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Apple settles lawsuit over streaming patents

Kudelski Group, owners of software company OpenTV, has announced a deal to settle a legal fight over patents with Apple. In March, Kudelski Group won a German lawsuit against Apple over streaming technology used in iOS, OS X, the App Store, iTunes and on Apple TV, with similar lawsuits pending in the United States. In today’s announcement, Kudelski Group said it has reached a “comprehensive patent license agreement with Apple” and agreed to dismss all pending litigation over patents. Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the story and financial terms weren’t disclosed. Under the German ruling, Apple was barred from selling products that used the streaming software covered under the five OpenTV patents, but it’s not clear if the new settlement resolves that issue as well. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases new Apple TV Remote app

Apple has released its new Apple TV Remote app in the App Store. The app, which requires iOS 9.3.2 or later, allows users to take advantage of features found on the 4th-gen Apple TV’s Siri Remote. Siri access is available from the app, and an iOS device can be used as a game controller, in addition to past features like a keyboard for text, and playback controls. The app works for 2nd and 3rd-gen Apple TV units, as well, but without the Siri and game controller features, of course. We first detailed the Apple TV Remote app in our tvOS 10: Inside the betas article, and now the app is available to the public for free.

Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10 + watchOS 3

Apple has released the fourth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The fourth round of betas is intended to allow developers to continue working on the new features and APIs first debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, with the unveiling of each of the major new operating system releases; the fourth round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the third round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. We’ll update if any major developments pop up.

Judge throws out $656M patent judgment against Apple

A federal judge has overturned a verdict requiring Apple to pay $625.6 million in damages to VirnetX for infringement of four patents, Reuters reports. This is the second time a judge has thrown out a huge judgment won by VirnetX against Apple. In 2014 an appeals court overturned a $368 million judgment over the uses of VirnetX patents in FaceTime technology, contending that Apple did infringe on the patents, but that the damages hadn’t been calculated properly. A second trial concluding this year put Apple on the hook for $625.6 million, but the most recent court decision contends that jurors may have been confused by repeated references to the earlier trial. “The repeated references to the prior jury verdict in the consolidated case resulted in an unfair trial,”  U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder wrote. Schroeder has ordered that both cases be retried separately, with the first slated to begin on Sept. 26.

After Apple investment, Didi Chuxing buys out Uber in China

After Apple’s $1 billion investment in May, Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing has announced plans to buy Uber’s operations in China, Bloomberg reports. The deal will see Didi absorb Uber’s brand, business operations and stored data in the country, with Uber receiving a 20-percent stake in the combined company. Didi founder Cheng Wei and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will also join each other’s boards.

Tim Cook to host Hillary Clinton fundraiser

Apple CEO Tim Cook will be hosting a fundraiser next month with Hillary Clinton, Buzzfeed reports. Cook will be joined by Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, to help raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund, which is a joint fundraising committee for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and 38 state parties. Notably, Cook is hosting the event as a private citizen rather than as a representative of Apple, as the company does not have a political action committee or donate to either party’s candidates. Last month, Cook also hosted a fundraiser for Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, although Apple itself declined to provide support to the Republican party’s national convention protest to Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments. The Cook-Clinton fundraiser will take place on Aug. 24.

Report: Apple to update Apple Store app with personalized recommendations

Apple has a redesigned version of its Apple Store app in the works that will feature personalized recommendations, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The updated app, expected to roll out within the new two weeks, will likely include a “For You” section that features suggested products based on a user’s prior purchasing history. While the report incorrectly indicates that there are separate Apple Store apps for the iPhone and iPad that will be merged in the new version, it is possible that Apple may be taking steps to provide a more unified interface design in the app on both the iPad and iPhone.

Report: Apple now prioritizing autonomous driving system in car project

A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals that Apple may be scaling back on its ambitions to build an actual car, shifting its strategy to focus on the development of an autonomous driving system. The report notes that Apple has not entirely abandoned efforts to design its own vehicle, and may in fact even partner with or acquire an established car maker rather than building a car on its own, but those familiar with the project say that the recent hire of Dan Dodge — the head of BlackBerry’s automotive software division — is an indicator that an emphasis on the self-driving technology has increased.

