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Apple accuses Spotify of ‘asking for preferential treatment’ in response letter

Apple has responded to Spotify’s “public attacks” in a letter from Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell. Spotify recently made the public claim that Apple blocked the update to its latest app for anti-competitive reasons — Spotify is the top streaming rival of Apple Music. Sewell maintains that Apple’s guidelines are applied equally to all developers, and that Spotify has benefitted greatly from its App Store. “To imply that Spotify should not have to pay” would give the service a “tremendous advantage over other developers,” Sewell wrote, claiming this would be “preferential treatment.” Sewell also noted the Spotify app currently on the App Store is in violation of Apple’s guidelines. [via Buzzfeed]

WSJ: Apple ‘in talks’ to acquire Tidal

Apple is exploring the idea of buying competing music streaming service Tidal, The Wall Street Journal reports. The report claims Apple is “exploring the idea” of buying Jay-Z’s streaming service due to Tidal’s connections to such artists as Kanye West and Madonna. Terms are unknown at this point, and the talks “may not result in a deal,” sources said — a Tidal spokesman denied that such talks had taken place. Tidal currently has 4.2 million paying subscribers, who either pay $10 for a standard monthly plan, or $20 for a hi-fi plan. Apple recently noted that Apple Music has 15 million paying subscribers.

Spotify claims Apple anti-competitively blocking Spotify app update

Spotify has claimed that Apple is blocking the latest update of its iOS music streaming app because it competes with Apple Music, Re/code reports. A letter sent by Spotify to Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell accused Apple of “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” as a result of its rejection to an update to its iOS app. While Apple has not publicly commented on the reasons for rejecting the update, Spotify’s letter claims the company cited “business model rules” and demanded that the app use Apple’s billing system — which requires Spotify to give a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue to Apple — if “Spotify wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions.”

We cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon.

The comments in Spotify’s letter are similar to a public statement the company made earlier this week in response to Senator Warren’s speech accusing Apple and other tech giants of locking out competition. It appears that Spotify will be using this latest standoff to bolster its ongoing fight over Apple’s longstanding in-app subscription rules, which require iOS apps to either use the in-app purchasing system to sell subscriptions — and give Apple a 30 percent cut — or rely on outside purchase methods, such as web-based signups, that cannot be linked to nor even advertised from within the iOS app. In the letter to Sewell, Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez stated that “This latest episode raises serious concerns under both U.S. and EU competition law,” and “continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify … we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accuses Apple, others, of locking out competition

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has accused Apple, Google, and Amazon of using their size to “snuff out competition.” In a speech delivered yesterday in Washington reported by Re/code, Warren singled out the three tech giants of using their dominant positions in the market to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” specifically noting that Apple “has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services” that compete with Apple Music. Warren went on to acknowledge that the three companies have “created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” but that opportunities to compete must “remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.” Warren’s comments, which also included other corporate giants such as Walmart and Comcast, were directed primarily at regulators and politicians that she feels are no longer fulfilling their obligations to “restore and defend competition.”

 

Cirrus Logic releases development kit for Lightning headphones

With Apple rumored to be doing away with the headphone jack on its new iPhone, Cirrus Logic is offering a development kit to aid headphone makers looking to simplify the switch to Lightning connectors. The company’s MFi Headset Development Kit includes reference designs for creating Lightning port connected headphones and a development board to be used in programming, debugging and testing audio performance. The design is compatible with earbuds or over-the-ear headphones and pre-programmed to support both digital audio playback and voice capture. With very few Lightning-connected headphone options currently available, the area is poised for rapid expansion.

Report details Apple Music’s vision for exclusive content

The man in charge of Apple Music’s original content said he’s trying to make the streaming service akin to “MTV in its Eighties and Nineties heyday,” Rolling Stone reports. Larry Jackson got his big break producing Lana Del Rey for Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, and he saw that focusing hard on the Internet rather than radio promotion was the recipe for success in the modern era. By pouring money into videos that then went viral, Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’ debuted at number two on the Billboard charts without any singles in radio rotation.

Walgreens adds digital coupons to Apple Pay

Customers who have their Walgreens loyalty card synced up with Apple Pay can now save digital coupons to be used at the checkout. Coupons can be found through the store’s website or in its iOS app, then saved to the customer’s loyalty card. When visiting the store, a simple tap using Apple Pay at the terminal will now apply saved coupons to the customer’s order in addition to registering the loyalty card. [via 9to5Mac]

China orders Apple and others to monitor, report on app users

On the heels of severely tightening restrictions on mobile games, China is mandating that companies like Apple start monitoring mobile app users, Bloomberg reports. The new regulations posted Tuesday by China’s Cyberspace Administration require Apple to establish user’s identities, monitor their posts and report items that contain banned content to the Chinese government. The legitimacy of developers must also be verified, and app stores are now require to log each user’s activity for 60 days.

