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Apple Stores providing $5 iTunes Gift Cards with Apple Pay signup

Apple is adding an additional incentive for Apple Store customers in the U.S. and U.K. to activate Apple Pay by offering a $5/£5 iTunes Gift Card, according to a new report by Macrumors. Customers making an in-store purchase will be asked by Apple Store staff whether they will be paying with Apple Pay, and customers who do not already have Apple Pay set up on their iPhones and wish to do so will be taken through the process by the Apple Store employee and receive an iTunes Gift card in return for setting up Apple Pay and using it to make their purchase. The promotion will be available for any purchase made in an Apple Store, regardless of whether the customer is purchasing an Apple product, third-party accessory, or even an Apple Store or iTunes Store gift card.

Iran threatens to ban, seize iPhones unless Apple registers in the country

In an effort to crack down on phones being imported into the country by smugglers, Iranian officials have demanded that Apple officially register in Iran or have its products banned, The Japan Times reports. “If Apple will not register an official representative in Iran within the next few days, all iPhones will be collected from the market,” the director of Iran’s anti-smuggling office told Tasnim News Agency. The director’s name wasn’t provided in the report. The new project, running under the president’s office, will require all mobile phones to be registered with Iran’s telecommunications user database.

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

Apple has released the third developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The third 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 third round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the second round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. A new voicemail transcription beta is available in the iOS 10 beta 3 on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE with Siri language set to English (United States), and a new beta of the Apple TV Remote app is also available.

Apple’s Eddy Cue: ‘We’re not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast.’

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, provided some interesting perspective into Apple’s strategy in regards to television services and providers, tacitly denying many recent reports suggesting the company is pushing into original content. Cue emphatically denied that Apple is looking to acquire a studio or launch its own streaming TV service anytime soon, suggesting that Apple’s strategy is instead to work with many content providers and allow end users to “consume content in a much better way.”

Apple issues open casting call for ‘Planet of the Apps’ show

Apple has put out an open casting call for app developers looking to be featured in the company’s original series “Planet of the Apps.” Announced earlier this year, the show will follow developers as they receive hands-on guidance from experts in the tech community, funding from top venture capitalists, and featured placement in the App Store. Online applications are being accepted until August 26, and applicants must agree to have “an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21.” The first season will film in Los Angeles from late this year into early 2017, so those hoping to be on the show will need to be available for that period.

Patent lawsuit claims Apple infringed on battery technology

Somaltus has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that batteries in the iPhone 6s and similar devices infringe upon its patent on a complex battery technology, MacRumors reports. The suit seems to focus on the iPhone’s process of charging faster until the battery reaches 80 percent, then switching to “trickle-charge mode” after that. Somaltus can be described as a “patent troll,” as the company seems to exist simply to collect money from patents, providing no obvious products or services, but the company has won settlements from Ford and Nissan related to the same patent.

Leaked photos appear to show Apple EarPods with Lightning connector

Photos that have popped up on Chinese search website Weibo appear to show new Apple EarBuds with a Lightning connector in place of the old 3.5mm headphone plug. Since Apple bundles EarPods with all of its iPhones, this is another indication that rumors about Apple ditching the headphone jack may be true. The Lightning connector on the pictured EarPods is a bit thicker than the one that comes with the current iPhone’s cable—perhaps due to the added bulk of the technology required to transfer digital audio—which could be an issue for some iPhone cases if the images prove to be legit. [via NowhereElse]


Blind Apple engineer discusses company’s commitment to accessibility

Apple underscores its dedication to making its products accessible to the blind and low-vision community in a new story fromMashable, told from the perspective of engineer Jordyn Castor. Blind since birth, Castor said Apple’s iPad took her existing love for technology to another level because of the features aimed directly at people like her. “Everything just worked and was accessible just right out of the box,” Castor said. “That was something I had never experienced before.”

Apple expected to release iOS 10 public beta today

Following the release of the second iOS 10 Developer Beta earlier this week, Apple is expected to be releasing the first public beta of iOS 10 for non-developers through its Apple Software Beta Program. Unveiled last month at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 10 is being billed as the biggest iOS update that Apple has ever released, with major redesigns and enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News, an entirely new lock screen, today widget, and notification system, and breakthrough on-device intelligence for face, scene, and object recognition in the Photos app. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions later today; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site. [via CNET]

Apple releases fifth developer betas for iOS 9.3.3, tvOS 9.2.2

Apple has released the fifth developer betas for iOS 9.3.3 and tvOS 9.2.2, in parallel with the iOS 10 and tvOS 10 development cycle. As with prior betas, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements. The minimal list of “Known Issues” in the release notes as compared to prior betas suggest that both versions may be nearing final release and will likely be the last updates in the iOS 9 and tvOS 9 series before the release of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 in the fall. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

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

Apple has released the second developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The second 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 second round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the first round of betas, with the release notes indicating several items fixed in each beta, as well as the introduction of promised features such as auto unlock for watchOS 3 and macOS Sierra users, the Emergency SOS feature for the Apple Watch, an updated design for Apple Music in tvOS 10, and improvements to Apple Music in iOS 10. The updates are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.

