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iMessage, iCloud services down for some users

Apple’s system status page is reporting problems with several iOS and iCloud services since approximately 12:30 AM EDT. The site notes that some users may be unable to use iCloud Documents, Photo Stream, iPhoto Journals, Backup & Restore, or send or download attachments in iMessage. While the status update notes that less than 1% of users are affected by the service outage, with over 250 million iCloud users, this potentially represents over 2 million people.

Vevo coming to Apple TV this week?

Following previous reports that music video site Vevo is developing an Apple TV app, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Vevo—a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group—has already signed a deal with Apple to deliver on-demand music videos to the Apple TV along with a new channel of original programming. The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the matter” as noting that Apple could release the Vevo Apple TV app as soon as this week. A similar deal has been made with Samsung, however its launch is reportedly “a few weeks away.”

Next-generation iPhone to launch Sept 20th?

Following news last week that Apple will be unveiling its next-generation iPhone at a September 10th event, reports have surfaced from both Japan and Greece pointing to a September 20th release date for the new iPhone. This schedule tracks with the past two major iPhone releases, which traditionally landed on the Friday of the week following Apple’s announcement of new hardware. While Apple is expected to unveil both high-end and low-end models at the event, it’s unclear whether they will both hit stores on the same day, or separately. [via 9to5Mac]

iTunes Festival returns to Apple TV, iOS

With the return of Apple’s annual iTunes Festival for 2013, the company has once again added a dedicated Apple TV section allowing users to access and stream content directly onto the Apple TV. An update to the free iTunes Festival universal iOS app has also just been released, refreshing the design and allowing users to stream live and on-demand content directly to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Content can also be streamed directly to a Mac or Windows PC via the iTunes Festival Page in the iTunes Store.

The Festival will feature 30 nights of free, live music from more than 50 artists performing at the Roundhouse in London from September 1 to September 30, 2013. Previous shows are expected to be available for a limited time via iTunes, the Apple TV, and the iOS app, and it is unclear for how long the iTunes Festival section will remain available on the Apple TV following the conclusion of the event on September 30th.

 

iTunes Radio to debut with select major advertisers

AdAge reports that Apple’s new iTunes Radio service will be joined by a number of high-profile advertising partners when it debuts next month, including such big names as McDonald’s, Nissan, Pepsi, and Proter & Gamble. The multi-million dollar deals will include twelve-month advertising campaigns that will run within the streaming music service, as well as exclusivity within each of their respective industries through the end of 2013.

iTunes Radio will reportedly include three forms of advertising: interstitial audio and video ads in addition to interactive full-screen “slate” ads that will appear on iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and desktop PCs and Macs via iTunes. Audio ads will apparently be served up once every 15 minutes, while video ads will appear once per hour, at times that users are likely to be looking at their device’s screen. At launch, ads will be run across all devices, however plans are said to be in the works to allow advertisers to target ads to specific devices, with advertising costs based on screen size. As previously announced by Apple, an ad-free option will be available for iTunes Match subscribers.

Apps: Google Maps + Waze, OverDrive 3.0, Procreate 1.9 + Sonic Dash 1.5

Google has announced new Waze integration with Google Maps. The Google Maps app for iOS will now show real-time incident reports from Waze users, such as accidents, construction, and road closures. The feature is rolling out on the back-end Google Maps servers—there is no need for an update to the Google Maps app for iOS—and will be available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, U.K. and the U.S. An update to the Waze app is also in the works that will add Google Search along with Street View and satellite imagery in the Waze Map Editor.

OverDrive has released a major update to its OverDrive Media Console for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The OverDrive app provides free library book borrowing-style access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks for members of over 22,000 libraries around the world. Version 3.0 provides a whole new look with simplified menus and a built-in tutorial to help first-time users get started. The update also adds variable speed audiobook playback and the ability to sync recent position and bookmarks across multiple devices. It’s definitely worth checking out.

 

 

Apple outlines Kids app submission rules for Developers

Following the release of updated App Store Guidelines for Children’s Apps last week, Apple has sent out an e-mail to iOS developers outlining the new Kids category that will be appearing in the App Store with the debut of iOS 7. For apps made specifically for children under the age of 11, developers will now be able to choose one of three age ranges: 5 and under, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11.

