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Apple restores Workflow features, adds Apple Music actions

Apple’s latest version of the Workflow automation app has added back in support for Google Chrome and Pocket along with brand new actions using Apple Music. The app — which allows users to tie together functions from various apps to perform automated processes — now features actions for “Add Music to Up Next” and “Clear Up Next” to quickly reset or add music to Apple Music’s playlist. While Apple has added support for some Google software back in, Workflow still limits map-related actions to Apple Maps instead of the popular Google Maps app, and other actions using Uber, Telegram, and LINE are also still unavailable. [via MacRumors]

Senator reveals FBI paid $900K to hack San Bernardino iPhone

During last week’s questioning of FBI Director James Comey, California Senator Dianne Feinstein inadvertently revealed the amount the agency paid to hack into a terrorist’s iPhone, The Associated Press reports. The FBI has been resisting press requests to release the amount paid and the name of the vendor who broke into Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c, but Feinstein disclosed the $900,000 payment in the process of questioning Comey on unrelated matters. After ending its lawsuit against Apple after the company’s refusal to aid in unlocking the device, the Justice Department argued that the amount of the government’s payment for hacking services was properly classified. Neither the FBI nor Feinstein’s office would comment on her slip. Comey has previously made comments leading to speculation that the hack may have cost more than $1.3 million.

Apple extends repair coverage on iPad Pro Smart Keyboards to three years for ‘functional issues’

One week after extending warranty coverage for Apple Watch Series 1 batteries, Apple has also boosted its coverage of iPad Pro Smart Keyboards, 9to5Mac reports. An internal memo to retail staff and authorized service providers says Apple will now provide free service for up to three years for “functional issues” like sticking or unresponsive keys, sensor problems, connection issues and failures in the magnetic connector. The company will also be issuing refunds to customers who paid for replacement keyboards if they meet the newly announced criteria.

Apple clarifies changes to commissions from affiliate links to in-app purchases

Apple has issued a clarification to the company’s new policy for commissions paid to affiliates linking to apps, explaining that “commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7 percent to 2.5 percent globally.” Last month Apple told affiliate members they would see the reduction on “all app and in-app content,” but the new statement limits the cut to in-app purchases only. The iTunes Affiliate program allows online outlets to claim the commissions if readers click on an embedded link and actually follow through with a purchase. For the time being Apple says “all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7 percent.”

Apple accused of anticompetitive practices in Europe

Spotify and several other companies have submitted a letter to European Union officials claiming Apple and Google have used their positions as creators of operating systems and app stores to become “gatekeepers,” the Financial Times reports. The group claims the large companies prevent fair competition by abusing their position controlling a platform to restrict competitors in other areas, like streaming music. The EU is in the middle of considering new codes of conduct and the possible creation of a body to settle disputes between large companies and their smaller competitors, but there’s still some hesitation over whether such an act would amount to too much meddling in business affairs. The CEOs who signed onto the statement claim the power imbalance makes “specific rules guiding the interactions between platforms and their business users” necessary, but Apple’s position in many different markets complicates the matter. Spotify also accused Apple of blocking its app update last year, claiming “Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon” to protect its own Apple Music business.

Component suppliers deny delays in iPhone 8 production; analysts predict edge-to-edge screen

Pushing back against claims that the iPhone 8 would be delayed because of component production problems, several of Apple’s key suppliers now claim they’re on schedule for an October release, Chinese publication the Economic Daily News reports. TSMC claims it will “begin to fabricate the wafer starts needed for the production of A11 processes on June 10 and to deliver the chips in volume quantity in the second half of July,” while Zhen Ding Technology and Kinsus Interconnect Technology have reportedly improved their yield rates on laminated motherboards enough to ramp up production by June as well. Foxconn, Pegatron and Winstron—Apple iPhone assembly partners—are also bracing for the added workload, “accelerating the recruitment and training of new workers in China in preparation of mass production of the new iPhone.”

Amazon Prime Video may finally be coming to Apple TV

Apple and Amazon are close to an agreement which would bring Amazon’s Prime Video app to the Apple TV, according to a new report from Recode. According to people familiar with the two companies, Amazon employees are expecting that the tvOS app could arrive in the third quarter of the year, allowing Amazon Prime Video subscribers to stream TV shows and movies to Apple’s set-top box. Currently, Amazon does provide an iOS app that will allow users to stream to the Apple TV using AirPlay, but it lacks the elegance and simplicity of a native tvOS app. It’s unclear what has prompted this sudden change of heart for Amazon, which has snubbed the Apple TV for almost two years now, beginning with banning sales of the Apple TV and other products competing with its own Fire TV hardware back in Oct. 2015. While many hoped for an Amazon Prime Video app when the new app-enabled fourth-generation Apple TV arrived around the same time, Amazon remained the one major holdout — a decision that, according to Apple, was entirely up to Amazon.

