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Apple to pay $347 million in Italian back taxes

Apple has agreed to pay €318 million (about $347 million) in taxes owed to Italy’s inland revenue service, according to a new report by La Repubblica. Stemming from an investigation that began in 2013, Apple’s Italian subsidiary allegedly failed to declare more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in revenue to the country’s tax authorities — a report that was confirmed as accurate by the Italian tax office. The final agreement came after several months of negotiations which appear to have resulted in Apple still being required to pay the full amount demanded by the Italian tax authorities for the 2008-2013 tax years. Apple was accused of transferring Italian profits to its Irish subsidiary in order to benefit from Ireland’s lower corporate tax rates by declaring its Italian subsidiary to be a “consultant” to the Irish company. Apple’s European operations are headquartered in Ireland, and Apple came under investigation by EU regulators last year, who suggested that the company’s tax deals in that country may in fact be illegal under EU law; EU regulators are expected to issue a ruling soon in the matter. [via The Local]

Apple accused of deliberately crippling older iPhones with iOS 9 upgrade

A new class action lawsuit alleges that Apple deliberately slowed down older iPhones with its latest iOS 9 upgrade as part of a planned obsolesce strategy, AppleInsider reports. The lawsuit was filed with a New York district court on Tuesday and seeks $5 million in damages, claiming that Apple was aware of potential compatibility issues when it released the iOS 9 software update for the iPhone 4S. The Plaintiff, Chaim Lerman, is accusing Apple of engaging in “deceptive trade practices” and “false advertisement” by claiming iOS 9 was compatible with older models, stating that the reality is that the update “significantly” interferes with iPhone 4s performance and that since users are preventing from downgrading once iOS 9 has been applied, owners are left with “an inoperable device” with no choice but to buy a newer model.

Report: Samsung and LG to supply OLED screens for future iPhone models

Apple appears to be planning to source OLED displays from LG Display and Samsung Electronics, according to a new report from Reuters. The article, based on a report from the Electronic Times, adds more weight to other recent reports that Apple is testing AMOLED displays in a new Taiwanese lab in preparation to use the new screen technology in its next-generation iPhones as early as 2018. The report indicates that both LG and Samsung are close to a final agreement with Apple, although Japan Display was also reported to be in similar negotiations earlier this month. The new report also suggests that Apple will likely provide some funding to help with the investments, which are expected to require a combined $12.8 billion in capital expenditures to build up OLED production capacity to meet the new demand.

Apple files for Beats 2-5 trademarks

Apple filed for U.S. trademark applications in November for Beats 2, 3, 4, and 5, as spotted by French site Consomac. The applications use the same logo as Apple’s streaming radio station Beats 1. It’s previously been reported that Apple could create five more radio stations without having to negotiate new licensing terms. All signs certainly point to four new Apple Music stations at some point, perhaps in varied music genres or in different formats. While Beats 1’s Zane Lowe expressed some doubts about the longterm future of Beats 1, it seems as if Apple has very few concerns at this point. [via MacRumors]

Hyundai Sonata to get CarPlay in 2016

Hyundai’s Sonata will finally be getting Apple’s CarPlay in the first quarter of 2016, the Detroit Free Press reports. The car company announced in April 2014 that it would be bringing CarPlay integration to its Sonatas in 2015, but that never materialized. Additionally, Hyundai will now require Sonata owners to “buy an SD card with new software” to access CarPlay. It’s an additional charge that Android users don’t have to pay — Android Auto is already available in the cars for no extra cost.

Cool tips for that new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV you found under the tree

Merry Christmas! iLounge will continue to be on a limited publishing schedule for Christmas Day as we celebrate with our families. We hope you and all of yours are having a safe and happy holiday season!

Our tips and tutorial sections are a great place to get you going if you happened to find a new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV under the tree this morning. Get accustomed to some of the latest iOS 9 features on your iPhone or iPad with tips on engaging low power mode, adjusting video recording quality settings, and arranging your notification center. Or if you’re looking at a new Apple TV, check out our tips on checking your Siri Remote battery level, and reducing loud sounds. Got an Apple Watch? We can help you with seeing when your messages were received, getting directions from a Calendar notification, changing up your animated emojis, and answering calls on your wrist. Be sure to check out all of our tips to see all of the cool things you can do with your new Apple device.

Seasons Greetings! Our top picks in 2015, and more for your last-minute shopping

Seasons Greetings! iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule on Dec. 24 and Dec 25. as we celebrate the Christmas holiday season with our families, returning on Monday, Dec. 28. We wish you and all of yours a safe and happy holiday season and hope that you find something nice under the tree!

