Apple today announced a major update to GarageBand, its music creating and recording app for iOS devices. Chiefly, GarageBand now includes the Alchemy synthesizer, which adds more than 150 new patches from Apple that span myriad styles like pop, rock, EDM, and hip hop. Apple says Alchemy's on-screen tools let musicians merge up to eight patches at a time to create their own, unique sounds. GarageBand includes a new sound browser, too, which should make it easier to find Apple's Touch Instruments. A multi-take recording tool makes it possible for people to record several takes and then compare them to see which is best. Last, the audio recorder has been redesigned with one-tap vocal effects, such as pitch correction, distortion, and delay. Singers can take advantage of visual equalizers to fine-tune their sound, as well as use third-party plugins for even more vocal sound options. GarageBand is free for most modern iPhone and iPad owners.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed a complaint against Qualcomm, alleging the chip-maker uses its market position to monopolize the sale of cell phone baseband processors. The FTC says Qualcomm is violating the FTC Act in several ways. First, Qualcomm refuses to license standard-essential patents to competitors even though it has committed to do so. Second, Qualcomm won't sell its baseband processors to customers unless they agree to Qualcomm's licensing terms. The FTC says this "no license, no chips" policy leads to elevated royalties. Last, Qualcomm offered Apple reduced patent royalties in exchange for exclusively using Qualcomm baseband processors for a period of 5 years. The FTC hopes a court order will force Qualcomm to cease its anticompetitive behavior and prevent further unfair business practices. "By excluding competitors, Qualcomm impedes innovation that would offer significant consumer benefits, including those that foster the increased interconnectivity of consumer products, vehicles, buildings, and the Internet of Things," said the government. Qualcomm did not immediately respond to the FTC's action. Qualcomm recently ran into similar legal trouble in South Korea, which fined the chip maker nearly $900 million over its anticompetitive business practices. Qualcomm has already settled with China and the European Union over similar charges.
An on-going lawsuit accusing Apple of holding a monopoly on the market for iPhone apps has been given new life today thanks to an appeals court ruling. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Apple's sole distribution method of mobile apps for the iPhone may be anticompetitive. The original lawsuit was filed in 2012. It charged that Apple's policy of allowing only apps distributed via the app store onto iPhones violates federal law. Apple's legal argument centered on the idea that the App Store serves only as a platform for end users to buy apps from developers, the iPhone maker sees the App Store as shelf space that is rented out by app writers. However, app developers pay a 30% portion of revenues for the ability to sell via the App Store. Moreover, people pay Apple directly for apps via iTunes; they do not pay developers. Initial rulings in the case sided with Apple, but today's decision reversed lower courts, as iPhone owners cannot buy or install apps via any method other than the App Store, lest they jailbreak (or hack) their device. Apple maintains that this policy protects end user security, but a collection of iPhone owners contend it leads to less competition and higher pricing for mobile apps. It's not clear what the next steps in the case are, nor where they may lead.
Apple today released iOS 10.2.1 Beta 4 to public testers. Apple has not said much about this minor update to iOS, but it is believed to resolve bugs and performance issues throughout the mobile operating system. Apple released a developer beta build of iOS 10.2.1 earlier this week.
Apple today made a slew of betas available for its core operating systems. iOS 10.2.1 beta 3 is the most important for developers as Apple prepares the next minor update to its platform. watchOS 3.1.3 beta 2 is also available, as is tvOS 10.1.1 beta 2, and macOS Sierra 10.12.3 beta 3. Apple didn't spell out any specific changes in this round of betas, which are believed to focus on bugs fixes and performance improvements. Public testers can expect to see updated betas for their devices in a day or so.
Google today announced new integration between its Google Goals tool and Google Fit and Apple Health. In order to help ease the process of meeting goals, Fit and Health can automatically record and mark users' goals in Google Calendar as "done." The tool is smart enough to see that if users set goals for something like "run at 6am" but never get out the door until 6:45, Goals will adjust automatically to reflect the user's actual behavior. Google says this integration with Google Fit and Apple Health give people more ways to manage the activities they like to pursue — and find the time to do them. The feature is being added to the latest version of the Google Calendar app.
