Apple Pay debuted in Canada today and will arrive in Australia later this week for some American Express cardholders, The Financial Post reports. Retailers in both countries are ahead of the U.S. in adoption of the tap-to-pay technology necessary to use Apple Pay, but so far in Canada, only non-bank issued American Express cards will work with the digital payment system, since the company hasn’t finalized a deal with any major Canadian banks. Apple is having similar problems locking down a deal with banks in Australia, making it likely that only non-bank American Express cards will be usable when Apple Pay launches there as well.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is investigating Apple’s agreement for distributing audiobooks from Amazon, Reuters reports. The inquiry comes a little more than a month after Apple rid itself of a court-appointed antitrust monitor put in place by a 2013 ruling over the company’s conspiracy with publishers to fix e-book prices. The German investigation focuses on Apple’s long-term agreement to sell audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible business through iTunes. “The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany. Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail,” cartel office chief Andreas Mundt said in the statement. Both Apple and Amazon declined to comment.
While Apple CEO Tim Cook has touted the iPad Pro’s ability to replace a traditional laptop or PC in recent interviews, he told The Independent that Apple sees plenty of life left in its Mac line and has no plans to build a MacBook and iPad hybrid. “We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”
Following news that Apple is looking to expand Apple Pay to allow person-to-person payments, sources who have discussed the program with Apple said iMessage could end up being the method the company will use to facilitate those transfers, Quartz reports. The messaging client is one of the most-used apps installed on the iPhone by default and is especially popular with the demographic currently making the most use of person-to-person payments. People with knowledge of the Apple program said the company finds using iMessage and partnering directly with banks particularly beneficial since the move would let Apple avoid obtaining the money transfer licenses that companies like PayPal, Venmo and Facebook already have. There’s also plenty of precedent for the successful pairing of messaging and payments, with messaging apps already a popular means of making payments and money transfers in Asia, and Facebook reportedly attempting to add payment capabilities to its Messenger app for its U.S. user base.
In a post on the Beats Music support blog, Apple said it’s shutting down Beats Music on Nov. 30 and urged users to move their picks and preferences over to Apple Music before it’s too late. Apple has been encouraging Beats Music users to switch to Apple Music since launching the new service in June, but those users still paying for Beats Music will see their subscriptions canceled at the end of the month. The “related articles” section attached to the post features links to newly updated user guides for migrating from Beats Music to Apple Music for both iOS and Android, making it possible that Apple was waiting until the Android app’s release earlier this week before finally pulling the plug on Beats Music.
Apple is reportedly having discussions with U.S. banks about expanding Apple Pay to support person-to-person payments, according to The Wall Street Journal. The service would allow users to send and receive money with other users directly from their iPhones, and the report notes that it would likely be similar to Square Cash or PayPal’s Venmo platform, which has become popular among a younger demographic that uses it for features such as splitting tips, pitching in on gifts, and sharing rent and other household expenses among roommates. Some of the banks Apple has been talking with include J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp, although it does not appear that any of the firms have yet come to an agreement with Apple, with key details still to be worked out. While a launch isn’t imminent, one industry source suggested such a service could debut as soon as next year.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive explained the pains Apple has taken create a totally new drawing experience with the Apple Pencil accessory for the iPad Pro. The pencil’s sensor-filled tip gives the device capabilities no other stylus has, making it able to deliver a bold dot when pressed down hard on its tip or produce a lighter fanned effect when gently brushed on its side, just like a real pencil. But creating a device sophisticated enough to deliver those abilities created other challenges since, unlike a traditional stylus, the Apple Pencil needs to be charged. Ive admits plugging the pencil into an iPod through its Lightning connector removes some of the natural and intuitive feel the company worked to maintain with the device, but said his team endeavored to make it as simple as possible. “We don’t like to have to charge multiple devices and manage them either so one of the things we’ve worked extremely hard on is the actual process of charging.”