If you’re looking for some last-minute gift ideas for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod fan in your family, be sure to check out our Best of the Year Awards 2015 for a list of the greatest stuff we saw this year across twenty-four different categories. Also, there have been some other interesting products that have come in since the Best of 2015 awards were published that are definitely worth a look — Apple released the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, and we saw a nice collection of speakers, and we also took a close look at the world of HomeKit just in time for the holidays.

Court dismisses final lawsuit in Apple iMessage case

A U.S. court has dismissed the single remaining lawsuit against Apple regarding the delivery of iMessages to former iPhone users, Business Insider reports. A former iPhone user originally filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple earlier this year after she switched to an Android device and found that she could no longer receive text messages from other iPhone users. Apple acknowledged the problem and released a fix in May, however the suit persisted until it was dismissed in August based on a lack of clear evidence that all members of the suit had in fact suffered an inconvenience due to “contractual breach or interference” related to the iMessage system.

Following the dismissal of the original class-action suit, however, three individual but related plaintiffs pursued their own separate action, accusing Apple of “intercepting” iPhone text messages in violation of the U.S. Federal Wiretap Act. Apple had requested that the suit be dismissed after it was discovered that two of the three plaintiffs had already disposed of their old iPhones after they had filed the suit, and were therefore unable to demonstrate whether they were affected by the issue. The case was dismissed by U.S. Judge Lucy Koh, in a single-paragraph order.

The Beatles coming to Apple Music, other streaming services on Christmas Eve

The Beatles are finally arriving on streaming music services, including Apple Music, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24. The Christmas Eve streaming debut has been verified by TheBeatles.com. It’s unclear if the streaming services will have access to the entire Beatles catalog, but there doesn’t seem to be any notice of restrictions. We’ll see tomorrow, when the Fab Four hit Apple Music — and more — for the first time.

Report: China Mobile points to new 4” iPhone in April 2016

A China Mobile roadmap of the cellular company’s future plans reveals a reference to an upcoming 4” iPhone coming in April 2016, Chinese website MyDrivers reports. The report refers to the rumored iPhone as the “iPhone 7c” — it seems unlikely that Apple would release a “7c” before releasing any other version of iPhone 7, however. While the name is still in question — iPhone 6c seems to be a strong possibility — this is just the latest in a recent line of reports saying Apple would indeed release a new 4” iPhone in the new year. It’s believed the new iPhone will resemble an “upgraded iPhone 5s,” and will have an aluminum body, instead of the iPhone 5c’s plastic exterior. It’s also been reported that Apple is planning a March event, in which the company may unveil this new iPhone along with the Apple Watch 2.

Apple speaks out against UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill

Apple has officially spoken out against the U.K.‘s Investigatory Powers Bill, a broad proposed bill that would allow U.K. government officials to access website records, and would require companies to assist in bypassing encryption to access information on computers and phones. While it’s not surprising that Apple would oppose such legislation, the company only recently made a submission to the bill committee, The Guardian reports. Apple claims the bill could alter the way iMessage works. As Apple said in its submission: “The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers. A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too.” This statement echoes comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook in the past, and more recently during his interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes’ ‘Inside Apple’ touches on company culture, manufacturing, taxes + more

CBS’ 60 Minutes dedicated a great deal of its show to Apple last night in two “Inside Apple” segments. As expected, the segments included nothing that would be considered groundbreaking to regular followers of the company, but 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose interviewed a number of Apple’s heavy hitters, including Jony Ive and Angela Ahrendts, among others, with Apple CEO Tim Cook as the main interview subject. Cook was questioned on the company’s culture, and its issues with manufacturing partners and taxes. Cook was typically vague about future products, as his response to Rose’s “How hard is it to say Apple will be in the car business?” was simply a shrug and a laugh. The second segment concluded with a glimpse at construction on Apple’s “Spaceship” corporate headquarters. The entire transcript of interviews done for the piece, along with additional videos, are available on the 60 Minutes website.

Report: Apple to pay Ericsson 0.5 percent of iPhone/iPad revenue in patent deal

Swedish company Ericsson has announced that it has settled a patent dispute with Apple, Reuters reports.
Investment bank ABG Sundal Collier “believed the deal meant Apple would be charged around 0.5 percent of its revenue on iPads and iPhones by Ericsson,” as it stated in a note to clients. The “broad agreement” covers 2G, 3G, and current 4G-LTE technologies, Ericsson Chief Intellectual Property Officer Kasim Alfalahi said. Apple declined comment on the story.

Report: Apple to release accessibility-related accessories in early 2016

Apple is preparing to release new accessibility-related accessories early next year, Macotakara reports. Such accessories may be released sometime from January to March 2016. It’s unclear what these accessories may be at this point, but Apple has repeatedly shown a commitment to increasing accessibility options for the disabled and impaired within its products, and releasing dedicated accessories for these users seems like a natural next step. Conceivably, such products could be introduced quietly during the next few months, or unveiled at a spring event with other new products.

