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Report: Apple asks labels to cut prices for cheaper Beats Music service

  • October 3, 2014

Apple is in discussions with major music labels about “a new set of rights and features” — and new pricing — for a revamped Beats Music service, Re/code reports. The company reportedly aims to offer the subscription service for less than its current $10/month rate. It’s noted that talks are still in their initial stages, and getting the labels to cut prices will “require some work on Apple’s part.” A restructuring of the service wouldn’t happen until 2015. It’s unknown what new features the updated service would offer, or if those features would be in any way connected to Apple’s partnership with U2. Apple declined comment on the report.

Apple names Steve Dowling new interim head of PR

Apple has appointed Steve Dowling as its new interim head of public relations for the company, Re/Code reports. A long-time member of Apple’s PR team, Dowling has been chosen to lead corporation communications following the retirement of Apple VP Katie Cotton earlier this year. Although a June report indicated that Apple had been looking for a “high-profile external candidate” to fill the position, it seems the company has decided to promote internally, at least for the time being—the Re/Code report notes that the company “will continue to evaluate worthy outside candidates if one should pop up.”

Apple patent application outlines Apple TV remote interface

Apple has filed a patent application titled “Browsing remote content using a native user interface,” describing ways in which an iOS application could serve as a second screen controller for an Apple TV. In contrast to Apple’s existing Remote app, this design would present the user with a more full-featured Apple TV or iTunes interface. The specific interface would be determined by the Apple TV and simply rendered by the iOS application in a manner appropriate to its own screen, effectively allowing for the UI to be presented in a variety of different ways appropriate to the content being browsed, searched for, or viewed. The patent application also suggests that users could simultaneously control the media device and search for or browse information from other sources “not available to the media device,” such as the web, and transmit information from the remote to the Apple TV — for example, users could visit an external web page featuring trivia for a movie currently being viewed, and then send that information back to be displayed on the Apple TV. The application also suggests ways in which iCloud or “other network-accessed sources” could store information or user interface templates specific to different devices, and ways to sync such information across multiple devices.

 

Pioneer NEX in-dash receivers support CarPlay with firmware update

Pioneer has announced that a new firmware update enables Apple CarPlay in five of its NEX in-dash multimedia receivers, as it becomes the first company to make an aftermarket CarPlay system available. While the company initially said CarPlay compatibility would be available in “early summer” this year, Pioneer has still beaten nearly everyone else to CarPlay inclusion, including Apple’s automotive partners — Apple quietly changed its CarPlay page recently to withdraw promises to 2014 availability. Pioneer’s NEX receivers range in price from $700 to $1400, and CarPlay will also be compatible with the company’s new $600 AppRadio 4. The firmware update is available for free on Pioneer’s firmware downloads page.

Logitech debuts Type+ Keyboard for iPad Air

Logitech has debuted its new Type+ keyboard case ($100) for iPad Air. Featuring an improved Bluetooth keyboard, Type+ provides a laptop-style typing experience and layout for iPad Air users while providing thin two-sided protection. The new keyboard design optimizes the distance between the keys and includes a dedicated row of iOS shortcut keys for quick access to iOS specific functions. The keyboard also automatically turns on and wakes your iPad when you open it, and puts your iPad to sleep and turns off when closed to preserve battery power. The Logitech Type+ will be available in black and red-orange starting this month.

Upcoming iPad Air to have gold color option

Apple will add a new gold color option to its newest iPad Air likely to be unveiled this month, Bloomberg reports. The gold color, which has been an iPhone color option since last year’s iPhone 5s, is reportedly being added to the lineup to boost sales. Interestingly, the report makes no mention of whether the next iPad mini will also come in gold. Apple declined comment.

Apple Q4 earnings call coming October 20

  • September 30, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple has announced that it will release its Q4 financial results on Monday, October 20. The company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. ET that day. For the third quarter, Apple previously provided guidance for Q4 of revenue between $37 billion and $40 billion, and gross margin between 37 percent and 38 percent. As always, iLounge will provide live coverage of the results.