Nokia and Apple have this week filed patent-related lawsuits against one another in various jurisdictions. Nokia's claims, filed in Germany and the U.S., say that Apple is using Nokia's patented technology without permission. The companies have been negotiating licensing fees for Nokia's patents for several years and can't agree on pricing. "Since agreeing [to] a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple's products," said Nokia. The lawsuit is meant to force Apple to agree to Nokia's terms. On the flip side, Apple is accusing Nokia of antitrust behavior. It claims Nokia divested a number of its standard essential patents to patent-licensing firms (in this case, Acacia and Conversant) in order to circumvent fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory pricing principles that apply to such patents. "With its cell phone business dying, Nokia began to seek out willing conspirators and to commence its illegal patent transfer scheme in full force; that scheme has continued in full effect to the present. The driving force behind Nokia's strategy was to diffuse its patent portfolio and place it in the hands of PAEs. Acacia and Conversant were its chief conspirators," said Apple in its complaint. Apple's lawsuit was first reported by PatentlyApple.
TDK Corp has agreed to acquire InvenSense for $1.33 billion in cash. TDK is a Japan-based maker of electronic components. InvenSense is a U.S. company that primarily makes gyroscopic motion sensors for mobile devices. Its sensors are most often found in smartphones from Apple and Samsung. The gyroscopes enable games and other apps that require movement calculations. TDK is already a large supplier of smartphone components. It expects to combine InvenSense's sensors with its own portfolio of magnetic, pressure, temperature, and microphone sensors. TDK sees the acquisition as a way to reach new customers. The deal has been approved by both companies' boards, but requires regulatory approval.
Apple has released new beta versions of iOS and macOS. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 2 of iOS 10.2.1 and beta 2 of macOS Sierra 10.12.3. Apple has not said anything about this particular batch of betas, which likely resolve bugs and performance issues. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Apple today released new beta versions of several of its operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 1 of iOS 10.2.1, beta 1 of tvOS 10.1.1, and beta 1 of macOS Sierra 10.12.3. Apple has not said anything about this particular batch of betas, which likely resolve bugs and performance issues. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Apple has ceased pushing the watchOS 3.1.1 update to users after reports surfaced of the software rendering some Apple Watch Series 2 devices unusable. "A very small number of Apple Watch customers experienced an issue while installing watchOS 3.1.1, so as a precaution we've pulled back the software update," explained Apple. "Any customers impacted should contact AppleCare, but no action is required if the update installed successfully. We are working on a fix for an upcoming software update."
Apple today began accepting orders for its AirPod wireless headphones. The AirPods instantly turn on and connect to nearby iPhones when the carrying case is opened. The AirPods can automatically switch from iPhone to Apple Watch based on what the owner is using. The AirPods provide up to 5 hours of battery life and the case has a built-in battery that can provide a total of 24 hours of play time. The devices rely on the W1, Apple's first wireless chip. The pods include a battery, antenna, accelerometer, and proximity sensor. The AirPods will automatically halt music playback if the pods are removed from the owner's ear. They are compatible with most iPhones and iPads. The AirPods cost $159 and are available online. The headphones were originally expected to debut in October, but Apple delayed the launch. Orders placed online should arrive before Christmas.
Apple today released iOS 10.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The minor update to iOS includes Unicode 9 with more than 100 new emoji, including more diverse depictions of minorities and women. iOS 10.2 also includes new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, improved camera settings, additional video widgets, single sign-on, and emergency contact alerts. It also introduces the new TV app from Apple, which is a TV-guide style app meant to help people find content across various video services. The operating system can be installed over the air or via iTunes.
Pandora has taken the wraps off Pandora Premium, its $10-per-month music streaming service that will compete with Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Like similar products, Pandora Premium offers ad-free, all-you-can-eat streaming of millions of tracks. It includes unlimited skips and downloads for offline listening. Pandora Premium competes with Pandora's own $5 monthly product, which is also ad-free and allows for some skipping. The major difference between the two is the recommendation engine. Pandora Premium relies on the data Pandora has collated via the Music Genome to the tune of one billion data points per day. It also takes advantage of users' own "thumbs up" activity and will create playlists based on those songs. The Premium product will be more aggressive about pushing recommendations, particularly when users reach the end of a play list or album. Pandora expects to launch Pandora Premium for mobile devices and the web early next year.
