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Apple announces iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus

As expected, Apple also unveiled its next-generation iPhone models, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Sporting the new third-generation 64-bit A9 chip that promises 90 percent better graphics performance from the previous generation, the headline feature on the new models is a new 3D Touch feature which uses force touch sensors similar to the Apple Watch to provide an additional layer of navigation through the iPhone user interface. 3D Touch gestures will allow users to access shortcuts to frequently access features from the home screen icons, which appear as contextual style menus that pop up near the icon, enabling actions such as quickly taking selfies from the Camera icon or quickly composing a new email from the Mail icon.

Users can press lightly to peek at content — such as pulling up a map view from an address in a calendar appointment, pulling up a web page preview from a link in an email, or pulling up a calendar view when looking at a proposed meeting time in an email message. Pressing slightly harder will take the user directly into the new content area, and releasing closes the “peek” to return the user back to their original content. The new 3D Touch also enables distinct tactile feedback for actions. The app switcher can now also be accessed with a 3D Touch gesture at the end of the iPhone screen to more naturally bring up the panel of apps and then swipe across to switch apps. Selected third-party developers such as Dropbox, Facebook, and Instragram have also already implemented support for 3D Touch.

Apple debuts its new Apple TV

Apple today debuted its long-awaited next-generation Apple TV set-top box, incorporating what the company calls a “new foundation for TV” consisting of more powerful hardware, a modernized operating system, a completely revamped user experience and a development framework and App Store for facilitating third-party apps. The new Apple TV will include a remote that includes a glass touch surface and Siri support for interacting with the TV user interface. Users can swipe to navigate through menus, or give a wide variety of Siri voice commands to search for and play content, look up information, and navigate the Apple TV. A new Universal Search feature allows users to find content across multiple sources — currently iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime — as well as searching with Siri for content by type (“action films”), actor, or even guest star.

When viewing content, users can also click and swipe to scrub through a show with thumbnails preview images shown on the scrubber bar, or use Siri commands such as “skip ahead 7 minutes” to go forward, or “what did she say?” to skip back 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions. Contextual information can also be looked up when watching a movie or TV show by issuing Siri commands such as “Who stars in this?” to see cast information, or even non-contextual information such as sports scores or weather. A notification overlay appears to provide information without taking the user out of the current video, and users can either dismiss or swipe up to pause playback and show more detail.

Apple introduces iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Pencil

Apple took the wraps off its long-rumored iPad Pro during today’s event in San Francisco, revealing a new 12.9” version of the tablet that provides a 2732 x 2048, 5.6 million pixel display. Combined with iOS 9, the new iPad Pro allows for iPad Air apps to run with more room side-by-side, and incorporates a third-generation A9X 64-bit CPU providing twice the performance of the prior A8X devices such as the iPad Air 2 — performance that can allow users to edit three streams of 4K video simultaneously. The iPad Pro features a variable refresh rate to save energy, providing up to 10 hours of battery life, and a new four-speaker audio system that provides stereo separation, and automatically balances left and right audio depending on orientation while providing three times the audio volume of the iPad Air 2. The iPad Pro comes in at 6.9mm thick, only 0.8mm more than the iPad Air 2, and weighs 1.57 pounds. The new device also features an 8MP iSight camera, a FaceTime HD camera on the front, 150Mbps LTE and 802.11ac with MIMO support, and Touch ID authentication.

To complement the iPad Pro, Apple also debuted a new physical keyboard accessory, dubbed the Smart Keyboard. Similar to the design of the Smart Covers that Apple has created for other iPad models, the Smart Keyboard uses the Apple dome switch key design from the new Apple MacBook which debuted earlier this year, covered with a custom fabric. The keyboard docks with the iPad Pro using a new “Smart Connector” on the long edge that provides power and data and attaches magnetically to the Smart Keyboard.

Follow iLounge’s live coverage of today’s Apple event

Follow @iLounge on Twitter during Apple’s event today for up-to-the-second coverage of everything new about the iPhone 6S, new Apple TV, iPad Pro, and any other surprises Apple has in store. After the event ends we’ll have all the details here, so check back regularly throughout the day for an in-depth look. Apple’s special event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. EST), and will be streaming live on Apple’s website and on Apple TV’s Special Events channel.

