Almost nine months following its initial beta release on the Google Play Store, Apple’s Apple Music app for Android devices has officially dropped the “beta” tag with an update that appeared late yesterday. Although the app remained in beta status up until now, Apple continued to make improvements to the Apple Music experience on Android, adding support for a home screen widget for controlling playback, allowing the ability to save music to SD card storage, and support for Music Videos and purchasing of Family Plan subscriptions from within the app. In addition to removing the beta status, the latest update also adds equalizer settings and “a variety of performance, playback, and stability improvements.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced via Twitter yesterday that July set a new record for App Store sales, with the “highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.” In a subsequent tweet, Cook went on to say that App Store developers have now collectively earned a total of over $50 billion over the past eight years that the App Store has been in operation.
July was a record-breaker for the @AppStore! Highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 3, 2016
Last month during the company’s Q3 2016 conference call, Cook revealed that the App Store had reached its highest revenue ever, and that Apple also set a new record for the average amount spent per customer on the App Store. During the same call, Cook went on to say that Apple expects its services revenue to continue to grow, which will be driven largely by App Sales, and that he expects it to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by this time next year.
Apple has released its third annual diversity report, providing an outline of the company’s efforts toward employment equality in the workplace. The latest data shows that Apple has a current workforce made up of 32 percent women and 22 percent minorities, and 37 percent of new hires globally over the past year were female and 27 percent were from minorities underrepresented in the U.S. Minorities made up 54 percent of new hires by Apple in the U.S. over the past year. This year’s report also includes a section addressing pay equity, stating that Apple reviewed its compensation for U.S. employees, closing any gaps that it found in order to achieve full pay equity in the U.S. The report states that Apple will continue to analyze salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all employees worldwide to ensure that the company maintains pay equity across the board.
Apple and Broadcom have countersued the California Institute of Technology, claiming that the school’s Wi-Fi patents should be invalidated, MacRumors reports. Caltech’s original lawsuit claims Broadcom’s chips—used in several Apple devices—infringe on four of the school’s patents related to improvements in Wi-Fi standards. Apple is arguing that Caltech filing its lawsuit more than six years after publication of the 802.11n wireless standard makes it ineligible to collect damages. The company also pointed out that Caltech doesn’t make, use or sell any product that makes use of the patents.
Apple has expanded Apple Music into Israel, letting customers there sign up for the standard three-month free trial, 9to5Mac reports. Apple’s regional website still lists the service as “coming soon,” but Israeli users have reported being able to enroll in the service. The price per month for an individual plan in Israel after the free trial expires works out to roughly $5.20 in U.S. dollars, well below the $10 U.S. users currently pay. In other Apple Music news, the service has added Bloomberg Radio to all countries where the streaming service is supported. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day and provides U.S. and international news along with updates on the financial markets.
Apple’s Smart Keyboard for both 9.7” and 12.9” iPad Pro models is now available in several new languages. Apple’s websites in regions where the new keyboard options are available allow users to select keyboards configured for Arabic, British English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean and other languages. The rollout seems to have been done by region, so the British English model is available on Apple’s United Kingdom-based site and the Arabic option is listed on Apple United Arab Emirates site. So far, sites in Canada and the United States only show the standard English option as available for sale and Apple Stores aren’t offering the ability to order any of the specialized models.
Apple has released the third public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Corresponding to the fourth beta released to developers earlier this week, the latest public beta continues enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News. The latest version also features updated emoji characters first revealed yesterday, including Apple’s replacement of the gun emoji with a water gun. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.
Kudelski Group, owners of software company OpenTV, has announced a deal to settle a legal fight over patents with Apple. In March, Kudelski Group won a German lawsuit against Apple over streaming technology used in iOS, OS X, the App Store, iTunes and on Apple TV, with similar lawsuits pending in the United States. In today’s announcement, Kudelski Group said it has reached a “comprehensive patent license agreement with Apple” and agreed to dismss all pending litigation over patents. Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the story and financial terms weren’t disclosed. Under the German ruling, Apple was barred from selling products that used the streaming software covered under the five OpenTV patents, but it’s not clear if the new settlement resolves that issue as well. [via 9to5Mac]
Only two weeks after the release of iTunes 12.4.2, Apple has released iTunes 12.4.3, a minor update intended to address a specific bug that caused changes made to playlists on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to not synchronize back to iTunes. Earlier this month, iTunes 12.5 also began appearing for users running the macOS Sierra developer and public betas, appearing mostly to add support for optimization features in macOS Sierra and Apple Music features in iOS 10; it’s unclear if the playlist syncing bug has been fixed in the iTunes 12.5 betas or not.
A man was severely burned when his iPhone exploded after a minor fall on his bike, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Gareth Clear said the phone was in his back pocket when he took a tumble off his bike, then burst into flames when he fell on top of it. “I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket…and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain,” he said. “I just remember looking at my leg and I had this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus.” Gareth sustained third-degree burns to his leg that required a skin graft.
