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Apple Music on pace to overtake Spotify in number of paid subscribers this year

Apple Music is on pace to overtake Spotify in paid subscribers this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Spotify is seen to be the dominant force in music streaming, but many of its users aren’t paid subscribers and limit their use to the free, ad-sponsored service. Sources in the record industry said Apple Music has been adding subscribers at a five percent monthly rate, compared with Spotify’s two percent rate. If those rates remain the same, Apple Music will outpace Spotify by this summer, and is already ahead if users on Apple Music’s three-month free trial are taken into account. Apple confirmed that it currently has 36 million paying customers.

Report: Apple to ditch Qualcomm chips completely for Intel versions in 2018 iPhones

Amid Apple’s ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is now saying the company may be ditching Qualcomm’s baseband chips all together, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said he expects Apple to use Intel’s chips exclusively in its 2018 iPhones since Intel chips now meet Apple’s technical requirements at a more competitive price, but he added Apple may be forced to return to Qualcomm if it turns out Intel can’t get ready for 5G networks fast enough. Previous reports claimed Qualcomm’s current 5G chips offer more specialized features, but sources said since many of those features won’t be widely adopted by carriers it’s likely Intel’s 5G modem will be more than sufficient for future iPhones.

Some iPhone X users unable to answer calls as screen fails to wake

Some iPhone X users are unable to answer calls because their phone displays aren’t waking up when a call comes in, The Financial Times reports. Users report that the ringtone will play for an incoming call, but the screen won’t wake up for several seconds, sometimes resulting in a missed call. A restart seems to resolve the problem temporarily, but after 15 to 20 calls the problem reappears. Users who have had their iPhone X replaced by Apple are reporting the same issues with the replacement units, but it’s still unclear whether a hardware or software problem is to blame. Apple is “looking into these reports,” but hasn’t provided any further information on a fix.

Apple providing free repairs for ‘No Service’ problem on some iPhone 7 models sold in US

Apple is offering free repairs to certain iPhone 7 models that are showing “No Service” in the status bar even when cellular coverage is available. The company has admitted a component on the logic board on some of the devices manufactured between September 2016 and February 2018 is prone to failure, and users have taken to Twitter to complain that their cellular service and Bluetooth capabilities suddenly stopped working. Models A1660, A1779, and A1780 qualify for the free repair and can be taken to Apple Authorized Service Providers or Apple retail stores to be sent back to the company for repair.

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Report: Apple struggling to police fake apps in Chinese App Store

A new report from TechCrunch suggests that Apple may be struggling to properly vet content in its App Store in China, particularly where copycat apps are concerned. The report cites the example of a Japanese app called “Tabi Kaeru” (“Travel Frog”) that became an unexpected hit in China, resulting in more than 30 knock-off copycat apps looking to profit off its success. While Apple has become very successful at dealing with such apps within the U.S. App Store, the company was clearly not as well-prepared to deal with the issue in the Chinese App Store, where at least one knock-off, an app named 旅行青蛙, managed to not only survive long enough to generate significant revenue for the developer, but also rise to the top of the App Store charts, displacing the original genuine app for the better part of a day.

Apple now selling refurbished iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple TV 4K units

Apple has now begun selling refurbishing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and Apple TV 4K models on its U.S. online store for the first time, offering customers a chance to pick up these units at about a 10 percent discount as compared to the prices of brand new models.

Apple loses bid to HBO for new J.J. Abrams show

HBO has beat out Apple in a bid to produce J.J. Abrams latest sci-fi drama project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. HBO got the nod for a straight-to-series order for the new sci-fi thriller, which will be called “Demimonde,” with sources suggesting that Abrams made the call as a result of his impression with what the premium cable network did with “Westworld.” While the move may indicate that despite Apple’s strong original content ambitions and deep pockets, its status as a Hollywood newcomer may hamper its efforts in signing major productions, it’s also worth noting that Apple has already successfully picked up an original sci-fi show from Ronald D. Moore of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Outlander” fame. Sources also suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that Apple’s bid made may never have been under serious consideration in the first place.

YouTube TV now available on Apple TV

Google has announced that its live TV service, YouTube TV, is now available for Apple TV users in the U.S.  For a base $35 monthly cost, the service provides subscribers with more than 40 live channels from major networks such as CBS, Fox, NBC, and CBS, as well as sports networks such as ESPN and Fox Sports. The service also includes unlimited cloud DVR storage.

Apple reports strong Q1 2018 results, iPhone X overwhelmingly popular

Apple has reported its financial results for Q1 2018, reflecting a strong holiday quarter and dispelling recent negative hype about underperforming iPhone X sales. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared it “the biggest quarter in Apple’s history” and emphasized that not only did Apple see “the highest revenue ever from a new iPhone lineup” but that the iPhone X was also the top-selling iPhone every week since it first shipped in November.

