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Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ to make streaming debut on Apple Music

Dr. Dre’s classic rap album “The Chronic” will make its streaming debut tomorrow on Apple Music, Rolling Stone reports. The 1992 album joins Taylor Swift’s “1989” as another big-name album currently only streaming on Apple Music. Years of legal battles even kept “The Chronic” off Dre’s own Beats Music. Dre was granted proceeds from digital sales of the album in a 2011 court victory, but the album is still unavailable for purchase on iTunes and was notably absent when Beats Music launched in 2014, despite falling under the umbrella of Beats Electronics’ deal with Apple.

Apple Music roundup: iOS 8.4 to get early Tuesday release, Sonos support on the way

Apple has pushed up its usual release time by a few hours for iOS 8.4 ahead of Apple Music’s release Tuesday, Apple Insider reports. In a now-deleted blog post, Apple Music’s senior director Ian Rogers said iOS 8.4 will become available at 8 a.m. Pacific Time (11 a.m. EST) to allow users to use Apple Music and hear the inaugural broadcast of Apple’s Beats 1 radio programming. Beats 1 will start its global broadcasting with former BBC DJ Zane Lowe an hour later.

An Apple Music Facebook event encourages users to update to iOS 8.4 and directs them to another site spelling out requirements for using the streaming service. The new Music app in iOS 8.4 is needed to run Apple Music on an iPhone, which can then sync with an Apple Watch to provide playback “even when your paired iPhone is not nearby.” New Apple Music users with existing iTunes libraries will have access to their entire collection through iCloud, and Beats Music users opening the Beats Music app on an iOS device tomorrow will be prompted to join Apple Music, where their saved playlists and albums will be made available.

Apple also promises to roll out Apple Music to Android this fall, and Apple spokesman Tony Neumayr confirmed to Buzzfeed that Apple Music is coming to Sonos devices “before the end of the year” after previous reports claimed that the service wouldn’t be available on Sonos. Beats Music, which is owned by Apple, works on Sonos, but iTunes Radio and many other features that have been folded into Apple Music still don’t. More music updates are on the horizon as well, with iTunes head Eddy Cue tweeting that work is underway on expanding the size of iTunes Match libraries from 25,000 tracks to 100,000 tracks.

Apple suppliers now making iPhones with Force Touch

Apple has started production on new iPhone models that include Force Touch, Bloomberg reports. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the new iPhones have the same 4.7” and 5.5” measurements as the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. Higher-volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month, with assembly expected to go smoothly, because the phones also have the same exterior design as the 6 and 6 Plus. The only potential problem is the supply and yield of the new Force Touch-capable displays, which could cause production snags or influence the timing of the new iPhone’s release, one source said. Apple didn’t comment on the story, but it was reported months ago that Apple would be adding Force Touch to new iPhone models, and iOS 9 will support the new technology.

Parrot announces North American details for new Minidrone lineup

During a press event held in Toronto last night, Parrot provided demos and additional details on its new Minidrone lineup for 2015. Originally announced on the company’s French site earlier this month, Parrot has now confirmed that all of the new models will be arriving for sale in the U.S. and Canada this fall. While the complete lineup consists of thirteen visually distinct Minidrones, the models are grouped into three general product categories: the ground-based “Jumping” drones, the classic “Airborne” drones, and the new water-based “Hydrofoil” drones.

AppleCare+ now covers battery replacement at 80% of original capacity

Apple has updated the terms of its AppleCare+ Protection Plan for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch, now providing coverage for units where the battery retains less than 80% of its original capacity, an update from the previous terms that provided coverage at only the same 50% battery depletion. In situations where the battery will not hold a charge of at least 80% of its “original specifications” Apple will either “repair the defect at no charge” or simply exchange the device with a new or equivalent-to-new replacement unit. The updated policy includes all iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch models, however it only takes effect for new AppleCare+ coverage purchased after April 9th, 2015; AppleCare+ plans purchased prior to that date continue under the original terms in effect at the time the coverage was purchased. [via MacRumors]

Elton John, Pharrell, Dr. Dre, Drake, St. Vincent, others to host Beats 1 shows

A profile of Zane Lowe — the influential radio DJ hired to be one of the top “creative minds” behind Apple Music’s Beats 1 — has also revealed a number of high-profile musicians who will be hosting their own shows on the Internet radio station. The New York Times reports Elton John will host “Elton John’s Rocket Hour,” and Dr. Dre will host “The Pharmacy.” Other Beats 1 hosts will include Drake and Pharrell — who have already been linked to Apple Music — as well as St. Vincent, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, and British electronic duo Disclosure. Oddly, Jaden Smith — actor and son of Will Smith (and notable tweeter) — will also host a Beats 1 show.

Apps containing Confederate flag pulled from App Store

Apple has apparently removed all apps that include the Confederate flag from its App Store, including games set around the American Civil War, TouchArcade reports. The move comes on the heels of a number of other major U.S. retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and eBay removing all Confederate flag merchandise from their stores in the wake of the recent tragic shooting in Charleston. Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a tweet on Sunday making reference to “removing symbols & words that feed” racism.

