Following news earlier this week that Apple and BMW had been in discussions last year about using the BMW i3 as a foundation for its own electric car initiative, a new report from Reuters suggests that those negotiations may yet resume at some indeterminate point in the future. Sources familiar with the original talks told Reuters that the dialogue between the two companies ended last fall due to Apple’s desire to explore developing the car on its own and BMW was cautious about becoming a “mere supplier to a software or internet giant,” but had seemed willing to consider licensing parts. While one source indicated that “exploratory talks between senior managers may be revived at a later stage,” recent staff changes in the upper echelons of BMW may complicate matters, with the new CEO focusing on internal priorities rather than new projects along with the departure of Herbert Diess, the board member who led initial discussions with Apple. BMW’s new head of R&D, Klaus Froehlich, has stated that Apple and BMW have much in common, but indicated that his company would not “consider any deal that forces it to open up its core know-how to outsiders.”
Apple is on track to unveil its new Apple TV hardware this September, according to a new report from BuzzFeed News, however the rumoured TV subscription service won’t be accompanying it just yet. Several reports suggested that Apple originally planned to launch the new device at WWDC this past June, but refocused its efforts on Apple Music instead. A fall launch of the new hardware comes as little surprise, however there were expectations that Apple would launch a TV subscription service at the same time, however this latest news echoes a report from early June that suggested that it could easily be delayed into next year due to delays in finalizing licensing deals. The next-generation Apple TV is expected to be announced during the fall iPhone event and remains in line with what previous rumours have indicated, with a new, slimmer design and an Apple A8 CPU, a “drastically improved” remote with touch-pad input, Siri support, and an App Store and SDK to provide support for third-party apps.
Apple has released a second iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers. Featuring a build number of 12H318, this second release, like the first, provides no release notes, and likely simply addresses unresolved issues with Apple Music and other features from last month’s iOS 8.4 release. The latest build has not yet appeared for direct download on the Apple Developer site; it is currently only available as an over-the-air update to those running the first iOS 8.4.1 beta released two weeks ago,
Apple Music has attracted more than 10 million subscribers in its first four weeks, according to music site Hits Daily Double, which cites unnamed music industry sources. Apple doesn’t publicly disclose streaming numbers, but rights holders who see the reports have reportedly been surprised by how big the figures already are. Numbers for some titles — specifically “a couple of cutting-edge hip-hop titles” — are already competitive with Spotify, which boasts 75 million users. Whether Apple can make it to its rumored goal of 100 million subscribers during the remainder of Apple Music’s three-month free trial — and how those numbers will fare once users have to start paying for the service — remains to be seen. [via 9to5Mac]
Vans collecting data for Apple Maps will be making their way into France and Sweden starting next month, according to the company’s website. The regions around Paris and Stockholm are slated to be photographed in August, adding those cities to the list of major metropolitan areas already being captured in the U.S., England and Ireland. Drivers in the outskirts of those areas — and even beyond — shouldn’t be surprised if they spot the camera vans, as iLounge spotted a van last week well outside the New York City area, mapping the suburb of Tarrytown, N.Y., 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan.
Police in Beijing have busted a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones — some of which reached the United States — and arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation, Reuters reports. The group set up a factory in January under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop and hired hundreds of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components for export as iPhones. Police raiding the facility on May 14 found 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories. Beijing police said the investigation began after they received a tip from U.S. authorities who had seized some of the fake iPhones. Apple declined to comment, saying the investigation was still ongoing. Knock-off Apple products in China have been a problem for years, pushing Apple to organize a team in 2008 to combat counterfeiters. In 2011, Chinese bloggers uncovered several unauthorized retailers that carefully replicated the look and feel of an Apple Store, right down to the employee uniforms. Since then, the Chinese government has taken stiffer action to protect intellectual property rights, cracking down on fakes and pushing firms to apply for trademarks and patents.
Apple is rumored to be interested in using the body of BMW’s i3 electric car as the starting point for its own electric car, Manager Magazin reports. The German-language publication claims that Apple CEO Tim Cook met with senior managers of the i3 project during a trip to Leipzig and opened negotiations with BMW in the fall of 2014. The talks broke off with no firm deal in place, but the companies have agreed to check in with one another from time to time in the future. Apple refused to comment on the story, but a BMW iDrive app was visible in initial demonstrations of Apple Watch and BMW has long been listed as an auto maker looking to add CarPlay into its vehicles. Cook has also taken meetings with the CEO of Fiat over Apple’s “intervention in the car.”
