The Unicode Consortium has approved 72 new emoji for inclusion in the Unicode 9.0 standard, scheduled for release this month, expanding on the existing base of 1,601 emoji with a handful of new symbols that have long been requested. The new emoji build on existing themes, such as facial expressions, animals, and food, and a new roster of sports and medal-style characters have also been introduced in time for the Rio Olympics. Specific new emoji include a selfie, shrugs, clowns, face palms, and rolling-on-the-floor-laughing, while new animals include bats, rhinos, owls, and sharks. Croissants, pancakes, bacon, avocados, and kiwi fruit will be added to the food roster. Although the Unicode 9.0 standard becomes official this month, Apple will still have to add support for the new emoji to iOS. With the announcement of iOS 10 around the corner, it’s unclear whether these will appear in a coming point update to iOS 9 or whether users will have to wait until iOS 10, likely in the fall, before seeing the new characters.
Apple has re-released the iOS 9.3.2 update for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, after pulling the update last month due to “bricking” issues with that particular model. While other iOS devices were unaffected, many users of Apple’s newest iPad Pro model found themselves faced with “Error 56” messages after applying the update, rendering their devices unusable, and needing to be replaced by Apple. The new version of iOS 9.3.2, which doesn’t bear any obvious numbering to differentiate it from the last one, addresses these earlier issues and users should now be able to safely update to the latest iOS version through the normal software update process.
Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman says the company is “still committed” to the wearables business, refuting recent reports that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether. In a blog post on the company’s website, Rahman denies recent media reports as “unequivocally false,” noting that the speculation appeared to come from “wrongful insinuations” made by “a particular digital publication,” and although the publication later made a correction, this was not done until after other media picked up on the news and spread it further. Rahman emphasizes that Jawbone “remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products” and has technology in the pipeline that they “look forward to sharing ... with the world.”
Apple Pay is “struggling” to succeed outside of the U.S., according to a new article from Reuters. The report notes that Apple has made “only a small dent” in the global payments market, due in part to technical challenges, low consumer adoption, and resistance by banks to embrace the new payment technology. Despite being available in six countries as of today, following the recent large scale Canadian launch, Apple Pay’s usage last year only amounted to $10.9 billion, which the report notes is less than the annual volume of transactions in Kenya, a country that leads the world in mobile payment adoption. Although the bulk of that usage is said to be U.S.-centric, it’s worth noting that Apple Pay’s first rollout outside of the U.S. was in the middle of the year, with other countries such as Australia, Canada, and China coming on toward the very end of 2015, many with very limited participation from banks.
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for 2016, providing a free pair of Beats headphones to eligible students purchasing a new Mac, iPad, or iPhone for college or university. Students purchasing any new Mac model will receive a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $300, while those purchasing an iPad Pro, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, or iPhone 6s Plus will get Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones, valued at $200. As with prior promotions, the promotion takes the form of an instant credit for the pre-tax price of the headphones, meaning the customer will still be responsible for any sales taxes that might otherwise apply. Standard Apple student discounts also apply on Mac and iPad purchases. The Apple Back to School promotion runs from today through Sept. 5, and users can take advantage of the offer by purchasing a Mac, iPad Pro, or iPhone at any Apple Retail Store of the online Apple Store for Education, and buyers must be enrolled in an eligible college, university, or similar higher education institution in order to qualify.
Apple has sent out press invites for the keynote to kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference later this month. The keynote will be held on Monday, Jun. 13 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. It’s expected that Apple will announce new versions of its various mobile and desktop operating systems — iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and OS X — along with changes to Apple Music, a Siri SDK for developers, web-based support for Apple Pay and Maps, and possibly even the announcement of new hardware products. It is expected that the keynote will be broadcast on the web and via the Apple TV as Apple has done with past keynote presentations.
URLs live on Coach’s site but not yet openly displayed to the public seem to confirm reports about Coach bands coming to Apple Watch, 9to5Mac points out. A URL for a hidden listing shows an “Apple Watch leather watch strap with charms,” with minor tweaks to the model numbers also revealing “tea rose” and “wild beast camo” variants.
Facebook is planning to release an optional encrypted mode for its Messenger app, The Guardian reports. According to three sources close to the project, the social media giant will give its users the choice between extra privacy and better artificial intelligence. Opting to add end-to-end encryption to communications aimed at safeguarding a user’s messages from prying eyes will also have the unhappy side effect of inhibiting some of the new machine learning features being added to Messenger, the sources said.
As of this morning, Apple Pay users can finally add their Visa, MasterCard and debit cards from the country’s five major banks, the Toronto Star reports. Apple Pay launched in Canada last November, but only for non-bank American Express cardholders. Last month Apple Pay expanded to support Visa and MasterCard in Canada, but only for Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce customers. Today BMO, TD and Scotiabank join the other banks included in Canada’s “Big Five” in allowing customers to add all of their cards to Apple Pay. Bank customers have noted that they can only use their credit cards for in-app payments, with debit cards still not working for purchases within iOS. ATB and Canadian Tire credit cards also work for in-app payments.
