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NY Times profiles Apple University

Apple’s internal training program, the secretive Apple University, is the subject of a new profile in The New York Times. Three Apple employees who took classes in Apple University spoke to the Times about the program, which is run year-round and features a faculty that includes professors from many prominent universities. In 2008, Steve Jobs selected former Yale School of Management dean Joel Podolny to run the program, and he still remains in that position. Employees who enroll in the program can sign up for courses that match their positions — one class specifically concentrated on teaching founders of newly acquired companies “how to smoothly blend resources and talents into Apple.”

As one might expect, simplicity in design seems to be a common theme in classes at Apple University. One class highlighted Pablo Picasso’s The Bull, a series of lithographs that starts with a highly detailed bull, and ends with a very basic figure that still represents a bull. “You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,” an employee said. Another course, “What Makes Apple, Apple,” compared the 78-button Google TV remote to the considerably simpler Apple TV remote to show how Apple decided upon “just what was needed.” Other classes revolve around case studies that focus on important Apple business decisions, such as the once internally controversial decision to make the iPod and iTunes compatible with Windows.

Judge rejects antitrust settlement proposal from Apple, others

A U.S. District Judge in California has rejected the $324.5 million anti-poaching settlement proposed by Apple and three other tech companies, CNBC reports. Judge Lucy Koh said the proposed amount “falls below the range of reasonableness.” Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel — all accused of agreeing not to hire each other’s employees — agreed in May to pay former workers $324.5 million. It remains unclear what the new settlement amount will be. The former employees were initially seeking as much as $9 billion in lost wages.

China refutes Apple product ban report

Apple products including iPads and MacBooks have not actually been banned from any Chinese government procurement lists, the country’s chief procurement center has said. This new report, from Reuters, refutes a recent Bloomberg report that claimed 10 Apple products could not be purchased with public money for security reasons. Apparently, the confusion may have stemmed from a list involving energy-saving products, on which Apple could not be found — the report notes that Apple has never been on that list.

Apple adds ‘Beats by Dr. Dre’ section to online store

Apple has added a new Beats by Dr. Dre section to its online store. The new section, which links to Beats headphones, speakers, and accessories, can be found in the accessories section of Apple’s online store. It’s interesting that Apple has gone with the “Beats by Dr. Dre” name, as opposed to “Beats by Dre” or just “Beats.”

The online store includes some lesser-known products, including the all-white Beats by Dr. Dre Studio x Snarkitecture Headphones ($600), which were used in Apple promo images after the acquisition was announced. These special edition Studio headphones come with a “signature pillow” that is “cast from cultured marble.” [via 9to5Mac]

China excludes Apple products from government purchase list

China’s government has excluded iPads and MacBooks from a list of products that can be purchased with public money, Bloomberg reports. Citing security concerns as the reason for the omissions, government officials have left ten Apple products off the official procurement list, including both the iPad and iPad mini — the list does not include smartphones. Apple declined comment.

This is yet another challenge for Apple in developing its growing relationship with China. Last month, state-run Chinese media criticized the iPhone’s location tracking, calling it a “national security concern.” Apple responded with a gracious note that explained how the company uses location data.

Apple, Samsung agree to end non-US patent suits

Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all patent suits against each other outside of the U.S., Bloomberg reports. A joint statement issued by the two companies confirms that ongoing claims in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, and the U.K. are all being abandoned. Although it appears the two companies may finally be scaling down their patent battle, with no cross-licensing agreement reached, it may only be a matter of time before it picks up again. Both companies will continue to pursue the existing cases in the U.S., and it’s unlikely those conflicts will end any time soon.

App Store saw record numbers in July

Apple has told CNBC that its App Store set record revenue numbers this July. The App Store also reportedly had a record amount of customers making transactions in the same month. It’s an interesting release of information — the company doesn’t usually make a point of publicizing specific monthly sales — with curious timing, considering the almost-simultaneous report of a new iPhone event having been scheduled for September 9. In another unusual twist, Apple CEO Tim Cook then tweeted about the news, linking to the CNBC story.

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.”

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