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Apple expands Personal Pickup to 6 more EU countries

Apple has expanded Personal Pickup to six more European countries, German site Macerkopf reports. Customers in Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands can now opt for in-store pickup of items they’ve purchased online if the items are in stock. The option — previously only available in the U.S. — has launched in the U.K., Canada, and Australia in the last few weeks. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Music coming to Sonos Dec. 15 through public beta program

Sonos and Apple have announced that Apple Music will be coming to Sonos on Dec. 15 as part of a public beta program. Apple Music will be able to stream on Sonos’ speakers for the first time on that date, and prospective users can join the beta on Sonos’ site. Of course, this means Apple Music tracks will be able to stream to multiple speakers in separate rooms. All Apple Music features will be supported, and a family account will allow up to six users to connect to Sonos speakers with Apple Music. No timeline has been given for an Apple Music + Sonos final release, or for how long the public beta will last.

Apple to drop headphone jack from next iPhone?

In a bid to slim its new iPhone down even further, Apple is considering removing the traditional headphone jack entirely, a “reliable” source tells Macotakara. The source said the new phones will likely be 1 mm thinner than current models, forcing Apple to ditch the headphone jack, since its port is based on a world standard that can’t be made thinner. While Apple has registered a patent for a thinner headphone plug, the new report suggests the company may be abandoning the idea of creating a completely new type of headphone jack in favor of connecting wired headphones through the Lightning port. The source said new “supplied ear pods” for the iPhone will have the Lightning connector, and Apple already supports Lightning cable MFi headphones, but very few of those have been introduced thus far. Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones would also be an option for getting around the lack of a headphone jack, but obviously any change to the existing headphone jack risks serious blowback from users who would need new equipment to listen to their iPhone.

Amazon Instant Video app could hit Apple TV ‘within a few weeks’

According to an Amazon customer service reply, an app for Amazon Instant Video could be landing on Apple TV “within a few weeks.” The unnamed company representative supposedly told Twitter user Dan Bostonweeks that the company’s technical team is currently working on the tvOS app and expressed optimism that it would launch soon, since the company has “already succeeded in developing an app for the iPhone and iPad.” Other users have received similar messages from Amazon about the tvOS app, but this is the first that included even a rough timetable for launch. Amazon’s Instant Video has been the largest noticeable absence on Apple TV for some time, with other services like Netflix and Hulu having long been available. Amazon also banned sales of the new Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast device on its site in an apparent bid to drive users away from those devices.

Some Apple Music and iTunes Match services may be illegal in the U.K.

The U.K. Intellectual Property Office has officially abandoned a private-copying exemption that made it legal for users to back up their music, putting a spotlight on possible problems ahead for Apple Music and iTunes Match users in the country, 1709 reports. The exemption was put in place last year to protect users backing up their own legally purchased music from the punishments faced by those pirating music online. The IPO’s decision not to submit a revised version after the U.K.‘s high court ruled against the exemption leaves U.K. users to wonder if their music libraries stored on personal devices or the cloud are still legal. While it’s unlikely that individual users will be prosecuted for backing up their music under the existing law, Apple will need to reevaluate the terms on which it offers many services since things like copying tracks into a user’s iTunes Match library or making songs in Apple Music available for offline listening now seem to violate U.K. law. [via Gizmodo]

Australian banks accused of anti-competitive behavior over Apple Pay lockout

While Apple Pay officially launched in Australia last week, the country’s banks are still refusing to link their cards to the digital payment system, prompting calls for the Reserve Bank to examine banks for potential anti-competitive behavior, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Apple’s fees for using the service have been a sticking point in negotiations for months, with the company reportedly demanding the same 15 cents on every $100 of transactions that the company is believed to receive from banks in the U.S., even though banks in Australia make half as much from interchange fees as compared to their U.S. counterparts.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 from iLounge!

