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Apple iPhone Reuse + Recycle Program starts Aug. 30 (Update)

Apple’s new iPhone trade-in program, the iPhone Reuse and Recycle Program, will roll out in select Apple stores this Friday, August 30, according to 9to5Mac. The program will roll out on a larger scale in September. Apple store employees will offer a value for an old iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S or 5 based on display and button quality, hardware and liquid damage, engraving, and if the device powers on and works normally. When trading in the device, customers will receive a gift card with the determined value amount to go toward the new iPhone. Customers will receive the old SIM card and employees will offer to setup the new iPhone.

As was reported in June, BrightStar will handle shipping and processing. Non-functioning iPhones with no worth will also be recycled through BrightStar. It’s also noted that “trade-in pricing for the iPhones is slightly below the competition.” An unlocked, undamaged 16GB iPhone 5 could net about $279, and an AT&T version of the same iPhone will be worth around $255, both below current Gazelle rates. A GSM 8GB iPhone 4 “will be worth between $120 and $140,” while the CDMA version will be closer to $80.

Update (Aug. 30): Apple is rolling out its in-store iPhone trade-in program nationwide today, according to a CNBC tweet. It was initially reported that Apple would roll out the program in select stores before a larger rollout, but it now appears the company is launching the program in all U.S. Apple stores.

Apple says DOJ e-book remedies biased toward Amazon

Apple has responded to the U.S. Department of Justice’s revised remedies in the e-book price-fixing case, claiming that the proposed remedy is biased in favor of Amazon. Apple said in a court filing, “Plaintiffs are seeking a remedy that would give Amazon significant competitive advantage over Apple — an advantage it is neither entitled to nor deserves.” According to a report, Apple is “vehemently opposed” to Amazon and others providing links from e-book apps to their own bookstores without paying Apple. The company also takes issue with the proposal of an external monitor, and is still seeking new remedies from the DOJ. Apple and the DOJ are scheduled to meet in court today. [via AllThingsD]

New AppleCare website, 24/7 chat support launched

Apple has launched a redesigned AppleCare support website, alongside 24/7 chat support for both iOS devices and Macs. The new site offers a number of options to help users, including live online chat and phone calls from Apple Support — users can see wait times for both options.

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The streamlined site also offers suggestions to resolve frequent support issues, sorted by device. A recent report noted that Apple would soon be introducing these revamped online support options. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple’s iPhone trade-in program set for September

Apple is getting ready to launch its rumored iPhone trade-in program in its retail stores in September, according to a new report. The program will let customers trade in older iPhones for new models. A June report claimed Apple would be launching its trade-in program that month, but this most recent report claims a planned July launch was “pushed back for unspecified reasons.” In addition to pushing iPhone sales, Apple believes the program will convince customers to trade in damaged iPhones for newer devices, so Genius Bar workers will be able to concentrate on issues other than getting customers refurbished replacement phones. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly emphasized selling more iPhones in Apple stores, and it would make sense for Apple to introduce such a program around the release of the company’s newest iPhones next month. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple restricting access to iWork for iCloud beta

Apple is denying some users access to iWork for iCloud beta, which just opened to the public on Friday. A message from Apple says the new service has “had an overwhelming response,” and that users should “check back soon.” No timeframe is given for when the service will open up to users who are currently unable to gain access. Public invites to iWork for iCloud beta were first sent out in July. [via 9to5Mac]

DOJ revises proposed Apple e-book price fixing remedy

The U.S. Department of Justice has revised its previously proposed remedy addressing Apple’s e-book price fixing. While the general terms have not dramatically changed, the DOJ has offered to reduce the length of the injunction from ten years down to five along with easing some of the restrictions on Apple’s ability to make new deals with book publishers.

Apple’s response to the original proposal was to call it “a draconian and punitive intrusion” into the company’s business, and has stated that it will be appealing the July 10th ruling, arguing that it “exceeds the bounds of even criminal price-fixing cases” and is an effort to “inflict punishment” upon the company. [via Engadget]

Apple revising App Store rankings system?

