Apple may be looking to reduce the 30 percent cut that it takes from in-app media subscriptions, according to a new report in The Financial Times. The company is apparently in discussions with media companies looking to change the 70/30 revenue sharing split that Apple has traditionally offered for paid subscriptions to music, video, and news content. While the same revenue sharing model has been adopted by rival companies Google and Amazon, an improvement to the App Store’s pricing terms for content providers would help to ensure the iOS platform remains attractive to media companies as well as possibly reassuring regulators that Apple is not abusing its dominant market position. Services affected would include companies such as Spotify, Rdio, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Condé Nast and The New York Times, among many others. The move would also encourage more companies to take advantage of Apple’s in-app payment system for subscriptions, rather than working around them with browser-based solutions in order to avoid paying the 30 percent share to Apple, or passing the additional costs along to subscribers with higher pricing for those who choose to use Apple’s in-app payment system. While the report notes that Apple is in discussions with media companies about adjusting the revenue sharing model, no information has been provided about exactly what amounts Apple would be willing to settle for.
Mere days before Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where the company is expected to announce a new streaming music service, Apple remains in negotiations with record labels, Bloomberg reports. Labels are reportedly pushing for a larger portion of revenue from Apple than they are currently getting from their deals with rival service Spotify, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Both sides are said to want to complete a deal prior to WWDC on Monday, and the talks are actively continuing to that end. The labels are apparently using the talks with Apple to set a benchmark for negotiations with other services. Currently, the labels take 55 percent of Spotify’s monthly fees, and publishers take an additional 15 percent; the labels are said to be pushing for closer to 60 percent from Apple.
Tim Cook emphasized Apple’s long-standing commitment to privacy in remarks given during EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event, TechCrunch reports. The Apple CEO took other companies — presumably Google and Facebook — to task for heavily relying on collecting user data for the success of their lucrative advertising model. “I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” Cook said. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Now that Apple is storing even more sensitive data relating to users’ health, homes and finances, Cook said he believes the user should be in full control of their information, not allowing it to be sold as a commodity in exchange for a free service. He took a very pointed shot at Google’s Photos product, warning users against allowing their “family photos [to be] data mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose.” He also lambasted government efforts to push for weaker encryption, echoing the letter to President Obama that Apple co-signed in May.
Apple has issued a voluntary recall of the Beats Pill XL speaker, citing concerns that the battery could overheat and pose a fire safety risk. The recall provides a link to the form for returning the speakers to Apple for Apple Store credit or an electronic payment of $325 (or equivalent amount of local currency for those outside the U.S.). Refunds take approximately three weeks, and returns will only be processed on the web — customers should not try to return the product to the store where it was purchased.
Apple won’t be unveiling its subscription TV service next week at WWDC, Re/code reports. The company wanted to launch the new service in early fall to coincide with the new broadcast TV season, but necessary licensing deals aren’t yet finalized, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. Apple wants to provide customers in cities around the U.S. with local broadcast programming to set its service apart from those already available from Dish and Sony, but obtaining the rights to local shows and developing the technology to deliver them has proven time-consuming. CBS CEO Les Moonves has indicated his network will likely sign with Apple, but money is still a sticking point. Industry executives predict Apple’s TV service won’t launch until late this year or in 2016.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple will indeed unveil its new Apple Music service at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The report also confirms most of the details that have previously been reported about the new service, including that Apple will not only be unveiling a $10/month streaming music service to compete with Spotify, but also plans to update iTunes Radio with channels that are programmed and hosted by human DJs. While these details have been making the rounds for some time, it was previously unclear whether Apple would have the necessary licensing agreements in place in time for an early June unveiling of the service.
Apple is rumored to be working on a $19 million deal to add rapper Drake as a guest DJ for iTunes Radio, according to the New York Post. DJ David Guetta and Pharrell Williams — who sported his Apple Watch last month on “The Voice” — are also in talks to get on board as faces of Apple’s upcoming entry into the streaming music business, according to music industry sources. Reliance on artist involvement and star power to promote the new service is consistent with previous rumors that “Apple Music” will provide fans with track samples, photos, videos, and concert updates on artist-curated social networking pages.
Apple has issued a workaround for the recent Messages bug, which causes iPhones to reboot and Messages to repeatedly crash after a specific, strange string of unicode characters is received via text. In an official support document, Apple recommends using Siri to re-open the Messages app. Users are instructed to ask Siri to “read unread messages,” then to reply to the malicious message. Messages should then be able to open again, and users can delete the message, or the entire conversation. Apple notes that an upcoming software update will fix the issue.
Apple has made yet another acquisition in the form of Metaio, a small augmented reality company, TechCrunch reports. Metaio launched in 2003 as a result from a project at Volkswagen, and the company has worked on a number of virtual reality and augmented reality projects, including the 2010 launch of Junaio, one of the very first augmented reality apps for the iOS platform. A legal document sourced by TechCrunch notes that shares in the company were transferred to Apple on May 21-22. Although Apple’s response was the usual standard boilerplate confirmation: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” there are several readily apparent possibilities as to what Apple may be planning to do with Metaio, particularly in light of recent news that Apple may be bringing augmented reality features to iOS 9.