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and we at iLounge would like to wish you a happy holiday and express how grateful we are for your readership and support. We will be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday; we will return to normal updates on Monday, November 30th. Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple reaches deal with UnionPay to bring Apple Pay to China

Apple has struck a preliminary agreement to use UnionPay’s point-of-sales network to bring Apple Pay to China, Bloomberg reports. Sources familiar with the negotiations said UnionPay, China’s largest payment network, aims to introduce Apple Pay as soon as next year, but noted that the two companies haven’t signed firm agreements with Chinese banks on linking local bank cards to the service. That information seems to conflict with yesterday’s report that Apple had reached deals with China’s four largest state-run banks to link Apple Pay with local bank accounts, with sources now saying some banks have lingering concerns about the fees charged by Apple Pay and the low number of users the service has worldwide. Apple Pay takes in 0.15 percent of each purchase made through its system — which comes out of the 2 percent fee paid by retailers in the U.S. — but that rate has proven too high in China, where the total fee paid by some retailers is only 0.38 percent.

DisneyLife subscription-based app launches in the U.K.

Disney has launched the subscription-based app DisneyLife for U.K. residents ahead of a planned global roll out, offering unlimited access to movies, shows, music, books, and more for £9.99 a month. The service provides unlimited streaming within the U.K. and downloads that expire after 30 days without an Internet connection. Users running the app on Apple devices with iOS 8 or iOS 9 installed can stream HD content, but videos downloaded for offline viewing aren’t available in HD. While there’s no native Apple TV version of the app, content from the app is supported on Apple TV through AirPlay with one catch: All audio and video is streamed in standard definition.

Apple buys motion capture company Faceshift

Photo: TechCrunch

Apple has acquired Faceshift, a motion capture company best known for its work on creating animated characters for the new Star Wars film, TechCrunch reports. Faceshift’s technology records a person’s facial expressions in real time, allowing that information to be used in creating realistic faces for animated characters in movies or rendering custom avatars for players within video games. With several Faceshift employees now working for Apple out of Europe, speculation about how Apple will use Faceshift’s capabilities has centered around identification or security applications. Apple kept quite about buying the company when rumors first circulated earlier in the year, and has since issued its usual statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Apple already owns several patents in the areas of facial recognition, augmented reality and motion capture.

Apple CarPlay included in 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi is the latest auto maker to jump on the Apple CarPlay bandwagon, adding the feature to its 2017 Mirage. The hatchback is the first Mitsubishi model to offer the entertainment system, putting the company a year behind competitors GM and Volkswagen, which included CarPlay in select 2016 models.

Apple aims to launch Apple Pay in China by February

Apple is planning to launch Apple Pay in China by early February, The Wall Street Journal reports. After grueling negotiations, the company has struck deals with China’s four major state-run banks, people familiar with the discussions said. While Apple may still face serious regulatory hurdles, the company is hoping to launch its digital payment service before China’s Spring Festival on Feb. 8. Apple officially began the process of bringing Apple Pay to China in June, when it registered to operate in the Shanghai free-trade zone as Apple Technology Service (Shanghai) Ltd. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said he’s “very bullish on Apple Pay” in China — where iPhone sales are actually starting to outpace demand in the U.S. — but several other competing mobile payment options already exist within the country. Apple Pay is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia.

MasterCard giving Apple Pay users free trips on London’s public transit system

Starting today, MasterCard is offering four “Fare Free Mondays” on London’s public transit system for cardholders using Apple Pay. The promotional periods running today, Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 extend from 4:30 a.m. that day until 1 a.m. the next day. During that time, customers using their U.K. MasterCard through Apple Pay to pay for travel on London Buses, London Underground, London Trams, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line and most National Rail services in London will be billed for the trip, but can expect to see their fares refunded within 28 working days, up to a maximum value of £27.90 per cardholder. The offer excludes travel on Thames Clipper River Bus services. While the promotion is very specific, we’re left to wonder whether we’ll be seeing other similar spot promotions aimed at getting users enrolled in Apple Pay, and getting them familiar with how the technology works.

Apple wins DRM patent case against ContentGuard

A U.S. district court judge has ruled Apple’s method of distributing and authenticating content doesn’t infringe on DRM patents owned by ContentGuard Holdings, Reuters reports. ContentGuard sued in 2013, claiming Apple applied five of its DRM patents in iTunes and iBooks to dispense movies, songs, shows and books that could be restricted to function only for approved users. Apple denied infringing on the patents and went even further by claiming the patents themselves were invalid. A jury didn’t buy Apple’s argument that the patents were invalid, but also didn’t find enough proof that Apple had infringed the patents, so no damages were awarded to ContentGuard. An attorney for ContentGuard expressed his disappointment in the ruling and said he and his clients were evaluating their options. Apple declined to comment.

