Apple announced that Apple Music, iTunes movies and iBooks are available in China starting today. The company pointed to offerings from Chinese artists like Eason Chan, Li Ronghao, JJ Lin and G.E.M. as well as international superstars like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran in pitching Apple Music to China’s users, promising playlists and radio stations tailored to the Chinese audience. Apple also emphasized the availability of movies from Chinese studios alongside Hollywood blockbusters in iTunes, making the best of both worlds available for rent or purchase. China’s user base gets access to paid and free offerings from iBooks as well, with Apple touting that its customers in China will finally have “access to Apple’s entertainment ecosystem with music, movies and books right at their fingertips.” Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue said China has become the largest market in the world for app downloads, and with China making up a large portion of Apple’s record-breaking 13 million iPhone sales last weekend, that pace shows no signs of slowing. Those users adopting Apple Music in China will get the same three-month free trial that American users enjoyed, then be charged 10 RMB per month for a single subscription or 15 RMB per month for a family subscription that covers up to six family members. On iTunes, new release HD movies will cost 5 RMB to rent or 18 RMB to buy, and iBooks will start at 0.5 RMB.
During a conversation with his former BBC boss, Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe expressed some doubts about the future of Apple Music’s flagship radio station, The Telegraph reports. When Ben Cooper, controller of BBC’s Radio 1, asked Lowe if Apple Music needed Beats 1, Lowe candidly responded, “I’m not sure it does,” before going on to call the station a work in progress. Lowe left Radio 1 after more than a decade there and relocated his family to Los Angeles to take over hosting duties for Beats 1, but with Apple Music’s free trial period winding to a close for many users the host hinted at uncertain times ahead. “We’re working this out, time will tell,” he said. “We’ve been going three months, I don’t have the answers. I hope that there’s a place for it.” Apple has started sending notifications to Apple Music users whose free trials are ending in the hopes of converting those users into paid subscribers and is in the beta testing stage of making the service available on Android phones, but even Apple Music’s early successes have been met with skepticism from the music industry and Apple’s leaders have publicly admitted the app still needs work.
After Apple split orders for its new A9 chip between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung, Chipworks is reporting that Samsung A9 chips are 10 percent smaller than TSMC A9 chips found in the same iPhone 6s models. While Apple has split orders for components to meet supply demands before, this is the first time such a critical component has not come from a single supplier, hinting that Apple faced serious supply issues in obtaining enough A9 chips to meet demand. Tests comparing performance and power use of the two different chips aren’t currently available, but in February sources said that Apple returned to Samsung because the company had a technological advantage over TSMC in its ability to shrink the size of transistors on its chips, allowing for a smaller chip that consumes less power. A Taiwan court has ruled that Samsung used trade secrets stolen from TSMC to construct its own A9 chip in the first place, but how that ruling will affect future A9 chip orders and Samsung’s relationship with Apple is unclear. In recent years Apple has tried to distance itself from Samsung, sending orders for the A8 chip in the iPhone 6 to TSMC before returning to Samsung as the primary manufacturer of the A9. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Tuesday, Oct. 27. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q3 of revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.
Apple is set to pay the Los Angeles Unified School District $4.2 million of a proposed $6.4 million settlement regarding a failed plan to provide the entire district with iPads, the Los Angeles Times reports. The remainder of the money will be made up by not paying for recently purchased Lenovo laptops. The district’s board of eduction will vote on the settlement next month, and if approved, it will bring about the end of the ill-fated partnership between Apple and the district. The original $1.3 billion program aimed to provide iPads to every student, teacher, and administrator in the district. But early problems were exacerbated by claims that Apple and subcontractor Pearson, which provided the curriculum, were given an advantage in the bidding process.
Emoji depicting same-sex couples have prompted Russian police to launch an investigation into whether Apple is breaking local laws against “promoting homosexuality,” The Telegraph reports. A lawyer in Russia’s Kirov region filed a complaint with local authorities, arguing emoji that came with iOS 8.3 and later versions which depict gay couples kissing and holding hands violate Russian laws against promoting homosexuality to minors. If found guilty, Apple could be fined 800,000 to 1 million rubles and be suspended from operating in Russia for up to three months. Apple has taken heat from Russia over the issue before, with Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov suggesting a ban on Apple products last year, because Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay. The company also faced scrutiny over its free download of U2’s album “Songs of Innocence,” which Russian legislator Aleksandr Starovoitov called “gay propaganda.”
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to lure Apple to set up a manufacturing facility in his country, The Times of India reports. Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs, told reporters that Apple CEO Tim Cook responded positively to the request, noting that Foxconn, one of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners, has decided to set up a manufacturing base in India. Cook stopped short of saying Apple would be moving manufacturing to India, but discussed bring Apple Pay to the country, expressed a desire to be a partner in the prime minister’s Digital India initiative, and hinted at an expanded role for India in the company’s future, saying, “We are fortunate to have many passionate customers along with a fast-growing developer community, and we’re investing to expand our operations throughout the country.” If opening Apple retail stores in India is part of that expansion, Apple will have an even greater incentive to move at least some of its manufacturing to the country, since 9to5Mac reports India’s trading laws prohibit manufacturer-owner retail stores unless a certain percentage of the products sold there are made within the country.
Including pre-orders, Apple sold more than 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units last weekend, setting a new three-day sales record for the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the new phones in a statement, saying “Customers’ feedback is incredible and they are loving 3D Touch and Live Photos, and we can’t wait to bring iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to customers in even more countries on October 9.” Apple will begin selling the new iPhones in 40 additional countries starting Oct. 9 with plans to expand that number to 130 countries by the end of the year. Despite initial concerns over supply, no shortages were reported and the new iPhones are currently available for walk-in purchase in the U.S. at Apple retail locations, through cellular carriers and at select Apple Authorized Resellers including Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
We’ve received the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and have posted unboxing photos of Apple’s newest iPhones. We’ve also included a few shots comparing the new phones to their predecessors, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Look for our full, independent, comprehensive iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reviews on Monday.