The e-mail notes that only one age range can be chosen for each app. Kids apps will still have a primary and secondary category as with any other app, but will also appear in a new, separate area of the App Store designated for Kids Apps. Starting in the fall, the existing Kids subcategory for Games will be removed from the App Store. Further, developers who wish to assign the Kids category to any of their existing apps will be required to submit a new version of those apps for review, suggesting that Apple will apply more specific standards to apps within this particular category.

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.5, iTunes 11.1 beta 2

Apple has released iTunes 11.0.5, intended to fix an iTunes in the Cloud related issue where “some purchased may download or play unexpected items.” In addition to the public release of iTunes 11.0.5, Apple has also posted iTunes 11.1 beta 2 to the iOS Developer Site. The initial iTunes beta added support for iTunes Radio; it is unclear what has changed in beta 2, although it presumably addresses the same iTunes in the Cloud issue as the public release.

The public release is available through the Mac App Store or the iTunes download page; the beta version is available only to registered iOS Developers via the Apple Developer Site.

Apple flat screen Gorilla Glass TV set, Nov. TV product?

A few TV-related Apple rumors have popped up today, with one report claiming the company is planning on introducing a flat-screen TV set protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (translated link) claims Apple met with Foxconn and Corning about 55-inch and 60-inch TV sets that could feature Gorilla Glass extending to the very edge of the television for a full flat-panel display. The TV could be launched in the first half of 2014.

Additionally, as noted by Business Insider, MG Siegler said on John Gruber’s The Talk Show podcast that Apple could introduce “some sort of television product,” though not a TV screen, as soon as this November. Siegler said there have been whispers that interaction with the product “could be the interesting thing,” and that voice interaction may be “out the window.” Conceivably, such a product could be as small as Google’s Chromecast, or could involve a camera. Both rumors should be taken with numerous grains of salt at this point.

iPhone app monopoly antitrust suit dismissed

A lawsuit alleging that Apple maintains a monopoly over iPhone apps was dismissed, Bloomberg reports. A judge ruled the plaintiffs couldn’t legally continue the lawsuit, because plaintiffs hadn’t bought the apps — though the complaint can be amended and refiled. “At a minimum, plaintiffs must allege facts showing that each named plaintiff has personally suffered an injury-in-fact based on Apple’s alleged conduct,” U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote. The consumers filed the suit in 2011, arguing that because iPhone apps are only available within Apple’s App Store, Apple holds a monopoly. A lawyer for the plaintiffs said the case can easily be refiled to meet the requirements. Apple asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed in March.

Apple ramps up hiring in China

Apple currently has more than 200 LinkedIn job openings in China, including an environmental affairs program manager, store specialist, and security specialist, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company also appears to be hiring “a bunch of retail specialists and store leaders.” CEO Tim Cook recently visited China as Apple looks to expand its presence in the important emerging market. A Thursday report noted that Apple is looking to hire engineers in Taiwan. During Apple’s Q2 2013 financial results conference call, Cook said “we still see a significant opportunity in China.”

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 6

Apple has released iOS 7 beta 6, earlier than expected, as a small patch to beta 5. The sixth beta addresses an issue with iTunes in the Cloud, in which some purchases may download or play unexpected items. Apple just released the fifth beta last week.. iOS 7 beta 6 is available through Apple’s developer portal or Software Update in iOS settings.

Apple looking to hire engineers in Taiwan

Apple is seeking engineers in Taiwan, as the company reportedly plans to create a new R&D team within the country for future product development. The iPhone is specifically mentioned as one product the engineers would help in developing. Apple job listings show a number of hardware engineering positions in Taipei, including a reliability engineering manager and engineering project manager, among a collection of jobs that were posted within the past week. [via DigiTimes]

Isaacson: Apple TV revolution stalled on cable bundling

In a CNBC interview, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson was asked what’s “gone wrong” with Apple’s plan to revolutionize TV, which Isaacson heard firsthand from Jobs before his death in 2011. While the hardware and software were reportedly not problems, getting all the cable providers on board with on-demand programming was the main issue, Isaacson said. “That’s very hard with the cable bundling system we have,” he said.

When Jobs spoke of cracking the code to TV, “He was talking about being able to get whatever you want, on demand, like you could with any song for 99 cents instantly in the original iTunes store,” Isaacson said. And creating an easy interface for viewers isn’t the problem. “That is something I think Apple can crack,” he said, suggesting that the goal was to eliminate multiple remote controls and multiple boxes in favor of a simpler control system anyone could understand.

iOS 7 gold master to partners Sept. 5, devs Sept. 10?

