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iPad Pro available in some US Apple Stores today

Apple opened online orders of the new iPad Pro today, and many Apple Stores across the US are showing the item is available for in-store pickup for those who don’t want to wait. The in-store pickup option currently doesn’t appear when placing an order from Canada. Those opting for shipping when they place an order online can expect to get their device Monday free of charge or Friday if they’re willing to pay an extra $19. Canadian orders don’t appear to offer the expedited shipping option either, with only free delivery arriving Monday listed as an option. And regardless of where customers are shopping, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories for the new device are showing 3-4 week delays for availability, so be prepared to wait for the full experience.

Apple announces Apple TV Tech Talks

Apple has announced a new series of developer tech talks for those interested in developing apps for the new fourth-generation Apple TV. The new Apple TV Tech Talks series will begin in Toronto on Dec. 7 and then move on to Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Cupertino, Berlin, London, New York, Tokyo, before finishing up in Sydney on Feb. 3, 2016. Each talk will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning covering tvOS and the capabilities of the new Apple TV for general app and user interface development and the afternoon session providing a deeper dive into graphics, gaming, and media streaming applications. Developers can apply now; the deadline is Nov. 13 at 10:00 a.m. PST. Due to limited capacity, Apple notes that priority is being given to teams who already have apps on the App Store.

Apple releases iOS 9.2 beta 3 to developers

Apple is continuing its more rapid iOS development cycle, now releasing its third beta of iOS 9.2 to developers. Sporting a build number of 13C71, the beta again features sparse release notes that focus on minor fixes to UI and developer API issues. Registered iOS developers can download the latest iOS 9.2 beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Apple Music beta app available for Android in Google Play Store

A beta version of the Apple Music app for Android is available in the Google Play Store today, making Apple’s subscription music service publicly available on Android devices for the first time. Betabound invited its users to take part in a beta test of the Android app in September, but Apple Music’s appearance in the Google Play store is the first official Android release accessible to the average user. The app still has major limitations, with music video playback still unavailable and an inability to handle family plan sign-ups from within the app. Users can use their family plan account with the Android app, but will need to register for it using a Mac or iOS device until promised fixes for the sign-up process are rolled out to Android, making adoption of the music service a complicated proposition for users who only own PCs and Android devices. The app is free to download, but will require the same subscription as Apple’s in-house app after the three-month trial period for new users expires. The app requires Android 4.3 or up and 29MB of space to install. [via 9to5Mac]

Tim Cook talks iPad Pro, wonders why anyone would buy a PC now

On his tour of London this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed the idea that the new iPad Pro is as versatile a product as the company has ever made with features that appeal to a broad range of users. In his interview with The Telegraph, Cook said the new tablet has the screen and speakers to give the average media consumer a much more robust viewing and listening experience, but when paired with the company’s keyboard case the device is powerful enough to replace a user’s notebook or desktop computer and challenge the PC’s dominance in the workplace. “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Cook said.

When paired with the Apple Pencil, Cook said the device is the first of its kind to give creatives a true alternative to putting pencil to paper for sketching. Addressing criticism that the Apple Pencil is a stylus that users don’t need since their finger can do the same job, Cook told The Independent that the Apple Pencil has won over artists by going far beyond what a stylus can do. “The traditional stylus is fat, it has really bad latency so you’re sketching here and it’s filling the line in somewhere behind. You can’t sketch with something like that, you need something that mimics the look and feel of the pencil itself or you’re not going to replace it,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to replace finger touch, we’re complementing it with the Pencil.”

Apple releases tvOS 9.0.1, first software update for new Apple TV

Apple has released its first software update for the fourth-generation Apple TV, tvOS 9.0.1. The update can be manually downloaded in Settings>System>Software Updates. No release notes have been made available, but the update is indeed tvOS 9.0.1, as confirmed after installation. It’s unclear at this point what’s been addressed in the update, but it’s likely a typical mix of performance updates and bug fixes, without any major additions or changes. We’ll update if anything particularly noteworthy is found.

Finance minister: EU regulators to rule on Apple tax case by Christmas

European Union regulators will decide by Christmas whether Apple’s tax deals in Ireland are illegal, Dow Jones Business News reports. Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan addressed the company’s ongoing legal battle on his way to a meeting, saying “We’re expecting an adjudication on Apple maybe in the next few weeks, but certainly between now and Christmas.” The EU recently ruled against Starbucks and Fiat in similar cases, concluding that the companies had received tens of millions of euros in illegal state aid from the Netherlands and Luxembourg respectively. Noonan said it wasn’t yet clear whether the EU decision would go against Apple, but that Ireland would “deal with that when the announcement comes.” The EU began its investigation into Apple last year after Apple was accused of moving $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from Australia to Ireland.

