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iTunes credits sent out for e-book price fixing

Customers affected by Apple’s role in the e-book price fixing scandal are now receiving emails with iTunes credits. Though Apple is appealing the ruling, the company is still sending credits to customers. The emails are coming from the E-Book AG Settlement Administrator — not Apple — so customers should be sure to check their spam folders. Each email contains an iTunes Store credit activation code, and the credit will expire on April 1, 2015, if not activated. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple getting 30 percent of Office 365 in-app sales

Microsoft’s Office for iPad apps went on sale Thursday, and it’s been revealed that a cut of the Office 365 subscriptions sold within the apps are going to Apple. Apple confirmed that Microsoft is paying the customary 30 percent cut to Apple for in-app sales of the subscriptions, Re/code reports. Apple previously rejected a Microsoft SkyDrive update which offered storage subscriptions due to Microsoft’s disagreement on the 30 percent cut. Microsoft has now apparently acquiesced to Apple’s demands.

Microsoft also announced that it is offering free Office 365 subscriptions to the first 50 people who bring their iPad into Microsoft retail stores, starting today. The free subscriptions will last for one year. As noted in the fine print, customers must participate in Microsoft’s “Put My iPad to Work” social campaign to be eligible — whatever that is.

Apple patent may hint at sapphire touchscreens

A newly published patent application further hints at the possibility of sapphire displays in Apple products. The application for “oleophobic coating on sapphire” reveals a component that would feature a surface coating and transition layer on top of a sapphire glass base layer, which may be “a window for a portable electronic device.”

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A described method would allow fingerprint-repelling oleophobic coating to be used on top of the sapphire glass. It’s been reported that Apple’s new Arizona sapphire plant has the capacity for mass production, with some speculating new iPhone displays could be made of sapphire.[via AppleInsider]

Apple engineer shares details on iPhone creation

Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie has revealed a number of details about the birth of the iPhone to the Wall Street Journal. Christie and his team were struggling with the original iPhone’s software when Apple co-founder and then-CEO Steve Jobs told the group it had two weeks to figure it out, or it would lose the project to another team. Needless to say, the “shockingly small” team pulled through, creating features such as slide to unlock and placing calls from the phone’s address book. Christie was made available ahead of next Monday’s latest patent trial between Apple and Samsung — one patent Apple claims Samsung infringed upon is the slide to unlock feature. Among other details included in the article is a photo revealing a messy system used by Apple to test early iPhone software.

Apple working to add diversty to emoji

Apple is working on adding more diversity to the emoji keyboard character set, according to MTV Act. The website reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the lack of diversity in emoji, and received a response from Katie Cotton, Apple Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications: “Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.” It’s unclear when such an emoji update could happen.

Former Delta VP joins Apple online retail

Bob Kupbens, former vice president of marketing and digital commerce at Delta Air Lines, has joined Apple. According to his LinkedIn page, Kupbens’ title is VP, Apple Online Retail. Advertising Age noted the title was unconfirmed, but regardless, Kupbens looks to play a large role in Apple’s online retail efforts. The news comes during a time of change for Apple retail, as Angela Ahrendts will soon take over as the company’s new head of retail as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores.

Report: Apple sells 500 millionth iPhone

Apple has likely sold its 500 millionth iPhone during the past few weeks, Forbes estimates. There has yet to be an official announcement from Apple regarding the milestone; the company sometimes heralds large-scale sales in press releases, and at other times waits to mention them during media events.

Forbes notes that the most recent 100 million iPhones sold took “between two to six weeks less” than the previous 100 million. Apple sold 51 million iPhones alone in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, and added 1 million new users on China Mobile’s network in February following the Chinese carrier’s launch of the device.

Apple wins Japanese patent infringement ruling

Apple didn’t infringe on certain Samsung patents and won’t have to pay damages in a Japanese court ruling, Bloomberg reports. A Tokyo District Court ruled the iPhone 4, 4s, and iPad 2 don’t infringe on Samsung data communication patents. Samsung expressed their disappointment with the decision and noted that the company may appeal the ruling. Apple’s U.S. multi-patent battle with Samsung is scheduled to resume next week.