Apple working on app to diagnose problems with iOS devices?

Photo: uSwitch

Apple is building an app to diagnose problems with iOS devices and help users schedule service, according to uSwitch. A source with direct knowledge of the app’s development said it will ask “basic questions (about the device in need of repair) to boil down to the problem quickly.” The new app will reportedly provide user guides and basic how-to information for every iOS device registered to the user’s Apple ID and offers tips for resolving a series of commonly experienced problems. If those fail to resolve the issue, the app will aid users in booking service at an Apple Store, sending their device in for service, or calling Apple for further support. The current Apple Store app only provides assistance in booking appointments with an Apple Store’s Genius bar; it’s unclear if this functionality will be shifted into the Apple Store app, or if it will be a new app of its own. Photos of the app show it also provides an option to chat live with Apple’s tech support network.

Apple Music: Iovine apologizes for remarks about women; Adele won’t stream new album

Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine issued an apology for remarks he made about “some women” finding it difficult to find music, Buzzfeed reports. The cringe-inducing moment came while Iovine was on CBS This Morning with Mary J. Blige discussing a new Apple ad featuring Blige alongside actresses Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson. “I just thought of a problem,” Iovine said. “Girls are sitting around, talking about boys, right? Or complaining about boys, when they have their heart broken or whatever, and they need music for that, right? And they need music for that. So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ.” Iovine later said he could have chosen his words better. Iovine added that the company approached Oprah to be a part of the ad campaign, but she declined.

Apple expands personal pickup to Apple Stores in the UK

After expanding in-store pickup for items purchased from Apple’s online store to Canada and Australia earlier this week, the company has made the option available in the United Kingdom, as well. Apple is also said to be training employees in France on the new process. Apple Stores allow customers to reserve in-stock products online in most parts of the world, but those purchases still must be completed inside the store. The option to pick up already purchased items in-store was only available at U.S. locations until this week. [via MacRumors]

Apple acknowledges iPad Pro charging problem, doesn’t have fix yet

In a brief support document, Apple has acknowledged the reported problem of iPad Pro devices requiring a hard restart to resume functioning after an extended period on the charger. The company instructs users to force restart the device if it becomes unresponsive and notes that “Apple is aware of this issue and is investigating.” We at iLounge have yet to experience the problem despite more than a week of working with the tablet.

App Store rules may limit number of iPad Pro-specific apps

The iPad Pro has been touted as powerful enough to replace laptop and desktop computers, but many developers tell The Verge that they see big problems with developing apps specifically for the larger device’s enhanced capabilities. While the tablet is fast enough to run professional-grade software, it still operates on iOS, making all apps developed for it subject to App Store rules. The App Store doesn’t allow free trials as part of the download process, and developers like Bohemian Coding co-founders Pieter Omvlee and Emanuel Sa don’t see users paying $99 for their Sketch app without ever seeing it work. “Sketch on the Mac costs $99, and we wouldn’t dare ask someone to pay $99 without having seen or tried it first,” Omvlee said. “So to be sold through the App Store, we would have to dramatically lower the price, and then, since we’re a niche app, we wouldn’t have the volume to make up for it.”

iFixit tears down the Apple Pencil

iFixit has posted a teardown of the new Apple Pencil. The report notes the basic specs of the Pencil, noting a new Apple model number of A1603, and draws comparisons to the Microsoft Surface Pen and 53’s “iPad Pencil,” the latter of which oddly bears the same Pencil name and continues to be sold by Apple in its retail stores. The Apple Pencil box includes a spare tip along with a Lightning-to-Lightning adapter to allow users to charge their Pencils using any available Lightning cable instead of connecting the device to the bottom of their iPad. A Lightning Connector cap keeps that end covered when not in use, snapping into place with magnets, although it’s small enough to be easily lost when not attached to the Pencil.

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