Apple now in top position for worldwide wearables sales in Q1 2017

A new research report from Strategy Analytics places Apple as the number one vendor in the wearables market in Q1 2017, unseating Fitbit. According to the report, total shipments of wearables globally reached 22 million units in the first quarter of this year, and Apple captured 16 percent of that marketshare, with 3.5 million wearable devices shipped in the prior quarter — an increase of 1.3 million from the first quarter of 2016. While it’s likely that most of these sales represented Apple Watches, it’s important to keep in mind that Apple also includes products such as AirPods and Beats headphones in its “wearables” category, and the research report refers to “wearables” in general, defining that as “products such as smartwatches, fitnessbands and smartglasses.” The report also attributes the results to a 21 percent annual increase in global wearables shipments, citing the cause as “stronger demand for new smartwatch models” in several regions, and notes that “the new Apple Watch Series 2 is selling relatively well in the US, UK and elsewhere.” [via MacRumors]

Apple seeds fifth beta of tvOS 10.2.1 to registered developers

Apple has released a lone fifth beta of tvOS 10.2.1 to registered developers. Featuring a build number of 14W585, the release notes simply state that the update “includes bug fixes, and security improvements in the OS,” but do not specifically list any known or fixed issues.

Apple posts new web page emphasizing U.S. job creation

Apple has published a new web page highlighting U.S. domestic job creation by the company, reiterating and expanding on numbers shared by CEO Tim Cook during Tuesday’s earnings call. As the new web page points out, Apple is “one of the biggest job creators in the United States,” both directly and indirectly supporting more than two million jobs across all 50 U.S. states, and having spent over $50 billion into the U.S. economy through deals with American suppliers, developers, and partners. Apple’s new web page breaks down the numbers more specifically, citing 80,000 employees in the U.S. directly employed by Apple, 450,000 jobs through U.S.-based suppliers, and then adds over 1.5 million jobs attributed to the App Store ecosystem. Interestingly, the page also specifically breaks down the number of jobs in each U.S. state, along with a few key apps that originated in those states (not surprisingly, California represents the largest numbers), and a map showing where App Store ecosystem jobs have been created across the U.S.

Qualcomm petitioning ITC to ban import of iPhones into the U.S.

In the latest salvo of the fight with Apple over royalty payments, Qualcomm is now seeking a total ban on all U.S. iPhone imports, Bloomberg reports. According to a “person familiar with the company’s strategy,” Qualcomm is planning to petition the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to block all shipments of the iPhone, which is built in China, from entering the country. The ITC is a U.S. Federal Agency in Washington that has the authority to block imports of goods into the U.S. and can act more quickly than the federal district courts in which the two companies are currently battling it out. The legal dispute between the two companies began earlier this year when Apple accused Qualcomm of withholding $1 billion in royalty payments and accused the company of abusing its position in the chip industry and not delivering on its promises to inexpensively license “standard essential patents.” Qualcomm fired back in April with a lawsuit in which it accused Apple of breaching its contract, which led to Apple deciding last week that it would withhold further royalty payments until the matter is settled.

Report: Inventec involved in producing Apple’s Siri-enabled home hub speaker

Inventec, a long-time Apple partner that produces the company’s AirPods, is also being used to produce the company’s new Siri-enabled home hub speaker, the Economic Daily News reports. Whether the company is creating components and/or assembling the finished devices is unclear, but the report claims production may have already started. Earlier this week both tech blogger Sonny Dickson and KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the device—which would allow for control of HomeKit devices using Siri in addition to being a speaker—could launch as early as WWDC in June. [via AppleInsider]

Hulu with Live TV app lands on App Store

The iOS app for Hulu’s live TV service has appeared on the App Store with little fanfare. The apps will allow subscribers to the service to stream more than 50 live and on-demand channels, including Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, History Channel and TNT. Live TV can also be recorded via a cloud-based DVR for viewing any time, and concurrent streams can be viewed on multiple devices. The service offers up to six personalized profiles so that users within a household can curate their own show, network and movie picks, and the system makes its own recommendations as it learns what users like to watch. The app itself is free to download, but access to the service requires a $40 a month subscription after a one-week free trial (or $44 a month to get rid of commercials). While Hulu’s official guide lists the service as being available on Apple TV as well, there’s currently no tvOS app available.

