Apple takes $20 off its new wireless Beats Powerbeats2 in Apple Watch colors

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Earlier this week we noted that Apple has refreshed the Beats by Dre wireless Beats Powerbeats 2 earbuds with new colors aimed at Apple Watch Sport users. Today, Apple has updated its Beats headphones website to promote the new line of headphones along with a new price: $179, which is $20 less than the previous price at $199.

With its onboard storage for music and Bluetooth connection, Apple is promoting these headphones as a way to tap into listening to music with the Apple Watch without the need of a connected iPhone. Even with the ties to Apple and the new Apple Watch-centric marketing campaign, the new earphones will still work with other Bluetooth media players.

We noted earlier today on 9to5Toys that some retailers are offering as much as $50 off of the wireless headphones, and Amazon is selling the accessory at various discounted prices ranging from $169 to $189.

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Bigger, stronger iPhone could add Force Touch and battery life, eliminate #bendgate and camera bump

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A new report today adds to a recent note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming an upcoming next-gen iPhone could include stronger aluminum adopted from the Apple Watch and potentially increase slightly in size to accommodate new components. Macotakara details the report noting that the next iPhone would be approximately 0.15mm longer and 0.2mm thicker, which isn’t much, but that could offer hints at what other changes Apple will make in the process… Read more

Major zero-day security flaws in iOS & OS X allow theft of both Keychain and app passwords

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Researchers from Indiana University and the Georgia Institute of Technology said that security holes in both iOS and OS X allow a malicious app to steal passwords from Apple’s Keychain, as well as both Apple and third-party apps. The claims appear to have been confirmed by Apple, Google and others.

We completely cracked the keychain service – used to store passwords and other credentials for different Apple apps – and sandbox containers on OS X, and also identified new weaknesses within the inter-app communication mechanisms on OS X and iOS which can be used to steal confidential data from Evernote, Facebook and other high-profile apps

The Register says the team reported the flaws to Apple in October of last year. At that time, Apple said that it understood the seriousness of the flaws and asked the researchers to give it six months to address them before the exploit was made public. In February, Apple requested an advance copy of the paper, yet the flaws remain present in the latest versions of both operating systems …  Read more

iOS 8.4 beta appears to confirm European Apple Music pricing of £9.99/€9.99 per month

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While Apple announced U.S. pricing of Apple Music at $9.99/month for an individual subscription and $14.99 for a family subscription, its UK and European sites have so far remained silent on pricing. But the latest iOS 8.4 beta appears to confirm that European pricing will be pound and Euro for dollar, individual subscriptions costing £9.99 month in the UK and €9.99 in Eurozone countries.

The premium charged to European customers isn’t quite as bad as it sounds: US pricing doesn’t include sales tax, which varies by state, while UK and Eurozone prices both include VAT. This is in line with normal practice on each continent, US pricing usually shown net of tax while European consumer pricing usually includes VAT. There does, though, remain a significant UK premium …  Read more

Apple strips MFi licensing from Monster following Beats lawsuit

Years before Apple bought Beats Electronics, the Beats by Dr. Dre-branded headphones were produced in part by audio and video equipment maker Monster. After Beats decided to let its contract with Monster expire in 2012, however, the cable maker saw Apple’s $3 billion purchase of the company as reason to sue. Now Monster claims, after filing its lawsuit in January, that Apple is pushing it out of the MFi program that allows manufacturers to advertise compatibility with and use the iPhone maker’s licensed technology when producing and selling accessories… Read more

Ultimate Ears Roll is a tough, wearable speaker that hangs, swims and sounds great

 

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Over the weekend I got my hands on the new $99 Ultimate Ears Roll Bluetooth speaker — a durable and waterproof frisbee of a device that pumps the beats like the UE Mini Boom cousin it is replacing. The form factor is totally new however.

First up: The UE Roll sounds really good with significant bass emerging from that thin profile. Not quite as good as $200+ portable speakers like the Bose Soundlink Mini or even the full-sized UE MegaBoom but plenty good to fill up a room or for a few people to rock out with some background music on the beach for a volleyball game. If you find yourself in a quiet, still spot the sound really comes through clean even though the device with its bungee cord off the back lends itself to the great outdoors and physical activity.

UE-Roll

The Roll connects to Apple and other Bluetooth devices – even the Apple Watch – through a typical Bluetooth 4 connection, but Logitech offers some very premium features via the iOS or Android app that debuted with the Megaboom. With the app, you can set an alarm, “equalize” the sound, pair two or more speakers for stereo or do Sonos-like arrays in every room, check battery status and more with updates promised for the future… Read more

Apple News curation will have human editors and that will raise important questions

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Apple hasn’t talked about it publicly, but the company is hiring human editors that will curate content for its upcoming News app and work with publications to quickly surface breaking stories.