UK digital download taxes could increase in 2015

Digital downloads including App Store and iTunes purchases are due to see a tax increase in the U.K. under new laws next year, The Guardian reports. A new budget would force Apple and others to charge a 20 percent tax rate on such downloads. The budget closes a tax loophole that currently allows digital downloads to be taxed through other countries, with the tax rate sometimes dropping as low as three percent. Barring any changes, the new law is set to go into effect January 1, 2015.

WSJ: Apple talking with Comcast about streaming TV

Apple is talking with Comcast about working together on a streaming television service that would use an Apple set-top box like Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would use Comcast’s cables to bypass web congestion, sources said. Using Comcast as a partner would, ideally, prevent buffering and other service issues that often plague streaming web video. Apple seeks to let users stream live and on-demand TV shows stored in the cloud, thus replacing a traditional cable box.

The report claims that at the moment, Apple and Comcast “aren’t close” to an agreement. Comcast would have to make “significant investments” in network equipment and other technology, while the two companies seem to disagree on which would control customer data — Apple wants people to sign on to the device using its Apple IDs, and the company is asking for a cut of the monthly subscription fees paid by customers. It’s noted that Apple was working on a deal with Time Warner Cable since mid-2012; Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner is currently being reviewed by regulators.

Report: Apple to launch Spotify rival, iTunes Android app?

Apple has “opened exploratory talks” with record executives about creating an on-demand music streaming service, à la Spotify, and the company is also considering making an iTunes app for Android, Billboard reports. The discussions are reportedly part of a strategy to help Apple cope with declining downloads in the iTunes Music Store. “They are feeling out some people at labels on thoughts about transitioning its customers from iTunes proper to a streaming service,” a major label source said. “So when you buy a song for $1.29, and you put it in your library, iTunes might send an e-mail pointing out that for a total of, say, $8 a month you can access that song plus all the music in the iTunes store. It’s all in the ‘what if’ stage.” Such a streaming service could be a standalone app. An iTunes spokesman declined comment.

The report also notes Apple is trying to stimulate more download sales by pushing catalog titles. iTunes executives have asked labels to clean up catalogs of their top 100 selling artists to prevent multiple copies of albums and redundant compilations from showing up in the store, with the hopes of reducing the available number of compilations for each artist to a more manageable number.

Hacked EA game site phishing for Apple IDs

An EA Games server is hosting a phishing site that’s asking for Apple IDs, passwords, and credit card information, according to anti-fraud Internet services company Netcraft. Two websites in the ea.com domain use the compromised server, which redirects users to the actual Apple ID website after entering their confidential information. It’s possible that hackers accessed the site using vulnerabilities in an outdated version of WebCalendar 1.2.0 software. Netcraft notes that it informed EA of the hack, but the server and content is still online. [via CNET UK]

Apple CEO Cook slams new ‘Haunted Empire’ book

Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a strongly-worded statement slamming “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” a new book by former Wall Street Journal technology reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane. Cook said in a statement to CNBC, “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future.”

Critically panned by most early reviewers, Kane’s book is based on 200 interviews with current and former executives, business partners, and others on the post-Steve Jobs era at Apple. The book’s description notes that Haunted Empire “reveals the perils and opportunities an iconic company faces when it loses its visionary leader.”

Apple to bring back iPad 4 on Tuesday?

Apple will bring back the fourth-generation iPad on Tuesday, 9to5Mac reports. According to a source, Apple stores have been receiving shipments of the previously discontinued iPad. Both Wi-Fi and LTE black and white 16GB models have arrived in stores. It’s likely that Apple will make the 16GB fourth-gen iPad the low-end $399 iPad model, and discontinue the second-generation iPad, so all current iPads would be Lightning devices.

It was reported earlier today that Apple will introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c, likely at the same time as the reintroduction of the fourth-generation iPad tomorrow. Apple could discontinue the iPhone 4s and introduce the new 5c as the low-end iPhone model — all current iPhones would then be Lightning devices, as well.

