It was reported in December that Apple may introduce its Apple Watch 2 at a March event, but a new report from TechCrunch muddies those waters just a bit. According to the report, Apple may introduce a “minor revision” to Apple Watch, which may include “a FaceTime camera and not much else.” The update wouldn’t feature a new casing, or “major” improvements. The same report also speculates that the timing of such a release may differ from March, or that an update might not show up in coming months at all. Reports — and increasing speculation — have led many to believe that Apple’s rumored new 4” iPhone may be introduced at an upcoming event, and an Apple Watch update may be featured at that time, as well. But for now, details are still unclear.
Apple has released a support document acknowledging a battery percentage issue on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. As the document notes, “If you change the time on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus manually or change time zones when traveling, you might notice that the battery percentage doesn’t update.” The document instructs users to restart the iPhone, then turn on Set Automatically in Settings > General > Date & Time. Apple says that it is “aware of this issue and is investigating the cause and a solution.”
Apple has announced in an email to customers that it will be discontinuing its free ad-supported version of iTunes Radio. Starting on Jan. 29, iTunes Radio will only be accessible with an Apple Music subscription. iTunes Match users will also be losing ad-free iTunes Radio as a perk — the only place to access those stations will be behind the Apple Music paywall. Apple’s Beats 1 station will be the only free remaining music option from Apple. We’d expect that Apple will announce additional free Beats stations — Beats 2-5 — to give customers more free music options, but we’ll see.
In an unusual move, Apple has released a minor update to its iOS 9.3 beta released earlier this week. Rather than carrying a “beta 2” designation, the new beta appears in the iOS Software Update as “iOS 9.3 beta 1.1” — the first time we’ve seen a point release of a beta. Designated as build 13E5181f — a very minor update from the original beta’s 13E5181d build number, the release notes indicate that the new beta fixes “some cases of an issue customers encountered while updating to 13E5181d that caused devices to freeze on the Apple logo.” The new “beta 1.1” is available via an over-the-air software update or direct download from Apple’s iOS Developer Site, where it simply remains listed as “iOS 9.3 beta” with no mention of the “.1” update.
Apple may be on the hook for as much as $8 billion in taxes owing to the European Union, Bloomberg reports. A European Commission investigation which began in 2014 called into question Apple’s tax deals in Ireland, where the company’s European operations are headquartered. More recently, Apple agreed to pay $347m in back taxes to Italy after failing to declare revenue to that country’s tax authorities, instead transferring profits to its Irish subsidiary.
The European Commission has been contending that Apple’s deal in Ireland has allowed it to pay lower taxes to the Irish government by calculating its tax bill using lower operating costs in that country. Bloomberg’s analysis suggests that Apple’s foreign tax rate is about 1.8 percent, despite the company generating more than 50 percent of its revenue outside of the U.S. As a result of its findings, the European Commission may decide to enforce a tougher accounting standard that could require Apple to pay eight years of back taxes, covering $64.1 billion dollars in profit from the years 2004 to 2012, at a higher 12.5 percent tax rate. Notably, Apple is not alone in facing scrutiny from EU regulators, with other high profile companies including Starbucks, Amazon, and McDonalds also having had their tax policies reviewed by the Commission. Apple has also listed the investigation as a risk factor to investors in its financial statements for 2015, noting that if the tax rates were to change, Apple’s “financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be adversely affected.” A ruling on the matter could come as early as March.
Following the release of the iOS 9.3 Developer Beta earlier this week, Apple has now released iOS 9.3’s first beta for non-developers through its Apple Software Beta Program. In contrast to recent public betas, iOS 9.3 includes a number of new features and enhancements that will likely generate more interest from early adopters. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.
The New York State Assembly is presently considering a new bill that would require Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to build “back doors” into their devices which would allow them to decrypt data upon request from law enforcement, according to a new report by Onthewire. New York state bill A8093, originally drafted last June, would require that any smartphone manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2016 that is “sold or leased in New York” must be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Should the legislation pass, anybody selling a non-compliant smartphone — that is, one manufactured in 2016 that cannot be unlocked or decrypted — could be subject to a civil penalty of $2,500, and would be prohibited from passing that penalty on in the price of the smartphone.
