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Apple to intro in-store prepaid and month-to-month iPhone plans

Apple is readying prepaid and month-to-month plans for iPhones in its retail stores, 9to5Mac reports. A source claims the move is being made to boost iPhone sales. Customers will soon be able to purchase a full-price iPhone, and then connect it to prepaid or month-to-month calling and data plans while in the store. It’s noted that Apple will partner with AT&T and T-Mobile for the new initiative.

Apple will use AT&T GoPhone activation kits and SIM cards, and existing T-Mobile SIM cards. Training will commence soon, and it’s expected these plans will be offered by the last week of June. Retail employees will reportedly be pushing AT&T’s $60 per month prepaid plan, and two T-Mobile plans costing $50 or $70 per month. Notably, it’s also claimed that the devices must be activated in store and cannot be returned for a refund.

Report: Apple employees reveal issues with iTunes Radio management

The development of Apple’s iTunes Radio and Ping suffered from shortsighted management, and Apple engineers often preferred to use Spotify and Pandora, according to a new report from Buzzfeed, which interviewed both former and current Apple employees. “Pandora is an awesome radio that blows iTunes Radio out of the water. Seriously, iTunes Radio sucks and it sucks because of Apple’s arrogance,” a former mid-level Apple employee said. “I was floored by the decision-making skills by management over and over again.” It’s reported that management ignored iTunes’ biggest streaming competitors, “with some managers refusing to open or use Spotify,” and some not even understanding what Spotify did. “They didn’t understand how Spotify worked, which is why they thought iTunes Radio would be a Spotify killer,” a source said.

Employees also said Apple “didn’t seem to have an interest in how the song collections created by iTunes Radio sounded, or whether they were cohesive.” iTunes Radio users have reported hearing the same songs too often, or hearing songs that don’t fit into certain stations. Buzzfeed speculates that a major reason for the Beats acquisition was due to Apple’s problems in tackling streaming music on its own.

Apple reveals more Family Sharing details

Apple has set up a FAQ within iTunes Connect for Family Sharing in iOS 8, and it reveals more details about the upcoming feature. The feature lets up to six family members share iTunes, Books, and App Store content through the credit card of one adult with an Apple ID, referred to as “the family organizer” in the FAQ. The FAQ notes that if a family member leaves the group, “their purchases — including any purchases made while part of the Family — will no longer be available to the remaining family members, and vice versa.”

It’s also notable that in-app purchases cannot be shared with family members — apps that only allow access of most content through an in-app purchase will be far less useful for those accessing the app through Family Sharing. Further details can be seen in the included screenshot.

Apple producing more ads in-house

Apple is now producing more of its own television advertisements, Reuters reports. The company is decreasing its reliance on longtime ad agency partner TBWA\Chiat\Day, as Apple is “seeking a fresh approach to regain advertising as one of its key competitive advantages.” Recent iPad ads, including the iPad Air “Pencil” ad and “Your Verse” ads, were both made by an in-house Apple team. Apple has hired “at least two” people who worked for Media Arts Lab, a special Apple-focused unit in TBWA.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller became upset with Media Arts Lab, as revealed in January 2013 emails that were released this year — months after those emails were sent, Apple started creating in-house ads. The report notes Media Arts Lab is still working on Apple ads, including current iPhone TV commercials.

iOS 8 adds new MIDI and other audio enhancements

Additional information from WWDC this week reveals that Apple plans to introduce new audio enhancements in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, including new CoreAudio and CoreMIDI APIs that will include support for MIDI over Bluetooth LE and enhancements to Apple’s iOS inter-app audio feature.

While third-party accessories such as the iRig Blueboard (iLounge rating: A-) have implemented wireless MIDI support over Bluetooth in the past, Apple’s updated frameworks will provide standard APIs that third-party applications and presumably accessories will be able to take advantage of. The new CoreMIDI Bluetooth support will also allow iOS and Mac devices to communicate with each other more effectively, providing the ability for multiple devices to work together in music creation and studio applications—essentially an enhancement that lines up with Apple’s new Continuity approach in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple plans Lightning cable MFi headphones

Apple has added a specification to its Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod program allowing manufacturers to create headphones with Lightning connectors, rather than traditional 3.5mm headphone plugs, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. While not currently supported by iOS devices, Lightning headphone support will be enabled in a future software update. According to the report, the Lightning standard will allow for stereo 48 kHz digital audio output from iOS devices, and mono 48 kHz input for integrated microphone support, though the actual sound quality will depend considerably on superior headphone and microphone components. It will also allow power to transfer between the headphones and the iOS device in both directions, which could eliminate batteries in noise-cancelling headphones, and enable other headphones to add backup power to the connected device.

