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Apple announces annual Back to School promotion, excludes iOS devices

Apple has announced its Back to School 2015 Promotion, later than usual this year and notably excluding any iOS devices or iPod-related offers. Between July 23 and September 18, educational customers purchasing an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro can also elect to receive a $199.95 credit to be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones or Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones purchased at the same time. The same promotion also applies to purchases made through the U.S. Apple Online Store, however for whatever reason the dates for online purchases are limited to August 6 through September 18.

Apple’s original Back to School promotions began in 2005 with the offer of a free iPod mini with the purchase of a Mac, a promotion that recurred annually in similar forms, changing to bundle an iPod nano and then eventually an iPod touch in 2010. After six years of including a free iPod with the purchase of a Mac, the promotion changed in 2011 to offer a free $100 iTunes Gift Card instead with the purchase of a Mac. Apple expanded the promotion in 2012 to also offer a $50 iTunes Gift card with the purchase of an iPad, and then again in 2013 to also include the iPhone. In 2014, the promotion switched from iTunes gift cards to Apple Store gift cards. This year marks the first time since the promotion began eleven years ago that no iPod, iOS device, or iTunes-related item has been included as part of the promotion.

Apple planning Touch ID Apple TV remote?

While Apple has been expected for some time to release a new Apple TV with a remote that would reportedly incorporate a touchpad, a new patent revealed by Patently Apple suggests that Apple may be looking to go a step beyond a simple touchpad with an integrated Touch ID sensor. While the patent itself remains broad, referring simply to a “sensor configured to detect a biometric characteristic of a user,” a fingerprint appears to be the element highlighted in the main drawings, and the text suggests that biometric authentication could be used both for authentication to access secure features such as parentally locked content, as well as identifying a user to select a specific viewing profile such as favorite channels. With the Apple TV being positioned as a hub for Apple’s new HomeKit home automation service, the sensor could also extend to home applications, again both for security and customization.

Report: Integrated Apple Watch charging coming to third-party accessories

Apple plans to allow MFi program partners to begin integrating charging pads into Apple Watch accessories, 9to5Mac reports. While existing Apple Watch stands offer a place to insert the standard Apple Watch charger and route cables through the stand, an integrated solution would provide a more efficient solution for consumers, allowing them to avoid having to insert and use their own chargers. The approach would reportedly be similar to how Apple provides components for third-party Apple Watch bands and Lightning cables, with MFi suppliers providing access to the charging components that accessory manufacturers would integrate into their own designs. The integrated charging pad would likely also provide for more design flexibility for third-party docks and stands. The program is said to still be in the early stages, with the component only available in “sample quantities” but Apple not yet open to accepting official plan submissions.

Apple releases second iOS 9 public beta

Apple has released the second public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, corresponding to the fourth developer beta released earlier this week. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 allows 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.

Microsoft releases email messaging app for iOS

Microsoft has released its slimmed-down email messaging app, called Send, on iOS devices. Plans for the app leaked in May under the name Flow by Outlook, but despite the new name, details about the hybrid email/instant messaging app have remained mostly the same. The app works with Office 365 business and school email accounts, allowing users to send quick messages to any email address without bothering with the subject lines or signatures found in traditional email. Microsoft seems to be aiming squarely at businesses, making several mentions of how the short communications are meant to be sent to co-workers. “While tools like text messaging and IM are great for short messages, you often don’t have your co-worker’s cell phone number or an IM app on your work phone…Send gives you the simple, quick text message-like experience while allowing you to reach all co-workers and have all of your communications in Outlook for reference later,” the announcement reads.

The app is notably only available on iOS at launch, with versions for Windows and Android phones said to be coming soon. Microsoft also claims to be working on making the service available beyond its own Office 365 accounts in the coming months. Only messages sent through Send will appear in the app, but all messages sent in Send will be synced in Outlook for future reference. Conversations started in Send can also be continued in Outlook, just as any other email exchange.

Apple blocks App Store reviews from users running iOS betas

In a move sure to make app developers happy, Apple has blocked users running an iOS beta on their device from writing reviews in the App Store. Developers have been asking for the change because negative reviews from users enrolled in Apple’s Beta Software Program — based on an app’s inability to work with an obviously unsupported operating system — drags down the app’s overall rating and could hurt potential sales. Apple likely didn’t consider the issue a problem when developers were the only ones running a beta version of iOS, but with beta iOS versions being released to the public since March, it’s possible those less knowledgeable users don’t realize that many apps haven’t been designed to run with that software. Beta users trying to leave a review will now be met with a pop-up telling them that the feature isn’t available.

