A new report from Re/code reveals that Apple is working to get the price of its subscription music services down to as low as $5/month. Apple was reportedly asking the labels to cut prices to pave the way for a cheaper Beats music subscription, and is suggesting that top iTunes buyers spend about $60/year on music downloads, which equates to about $5/month. On a $5/month subscription model, the music labels would therefore not lose any revenue as a result of those download buyers switching over to a streaming model, and would in fact potentially gain more revenue in the form of new subscribers who may not otherwise spend as much on downloads. The Re/code report also notes that Spotify has just made changes to its streaming plan, offering a “family plan” price of $5/month for additional accounts beyond the first account, suggesting that some room exists in the label agreements for lowering pricing. It’s also worth noting that competing streaming service Rdio has been offering a similar “family plan” for about two years now.
After being offline for the past several hours, the Apple Store has returned and begun taking iPad pre-orders. When Apple unveiled the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 at yesterday’s event, the company announced that pre-orders would begin today, October 17th. While Apple did not specify at what time pre-orders would begin this time around, products have become available for pre-order as early as 12:01 PT, and pre-orders are usually available by the beginning of the business day. While it is unclear exactly why the Apple Store was down this morning, it seems likely that some technical issues prevented pre-orders from being available as early as Apple would have preferred.
Following yesterday’s release of OS X Yosemite, Apple has released updates to its three iOS iWork apps—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—adding support for iCloud Drive and the new iOS 8 and Yosemite Handoff feature. The updates also include support for third-party storage providers in iOS 8 and note “updated file formats” that make it easier to send documents via services such as Drobox and Gmail. Additional new features have also been added such as more color options with a custom color mixer in the iPad versions, the ability to take photos and videos directly from within the apps, and accessibility, usability, and language improvements. Keynote also introduces a feature that allows users to pair with nearby iOS devices using Multipeer Connectivity.
Apple has debuted the newest edition of its 7.9” tablet, which it’s calling iPad mini 3. The new iPad mini 3 includes Touch ID, and it comes in silver, space gray, and gold. It notably continues to have an A7 processor, not an A8 or A8X, and does not include any of the wireless or camera upgrades found in the iPad Air 2.
iPad mini 3 starts at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $499 for 64GB, and $599 for 128GB. Cellular + Wi-Fi models add $130 to each model. Like iPad Air 2, preorders for iPad mini 3 start Friday, Oct. 17, and the tablet ships by the end of next week.
Additionally, the former “iPad mini with Retina display” has been renamed “iPad mini 2” to more clearly differentiate it from its predecessor and successor. It will be offered in 16GB ($299/$429) and 32GB ($399/$529) models.
Apple has officially introduced the newest edition of its full-sized tablet today with the debut of iPad Air 2. Touch ID, first seen in iPhone 5s and included within iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, has been added to the tablet. The side switch has been removed, and it appears to have been replaced by another microphone.
iPad Air 2 is 6.1 mm thin, 18 percent thinner than the previous iPad Air. A single-component display reduces internal reflection with a sharper image. The screen also now has an anti-reflective coating, and reflections are reduced by 56 percent.
A new chip, A8X, has been created specifically for iPad Air 2. The second-generation 64-bit architecture chip is 40 percent faster. The GPU is 2.5x faster than iPad Air. iPad Air 2 has 10-hour battery life and an M8 coprocessor that can track elevation and motion.
A new iSight camera has been added to the new Air — an 8MP camera that can shoot 1080p HD video. Burst mode is also available on the iPad Air 2 camera. Slo-mo videos have also been added to video recording — 120 fps at 720p. A new FaceTime camera with an all new sensor has also been included in iPad Air 2 — improved face detection, burst selfies, HDR videos, and single-shot HDR photos are all included.
Faster Wi-Fi — 802.11 ac with MIMO — and faster LTE with 20 LTE bands are featured in iPad Air 2.
iPad Air 2 comes in silver, space gray and gold, and will cost $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi only, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB. Cellular prices are $130 more for each model.
Pre orders begin Friday, Oct. 17, and the iPad Air 2 will ship next week.
Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, has been confirmed for an October 20, 2014 launch in the United States. A collection of previously-announced retailers will be the first to have Apple Pay in their stores.
Five hundred additional banks have signed up to support Apple Pay since it was announced, including all of the major networks and a number of major retailers signing on to support by year’s end. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted today that Apple Pay payments can also be made online, not just at retail stores.
Later in the event, Apple also introduced Apple Pay for the iPad Air 2, however, it explicitly omitted any reference to NFC capabilities for in-store purchasing using iPads. The suggestion was that Apple Pay can only be used for iPad online purchases.
Apple announced today that its WatchKit SDK would roll out next month prior to the launch of Apple Watch. WatchKit will give developers a way to make apps for Apple Watch, which is still on track for an “early 2015” release. The November release of WatchKit should give developers time to tinker with creating their own watch apps before Apple Watch hits the market.
Apple’s own iOS 8.1 user guide in the iBookstore reveals screenshots of an iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Touch ID. Additionally, the guide shows a screenshot noting that iPad Air 2 will be able to use Burst Mode when taking photos. Based on the shots, it does appear that Apple will call the devices iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. As the screenshots in the user guide are for iOS 8.1, we’ll likely also see that debut tomorrow, as well. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is planning to stop selling Fitbit fitness products in its stores, according to a new report from Re/code. Although it’s unclear why Apple plans to discontinue sales of the Fitbit, this news comes shortly after Fitbit issued a statement that it was still “evaluating integration with HealthKit” in iOS 8. Several other major health and fitness accessory makers have already updated their apps for HealthKit integration, making Fitbit one of the few holdouts. Apple declined to comment on the basis that it doesn’t discuss its vendor partnerships. [via 9to5Mac]
A recent U2 interview posted on Facebook saw the band members taking questions from fans, and one of the questions concerned the automatic free download of U2’s Songs of Innocence album to iTunes playlists: “Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples [sic] playlists ever again? It’s really rude.” The album was accessible for free to 500 million iTunes customers; early estimates claimed 33 million users accessed the album.
