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Apple partners with builders to include HomeKit-enabled devices in new homes

As homebuilders are starting to include more smarthome devices in their new houses, Apple is looking to cash in by being the company providing the go-to devices for controlling them, Bloomberg reports. While homeowners may balk at paying $130 for two Phillips Hue lightbulbs or $229 for a Schlage smart deadbolt, Los Angeles-based KB Home is betting that new home buyers will be willing to pay a little extra for features like automated thermostats, lights, locks and security systems. Their basic package of HomeKit compatible devices costs $2,000, but that’s just the starting point. A $1.2 million home showcased by Lennar Corp. contains $30,000 worth of bells and whistles, and Apple is also working with other builders, like Brookfield Residential Properties Inc., who are declining to say when their smarthomes are going on sale or how much they’ll cost.

Report about Apple Pay in Japan hints at Oct. 25 release for iOS 10.1

Local media in Japan is reporting an Oct. 25 launch date for Apple Pay in the country, leading to speculation that iOS 10.1 will also launch that day, according to the Ata Distance blog. Apple’s partners Docomo iD and JR East are both taking their systems down for “unscheduled system maintenance” on the morning of October 25, leading to the conclusion that the necessary software update will also come out that day. All iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch 2 models sold in Japan already have the hardware to support the country’s FeliCa Type-F NFC mobile payment systems, but will require iOS 10.1 updates to make use of them. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Pay adds 20+ new U.S. banks and credit unions, MBNA Canada coming ‘mid-2017’

Apple has added support for more than 20 new banks and credit unions to Apple Pay, including BankLiberty, Franklin Savings Bank, Michigan Educational Credit Union, and more — a full list can be found on Apple’s site (via 9to5Mac). Meanwhile, iPhone in Canada reports that Apple Pay is not expected to launch for MBNA Canada — which represents a total of 64 themed MasterCards — until mid-2017, according to internal documents distributed to MBNA Canada employees, although the company’s social media teams are said to be ready to announce details soon via Twitter.

Misfit launches Phase smartwatch

Misfit’s new Phase smartwatch combines the look of a traditional watch with the functionality found in other smartwatches. Once the Phase is synced with an iPhone using the watch’s mobile app, the device uses just the two watch hands, a colored light and vibrations to deliver alerts, and shows users their progress toward fitness goals. Toggling to Activity Mode allows users to tag specific activities (like running and yoga) and check in on their daily progress toward pre-assigned goals for step count, sleep duration, and calories burned. The light on the face marks which measurement is being reported and the hands move in unison to show how far the user is toward that particular goal, with the full watch face representing 100 percent.

ecobee releases ecobee3 lite HomeKit-enabled Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostat maker ecobee has released a more aggressively priced version of its top-rated ecobee3. Priced at $169, the new ecobee3 lite provides almost all of the same smart thermostat features as its more expensive sibling, but omits support for the remote wireless sensors that provide home and away motion sensing and temperature monitoring in other rooms. The ecobee3 lite still supports Apple HomeKit, Smart Recovery, iOS app support, scheduling, and a web-based portal, making it a more cost-effective option for users in smaller homes or apartments that don’t require the full range of motion and temperature monitoring features.

CBS developing Candy Crush game show

CBS has decided to turn the mobile game Candy Crush Saga into a game show, Deadline reports. CBS hasn’t released an initial air date or announced a host, but the show has been in development for two years and will feature players attempting to match colorful candies in groups of three or more while defeating obstacles to make it through more than 2,000 levels. Developed by the same people who brought the obstacle-course hit Wipeout to ABC, Candy Crush will feature “teams of two people [using] their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous, interactive game boards featuring next generation technology to conquer Candy Crush and be crowned the champions.” While Candy Crush Saga isn’t as popular as was it years ago, the game can still be found on Apple’s Top Charts, under free games.

Apple releases fourth beta of iOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released the fourth beta of iOS 10.1 to registered developers today, hours after releasing the iOS 10.0.3 update to iPhone 7/7 Plus users. We anticipate that the official public release of iOS 10.1 — which contains the much-ballyhooed Portrait camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users — is not far off.

Apple releases iOS 10.0.3 to fix cellular connectivity bug in iPhone 7/7 Plus

Apple has released iOS 10.0.3 for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The update for the new iPhones fixes a bug which could cause a temporary loss of cellular connectivity. The update is currently available as an over-the-air download. It shouldn’t be much longer until Apple releases a bigger update with iOS 10.1 — last week, the company released its third beta for that upcoming update.

Apple moving $9 billion in assets to Ireland

Despite a bitter legal fight over its tax agreements, Apple is moving even more assets to Ireland, The Business Post reports. The company has relocated its international iTunes business to a data center in Hollyhill, Ireland from its current location in Luxembourg. The Hollyhill facility will now manage “iTunes business and content stores for more than 100 countries,” amounting to an estimated $9 billion in assets. Apple has been clear that it remains committed to doing business in Ireland even as it fights a ruling from the European Union that ordered the company to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Watch 2, iPhone 7 to launch in more countries this month

Through its regional websites, Apple announced it is expanding the rollout of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2, bringing its devices to several new countries this month. Israel and Egypt will get the iPhone 7 on Oct. 20, and the company will make the phone available in Korea, Columbia, Thailand, Madagascar, Morocco, Uganda and Maurice the following day. Korea and Columbia will also be getting the Apple Watch 2 on Oct. 21. Cameroon, Botswana, Kenya and Mozambique will get the iPhone 7 the following week on Oct. 28. [via 9to5Mac]

Sony set to launch mobile games on iOS

Following Nintendo’s lead, Sony is planning to launch more than five mobile games for iOS by March 2018, CNBC reports. As previously reported, the games will be produced by Sony’s ForwardWorks subsidiary and released first in Japan and other Asian markets where the company has seen lagging console sales. Sony hasn’t elaborated on which games will be coming first, but Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese gaming consultant and advisory group Kantan Games, warned against looking for the company to replicate the early success of titles like Pokémon GO. “Sony doesn’t have the same power as the Nintendo IP. There is nothing that comes even close to Mario,” Toto said.

