Benjamin develops app for iOS and writes about Apple news, product reviews and more on 9to5Mac and his personal blog. Follow Benjamin on Twitter to keep up with his latest projects. You can also email him directly.
The Super Bowl kicks off on February 7th at Levi’s Stadium, in close vicinity to the headquarters of major tech firms including Apple. Usually, the Super Bowl is funded by local government sponsorships. This year, tech companies are (at least partially) footing the bill. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has contributed free products and equipment to the host committee and has explicitly declined any company or product marketing in exchange. Apple joins other tech companies like Alphabet, Yahoo, Seagate and HP in funding the proceedings — the Super Bowl committee has raised about $50 million in total from these firms.
Apple has finally managed to secure a sales ban over some Samsung phone features that infringe on its patents and intellectual property. However, the victory is effectively meaningless despite the milestone in its continuing patent litigation suit with Samsung in ever-longer court battles.
Apple’s ban resides over three features encumbered by its patents: the controversial ‘slide to unlock’ patent, predictive text technology and autocorrect. Getting a ban is a huge symbolic achievement, but the effect it will have on day-to-day business of the two companies is minor. The ban is effectively useless as FOSS Patents explains …
A YouTuber has posted a video of his naked iPhone lying flat on the road getting repeatedly flattened by passing traffic, cars and trucks. In total, the phone is subjected to being run over by 17 different vehicles before the owner realized what had happened and retrieved his phone. The whole event was captured on CCTV.
Incredibly, the phone still works! It suffers some damage to a few components, but in general, it survives a 17 car run down ridiculously well. The back and front camera is shattered to destruction, there are some back casing scratches, but that’s about it. The touch screen and fingerprint sensor remains intact — in fact the phone turns on and works as normal otherwise. The owner claimed he only had the phone twenty days before the event, so he was pretty relieved that it (mostly) survived to tell the tale.
Over the weekend, Apple posted its latest EEO-1 statement: the Equal Employment Opportunity form follows government regulations to note diversity of Apple’s employee base (via AppleInsider). The newly-released 2015 statement shows that 30 percent of Apple’s employees in the United States are female, a rise of 1% over the numbers posted in the 2014 statement. Black and Hispanic employees make up 8.6 percent and 11.7 percent of the workforce, respectively.
At an executive level, Apple continues to be heavily stacked towards white men. The report says that Apple’s senior officials, executives and managers are 83 percent are male, and 83 percent are white.
That being said, it’s worth noting that Apple refutes the EEO-1 process. It says that the federally-enforced survey is outdated and does not reflect reality. The company’s own numbers paint itself in a much better light, claiming >50% growth in employment of black, Hispanic and female hires.
CBC News is reporting that Apple would not disclose Apple ID passwords to a widow after presenting her late husband’s death certificates and her will. Instead, Apple demanded Peggy Bush, 72, to attain a court order in order to gain access to the account. See the video after the jump for the full story.
Initially, Apple said that a death certificate would suffice but the company changed its mind on followup calls, making this situation even more frustrating for Bush. She just wanted to play her iPad freemium card game in peace. Law regarding digital assets after death is murky, although Bush points out that death certificates enabled her to transfer pensions and benefits, making it seem ridiculous that Apple would also not cooperate with the same information.
Apple has notified developers that App Store prices in Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and South Africa are increasing. Customers in these regions will see prices for apps and in-app purchases rise within the next 72 hours. If you have a renewing subscription, Apple will notify you with an email about the price change ahead of the next subscription payment, although customers in Russia and South Africa will have to resubscribe manually.
Apple released the new Apple TV in the fall. Despite the clunkier fatter physical appearance, the new Apple TV 4 features better performance, a cool new Siri Remote touchpad and an App Store. The App Store unlocks unlimited potential for the Apple TV as a content platform: rather than waiting for content deals between Apple and the networks, TV channels can release their own apps as they please. When the new Apple TV was announced, Tim Cook said the ‘future of TV is apps’. It is true this is a substantial improvement over the previous-generation Apple TV in terms of content (for UK residents like me, addition of BBC iPlayer is a huge win) however there are big user-experience issues with the app model that current Apple TV software does not address …
Like last year, Apple is once again dedicating the entirety of its Apple.com home page to commemorate Marin Luther King Jr Day. A black and white photo fills the entire width and height of the browser, with all product marketing removed to focus on the celebration. The quote used cleverly reflects Apple’s company values in products as well as their goals towards society and ecology: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
[Update: Apple has confirmed plant evacuation of Cork facilities following ‘threatening emails’ the company received. The situation has now been dealt with and employees are returning to work.]