Apple has tweaked its TV App Store algorithm to hide apps already installed on the device. After a brief scare when their new app went missing from the Top Charts in Germany, app designer Equinux figured out that the update eliminates apps that users already have from app store lists, presumably to provide more visibility for lesser-known apps and keep customers from having to trudge past all the apps they already have while seeking out new ones.
A new story from Nikkei confidently states what many following the so-called “iPhone 7” leaks have been thinking — Apple appears to be pushing its usual two years between full model changes to a three-year cycle. While Nikkei doesn’t cite any Apple sources in making the claim, the new iPhone seems to have the same dimensions as the iPhone 6s and certainly looks more like a minor improvement to the current model than a dramatically new device in its own right, with camera upgrades expected to be the major new feature. Tech analysts and journalists alike see the 2017 iPhone as the next great leap forward, with that model thought to be getting an improved edge-to-edge display, embedded Touch ID sensor, possible wireless charging and perhaps an all-glass body.
The California Institute of Technology has sued Broadcom and Apple over use of the school’s encoding and decoding patents in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips, Patently Apple reports. Apple has used Broadcom’s technology since 2012 in most of its devices, including the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, Apple Watch and others.
Developers are quickly losing interest in developing apps for Apple’s watchOS because of the platform’s limited independence, Business Insider reports. Realm VP Tim Anglade, whose company’s database is used by around 100,000 app developers, said while apps for tvOS are on the upswing, new apps for Apple Watch have seen a massive decline in 2016. “On a weekly basis we’re seeing very few Watch apps, compared to iOS apps,” Anglade said. “For every 1,000 new iOS apps being built, there are 10 tvOS apps and maybe 1 Watch app.”
New technology obtained from Apple’s acquisition of VocalIQ last year is poised to drastically improve Siri’s search capabilities, Business Insider reports. One unnamed source said VocalIQ’s AI was able to answer complex questions like, “Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and Wi-Fi that’s kid-friendly,” 90 percent of the time, greatly improving on the 20 percent averaged by Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
India’s government dealt Apple’s plans for expansion another setback Monday, formally rejecting the company’s request to sell used iPhones in the country, Live Mint reports. Tim Cook had defended Apple’s request during his Indian tour, saying the company has similar programs in countries all over the world to sell refurbished phones that the company has restored to a “pristine level’ but made available at a lower price.
Apple may be planning to include facial recognition technology in its rumored Siri device, according to CNET. Sources for the report indicated that Apple has “explored putting a camera in its device” with facial recognition technology that could detect who is in a room, and could then activate personal music and lighting profiles.
Apple is “working rapidly” to launch Apple Pay farther and wider in the European and Asian markets, Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay revealed an interview with TechCrunch. While Apple Pay is available in only six countries right now — the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, China, and Singapore — Bailey stated that Apple’s goal is to have Apple Pay available in “every significant market that Apple is in. Bailey confirmed Apple’s plans to expand the service to Hong Kong and across the Asia Pacific region, noting that the company is “talking to many partners” to determine how rapidly the service can be rolled out elsewhere. Leaks in February indicated that France and Brazil may also be on the list for this year, and Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted earlier this month that Apple may also be considering a rollout in India soon.
A new report claims that Apple is working on a Siri-based competitor to Amazon’s Echo, but suggests that the solution will come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV set-top box, rather than the standalone speaker reported earlier this week. A source has told VentureBeat that the plan is to build on the Apple TV to “solve problems with the existing box and remote control,” noting that Apple wants the “Apple TV to be just the hub of everything.” Apple is said to have considered several options, and a standalone speaker was indeed under consideration at one point — however, that option was dropped due to the amount of money Apple has spent on the development of the new Apple TV.
Apple’s SVP Eddy Cue reportedly floated the idea of Apple making a bid to buy Time Warner late last year, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Three sources who were briefed on a meeting between Cue and Olaf Olafsson — Time Warner’s Executive VP of Corporate Strategy — at the end of last year revealed that Cue broached the idea of a bid to purchase the media company, although discussions did not go beyond a very preliminary stage and never included any higher-level Apple or Time Warner executives. The purpose of the meeting, held at Time Warner’s Manhattan headquarters, was to discuss ways in which the two companies could build a business relationship, such as including Time Warner’s cable channels in the streaming service that Apple has been developing.
Pokémon GO is now open to beta testers in the U.S. while the game is still in active development. The game, first announced last fall, uses an iPhone’s GPS to let users catch, trade and battle over Pokémon based on their location in the real world. Phones will notify players when they are approaching a Pokémon “in the wild” and give them the chance to catch it by using the touch scree to throw a Poké Ball. Poké Balls and other special items can be collected at PokéStops, placed at “interesting places such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments.”