Notes from Apple’s Q3 2015 earnings call

Kicking off Apple’s conference call announcing its record-breaking numbers for Q3 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company had its strongest June quarter ever, exceeding the high end of the company’s guidance by $1.6 billion and topping expectations for sales of the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. A June quarter record was set for the iPhone with 35 percent growth, gains in marketshare in all geographic segments, and revenue up 59 percent in both developed and emerging markets. Cook also highlighted that this quarter had the highest switcher rate from Android that has yet been measured, and spoke about the iPhone’s continuing high customer satisfaction rate. The quarter also saw Apple pulling in revenue of $5 billion in services, with the App Store seeing its best quarter ever with 24 percent growth.

Cook went on to talk on the Apple Watch being a major highlight of the quarter, speaking on the initial launch of pre-orders in 9 countries on April 10th and the delayed retail availability due to demand exceeding supply by “a wide margin,” but noted that the Apple Watch has now expanded to a total of 19 countries currently and three more are expected to be added at the end of this month. Notably, however, Apple CFO Luca Maestri later stated that Apple will not be disclosing specific sales numbers of Apple Watch as they do not want to provide information “that would help [their] competitors.” Cook commented, however that Apple has received “incredibly positive” feedback from the Apple Watch, with a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate, and that Apple has been “very happy” with the usage statistics it is seeing for the wearable device. Cook went on to highlight how doctors and researches at leading hospitals in the U.S. and Europe are using the Apple Watch to improve patients’ lives in areas such as doctor-patient communication and patient health monitoring, and mentioned how the Apple Pay and Siri user experience on the Apple Watch is “nothing short of incredible” and noted that 8,500 third-party apps are now available for Apple Watch, stating “it’s a rare privilege to launch a new platform with such potential.”

Speaking about the launch of Apple Music on June 30th, Cook noted that customers and reviewers have loved the human curation features of Apple Music and how it’s helping people discover new music, with “millions and millions” of customers having signed up for the three-month trial period, and 15,000 artists on board to post on the new Connect service. Addressing the U.K. launch of Apple Pay, Cook noted over a quarter million of locations on day one, with credit and debit cards from the U.K.‘s most established banks, and highlighted how U.K. users can use Apple Pay for the London Underground, hoping it will become a model for other public transportation systems around the world. For Apple Pay in the U.S., Cook noted how the new Square reader coming this fall will bring Apple Pay to “even more neighborhood businesses” and how 80,000 small and medium sized businesses are being added every month. He also mentioned that American Express will be adding corporate card Apple Pay support next month, 700 universities and colleges will begin accepting Apple Pay this fall, and 1.5 million U.S. locations are expected to support Apple Pay by the end of 2015.

Apple Q3 2015: Record $49.6B revenue, 47.5M iPhones, 10.9M iPads

Apple reported its third quarter 2015 financial results today, with 47.5 million iPhones and 10.9 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. In Q3 2014, Apple had revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 64 percent of this quarter’s revenue.

For Q4 2015, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.

Home Sharing for Music returns in iOS 9 beta 4

After quietly dropping Home Sharing in iOS 8.4 and later tweeting that it would be working to bring it back in iOS 9, it appears that Apple has taken at least a partial step in this direction. iOS 9 beta 4, released earlier today, returns the Home Sharing option under Music in the iOS 9 Settings app, although the feature doesn’t yet appear to yet be implemented in the actual Music app. At this point, it remains unclear exactly how Home Sharing will be implemented in the new Music app and how it will interact with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, but the appearance of this option in the latest beta suggests that Apple is at least working to address the omission.

FastMail adds full support for push e-mail in iOS Mail

Popular email provider FastMail has announced that it is now offering full support for push email in the native iOS Mail app. While, like many other email providers, FastMail had previously released a dedicated iOS app for its service, it is the first third-party email provider to implement native push e-mail in the built-in iOS Mail app since MobileMe (now iCloud) and Yahoo Mail first introduced the capability in 2008. However, while iCloud only provides the pushing of new messages, FastMail’s implementation goes beyond this, pushing out updates for any changes to the user’s mailbox or other folders, so that the iOS Mail client gets updated instantly when messages are read, deleted, or moved using other devices. FastMail indicates that the new feature is automatically enabled for all accounts on its service and doesn’t require any special configuration on the iOS device; existing FastMail users should simply begin seeing e-mail updates pushed to their devices, and new users can setup their FastMail account in the iOS Mail app in the same way as any other generic IMAP account.