According to local news, Apple’s plants in Cork, Ireland have been evacuated following a potential security threat in the area. Around 4000 workers have been told to leave premises at Apple’s facilities in Lavitts Quay, Hollyhill and Model Farm Road. Although details are scarce, Defence Forces told The Independent that explosive ordnance disposal teams are on standby in case they are needed. Employees have been waiting outside for over 2 hours now, as local ‘Gardai’ police respond to the bomb threat.
Today, WhatsApp has announced a pretty major shift in its business model. The popular chat client is going completely free. Facebook-owned WhatsApp used to run on a trial model: users could use the app for free for a year. Subsequent years would cost $0.99 cents each. The paid model notably made WhatsApp stand out from the crowd, as almost every other social networking is free to use from the customer perspective. Although WhatsApp will stop charging customers from today, it will take a few weeks for the payment UI in apps to go away as app updates roll out to the store.
WhatsApp says although a 0.99 cent charge is not onerous, it prevented growth as a lot of customers do not have access to credit cards. This is its major motivation for taking out the annual revenue model. Naturally, users of WhatsApp will wonder how the application plans to monetize going forward ….
In an email circulating to customers, Apple has announced that the ad-supported iTunes Radio stations available in the US and Australia are going away on January 29th. Beats 1 will be the ‘premiere free broadcast’ going forward. All other radio station features, i.e. the algorithmic stations like Charting Now or Pop Workout, will require an active Apple Music subscription.
The full email is included below …
On its developer news blog, Apple has announced that it is closing the iAd App Network on June 30th. Targeted at smaller publishers, the iAd App Network let developers pay reduced rates to feature advertisements for their own App Store apps across the iAd publisher network.
The news follows a report from Buzzfeed that Apple is closing iAd campaign sales and converting all inventory to automated system. Apple says that if developers want to keep advertising on iAd until that time, they have to make a campaign from scratch using iAd Workbench. New apps will not be accepted into the iAd App Network Program.
The New York Post reports that Apple is closely following the situation with Time Warner; the company is facing pressure from investors to put itself up for sale and Apple is interested in acquiring it. Many investors believe Time Warner stock is trading far below its asset value and many investors believe that a buyout or spinoff of some kind is the best option.
Apple could use the company to accelerate its efforts to launch a digital streaming cable service for Apple TV. Time Warner controls a vast content library, including popular shows like Game of Thrones as well as entities like CNN News. More importantly perhaps, it has deals in place with every channel that Apple would need to become a full TV platform.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has struggled to create a skinny bundle of programming from existing content partners. A deal with Time Warner would give Apple most of what it needs: CNN news, Turner Sports and such hugely popular shows as “Game of Thrones” and “Sesame Street” from HBO — not to mention Warner Bros. movies and TV shows.
Although there is a chance Apple could buyout the whole company, Time Warner may end up spinning off parts of the business, although the CEO is resistant.
With the new Apple TV tvOS 9.2 beta, Apple has added a whole host of new features to the tvOS platform. This includes support for pairing Bluetooth keyboards, Folders organisation for apps on the home screen, a new App Switcher UI and a native Apple Podcasts app.
There are also some enhancements to Siri and other improvements. Apple has added support for two new Siri languages: US Spanish and French Canadian. More images after the break …
Apple is rolling out a lot of new features with iOS 9.3, which just hit beta. Most notably, for students a single iPad can now be shared amongst multiple people. This means that each student can log in and access their own personal data. Multi-user support has been a big request for iPad owners for some time, and it seems Apple is finally answering the call … at least for the education market.
Apple is also launching a new Classroom app. This is a digital teaching assistant app, which can present quizzes, load AirPlay content onto an Apple TV and much more.
According to the Financial Times, Apple has passed 10 million paying subscribers for Apple Music. Apple Music launched in June 2015 with a three month free trial. Since the launch, Apple announced it has 6.5 million paying subscribers in October. In November, Apple launched Apple Music on Android which no doubt attracted a significant chunk of additional new users.
Crossing ten million is a significant symbolic milestone, as it now means Apple Music is half as large as Spotify’s paid userbase.
[Update 1/11: This is one rumor Apple is happy to deny. Here’s a statement to Buzzfeed:“There is no truth to this rumor,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “We are entirely focused on switching users from Android to iPhone, and that is going great.”]
Apple launched a Move to iOS app in September, pictured, that enables Android users to quickly transfer documents, photos, contacts and other personal data to a new iPhone. This eases the pain for Android users to switch to iOS, which clearly benefits Apple. Interestingly, the Telegraph is reporting that Apple is now developing a similar tool that goes in the opposite direction, letting iPhone users more easily transfer to Android devices.
Apple has announced that the App Store had its best ever holiday season in 2015, setting records for Christmas and New Year’s Day. January 1st 2016 saw $144 million of App Store spending, the best day in App Store history. It beat the previous record set just a week earlier on Christmas Day.
In total, in the two weeks up to January 3, customers spent over $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases …