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Apple clarifies relationship between Apple Music and iTunes Match

An Apple Senior Product Specialist has confirmed to iLounge that Apple Music has been expanded to include all of the key features of iTunes Match, clarifying the update to the Apple Music Membership FAQ that we reported on last week. The specialist confirmed that Apple Music subscribers can now download DRM-free versions of “matched” tracks without an iTunes Match subscription, although he clarified that this won’t necessarily be the case for older DRM-laden songs purchased from the iTunes Store — basically, those tracks purchased prior to the 2007-2009 period when Apple began selling music without DRM. Specifically, an iTunes Match subscription is still required to download 256-kbps DRM-free versions of any of those older purchased iTunes Songs — provided the DRM-free versions are available on the iTunes Store — whereas users without an iTunes Match subscription will be limited to the originally-purchased 128kbps DRM-protected versions from their purchase history.

Wireless charging startup Energous is teaming up with Apple supplier Dialog

Energous, a startup that many have speculated has been working with Apple on wireless charging solutions, has just signed a big deal with Apple chip supplier Dialog Semiconductor, Fast Company reports. According to a source, Dialog presently makes about three-quarters of its revenue supplying power management chips to Apple, suggesting that the new partnership could put Energous into a position to more effectively deal with Apple in bringing wireless charging to future iPhone models. Energous has been working on a long-range wireless charging technology known as WattUP RF that would allow devices to recharge wirelessly at distances of up to 15 feet away from a charging transmitter —  technology that certainly seems like the practical type of wireless charging solution that Apple would be interested in, as opposed to current implementations based on plug-in charging mats. The report goes on to suggest that WattUP RF technology could be incorporated into Macs to allow an iPhone to be charged when it’s simply sitting on the table within a few feet of a powered Mac.

Apple releases first developer betas of iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1

Only four days after the public debut of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1, Apple has already released the first betas of iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1 to registered developers. The sparse release notes and very minor version numbering suggest that both of these releases are focused primarily on bug fixes and minor improvements. A new watchOS beta is notably missing at this point, which may be due in part to Apple still addressing recent problems in the watchOS 3.1.1 release earlier this week.

Apple loses $2 million lawsuit over employee breaks and paychecks

Apple has been ordered to pay $2 million to more than 21,000 employees who sued the company over unfair working conditions, Apple Insider reports. The suit—which was filed in 2011 and gained class-action status in 2014—claimed the company denied retail workers adequate breaks and took months to issue paychecks. Apple hasn’t made a statement on the ruling, but barring an appeal, each employee will receive a maximum of $95, with those payments also subject to legal fees.

Apple hiring engineers away from automotive mapping company

Over the last few months, Apple has hired at least six employees from Berlin-based Here, an automotive mapping company owned by Audi, BMW, and Daimler, Business Insider reports. One of the engineers, Konstantin Sinitsyn, declined to confirm how many people Apple had hired from Here, and no other employees responded to requests for comment. Apple doesn’t have an official office in Berlin, but in April a German website claimed the company was operating a secret facility in the city staffed by 15 to 20 “top-class” employees of the German automotive industry. At the time they were believed to be working on Apple’s Project Titan electric car project, but the company has since scaled back its automotive ambitions to focus on autonomous driving systems. Former employees from Here could be a natural fit within that scheme, with many of the new hires showing they’re assigned to the Apple Maps team on LinkedIn.

Scaled-back Tinder app lands on Apple TV

Tinder has joined the ranks of apps making themselves available on Apple TV, detailing the move in a blog post. The ad campaign seems geared toward making the selection of prospective mates on Tinder more of a group experience, encouraging users to get their family and friends involved in the decision-making process. Like most crossover Apple TV apps, Tinder provides limited options on the big screen, allowing users to swipe right and left or view information in the profiles or others, but lacking the ability to edit your own profile or message other users.

Apple launches official Support app for iOS in U.S.