Apple will release the gold master version of iOS 7 to employees and partners “around” Sept. 5, according to a report. The gold master build will then be released to developers on Sept. 10, the day of Apple’s next iPhone event. Though the report isn’t verified, it’s not a stretch to believe Apple will release the gold master to developers on that day based on past events. That version of iOS will likely be released as the finished product — with possible slight variations — a few days before the release of the next iPhone. [via BGR]

Apple updates Guidelines for Children’s Apps

Apple has released an update to its App Store Review Guidelines with a focus on clarifying policies regarding applications for children. Several of the new rules appear designed to address the recent expansion of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), limiting developers from asking for personal information from children under the age of 13 and specifically requiring that apps that collect or “have the capability to share” personal information from a minor must “comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.”

A new section 24, “Kids Apps” has also been added to provide specific guidelines for apps that are “primarily intended” for users under the age of 13. The section indicates that such apps must include a privacy policy, must include age-appropriate advertising and may not include behavioural advertising of any kind, and must require the user to get parental permission or use a “parental gate” before linking out of the app of engage in any online transactions. Apps in the new “Kids” category must also be specifically made for one of three age groups: 5 and under, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple updates beta iCloud.com site with iOS 7 design

Apple has updated its web-based beta.icloud.com site to match its design for iOS 7. As the iCloud beta site includes Find My iPhone, the update offers clues as to what the iOS Find My iPhone app will look like when it gets updated.

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The design also suggests that Apple is readying some iOS 7-style changes to future Mac desktops; it incorporates an animated background akin to iOS 7’s, as well as similar font choices. Apple’s new iCloud.com will likely come out of beta in the fall. [via 9to5Mac]

Billionaire Carl Icahn makes large Apple investment

Carl Icahn, the billionaire chairman of holding company Icahn Enterprises, has disclosed that his company has taken a “large position in Apple,” and that Apple is “extremely undervalued.” Icahn has been an active investor in a wide variety of well-known companies, frequently coming into conflict with existing management over issues of shareholder value, while using pressure and lawsuits to force changes to their boards and plans—often to drive short-term profits for shareholders.

In posts to Twitter, Icahn also mentioned that he spoke to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and stated that a “larger buyback should be done now.” Apple confirmed Icahn’s conversation with Cook and told AllThingsD: “We appreciate the interest and investment of all our shareholders. Tim had a very positive conversation with Mr. Icahn today.” Apple shares have jumped to nearly $500 as of this writing, a six-month high.

Apple acquires TV discovery startup Matcha.tv

Apple has acquired Matcha.tv, a startup company that developed a second screen TV content discovery app. Matcha.tv was a popular iOS app that shut down in May. The service let users view programs available to watch from TV providers, digital stores such as iTunes and Amazon, and streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu. Matcha.tv’s app also provided a number of social options and recommendations. Apple responded to the acquisition report with a typical statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” One source claimed Apple acquired Matcha.tv for $1-1.5 million, with another source refuting those numbers. Matcha.tv’s service could fit in to Apple’s future plans for TV, or could possibly be used in some capacity in the existing Apple TV. [via VentureBeat]

Update: TechCrunch reports the acquisition likely cost between $10-15 million, and that Apple was interested in acquiring Matcha due to its recommendation algorithms, which worked better than those of competing apps.

Former Board member Ellison predicts Apple’s decline

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison foresees a decline at Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era, based on comments he made during a recent interview. While on “CBS This Morning,” Ellison — a former Apple Board of Directors member and very close friend of late Apple CEO Jobs — didn’t shy away from sharing his opinion on what Apple will be like without Jobs around. “Well, we already know,” Ellison told Charlie Rose. “We saw — we conducted the experiment. I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,” he said, gesturing upwards. “We saw Apple without Steve Jobs,” he said, drawing a steep imaginary line downwards, then another line up as he repeated, “We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.” Finally, he gestured sharply downwards again while saying, “Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.” Ellison also referred to Jobs as “brilliant,” saying that “he was our Edison, he was our Picasso,” while noting Jobs’ ability to invent products. His pessimistic take on Apple is the strongest yet from a friend of Jobs, and coincides with concerns apparently voiced by current members of Apple’s Board of Directors. [via AllThingsD]

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