Frank Ocean’s next album, “Boys Don’t Cry,” is set to be released Friday as an Apple Music exclusive, The New York Times reports. A person with knowledge of the release said a major video will be released simultaneously, as well as an accompanying book also titled, “Boys Don’t Cry” that will be distributed through Apple stores. The album is expected to remain an Apple Music exclusive for two weeks before becoming available on other platforms. Ocean’s label, Def Jam, declined to comment, but on Monday a mysterious video appeared on a website connected to the album, showing a pair of workbenches in an empty room. Director Francisco Soriano took credit for the video in an Instagram post that was subsequently deleted, but viewers noted an Apple Music watermark on the feed. Today Ocean added a photo of himself next to two stacks of books, each with a different cover labeled “Boys Don’t Cry” and the caption, “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions.”
Apple has released its new Apple TV Remote app in the App Store. The app, which requires iOS 9.3.2 or later, allows users to take advantage of features found on the 4th-gen Apple TV’s Siri Remote. Siri access is available from the app, and an iOS device can be used as a game controller, in addition to past features like a keyboard for text, and playback controls. The app works for 2nd and 3rd-gen Apple TV units, as well, but without the Siri and game controller features, of course. We first detailed the Apple TV Remote app in our tvOS 10: Inside the betas article, and now the app is available to the public for free.
Apple has released the fourth developer betas for iOS 10, tvOS 10, and watchOS 3. The fourth 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 fourth round of betas likely continues to refine the experience from the third round of betas, with the release notes indicating mostly minor updates. We’ll update if any major developments pop up.
A federal judge has overturned a verdict requiring Apple to pay $625.6 million in damages to VirnetX for infringement of four patents, Reuters reports. This is the second time a judge has thrown out a huge judgment won by VirnetX against Apple. In 2014 an appeals court overturned a $368 million judgment over the uses of VirnetX patents in FaceTime technology, contending that Apple did infringe on the patents, but that the damages hadn’t been calculated properly. A second trial concluding this year put Apple on the hook for $625.6 million, but the most recent court decision contends that jurors may have been confused by repeated references to the earlier trial. “The repeated references to the prior jury verdict in the consolidated case resulted in an unfair trial,” U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder wrote. Schroeder has ordered that both cases be retried separately, with the first slated to begin on Sept. 26.
After Apple’s $1 billion investment in May, Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing has announced plans to buy Uber’s operations in China, Bloomberg reports. The deal will see Didi absorb Uber’s brand, business operations and stored data in the country, with Uber receiving a 20-percent stake in the combined company. Didi founder Cheng Wei and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will also join each other’s boards.
After last week’s video showing a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter, new footage appears to show a new set of Apple EarPods with a Lightning connector. Like pictures leaked earlier this month, the new EarPods in the video feature an in-line remote that allows users to control music playback and volume. A report from last week cited supply chain sources who said Apple would be including a Lightning adapter with the iPhone 7 rather than Lightning-equipped EarPods, but the narrator of this latest video seems convinced the new EarPods will ship with the latest iPhone. [via Apple Insider]
Apple CEO Tim Cook will be hosting a fundraiser next month with Hillary Clinton, Buzzfeed reports. Cook will be joined by Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, to help raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund, which is a joint fundraising committee for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and 38 state parties. Notably, Cook is hosting the event as a private citizen rather than as a representative of Apple, as the company does not have a political action committee or donate to either party’s candidates. Last month, Cook also hosted a fundraiser for Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, although Apple itself declined to provide support to the Republican party’s national convention protest to Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments. The Cook-Clinton fundraiser will take place on Aug. 24.
Apple has a redesigned version of its Apple Store app in the works that will feature personalized recommendations, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The updated app, expected to roll out within the new two weeks, will likely include a “For You” section that features suggested products based on a user’s prior purchasing history. While the report incorrectly indicates that there are separate Apple Store apps for the iPhone and iPad that will be merged in the new version, it is possible that Apple may be taking steps to provide a more unified interface design in the app on both the iPad and iPhone.
A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals that Apple may be scaling back on its ambitions to build an actual car, shifting its strategy to focus on the development of an autonomous driving system. The report notes that Apple has not entirely abandoned efforts to design its own vehicle, and may in fact even partner with or acquire an established car maker rather than building a car on its own, but those familiar with the project say that the recent hire of Dan Dodge — the head of BlackBerry’s automotive software division — is an indicator that an emphasis on the self-driving technology has increased.
A new report in the Wall Street Journal provides some insight as to why Apple’s efforts to launch a web-based streaming service may have failed to gain much traction last year. Clearly drawing on information gleaned from sources from within the television industry, the report describes Apple’s typically “assertive” negotiating style as having alienated networks and cable providers, suggesting that the tactics used by Steve Jobs to “muscle music labels into selling songs online for 99 cents apiece” may have backfired on the company in working with television media companies. Executives are said to be concerned that if they agree to “Apple’s sweetheart terms” it would set a precedent for traditional cable distributors to demand a similar arrangement, cutting into their bottom lines.