Developers affected by Apple’s decision have received messages stating that their apps are being removed as they include “images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways.” Some developers have expressed concern that Apple may be casting too wide of a net, however, banning apps such as period-based games that incorporate the flag merely in an appropriate historical context, such as in games set around the American Civil war.

Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ album to stream on Apple Music

Taylor Swift has tweeted that she intends to make her best-selling album “1989” available on Apple Music. Swift noted in follow-up tweets that the availability of “1989” would not be exclusive to Apple Music, and the singer-songwriter personally thanked Apple for its “change of heart.” Swift’s criticism of Apple’s stance on not paying royalties during the music service’s free trial period was apparently the tide-shifting tweet needed to change the company’s stance on the subject. Since then, it’s been reported that Apple has struck a deal with some indie publishers, and that the company will pay 0.2 cents per song stream during the free trial.

Apple publishes detailed list of Siri HomeKit commands

Apple has updated its support document on HomeKit, adding a full list of voice commands that can be used with Siri to control HomeKit compatible accessories. Standard commands include obvious ones such as “Turn on the lights,” “Turn off the lights,” and “Set the brightness to 50%,” however, the document also illustrates some more advanced commands that can be used with defined rooms or scenes to say things like “Turn on the upstairs lights,” “Turn off Chloe’s light,” or “Set up for a party, Siri.” The document also notes some other interesting aspects of the HomeKit integration, such as restrictions on using some commands while the iOS device is locked, likely as a security feature; you’ll need to unlock your iPhone before you can unlock a door, for example. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple to pay 0.2 cents per song during Apple Music free trial

Apple will be paying royalties of 0.2 cents for each song that is streamed from Apple Music during the service’s three-month trial period, The New York Times reports. While the company had originally not planned to compensate artists during the free trial period for its new streaming music service, it reversed course earlier this week following an open letter from Taylor Swift castigating the company for its unwillingness to support struggling independent artists, although the terms of any compensation were not immediately revealed. As a result, however, indie label Beggars Group and digital rights organization Merlin came to terms with Apple, with the latter recommending its member labels accept Apple’s new deal. The 0.2-cent-per-song rate is said by music executives to be “roughly comparable” to what other services such as Spotify pay for streamed songs from their free, ad-supported tiers, however, it does not include a smaller payment to music publishers for “songwriting rights” which Apple is reportedly still negotiating with publishers over.

Pharrell’s new single will be exclusive to Apple Music

In a teaser video posted on Twitter, Pharrell Williams reveals that his new single ‘Freedom’ will be exclusive to Apple Music and available on the subscription service’s June 30 launch date. Apple has locked down several celebrity guest DJs ahead of Apple Music’s debut and courted other artists for exclusive content deals, but Pharrell’s song is the first piece of confirmed exclusive Apple Music content to emerge so far.

U.K. Apple Pay won’t require a PIN, but likely limits transactions to £20 or less

Apple has spelled out the requirements for using Apple Pay in the United Kingdom in an FAQ. Apple’s requirement that users enter their Touch ID or passcode for every purchase means using Apple Pay won’t require entering a separate PIN at the terminal, but at launch in July transactions will likely be limited to £20 or less at many retailers. While Apple Pay allows transactions of any amount, payments to retailers with most existing contactless payment hardware will be capped at £20, just like all other contactless transactions conducted with a card. That limit is being increased to £30 in September, according to the UK Cards Association’s website. To accept payments of higher amounts from Apple Pay, retailers will need to ensure their new payment terminals support the Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method (CDCVM) standard. CDCVM-capable hardware accepts Apple Pay customers’ Touch ID/passcode verification in lieu of a PIN to verify the user’s identity. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple Music cut deals with prominent indie labels, rights groups

With less than a week to go before launch of its new music service, Apple has now struck deals with indie label Beggars Group and digital rights organization Merlin, Billboard reports. Merlin CEO Charles Caldas sent a letter to members recommending the new arrangement now that Apple has agreed to pay royalties during the service’s three-month free trial, although financial terms were not disclosed. Apple’s pay rate for artists during the free trial is still unknown, but Caldas told members that amendments to their current agreement with Apple would be available soon in iTunes Connect. Each of Merlin’s more than 20,000 members will then make its own decision about whether to take the deal or not.

Other indie groups are still standing opposed to signing with Apple Music until payment terms are discussed, but Beggars Group - which helped launch the careers of Adele, Radiohead and Arcade Fire - has signed on after being a vocal opponent of Apple’s previous stance. In a joint statement issued by Worldwide Independent Network, Beggars Group founder and chairman Martin Mills said after “fruitful discussions with Apple” his label is “happy to endorse the deal with Apple Music as it now stands, and look forward to being a big part of a very exciting future.”

