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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]

Apple offers deep discounts on iTunes movie, TV bundles

Apple is now offering a sale on iTunes movie and TV bundles, featuring some surprisingly deep discounts. For example, the entire eight-film Harry Potter collection is being sold for $10 in SD or HD, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is being offered for the same price. The Godfather Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, and a 10-film Star Trek collection are also offered, among many other bundles. Some discounted bundles have appeared in the TV show section as well, including The Sopranos Seasons 1-3 and 4-6 for $45 each—notably down from $125 total before, but up from $40 per bundle several days ago—and a Fan Favorites collection from Star Trek: The Original Series for $10.

Update: Some of the bundle prices were changed early in the sale — the Harry Potter collection went from $10 to $60, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed to $18, and some other prices changed, as well. Though some of those early prices were likely accidental, some buyers did get bundles for those low initial prices.

Report: New iPhone event slated for September 10

Apple will unveil its next-generation iPhone at a September 10 event, according to a report from AllThingsD—a publication that is frequently fed accurate advance details on upcoming product releases by Apple. AllThingsD says that the event will focus on the “update it has in store for the current iPhone,” but doesn’t definitively rule in or out an unveiling of the well-documented but still unannounced low-cost iPhone. “Naturally, any new phones will be running iOS 7,” the report notes, suggesting that the public release of the operating system first shown in June will also take place in September.

The report suggests that the event is unlikely to see the release of OS X Mavericks, and says there is “no indication” that Apple’s television or watch products are “close to debuting.” Nothing was said about new iPads, iPods, or other products.

Report: Apple board worried, pushes Cook to innovate

Apple’s board of directors have become concerned with the pace of innovation at the company post-Steve Jobs, and that concern is “manifesting into pressure on” Apple CEO Tim Cook to innovate, according to Fox Business News’ Charlie Gasparino. The board “is now worried about what’s in the pipeline,” Gasparino said, referring to a lack of innovative products from Apple moving forward under Cook. However, Gasparino also claims that the board is completely behind Cook at this point. “This does not mean Tim Cook is out of a job or there’s a job search out there,” he said.

Obama meets with Apple’s Cook, others on surveillance

President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a number of other technology executives yesterday to discuss government surveillance, according to Politico. Thursday’s meeting was one of “a number of discussions” the Obama administration is holding on surveillance, which an aide said is part of the president’s “national dialogue about how to best protect privacy in a digital era, including how to respect privacy while defending our national security.” Cook had no comment on the report. The issue of government surveillance has been in the spotlight since a June report on PRISM, the code name of the extensive government data mining program. Apple denied knowledge of the program, and denied its servers were being accessed by government agencies.

T-Mobile to offer more Apple products?

T-Mobile may soon carry more Apple products, as CEO John Legere alluded to the possibility in a recent interview. “I think there’s a whole array of Apple products that we look forward to carrying,” Legere told AllThingsD. “We will expand what we offer from them.” Legere may have been referring to WiFi + Cellular iPads, Apple’s new upcoming iPhones, or all of those devices.

Apple now seeking Samsung device ban

Apple recently saw an import ban on older iPhones and iPads vetoed, and now the company is trying to turn the tables on Samsung by asking a U.S. appeals court tomorrow to block sales of certain Samsung devices. Bloomberg reports that Apple will try to block the sale of Samsung models that have been found to violate patents covering the “iPhone’s look and features.” A U.S. trade agency will then determine if any Samsung imports will be stopped. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and an import ban was to block the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second- generation 3G iPads from being imported to the U.S., but the ban was recently overturned by the Obama administration.

iTunes in the Cloud for Movies now in 8 new countries

Apple rolled out movie support for iTunes in the Cloud across eight more countries today: Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Users in those countries can now re-download previously purchased iTunes movies. Notably, Apple has yet to mark the countries as now offering movie support on the iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match Availability page. There are still a number of countries in which Apple offers support for music and music videos in iTunes in the Cloud, but not movies. [via MacRumors]

Publishers object to agency ban in proposed Apple remedy

The five major U.S. publishers that settled with the U.S. government prior to trial are objecting to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed remedy for Apple’s e-book price fixing, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a court filing, publishers said eliminating the “agency model” for five years as proposed would harm the publishers instead of Apple, since publishers were given the ability to set the retail prices for e-books under the model. The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins — all settled with the government before a price fixing trial, while Apple went to court and was subsequently found guilty of fixing e-book prices. Apple has spoken out against the DOJ’s proposal, calling it a “draconian and punitive intrusion.”

iTunes Store outage affecting ‘some users’

An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.

Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”

Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

AppleCare to intro 24/7 chat support, new website

Apple will soon make major changes to its AppleCare support service, including making online chat support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to a report. Around-the-clock chat support could go live as soon as Aug. 12, with the online chat “likely” to support users of both iOS devices and Macs. Along with the always-available online chat support, Apple is also readying the launch of a redesigned AppleCare website. The interface of the revamped site will feature larger and simpler navigation and icons, similar to iOS. [via 9to5Mac]

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