Apple has agreed to pay a fine of $450,000 for improperly operating a hazardous waste facility in California. The company ran a plant in Cupertino that processed some 1.1 million pounds of hazardous waste. The plant was closed in 2013 and moved to Sunnyvale. California's Department of Toxic Substances Control alleged that Apple ran the facility without the state's knowledge. Apple blamed the transgression on "an oversight in paperwork." The state accused Apple of mishandling some toxic dust, but no one was harmed and neither was the environment. Apple made clear that its own safety standards are more strict than the law demands.
Signing into TV and other video apps should be less painful thanks to the launch of Apple's Single sign-on service. Single sign-on allows people to enter their cable provider's credentials just once and then automatically be signed in to all that TV and video apps that require those credentials. At launch, the service is limited to CenturyLink, Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GTA, GVTC, Hawaiian Telcom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling TV. Notable absences include Verizon's FiOS TV service, Comcast, Time Warner, and CableVision. Moreover, the initial batch of apps that support the service are limited, too. For example, A&E supports Single sign-on for iOS, but not tvOS. Similarly, NBC supports Single sign-on for tvOS, but not iOS. Major channels, including CBS and Disney aren't yet supporting Single sign-on. It is up to TV providers to voluntarily update their apps with support for Single sign-on, which is not mandated by Apple. Single sign-on requires iOS 10 and tvOS 10 or later.
The U.S. Supreme Court today vacated a $399 million reward that Samsung had been ordered to pay Apple for violating the iPhone maker's designs. The court agreed with Samsung's position that it should not be forced to forfeit all the profits from the infringing devices because their design is just one aspect. The court said the lower courts had improperly calculated the fine and sent the case back to those courts for further deliberation. The case dates back to April 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung over its smartphones. An initial trial found Samsung guilty of willfully infringing on Apple's designs and rewarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. That reward has been whittled down over the years in subsequent hearings.
Apple today released a handful of new beta versions of its core operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 6 of iOS 10.2, beta 5 of watchOS 3.1.1, and beta 5 of macOS Sierra 10.12.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. The newest betas of watchOS 3.1.1 and macOS Sierra 10.12.2 include stability improvements. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Apple today released iOS 10.2 beta 5 for developers, mere days after releasing beta 4. App writers can download and test beta 5 of iOS 10.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. Apple hasn't yet updated the public beta to match the developer beta.
Alongside its new DirecTV Now streaming television service, AT&T announced Fullscreen and FreeView. Fullscreen includes more than 1,500 hours of ad-free content (movies, television) for $6 per month, while FreeView includes ad-supported content for free. Fullscreen is a video-on-demand platform that's compatible with iPhone, iPad, select Android Phones, Chromecast, and Apple TV. For a limited time, AT&T will let new and existing customers access Fullscreen for a year for free. Like DirecTV Now, Fullscreen will not impact AT&T Mobility customers' data buckets. FreeView is a highly-curated, on-demand content platform from Audience. Both Fullscreen and FreeView are available within the DirecTV Now app and will launch November 30.
Apple today released a handful of new beta versions of its core operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 4 of iOS 10.2, watchOS 3.1.1, and macOS Sierra 10.12.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. The newest beta of watchOS 3.1 includes stability improvements. Apple typically makes the public beta available a day or two after the developer beta.
Apple will for free replace the battery on a small number of iPhone 6s smartphones that are experiencing power loss. "Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down," said Apple on its web site. The phones shut down even when the battery shows that it is half full or more. The issue impacts a limited number of iPhone 6s handsets that were manufactured in September and October 2015. Owners of the iPhone 6s who believe their device may be experiencing the issue can bring it to a local Apple Store or authorized retail facility for evaluation.