Notes from Apple’s Q2 2017 earnings call

Opening Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of numbers for Q2 2017, CEO Tim Cook described the results as representing a “strong March quarter” that accelerated revenue growth and earnings per share up by 10 percent over last year. Cook noted that iPhone sales were in line with Apple’s expectations and demand for the iPhone 7 Plus continued to be strong. He explained that the installed base of iPhones grew by double-digits year-over-year and that based on the latest IDC data, the iPhone gained market share in nearly every country.

Cook went on to outline how services revenue topped $7 billion in this quarter, with a deep level of customer engagement across all services. The number of App Store developers increased by 26% over last year, and Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage also saw double-digit revenue growth. The total number of paid subscriptions, both for Apple’s own services and third-party content offered on the App Store, now exceed 165 million.

Apple Q2 2017: $52.9B revenue, 50.8M iPhones + 8.9M iPads sold

Apple reported its second quarter 2017 financial results today, with 50.8 million iPhones and 9.8 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $52.9 billion and quarterly earnings of $2.10 per diluted share. In Q2 2016, Apple had revenue of $50.6 billion and earnings of $1.90 per diluted share.

For Q3 2017, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $43.5 billion and $45.5 billion, and gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website. We’ll have a recap shortly after.

Logitech reveals Slim Folio Bluetooth keyboard case for fifth-generation iPad

Logitech has revealed its Slim Folio ($99) Bluetooth keyboard case for the fifth-generation iPad. The keyboard features large keys spread out to the edges of the case and includes a full row of iOS shortcut keys tailored to the iPad. The flexible stand includes a magnetic lock to keep the tablet in place and the advanced Bluetooth Smart Technology allows users to sync up their device once and have the keyboard automatically connect any time the iPad is put into the typing position. The low-energy Bluetooth connection is powered by coin cell batteries that Logitech claims can provide nearly 3,000 hours of use. The Slim Folio is available for pre-order now and is set to be released sometime this month.

Several major apps ditching Apple Watch support?

Several major companies whose iOS apps once offered Apple Watch support have quietly dumped support for watchOS in recent updates, AppleInsider discovered. The most recent updates for apps from Amazon, Target, eBay and Google Maps have all seen them lose support for watchOS where they previously included it. While Google said about Google Maps, “We removed Apple Watch support from our latest iOS release but expect to support it again in the future,” others have stayed mum on the move. While it’s possible some of the apps will be reintroduced, it’s also possible (given the lack of outcry) that the companies saw little use in updating the watchOS functionality if it wasn’t being used.

Apple seems to add variable App Store pricing after increases

After an announcement last week that App Store prices in Europe would be going up, developers have spotted new pricing alternatives as low as € 0.49, iPhoneItalia reports. Tier 1 pricing was increased from € 0.99 to € 01.09, but after scrolling all the way to the bottom of the list developers discovered alternate pricing levels that would allow them to keep prices the same as before. While the changes automatically increased the prices of all apps at Tier 1 (and upped the cost of in-app purchases and subscriptions as well), some continue to be available at the previous rates or even for less, suggesting some developers have manually changed their prices back. [via 9to5Mac]

Deutsche Bank suggests iPhone 8 might not launch until next year

Deutsche Bank is the latest to voice doubts about the iPhone 8 launching before next year, Business Insider reports. Referencing a Value Walk story from last week claiming to have insider information from a Foxconn employee, the bank said, “Report suggests no new iPhone 8 this calendar year. As we have written in previous [research notes], several supply chain reports have suggested that key component shortages and technical challenges could delay the release of a high-end iPhone 8 device this fall.” Like previous reports, the Value Walk story relies on timelines for the delivery of packaging for the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, which the sources said will begin arriving at the end of June.

Apple adds new content services to Apple TV universal search and ‘TV’ app

Apple has added support for searching Spike, Nickelodeon, and Nick. Jr. to the fourth-generation Apple TV’s Universal Search feature, allowing users to call up results from these channels in Siri or by typing queries into the built-in tvOS Search app. A new set of services have also been brought into the fold of Apple’s “TV” app, including Crackle, FilmStruck, and Freeform (the Disney/ABC channel formerly known as ABC Family). Like most of the content services available on the Apple TV, these newest additions are available in the U.S. only. Apple maintains a list on its web site of all of the content channels supported by the Apple TV Universal Search, as well as a separate list of apps supported by the “TV” app. [via AppleInsider]

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