A new report in Korea’s etnews indicates that Apple and Samsung Display are very close to an agreement for the display maker to supply Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screens to Apple for its next-generation iPhones. The report suggests that the undertaking will require an investment of $7.47 billion in plant facilities and equipment, and will begin receiving orders from Apple as early as the end of the first quarter for between 30,000 and 45,000 sheets per month, with production likely ramping up to an additional 45,000 sheets per month in 2017. The report suggests that Samsung Display will be the primary supplier of flexible OLED screens to Apple, but not necessarily the exclusive supplier. A past report claimed LG would also supply OLED screens, while another report claimed Japan Display would be the supplier, and that the screens wouldn’t appear on iPhones until 2018.
A new report from the New York Post suggests that Apple may be looking at the possibility of acquiring at least some of Time Warner’s assets, which is likely to be sold off or at least have its assets spun off in the next few months. Citing a senior tech insider, the report notes that Apple may acquire Time Warner’s assets to help with developing a standalone TV service — a project that was originally reported to be in the works last spring, but was later put on hold due to difficulties in coming to an agreement with traditional broadcasting networks. A deal between Apple and Time Warner could provide Apple with significant headway in the streaming TV service market, potentially including CNN, Turner Sports, shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Sesame Street,” and the Warner Bros. library of movies and TV shows.
During an exclusive BBC interview, Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk stated that it’s basically an “open secret” that Apple is making an electric car to rival Tesla’s. While Apple has not formally announced it is working on a vehicle, the company has registered numerous automobile-related domains such as apple.car and apple.auto and has been on a recent hiring spree for automotive-related talent. Musk noted that several of its engineers have been hired by Apple, among other companies, and felt that it was “obvious” that Apple would enter the car market, noting, “It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it.” Musk said, however, that he doesn’t see Apple as being a threat to Tesla’s business — rather that he feels that it will expand an industry where there is currently room for more than one player. “Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal,” Musk said, “while at the same time helping other companies to make electric cars as well.”
In addition to a new iOS 9.3 Preview webpage published today, Apple has also introduced a new CarPlay “Available Models” webpage. The new page lists all the currently known present and future car models that will feature Apple’s CarPlay. There are currently more than 100 models listed from 21 different manufacturers — Apple lists 40 partners on its CarPlay page, which means nearly half of those car makers have yet to announce verified CarPlay models. “Check this list for the latest information,” Apple notes.
Apple is positioning iOS 9.3 as a major update, as evidenced by its new iOS 9.3 Preview webpage. The upcoming update had its first beta release today, and Apple has decided to point out a few of the new features. The biggest addition is Night Shift, a new feature that automatically makes display colors warmer based on the device’s clock and geolocation — the colors become warmer at sunset in your location. Apple claims viewing the warmer colors in the evening will make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Apple has simultaneously released new betas for iOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch — iOS 9.3 beta 1, tvOS 9.2 beta 1, and watchOS 2.2 beta 1 are all now available to developers. The new iOS beta is available from the developer center. A public beta will likely be made available in the near future. Apple’s tvOS 9.2 includes the long-awaited addition of Bluetooth keyboard support to Apple TV, while the new iOS and watchOS betas enable the pairing of multiple Apple Watches to one iPhone.
Apple Music has topped 10 million subscribers, according to a new report from The Financial Times. The article notes the service has taken six months to hit the mark, while main competitor Spotify took six years to reach the same level. Last June, Spotify said it had 20 million paid subscribers, and 75 million monthly listeners — that number has almost certainly grown since then, but Apple is also taking a big cut of the growing streaming market, despite what we believe are persistent UI issues with Apple Music.
As the International CES 2016 begins to wind down, we wanted to point out that there won’t be any CES Best of Show Awards given out by iLounge this year. Our on-site staff was limited this year, and we didn’t think it was fair to our readers — or to these companies — for other members of our staff to participate in making such judgments without seeing the products in person. Visit our CES page for the full index of reports from this week, and from past Consumer Electronics Shows. We’ll be back next week with more of our typical content.