Apple Hi-Res Audio coming in 2016?

Apple is planning to introduce higher-resolution audio in 2016, according to Macotakara. The Japanese blog claims Apple’s own Hi-Res Audio would be 96kHz/24-bit quality. The updated audio option could come to iTunes and possibly Apple Music this year, but we must note this has been rumored for some time — a similar report from the same source surfaced in May 2014. There’s also some debate about how much of an advantage higher bit-rate audio would make for most listeners. This report also claims third-party companies are preparing more Lightning audio products for 2016, as it’s been rumored that Apple could drop the standard headphone jack from the iPhone 7, forcing listeners to use Lightning-based or Bluetooth audio options.

Apple Pay to launch in China via UnionPay

Apple has officially announced that Apple Pay will be coming to China in early 2016 as part of a partnership with China UnionPay. Apple Pay will work with China UnionPay’s QuickPass-enabled POS terminals, and UnionPay cardholders will be able to easily add their bank cards to Apple Pay on their iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. China UnionPay operates China’s national inter-bank clearing and settlement system, and a worldwide UnionPay Card acceptance network; over 5 billion UnionPay cards have been issued worldwide, which can be used at more than 26 million merchants throughout both urban and rural areas in China. Apple Pay and UnionPay still need to pass elevant tests and certification required by Chinese regulators for the service to be deemed in compliance with the applicable national mobile payment and financial industry standards in China.

Apple promotes Jeff Williams to Chief Operating Officer

Apple has announced the promotion of Jeff Williams, formerly Senior VP of Operations, to the position of Chief Operating Officer. Williams has effectively been serving as the de facto head of Operations at Apple since Tim Cook’s appointment as CEO four years ago — Williams was appointed VP of Operations in 2004, and later promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations in 2010, while the Chief Operations Officer (COO) role formerly held by Tim Cook under Steve Jobs remained vacant after Cook became Chief Executive in August 2011, leaving Williams as the senior executive on the Operations side. As a result, Williams’ appointment as Chief Operating Officer is unlikely to have much impact on his day-to-day responsibilities within Apple, although the promotion likely means an increase in compensation and is clearly intended to recognize Williams’ contributions to Apple over almost two decades, with Cook referring to Williams as “hands-down the best operations executive I’ve ever worked with.”

Frogmind releases Badland 2

Frogmind has released Badland 2 ($5), the sequel to its award-winning game Badland, for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The new side-scrolling, action-adventure game expands on the original world of Badland, adding rich new graphic detail and levels that now extend and scroll in all directions, as well as new obstacles and elements to fly through, such as liquids, flamethrowers, frost, magma, water, and searing light. The single-player campaign provides unique, physics-based challenges, however players can also jump into online levels for competing against friends in seasonal asynchronous multiplayer events. Frogmind also promises more content for both modes will be provided in future free updates, as in the original Badland. The new sequel also includes support for 3D Touch capability for iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus users.

NFL accepting bids from Apple, others to stream Thursday Night Football

The NFL is now accepting bids for streaming rights to its Thursday Night Football package, Sports Business Daily reports. In addition to the usual formal request-for-proposal (RFP) that the league sent to its usual TV partners, an RFP also went out to Apple and several other digital companies including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, to stream the entire Thursday night schedule on a non-exclusive basis, with sources suggesting that the plan would have the digital streams simulcasted with television production, including the same ads and in-game production features. While bidding for television rights is expected to start in the low $300 million range, reflecting what CBS is currently paying for the package, it’s not clear how much the NFL is expecting to make from the streaming rights, although sources noted that the availability of streaming is not expected to diminish the fee for the TV rights.

Philips reverses course on Hue blocking of third-party bulbs

On the heels of yesterday’s news that Hue was set to begin blocking uncertified third-party bulbs from the Hue ecosystem due to “interoperability” issues, the company has now rapidly reversed course as a result of customer feedback. Philips has revised the notice on its developer blog, noting that while the decision was “made in good faith” to ensure an optimal customer experience, the company underestimated the impact that it would have on customers, and that in view of this it has decided to reverse the software upgrade so that lights from other brands will “continue to work as they did before” with the Hue system. The post notes that the company is working on the reversal of the upgrade and will soon confirm when this will be available to affected customers.

Philips is still encouraging third-party accessory makers to join the Friends of Hue partnership program so that their devices can be tested and certified to work seamlessly with Hue, and notes that customers using uncertified lights will likely still experience the same incompatibility issues that they have in the past, although Philips will no longer stand in the way of customers using other ZigBee LL capable accessories.

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