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Apple using new AAE sidecar format for iOS 8 photos?

The latest iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite betas have revealed what appears to be a new file format for transferring non-destructive photo adjustments between different apps and Apple devices. When using Yosemite’s built-in photo transfer app Image Capture, iOS 8 JPEG photos transferred to the Mac now include an additional “AAE” file in an XML format, containing keys with names such as “adjustmentData,” “adjustmentBaseVersion,” and “adjustmentFormatIdentifier.” The AAE files are typically less than 1KB each for lightly edited files.

Although it is unclear why Apple would introduce a new way to store photo adjustments, the additional file could enable third-party apps to see the same version of a photo edited with Apple’s upcoming Photos app, or potentially export edits made with prior Apple photo apps such as Aperture and iPhoto. With the recent announcement that Apple will be ceasing development of Aperture and iPhoto—a change that has necessitated export workarounds for replacement pro photo apps such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom—it’s possible that the AAE files could provide a smoother migration path for users.

Apple hires former Nike, Burberry social media chief

Apple has hired Musa Tariq, former social media chief of Nike and Burberry, 9to5Mac reports. Tariq’s new title is “Digital Marketing Director, Apple.” It’s noted that Tariq worked with Apple SVP of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts while at Burberry; it’s speculated that he will again work closely with Ahrendts as Apple looks to make changes in the retail realm. Tariq earned acclaim for his “Tweetwalk” campaign with Burberry, which shared new outfits just before models hit the runway, and his move from Burberry to Nike was widely reported by marketing industry publications. It’s unclear exactly what Tariq will do going forward, but increasing Apple’s visibility within various social media platforms is a good bet.

Apple releases iOS beta 5

Apple has released iOS 8 beta 5 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to registered developers. As expected, the release comes two weeks after the previous beta. We’ll update later on if there are any notable changes.

Update: Among other changes, users can now opt to store full-resolution photos in iCloud while keeping device-optimized versions of those photos on an iPhone. iOS users will also now be prompted to allow other devices to use phone numbers for SMS relay. Spirometry data types have also been added to HealthKit.

iOS global usage drops below Android for first time

iOS global usage now trails Android for the first time, according to Net Applications. Android had 44.62 percent of the market share in July, with iOS grabbing 44.19 percent. Though the percentage difference between platforms is at this point very small, iOS controlled more than 55 percent of market share as recently as November of 2013, with a sharp drop-off since March of 2014.

Net Applications tracks operating system share figures on its own network, with the site’s methodology claiming the data is “compiled from approximately 160 million visitors per month.” Though there can be some doubt about the accuracy of the reports, the sheer size of the data set holds up to statistical analysis. If nothing else, it shows a distinct trend, and a continued shift in usage toward Android. iOS 8 and/or the introduction of new iOS devices later this year may reverse the trend. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple appoints Beats Music chief to head up iTunes Radio

Apple has picked Beats Music subscription service CEO Ian Rogers to additionally head up iTunes Radio, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Citing people familiar with the matter, the report notes that Rogers will still continue to run the Beats Music subscription service while working to “create cohesion” between the two offerings. Before Beats Music, which was famously acquired by Apple despite a relatively small subscriber base, Rogers previously ran Yahoo Music, which launched and then folded an early subscription-based music service.

Apple posts official Beats welcome announcement

Apple has officially welcomed Beats to the Apple family, commemorating the finalization of its $3 billion acquisition initiated earlier this year. Noting that “[m]usic has always held a special place in our hearts,” the announcement includes a link back to beatsbydre.com, where a similar announcement can be found from Beats perspective, describing Beats as a new “instrument” joining Apple’s legacy of music-enabling products. Notes on Beats’ customer service page indicate that all inquiries related to sales and order info should now be directed to Apple, and that all online purchasing for Beats products will now go through the Apple Store.

Report: Vivendi SA sold its Beats stake for $404 million

A new report from Bloomberg indicates that as part of Apple’s Beats acquisition, Paris-based Vivendi SA sold its approximately 13 percent stake in Beats Electronics to Apple for $404 million. Held by the company’s Universal Music Group, the stake’s value reportedly almost doubled in value from a September 2013 estimate of $214 million, according to an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Paris.