Last-minute details emerge before today’s Apple event

Ahead of what 9to5Mac believes will be Apple’s only event this fall, the site’s sources have spilled more last-minute details about the company’s new products. Contrary to previous rumors that had the iPad Pro starting at 64GB of storage, the new device will reportedly start at a base 32GB storage capacity — still double that of current iPad base models — priced at $800. 64GB and 128GB models are expected to cost $900 and $1,000, respectively, and LTE-capable models will tack on another $130 — bringing the total cost for a top-of-the-line iPad Pro to $1,130, just under the base price of a new Retina MacBook. In addition to camera upgrades, all-new “3D Touch Display” screens, improved A9 chips and more efficient wireless systems, the new iPhones are expected to feature always-on Siri functionality, allowing users to activate Apple’s personal assistant simply by saying, “Hey Siri” at any time. Current iPhone models have to be plugged into a power source to activate that feature.

The fourth-generation Apple TV is getting software upgrades too, expected to run a new iOS 9-based system appropriately named “tvOS.” While based on the current Apple TV OS, the new system reportedly includes plenty of new elements from iOS 9 and El Capitan, including enhanced transparency effects. And finally, although Apple Watch isn’t expected to get a second-generation version this year, the company is expected to debut new gold color options and bands at today’s event — a PRODUCT(RED) Sport band box has already been posted on Twitter — as well as possible announcements about the company’s collaborations with popular fashion brands. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 EST) today.

Apple Music Festival adds Carrie Underwood, Mumford & Sons and more

Apple has announced more headliners for its Apple Music Festival, including Carrie Underwood, Mumford & Sons and Ellie Goulding. Goulding will open the festival on Sept. 19 at London’s Roundhouse, and Underwood will become the first country star to headline at the event when she takes the stage on Sept. 21, according to NewsOK. Previously announced acts include Pharrell Williams, Florence + The Machine and One Direction. A full list of the festival’s headliners can be found here. Apple plans to make performances available for free to Apple Music and iTunes users live and on-demand, with Beats 1 and individual artists’ Connect pages providing continuing coverage of the event and access to backstage news and footage. Apple TV owners will be able to view the event in HD.

Apple, other tech companies fighting U.S. over privacy

Government officials considering a lawsuit against Apple after the company refused to follow a court order which would allow the U.S. Justice Department to see text message conversations between suspected criminals, The New York Times reports. Apple told the government that its iMessage system’s encryption prevented the company from complying with the order, prompting senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to suggest taking Apple to court. While Apple didn’t end up being sued over that incident, Microsoft is in court over a similar refusal to turn over emails in a 2013 investigation, after the company told federal officials that they’d need to get a warrant in Ireland since the emails were hosted on a server in Dublin. Both cases have drawn the attention of privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies alike, with government officials expressing frustration with the White House for letting tech companies “win” the public relations fight over data encryption. The Justice Department wants data currently protected by Apple’s end-to-end encryption to be subject to the same types of wiretap orders that phone companies currently face for voice calls. In a May letter to President Obama, Apple joined several other companies objecting to limits on encryption, saying any built-in vulnerabilities for law enforcement use could just as easily be exploited by malicious hackers or repressive government regimes.

Apple beefing up artificial intelligence research department

Apple is boosting the size of its artificial intelligence staff, looking to add at least 86 new positions to create smartphone features that predict what users will want next, Reuters reports. The company is recruiting artificial intelligence experts from PhD programs geared toward machine learning, which lets devices use previous experience to infer what users are likely to need in the future. The capability relies on computing vast amounts of data to provide those unprompted services, and while Apple pioneered the idea of the idea of a digital assistant with the introduction of Siri in 2011, experts say the company’s strict stance on privacy could undermine Apple’s ability to compete with the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook in the future. The company’s self-imposed restraints on pooling and analyzing user data means Apple’s only option would be analyzing the data on each user’s iPhone, which former employees said complicates the work at every turn. Companies like Google and Microsoft have far fewer qualms about accumulating and studying user data, allowing them to learn about users faster and create personal assistant features more suited to their daily routines.

Apple has acquired social media analytics firm Topsy and personalized podcasting app Swell, among other companies in the field. When asked for comment on the growing AI initiative, an Apple spokeswoman pointed to statements from senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, who said the company is “adding intelligence throughout the user experience in a way that enhances how you use your device but without compromising your privacy, things like improving the apps that you use most.”

Apple admits Apple Music still needs work, says iTunes downloads remain strong

Speaking to The Guardian, Apple has admitted that it still has “homework to be done” on the Apple Music service. Oliver Schusser, the vice president of iTunes International, told the Guardian that a lot of work is still being put into improving the service, with “teams all around the world” focusing on editorial and playlists, but also adding features and “cleaning up certain things.” When asked about usability criticisms that have been levied against the service, Schusser reiterated that the service remains a priority for Apple, noting that it was a very big launch and they’re getting a “ton of feedback” but are “obviously trying to make it better every day.” Schusser also confirmed that Apple remains on track to launch Apple Music for Android devices and Sonos players this fall.