Cook shares vision for AI ‘running across all products’

In his first trip to Japan as Apple CEO, Tim Cook painted a grand future for the artificial intelligence that will soon be developed in the company’s Yokohama facility, telling Nikkei it will be “horizontal in nature, running across all products.” Cook said new AI developments will transform the way people use their phones “in ways that most people don’t even think about,” helping with everything from increasing battery life in iPhones, to locating cars in a crowded parking lot. Cook sees an “incredible future ahead” as the smartphone industry matures, and other smart devices expand into new business and medical uses.

Apple halts electric car plans, shifts toward autonomous driving system

Apple has shifted its automotive ambitions away from building its own electric car in favor of developing an autonomous driving system, Bloomberg reports. People familiar with the project said hundreds of employees from Project Titan have been been “reassigned, let go, or left of their own volition” in the past few months. Apple executives are displeased with the lack of progress and want the car team to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system. It’s been said the team must decide on a final direction by “late next year” — the deadline was imposed after months of “strategy disagreements”, leadership changes, and supply chain problems. The shift in strategy is expected to help Apple keep open the option of partnering with existing carmakers, while not fully closing the door on the possibility of the company designing its own vehicle in the future. Apple declined to comment on the story.

Apple begins sale of ‘SIM-free’ unlocked iPhone 7 models in the U.S.

Apple has started selling SIM-free iPhone 7 models in the U.S. online Apple Store, allowing customers who wish to purchase an unlocked iPhone outright without signing a carrier contract the opportunity to do so. A new “SIM-free” option now appears on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ordering pages as an alternative to the traditional carrier selection options. As the SIM-free iPhone models are not subsidized by carrier contracts, customers will pay the full retail purchase prices, ranging from $649 for a 32GB iPhone 7 up to $969 for a 256GB iPhone 7 Plus. SIM-free models appear to be the A1660 and A1661 versions, which include CDMA support for use on Sprint or Verizon Wireless in addition to AT&T and T-Mobile.

Apple Watch Nike+ Edition coming Oct. 28, AirPods still ‘late October’

Apple has updated its Apple Watch Nike+ web page, adding an Oct. 28 release date for the new special edition of the Series 2 Apple Watch. When Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 2 last month, the company announced a special running-focused Nike+ model would be coming in “late October.” The Nike+ watch includes exclusive watch faces, a special perforated band, and a custom Nike app which more proactively promotes and tracks running workouts, allowing users to compete with other Apple Watch Nike+ users. It remains unclear whether this app will be exclusive to the Apple Watch Nike+ edition or be made available for other Apple Watch models after the Nike+ edition’s release.

Apple releases third developer beta for watchOS 3.1

Following Monday’s release of iOS 10.1 beta 3 to developers, Apple has now also released a third developer beta for watchOS 3.1. As with the iOS 10.1 beta, the accompanying release notes list few significant changes, with the new version likely being primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Registered iOS developers can download the new watchOS beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Iovine talks creating ‘hybrid’ of technology and pop culture with Apple Music

In a new interview with Billboard, Jimmy Iovine said Apple’s approach to pairing music industry veterans with technology experts to deliver a constantly evolving product like Apple Music was a far more complex process than people understand. While Spotify and YouTube have recently hired music industry power players, Iovine said simply bringing in those individuals and expecting results oversimplifies a much larger issue of finding music industry veterans who understand the technology side as well. “So people that hire record executives—I don’t know what these people can or can’t do—but Larry [Jackson] and Trent [Reznor] and Luke [Wood] were guys that I just knew, instinctively and through working with them, that they could learn this,” Iovine said of the technology side. “That’s very important. Because every time I read, ‘Oh, they’re hiring music people!’ How naïve!”

Apple opening second R&D center in China, takes Didi Chuxing board seat

Apple is setting up a research and development center in Shenzhen to bolster the company’s rocky relationship with China, Reuters reports. The announcement of the Shenzhen facility comes just two months after Apple’s promise to place a similar center in Beijing. While in China, CEO Tim Cook touted the company’s search for local software developers to work closely with Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partners.

Apple removes Dash app from App Store over fraudulent review accusations

Apple has removed popular API documentation browser Dash from the App Store, claiming that an account linked to the app’s parent company Kapeli engaged in App Store review manipulation. In a statement to The Loop, Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr said almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were discovered across the 2 accounts and 25 apps associated with Kapeli. Who posted the reviews and which apps received those reviews is still unclear. “Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful,” Neumayr said. “We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers.”

Apple releases iOS 10.1 beta 3 to developers

Apple has released the third beta of iOS 10.1 to registered iOS developers today. The company also released its third beta for tvOS 10.0.1. These new releases come less than a week after the second beta releases were released to developers.

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