Apple content delivery network for faster downloads now live in US, Europe

Apple’s new content delivery network has gone live in the U.S. and Europe, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn. The network is able to deliver multiple terabits of data per second, which should allow Apple to offer faster iOS downloads. Rayburn claims Apple is still using other services for iTunes, radio, and app downloads, “but over time, much of that traffic will be brought over to Apple’s CDN.” It’s unknown when that traffic may shift to the new network. The new network delivers traffic directly to Comcast and other ISPs through interconnect deals. Apple has reportedly invested “well more than” $100 million in this new network. [via Ars Technica]

Report: Apple eliminating positions of some Beats employees

Apple has started transitioning employees and technology from Beats, but not all Beats employees will be making the move, 9to5Mac reports. While many Beats employees in development and creative roles have been offered jobs at Apple, Beats’ support, finance, and HR departments “have already been largely dismantled,” according to the report — some employees have been laid off, others have been offered Apple positions, and some have only been offered a temporary position during the transition period. On the technology side of the transition, it’s been noted that Beats Music “is not easily compatible” with Apple servers, and that parts of the service “will need to be re-architectured.”

Update: The New York Post is reporting that Apple will cut about 200 jobs at Beats — about 40 percent of the company’s workforce.

Russian government seeks Apple source code

The Russian government is asking for access to Apple’s source code, in order to ensure the company’s products aren’t used for spying purposes, Reuters reports. Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said in a statement, “Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and U.S. intelligence services’ public statements about the strengthening of surveillance of Russia in 2014 have raised a serious question of trust in foreign software and hardware.” European software company SAP has also been asked to share its source code. The Russian Communications Ministry noted that Microsoft has shared its source code for Windows and other products with Atlas —a subordinate company that reports to the ministry — since 2003. Apple has declined comment.

Popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain returns to App Store

Apple has reinstated popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain to the App Store. It’s not an entirely unexpected move, considering Apple recently started allowing Bitcoin apps back in the App Store, after making a change to its App Store Review Guidelines. Blockchain was originally pulled from the App Store in February. Nicolas Cary, Blockchain’s CEO, told Bloomberg that Blockchain’s Bitcoin wallet has 1.9 million users.

Report: Apple Stores to support carrier early iPhone upgrade programs

Apple Stores will soon allow customers to purchase new iPhones using early upgrade programs from carriers, including AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, and Verizon Edge, according to 9to5Mac. It’s unclear whether or when Apple will support Sprint’s One Up program. The report claims that “many” stores will offer the purchase option in late August, ahead of the expected iPhone 6 September launch. At the moment, any iPhone purchased in an Apple Store must be bought with a two-year contract or at full price with no contract.

Report: Apple buying talk radio app Swell

Re/code is reporting that Apple is about to acquire Swell, an app described as “Pandora-for-talk-radio,” for $30 million. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed by either company, the report cites multiple sources, and Re/code has a strong track record when it comes to Apple news. According to the report, the app will shut down this week, as Apple attempts to improve its podcast-listening experience. It was also revealed late Friday by TechCrunch that Apple recently acquired BookLamp, described as a “Pandora for books.”

Bose sues Beats over noise-canceling patents

Bose is suing Beats over noise-canceling technology patents used in headphones, according to CNBC. Patent search site PriorSmart.com appears to have a list of the five Bose patents cited in the case. The patents cover signal processing and high frequency compensation, among other aspects of noise-canceling technology. Beats Electronics and Beats Electronics International are both listed as defendants in the suit. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple could launch own mobile wallet this fall

Apple executives have had recent conversations about launching an iPhone-based mobile wallet as soon as this fall, according to The Information. The company has reportedly told partners its mobile payment system would contain “secured element” hardware within the phones that would store sensitive financial information. The Secure Enclave coprocessor in Apple’s A7 chip would likely fit the bill — as noted by Apple, it relies on a random number generator and encrypted memory to safely store information. It’s also noted that Visa is in discussions with Apple about a possible partnership to bypass third-party payment processors to lower costs.