Apple and Nike have reached a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Nike’s FuelBand, with Nike offering cash to those affected. Apple is offering no compensation. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims that Nike and Apple made false claims about FuelBand’s ability to track calories burned and number of steps taken by users. Both companies still deny any wrongdoing, but Nike stopped producing FuelBands in April 2014 and Apple pulled the device from its stores this March. Under the proposed settlement, Nike is offering $15 cash or a $25 gift card to U.S. Nike stores for each member of the settlement class who submits a claim form and waives their rights to further action in connection with the lawsuit. U.S. residents who bought a Nike+ Fuelband between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015 are eligible for the settlement from Nike.
Though Apple has already announced it will be driving vehicles in certain cities to collect Apple Maps data — it provides an updated location list on its website — iLounge spotted an Apple Maps van today in Tarrytown, N.Y. Tarrytown is located in Westchester County, N.Y., about 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The sighting isn’t entirely surprising, but it does give us some idea that Apple’s current data collection may expand significantly into the metro areas of the cities listed, as in this case. In a somewhat-related note, iOS 9’s Transit was found last month to go beyond its core cities.
Apple has announced its Back to School 2015 Promotion, later than usual this year and notably excluding any iOS devices or iPod-related offers. Between July 23 and September 18, educational customers purchasing an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro can also elect to receive a $199.95 credit to be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones or Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones purchased at the same time. The same promotion also applies to purchases made through the U.S. Apple Online Store, however for whatever reason the dates for online purchases are limited to August 6 through September 18.
Apple’s original Back to School promotions began in 2005 with the offer of a free iPod mini with the purchase of a Mac, a promotion that recurred annually in similar forms, changing to bundle an iPod nano and then eventually an iPod touch in 2010. After six years of including a free iPod with the purchase of a Mac, the promotion changed in 2011 to offer a free $100 iTunes Gift Card instead with the purchase of a Mac. Apple expanded the promotion in 2012 to also offer a $50 iTunes Gift card with the purchase of an iPad, and then again in 2013 to also include the iPhone. In 2014, the promotion switched from iTunes gift cards to Apple Store gift cards. This year marks the first time since the promotion began eleven years ago that no iPod, iOS device, or iTunes-related item has been included as part of the promotion.
While Apple has been expected for some time to release a new Apple TV with a remote that would reportedly incorporate a touchpad, a new patent revealed by Patently Apple suggests that Apple may be looking to go a step beyond a simple touchpad with an integrated Touch ID sensor. While the patent itself remains broad, referring simply to a “sensor configured to detect a biometric characteristic of a user,” a fingerprint appears to be the element highlighted in the main drawings, and the text suggests that biometric authentication could be used both for authentication to access secure features such as parentally locked content, as well as identifying a user to select a specific viewing profile such as favorite channels. With the Apple TV being positioned as a hub for Apple’s new HomeKit home automation service, the sensor could also extend to home applications, again both for security and customization.
Apple plans to allow MFi program partners to begin integrating charging pads into Apple Watch accessories, 9to5Mac reports. While existing Apple Watch stands offer a place to insert the standard Apple Watch charger and route cables through the stand, an integrated solution would provide a more efficient solution for consumers, allowing them to avoid having to insert and use their own chargers. The approach would reportedly be similar to how Apple provides components for third-party Apple Watch bands and Lightning cables, with MFi suppliers providing access to the charging components that accessory manufacturers would integrate into their own designs. The integrated charging pad would likely also provide for more design flexibility for third-party docks and stands. The program is said to still be in the early stages, with the component only available in “sample quantities” but Apple not yet open to accepting official plan submissions.
Apple has released the second public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, corresponding to the fourth developer beta released earlier this week. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 allows non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website 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.
In a move sure to make app developers happy, Apple has blocked users running an iOS beta on their device from writing reviews in the App Store. Developers have been asking for the change because negative reviews from users enrolled in Apple’s Beta Software Program — based on an app’s inability to work with an obviously unsupported operating system — drags down the app’s overall rating and could hurt potential sales. Apple likely didn’t consider the issue a problem when developers were the only ones running a beta version of iOS, but with beta iOS versions being released to the public since March, it’s possible those less knowledgeable users don’t realize that many apps haven’t been designed to run with that software. Beta users trying to leave a review will now be met with a pop-up telling them that the feature isn’t available.
Kicking off Apple’s conference call announcing its record-breaking numbers for Q3 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company had its strongest June quarter ever, exceeding the high end of the company’s guidance by $1.6 billion and topping expectations for sales of the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. A June quarter record was set for the iPhone with 35 percent growth, gains in marketshare in all geographic segments, and revenue up 59 percent in both developed and emerging markets. Cook also highlighted that this quarter had the highest switcher rate from Android that has yet been measured, and spoke about the iPhone’s continuing high customer satisfaction rate. The quarter also saw Apple pulling in revenue of $5 billion in services, with the App Store seeing its best quarter ever with 24 percent growth.