The report also states there will be two configurations: Standard Lightning Headphones, and Advanced Lightning Headphones. The former “are described by Apple as using minimum components when paired with a digital-to-analog converter supported by the Lightning Headphone Module,” while the latter use a digital signal processor and digital/analog converter, and allow for “digital audio processing features like active noise cancellation.” Lightning headphones would likely be physically incompatible with non-Apple devices, as well as Mac computers, unless Apple adds Lightning ports to Macs.

Apple announces Controller Forwarding feature

Apple announced a new Controller Forwarding feature in a closed presentation Monday at WWDC, 9to5Mac reports. The feature would allow MFi iPhone controllers to act as controllers for iPads and Macs. Additionally, the iPhone’s touchscreen and motion control could also be used as a controller for those devices. These features may also open up the possibility for using iOS devices as game controllers for Apple TV.

Xcode 6 contains resizable iPad, iPhone simulators

Apple’s Xcode 6 contains a new feature that lets developers test interfaces for “resizable iPhones” and “resizable iPads.” Allowing for adjustments for both devices alludes to possible new resolutions for both iPhone and iPad devices. While 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone models are expected at this point, allowing developers to adjust to new iPad resolutions may add some fuel to rumors of a 12” iPad, which we’ve referred to as the “iPad Pro.” [via 9to5Mac]

Apple updates app guidelines to allow ‘approved’ virtual currencies

Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to allow transmission of certain approved virtual currencies, Reuters reports. Section 11.17 in the guidelines states: “Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.” It’s unclear which virtual currencies would be allowed under the updated guidelines; Apple provided no further details and didn’t issue a response to the report.

Apple previously pulled Blockchain, a popular Bitcoin wallet, from the App Store in February. Blockchain CEO Nic Cary told Bitcoin news service newsBTC that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the recent change, and plans on resubmitting the Blockchain iOS app for approval.

iOS 8: More New Features, Revealed

Every time Apple introduces a new operating system, there are always features that either only get mentioned in a giant list on a slide behind the presenter, or go completely unspoken and are only discovered once people begin playing around with it. iOS 8 is no different; in addition to all new features Apple made a big deal out of, there are plenty more worth noting. Here are some of the biggest ones.

  • Weather Channel Providing Information To Weather App
  • DuckDuckGo Support
  • iBooks Preinstalled
  • Wi-Fi Calling
  • Time-Lapse Videos
  • FaceTime Call Waiting
  • Panaromic Photos on iPad
  • Battery Usage By App
  • Tips App
  • Time Limits And Countdown Timer For Guided Access
  • Camera Timer
  • Rich Text In Notes

If you find additional iOS 8 features that may be of interest, feel free to add them to the comments section at the bottom of this article!

Apple debuts Swift, new development language

Today at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple took the wraps off Swift, an entirely new development language for iOS, effectively replacing the requirement for developers to use Objective-C. Swift provides developers with a simpler and higher-performance development language to build apps in, eliminating many of the common errors that can be encountered with Objective-C while improving development time. Swift will be integrated into XCode and uses the same Objective-C runtime environment, allowing developers to seamlessly mix Swift and native C code into the same projects.

Apple debuts HomeKit as home automation solution

Apple has debuted HomeKit, a common network protocol with secure pairing that will let an iPhone control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, and switches. A recent report noted Apple would be debuting a home automation platform at WWDC, and this system ties together offerings across a number of different third-party companies.

Apple debuts HealthKit, iOS app named Health

Apple has introduced HealthKit during the company’s introduction of iOS 8. HealthKit is a one-stop feature in iOS 8 for health apps to integrate in one place; Apple also introduced a new Health app. The previously rumored feature has been referred to as Healthbook in the past.

Apple unveils iOS 8

Apple CEO Tim Cook officially introduced iOS 8, the company’s newest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, at WWDC today. “iOS 8 is a giant release,” Cook said.