Apple releases fourth iOS 9 beta to developers

Apple has released the fourth developer beta of iOS 9. Featuring a build number of 13A4305g, the fourth iOS 9 beta lacks specific release notes, but likely continues to focus on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5305d has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed, along with new betas of Xcode 7 and Apple Configurator.

New fingerprint scanner tech could lead to Touch ID built into iPhone display

A newly introduced technology may soon make the dedicated fingerprint scanner in the iPhone’s home button obsolete, as Sonovation announced that it has created ultrasonic biometric sensors capable of reading fingerprints through Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Rumors have circulated about Apple looking to do away with the home button, and Sonovation claims to have developed the technology to make such a move possible — it’s unknown how far along Apple may be in developing its own version of such a method. Sonovation CTO Rainer Schmitt says the new scanners — bonded directly onto the glass display material — are “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security and ease-of-integration into mobile and IoT devices.” The company didn’t provide much in the way of details about how the new scanner works, but it claims 3D scanning can take place even when a finger is wet, dirty or oily without compromising accuracy. [via The Next Web]

Apple recruits another auto expert for rumored car project

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple has hired another major ex-auto industry executive, further fueling speculation about the company’s secretive car project. Doug Betts, who most recently led global quality for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, spent more than 20 years in the auto industry before landing at Apple this month. An update to Betts’ LinkedIn profile simply says he now works in “Operations” at Apple, but he joins more than 200 automotive industry experts hired by the company in recent months. While Apple has been tight-lipped about the project, this February sources claimed that the company is trying to produce a viable electric car by 2020. A settlement with vehicle battery manufacturer A123 Systems and the acquisition of GPS firm Coherent Navigation have also hinted at Apple assembling components to build a car. Earlier this year Apple hired noted autonomous vehicle researcher Paul Furgale and former Ford executive Steve Zadesky, but Betts could be the first executive to bring automotive manufacturing experience to the project. Both Apple and Betts declined to comment on the new hire.

Silcon Valley companies join Samsung in patent fight against Apple

Facebook, Google, Dell, HP, eBay and other Silicon Valley giants have joined forces against Apple, asking a judge to reconsider a ruling ordering Samsung to pay $548 million to Apple for infringing on the company’s hardware patents, Inside Sources reports. In a “friend of the court” briefing filed on July 1, the coalition said forcing a company to pay a portion of its profits for an entire line of smartphones or smart TVs — over a patent infringement on only one component out of the hundreds used in the device — would create a chilling effect on development in the industry. “Under the panel’s reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer’s profit or to consumer demand,” the group said.

In 2012, Samsung was found guilty of copying both the internal components and exterior look of the iPhone and ordered to pay more that $1 billion to Apple. A subsequent appeals ruling threw out the $382 million awarded to Apple for Samsung copying iPhone external design elements for its own Galaxy phones, but upheld all of the damages awarded over infringement on patents covering internal components. That left Samsung to pay the “total profit” to Apple, to make up for the potential iPhone profits lost to the competing product — and that worries other companies that see the potential for the decision to creep from hardware cases to those involving software products and online platforms. In June, Samsung asked for another review of the case on the grounds that letting the ruling stand would “invite overprotection and overcompensation for design patents,” but Apple has argued that the companies supporting Samsung – Google in particular, which owns the Android OS installed on Samsung’s Galaxy – have a direct stake in the fight and shouldn’t be viewed as objective observers. “Google has a strong interest in this particular case, is not an impartial ‘friend of the court,’ and should not be permitted to expand Samsung’s word limit under the guise of an amicus brief,” Apple told the court.

Analyst claims new iPad mini, gold Apple Watch colors coming this year

In a new report to investors, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that the new iPad mini coming this fall will be a slimmer, lighter version of the iPad Air 2 with updated internal components, as previous rumors have suggested. He also expects a fall release of new Apple Watch Sport colors to match those coming with the new iPhone, including yellow gold or rose gold. Those predictions refer specifically to the aluminum cases, with no new colors expected for the stainless steel Apple Watch. [via 9to5Mac]

iPod touch, nano, and shuffle color comparison photos

Following up on this morning’s unboxing and comparison gallery of the sixth-generation iPod touch, we now have a comparison of the additional colors of the new iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle below. Unlike the sixth-generation iPod touch, the traditional iPod models remain identical to the previous versions other than the color changes, with the seventh-generation nano receiving its last update in 2012, and the fourth-generation shuffle having not received a functional update since 2010. The new pink color is a bit more vibrant when compared to the iPod shuffle’s last pink color, which seems a bit more salmon-colored in comparison. The blue on the new iPod touch is a darker, more traditional blue than that found on the iPod touch 5G. We’ve also got shots of the iPod nano in gold, as well as comparisons between past and current iPod blues and pinks.