South Korea regulators investigating Apple

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has opened an investigation into “some matters” related to Apple, Reuters reports. FTC Chairman Jeong Jae-chan refused to disclose any further details of the investigation, but earlier this month domestic news outlets reported that the FTC was looking into Apple’s contracts with the country’s mobile telecom providers.

Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 26

Apple has announced that it will release its Q3 financial results on Tuesday, July 26. 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 $41 billion and $43 billion, and gross margin between 33.5 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.

Apple’s UK tax bill under scrutiny

Apple’s UK corporation tax last year amounted to £12.9 million, but with £12.9 billion in profits in the last three months of 2015 alone, the Daily Mail is questioning whether the company is paying its fair share. Apple’s tax bill for 2015 was actually up from £11.8 million the previous year, but with the company still under EU investigation for routing its European profits through Ireland, suspicion that Apple is cooking the books is rampant.

Apple lays out ‘differential privacy’ plan for data collection

Apple is working to explain its new “differential privacy” method of collecting enough user information to make its products more useful while still protecting user privacy, Recode reports. Data collection will begin with the rollout of iOS 10, but will be entirely opt-in, allowing users to decide whether they’re willing to trade a little privacy in return for added functionality. Those opting in will allow Apple to see new words added to their local dictionaries, emojis they type, deep links used inside apps, and hints within notes.

Report: New iPhone’s space gray to be ‘much darker color’

Tipsters have indicated that the space gray version of the new “iPhone 7” will be a “much darker color” than that on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, Apple Insider reports. There is already some variability in Apple’s space gray from product to product, with the space gray on the Apple Watch Sport quite a bit darker than that on the iPhone 6 or 6s. But citing trusted sources, Macotakara‘s Danbo told the site that the darker shade will be nearly black, refuting earlier claims that space gray was being ditched for a “deep blue” color. Sources who claim to have seen the next-generation iPhone’s colors are said to have mistaken the darker space gray for a blue.

Incipio to acquire Skullcandy

Mobile device accessory maker Incipio Technologies has announced plans to acquire Skullcandy, which specializes in audio solutions, and gaming products through its Astro Gaming brand. This is the fourth in a spate of recent acquisitions by Incipio, with the company having acquired Incase and Clamcase last year, and Braven back in 2013.

Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance

Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that the opening up of the iOS 10 kernel was an intentional decision on its part, citing performance optimizations as the main motivator for the move. Speaking to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson noted that “The kernel cache doesn’t contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we’re able to optimize the operating system’s performance without compromising security.”

Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny

Security researchers examining the first iOS 10 Developer Preview beta have discovered that Apple has taken the unusual step of leaving the new operating system’s kernel open to examination, according to a new report by MIT Technology Review. The iOS kernel — the heart of Apple’s mobile operating system — has always been encrypted in the past, making it more difficult for security researchers to reverse engineer the software to look for flaws or exploits in the code. While the report speculates that it’s possible this may have been an oversight on Apple’s part for this first developer preview release, it would be difficult to believe that Apple’s engineers would make such a basic error, leading many researchers to speculate that this is actually a bold move by Apple to open up the operating system to more scrutiny by third parties.

Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple

A judge has thrown out the class-action lawsuit against Apple over ‘Error 53’ messages that temporarily left some users’ iPhone locked, Fortune reports. After users who had third-party repairs to their iPhone’s Touch ID sensor began seeing their phones rendered useless upon updating to iOS 9 in February, Apple quickly released a patch to fix the issue and offered to reimburse customers who has been forced to pay for out-of-warranty replacements for their devices.

Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct

The company that won a major patent ruling against Apple in Beijing last week barely even exists, The Wall Street Journal reports. Last week the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models infringe upon the design of Baili’s 100C phone. Since that ruling, phone calls to the company in question — Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services Co. — ring unanswered. The company’s websites are gone and visits to its registered addresses turned up no company offices.

Apple adds nine more apps to universal search in Apple TV

Apple has beefed up its universal search feature in Apple TV, adding support for HGTV, A&E, Food Network, History, Lifetime, Cooking Channel, DIY, FYI and Travel Channel. That brings the total number of searchable apps to 31, all of which are listed on Apple’s website. Using Siri or Search in Apple TV will now provide results from all of those apps and iTunes when users go looking for a movie or TV show. Earlier this month Bravo, E!, Syfy and USA were also added to the search.

WSJ: iPhone to see modest changes this year, eliminate headphone jack

A new report from The Wall Street Journal is adding weight to several recent rumors suggesting that the next-generation iPhone, expected to be released this fall, will see only subtle changes, essentially breaking Apple’s two-year iPhone redesign cycle. Citing sources familiar with the matter, as well as other recent analysts, the WSJ is confirming with some confidence that Apple’s long-rumored plans to drop the headphone jack are likely to come to fruition with this next-generation model, but that any other large changes will be held back to 2017 — the year that also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the release of the original iPhone.

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