Judge throws out employee bag check lawsuit against Apple

A judge has thrown out a 2013 lawsuit by Apple Store employees asking for back pay for the time they spent enduring “demoralizing” security searches while leaving work for the day, Bloomberg reports. As many as 12,400 former and current Apple Store workers from 52 stores in California were seeking a few extra dollars per work day for the time they spent over a six-year period having bags and Apple devices searched during meal breaks and after the end of their shifts, which could have left Apple facing a payment of more than $60 million. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup sided with Apple, saying employees were free to choose to avoid the searches by not bringing their bags to work. Lee Shalov, a lawyer for the workers, said the employees are disappointed in the ruling and exploring a possible appeal. Apple declined to comment.

iPad Pro available online Wednesday, hits stores later this week

Apple has announced that the iPad Pro will be available for purchase online Wednesday and is set to arrive at Apple Stores and other retailers later this week. The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories will also be available for online order Wednesday. The announcement confirms previous reports that Apple would start selling the device on Wednesday and explains why Sam’s Club listed the iPad Pro as launching in its stores on Friday. It appears other third-party retailers have different sale dates listed for the device — Staples, for instance, has an availability date of Nov. 25.

iPad Pro launch date Nov. 13?

The Sam’s Club website has listed iPad Pro’s release date as next Friday, Nov. 13. Sam’s Club is only selling the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Pro. This listed release date contradicts an earlier report that iPad Pro would go on sale next Wednesday, Nov. 11, though It’s important to note that the earlier report only mentioned Apple retail stores and Apple’s own online store. There’s a possibility Apple itself could have the super-sized iPad in stock slightly earlier than other retail outlets, though this seems unlikely — a Friday release date would be more in line with Apple’s usual launch timeline. Apple still hasn’t announced an exact date for the device’s release, leading to continuing speculation. [via MacRumors]

Apple adds Categories to Apple TV App Store, code for folders found in tvOS

Apple has added Categories to the App Store for the new Apple TV, as the company continues to slowly improve the set-top box’s application catalog and add more app discovery features. Earlier this week, the App Store also gained support for Top Charts, although both features appear to remain limited to the U.S. App Store at this time.

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith has been poking around the tvOS code and discovered that tvOS actually has “pretty complete folder support” that appears to work the same way as on iOS, suggesting that the feature may be coming soon to a future version of tvOS, although it’s unclear as to why Apple has chosen not to implement folders at this time.

Apple patent describes a fingerprint ‘panic mode’

A new Apple patent filing reveals that Apple may be working on a way to have an iPhone secretly enter a “panic mode” when unlocked using Touch ID with a specific finger. The patent, titled “Fingerprint Activation of a Panic Mode of Operation for a Mobile Device” and dated May 5, 2014, describes how a different mode of operation could be engaged by the detection of a specific finger on a fingerprint sensor, activating a “panic mode of operation” that would “automatically alter at least one standard operation of the mobile device,” such as restricting access to personal data stored on the device. The patent further describes how users could register multiple fingerprints to be associated with different modes of operation, presumably taking the implementation beyond a mere “panic mode” feature into calling up specific usage modes or profiles based on the finger used to unlock the device.

Walgreens integrates Balance Rewards loyalty program with Apple Pay

Walgreens has announced that its Balance Rewards program now supports Apple Pay, allowing members to seamlessly earn rewards and use their account when paying with Apple Pay without the need to separately scan a Balance Rewards card or barcode. Members of the program can add a Balance Rewards digital card to the iOS 9 Wallet app and then use it at checkout with Apple Pay simply by holding their iPhone near the contactless reader and authenticating with Touch ID in the usual manner, and the appropriate rewards information will be sent. Walgreens is the first retailer to integrate its rewards program with Apple Pay, following the debut of the new capability with iOS 9.