Apple Pay is now ‘the world’s most accepted contactless payment technology’

Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey provided some interesting insights into Apple Pay’s growth earlier this month, according to a report by CNET Japan. Addressing attendees at NRF 2018 Retail’s Big Show in New York with a speech entitled “The Modern Shopping Experience,” Bailey talked about Apple Pay’s rapid growth and the company’s plans for mobile payments going forward. Bailey noted that the iPhone is leading the mobile e-commerce revolution, with smartphone and tablet based purchase now accounting for 25 percent of transactions in the U.S. — a rate of growth that exceeds the desktop by four times, and traditional retail stores by a factor of 10, and added that similar growth is being seen in other countries such as China.

Gucci adds ‘Year of the Dog’ custom Animoji

Fashion house Gucci has created its own emoji to celebrate Lunar New Year, according to a new report from The Verge. Available as part of Gucci’s mobile app, the new creation takes the form of two Animoji dogs based on Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s own Boston terriers, further inspired by artworks by Unskilled Worker, a Gucci collaborator. According to the report, the Animoji creations appear to be considerably more limited than Apple’s own built-in Animoji, noting that they “can’t even smile, or look anything other than intimidating and annoyed.” While clearly done as primarily a marketing move on Gucci’s part, it’s probably also just one of the first examples of many more home-grown third-party Animoji yet to come.

Apple confirms list of HomePod audio sources

Apple has updated the specs page for its new HomePod, officially listing the audio sources that can be streams to the wireless speaker. The list basically holds no surprises, confirming earlier reports that the speaker would offer full support for iCloud Music Library via Siri, with the listed sources also including Apple Music, iTunes Music Purchases, iCloud Music Library, Beats 1 Live Radio, and Podcasts, while also acknowledging that the HomePod can also of course receive any other audio streams via AirPlay.

Slack drops Apple Watch app

Popular team collaboration service Slack has removed its Apple Watch app in its latest update, continuing a trend that began last year with major players such as Google, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, and Transit all phasing out Apple Watch support for various reasons. While the practical usefulness of the Apple Watch Slack app was open to debate, it did provide users with a few additional capabilities, the company added in the release notes for the latest update that “receiving and replying to messages from your wrist works the same as before,” which will continue to be supported courtesy of normal watchOS rich notifications.

Nintendo announces Mario Kart Tour coming to iOS

Nintendo has officially announced that it will be bringing a long-awaited version of Mario Kart to the iOS platform. With the announcement being made via a single tweet right now, the details are somewhat sketchy, but we do know that the application, which will be called “Mario Kart Tour,” is already in development and scheduled for release sometime by early 2019.

Microsoft OneDrive updated for iOS 11, Office apps get real-time co-authoring

Microsoft has announced a series of updates for its Office suite and OneDrive apps for iOS, adding the collaboration features which came to the Mac version earlier this month and bringing iOS 11 drag-and-drop capabilities and Files app integration to the OneDrive iOS app.

Report: Apple supplier to begin assembling iPhone 6s in India

Apple manufacturing partner Wistron has almost completed a land deal that would see it open a new plant in India, Reuters reports. A source close to the deal claims the plant would at least in part be responsible for producing Apple’s iPhone 6s, as Apple looks to expand its presence in India. The company began producing the iPhone SE in India last year as part of a larger effort to gain access to the Indian market, allowing Apple to sell the entry-level device to customers looking for an affordable iPhone. The 6s — launched more than two years ago — is another good fit in that regard and would give customers in India a more affordable larger screen option that has come into favor in much of the rest of the world. Wistron has already gained federal approval to import machinery from China to India that can be used to set up new assembly lines, and local assembly will save Apple money on import taxes and allow the company to offer the phones for a lower price in a market obsessed with cost.

Microsoft expected to begin public testing for iPad-friendly version of Edge browser next month

After announcing that its Edge browser would be coming to iOS last October, Microsoft has confirmed that the program’s iPad-friendly version is in internal testing and will be available on TestFlight for previewing early next month, Neowin reports. While iPad users can technically already use the iPhone version of Edge on their device, the experience is less than ideal since the app is scaled up in an unappealing way and limited to portrait mode. While the Edge browser currently lets Microsoft tablet users mark up websites with a stylus — a feature that could be very useful for iPad Pro users — there’s no word on whether that featue will makes its way to the iOS version.

DOJ and SEC both investigating Apple’s efforts to slow down older iPhones

The US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are both investigating whether Apple broke securities laws by not disclosing that it was intentionally slowing down older iPhones with aging batteries, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the investigations said the government has requested information from Apple and has investigators examining public statements the company has made about the issue. While much attention has been paid to how the move irritated customers, the government seems to be looking at whether the company misled investors as well.

Analyst casts doubt on updated iPhone SE appearing in 2018

While rumors about an update to the iPhone SE have been swirling since early 2017, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t think we’re going to see a new version of the four-inch device any time soon, MacRumors reports. Apple released the smaller device in 2016 to fill the gap in its line up felt by users who didn’t want the larger size (and price tag) of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but Kuo now says with Apple developing both LED and LCD versions of the larger iPhones for this fall, the company doesn’t have the development resources to focus on another iPhone. “We think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models,” Kuo wrote, referencing the delay in launching the iPhone X last year. “As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18.”

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