WSJ: Apple’s ‘hard-charging’ approach unsuccessful in negotiations with TV networks

A new report in the Wall Street Journal provides some insight as to why Apple’s efforts to launch a web-based streaming service may have failed to gain much traction last year. Clearly drawing on information gleaned from sources from within the television industry, the report describes Apple’s typically “assertive” negotiating style as having alienated networks and cable providers, suggesting that the tactics used by Steve Jobs to “muscle music labels into selling songs online for 99 cents apiece” may have backfired on the company in working with television media companies. Executives are said to be concerned that if they agree to “Apple’s sweetheart terms” it would set a precedent for traditional cable distributors to demand a similar arrangement, cutting into their bottom lines.

Apple has sold one billion iPhones

Apple today announced that it has now officially sold one billion iPhones. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the news earlier today at an employee meeting in Cupertino, stating that “iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It’s become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day,” said Cook. “Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day.”

Apple crossed the threshold of “one billion active devices” earlier this year, announced at the company’s Q1 2016 Financial Results Conference Call in January, although this earlier number presumably included non-iPhone devices such as iPads and iPods, and was limited to active devices; today’s number refers to the total number of iPhones sold by Apple to date, and presumably includes those that have been retired from active use.

Apple turning ‘Carpool Karaoke’ into an Apple Music exclusive

Apple is turning James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment into its own series, set to air as an Apple Music exclusive, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The series will expand on the current format, with celebrity guests singing along to their favorite songs and surprising fans during the ride, but will likely feature a host other than Corden. The 16-episode series will be released weekly on Apple Music, but no premiere date has been announced.

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2016 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q3 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that while the earnings numbers are slightly down from last year’s quarter, the results reflect stronger customer demand and business performance than Apple anticipated 90 days ago, and that there are several encouraging signs. Cook noted that revenue was near the high-end of Apple’s guidance range for the quarter, and gross margin was actually at the top of the guidance range. The global launch of the iPhone SE in this quarter was very successful, and Cook noted that demand for the new iPhone outstripped supply for most of the quarter, with additional capacity required to achieve balance as Apple enters the next quarter. Cook referred to initial sales data revealing that the iPhone SE has been very popular in developed and emerging networks, and that the percentage of iPhone SE sales going to customers who are new to the iPhone is greater than Apple has seen in several years. Apple had millions of first-time smartphone buyers in the June quarter, and Cook reported that switchers from other smartphone platforms accounted for the highest iPhone sales numbers Apple has ever measured.

Speaking about Apple’s services business, Cook stated that they saw strong increases in Apple Music, iCloud, and AppleCare, with a growth of 19 percent to a record $6 billion in services revenue, up almost $4 billion year-over-year to $21.3 billion in total. Cook explained that services revenue is expected to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by next year, and it continued to be fueled by Apple’s active installed base of devices, making it clear that Apple is continuing to provide services with the goal of gaining ongoing revenue from existing iPhone users rather than relying on year-over-year hardware upgrades and purchases. Cook also highlighted the release of the 9.7” iPad Pro, noting that half of iPad Pro purchase are being bought for work purposes, and touched on the Apple Watch continuing to be the best selling smartwatch, ranking highest in customer satisfaction. Citing the recent launch of Apple Pay in Switzerland, France, and Hong Kong, Cook explained that Apple Pay adoption outside of the U.S. has been “explosive,” with half of Apple Pay transaction value coming from non-U.S. markets.

Apple Q3 results: $42.4B revenue, 40M iPhones, 10M iPads sold

Apple reported its third quarter 2016 financial results today, with 40.4 million iPhones and 10 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $42.4 billion and quarterly net income of $7.8 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. In Q3 2015, Apple had revenue of $49.6 billion and net income of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. Gross margin was 38 percent compared to 39.7 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 63 percent of this quarter’s revenue. For Q4 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $45.4 billion and $47.5 billion, and gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Cops bust ‘criminal enterprise’ using stolen credit cards at Chicago-area Apple stores

Chicago police have arrested six people in connection with “an organized criminal enterprise” using stolen credit cards at various Apple stores, the Chicago Tribune reports. The suspects were using identities and credit card numbers stolen from victims throughout the country to make fraudulent purchases, police said. The suspects, all of whom were from New York state, would fly into O’Hare International Airport, rent a car and visit local Apple stores to buy merchandise. Police successfully recovered more than $10,000 in stolen Apple products from the suspects, who were all charged with multiple felonies.

