Apple is now co-designing packaging for third-party accessories sold in its Apple Stores, 9to5 Mac reports. Apple has been working with select accessory makers over the past six months, and redesigning boxes to be more in line with the packaging of Apple’s own products. According to a memo to Apple Store employees, the new packaging will be mostly white and include simpler fonts, better compatibility labeling and new product photography. The boxes will also be made of higher-quality materials, underscoring Apple’s emphasis on controlling the sourcing of its packaging products. Apple has helped produce new packaging for Tech21, Sena, Incase, Mophie, Logitech and LifeProof. As packaging that doesn’t fit the Apple look is phased out, the company will work with more accessory makers to expand the new packaging style. No hard timeline for the change has been released, but new boxes have already started showing up in larger Apple Stores.
As we’ve seen — and were told earlier this year — Apple has been pushing out many third-party case options in order to develop a “boutique” feel in stores. This new move to co-design third-party packaging follows those same lines.
A week after Apple quietly dropped the popular Home Sharing feature from the Music app in iOS 8.4, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has promised the company is “working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9.” In a tweet, Cue confirmed that Apple is trying to bring back the missing feature, which allows an iOS device to stream music from a computer running iTunes on a local Wi-Fi network. With Home Sharing going missing just as Apple Music debuted, some have speculated that the feature was removed because it competed with the new streaming service and the company’s paid iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library options. Home Sharing is still available in the Videos app, and other than Cue’s tweet, Apple hasn’t hasn’t commented on the change.
A federal appeals court ruled against Apple Tuesday, affirming that the company conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices, Reuters reports. The 2-1 decision upheld a lower court ruling that the agreement that raised e-book prices to higher levels than those previously charged by Amazon violated antitrust laws. In his dissenting opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Jacobs said he would have reversed the ruling, holding that Apple’s behavior was pro-competitive in taking on “monopolist” Amazon, which controls about 90 percent of the e-book market.
Losing the appeal means Apple is on the hook for the previously determined $450 million settlement to resolve U.S. state and consumer claims from the case. The loss also means that Apple’s contentious relationship with its court-appointed antitrust monitor will continue. Neither Apple nor the Justice Department commented on the ruling.
Apple has released iOS 8.4, and with it, Apple Music makes its much-anticipated debut within the redesigned Music app. Apple Music’s DJ-curated Beats 1 station will begin broadcasting at 12 p.m. Eastern time. The full scope of Apple Music features will eventually cost $10/month, but all the features are available to users free of charge for the first three months. iOS 8.4 also includes iBooks improvements and bug fixes.
Apple has announced that it will release its Q3 financial results on Tuesday, July 21. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q3 of revenue between $46 billion and $48 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.
Apple has pushed up its usual release time by a few hours for iOS 8.4 ahead of Apple Music’s release Tuesday, Apple Insider reports. In a now-deleted blog post, Apple Music’s senior director Ian Rogers said iOS 8.4 will become available at 8 a.m. Pacific Time (11 a.m. EST) to allow users to use Apple Music and hear the inaugural broadcast of Apple’s Beats 1 radio programming. Beats 1 will start its global broadcasting with former BBC DJ Zane Lowe an hour later.
An Apple Music Facebook event encourages users to update to iOS 8.4 and directs them to another site spelling out requirements for using the streaming service. The new Music app in iOS 8.4 is needed to run Apple Music on an iPhone, which can then sync with an Apple Watch to provide playback “even when your paired iPhone is not nearby.” New Apple Music users with existing iTunes libraries will have access to their entire collection through iCloud, and Beats Music users opening the Beats Music app on an iOS device tomorrow will be prompted to join Apple Music, where their saved playlists and albums will be made available.
Apple also promises to roll out Apple Music to Android this fall, and Apple spokesman Tony Neumayr confirmed to Buzzfeed that Apple Music is coming to Sonos devices “before the end of the year” after previous reports claimed that the service wouldn’t be available on Sonos. Beats Music, which is owned by Apple, works on Sonos, but iTunes Radio and many other features that have been folded into Apple Music still don’t. More music updates are on the horizon as well, with iTunes head Eddy Cue tweeting that work is underway on expanding the size of iTunes Match libraries from 25,000 tracks to 100,000 tracks.
Apple has started production on new iPhone models that include Force Touch, Bloomberg reports. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the new iPhones have the same 4.7” and 5.5” measurements as the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Higher-volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month, with assembly expected to go smoothly, because the phones also have the same exterior design as the 6 and 6 Plus. The only potential problem is the supply and yield of the new Force Touch-capable displays, which could cause production snags or influence the timing of the new iPhone’s release, one source said. Apple didn’t comment on the story, but it was reported months ago that Apple would be adding Force Touch to new iPhone models, and iOS 9 will support the new technology.