Schusser also stated that the download business has been “really, really healthy,” and iTunes continues to be a big part of Apple’s business on which they are still focused, as well. Dr. Dre’s recent release of “Compton: A Soundtrack Album” was streamed 25 million times in its first week, however, it still sold nearly 500,000 iTunes downloads in the same time frame. Schusser holds up Compton as a “really good example of how streaming and downloads can be successful side-by-side,” stated that they’ve proven “when there’s great content, customers will buy as well as listen.”

Judge approves $415M settlement in anti-poaching lawsuit

A U.S. judge has approved a $415 million settlement in the anti-poaching lawsuit against Apple and several other Silicon Valley companies, Reuters reports. The class-action antitrust lawsuit, filed in 2011, accused Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe of conspiring to avoid poaching employees from each other, thereby allowing them to also hold down employee salaries. While the four companies offered up a $324 million settlement in April 2014, that proposal was rejected by the judge as falling “below the range of reasonableness” after an objection from one of the plaintiffs. In January of this year, the four came back with the offer of $415 million, which received final approval from Judge Koh in a ruling on Wednesday, finding that the deal was “fair to the thousands of plaintiff workers in the class action.”

Report: New Apple TV will feature universal search, cost $149

The fourth-generation Apple TV will cost $149 and feature a universal search, enabling users to enter the title of a movie or TV show once and view results from multiple sources, BuzzFeed reports. Sources familiar with Apple’s plans said the universal search feature is the cornerstone of the new Apple TV, finally providing for searches across multiple streaming services and the iTunes Store. Users will also be able to run more targeted searches, or search by specific actors or directors. Sources said the new search incorporates Siri, as well as features once provided by Matcha — an iOS app that searched for available content from streaming services, TV providers and digital stores like iTunes and Amazon before being bought by Apple in 2013 and shut down. Matcha’s functionality has resurfaced in the new Apple TV, addressing a long-standing user complaint that the search methods on previous Apple TV models are frustrating and not intuitive.

Retrial for damages in Apple patent case set for March or April

A retrial to set damages in Apple’s long-standing patent dispute with Samsung is set for March or April of next year, Apple Insider reports. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh set the timeline after getting an official mandate from the Federal Circuit’s Court of Appeals, less than a week after putting a freeze on filings in the case ahead of the appeals court’s recommendation. The new trial will calculate the damages Samsung must pay Apple over five of its products that infringed on six Apple patents. Samsung previously argued an initial $930 million judgement down to $548 million and is hoping to knock more off that total now that some of the Apple patents cited in the initial ruling have since been deemed invalid. Koh ordered Apple to respond to Samsung’s latest round of objections by Sept. 8, ahead of a case management conference for both sides set for Sept. 16.

Apple eyed Bill Simmons for exclusive podcast deal

Amid rumors of Apple showing interest in generating its own original programming, Re/code reports that the company held talks with former ESPN star Bill Simmons aimed at signing the sports commentator to an exclusive podcast deal. Sources familiar with the discussions said Apple media boss Eddy Cue floated the idea to Simmons a couple times over the summer, before Simmons ended up signing an exclusive “multi-year, multi-platform agreement” with HBO in July that includes a podcast set to debut in October. Apple also reportedly pursued the stars of BBC’s “Top Gear” for its own content — they ended up at Amazon. Before launching Apple Music, sources said Apple executive Jimmy Iovine was also toying with the idea of exclusive contracts for recording artists before settling on more modest exclusive offerings.

Report: Apple considering move into original programming

After going head-to-head with Spotify in streaming music, Apple is considering taking on the likes of Netflix and Amazon in the original programming business, Variety reports. One high-level Hollywood executive who had talks with the company said Apple is looking to start its own development and production divisions to create long-form content for streaming. The source didn’t know whether the focus would be on TV series, movies or both, but said the company is looking to start hiring in the next few months with hopes of the new venture being operational next year. Other sources claimed Apple’s interest in creating its own content is still in a much more preliminary stage, but the company is said to have made a bid to secure the stars of “Top Gear” after they left their BBC show earlier this year — only to lose the show to Amazon in July. Apple has been buying up content on the independent film circuit for distribution on iTunes for years, and has made a big push to incorporate local content into its upcoming paid subscription TV service to set it apart from competitors’ offerings. While starting its own in-house production company could be expensive, Apple holds more than $200 billion in cash and has proven with Apple Music that the company is willing to enter a new market with original, exclusive content. Apple declined to comment on the story.