After releasing its Apple Support app in the Netherlands last month, Apple has now made it available to U.S. customers, allowing users to search for troubleshooting information, and call, chat or email with Apple support staff. The app keeps a list of all the devices associated with a user’s Apple ID and provides other handy features, including the ability to schedule callbacks, make appointments for repairs at an Apple Store or Authorized Service Provider, and view logs of all the customer service interactions they’ve had with Apple.

Apple TV’s universal search adds support for 10 more apps in U.S.

Apple TV has added 10 new apps to its universal search list for U.S. users, including some major cable channels. Movies and TV shows on Apple Music, Animal Planet GO, Crunchyroll, CuriosityStream, Investigation Discovery GO, Science Channel GO, TBS, TNT, TLC GO, and Tribeca Shortlist can now be found with a simple search on the fourth-generation Apple TV. For users in Canada, the U.K., and Australia, Apple has added the ability to search kids network Hopster and movie service MUBI. Apple’s website provides a full list of the apps compatible with the Apple TV’s universal search, arranged by country. [via MacRumors]

Apple pulls watchOS 3.1.1 update after reports of bricked Apple Watches

After a series of user complaints about watchOS 3.1.1 bricking Apple Watches, Apple seems to have pulled the update all together. Apple Watch users looking for the most recent version of the operating system are now seeing watchOS 3.1. Apple has not publicly commented on the problem, so it’s unclear what the issue is or how long it will take the company to resolve it. Users who had their Apple Watches locked up by watchOS 3.1.1 are being encouraged to contact Apple Support directly, since retail stores are unable to service the devices. [via MacRumors]

Apple releases iTunes 12.5.4 with TV app and Touch Bar support

Apple has released iTunes 12.5.4, adding support for the new TV app introduced with the releases of iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 earlier this week. The latest iTunes update also adds support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro models, providing a scrubber that allows users to jump to different parts of songs, movies, and TV shows.

Some users report watchOS 3.1.1 update bricking Apple Watches

A series of users posting on Reddit and elsewhere are reporting that yesterday’s watchOS 3.1.1 update has hopelessly locked their Apple Watches, leaving the device displaying a red exclamation point and directing them to visit the Apple Watch help page. While many users are seeing the update run on their watches without a hitch, those with bricked devices have been told by Apple support that they have to send their watch off for a fix. Apple Stores are unable to service the watches, but have been facilitating arranging for replacements. Series 2 watches seem particularly susceptible to the problem, though the cause is currently unknown. [via AppleInsider]

Report: Apple’s BeatsX earphones could be delayed 2-3 months (Update: Coming in February)

AirPods won’t be the only Apple headphones suffering from lengthy delays this holiday season, if a recent report proves true. The release of its BeatsX wireless earphones may be delayed another two to three months, according to MacRumors. The report claims that authorized reseller B&H Photo Video emailed a customer this weekend regarding the earphones, and the reseller wrote that “the manufacturer has informed us that they still do not know when they will begin shipping this item but they do know that it will take at least 2-3 months.” This timeline would put the BeatsX release into February or March. Apple’s AirPods still have yet to see a release, though there’s been speculation that a pre-holiday launch is forthcoming.

Update: Apple’s website now lists the BeatsX headphones as “Coming February.”

AirPods now available on Apple’s website, deliver by Dec. 21 (Update: Shipping slips to two weeks)

After being pushed back from an October release, AirPods are now available on Apple’s website. They’ll deliver to some U.S. locations as early as Dec. 21, with some international locations seeing earlier delivery dates. People familiar with the development process said the release was delayed due to problems ensuring that one of the AirPods is able to properly transmit a synchronized audio signal to the other. The W1-equipped earbuds will be Apple’s first wireless offering under its own brand, and our full review will follow shortly after the release.

Update: As expected, after a flood of online purchases the shipping estimates for new AirPod orders in the U.S. has already slipped to two weeks.