Apple is adding 1,000 new jobs at its office in Cork, Ireland, Reuters reports. The company is currently under investigation by the European Union over whether the tax breaks it enjoys in Ireland are legal, but Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the new hiring shows the controversy “hasn’t affected their enthusiasm for Ireland.” The company already employs 5,000 workers at the Cork facility and announced the construction of a new 850 million euro data center earlier this year.
Apple opened online orders of the new iPad Pro today, and many Apple Stores across the US are showing the item is available for in-store pickup for those who don’t want to wait. The in-store pickup option currently doesn’t appear when placing an order from Canada. Those opting for shipping when they place an order online can expect to get their device Monday free of charge or Friday if they’re willing to pay an extra $19. Canadian orders don’t appear to offer the expedited shipping option either, with only free delivery arriving Monday listed as an option. And regardless of where customers are shopping, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories for the new device are showing 3-4 week delays for availability, so be prepared to wait for the full experience.
Apple has announced a new series of developer tech talks for those interested in developing apps for the new fourth-generation Apple TV. The new Apple TV Tech Talks series will begin in Toronto on Dec. 7 and then move on to Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Cupertino, Berlin, London, New York, Tokyo, before finishing up in Sydney on Feb. 3, 2016. Each talk will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning covering tvOS and the capabilities of the new Apple TV for general app and user interface development and the afternoon session providing a deeper dive into graphics, gaming, and media streaming applications. Developers can apply now; the deadline is Nov. 13 at 10:00 a.m. PST. Due to limited capacity, Apple notes that priority is being given to teams who already have apps on the App Store.
Apple is continuing its more rapid iOS development cycle, now releasing its third beta of iOS 9.2 to developers. Sporting a build number of 13C71, the beta again features sparse release notes that focus on minor fixes to UI and developer API issues. Registered iOS developers can download the latest iOS 9.2 beta from Apple’s Developer site.
On his tour of London this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed the idea that the new iPad Pro is as versatile a product as the company has ever made with features that appeal to a broad range of users. In his interview with The Telegraph, Cook said the new tablet has the screen and speakers to give the average media consumer a much more robust viewing and listening experience, but when paired with the company’s keyboard case the device is powerful enough to replace a user’s notebook or desktop computer and challenge the PC’s dominance in the workplace. “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Cook said.
When paired with the Apple Pencil, Cook said the device is the first of its kind to give creatives a true alternative to putting pencil to paper for sketching. Addressing criticism that the Apple Pencil is a stylus that users don’t need since their finger can do the same job, Cook told The Independent that the Apple Pencil has won over artists by going far beyond what a stylus can do. “The traditional stylus is fat, it has really bad latency so you’re sketching here and it’s filling the line in somewhere behind. You can’t sketch with something like that, you need something that mimics the look and feel of the pencil itself or you’re not going to replace it,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to replace finger touch, we’re complementing it with the Pencil.”
European Union regulators will decide by Christmas whether Apple’s tax deals in Ireland are illegal, Dow Jones Business News reports. Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan addressed the company’s ongoing legal battle on his way to a meeting, saying “We’re expecting an adjudication on Apple maybe in the next few weeks, but certainly between now and Christmas.” The EU recently ruled against Starbucks and Fiat in similar cases, concluding that the companies had received tens of millions of euros in illegal state aid from the Netherlands and Luxembourg respectively. Noonan said it wasn’t yet clear whether the EU decision would go against Apple, but that Ireland would “deal with that when the announcement comes.” The EU began its investigation into Apple last year after Apple was accused of moving $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from Australia to Ireland.
A judge has thrown out a 2013 lawsuit by Apple Store employees asking for back pay for the time they spent enduring “demoralizing” security searches while leaving work for the day, Bloomberg reports. As many as 12,400 former and current Apple Store workers from 52 stores in California were seeking a few extra dollars per work day for the time they spent over a six-year period having bags and Apple devices searched during meal breaks and after the end of their shifts, which could have left Apple facing a payment of more than $60 million. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup sided with Apple, saying employees were free to choose to avoid the searches by not bringing their bags to work. Lee Shalov, a lawyer for the workers, said the employees are disappointed in the ruling and exploring a possible appeal. Apple declined to comment.