Apple has updated the terms of its AppleCare+ Protection Plan for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch, now providing coverage for units where the battery retains less than 80% of its original capacity, an update from the previous terms that provided coverage at only the same 50% battery depletion. In situations where the battery will not hold a charge of at least 80% of its “original specifications” Apple will either “repair the defect at no charge” or simply exchange the device with a new or equivalent-to-new replacement unit. The updated policy includes all iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch models, however it only takes effect for new AppleCare+ coverage purchased after April 9th, 2015; AppleCare+ plans purchased prior to that date continue under the original terms in effect at the time the coverage was purchased. [via MacRumors]
Apple has apparently removed all apps that include the Confederate flag from its App Store, including games set around the American Civil War, TouchArcade reports. The move comes on the heels of a number of other major U.S. retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and eBay removing all Confederate flag merchandise from their stores in the wake of the recent tragic shooting in Charleston. Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a tweet on Sunday making reference to “removing symbols & words that feed” racism.
Developers affected by Apple’s decision have received messages stating that their apps are being removed as they include “images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.” Some developers have expressed concern that Apple may be casting too wide of a net, however, banning apps such as period-based games that incorporate the flag merely in an appropriate historical context, such as in games set around the American Civil war.
Apple has updated its support document on HomeKit, adding a full list of voice commands that can be used with Siri to control HomeKit compatible accessories. Standard commands include obvious ones such as “Turn on the lights,” “Turn off the lights,” and “Set the brightness to 50%,” however, the document also illustrates some more advanced commands that can be used with defined rooms or scenes to say things like “Turn on the upstairs lights,” “Turn off Chloe’s light,” or “Set up for a party, Siri.” The document also notes some other interesting aspects of the HomeKit integration, such as restrictions on using some commands while the iOS device is locked, likely as a security feature; you’ll need to unlock your iPhone before you can unlock a door, for example. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple will be paying royalties of 0.2 cents for each song that is streamed from Apple Music during the service’s three-month trial period, The New York Times reports. While the company had originally not planned to compensate artists during the free trial period for its new streaming music service, it reversed course earlier this week following an open letter from Taylor Swift castigating the company for its unwillingness to support struggling independent artists, although the terms of any compensation were not immediately revealed. As a result, however, indie label Beggars Group and digital rights organization Merlin came to terms with Apple, with the latter recommending its member labels accept Apple’s new deal. The 0.2-cent-per-song rate is said by music executives to be “roughly comparable” to what other services such as Spotify pay for streamed songs from their free, ad-supported tiers, however, it does not include a smaller payment to music publishers for “songwriting rights” which Apple is reportedly still negotiating with publishers over.
Apple has spelled out the requirements for using Apple Pay in the United Kingdom in an FAQ. Apple’s requirement that users enter their Touch ID or passcode for every purchase means using Apple Pay won’t require entering a separate PIN at the terminal, but at launch in July transactions will likely be limited to £20 or less at many retailers. While Apple Pay allows transactions of any amount, payments to retailers with most existing contactless payment hardware will be capped at £20, just like all other contactless transactions conducted with a card. That limit is being increased to £30 in September, according to the UK Cards Association’s website. To accept payments of higher amounts from Apple Pay, retailers will need to ensure their new payment terminals support the Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method (CDCVM) standard. CDCVM-capable hardware accepts Apple Pay customers’ Touch ID/passcode verification in lieu of a PIN to verify the user’s identity. [via 9to5Mac]
With less than a week to go before launch of its new music service, Apple has now struck deals with indie label Beggars Group and digital rights organization Merlin, Billboard reports. Merlin CEO Charles Caldas sent a letter to members recommending the new arrangement now that Apple has agreed to pay royalties during the service’s three-month free trial, although financial terms were not disclosed. Apple’s pay rate for artists during the free trial is still unknown, but Caldas told members that amendments to their current agreement with Apple would be available soon in iTunes Connect. Each of Merlin’s more than 20,000 members will then make its own decision about whether to take the deal or not.
Other indie groups are still standing opposed to signing with Apple Music until payment terms are discussed, but Beggars Group - which helped launch the careers of Adele, Radiohead and Arcade Fire - has signed on after being a vocal opponent of Apple’s previous stance. In a joint statement issued by Worldwide Independent Network, Beggars Group founder and chairman Martin Mills said after “fruitful discussions with Apple” his label is “happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands, and look forward to being a big part of a very exciting future.”
