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Cook hits funny and serious notes in Late Show appearance

Stephen Colbert got his hands on a rose gold iPhone 6s during his interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook Tuesday on The Late Show, taking viewers through the basics of how to work the device’s 3D Touch technology within email. A light touch gave Colbert what Cook called a “peek,” a quick glance at the email he selected. A harder press resulted in a “pop,” actually opening the email for full viewing. The host noticed the haptic feedback immediately, saying, “It kind of touches me back.” Colbert even created a slapstick comedy bit with the phone’s new Live Photos feature, which records video during the second and a half before and after a photo is taken. The host pressed Cook on comments made by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week, who casually suggested that Apple was working on its own car project during his own interview with Colbert. Cook gave a standard non-answer, saying only, “We look at a number of things along the way and we decide to really put our energies in a few of those.”

Apple TV games must be playable with included remote

Games made for the new Apple TV must support the device’s included remote, according to the App Programming Guide for tvOS, as pointed out by developer Dustin Westphal in a recent tweet. Although the device will support third-party controllers, those controllers can’t be required to play a game. This represents a change — as recently as last week, Apple allowed developers to require an extended game controller. Apple’s guide also notes “tvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout,” and games that support that layout must be playable solely using one standalone controller. All controllers for tvOS games must also have a pause button. [via TouchArcade]

Report: Apple moving all cloud services to single open source platform

Apple is beginning the process of shifting all of its cloud-based services to the open-source platform Mesos, The Information reports. After migrating Siri to Mesos earlier this year, Apple is combining all its cloud services onto one platform in the hopes of making it easier to deploy and scale new applications. The move will also make integrating all of Apple’s myriad products less cumbersome, but the company could have other motivations as well, with the report noting that Apple’s past secrecy about its code and internal technology has made it difficult to recruit open-source developers whose portfolios rely on being able to share their work publicly. Regardless of the reasons for the switch, implementing the changes is expected to take years to finish, so users won’t see the results of the shift for quite some time. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple expanding mapping operations at R&D facility

Apple is expanding its mapping research operations at a facility in Sweden, according to Swedish site DiGITAL. Citing a report from Rapidus, the site claims that after acquiring Swedish mapping company C3 Technologies in 2011, Apple quietly kept working on C3’s 3D modeling method, based on combinations of images taken by airplanes and cars from different angles. The new story claims Apple has been further developing that technology out of a facility in Lund, Sweden since last November, recently ramping up hiring. Apple has doubled down on improving its maps in recent years, sending its own vans out to collect data and acquiring other companies — like mapping firm Broadmap in 2013 and GPS firm Coherent Navigation this May — in addition to adding its new Transit feature to the Maps app in the upcoming iOS 9 release. [via 9to5Mac]

Burberry channel launches on Apple Music

Luxury fashion house Burberry is the first brand to get its own channel on Apple Music, exclusively spotlighting British acts, Fortune reports. While a clothing and accessories brand may seem a strange fit for Apple Music, the company has been showcasing British music on its Burberry Acoustic site since 2010. Burberry also has deep ties to Apple leadership, with current Apple retail head Angela Ahrendts leaving Burberry’s CEO position to join Apple in 2013, then bringing Burberry’s former social media chief Musa Tariq over to Apple the following year. Burberry’s Apple Music channel includes playlists featuring emerging British talent, songs used on the runway and even a personal playlist from Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey, who said “I am excited about our partnership with Apple on this amazing platform which will enable us to take what we do now with Burberry Acoustic and share it with an even bigger audience.” The launch will include a series of special videos and a concert by Alison Moyet held at Burberry’s womenswear show in London next week.

New 3D Touch display makes new iPhones heavier

While the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are relatively close in size to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, respectively, Apple’s latest product environmental reports show the new models are around 11 to 12 percent heavier, mostly due to the new 3D Touch screen technology. The display for the iPhone 6s weighs in at 29g, more than double the 12g weight of the display in the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6s Plus display weighs 40g compared to the iPhone 6 Plus’ 19g display, again, more than double the weight. Even with a marked decrease in the circuit board weight in both new phones and a slight drop in battery weight in the iPhone 6s (the iPhone 6s Plus’ battery weight stayed the same), both of the new models added enough weight in displays and glass to account for a 10.9 percent increase in weight for the iPhone 6s over the iPhone 6, and an 11.6 percent increase in weight for the iPhone 6s Plus over the iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple shutting down HopStop app in October

In a banner message to users on its website, HopStop announced it will no longer be available in October, as Apple said it will be shutting down the popular transit directions app, according to 9to5Mac. Apple acquired HopStop in 2013 in an effort to improve its own transit directions in Apple Maps, and with those improvements coming online when iOS 9 launches on Sept. 16, Apple is shutting down HopStop’s app. The plan will leave some users in the lurch, as the transit feature in Apple Maps currently supports far fewer cities than the HopStop app. Apple is reportedly working quickly to close that gap — aiming to expand to cities like Boston and Tokyo, Japan by next year — and already provides transit directions for many areas outside those listed on it website, but in the meantime HopStop’s exit could leave users in countries like Russia, Israel and Australia without a working solution.