 

European magazine gets blacklisted by Apple for posting “Bendgate” video

  • September 30, 2014
  • Apple,

Europe’s best-selling computer magazine, Computer Bild, has been blacklisted by Apple PR after posting a video of an iPhone 6 Plus being bent by one of its journalists. In a response to an inquiry from the magazine regarding the build quality of the iPhone 6 Plus, a manager from Apple’s German PR branch responded by telling Computer Bild that they will no longer receive any testing devices nor invitations to Apple events. While the video in question appears to be showing an excessive amount of force being applied to bend the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s punishment is a harsh response, particularly considering that the company has been openly addressing multiple publications testing for iPhone build quality issues. However, such a response is consistent with Apple PR’s unfortunately heavy-handed approach to media relations, and blacklisting is not an uncommon response to publications that even briefly present Apple or specific products in a less-than-ideal light.

Computer Bild has responded with an open letter to Tim Cook, questioning Apple’s response and suggesting an attempt at intimidation by the company, while promising to retain its independent judgment when testing and reviewing devices.

“Reset All Settings” in iOS 8 may also erase iCloud Drive content

A serious bug has been reported with the “Reset All Settings” option in iOS 8 that may result in at least some iCloud Drive based documents being deleted. According to several MacRumors readers, using the option found under Settings, General, Reset has caused documents to be permanently removed from iCloud Drive across all other iOS devices. The “Reset All Settings” option has been around since the early versions of iOS, and as the name implies is designed to reset all user-configurable settings on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch back to their factory defaults, without actually deleting any data from the device or the cloud. While it is unclear what iCloud Drive data is being impacted by this bug, it appears that at least Apple’s own Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps are impacted.

Apple’s tax deal in Ireland may be illegal according to EU regulators

  • September 30, 2014
  • Apple,

Special tax deals granted to Apple in Ireland may in fact be illegal, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. European Union regulators indicated that the tax deals in question “constituted illegal state support for the companies.” In a letter to the Irish government, regulators stated that they had reached the “preliminary view” that the tax deals with Apple from 1991 and 2007 technically constituted state aid, in that the deals gave Apple an advantage which was “granted in a selective manner.” Apple responded to the allegations as it has in the past, stating that the company has “received no selective treatment from Irish officials over the years,” and that it is “subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland.” An Irish government official stated that Ireland is confident no rules were breached in this matter. While the antitrust investigation is still in the early stages, a final ruling against the tax deals could result in Apple having to pay up to $200 million in back taxes to Ireland.

Apple releases first iOS 8.1 beta to developers

Apple has released the first beta of iOS 8.1 to registered developers. The latest version features a build number of 12B401 and appears to contain mostly minor tweaks and fixes, including the ability to disable Dictation independently from Siri, and a renaming of “Recently Added” photos back to “Camera Roll.” A report from MacRumors also notes that the beta includes hidden settings for Apple Pay as well as underlying code for iPad Touch ID support.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus hit China Oct. 17, pre-orders Oct. 10

Apple has announced that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in China starting on Friday, Oct. 17. Pre-orders start a week earlier, on Oct. 10. The two new iPhones have been released in a number of countries since the initial launch on Sept. 19, but the Chinese release was delayed for regulatory reasons, making it unclear when the phones would be available. According to Reuters, Apple received approval for selling the devices after addressing a number of security concerns raised by the Chinese government.

“We are thrilled to bring iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to our customers in China on all three carriers at launch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a release. “With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers will have access to high-speed mobile networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for an incredible experience.”

Report: iOS 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 in simultaneous development

Apple is currently working on iOS 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 at the same time, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that such a move away from Apple’s normal development cycle might show that the company won’t tie annual major iOS releases to typical fall hardware releases. Otherwise, Apple may be accelerating its iOS point release development while keeping iOS 9 for release next fall. It’s possible that the upcoming releases of 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 will introduce major new features, such as Apple Pay, split-screen iPad apps, or an update to make iPhones compatible with the Apple Watch.

French fashion retailer Colette to hold in-store Apple event

Paris-based fashion retailer Colette is teasing a “one day only experience” with Apple, to be held September 30th from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM local time. While no other details are available, it seems plausible that this may involve the recently-debuted Apple Watch, particularly since Apple has been working with the fashion industry to style and position the device as a fashion accessory. The invitation image clearly resembles the Apple Watch home screen icon layout, and although it seems unusual that Apple would publicly demonstrate Watch this far ahead of its release, the event could be more focused on showing off the physical aesthetics of the device, special wristband options, or a new distribution option for these products. [via 9to5Mac]

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Apps of the Week: OmniFocus 2 for iPad, Transmit, Asphalt Overdrive + more