Apple launches $20/incident post-warranty chat support

Apple today has started charging out-of-warranty customers for for online chat support — it now costs users $20 per incident for support. The company’s new web payment system, first reported weeks ago, is having difficulties thus far, 9to5Mac reports. It’s likely Apple will offer exceptions for payments until the system is working properly. The company will also grant exceptions for iCloud issues and accidental damage incidents to set up a repair or replacement.

Apple to release 8GB iPhone 5c this week? (Updated)

Apple may introduce an 8GB version of the iPhone 5c this week, according to an alleged internal email from German wireless carrier O2, obtained by German blog stadt-bremerhaven.de. The lower-capacity version of the phone is supposedly shipping to stores today for a Tuesday morning launch.

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The email describes the new 5c as Apple’s “entry-level smartphone,” and suggests that other 5c models may see reduced pricing, as well. While all five iPhone 5c colors will allegedly be offered in 8GB capacities, only white and blue versions will allegedly be available immediately in O2 stores, with other colors available to be ordered online. It’s unclear whether this will be the case in other territories or with other retailers, as well; Apple Stores tend to have full color and capacity inventories faster than carrier partners.

It’s notable that Apple has amped up its 5c advertising recently — a large interactive ad appeared on the New York Times website last week. [via Apple Insider]

Update: Engadget posted a reader photo of the 8GB 5c’s packaging, confirming the device’s existence.

Healthbook app may monitor heart rate, hydration, blood sugar, more

Apple’s upcoming Healthbook app may track users’ heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep, and more, according to a new in-depth look from 9to5Mac. The article offers “complete recreations of screenshots” which appear to answer numerous questions as to what Apple is testing in health and fitness tracking. Bloodwork, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar sections of the app will monitor a user’s blood. Apple could also track hydration and respiratory rate using Healthbook, as well as sleep cycles.

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As one might expect, Healthbook will also be used in fitness tracking, to examine weight, activity, and nutrition. An Emergency Card section would store vital health information that can be used be a doctor or emergency technician in times of health crisis. It’s unknown how Healthbook will acquire the data, though the iPhone, iWatch, and third-party apps or devices could all contribute information. Healthbook could be released with iOS 8, but the report notes—likely for cautionary purposes only—that the app “could be pushed back to a future operating system version or cancelled entirely.”

Apple may remove Game Center app in iOS 8

Apple is thinking about removing the Game Center app from iOS 8, while leaving the Game Center functionality intact within games, 9to5Mac reports. Recent alleged leaked screenshots from iOS 8 do feature the Game Center icon. Apple may also simplify alerts within Notification Center and add the ability to automatically delete Messages threads. Inter-app communication may be improved in iOS 8, and Apple also plans on tweaking controls in its Voice Memos app. Some versions of iOS 8 in testing include WiFi-enabled CarPlay, though it’s unclear if this functionality will be delayed until a future release.

Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit iOS 8 icons leaked

A few alleged iOS 8 screenshots including icons for Healthbook, Preview, and TextEdit have been posted on a Weibo account. The shots are legitimate, according to 9to5Mac. Healthbook’s icon is very similar to the Passbook icon, and Preview and TextEdit’s icons match the Mac versions.

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Earlier today, it was reported that Apple was working on iOS versions of Preview and TextEdit. Also, a lightbulb icon for an apparent app named Tips is included in the screenshots — it’s unknown at this point what Tips is, or what it does, but it may be some kind of iOS 8 user guide. A settings screenshot was also spotted on Weibo, noting version 8.0.

Report: Apple developing versions of TextEdit, Preview for iOS

Apple is working to develop versions of its TextEdit and Preview Mac applications for iOS, 9to5Mac reports. The iOS versions of the apps would reportedly only be used to view TextEdit and Preview files stored in iCloud; users would have to edit documents using Pages. It’s “currently uncertain, but still possible” that the new versions of the apps will end up in iOS 8. The new applications come from the restructuring of Apple’s iOS and OS X development teams, sources said, as engineers now work together on both operating systems. Apple is also researching new iCloud storage tools to simplify the development of server-integrated App Store applications for iOS as the company pushes to make iCloud a larger part of the iOS file system in the future.

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