New BMW CEO open to Apple partnership

BMW’s new CEO told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that he is open to exploring a deeper partnership with Apple, Reuters reports. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with senior managers working on BMW’s i3 electric car and opened negotiations to use the body of the i3 as the basis for Apple’s own electric car. Those talks broke off amid big personnel changes at BMW, with Apple opting to pursue creating a car on its own and BMW skeptical of sharing its manufacturing expertise with outsiders, but BMW’s incoming CEO Harald Krueger said similarities between the BMW and Apple brands provide the potential for both companies to benefit from a partnership. “Fundamentally, both partners need to profit from the cooperation, otherwise it will not last. And both companies need to share the same principles, for example with regard to data security,” Krueger said.

Apple claims it’s on pace to break opening weekend iPhone sales record

Apple said strong pre-orders of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have put the company on pace to beat last year’s 10 million unit first weekend record, CNBC reports. The company said online demand for the iPhone 6s Plus exceeded its own forecasts and that it’s “working to catch up as quickly as we can,” while still guaranteeing that both iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units will be available at Apple retail stores when they open next Friday. Online demand in China was particularly high, with wait times for the iPhone 6s Plus at three to four weeks and waits for the iPhone 6s around two to three weeks, as of last Saturday.

Apple News ad restrictions angering media companies

Irate media company executives are complaining that the Apple News app to be released with iOS 9 next week is too restrictive on advertising content, the New York Post reports. The company has placed unconventional restrictions on ad formats and requires strict approval hurdles for ad campaigns, leading one unnamed senior news executive to say, “[Apple News is] giving us some great ways to distribute our product, but they’re not giving us a lot of ways to monetize it.” Popular tools like real-time bidding for ad placements aren’t supported yet, and Apple has refused to accommodate Google’s Doubleclick, one of the most popular tools for placing and tracking online ads. Apple’s requirement that the company be allowed to approve every ad campaign within 48 hours’ notice and refusal to run pre-roll video ads without direct vetting has also made the process “very difficult,” according to another news executive. While publishers like CNN, Vox Media and Time Inc. have agreed to make most of their content available on the new app, others with strong paid subscription models like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reportedly restricting Apple News to a few dozen stories a day. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Apple required to pay unpaid back taxes, fines in China

Apple has found itself in hot water in China, CNN Money reports, with the Chinese Ministry of Finance revealing that Apple had misreported sales and profits in the country. The company failed to report 8.8 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in sales in 2013 while also overstating its profit by 5.4 billion yuan ($220 million) that same year. Apple has been required to pay 452 million yuan ($71 million) in back taxes to the Chinese government, and a 65 million yuan ($10 million) fine has been levied against the company for the failure to report the 2013 taxes. A spokesperson for Apple claimed the error was discovered during an audit of the company’s 2013 operations, and resulted from “a difference in interpretation of a tax rule.” The Apple spokesman stated, “We pay all the taxes we owe wherever we do business and we will continue working closely with the Ministry of Finance.” China has reportedly been cracking down on unpaid taxes by U.S. companies recently, with Microsoft also being charged with $140 million in unpaid taxes in November 2014.

Ive discusses Hermès Apple Watch partnership

In a joint interview with The Wall Street Journal, Apple design chief Jony Ive and Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas provided some insight into Apple’s new partnership with the French fashion house and where the company is positioning the Apple Watch in terms of luxury branding. Ive revealed that he approached Hermès about collaborating on the Apple Watch before the device had even been announced — an unusual move for the normally secretive company — and that the two companies decided to partner over lunch in Paris last October.

Ive noted that Apple also took a very unique approach in its partnership with Hermès, allowing the fashion company’s branding to display more prominently on the Watch, using three fonts that Hermès has long used in its own watches, and excluding the Apple name and logo from the Hermès user interface — the first time Apple has ever allowed another company’s symbols to upstage its own. While the new Hermès Apple Watch is far from either company’s most expensive offering, the $1,500 Hermès edition is clearly intended to enhance Apple’s positioning of the Apple Watch as more than a high-tech gadget, although Ive shies away from the idea that the Apple Watch is heading in a more exclusive direction in the manner usually associated with luxury goods. He stated that he doesn’t feel the attention that has been lavished on the Apple Watch Hermès provides it with any special status, indicating that even placed next to the lower-end Sport Edition, “there’s not one that had more care invested in its designing or making.” The new Hermès edition Apple Watch goes on sale Oct. 5 and will be available in Apple and Hermès stores in fourteen countries, with prices ranging from $1,100 for the 38mm classic bracelet version to $1,500 for the 42mm cuff version.

Apple posts iPhone 6s ‘Get ready for pre-order’ instructions

Apple has added a “Get ready for pre-order” link on its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus store pages, leading to a pop-up box that provides customers with guidance on what they can do now to ensure that they’re ready to pre-order the new iPhone models when pre-orders begin on Sept. 12. Instructions include advising users to enter their account details to check their account status and upgrade eligibility now, as well as directing them to the Apple Store app on their current iPhone where they can store their wireless account details to save time when pre-orders actually begin. Customers will be able to pre-order the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus beginning at 12:01 a.m. PDT on Sept. 12, and if past years are any indication, availability of new models will become scarce within the first few minutes, so tips on speeding up the checkout process will be helpful both for customer satisfaction and avoiding heavier loads on Apple’s servers.