Update in iOS 10 allows for autoplay of silent videos in Safari

Apple is relaxing its controls on autoplay videos in Safari with the release of iOS 10, allowing silent or muted videos to start automatically. A post on the WebKit blog explains the rationale behind the changes as an effort to keep up with new display needs, as developers integrate more video elements into their sites. Some of those pages don’t work on iOS 9 due to user gesture requirements, so Apple is relaxing its restrictions. Silent or muted video will be allowed to play, while video with an audio track will load but be paused.

WSJ: Apple brings in trusted executive Mansfield to head Apple Car project

Apple has brought in one of its most highly regarded former executives to head up its secret automobile project, The Wall Street Journal reports. Bob Mansfield, who joined Apple in 1999 and was a top executive under Steve Jobs, lead the development of some of Apple’s biggest products, including the MacBook Air, iMac and iPad. After announcing his retirement in 2012 only to reverse course and stay with Apple working “on future products” just 2 months later, Mansfield moved from his post heading the company’s hardware engineering teams to lead a new group that later produced the Apple Watch. Mansfield made another public exit from Apple’s executive team in 2013, but earlier this month employees at the company began noticing all of the senior managers on the Project Titan car project were now listed as reporting to Mansfield. Neither Apple nor Mansfield responded to requests for comment about the move.

Apple to sell limited-edition Olympic Apple Watch bands exclusively in Brazil

Apple is planning to jump on board the fashion trends for the 2016 Olympic Games with a lineup of special edition Apple Watch bands representing the flags of fourteen of the major countries who will be participating in the Games. A new report in GQ reveals that the new limited-edition nylon bands will be sold exclusively at the Apple Store, VillageMall in Barra da Tijuca for $49 beginning in early August, and will include bands for the U.S.A., Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and The Netherlands.

Report: Apple Car team running into challenges, launch may slip to 2021

A detailed profile in The Information (via Macrumors) of three brothers allegedly working on Apple’s new car initiative, codenamed “Project Titan,” notes that the rumored 2020 launch date may be slipping to 2021 due to a number of challenges that the team has encountered. According to people “briefed about aspects of Titan,” the group has been struggling, and the January departure of Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky, who was believed to be heading up the project since 2014, has not helped both in terms of direction and morale. Despite this, however, the project remains at an early stage, and with another several years of research and development ahead, it would not be unexpected for Apple’s roadmap to change even further — last fall the Wall Street Journal reported that the Apple Car was targeted to ship as early as 2019.

Apple under fire for providing refurbished replacements under AppleCare+

A new class action lawsuit has been filed in California alleging that Apple is not living up to the terms of its AppleCare+ service plan by providing refurbished service stock replacements to customers rather than new devices. The suit takes specific issue with Apple replacing damaged devices with refurbished devices, focusing on the clause in the AppleCare+ terms that state that devices replaced under the program are “equivalent to new in performance and reliability” with lawyers for the plaintiffs arguing that refurbished means “a secondhand unit that has been modified to appear to be new” and therefore can’t be considered to be equivalent to a new unit in durability or functionality.

Report: Apple acquires cloud music provider Omnifone? [Update: No]

A new report by Macrumors suggests that Apple may be behind the recent acquisition of Omnifone, a cloud-based music provider behind the MusicStation service as well as providing the foundation for mobile partnerships through companies including Samsung, Vodafone, LG, Blackberry, Sony, and others, powering Samsung’s Milk, Sony’s Music Unlimited and Blackberry’s BBM Music services. A report earlier this month in Music Ally indicated that Omnifone’s tech business and assets had been purchased by a “mystery buyer” in the U.S. for $10 million, and sources back in May of this year suggested to Music Ally that Apple was believed to be interested in the company. Despite earlier reports that Apple might purchase Omnifone for its patent portfolio, documents covering the sale note that the patent portfolio was excluded, as were all debts and investments, although the terms did include a “royalty bearing license” that the company claims will help it to determine the value of its patent collection; Omnifone holds a number of patents related to downloading music, digital rights management, and generating recommendations that would likely appeal to streaming music companies.

Update: Jim Dalrymple of The Loop notes that although the original report does indicate a “mystery buyer” of Omnifone, his sources have told him that Apple is not the buyer.

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