Cook went on to talk on the Apple Watch being a major highlight of the quarter, speaking on the initial launch of pre-orders in 9 countries on April 10th and the delayed retail availability due to demand exceeding supply by “a wide margin,” but noted that the Apple Watch has now expanded to a total of 19 countries currently and three more are expected to be added at the end of this month. Notably, however, Apple CFO Luca Maestri later stated that Apple will not be disclosing specific sales numbers of Apple Watch as they do not want to provide information “that would help [their] competitors.” Cook commented, however that Apple has received “incredibly positive” feedback from the Apple Watch, with a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate, and that Apple has been “very happy” with the usage statistics it is seeing for the wearable device. Cook went on to highlight how doctors and researches at leading hospitals in the U.S. and Europe are using the Apple Watch to improve patients’ lives in areas such as doctor-patient communication and patient health monitoring, and mentioned how the Apple Pay and Siri user experience on the Apple Watch is “nothing short of incredible” and noted that 8,500 third-party apps are now available for Apple Watch, stating “it’s a rare privilege to launch a new platform with such potential.”
Speaking about the launch of Apple Music on June 30th, Cook noted that customers and reviewers have loved the human curation features of Apple Music and how it’s helping people discover new music, with “millions and millions” of customers having signed up for the three-month trial period, and 15,000 artists on board to post on the new Connect service. Addressing the U.K. launch of Apple Pay, Cook noted over a quarter million of locations on day one, with credit and debit cards from the U.K.‘s most established banks, and highlighted how U.K. users can use Apple Pay for the London Underground, hoping it will become a model for other public transportation systems around the world. For Apple Pay in the U.S., Cook noted how the new Square reader coming this fall will bring Apple Pay to “even more neighborhood businesses” and how 80,000 small and medium sized businesses are being added every month. He also mentioned that American Express will be adding corporate card Apple Pay support next month, 700 universities and colleges will begin accepting Apple Pay this fall, and 1.5 million U.S. locations are expected to support Apple Pay by the end of 2015.
Apple reported its third quarter 2015 financial results today, with 47.5 million iPhones and 10.9 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. In Q3 2014, Apple had revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 64 percent of this quarter’s revenue.
For Q4 2015, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.
After quietly dropping Home Sharing in iOS 8.4 and later tweeting that it would be working to bring it back in iOS 9, it appears that Apple has taken at least a partial step in this direction. iOS 9 beta 4, released earlier today, returns the Home Sharing option under Music in the iOS 9 Settings app, although the feature doesn’t yet appear to yet be implemented in the actual Music app. At this point, it remains unclear exactly how Home Sharing will be implemented in the new Music app and how it will interact with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, but the appearance of this option in the latest beta suggests that Apple is at least working to address the omission.
Apple has released the fourth developer beta of iOS 9. Featuring a build number of 13A4305g, the fourth iOS 9 beta lacks specific release notes, but likely continues to focus on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5305d has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed, along with new betas of Xcode 7 and Apple Configurator.
A newly introduced technology may soon make the dedicated fingerprint scanner in the iPhone’s home button obsolete, as Sonovation announced that it has created ultrasonic biometric sensors capable of reading fingerprints through Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Rumors have circulated about Apple looking to do away with the home button, and Sonovation claims to have developed the technology to make such a move possible — it’s unknown how far along Apple may be in developing its own version of such a method. Sonovation CTO Rainer Schmitt says the new scanners — bonded directly onto the glass display material — are “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security and ease-of-integration into mobile and IoT devices.” The company didn’t provide much in the way of details about how the new scanner works, but it claims 3D scanning can take place even when a finger is wet, dirty or oily without compromising accuracy. [via The Next Web]
The Wall Street Journal reports Apple has hired another major ex-auto industry executive, further fueling speculation about the company’s secretive car project. Doug Betts, who most recently led global quality for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, spent more than 20 years in the auto industry before landing at Apple this month. An update to Betts’ LinkedIn profile simply says he now works in “Operations” at Apple, but he joins more than 200 automotive industry experts hired by the company in recent months. While Apple has been tight-lipped about the project, this February sources claimed that the company is trying to produce a viable electric car by 2020. A settlement with vehicle battery manufacturer A123 Systems and the acquisition of GPS firm Coherent Navigation have also hinted at Apple assembling components to build a car. Earlier this year Apple hired noted autonomous vehicle researcher Paul Furgale and former Ford executive Steve Zadesky, but Betts could be the first executive to bring automotive manufacturing experience to the project. Both Apple and Betts declined to comment on the new hire.