Mobile payments from Apple have been rumored for years. But with Apple reportedly interviewing candidates for a mobile payment service, and CEO Tim Cook recently characterizing mobile payments as “an area of interest” while freely discussing the possibilities of such a service, perhaps we’ll see an iPhone wallet in the near future. [via MacRumors]

Report: Apple ‘tentatively’ plans mid-September iPhone event

Apple is “tentatively” planning an event for mid-September to announce the iPhone 6, 9to5Mac reports. Though not a surprise — numerous reports have all pegged September for the iPhone 6 reveal — the new report claims the second and third weeks of September are the most likely weeks for the event, though plans are still yet to be finalized. If the event was held on a Tuesday, as is commonplace, it would be held on September 9 or 16, with a likely product release on September 19 or 26. However, it’s unclear if both new iPhones will be announced or launched at the same time. According to the report, the 4.7” iPhone 6 will be showcased, but no decision has been made regarding inclusion of the 5.5” iPhone 6. Final details on iOS 8 will also be unveiled at the event.

Apple faces class action suit in California for labor violations

A lawsuit filed by Apple employees in December 2011 has been given class action status, as the company is being sued for labor violations in California, TechCrunch reports. Those alleged violations include not providing employees with timely meal and rest breaks, or timely paychecks. According to the plaintiffs, the case affects approximately 20,000 Apple employees. No financial demands have been made as of yet. Notably, this case is not to be confused with a somewhat similar suit involving Apple retail employees allegedly losing wages due to lengthy bag searches.

Apple, AT&T now sending $40 checks to some iPad 3G owners

Apple and AT&T have started sending out $40 checks to U.S. customers who bought or ordered a first-generation iPad with 3G capabilities before June 7, 2010. A ruling was made in September in a class action lawsuit stemming from AT&T’s elimination of an advertised unlimited data plan about a month after it was introduced. The checks have started to arrive in customers’ mailboxes, as per 9to5Mac. AT&T is also offering a $20/month discount on its 5GB monthly data plan for consumers who didn’t sign up for any other AT&T data plan.

Apple denies iOS “back door” access in new report

After denying a report earlier in the week that iOS is prone to “back door” access, Apple has put forth a new document outlining three diagnostic capabilities, and how they’re used. “Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer,” the report states. “Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.”

This comes after Apple issued a denial to the Financial Times, stating it “has never worked with any government agency to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.”

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2014 earnings call

Apple’s conference call after announcing its Q3 2014 financial results kicked off with Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing Yosemite, iOS 8, and Swift. Cook also touched on CarPlay, HealthKit, HomeKit, in addition to the company’s new partnership with IBM.

Getting to the financial results, Cook announced that Apple set a June quarter record, with iPhones also setting a new third quarter record. “iPad sales met our expectations but we realize they didn’t meet many of yours,” Cook said, noting an overall decline in the tablet markets while moving on to citing surveys in which customers expressed satisfaction with iPad.

Cook expressed excitement with Apple’s acquisition of Beats, citing Beats’ subscription service, “access to rare talent,” and a growing lineup of products. As he’s done in the past, Cook briefly referenced upcoming new products and services.

Apple CFO Luca Maestri talked about the iPhone and its impressive results in the quarter. As for the iPad, he announced increased sales in the Middle East, China, and India, while adding that such growth was offset by lower sales in “more mature markets.” iTunes revenue was up to $2.6 billion. Apple expects $37 billion to $40 billion in revenue next quarter, with a gross margin between 37 and 38 percent. Maestri said he expects a busy fall, as Apple is “very excited” about what’s in the pipeline.

When asked about decreased tablet sales, Cook said that “significant innovation” can still come to the iPad, “and we plan on doing that.” Cook believes there’s a “substantial upside” in iPad sales within business, which led him to remark on the recently announced IBM partnership. “I honestly believe the opportunity is huge,” he said.

On sales in China this quarter, Cook said, “We thought it would be strong, but it well went past what we thought.” He noted that unit growth was “off the charts.”

Asked about trade-in programs for iPhone, Cook said trade-ins are “hugely beneficial for our ecosystem,” as those phones often go to “price sensitive” customers. Cook also believes the cannibalization factor is low due to that price sensitivity, while pointing out the high resale value of Apple products. But he also noted, “It’s very different to quantify with certainty.”

Cook said iPhone 5c had the highest growth of the current three iPhone tiers in the quarter.

When asked how Apple is changing, in reference to the Beats acquisition and the IBM partnership, Cook said that although the company is always on the lookout for acquisitions, “we don’t let our money burn a hole in our pocket.” Again, Cook referenced Beats’ subscription service and products, while taking the time to note that Beats has “a very rare set of talent that we think can do great things in Apple.”

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