Apple being sued by China over broadcast rights to propaganda film

A subsidiary of China’s broadcasting regulator has sued Apple over the rights to a 1994 propaganda film, The Associated Press reports. The suit from Movie Satellite Channel Program Production Center accuses the developer of the Youku HD app of enabling users to watch “Xuebo dixiao,” a film that depicts Chinese forces fighting Japanese soldiers in the 1930s. The plaintiff claims that by making the app available for download, Apple has infringed its exclusive rights to broadcast the film online, resulting in “huge economic losses.”  The production company is asking both companies to stop broadcasting the film and pay damages amounting to around $10,000. Apple declined to comment.

Apple adding organ donor registration to Health app

When Apple rolls out iOS 10 this fall, the Health app will be getting a small update that CEO Tim Cook hopes will make a big difference for people waiting for an organ transplant, The Associated Press reports. The improved Health app will include a simple sign-up button allowing users to enroll in the National Donate Life Registry quickly and easily. Cook said the issue hit home for Apple since he and many others witnessed the “excruciating” wait Apple co-founder Steve Jobs endured while awaiting a liver transplant in 2009. More information on enrollment through the Health app and Donate Life America can be found on Apple’s website.

Apple accuses Spotify of ‘asking for preferential treatment’ in response letter

Apple has responded to Spotify’s “public attacks” in a letter from Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell. Spotify recently made the public claim that Apple blocked the update to its latest app for anti-competitive reasons — Spotify is the top streaming rival of Apple Music. Sewell maintains that Apple’s guidelines are applied equally to all developers, and that Spotify has benefitted greatly from its App Store. “To imply that Spotify should not have to pay” would give the service a “tremendous advantage over other developers,” Sewell wrote, claiming this would be “preferential treatment.” Sewell also noted the Spotify app currently on the App Store is in violation of Apple’s guidelines. [via Buzzfeed]

WSJ: Apple ‘in talks’ to acquire Tidal

Apple is exploring the idea of buying competing music streaming service Tidal, The Wall Street Journal reports. The report claims Apple is “exploring the idea” of buying Jay-Z’s streaming service due to Tidal’s connections to such artists as Kanye West and Madonna. Terms are unknown at this point, and the talks “may not result in a deal,” sources said — a Tidal spokesman denied that such talks had taken place. Tidal currently has 4.2 million paying subscribers, who either pay $10 for a standard monthly plan, or $20 for a hi-fi plan. Apple recently noted that Apple Music has 15 million paying subscribers.

Spotify claims Apple anti-competitively blocking Spotify app update

Spotify has claimed that Apple is blocking the latest update of its iOS music streaming app because it competes with Apple Music, Re/code reports. A letter sent by Spotify to Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell accused Apple of “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” as a result of its rejection to an update to its iOS app. While Apple has not publicly commented on the reasons for rejecting the update, Spotify’s letter claims the company cited “business model rules” and demanded that the app use Apple’s billing system — which requires Spotify to give a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue to Apple — if “Spotify wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions.”

We cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon.

The comments in Spotify’s letter are similar to a public statement the company made earlier this week in response to Senator Warren’s speech accusing Apple and other tech giants of locking out competition. It appears that Spotify will be using this latest standoff to bolster its ongoing fight over Apple’s longstanding in-app subscription rules, which require iOS apps to either use the in-app purchasing system to sell subscriptions — and give Apple a 30 percent cut — or rely on outside purchase methods, such as web-based signups, that cannot be linked to nor even advertised from within the iOS app. In the letter to Sewell, Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez stated that “This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law,” and “continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify … we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accuses Apple, others, of locking out competition

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has accused Apple, Google, and Amazon of using their size to “snuff out competition.” In a speech delivered yesterday in Washington reported by Re/code, Warren singled out the three tech giants of using their dominant positions in the market to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” specifically noting that Apple “has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services” that compete with Apple Music. Warren went on to acknowledge that the three companies have “created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” but that opportunities to compete must “remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.” Warren’s comments, which also included other corporate giants such as Walmart and Comcast, were directed primarily at regulators and politicians that she feels are no longer fulfilling their obligations to “restore and defend competition.”

 

Cirrus Logic releases development kit for Lightning headphones

With Apple rumored to be doing away with the headphone jack on its new iPhone, Cirrus Logic is offering a development kit to aid headphone makers looking to simplify the switch to Lightning connectors. The company’s MFi Headset Development Kit includes reference designs for creating Lightning port connected headphones and a development board to be used in programming, debugging and testing audio performance. The design is compatible with earbuds or over-the-ear headphones and pre-programmed to support both digital audio playback and voice capture. With very few Lightning-connected headphone options currently available, the area is poised for rapid expansion.

Report details Apple Music’s vision for exclusive content

The man in charge of Apple Music’s original content said he’s trying to make the streaming service akin to “MTV in its Eighties and Nineties heyday,” Rolling Stone reports. Larry Jackson got his big break producing Lana Del Rey for Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, and he saw that focusing hard on the Internet rather than radio promotion was the recipe for success in the modern era. By pouring money into videos that then went viral, Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’ debuted at number two on the Billboard charts without any singles in radio rotation.

China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users

On the heels of severely tightening restrictions on mobile games, China is mandating that companies like Apple start monitoring mobile app users, Bloomberg reports. The new regulations posted Tuesday by China’s Cyberspace Administration require Apple to establish user’s identities, monitor their posts and report items that contain banned content to the Chinese government. The legitimacy of developers must also be verified, and app stores are now require to log each user’s activity for 60 days.

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