The question was posed to U2 frontman Bono, who answered, “Oops. Um. I’m sorry about that. I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard. There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we — we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”
Ireland is planning major changes to its corporate tax structure, according to Reuters, including eliminating the “Double-Irish” tax loophole that has allowed companies such as Apple to use Ireland as a tax haven. Addressing Ireland’s parliament, the government’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan stated that “aggressive tax planning by multinational companies has been criticised by governments across the globe and has damaged the reputation of many countries,” further promising to change the country’s residency rules to require that all companies registered in Ireland also be “tax resident,” thereby requiring them to pay taxes to the Irish government. The change takes effect on January 1st, 2015 for new companies, however the government plans a transitional approach for existing companies including Apple through the end of 2020. Last month, the European Union issued a “preliminary view” notifying Ireland that its tax deals with Apple and other large companies constituted illegal state support for those companies.
Court filings from Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies have revealed a number of details about Apple’s non-disclosure agreements, including a $50 million penalty for leaking any product information. Lawyers from GT are making the case that more information about the company’s relationship with Apple should be made public “in the interests of creditors and shareholders,” the Financial Times reports. This comes after GT, which recently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, asked the court to void its “oppressive and burdensome” contracts with Apple. GT plans on winding down its operations and closing its manufacturing plant by year’s end. It’s unknown, however, if the $50 million penalty for leaking information is uniform for other Apple suppliers, as that number may vary.
Alleged components of Apple’s upcoming second-generation iPad Air were recently posted on Apple.club.tw, with a logic board that shows an A8X chip. While the iPad Air used the same A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus contain an A8 chip, so it appears Apple will be once again making a separate processor for the iPad. The report also claims that iPad Air 2 will pack 2GB of RAM, as has been rumored. In addition to the logic board, the report also contains shots of the new iPad’s alleged Touch ID button and new display glass cover. Apple is expected to reveal its latest iPads on Thursday, Oct. 16.
Apple announced that it will release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 36 more countries and territories by the end of the month. The new iPhones will be available in a total of 69 countries by October’s end, and Apple claims more than 115 countries will have the new iPhones by the end of 2014 — the fastest iPhone rollout ever. Starting on Friday, October 17, the phones will launch in India, Monaco, and China, while rolling out to more countries over the next few weeks. Chinese site Tencent claims more than 20 million preorders for the new iPhones have already been processed in China.
Apple is preparing to completely remove all Bose audio products from its retail stores, MacRumors reports. While no reasons were given for the move, the report speculates that Apple’s acquisition of Beats may have caused Apple or Bose to “end their retail relationship.” It’s notable that Bose now has an exclusive deal with the NFL that prohibits players from wearing other branded headphones during televised interviews, and Beats headphones have long been popular with NFL players. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined $10,000 by the league this week after wearing Beats headphones during a post-game interview. Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Beats, was wearing pink headphones for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Bose also sued Beats over noise-canceling patents in July.
Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has asked the court for permission to close its manufacturing plant, Re/code reports. GT Advanced filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week, and Apple said publicly that it was “surprised” by the filing.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal and disclosed by court documents, GT failed to produce sapphire for Apple’s iPhone displays. A court hearing on GT’s request to wind down operations will be heard on Wednesday, Oct. 15. While reports have suggested GT’s problems won’t affect production of the Apple Watch — other suppliers could be used for the sapphire sizes needed for the watch — Apple may have to adjust its plans for using sapphire in future iPhones.
Following its bankruptcy filing earlier this week, GT Advanced Technologies has asked for non-disclosure in its pending bankruptcy proceedings, stating that it cannot disclose the details surrounding its Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to “an unspecified confidentiality agreement.” A lawyer for the company told a U.S. Bankruptcy judge that the agreement in question prevented the company from disclosing the cause of the bankruptcy, or any plans it has for dealing with the bankruptcy. The court was also asked by GT to seal specific documents referencing a third party, and asked that the proceeding be closed to the public to avoid violating “existing confidentiality agreements” that could make the company liable for potential damages of up to $50 million per violation. Since Apple is known for its strict confidentiality clauses, and was working closely with GT Advanced Technologies, it seems extremely likely that Apple is the unnamed third party in this case, although the larger company was reportedly surprised by the bankruptcy filing earlier this week.
Apple is pushing back mass production for its planned larger iPad into early 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sources said the company was prepared to start production this December, but overwhelming demand for the new iPhones has become the top priority. A previous report also claimed that the device would enter production in the first quarter of 2015. It’s still expected that the new iPad — often referred to as “iPad Pro” — will have a 12.9” display. The actual release date for the product is still unknown, especially considering a production timeline that is apparently evolving based on other factors.
Following news earlier this week that Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advance Technologies had filed for bankruptcy, Reuters reports that Apple has stated it was “surprised” by the news and is now considering its next steps. An Apple spokesman noted that the company “focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.” GT has still not provided any real explanation as to its sudden bankruptcy filing, however the company has stated that it will clarify the situation during its first Chapter 11 bankruptcy court hearing, set for Thursday, Oct. 9.
Apple has sent out invitations to its upcoming event on Thursday, Oct. 16. “It’s been way too long,” says the invitation. As usual, the event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The company is expected to introduce its new iPads at the event, in addition to new iMacs.