Apple already publishing iOS 9 Tips in latest developer betas

Apple has already begun pushing out tips specific to iOS 9 in the second iOS 9 beta released yesterday. The built-in Tips app, which first appeared last year in the fourth iOS 8 beta, provides push-based tips to help illustrate useful features specific to Apple’s latest mobile operating system. So far, two iOS 9 specific tips have appeared in the latest beta, the first explaining how users can now search for a player or team to get the latest sports scores, and the second outlining the new scrubber in the iOS 9 Photos app that can be used to quickly compare pictures. Additional iOS 9 tips will likely appear as the iOS beta cycle continues, which will provide a ready-to-go collection of tips in the app by the time iOS 9 is released to the public in the fall.

Google Play Music adds free, ad-supported streaming radio

Google has announced the launch of a free, ad-supported streaming radio tier to Google Play Music, allowing users to listen to any of the service’s curated streaming radio stations without needing to pay for a subscription. Google Play Music has offered a free tier for some time that allows users to upload up to 50,000 of their own tracks and stream them from Google’s cloud, however listening to anything the user hadn’t specifically uploaded previously required a $10/month subscription to the Google Play Music service, originally referred to as an “All Access” subscription. This new tier provides users with access to curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or search for favorite artists, albums, or songs to create a station of related music. Launching online today, the new free, ad-supported tier will arrive on iOS this week. The timing of introducing the free tier is interesting, considering Apple Music is a week away from launching.

As before, users with a subscription to Google Play Music will gain an ad-free listening experience as well as the ability to listen to music offline, create playlists, and listen to any song on-demand. The paid tier will also now include access to YouTube Music Key, Google’s new ad-free, offline and background listening experience for music videos on YouTube.

Apple releases second iOS 9, watchOS 2 betas to developers

Apple has released second betas of iOS 9 and watchOS 2 to developers, continuing the beta cycle for its next-generation mobile operating systems announced at WWDC for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and the Apple Watch. Featuring a build number of 13A4280e, the second iOS 9 beta features a number of under-the-hood improvements from the first beta, focusing on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. The latest watchOS beta has a build number of 13S5255c and is installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed.

These releases are also accompanied by a second beta of Xcode 7 to support the new APIs and development environment. Apple has also been releasing iOS 8.4 betas in tandem with the iOS 9 development cycle, with the 8.4 version expected to be released within the next week to support Apple’s new Music service, although at this point iOS 8.4 remains in its fourth beta version released two weeks ago; it is unclear if another beta or “GM” version will be released prior to the final public release.

Apple sues patent firm Unwired Planet for $15M

Apple has asked a federal judge for $15 million in attorney fees from patent firm Unwired Planet, claiming in the court filing that UP employed an “improper litigation strategy” in an “attempt to wring value out of an obsolete portfolio.” Unwired Planet — once known as Openwave — sued Apple in 2011, alleging that Apple was infringing on its patents with technology used in iPhones, iPods and iPads. Apple prevailed in the case, but now wants UP to pay because “UP’s continued pursuit of those claims put an unusual and unwarranted burden on Apple and the Court.” Apple is routinely sued over patents, but contends that UP’s dogged pursuit of compensation for technology that Apple doesn’t use makes the case “exceptional” under patent law and justifies Apple’s ability to request repayment of court fees. [via Law360]

Apple gains voting rights, board seat on Bluetooth SIG

Apple has become a Promoter Member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, giving the company voting rights on Bluetooth corporate matters and a seat on the SIG’s Board of Directors. The other 6 Promoter Members — Toshiba, Lenovo, Microsoft, Nokia, Ericsson and Intel — “unanimously welcomed Apple to the highest membership level of the organization,” according to a statement from Bluetooth. Toby Nixon, chairman of the SIG’s Board of Directors, said Apple has been a “key participant” in the Bluetooth system since 2011, and Apple’s newly upgraded status gives the company even more control over the future of Bluetooth.

Royalty rates for artists during Apple Music free trial still unclear

Apple has agreed to pay royalties during Apple Music’s three-month free trial, but The Wall Street Journal reports the royalty rate is still up for debate. The company has touted Apple Music’s 71.5 percent royalty rate as the highest in streaming music, but that rate is going to be applied to total monthly income from subscription fees. Until those payments start rolling in, there will be no subscriber income on which to base the rates. Apple declined to comment on how much rights holders will be paid during the trial, but said that rates will rise once customers start paying for subscriptions — leaving partners to wonder just how much lower the initial rates will be with only a week to go until the service’s launch. Apple Music’s largest competitor, Spotify, currently pays artists half of its usual royalty rate during promotional periods.

Buick, GMC bringing CarPlay to select 2016 models

Buick and GMC are the latest GM car brands to announce CarPlay availability for upcoming vehicles, GM has announced. Buick will be bringing CarPlay compatibility to the 2016 LaCrosse and Regal, while GMC’s 2016 Canyon, Sierra, and Yukon will also gain Apple’s CarPlay. Within the last month, GM has also announced CarPlay compatibility for upcoming Cadillac and Chevrolet models. Compared to Apple’s other CarPlay partners, GM appears to be ahead of the curve.

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