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Apple releases iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers

Following the general release of iOS 8.4 to the public at the end of June, Apple has now released an iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers. The new beta features a build number of 12H304 with no release notes provided, although it seems likely that it addresses issues with Apple Music similar to yesterday’s iTunes 12.2.1 update along with any other new or unresolved issues from the iOS 8.4 public release.

Apple sued over iWatch trademark it doesn’t own

Apple is being sued for buying ad space on the Google results page delivered to users searching for the term “iWatch,” Bloomberg reports. Probendi, an Irish software developer, owns the iWatch trademark in Europe and has filed suit over Apple’s efforts to steer people typing that term into Google toward its Apple Watch website. Giacomo Bonelli, a lawyer for Probendi, said, “Apple never replied to our requests and objections, while Google said they are not responsible for links.” Right now, Probendi owns the name “iWatch,” which is estimated to be worth $97 million, but doesn’t have a product on which to attach it. Co-founder Daniele Di Salvo said the company’s plan to build a smartwatch that would be cheaper than the Apple Watch, run Android software and bear the iWatch name is “in standby.”

Neither Apple nor Google commented on the case. Google’s policy on the use of trademarks in its ad service says terms are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with the company reserving the right to “enforce certain restrictions.” A hearing for the dispute is set for November 11.

Apple progressing in TV service negotiations, aiming for fall debut

Apple’s negotiations to add all four major broadcast networks to its proposed streaming TV service are gaining momentum, the New York Post reports. Sources say ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are close to gaining the rights to negotiate on behalf of affiliate stations to deliver local live TV feeds to users of Apple’s subscription TV service. Obtaining local programming has been a main goal for Apple to set the service apart from other cord-cutting options. Networks are reportedly offering affiliates like Tribune and Sinclair a cut of the profits to opt in and offer their feeds. Disney or CBS are expected to be first in line to sign a deal to anchor Apple’s TV bundle, but Apple’s insistence that TV partners give up 30 percent of the fee for subscriptions sold in the App Store is still a sticking point. Agreements already in place to prevent networks from charging some distributors less than others and details over the inclusion of cable channels like Discovery and ESPN are also still points of negotiation. Sources say Apple is still hoping to launch the service this fall despite holding off announcing the product at this year’s WWDC. “The platform is ready and it rocks,” a source told the Post.

Also of note in the report: Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue were recently spotted talking to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading some to speculate on an Apple TV “NFL offering.” Though completely speculative, it’s unclear what such an offering would be, considering the NFL’s new eight-year deal with DirecTV — that deal continues to give the satellite provider the exclusive right to air out-of-market NFL games.

Final major bank signs on as Apple Pay goes live in UK

With Apple Pay coming online today in the U.K., British bank Barclays has confirmed it will allow its customers to use service, Reuters reports. Barclays — the last major holdout in negotiations to bring Apple’s contactless payment system to U.K. consumers — will allow its credit and debit card users to enroll in the service, but didn’t set a timeline for when it would be available. Another major bank, HSBC, has experienced technical problems implementing Apple Pay and told cardholders via Twitter that they’ll have to wait two more weeks to use the service. As previously reported, U.K. transactions with Apple Pay won’t require a PIN, but are limited to £20 or less.

Apple releases iTunes 12.2.1 with iTunes Match, Apple Music fixes

Apple has released a minor update to iTunes, as iTunes 12.2.1 addresses a few issues found within iTunes Match and Apple Music. One of those iTunes Match issues found iTunes incorrectly labeling some Match songs as Apple Music songs. The update also “provides a way to correct a library problem affecting former iTunes Match subscribers.” Minor tweaks for Beats 1 are also included in the update. iTunes 12.2.1 is now available in the Mac App Store.

Big pharma firms looking to integrate ResearchKit

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest drug developers, is “currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months,” Buzzfeed reports. GSK didn’t provide specifics on its plans, but Michelle Crouthamel, a project manager with the company’s Digital Platform Performance unit, said ResearchKit offers a chance “to improve patient engagement and data collection.” Purdue Pharma, another large drug developer, is also in the early stages of exploring possible uses for ResearchKit. Larry Pickett Jr., Purdue’s vice president, said his company has vetted the platform, but hasn’t committed to building an app to utilize it, nor has the company even determined what types of data they’re be interested in collecting.