After the introduction, Apple’s Craig Federighi took the stage to cover iOS 8. New interactive notifications in iOS 8 let users respond to notifications without leaving current apps. Double tapping the Home button can now allow users to quickly access recently used contacts, in addition to apps. Spotlight now shows results in the App Store, news, iTunes, movies and more.

QuickType now supports predictive typing suggestions when typing. The feature is context-sensitive and personalized, with promises of privacy and increased language support. Federighi also showed the continuity features linking iOS to Mac, as seen in the Mac presentation.

Tweaks to messages in iOS 8 allow users to name threads, add and remove people from a thread, use Do Not Disturb to mute notifications in a threat, or choose when to leave a thread. Locations can also be shared, and an enhanced view lets users show attachments shared within a thread. A tap-to-talk feature lets users insert voice and video messages within a thread.

The new Device Enrollment Program will automatically configure iOS devices for enterprise users straight out of the box. Federighi then introduced HealthKit.

Family Sharing in iOS 8 allows family members to auto-share photos, calendars, reminders, and more. It allows up to six family members who share the same credit card to access all of the family’s purchases. A child wishing to make an app purchase will send a request prompt to their parents’ iOS devices.

Within Photos, iCloud will now allow users to search for any photos taken on any device. Photo search lets users search for specific photos using location, time, and other options. Smart Editing controls now lets users have immediate photo editing options. After 5GB of free storage, iCloud storage will now be offered at $1 a month for 20GB, and $4 a month for 200GB.

Siri now lets users access the feature by voice. It will now support Shazam, iTunes purchases, streaming voice recognition and 22 new languages. Maps have also been improved, with China gaining vector-based maps.

App Store search has been improved. Developers can now show app previews, and can offer app bundles — a number of apps at a discounted price. Free beta testing is now available through TestFlight. All the features will be available in the fall, Cook said.

In iOS 8, third-party apps can interact with each other. Third-party apps can also have widgets which will be accessible from Notification Center. Third-party keyboards can now be used across iOS 8 as a new extension. Touch ID is also being opened up to developers.

HomeKit was also introduced — a common network protocol for home automation.

Also introduced was Metal, a new graphics system that allows for advanced rendering and improved performance, and SceneKit a 3D renderer for more casual games. SpriteKit also received an update. Apple also introduced a new programming language, Swift.

iOS 8 will be available in the fall, and it’s available in beta as of today.

WWDC 2014: All The News You Want To See

The 2014 keynote event at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) begins today at 1PM Eastern / 10AM Pacific Time, and a live video stream of the event will be available at this link and via the Apple Events channel on Apple TVs. A number of announcements are expected today for iOS 8, notably including the health-tracking feature Healthbook, an iOS-centric home automation feature and certification program, as well as further developments of the location-based iBeacons notification service. iOS 8 is anticipated to look largely like iOS 7, but feature a number of under-the-hood performance improvements and feature boosts.

Additionally, the new version of OS X for Macs will be shown, featuring a significant visual redesign akin to iOS 7’s. Well-sourced rumors suggest that Apple will also show new hardware, potentially including new Mac 4K displays, while previously-rumored “in development” products such as a 12” iPad could make appearances as well. Here’s what was actually announced, each with its own full article.

iOS 8
HealthKit and Health App for iOS 8
HomeKit for iOS 8 Home Automation
OS X Yosemite (10.10)
Apple Photos for OS X
Swift, A New Development Language for OS X and iOS

No new hardware was introduced during the WWDC 2014 keynote. iLounge’s editors have released a multi-editorial on WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and more for an opinionated look at today’s announcements.

WSJ: Apple paying $2.5B for Beats Electronics, $500M for Beats Music

Apple’s recently announced $3 billion acquisition of Beats breaks down to about $2.5 billion for Beats Electronics hardware and a little less than $500 million for the Beats Music streaming service, the Wall Street Journal reports. The report notes the breakdown “was largely an accounting issue, because the two Beats units are backed by different investors.” However, it does give some insight into the total valuation of Beats. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said in multiple interviews the deal was also about the talent involved, including Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

Apple removes link to iPod classic in refurbished stores

Apple has completely removed the link to buy a refurbished iPod classic from its US and Canadian stores, as noted by MacRumors. The page for refurbished iPod classic units still exists, however, it only contains the text, “Sorry there are no products available, please check back later.” At the very least, Apple is currently not offering refurbished iPod classic units, though customers can still buy new versions of the device. That being the case, it’s hard to imagine fresh iPod classic stock popping up in the refurbished store again, and this may be a hint that Apple will finally be looking to retire the device soon. First introduced in 2007, the iPod classic received a capacity bump in 2009 but has not been updated since, making it the oldest device still being sold by Apple.