Apple’s appeal to the courts to have its appointed antitrust monitor dismissed has been rejected, the The Wall Street Journal reports. Former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich had been appointed to assess and oversee Apple’s antitrust compliance policies after the company was found liable in conspiring to raise e-book prices back in 2013. Since that time, Apple has been trying to have Bromwich dismissed, arguing that he has been exceeding the scope of his mandate, and that his fees were “exorbitant.” According to Bromwich, Apple has become uncooperative with the monitor in recent months, inappropriately limiting his access to necessary corporate records and denying requests for interviews with key personnel.
In a decision handed down earlier today, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Bromwich’s role was “appropriately constrained” and noted that Apple can continue raising objections in the lower court if it believes Bromwich has overstepped his bounds. Mr. Bromwich’s role was clarified by the court in early 2014, in a decision which made it clear that Apple was required to cooperate with the antitrust monitor, but that his role was limited to ensuring that “Apple has policies in place to prevent future antitrust violations and that senior executives and board members understand them.” One of the judges in today’s decision further noted that Apple failed to follow the court-mandated dispute resolution process in dealing with the monitor, instead choosing to sit “on its hands, allowing issues with the monitor to fester and the relationship to deteriorate, mostly without the district court’s knowledge.”
Apple is preparing to unveil a new rewards program tied to Apple Pay, according a new report by The New York Times. According to sources familiar with Apple Pay, the service could be unveiled as early as next month — likely at WWDC — and would provide perks to consumers who make purchases through the Apple Pay service. No further details are available, and it’s unclear whether these rewards would be tied to specific bank and card issuers or specific retailers.
General Motors has announced planes to bring Apple’s CarPlay to 14 of its 2016 Chevy models, Re/code reports. At Code Conference 2016, GM CEO Mary Barra announced that the software will be offered across the “full range of consumer models” from the Corvette to the Spark, and she went on to note that GM also has plans to integrate CarPlay into its other brands “soon.” This integration will make GM the first major U.S. automaker to integrate CarPlay across a widespread lineup of mainstream cars.
Apple plans to debut a more advanced software development kit for the Apple Watch as early as next month, Re/code reports. At the Code Conference, Apple’s Chief Operations Officer Jeff Williams noted that the new SDK would allow apps like games to run directly on the watch as well as providing direct access to the Apple Watch’s built-in sensors. While the existing WatchKit SDK allows developers to build extensions for the Apple Watch into their iPhone apps, up until now third-party apps have not been able to function natively on the wearable device independently of the paired iPhone.
Apple is planning to expand Siri and Spotlight functionality in iOS 9 to provide a more effective personal assistant, 9to5Mac reports. Dubbed Proactive, the service is expected to be similar in concept to Google’s Google Now service that is available on Android devices and in Google’s iOS app, leveraging services such as Siri, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps to provide relevant information to the user based on their data and device usage patterns. Integration with Apple Maps is also expected to allow the service to display points of interest, which will apparently be presented in a new augmented reality interface. The new service will reportedly be an evolution of the Spotlight search feature in iOS, and appears to be designed to be accessible from a panel to the left of the home screen — similar to where Spotlight was located prior to the iOS 7 design refresh two years ago.
Following an earlier report that Apple Maps will be adding Transit in iOS 9, a follow-up report by 9to5Mac provides more details on Apple’s initial rollout plans, indicating that at launch the service will be limited to a handful of cities around the world. According to sources familiar with the project, Apple’s Transit service will be coming to only a half-dozen cities at first, with the list including San Francisco and New York in the U.S., Toronto, Canada, and London, Paris, and Berlin in Europe. Despite this short list, however, Apple is reportedly already making plans to expand the service further, and is considering Boston, Massachusetts and Tokyo, Japan as two of the next cities on its list.
Apple has designed iOS 9 to support Force Touch capability — rumored to be coming in next-generation iPhones — and is making improvements to the OS keyboard, according to a report from 9to5Mac. Apple’s updated iOS 9 will offer similar functionality to the Force Touch trackpads in new MacBooks, integrating the new technology to bring pressure-sensitive scrolling to media players. Force Touch will also modify the way users look up words, allow them to add new events in Calendar, and drop pins in the Maps app, according to sources who have used the new iPhone prototypes. Since the updated iOS 9 will also power upcoming iPads, there is speculation that Force Touch capabilities will end up in future iPads, as well. Apple is also weighing options for keyboard updates, including easier access to the QuickType keyboard, an improved Shift key that makes it easier to see when Shift or Caps Lock is active, and a “longer” design with additional editing controls in portrait mode. Updates to iMessage are also expected, including improved read receipt settings and preferences.