Apple may be working toward incorporating user ratings into its App Store Top Charts rankings, according to some new analysis by Fiksu, an app marketing startup. The report notes that based on some in-depth and ongoing analysis, it would appear that Apple has been at least testing changes to the iTunes ranking algorithms to factor in user ratings and reviews in addition to the traditional number and frequency of downloads—apps with four stars or more seem to be receiving a consistent ranking boost.

The report also notes that the position of apps in the App Store appear to be updating with less frequency—every three hours as opposed to every 15 minutes previously. Fiksu speculates that this change may be to add a ‘buffer’ period to prevent developers and marketers from trying to game the system through short download bursts. It is unclear at this point whether these changes are part of a new strategy on Apple’s part or simply the result of the company experimenting with the App Store rankings. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple pushes forward with major TV content providers?

A new report from Quartz suggests that Apple is continuing to pursue talks for a future television offering. The report suggests that Apple has shifted its focus to negotiating directly with individual content providers rather than traditional cable companies. New sources familiar with the matter have revealed that Apple is negotiating with production studios and networks such as Disney’s ESPN, Time Warner’s HBO, and Viacom about possible strategies. Additionally, Apple reportedly has concluded that it “doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy,” rather just “enough good programming to distinguish the new product.”

While it remains unclear what stage these talks are at, sources indicate that Apple’s strategy could involve forming its own pay television service with content delivered entirely over the Internet—a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (“MVPD”), akin to planned offerings from Google, Intel, and Sony. With agreements from content providers, Apple could also offer channel-specific apps without the need for an existing cable television subscription. Apple has already gradually rolled out new services to the current Apple TV set top box, with both ESPN and HBO GO being added in a software update in June. These apps, however, depend on existing cable television subscriptions to the ESPN and HBO channels, as well as streaming agreements with specific cable providers.

iWork for iCloud beta opens to public?

Apple appears to have opened its iWork for iCloud beta to the general public, allowing anybody with an Apple ID to access its new web-based productivity suite. Originally only available to registered iOS Developers, Apple later sent out invitations to some users to the beta to for early access to the service.

Users can check out the new Pages, Numbers, and Keynote web apps by logging on with their normal Apple ID and password at iCloud.com. It is unclear at this point how long this public beta period for iWork for iCloud will run or whether Apple will continue to provide the web apps as a free service to iCloud users following release. [via Engadget]

 

Apple acquires transit app developer Embark

In a continuing quest to improve the quality of its mapping services, Apple has reportedly acquired transit app development firm Embark, a small Silicon Valley startup that develops free transit apps for iOS. While it is unclear how much Apple paid for the acquisition, the report notes that Apple plans to integrate Embark’s technology into Apple Maps, according to people knowledgeable about the deal. This is the second transit-related company Apple has acquired in the past few weeks, following its acquisition of HopStop in July, and suggests that Apple is working to develop its own transit guidance system to fill the gap in Apple Maps since it switched away from Google Maps last year. [via 9to5Mac]

Apps: Asphalt 8, Real Racing 3 1.3, Yahoo Weather 1.2, YouTube 2.0

Gameloft has released Asphalt 8: Airborne (iLounge Rating: A), an extremely impressive new instalment in the company’s long-running Asphalt racing game series. Asphalt 8 sets a new high standard for iOS gaming, taking the player through eight “seasons” with 180 diverse, fun, and interesting racing events. As its name hints, Asphalt 8: Airborne also introduces vehicular acrobatics to the mix, with ramps scattered throughout courses allowing players to flip their car through barrel rolls, 360-degree spins, and more. Visually and sonically fantastic, a tremendous amount of fun to play, challenging, and diverse in unexpected ways, it’s the best driving game we’ve yet seen in the App Store.

Real Racing 3 has been updated to version 1.3, introducing a whole new iconic collection of big Dodge and Shelby V8 muscle cars hailing from Detroit, along with a new racing series to feature the collection. The update also makes improvements to difficulty tuning, visual physics, and cameras, and adds additional social networking options for Time Shifted Multiplayer and Cloud Save.

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.

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