Apple trains Siri on Apple TV for country-specific pronunciation

Apple has been training Siri voice recognition on the Apple TV to recognize movie and TV show titles in country-specific pronunciations, according to a new report from MacPrime (translated link). While Siri is available in more than 30 countries on the iPhone, on the Apple TV it remains limited to eight — Australia, Canada, Great Britain, United States, Germany, France, Spain, and Japan — and is notably not available even in other countries where the same languages are used, such as Switzerland. Asked why Siri support on the Apple TV was not available in Switzerland, where residents speak German and/or French, Apple responded by explaining that Siri on the Apple TV was designed to “put a special focus on television and film content,” specifically ensuring that it could quickly and accurately recognize film titles and names of actors, directors, producers, and so forth. To achieve this goal, Apple undertook efforts to teach Siri to recognize specific dialect and phonetic pronunciations for each country. This likely also explains why it has taken longer for Siri support for other features such as Apple Music to arrive on the Apple TV. The report notes that Apple is working on expanding Siri support to other countries, although the company has not given a firm date as to when this will happen. [via 9to5Mac]

Fireproof Games releases The Room Three

Fireproof Games has released The Room Three ($5), the third installment in its popular puzzle game series, following up on last year’s iLounge Game of the Year, The Room Two. The physical puzzle game puts you on a remote island where you must use your puzzle-solving ability to navigate the trials devices by a mysterious figure known only as “The Craftsman.” The Room Three continues the extremely detailed tactile world design of its previous chapters, with an easy pick-up-and-play design while expanding locations into new environments and multiple areas. A new eyepiece ability has also been added that allows you to explore the world in an even more miniature view, and an enhanced system helps you progress through the game more easily when you get really stuck. The Room Three also features alternate endings so that you can play through the game several times with different outcomes, along with a haunting soundtrack and dynamic sound effects, and iCloud and Game Center support for playing on multiple devices and tracking achievements.


GT Advanced agrees to pay off $439M debt to Apple

Apple’s erstwhile sapphire supplier, GT Advanced Technologies, has come to an agreement to pay off its $439 million debt, The Wall Street Journal reports. GT Advanced contracted with Apple in late 2013 to open a plant in Arizona to produce sapphire for Apple’s display screens and Touch ID sensors with financial backing from Apple to help fund the plant’s startup costs. However, GT Advanced ultimately struggled to get sapphire production going and filed for bankruptcy late last year. After some legal wrangling, the two companies came to an agreement, with GT given four years interest-free to repay its $439 million loan to Apple by selling its sapphire furnaces.

Microsoft’s Cortana for iPhone about to enter open beta

Microsoft has announced plans to release public betas of the iOS version of its Cortana app to Windows Insiders. The company has apparently been testing the app internally over the past six months, and is now ready to start inviting a limited number of outside users to try out an early version of the app. While the iOS version will reportedly not be as feature complete as the Windows 10 Mobile and Android equivalents, the general look and feel is reportedly the same, and the beta will support reminders, scheduling events, and sending emails. Applicants will need to be part of the Windows Insider program and the trial will initially be limited to those in the U.S. and China; those interested in signing up can complete an online survey to apply. [via The Verge]

Apple releases iOS 9.2 beta 2 to developers

Apple is continuing its more rapid iOS development cycle with the release of the second iOS 9.2 beta to developers. This second beta, build number 13C5060d, again features sparse release notes that focus on minor fixes to UI and developer API issues, specifically focused on Apple Watch support, audio, dictionary, iCloud Keychain, networking, Safari, Video, and Wi-Fi calling. The iOS 9.2 beta continues to support the same devices as iOS 9.1. Registered iOS developers can download the iOS 9.2 beta from Apple’s Developer site.

Apple releases first tvOS 9.1 beta

Now that the new fourth-generation Apple TV has been released to the public, Apple has begun its first developer beta cycle for its new tvOS operating system, releasing the first beta of tvOS 9.1 to developers today. With a build number of 13U5061d, the release notes identify a focus primarily on UI and networking issues, as well as fixes for developers testing Apple TV apps in the simulator. As with iOS developer betas, the beta versions of tvOS are intended for installation only on devices that have been registered with the Apple Developer Program; it is unclear whether Apple will be running a public beta of tvOS at this point as it has with iOS and OS X betas.

Apple TV: Plex now available, Top Charts come to App Store

Plex has released its very popular media streaming client for the new Apple TV, providing users of the new set-top box with the ability to legitimately access and stream their content from their Plex media server to their television. Although Plex has been available on other media streaming platforms for several years, the lack of an App Store for the Apple TV has forced many users to either AirPlay content from the Plex iOS app or resort to out-of-the-box hacking methods to present Plex content by taking over an existing Apple TV channel. The Plex app is free in the App Store and requires that users update to the latest Plex media server software on their NAS device or computer. Additional details can be found on the Plex blog.

In addition, Apple has added top charts categories to the Apple TV App Store, including “Top Paid”, “Top Free”, and “Top Grossing” apps. The Top Charts can be found on the top menu bar between Featured and Purchased. Top Charts appear to only be available in the U.S. App Store at this time; it’s unclear when they will be appearing in other countries.

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