Apple has announced that the iPad Pro will be available for purchase online Wednesday and is set to arrive at Apple Stores and other retailers later this week. The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories will also be available for online order Wednesday. The announcement confirms previous reports that Apple would start selling the device on Wednesday and explains why Sam’s Club listed the iPad Pro as launching in its stores on Friday. It appears other third-party retailers have different sale dates listed for the device — Staples, for instance, has an availability date of Nov. 25.
A new Apple patent filing reveals that Apple may be working on a way to have an iPhone secretly enter a “panic mode” when unlocked using Touch ID with a specific finger. The patent, titled “Fingerprint Activation of a Panic Mode of Operation for a Mobile Device” and dated May 5, 2014, describes how a different mode of operation could be engaged by the detection of a specific finger on a fingerprint sensor, activating a “panic mode of operation” that would “automatically alter at least one standard operation of the mobile device,” such as restricting access to personal data stored on the device. The patent further describes how users could register multiple fingerprints to be associated with different modes of operation, presumably taking the implementation beyond a mere “panic mode” feature into calling up specific usage modes or profiles based on the finger used to unlock the device.
Apple has been training Siri voice recognition on the Apple TV to recognize movie and TV show titles in country-specific pronunciations, according to a new report from MacPrime (translated link). While Siri is available in more than 30 countries on the iPhone, on the Apple TV it remains limited to eight — Australia, Canada, Great Britain, United States, Germany, France, Spain, and Japan — and is notably not available even in other countries where the same languages are used, such as Switzerland. Asked why Siri support on the Apple TV was not available in Switzerland, where residents speak German and/or French, Apple responded by explaining that Siri on the Apple TV was designed to “put a special focus on television and film content,” specifically ensuring that it could quickly and accurately recognize film titles and names of actors, directors, producers, and so forth. To achieve this goal, Apple undertook efforts to teach Siri to recognize specific dialect and phonetic pronunciations for each country. This likely also explains why it has taken longer for Siri support for other features such as Apple Music to arrive on the Apple TV. The report notes that Apple is working on expanding Siri support to other countries, although the company has not given a firm date as to when this will happen. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s erstwhile sapphire supplier, GT Advanced Technologies, has come to an agreement to pay off its $439 million debt, The Wall Street Journal reports. GT Advanced contracted with Apple in late 2013 to open a plant in Arizona to produce sapphire for Apple’s display screens and Touch ID sensors with financial backing from Apple to help fund the plant’s startup costs. However, GT Advanced ultimately struggled to get sapphire production going and filed for bankruptcy late last year. After some legal wrangling, the two companies came to an agreement, with GT given four years interest-free to repay its $439 million loan to Apple by selling its sapphire furnaces.
Apple is continuing its more rapid iOS development cycle with the release of the second iOS 9.2 beta to developers. This second beta, build number 13C5060d, again features sparse release notes that focus on minor fixes to UI and developer API issues, specifically focused on Apple Watch support, audio, dictionary, iCloud Keychain, networking, Safari, Video, and Wi-Fi calling. The iOS 9.2 beta continues to support the same devices as iOS 9.1. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.2 beta from Apple’s Developer site.
Now that the new fourth-generation Apple TV has been released to the public, Apple has begun its first developer beta cycle for its new tvOS operating system, releasing the first beta of tvOS 9.1 to developers today. With a build number of 13U5061d, the release notes identify a focus primarily on UI and networking issues, as well as fixes for developers testing Apple TV apps in the simulator. As with iOS developer betas, the beta versions of tvOS are intended for installation only on devices that have been registered with the Apple Developer Program; it is unclear whether Apple will be running a public beta of tvOS at this point as it has with iOS and OS X betas.