New Apps

OmniFocus 2 for iPad ($40)—A long-awaited iPad refresh of the popular power-user productivity app. While OmniGroup came out with an updated, iOS 7-ified version of OmniFocus 2 for iPhone last year, the already more feature-rich iPad app lagged a bit, retaining its iOS 6 style UI, but remaining compatible with the OmniFocus suite of products. The new update features a meticulously revamped UI similar to that found in the iPhone and Mac versions, unifying the design language across the entire collection of apps. The iOS 8 extensions introduced to the iPhone version earlier this month are also here, allowing access to your OmniFocus tasks from the Today view, and the ability to create new entries from other apps like Safari using the iOS 8 Sharing extension. Users of the iPad version can now also create custom perspectives right on their iPad without having to rely on the Mac version, with combinations of view settings, searches, and filters to layout tasks in the most efficient manner for your own individual workflow.

Transmit ($10)—The highly acclaimed Mac FTP client comes to iOS, with an elegant UI design and support for the latest iOS 8 features such as Touch ID security, and the ability to share data to Transmit from other iOS apps, such as uploading your photos directly to your SFTP server. Even cooler, users with Transmit installed can open and use files directly from Transmit sources like FTP and WebDAV servers when using other compatible apps like Apple’s Pages, Numbers, or Keynote; files will automatically and silently be uploaded back to the original server when saved. All of the important file management features are here as well: you can transfer files, create folders, rename files, delete files, and even set permissions.

Manual - Custom Exposure Camera ($2)—This is a cool new little app that shows off—as the name implies—the manual camera controls now available in iOS 8. The app provides full independent control of settings such as shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus, and exposure compensation in a quick and easy-to-use UI. Two grids are available—Rule of Thirds and square—and you can also monitor exposure values in real-time, toggle the LED flash on for “fill” purposes, and save photos directly to your Camera Roll.

Report: iOS 8 anti-tracking features more limited than initially publicized

A new report in the Washington Post reveals that new features in iOS 8 intended to limit tracking of iPhones may be more limited than users might expect. According to Apple’s Privacy Page, iOS 8 will protect user’s privacy by “randomizing your device’s MAC address when the device is passively scanning for Wi-Fi networks,” thereby preventing persistent tracking of a device based on the normally-fixed hardware addresses that are common to all Wi-Fi devices.

However, a new post from a principal systems engineer of the WiFi analytics firm AirTight Networks, Bhupinder Misra, reveals that the feature may not be as useful as Apple’s description implies. Misra specifically notes that the privacy feature is limited to the iPhone 5c/5s and likely newer models, and in fact is only operational when the iPhone is in sleep mode and location services are disabled. For example, Misra explains, the device’s actual Wi-Fi hardware address is broadcast whenever a user wakes up their iPhone for just about any reason, such as sending a text message—even if they’re not connecting to a Wi-Fi network but simply relying on their carrier’s cellular data connection.

Although a publicly available iOS Security White Paper from Apple explains some of these limitations, it makes no mention of the requirement that location services be disabled, making it unclear whether this is intentional behaviour or a bug in the feature’s implementation. It is also worth noting, however, that the Wi-Fi hardware address only reveals the identity of a specific device; no personal information about the user of the device is accessible in this manner. In other words, a store could track how often a specific customer had visited their store based on their device’s Wi-Fi address, but would be unable to identify the specific customer with this method unless they connected to the store’s Wi-Fi network and specifically provided personal information in some way, such as signing onto a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Video Review: Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Our video review of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus gives viewers a look at some of the ground covered in our comprehensive site review of both devices. We hope this gives consumers even more background and information on the new iPhones as you see them up close and in action. Please read our full review for many more details.

Report: Same manager in charge of iOS 8.0.1 and Apple Maps releases

Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching problems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager Josh Williams oversees quality assurance for iOS, and Williams was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said Williams was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. Williams has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.

Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said.

Apple releases iOS 8.0.2 (Updated)

Apple has released iOS 8.0.2 tonight, just one day after releasing and pulling iOS 8.0.1, which was immediately received with complaints of cellular and Touch ID issues from iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. iOS 8.0.2 resolves those problems, and also allows HealthKit apps to be available on the App Store, among other fixes.

Update: Some Australian users are still experiencing cellular and Touch ID problems after installing iOS 8.0.2, according to MacRumors.

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