Apple announces partnership with Cisco for iOS business users

Apple has announced a partnership with Cisco to “create a fast lane for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps.” In addition to optimizing Cisco networks and iOS devices to work together, the two companies are also focused on make iPhone more collaborative with Cisco’s “voice and video environments” to make a “seamless experience” between a user’s iPhone and desk phone. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has also written a blog post about the new partnership.

Google releases iOS app that links some Android Wear watches to newer iPhones

Google announced on its official blog that an iOS app rolling out today will finally let users pair some Android Wear watches with newer iPhones. Android Wear for iOS will let users running iOS 8.2+ on an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus connect their phone to the LG Watch Urbane. Google said all future Android Wear watches — including those from Asus, Huawei and Motorola — will support the iOS app as well, but for now, only the Urbane offers support. Once connected, the watch will mirror the notifications on a user’s iPhone, display messages, and show info about incoming phone calls. In the announcement, Google makes a point of noting that Android Wear’s always-on display means users won’t have to move their wrist to “wake up” their watch — a clear dig at how the Apple Watch only turns its screen on to display notifications after a user rotates their wrist or taps the smartwatch. Android Wear is going after Apple Watch on the health front as well, allowing iPhone users to track heart rate, distance traveled, and progress toward fitness goals. The app also attempts to provide an alternative to Siri in offering the “OK Google” capability, which allows users to get responses to questions, check traffic or flight information, and create to-do list reminders on the fly.

Apple to make Apple Camp program available year-round

In a note to employees, Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts said the company plans to make its popular Apple Camp summer program available to students year-round, 9to5Mac reports. The expansion will also make field trips and programs for teachers a year-round enterprise, with Ahrendts touting “the impact they make on so many lives and the energy they bring to the store” in her message. While the website for Apple Camp hasn’t yet been updated to reflect the upcoming year-round status, the change dovetails with Apple’s retooling of its in-store workshops.

Apple hiring ex-Microsoft employee hints at augmented reality plans

Apple’s hiring of a former Microsoft employee is fueling rumors that the company is working on an augmented reality interface, Street Insider reports. In a note to clients, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said, “Based on recent acquisitions of augmented reality companies, hiring of a key Microsoft Hololens employee, and conversations with industry contacts within the virtual and augmented reality spaces, we believe Apple has a team exploring the AR space.” According to 9to5Mac, that former employee of Microsoft’s Hololens team is Nick Thompson, whose LinkedIn profile shows he moved to Apple in July. The report comes on the heels of Apple’s acquisition of augmented reality company Metaio in May, and plans to integrate augmented reality features into Apple Maps.

Judge limits further filings in patent case between Apple and Samsung

After a week of rapid-fire filings in the never-ending court struggle between Apple and Samsung over patents, a U.S. judge has banned any further filings without the consent of the court, Apple Insider reports. A week after Samsung lost its appeal to overturn a $548 million fine for infringing on certain Apple patents, the U.S. Patent office issued a non-final action saying some of those patents shouldn’t have been granted to Apple in the first place. With Samsung still hoping to have the case go before the U.S. Supreme Court, Apple filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh proposing a partial final judgment that wouldn’t take the invalidated patents into account. That sparked an angry response from Samsung, a response to that response from Apple, a motion for judgment as a matter of law from Samsung, and one final Samsung objection to Apple’s partial judgment request that sent Koh over the edge. “The Court has not yet received the mandate from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,” Judge Koh wrote in her order. “Despite this, the parties have already filed a letter, two responses, an objection, and a motion. The parties shall not file any further motions, briefs, or letters with the Court until authorized by the Court.”

Apple to drop first-gen Apple TV, iPod classic support as of Sept 8th

Apple will be discontinuing support for another series of its older products, which are being moved to “Obsolete” status as of September 8th, 9to5Mac reports. According to internal documents from Apple, the report notes that the original first-generation Apple TV, fifth-generation iPod nano, second- and third-generation iPod touch, and third-generation iPod shuffle will be designated as “Obsolete” in Asia-Pacific/Canada/EU/Japan/Latin America and all Apple Retail Stores, while these models will be designated as “Vintage” in the U.S., where Apple is still required to provide hardware service for a longer period of time as required by California law. The iPod classic and third-generation iPod nano will be declared as “Obsolete” in all markets. Apple typically declares products “Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years.

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