Apple has launched a repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus to fix what has become called touch disease. The issue, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple, leaves the display unresponsive to finger-touch input. "Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device," said Apple on its web site. "If your iPhone 6 Plus is exhibiting the symptoms noted above, is in working order, and the screen is not cracked or broken, Apple will repair your device for a service price of $149." Owners of the iPhone 6 Plus who've already paid for a screen repair to resolve this issue will be refunded the difference between the price they paid for the original service and the new $149 repair amount. Apple's carrier partners are not participating in this program, so any and all repairs need to go through Apple directly.
FreedomPop today said it plans to sell low-cost, reconditioned smartphones to consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, and Mexico. The FreedomShop will be a single, online space for people to shop for certified used handsets from a wide range of phone makers. FreedomPop said it will look to compete with other markets for used devices by offering competitive prices (up to 80% off original MSRP) on more than 100 phones from the likes of Apple, LG, Samsung, and others. It has forged relationships with more than 200 suppliers of refurbished phones from around the world to ensure its selection is top notch. Importantly, FreedomPop will offer a 30-day "no questions asked" money-back guarantee for any handset purchased from its on line shop. FreedomPop offers free and very-low-cost wireless service in a handful of countries, including the U.S.
Apple today released a handful of new beta versions of its core operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 3 of iOS 10.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.2, and tvOS 10.1, and beta 2 of Xcode 8.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. Apple typically makes the public beta available a day or two after the developer beta.
Apple recently added iPhones to the list of refurbished devices it sells through its online store. The company has a small selection of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models in varying colors and storage capacities. The average discount is about 15% when compared to new models. For example, a refurbished 64 GB iPhone 6s Plus sells for $589. According to Apple, refurbished iPhones have a new battery, a new outer shell, and are backed by a one year warranty. They are sold unlocked and without a SIM card.
Apple has made iOS 10.2 Beta 2 available to both developers and public beta testers. Apple has not publicly listed the new features in iOS 10.2, but a handful are present in the test build of the operating system. For example, iOS 10.2 includes Unicode 9 and a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. iOS 10.2 Beta 2 is free for to download from Apple's developer console, or via the public beta program. Apple hasn't said when it might release iOS 10.2 to all users. Apple also made new betas of watchOS 3.1.1, tvOS 10.1, and macOS Sierra 10.12.2 available to developers.
Google pushed out an update to its iOS Calendar app today with a handful of new tools. To start, the app now includes month view and week view in landscape modes, which make the app more flexibile. The Calendar also adds support for Apple's Spotlight Search, allowing Google Calendar users to search for events, reminders, and goals across accounts. Last, Calendar for iOS adds support for alternate calendars, such as non-Gregorian and others. Google Calendar for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple this week released new beta versions of all its core operating systems to developers. App writers can download and test beta 1 of iOS 10.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.2, watchOS 3.1.1, tvOS 10.1, and Xcode 8.2. The company did not spell out what's new in these betas, but a number of features in iOS 10.2 were immediately apparent. For example, it includes Unicode 9 and a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. The camera feature, in particular, allows people to easily save the most-recently used setting. iOS 10.2 beta 1 is free for developers to download. Apple hasn't said if or when it will release a public beta of iOS 10.2, but it typically does so about a day after the developer betas are made available.
Apple today pushed iOS 10.1.1 to iPhones and other iOS devices to resolve several bugs. In particular, iOS 10.1.1 fixes an issue that prevented Apple Health data from being visible to some users. The update is free to download and install over the air.
Apple's iOS 10.1 — released today — fixes several potentially-major security vulnerabilities in iOS. At least two of the issues could potentially allow an attacker complete control of the device after the user merely visits a web page with malicious code. All users should upgrade to iOS 10.1 immediately. In one issue with the "CoreGraphics" system software, viewing "a maliciously crafted JPEG file may lead to arbitrary code execution". JPEG is the most popular image format for photographic content, both on and off the web. In a separate issue with WebKit — which a large number of popular apps use to display web pages — "Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution". A number of other security and privacy issues are fixed by the 10.2 update, although most would be more difficult to exploit. iPhone and iPad users can update to 10.1 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
iPhone and iPad users can now use the Software Update feature to get the final version of iOS 10.0, which adds Portrait Mode (blurred backgrounds) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Today also sees the release of watchOS 3.1 for the Apple Watch.