Apple has released iOS 9.0.1, a minor maintenance update that fixes issues with the setup assistant, alarms and timers sometimes failing to play, video problems in Safari and Photos, and custom APN setups via external profiles. The iOS 9.0.1 update is available over the air under General, Software Updates in the iOS Settings app.
The second beta of iOS 9.1 has also been released for registered iOS developers, continuing the development of the next iOS update to add developer-level enhancements for the upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.1 beta from Apple’s Developer site.
Update (Sept. 24): Apple has now also released the same iOS 9.1 beta 2 as a public beta.
Apple has posted a Q&A on XcodeGhost, the counterfeit software development kit that was used to create malicious apps that were able to be released on the App Store. As expected, the Q&A emphasizes that the problem was created by developers downloading iOS software development tools from third-party sites, rather than Apple’s, but also interestingly notes that OS X protections that Apple has put in place — such as Gatekeeper — had to be “deliberately disabled by the developer for something like XcodeGhost to successfully install.” The Q&A also notes that Apple has no reason to believe that the code was ever actually used to do anything malicious, or that any personally identifiable information could have been transmitted, and that it “did not have the ability to request customer credentials to gain iCloud and other service passwords” as some other reports had suggested.
Apple has released the second beta of its tvOS for the new Apple TV to registered developers, allowing those who have already received a development kit for the new Apple TV to continue getting a head start on Apple TV App Development prior to the public release of the new set-top box. The release notes for the second beta indicate fixes in areas including app launching, Bluetooth, Game Center, home screen, keyboards, media playback, screen savers, and more. The tvOS beta can be downloaded by registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; a new Apple TV is required to run the tvOS beta.
Apple has patented a new “D-shaped connector” plug to replace existing 3.5mm headphone jacks. The plug still has the standard contacts for transmitting left audio, right audio and microphone signals, but is flat on one side, meaning it will only fit into the jack one way and would make standard headphones unusable with devices adhering to the new standard. Multiple outlets have speculated that the slightly slimmer headphone jack hints at thinner iPhones to come, since phones can only be as slim as their largest internal components will allow, notably evidenced by protruding cameras on the iPhone 6. Apple applied for the patent in May 2011, but hasn’t publicly discussed changing over the headphone jacks on any of its devices.
Apple has sent an email to some customers in New York City and Philadelphia warning them their new iPhones may not be delivered by the Sept. 25 launch date. Citing “traffic restrictions expected for that day in New York City” — alluding to Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. — the company said deliveries could be delayed, but assured customers that they’ll be making Saturday deliveries in an effort to compensate, and apologized for the inconvenience. New York City and Philadelphia seem to be the only affected areas so far, and at least one San Francisco customer got her iPhone early on Monday.
In an e-mail to developers and a post on its website, Apple has laid out the proper process for downloading Xcode after hundreds of apps were found to be using a malware-laden version of the IDE. Apple states that Xcode should always be downloaded from the Mac App Store or the Apple Developer website and validated by Gatekeeper to ensure the downloaded software hasn’t been contaminated. For those wanting to test a version of Xcode they’ve already downloaded, Apple’s post provides the proper command to run on a Gatekeeper-enabled computer to verify the version came from a legitimate source.
Update: In an interview with Chinese website Sina, Apple’s chief marketing executive Phil Schiller said the company is also making Xcode available for domestic download to Chinese developers to eliminate the need for third-party downloads. Schiller added that the company has found no known instances of apps affected by the malware transmiting customer data, but Apple still plans to warn users of the tainted apps to delete or update them. [via Reuters]
In a rare move, Apple is providing automatic refunds for users who bought the Peace ad blocker for iOS 9, according to developer Marco Arment. The app was pulled from the app store by Arment shortly after its launch, prompting more than 13,000 users to request refunds through the manual process. Arment said Apple contacted him to say the company was going to issue proactive refunds to everyone who bought the app, which he said “effectively never happens. When I decided to pull the app, I asked some Apple friends if this was even possible, and we all thought the same thing: iTunes billing works the way it works, period, and no special cases can be made.” In this instance, Apple seems to have made an exception, and users who purchased the app should see a refund notification from Apple within a few days. [via iMore]
Apple is setting 2019 as the target for shipping its first vehicle, an electric car, The Wall Street Journal reports. Project leaders “have been given permission to triple the 600 person team,” sources said. Though much talk has surrounded the company’s plans to create a self-driving car, this new report claims an electric car is the first step, with a self-driving car being part of a larger, long-term plan. It’s also noted that Apple’s ship date may not mean wide consumer release; to Apple, “it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features.” There is reportedly skepticism from some sources regarding this aggressive timeline. Apple declined comment.
Apple confirmed that iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units will be available at 8 a.m. local time Friday in Apple retail stores, but recommends getting there early to secure one. Apple notes that those living in tax-free U.S. states will have to make a reservation for their phone, as will residents of China, Hong Kong and Japan. Other U.S. customers can line up and take their chances Friday morning or make an online reservation for in-store pick up starting Saturday. Both models will also be available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, other cellular carriers and some Apple Authorized Resellers, but customers buying the new phone at an Apple retail store will be offered free personal setup.
Sprint announced it will be selling the Apple Watch starting Sept. 25, and T-Mobile might not be far behind with CEO John Legere tweeting that the watch is coming, but not offering a firm date. After experiencing strong sales, Apple is expanding sales of the Apple Watch to all Best Buy locations this month, with more retailers and cellular carriers likely to be added to that list in the weeks to come. [via 9to5Mac]