CableJive has introduced two new add-ons for its HeroDock for the iPhone — a Landscape Dock that can hold an iPad mini, and the other to dock an Apple Watch. As seen above, the final iPad mini dock will require a Lightning connector in another position for it to work properly. The new attachments are expected to arrive in Q3; pricing has not been announced.
Apple is currently prototyping an entirely new design for Beats Bluetooth earphones, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. Expected to launch alongside the iPhone 7 later this year, the new earphones will apparently be completely wireless, omitting even a cable to connect the left and right earpieces. Sources cited in the report suggest that the headphones will follow a concept not unlike the Motorola Hint and Bragi Dash. The earphones are also expected to include a noise-cancelling microphone system to facilitate better communication with Siri, and include multiple ear sleeve sizes for accommodate variations in users’ ear canals. An included carrying case will double as a rechargeable battery to power up the headphones when they are not being used. The new wireless headphones are expected to be a premium option that will almost certainly be sold separately from the iPhone 7.
The same sources have also corroborated recent reports that the iPhone 7 will eliminate the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, requiring wired headphones to connect to the Lightning connector instead. New Lightning-based EarPods will be released to support this as well, although it remains unclear whether Apple will continue to bundle EarPods with the iPhone or require them to be purchased separately.
Just Mobile has introduced a new minimalist dock, the HoverDock, in both iPhone and Apple Watch versions. The HoverDock for iPhone ($35) is a low-profile charging stand encased in a unibody aluminum disc that allows you to pass through your Lightning cable and stand your iPhone upright, and supports most cases.
HoverDock for Apple Watch ($35) follows the same unibody aluminum design as the iPhone version, allowing you to pass through the standard Apple Watch Magnetic Charging cable and keep your Apple Watch propped up for Nightstand Mode.
Numerous reports have suggested the upcoming iPhone 7 will drop the 3.5mm headphone port, and now Fast Company claims that will indeed be the case. The publication also claims the newest iPhone will be waterproof, as some have suggested. Additionally, the report claims the upcoming phone “will very likely support wireless charging.” A source told Fast Company that Apple will work with its audio chip partner Cirrus Logic to adapt the iPhone audio chipset to work with the Lightning port. The iPhone will also use some kind of noise-cancelling technology — the tech will reportedly enable Apple’s newest phone to remove background noise in both music playback and phone calls.
The source also believes that Apple will sell a pair of noise-cancelling Lightning earphones separately, rather than packaging it in with the iPhone. Regarding the waterproofing feature, Fast Company’s report does come with the caveat that Apple could pull waterproofing “very late in the development process,” as has happened before.
Edifier has introduced several new speakers at this year’s CES. The MA5 ($200) desktop audio system is Wi-Fi enabled and provides support for AirPlay and DLNA. It can stream music from app-based online music sources such as Pandora and Spotify. It also features a cloud-based speech recognition system for online music search and can act as a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi hotspot. MA5 should be released in Q2 2016.
The MP700 ($230) portable speaker comes in two versions, with a Bluetooth 4.0 model that features an NFC tag for quick connection with compatible devices, and an Wi-Fi model which features AirPlay and DLNA connectivity, and the same app-based online music source management and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi hotspot features as the MA5. Additionally, the MA215 ($300) is a desktop Wi-Fi speaker set for release in the third quarter of 2016.
Kwikset has expanded the smart lock lineup that began with its popular Kevo last year, debuting its first HomeKit-compatible solution, Premis. The new smart lock will allow users to lock and unlock their door using Siri voice controls and HomeKit-compatible third-party apps, and it includes other advanced security features such as SecureScreen and the latest version of Kwikset SmartKey security. Leveraging the Apple TV as a standard HomeKit hub, HomeKit support will allow users to let others in while away, confirm their door is locked after leaving, and unlock the door when coming home without fumbling for keys. HomeKit compatibility will also provide the ability to create integrated scenes with other HomeKit accessories, including triggers and notifications that can perform actions such as turning on lighting or adjusting heating, simply by unlocking the front door.