While the apps developed so far using ResearchKit have come from non-profits and academic research centers, Apple’s Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams says the company doesn’t limit who can use the platform in the name of medical advancements. ““We’re open to working with anybody that is going to make an impact on people’s health,” he said. “So we’ve made ResearchKit open-source so Apple won’t even control who uses it. We will control what we put on our App Store, but we won’t control who uses it.” Even so, not all big pharmaceutical companies have obvious interest in ResearchKit’s capabilities — Gilead Sciences and Pfizer both confirmed they have no current plans to use the platform.

M.I.A. project joins the ranks of Apple Music-exclusives

M.I.A. has joined Pharrell Williams, Drake and Dr. Dre in offering exclusive content through Apple Music. An expected release today for her “Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than a Border” project — which includes two songs and and a short film featuring music from her upcoming album — was teased by a tweet from Apple Music’s Twitter account. Three preview clips for the project have appeared on Connect, but the songs and film still don’t seem to be accessible at the time of this writing. Other exclusive Apple Music projects from artists like Diddy, Purity Ring and James Bay are also rumored to be in the works. [via Pitchfork]

Apple’s cut of streaming music rivals’ profits sparks antitrust inquiry

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether Apple’s cut of profits taken from rival streaming music apps violates antitrust laws, Reuters reports. Apple takes 30 percent of the $10/month subscriptions sold through iOS apps for streaming music competitors like Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others, leading those companies to complain that the higher-than-normal cut Apple takes forces them to charge more than they do on other platforms or see their profit margins eroded. Raising the price would mean making streaming subscriptions for competing music apps more expensive than Apple Music’s $10/month fee. Rivals could deny Apple its cut if users signed up for music subscriptions through their web browser instead of in-app, but Apple’s terms of service specifically prohibit advertising the app’s availability from other sources or linking to the company’s website from the app. These policies are more stringent than the ones Google places on app makers, and three industry sources said the FTC is looking at whether Apple’s tighter rules break any laws, but hasn’t the commission hasn’t yet started a formal investigation. Neither the FTC nor Apple commented on the issue.

New iPods coming July 14?

A recent rumor about new upcoming iPods seems to have picked up more steam, with French site iGen.fr claiming Apple will introduce new iPods early next week, possibly on Tuesday, July 14. Speculation first popped up when iTunes 12.2 had images of iPods in heretofore unseen colors, such as a dark blue iPod touch — that iPod touch in question notably shows a “Tuesday 14” date. It’s believed that while iPod nano and iPod shuffle may only get new color options, the iPod touch may be in line for a more noteworthy update, featuring an upgrade to a 64-bit processor.

Apple releases iOS 9 public beta

Apple has released the public beta of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan in its new iOS Public Beta program that began earlier this year. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 will allow non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website 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.

Facebook planning Apple Music competitor? (Update: No)

Facebook is in early talks to launch its own music streaming service according to a new report by Music Ally. Talks with labels are said to be linked to the company’s trial of ad-supported native videos, which are expected to expand to music videos soon. However, the report claims that the social network has ambitions to follow that up with an audio music service that would compete directly with Apple Music and Spotify, among others. In the shorter term, Facebook plans to monetize music videos with a Content ID system similar to YouTube to pay royalties to music rightsholders while allowing them to identify and take down or claim user-uploaded videos of their music and collect associated ad revenues. A rollout of the music video service is expected “in the next few months” although a specific schedule for the arrival of an audio streaming service is more nebulous, as the report notes that the company has to “get the monetised-video service right first.”

Update: A Facebook spokesperson has denied the report, telling The Verge that the company has “no plans to go into music streaming,” with a source familiar with the matter reporting that “the last thing Facebook wants to do right now is take on Apple in a streaming war.”

T-Mobile’s ‘Mobile without Borders’ offers Canada, Mexico coverage for no extra cost

T-Mobile has announced an expansion of its free roaming coverage across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada as part of a new “Mobile without Borders” initiative. The new plan provides calling to land lines and mobile phones and 4G LTE data access across all three countries at no additional cost to subscribers, making the company’s Simple Choice plan the first and only wireless plan that spans the entire continent. The new plans will take effect on July 15, after which calls to, from and between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will be included at no additional charge, and T-Mobile users traveling to Canada or Mexico will be able to use 4G LTE data straight from their existing plan rather than incurring additional roaming charges, effectively allowing those customers to use their phone service just like when they’re in the U.S. While users won’t yet be able to tap into their Data Stash when roaming, T-Mobile’s announcement does indicate that is also expected to arrive “starting later this year.”

