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Minecraft launches for Apple TV

Developer Mojang has brought its popular Minecraft game to Apple TV, according to a blog post on the game’s site. The game costs $20 and is rolling out in various regions today — we personally haven’t seen it yet, but it should be popping up sometime soon. For a limited time ,the company is including “the Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups” in that $20 purchase price. The Apple TV version doesn’t currently support Minecraft Realms or Xbox Live, but the company promises that future updates will add those features.

Apple appeals $14 billion EU tax ruling

Apple has submitted its appeal of the EU’s $14 billion tax judgment, claiming the ruling ignores advice from tax experts and singles out Apple unfairly because of its success, Reuters reports. The European Commission said Apple paid substantially less than other companies in Ireland due to a preferential deal, ending up with a corporate tax rate of no more than 1 percent, while other companies pay around 12.5 percent. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell said the commission intentionally used a method to calculate the tax rate that would maximize the penalty and gain more media attention. “Apple is not an outlier in any sense that matters to the law,” Sewell said. “Apple is a convenient target because it generates lots of headlines.”

Niantic says Pokémon GO app for Apple Watch is still coming

Niantic is still working on developing a Pokémon GO app for Apple Watch despite rumors that the company had scrapped it, TechCrunch reports. Niantic promised the Apple Watch version of Pokémon GO “by the end of the year,” but with the end of the year approaching, an alleged email from a Niantic customer service agent appeared on Reddit, claiming the “port for the Apple Watch has been shelved” due to low demand. But Niantic quickly debunked the rumor, confirming that the Reddit image was a fake and adding that, “Development on Pokémon GO continues, as it has since before the Apple announcement.” No firm date has been offered, but the Pokémon GO Twitter page says an Apple Watch app is “coming soon.”

Report: Special OLED ‘iPhone 8’ will feature curved plastic screen

Sources claiming to be familiar with Apple’s design plans say the upcoming flagship “iPhone 8” will feature a curved plastic OLED screen, The Korea Herald reports. The sources said Samsung can produce just under 100 million of the curved screens for Apple, which would necessitate the move to plastic, since glass OLED displays are typically only used in flat panels. The phones aren’t expected to be foldable because of rigid internal components, but the source floated the possibility that Apple could set itself apart from other OLED phones by adding “new sensing technology, which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device.” Display suppliers LG and JDI are expected to round out Apple’s screen orders next year, supplying the flat LCD screens for the remaining 2017 iPhone lineup. LG is said to be working on supplying Apple with foldable OLED screens, but that arrangement isn’t expected to begin until 2018.

Super Mario Run tops 2.85 million downloads on first day

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run has hit 2.85 million downloads in its first day of availability, The Verge reports. Citing data from analytics firm Apptopia, the report notes that Super Mario Run easily beats Pokémon Go, which broke the record in July with 900,000 downloads on the first day. However, Pokémon Go still holds first place for total first-week downloads — although Apple declined to divulge how many times Pokémon Go was downloaded in its first seven days, it did jump to 5.6 million downloads by day three.

Capcom bringing Mega Man series to iOS in Japan next year

Capcom has announced plans to bring its classic Mega Man series to the iOS platform. The game is expected to initially launch in Japan on Jan. 6, 2017, and will include Mega Man 1 through 6 in a single title. It’s unclear when — or if — the game will be released outside of Japan. [via TouchArcade]

Apple TV gets 21 new Aerial screensavers

Apple has added 21 new Aerial screensavers for the fourth-generation Apple TV, with scenery from five new locations, including Greenland, Dubai, Hong Kong, Liwa (UAE), and Los Angeles. Three new scenes from China have also been added. With the exception of Liwa and China, all of the new locations include both day and night scenery. tvOS downloads new screensaver footage on a cyclical basis according to whichever schedule you have set, so users may not see the new screensavers for a while, depending on their download schedule; users can view all of the screensavers at iDownloadBlog, which discovered the new entries and has published a list of links to stream the footage directly from Apple’s servers.

Report: LG Display to supply foldable OLED displays to Apple

A new report from South Korean IT News site ETNews claims that LG Display has come to an agreement with Apple to begin mass-producing and supplying foldable OLED displays beginning in 2018. Although several rumors have pointed to Apple producing at least one OLED iPhone model next year, Apple is reported to be testing multiple prototypes, and current plans suggest a curved, rather than a foldable display. Current speculation on an OLED iPhone model suggests that Samsung would be the current supplier, so any deal with LG for foldable displays may simply be part of a longer-term strategy for Apple. [via MacRumors]

AirPods coming to Apple retail stores Monday Dec. 19

Apple is planning to begin selling AirPods in its retail stores this coming Monday, Dec. 19, according to a new report by MacRumors. While Apple previously announced that AirPods would be in stores sometime next week, more specific information has surfaced that product is already in transit to retail locations and is expected to go on sale Monday morning. Shipments are also en route to Apple Authorized Resellers and carrier stores, so AirPods should be available at most retail locations come Monday morning, although initial stock will likely be limited; Apple has noted that its retail locations will continue to receive regular shipments, however.

Apple reveals service pricing for lost AirPods, battery replacements

Apple has updated its iPhone Service Pricing page with a section detailing the service prices related to its new AirPods. The update reveals that Apple will replace a single lost AirPod or AirPod battery case for a fee of $69, while out-of-warranty replacements for battery issues will cost $49 per AirPod, as well as $49 for the AirPod charging case. The full $69 replacement fee also applies to replacing AirPods that are accidentally damaged, and therefore not covered under Apple’s standard one-year warranty. [via TechCrunch]

Super Mario Run now available on App Store

As expected, Nintendo has released Super Mario Run today on the App Store. Originally introduced by Nintendo at Apple’s special event back in September, Super Mario Run is a mobile-optimized game featuring Nintendo’s classic character in an endless runner game that has Mario automatically running to the right, with on-screen taps used to have Mario jump and collect coins. The game is designed for easy one-handed operation, however Mario tap timings are used to make Mario behave slightly differently. Three game modes are available — World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder — that allow for simple single-player gaming, challenges and tournaments, and the ability to build your own kingdom with coins and Toads collected in the other game modes. The game is free to download, but it costs $10 to play most of the levels, which is done via in-app purchase.

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]

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