Apple has already begun pushing out tips specific to iOS 9 in the second iOS 9 beta released yesterday. The built-in Tips app, which first appeared last year in the fourth iOS 8 beta, provides push-based tips to help illustrate useful features specific to Apple’s latest mobile operating system. So far, two iOS 9 specific tips have appeared in the latest beta, the first explaining how users can now search for a player or team to get the latest sports scores, and the second outlining the new scrubber in the iOS 9 Photos app that can be used to quickly compare pictures. Additional iOS 9 tips will likely appear as the iOS beta cycle continues, which will provide a ready-to-go collection of tips in the app by the time iOS 9 is released to the public in the fall.
Apple has released second betas of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 to developers, continuing the beta cycle for its next-generation mobile operating systems announced at WWDC for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and the Apple Watch. Featuring a build number of 13A4280e, the second iOS 9 beta features a number of under-the-hood improvements from the first beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. The latest watchOS beta has a build number of 13S5255c and is installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.
These releases are also accompanied by a second beta of Xcode 7 to support the new APIs and development environment. Apple has also been releasing iOS 8.4 betas in tandem with the iOS 9 development cycle, with the 8.4 version expected to be released within the next week to support Apple’s new Music service, although at this point iOS 8.4 remains in its fourth beta version released two weeks ago; it is unclear if another beta or “GM” version will be released prior to the final public release.
Apple has asked a federal judge for $15 million in attorney fees from patent firm Unwired Planet, claiming in the court filing that UP employed an “improper litigation strategy” in an “attempt to wring value out of an obsolete portfolio.” Unwired Planet — once known as Openwave — sued Apple in 2011, alleging that Apple was infringing on its patents with technology used in iPhones, iPods and iPads. Apple prevailed in the case, but now wants UP to pay because “UP’s continued pursuit of those claims put an unusual and unwarranted burden on Apple and the Court.” Apple is routinely sued over patents, but contends that UP’s dogged pursuit of compensation for technology that Apple doesn’t use makes the case “exceptional” under patent law and justifies Apple’s ability to request repayment of court fees. [via Law360]
Apple has become a Promoter Member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, giving the company voting rights on Bluetooth corporate matters and a seat on the SIG’s Board of Directors. The other 6 Promoter Members — Toshiba, Lenovo, Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson and Intel — “unanimously welcomed Apple to the highest membership level of the organization,” according to a statement from Bluetooth. Toby Nixon, chairman of the SIG’s Board of Directors, said Apple has been a “key participant” in the Bluetooth system since 2011, and Apple’s newly upgraded status gives the company even more control over the future of Bluetooth.
Apple has agreed to pay royalties during Apple Music’s three-month free trial, but The Wall Street Journal reports the royalty rate is still up for debate. The company has touted Apple Music’s 71.5 percent royalty rate as the highest in streaming music, but that rate is going to be applied to total monthly income from subscription fees. Until those payments start rolling in, there will be no subscriber income on which to base the rates. Apple declined to comment on how much rights holders will be paid during the trial, but said that rates will rise once customers start paying for subscriptions — leaving partners to wonder just how much lower the initial rates will be with only a week to go until the service’s launch. Apple Music’s largest competitor, Spotify, currently pays artists half of its usual royalty rate during promotional periods.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple’s product designs are influenced by China’s consumer tastes, Bloomberg reports. As many have already suggested, the decision to release a gold iPhone last year was a reflection of that color’s popularity among Chinese users, Cook told the Chinese edition of Bloomberg Businessweek. Greater China has become Apple’s second-largest market after the U.S. Without releasing exact sales figures, Cook also disclosed that the Apple Watch is off to a promising start and drawing much more interest from app developers than either the first iPhone or iPad initially saw. A data analytics firm recently estimated the company has already sold 2.79 million Apple Watch units.
#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period— Eddy Cue (@cue) June 22, 2015
Just one day after Taylor Swift announced she would hold back her “1989” album from Apple Music during the three-month free trial period, the company has agreed to pay royalties to rights owners during the free period. In a series of tweets, SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue publicly reversed Apple’s plans to withhold royalties during the free trial, saying “We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” The policy had been viewed as particularly detrimental to indie artists, who would be losing iTunes sales revenue without making up for that income with streaming revenue. In an interview with Billboard, Cue said he had heard the same “concern from a lot of artists,” but that Swift’s letter put it over the top. “When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed a change. And so that’s why we decide we will now pay artists during the trial period,” Cue said.
After CEO Tim Cook approved the decision for Apple to eat the cost of paying royalties during the trial period, Cue said he called Taylor Swift, who is on tour in Amsterdam. Swift expressed her happiness over the policy change in another tweet:
I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 22, 2015