Apple releases third iOS 9 beta to developers, adds full Apple Music support

As expected, Apple has released a third beta of iOS 9 to developers, adding full support for Apple Music, which debuted last week with the release of iOS 8.4. Featuring a build number of 13A4293f, the third iOS 9 beta also includes a number of under-the-hood improvements from the second beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5293f has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.

Apple asks suppliers for up to 90 million new iPhones

Apple is planning a much larger initial production run of its new iPhone models, asking suppliers to deliver between 85 million and 90 million units by December 31, The Wall Street Journal reports. Those totals include updated versions of both 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone models, dwarfing last year’s initial production run of 70 million to 80 million for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. After strong sales of Apple’s first larger-screen smartphones, the company seems to be betting that the addition of Force Touch in updated models will bring users back for an upgrade. Apple is considering adding a third assembler, Winstron Corp., to meet the increased demand, according to people familiar with the matter. Last year, Apple’s reliance on Foxconn and Pegatron Corp. resulted in long waits for customers hungry for the larger display phones.

Logitech introduces new Logi label

Accessory maker Logitech has announced big branding changes in a blog post. The company revealed a re-imagined logo, creating a distinct “Logi” label to be applied to a new line of yet-to-be-disclosed products. Logitech has also hired its first chief design officer, Alastair Curtis, and touts a fresh dedication to “put design at the core of everything [they] do.” The new label will appear on the company’s “colorful and bold” new product offerings, but “Logi” doesn’t seem to be replacing “Logitech” as the company’s name completely. Instead, the company says the “Logi” logo will begin popping up “on select products in existing categories” as well as on new offerings.

Judge voids $532.9M ruling against Apple

A federal judge has thrown out a $532.9 million award against Apple and ordered a new trial to determine damages in a patent infringement case, Reuters reports. In February, a jury found Apple guilty of improperly incorporating three patents owned by Smartflash into its iTunes software, but the judge was concerned his instructions on how to calculate damages may have confused the jurors and substantially inflated the award. The new trial to set damages is set for September 14. A second lawsuit between Smartflash and Apple over the same patents is still ongoing.

Updates to iWork iOS apps fix Accessibility bugs

An update to all three iWork apps for iOS has cleared up problems with Accessibility features. Apple says Pages, Numbers and Keynote had “an issue that prevented proper navigation and editing with VoiceOver.” Those problems are resolved in version 2.5.4, which also fixes text blurring in Pages when turning on Speak Screen.

App prices going up in Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey

In an email to developers, Apple has confirmed that app prices are increasing starting Thursday in Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. A value-added tax is driving up prices by 10 percent in South Korea, but Apple has agreed to pay the tax for any developer living outside South Korea. Developers based in South Korea will be responsible for paying the new tax on their own. Users of apps with auto-renewed subscriptions in South Korea, South Africa and Turkey will need to resubscribe to confirm they accept the price increase. Users of similar subscription apps in Mexico won’t have their subscriptions interrupted, but they will still be getting a price increase. Apple is sending out emails to all subscribers in those countries to inform them of the price change and provide users with the necessary links to resubscribe.

Two new low-price tiers are coming to the Indian, Indonesian, Mexican, Russian, South African and Turkish App Stores too, along with updates to pricing in the tiers already in place in China’s App Store. Developers will be able to review the new pricing scheme in the Rights and Pricing section of My Apps. [via 9to5 Mac]

Apple debuts ‘Apple Tested Cases’ web page

Apple has introduced a new web page on its site featuring a list of third-party cases that the company has tested and certified for use with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Titled “Apple Tested Cases,” the page provides details on testing the company apparently does on third-party cases, including ensuring proper fit, performing drop testing, and making certain that cases don’t interfere with the camera, acoustics, various sensors, and cellular, Wi-Fi, and NFC signals. This move follows a report late last year that Apple would be introducing more stringent requirements for MFi case makers, and could be a result of these new standards for case certification. The bottom of the page provides a link to all of the cases sold by the Apple Store, all of which presumably meet all of the specified requirements under the MFi program.

Showtime’s standalone Apple TV channel arrives with free trial

Confirming reports from last month, Showtime’s standalone channel launched today on Apple TV. Unlike last year’s addition of Showtime Anytime – which requires a traditional cable subscription to access content — the standalone Showtime channel will make the network’s offerings available for non-cable subscribers for $11 a month, undercutting HBO’s $15-a-month charge for the similar HBO Now service. Like HBO, Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial to attract users and is launching its channel on Apple TV before expanding to other platforms. A Showtime app for iOS isn’t available yet, but should be available soon.

Update: The Showtime iOS app is now available, as well.

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