WSJ: Apple held talks to invest $1B in SoftBank technology fund

Apple has reportedly held talks about investing up to $1 billion in SoftBank Group’s technology fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. Japanese corporation SoftBank is aiming to raise $100 billion for its SoftBank Vision Fund, and Apple’s investment could enable the Cupertino company to “gain insight on emerging technologies,” the report notes. Sources note nothing has been finalized, and it’s unclear where the talks are at this point.

SoftBank is investing $25 billion of its own money in the fund, which seeks to lead the way in still-emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. The company was in the news recently for its announced $50 billion investment in the U.S. SoftBank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, made a public appearance with President-elect Donald Trump.

Apple releases iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, watchOS 3.1.1

After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.2 to the public today. The release features the new TV app for accessing video content across multiple apps, 100 new emoji, and new screen effects in Messages, along with many other updates, new features, and improvements. Apple also released tvOS 10.1, with its own version of the TV app, and watchOS 3.1.1 for Apple Watch. Users can download iOS 10.2 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

Apple intros new ‘Report Junk’ option to combat iCloud calendar spam

Some iCloud users have seen spam pop up in their calendar invitations in recent weeks, and Apple has now introduced a way of reporting such spam. Users will now see a “report junk” option in unsolicited calendar invites from any senders who aren’t contacts. The “report junk” option is currently available on iCloud.com, and it will hopefully be seen in the iOS calendar app in the near future. While this isn’t a complete solution to the problem, it’s a step in the right direction. There are a few workarounds in the meantime — if it’s an issue for you, we suggest going to the Advanced tab in Calendar preferences, and opting to receive event invitations as email messages, rather than as in-app notifications. [via MacRumors]

Report: AirPods delay due to problems with wireless audio synchronization

A new report in The Wall Street Journal sheds some insight on the reasons for Apple’s delay in shipping its new AirPods wireless earphones. Citing people familiar with the product’s development, the report explains that the main reason for the delay has been related to engineering challenges around the AirPods unique new wireless technology, specifically in ensuring that one AirPods is able to properly transmit a synchronized audio signal to the other.

Apple offering hands-on demos of Super Mario Run in stores

In advance of Nintendo’s Dec. 15 iOS release of Super Mario Run, Apple is now offering playable demos of the game on display iPhone and iPad units in Apple retail stores. Nintendo has also been promoting the title, with an appearance by Nintendo U.S. head Reggie Fils-Aimé on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, who led a TV demo and allowed Fallon to run through a level of the game.

Report: Apple pursuing studio agreements for early movie rentals

Apple is attempting to negotiate with Hollywood studios to offer access to movie rentals — possibly as early as two weeks after they open in theaters — according to a new report by Bloomberg. The move appears to have been initiated by several of the big studios, including 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, which have confirmed that they are looking for ways to offer “high-priced” video rentals of new movies shortly after they open in theaters. People familiar with the matter have said that the studios are considering a deal with iTunes as a possible option, although Apple is not necessarily the only company that the studios have been in talks with. Sources have suggested that one of the main concerns regarding whether iTunes will be a suitable choice centers on the security of the platform to avoid jeopardizing box office sales from pictures that are still in theaters. Despite Apple’s tight FairPlay DRM security on existing iTunes rentals, studio executives are concerned that users could still use a camera to record a movie playing on a TV screen; by comparison at least one competing startup named in the report has implemented watermarking technology that would in theory allow the source of a leak to be tracked to a specific end user, thereby discouraging piracy.

Apple releases seventh beta of iOS 10.2 to developers

Only two days after a sixth iOS 10.2 beta was released to developers, Apple has now released a seventh beta for the upcoming iOS version today. The latest beta, with a build number of 14C92, actually comes in as a 1.98GB OTA update, unlike prior beta updates that were generally under 100MB; the larger size points to the possibility that this latest beta may be a final “GM” release leading to an impending general release of iOS 10.2 to the public. We’ll update with any notable findings.

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