar invites.

Apple sending out drones to improve Maps data, adding interior building maps

Apple is planning on sending out airborne drones in the U.S. to improve data for its Maps application, Bloomberg reports. The company is also developing indoor mapping features for public buildings such as airports and museums. Apple applied for an FAA exemption in late 2015 that would allow it to fly drones for commercial purposes, and received approval earlier this year. The company has reportedly been putting together robotics and data collection experts to get the program underway. Drones would allow Apple to update map information much more quickly than the ground-based vehicles the company is currently using. Sources indicate that drones would examine street signs, track changes to roads, and monitor construction zones, with data fed back to Apple teams for rapid updates to the database behind the Maps app. Interestingly, the report also reveals that Apple has hired at least one person from Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery division to help run the drone team, which is being assembled in Seattle — where Amazon’s headquarters is also located.

Tim Cook allegedly tells customer AirPods to ship in ‘next few weeks’

In an email reply to a frustrated customer, Tim Cook has given a hint to when Apple’s AirPods will ship, MacRumors reports. In response to the customer complaint that he can’t charge his iPhone while listening to music, Cook allegedly wrote in regards to AirPods, “Sorry for the delay—-we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks.” MacRumors seems to believe the email is legit, but Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The wireless earbuds were supposed to be released in late October, but were delayed after the company determined they needed “a little more time” to get them ready. Retailers have expected release dates all over the place between December and January, but Apple’s site still shows them as unavailable and “coming soon.”

Apple adds four new items to (PRODUCT)RED lineup, games get custom content for World AIDS Day

Apple has announced it is taking part in the (RED) charity fundraiser to combat AIDS for the 10th straight year. Apple is adding four new products to its (PRODUCT)RED lineup, offering an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE Case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones and Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker. All of the new products are available starting today. Apple is also donating a dollar to the cause for every purchase made with Apple Pay at the Apple Store, on the company’s website or through the Apple Store app, all the way up to $1 million.

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