Notes from Apple’s Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine at Code Conference

Apple’s Eddy Cue and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine took the stage at last night’s Re/Code Code Conference after Apple officially announced the Beats acquisition, the largest in its company history. Among highlights from the Re/Code interview: when asked if Apple was buying cool, Cue said “I don’t think you buy cool. But Beats is really cool. We make great products, and we’re going to make great products together. I don’t know what being cool means.” Iovine also said that Beats Music has 250,000 subscribers.

Iovine said there was a “culture clash” in the now extinct Beats-HTC partnership, and the company’s ongoing branding deal with HP will be ending soon. He said Apple has “good sound,” but also said, “Our dream is that everyone who buys a phone around the world, upgrades to good headphones. They have earbuds.” Of Apple’s EarPods, Iovine said they’re made “to see if the sound works.”

Regarding TV, Cue said that while Apple TV is improving and will continue to evolve and add content, overall, “the TV experience sucks.” He noted that solving the issues with TV is complicated, due to the many players involved. Near the end of the interview, Cue typically hyped Apple’s upcoming products without revealing anything: “Later this year, we’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple,” he said.

Cook issues statement to employees, grants multiple interviews regarding Beats deal

Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a memo to the company’s employees regarding the just announced acquisition of Beats Music and Beats Electronics, 9to5Mac reports. In the memo, he speaks to the importance of music in Apple’s history, and reiterates that Beats’ Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will be joining Apple. In addition to speaking to the music streaming service, Cook mentions the audio hardware component of the purchase. “Beats Electronics has become the brand of choice for headphones and speakers in both the music and sports world, just five years after its launch. They are among the most popular and highest-rated third-party products sold today in Apple’s retail and online stores. We see an incredible opportunity to bring Apple’s legendary design and engineering capabilities to these popular products under Phil’s leadership,” referring to Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing.

Additionally, the CEO has granted interviews to several publications, including The Financial Times, New York Times, and Re/code, where he reiterates these points. “Could Eddy’s team have built a subscription service? Of course,” he told the New York Times. “We could’ve built those 27 other things ourselves, too. You don’t build everything yourself. It’s not one thing that excites us here. It’s the people. It’s the service.”

Apple confirms Beats Electronics acquisition for $3 billion

Apple today confirmed that it has purchased Beats Electronics, maker of the Beats by Dr. Dre line of headphones and speakers, as well as the Beats Music subscription music streaming application. Combined, the purchase will cost Apple $3 billion, which according to the company’s statement consists “of a purchase price of approximately $2.6 billion and approximately $400 million that will vest over time.” Notably, this is less than the $3.2 billion price originally reported in early May, but the price matches a recent New York Post report. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple as part of the acquisition. The transaction is expected to close in the fiscal fourth quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.

“Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a special place within our hearts at Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in the statement. “That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

“I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,” Iovine said in the statement. “The idea when we started the company was inspired by Apple’s unmatched ability to marry culture and technology. Apple’s deep commitment to music fans, artists, songwriters and the music industry is something special.”

Initially reported by The Financial Times as a deal in progress, the acquisition was seemingly a certainty after Dr. Dre appeared alongside actor Tyrese Gibson in a Facebook video, describing himself as the “first billionaire in hip hop.” Some analysts and commentators have questioned the wisdom of the deal for Apple, while others have cited Beats’ strong following in the African-American community as a potential customer base for Apple, and suggested that Beats Music will increase Apple’s footprint in the subscription streaming music category.

Update: “We could build about anything that you could dream of. But that’s not the question,” Cook told Re/code. “The thing that Beats provides us is a head start, and it provides us with incredible people, kindred spirits.” It’s also noted that Apple will keep both the Beats hardware and Beats Music streaming service brands intact.

In a separate story from the AP, Cook said of Iovine and Dre: “We’ve dated, we’ve gone steady and now we are getting married. This relationship started a decade ago, so we know there is an incredible cultural fit. These two guys have a very rare set of skills. It’s like finding a particular grain of sand on the beach. It’s that rare.”

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