Apple adds ‘Hey Siri’ training mode in iOS 9 GM

Apple has added a new series of setup and training screens for enabling the “Hey Siri” feature in iOS 9, explaining the feature and taking users through a series of steps where they’re asked to speak phrases such as “Hey Siri”, “Hey Siri, how’s the weather today?”, and “Hey Siri, it’s me.” Users updating to iOS 9 — even from a beta to the GM candidate — will likely find that the “Hey Siri” feature has been disabled under Settings, General, Siri, and turning it on will take them through the process before the feature gets enabled. The new training mode should likely help to reduce the number of false positives where Siri accidentally thinks users are talking to it, and will probably be particularly useful in the case of the new iPhone 6s models which will allow “Hey Siri” to function even when not connected to power.

Apple releases iOS 9 GM seed, first iOS 9.1 developer beta

As in previous years, following yesterday’s event, Apple has now released the final GM seed for iOS 9 to registered developers. The GM seed is a final “release candidate” and barring any problems found in this version, it is expected to be identical to the final iOS 9.0 release scheduled to be rolled out to the public next week. Unlike prior beta updates, the GM seed does not appear to be available as an over-the-air update; developers will need to download the GM seed from Apple’s site and update to it manually via iTunes.

Along with the iOS 9 GM Seed, Apple has also already released the first beta version of iOS 9.1 to developers. The iOS 9.1 beta release notes don’t reveal much new in iOS 9.1, although it appears to include developer-level enhancements for new features introduced on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus yesterday, such as 3D Touch and Live Photos. The iOS 9.1 beta continues to support the same devices as iOS 9.0 and registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Apple making limited new Apple TV units available to registered developers

In order to give developers a chance to develop Apple TV applications in advance of the public release of the new set-top box, Apple is making a limited number of Apple TV Developer Kits available to registered Apple Developer Program members. To qualify, developers must already be members of the Apple Developer Program, must be located in one of 22 specific countries and must register to request a kit by Sept 11 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The kit includes the new Apple TV, Apple TV Remote, Power cord, Lightning to USB Cable, USB-A to USB-C Cable, and documentation. Apple notes that due to limited availability, priority will be given to teams that already have apps on the App Store, and developers will be notified of whether or not they have been selected beginning on Sept. 14.

In addition, Apple has already posted developer documentation on building apps for the new Apple TV as well as downloads and release notes of the new tvOS beta. Of particular note is that “the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB. Anything beyond this size needs to be packaged and loaded using on-demand resources.”

Apple increases AppleCare+ pricing for iPhone 6s

Apple has increased the pricing of its AppleCare+ plans for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to $129 — $30 more than last year’s AppleCare+ pricing for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. The less expensive $99 AppleCare+ for iPhone 6 and earlier models remains available, with the new pricing only applying to users purchasing AppleCare+ for Apple’s newest iPhones. The AppleCare+ plan for the iPhone 6s models is also included in Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program. The terms and conditions of the AppleCare+ program do not appear to have changed for the new models, however.

Apple announces iPhone Upgrade Program

During its fall event today, Apple also briefly announced a new iPhone Upgrade Program initiative. Being introduced initially in U.S. Apple Retail stores, the program will allow customers to pay a monthly fee to receive a new iPhone each year. Pricing for the program starts at $32/month and would include AppleCare+ and an unlocked iPhone that could be used on a carrier of the customer’s choice. Users could then upgrade to the latest model each year, presumably an equivalent version to their current iPhone, appropriate to the price level they’re paying. Additional details are not yet available, although Apple did indicate that it plans to roll the program out to additional countries in the future.

Apple schedules iOS 9 release for Sept. 16

Apple has announced Sept. 16 as the official release date for iOS 9, the next major update to its mobile operating system. Originally shown in June at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference and then released into public beta over the summer, iOS 9 will add a number of new features including a more proactive assistant mode for Siri, Transit directions in Apple Maps, a News app for curated news feeds, split-screen multitasking for iPad users, and support for loyalty cards in Passbook, which is being renamed Wallet in light of its new role. The new version will also offer HomeKit support for new devices, as well as accessing HomeKit via iCloud, and support for wireless CarPlay connections. New developer features will also allow for smaller and more efficient iOS applications. The new version is also expected to run more efficiently on older iPhone and iPad models.

Apple reduces iCloud Storage Pricing

Apple has announced new pricing tiers for its iCloud Storage Plans, more closely matching the prices offered by competing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft. Effective today, users can purchase 50GB of iCloud storage for $1/month (users previously only received 20GB for that price), 200GB for $3/month (down from $4/month), or 1TB for $10/month (down from $20/month). Users still get 5GB of storage for free, while the prior 500GB plan which was priced at $10/month has now disappeared rather than being similarly discounted.

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