Under poor network conditions, the iPhone 7 Plus with Intel inside does not perform as well as the iPhone 7 Plus with Qualcomm inside. Apple sourced the iPhone 7 Plus modem from both Intel and Qualcomm. This represents a major change for the company, which has relied solely on Qualcomm modems for years. The Intel modem (XMM7360) is found in the AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7, while the Qualcomm modem (MDM9645M) is found in the Sprint, Verizon, and unlocked variants of the iPhone 7. Cellular Insights conducted extensive signal tests on the iPhone 7 Plus in LTE Bands 12, 7, and 4 to see if any performance differences exist between the two modems. Under optimal network conditions both the Intel- and Qualcomm-equipped iPhones demonstrated an equal level of performance in speed and maintaining a connection. Under weak network conditions, however, the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 Plus posted speeds that were on average 30% slower than those of the Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 Plus. The slower speeds at the cell edge mean the Intel-based iPhone 7 Plus may be more likely to experience dropped VoLTE calls and other, similar behaviors. "In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem," said Cellular Insights in its report. Apple has not said why it selected modems from two separate suppliers for the iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple today made iOS 10.1 Beta 5 available to registered developers and public beta testers alike. This fifth beta follows the release of the fourth beta by just two days, implying that some urgent bug fixes may be contained within. Apple otherwise didn't say what's new in this beta release. iOS 10.1 primarily adds Portrait Mode (bokeh effect) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Apple still hasn't indicated when iOS 10.1 might reach the public other than to say "October."
Apple today made iOS 10.1 Beta 4 available to registered developers. Apple didn't say what's new in this beta release. iOS 10.1 primarily adds Portrait Mode (bokeh effect) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Apple typically releases public betas a day or two after the developer beta. Apple still hasn't indicated when iOS 10.1 might reach the public other than to say "October."
Apple today made iOS 10.0.3 available to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. This update is targeted at Apple's newest iPhones and resolves an issue that impacted cellular connectivity. Apple recommends all iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus owners apply the update when possible.
Apple has made SIM-free versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus available for sale on its web site. The SIM-free versions differ from the carrier versions only in that they are unlocked and don't carry any obligations to carriers. Customers can purchase the SIM-free iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and put any SIM card in it. Carrier financing is not available on SIM-free models, but consumers may use Apple Pay, PayPal, and Apple Store Gift Cards to purchase unlocked iPhones. Some financing options are available from Apple and its banking partners. The iPhone 7 starts at $649 and the iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769.
Pandora today made its Pandora Plus service available to mobile devices. The service, which launched last month, was initially only available on the web. For $5 per month, Pandora Plus offers ad-free listening with the ability to skip and replay songs, as well as listen offline. Pandora's ad-supported listeners can skip more songs or replay a song, too, if they agree to view a short video ad. Customers who already subscribe to Pandora One will be transitioned automatically to Pandora Plus. Pandora competes with Apple Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, and now Amazon Unlimited Music, which launched earlier today.
Amazon today announced Amazon Music Unlimited a streaming music service that offers on-demand access to tens of millions of songs. Amazon is offering Music Unlimited at several different price points. The standard price is $10 per month for non-Prime members and includes unlimited playback across all the user's devices. People who subscribe to Amazon Prime can get this plan for $8 per month. Alternately, those who own an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap can subscribe to the Echo plan, which provides unlimited streaming to just one of these devices for $4 per month. Last, Amazon Unlimited Music will also offer a family plan (soon) that allows up to six family members to use the service across their devices for a single fee of $15 per month. Amazon's new music service includes ad-free listening, and will permit local downloads for offline playback. People who own an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-powered device can ask for songs by name, artist, album, decade, and more. It differs from the Amazon Prime Music service in that it includes more songs and doesn't match or sync with user-owned libraries. Amazon Unlimited Music competes with Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Spotify.
Apple today made iOS 10.1 Beta 3 available to registered developers. Apple didn't say what's new in this beta release. iOS 10.1 primarily adds Portrait Mode (booked effect) to the iPhone 7 Plus. Apple typically releases public betas a day or two after the developer beta. Apple also made tvOS 10.0.1 Beta 3 and Xcode 8.1 Beta 3 available to developers.