Jony Ive is taking on the role of Chief Design Officer at Apple, as revealed in The Telegraph. Ive had been Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design for years prior, controlling both the industrial design for devices and the interfaces which run on the finished products since 2012. The promotion leaves Ive at the helm of Apple’s design process, but as of July 1 he will hand off day-to-day duties to new Vice President of Industrial Design Richard Howarth and new Vice President of User Interface Design Alan Dye. Howarth has worked on every version of the iPhone ever produced and Dye was integral in both the iOS 7 redesign and the new Watch OS interface for Apple Watch.
A new report by 9to5Mac provides some insight into Apple’s plans for iOS 9, expected to debut at WWDC early next month. As previously reported, iOS 9 will focus primarily on stability and optimization, however this new information reveals some new details about some of the features and improvements Apple is working on, particularly in the areas of security and legacy device support.
A new security feature, dubbed “Rootless,” is expected to significantly improve iOS security at the kernel level by preventing even “root” level administrative access to certain protected files on Apple devices. Sources have also indicated that Rootless will be a major deterrent to jailbreaking on iOS, making it much more complicated to hack iOS devices and install unauthorized apps. Apple is also said to be working on leveraging iCloud Drive for more of its back-end services. Services such as Notes — which currently uses IMAP to store notes on an email server — and the CalDAV-based Calendar and Reminders are being re-architected to store their data directly in iCloud Drive, which will provide better end-to-end encryption and faster and more reliable syncing services. A new “Trusted Wi-Fi” feature is also under development to improve security by allowing iOS devices to more transparently connect to specific, authorized wireless routers, although it’s unclear whether this last feature will be incorporated into iOS 9 or pushed back until a future point release or beyond.
In contrast to earlier reports which speculated that iOS 9 could possibly drop support for all but 64-bit devices, Apple is apparently optimizing iOS 9 to run more efficiently on older iPhones and iPads, even going so far back as the iPhone 4S and original iPad mini. The company is said to have restructured its software engineering process to ensure older hardware is better supported with iOS updates, building a “core version” of iOS 9 targeted at older devices and enabling features individually, as opposed to the former approach of building iOS 9 for newer devices and then disabling features to try and improve performance.
Apple is endeavoring to include access to programming from local TV stations as part of its new streaming television service, Re/Code reports; a move which may delay the launch that was originally expected to occur later this year. The move would help to significantly distinguish Apple’s streaming televisions offering from rival companies, most of which only offer major network programming and in some cases local programming in select major cities. Industry executives who are familiar with Apple’s plans have revealed that the company is looking to provide much more widespread access to programming from local broadcast stations in “cities around the U.S.” However, the move is said to have complicated negotiations with networks due to the varied ownership, affiliate, and franchise system in place between broadcasters and local stations.
The report notes that past attempts to secure rights for showing local programming and commercials can be time consuming, citing the example of ABC’s two-year quest to get the rights to show live programming in its Watch ABC app, with the resultant programming still limited to viewers in only eight cities. Infrastructure concerns are also noted, with many local affiliates not presently having the necessary streaming capabilities in place. Industry executives have also noted that they “don’t believe Apple has signed any TV programmers up” for the new service, making an announcement at this year’s WWDC very unlikely. Despite these hurdles, TV executives who are in talks with Apple are reportedly optimistic that the service will eventually launch, with money being the most significant hurdle, rather than technical limitations.
In addition to the rumored iPad Pro expected later this year, Apple is said to be working on several additional hardware and software improvements to the iPad, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Rumours have been circulating for some time now regarding split-screen multitasking on the iPad — a feature that was expected in iOS 8 last year — however sources now suggest that the side-by-side app support feature will arrive with iOS 9, and in fact may be introduced as soon as this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June and be available in the first iOS 9 developer betas.
Sources indicated that Apple originally intended to debut the split-screen feature with the iPad Air 2 last fall, however it was considered “too unpolished” and removed it from iOS 8.0 with plans to reintroduce it in iOS 8.1. Soon after, however, Apple was forced to reprioritize its engineering resources on the iPhone and Apple Watch, effectively tabling the feature until iOS 9. Latest plans suggest the feature will provide 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views, subject to the parameters of specific apps, with the screen able to display either two different apps side-by-side or two different views of the same app. It is still unclear, however, whether Apple will have the feature ready to show by next month. Sources also suggest that Apple may hold back the feature to debut it with the release of the “iPad Pro” later this year.
Support for multiple users on a single iPad is also said to be in the works, however sources suggest that this feature will not make the cut for the initial release of iOS 9, and it’s not certain whether it will arrive this year. However, Apple is apparently actively working on it in parallel with iOS 9 as it is a feature the company believes is “critical to the enterprise and education sectors,” suggesting that it could debut with the “iPad Pro” or as part of an iOS 9 point update.