iPod touch 6G: Unboxing + comparison photos

We’ve gotten our hands on the new sixth-generation iPod touch and have posted an unboxing and comparison gallery below, highlighting the contents of the iPod touch packaging along with differences between this new gold iPod touch and the previous iPod touch. The body of the new iPod touch 6G is the same as the prior generation, with one exception — the metal circle on the back of the iPod made for the “iPod touch loop” wrist strap (seen in some incarnations of the iPod touch 5G) is gone, along with the touch loop itself. You’ll also see a comparison shot between the gold iPod touch and the gold iPhone 6 Plus. We’ll be posting another new iPod photo gallery later today.

iFixit posts teardown of sixth-gen iPod touch

iFixit has posted its teardown of the sixth-generation iPod touch, revealing a few minor details and confirming Apple’s published specifications for the new device. The most significant new detail is that the device packs in a 3.83 V, 3.99 Wh battery rated at 1043 mAh – a step up from the 3.7 V/3.8 Wh/1030 mAh rated battery included in the last generation. Since Apple advertises the same battery performance specs, the larger battery is likely required to achieve this while powering the significantly more energy-hungry A8 processor. A comparison of the camera from the iPhone 6 reveals that, as highlighted in Apple’s specs, the iPod touch lacks the sapphire crystal lens cover, auto-image stabilization and larger ƒ/2.2 aperture of the current iPhone models; the iPod touch comes in with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. The report also highlights the lack of a Touch ID sensor as a key distinction compared to current iPhone and iPod models, but notes that it’s a positive for repairability, as it avoids the need to have a button paired with the device’s processor.

Apple and GSMA in talks to adopt embedded SIM technology

Apple is currently in discussions with the GSMA regarding moving to a standardized embedded SIM card in mobile devices, The Financial Times reports. The GSMA, which is an industry association responsible for developing GSM standards, has been working on an agreement among mobile operators to adopt a standardized embedded SIM card that would allow devices to more easily transition between different mobile networks. While all parties are said to be heading toward this “common architecture,” many of the technical specifications still need to be worked out, and mobile device manufacturers such as Apple would be under no obligation to adopt the new standard.

This initiative is separate from Apple’s own Apple SIM, which debuted last year for the latest iPad models. Those models still require a physical SIM card, but package a generic Apple version that can be activated on any participating carrier. The Apple SIM has received relatively limited adoption, with only a handful of carriers in the U.S. and one carrier in the U.K. supporting it. While Apple has declined to comment, the GSMA said it is “continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative” and that the organization is “optimistic” that a formal agreement can be reached. Apple reportedly pursued its own embedded SIM initiative about five years ago, with patents filed in 2010 and in 2013, although the idea failed to gain traction at the time as it was believed carriers feared Apple was trying to do an end-run around them.

New iOS scam surfaces as crash warnings in Safari browser popups

A new iOS phishing scam has been discovered that attempts to extort money from iPhone and iPad users by deceiving them into believing that their device has been compromised. As reported by the New York Daily News and The Telegraph, a number of iOS device users in both the U.S. and U.K. have encountered the scam, which presents a pop-up message in Safari advising them that their device has crashed for reasons such as a “third-party application in yourphone” or “unwanted websites visit” [sic] and advising them to call a number that in some cases is identified as Apple technical support. After calling the number, users are being asked to pay amounts ranging from $19 to $80 to fix the issue. The differing pop-up messages suggests that there may more than one group exploiting the issue. While this sort of scam has plagued desktop browsers for years, it has only recently begun affecting iOS users; some more isolated instances were reported late last year, although the scams appear to have resurfaced more actively over the past few days, and this the first time they have been reported in the U.K.

The issue can be avoided by ensuring that pop-ups are blocked in the Safari browser by enabling Safari, Block Pop-ups in the iOS Settings app. However, users who are already experiencing the issue will need to enable Airplane Mode to disable their Internet connection and then use the Clear History and Website Data option under the Safari settings. An Apple support document provides more guidance on securing Safari.

 

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