When Apple showed off its News app coming to the US, UK, and Australia with iOS 9, it didn’t say much about how the content would be curated beyond publishers submitting their own RSS feeds. At first Apple is just pulling in news from RSS feeds ahead of rolling out publishing tools for creating rich content specifically for the platform, but how will the company present the news to readers? Who will get front-page billing? How will categories and breaking stories be presented? We get a few of those answers in a new job listing from the company seeking human editors for the platform, but there are still questions regarding how Apple will overcome the curation issues it deals with on the App Store for the News platform. Read more

Apple partners with 5th iPhone distributor in India as it aims to double sales

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Apple has added a fifth partner to its list of iPhone distributors in India as it continues its sales push in the country. Optiemus Group will now begin distributing iPhones with a focus on expanding to “neighborhood cellphone stores” in India. Apple is said to be targeting 2 million iPhone sales in the country during its fiscal year 2015… Read more

Apple Music passes on >70% of subscription payments to labels, but pays nothing during free trial

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Suggestions that Apple will pay music owners just 58% of subscription payments for its Apple Music service are not true, says the company. Robert Kondrk, the Apple VP who has been working with Eddy Cue on negotiating deals with music labels, says that company actually pays a little more than the industry-standard 70% figure.

In the U.S., Apple will pay music owners 71.5 percent of Apple Music’s subscription revenue. Outside the U.S., the number will fluctuate, but will average around 73 percent, he told Re/code in an interview. Executives at labels Apple is working with confirmed the figures.

The 58% number doing the rounds earlier this month appears to be based on a misunderstanding: that’s the usual cut for the label, which owns the recording; the publisher, which owns the rights to the song itself, gets a 12% cut. Add the two together, and you get the 70% number that is standard for streaming music services.

But the most interesting revelation to me was that Apple is not paying music labels a single cent for tracks streamed during the three-month free trial period …  Read more

iOS 9 iPad keyboard adds keys & symbols at bigger screen resolutions, seemingly ready for iPad Pro [Update]

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Following on from the Apple Watch native apps hack, Steve Troughton Smith has also found that the keyboard view in iOS 9 has much better adaptability support on Apple’s latest operating system. As shown by the screenshots, at larger resolutions, the iPad keyboard rearranges itself to make use of the space. Tab and Caps Lock keys are notably added onto to the left side as well as an entirely new top row of symbols.

This new row reflects the symbols normally found on hardware keyboards above the number keys: @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +. Next to the ‘p’ on the first row, the keyboard also gains curly braces and a pipe symbol.

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Apple releases new PowerBeats2 Wireless headphone colors aimed at Apple Watch Sport users

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image credit: Ben Thomas

Apple quietly updated its Powerbeats2 headphones to match Apple Watch Sport colors this week signalling a new move to focus audio accessories to the Apple Watch ecosystem. The new colors, which match the Apple Watch Sport Band colors of Blue, Black, Green, Pink and (updated) White, are available in Apple Stores but haven’t arrived at other retail locations yet.

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The Apple Watch can store and play 2GB of music without a tethered iPhone wirelessly via Bluetooth 4 and with watchOS 2 will get access to many more audio applications. It wouldn’t be out of character for Apple to release over the ear Beats headphones in matching colors or even PowerBeats Wireless to match the more expensive stainless steel Apple Watch.

The new Powerbeats2 headphones will of course work with all Apple and other Bluetooth 4 devices even though they appear to be focused on the growing Apple Watch market.

Apple Powerbeats2 Wireless earphones still come in their original, dare I say, dated colors for $199 ($189 Amazon, $169 Best Buy or $160 Ebay) but the original White version has been moved from the old lineup the the new lineup. Original urBeats wired headphones can be found for as little as $45 via 9to5Toys.com

(Via Benjamin Thomas) Read more

Apple SVP Retail/Online Angela Ahrendts opens stunning Upper East Side Apple Store [Gallery]

As previously reported, the Upper East Side New York Apple Store opened today and Apple’s head of retail was on hand for the occasion.  Angela Ahrendts tweeted from the event (above) and took photos with visitors (below). The store is at  940 Madison Avenue on the corner of 74th St, a block from Central Park.

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We noted previously that the almost 100-year old building that Apple restored used to be a bank which included a vault that Apple turned into a VIP room for Apple Watch Edition try ons. The VIP space includes a large TV/Display, couches and other niceties (more images below).

The bank vault room.

A photo posted by Patrick Sleem (@patrick1ny) on

In addition, the decor and showcasing is unique to this location with a new kind of recessed showcase, large chandeliers and black and white artwork.

The new store will help alleviate some of the traffic that the Fifth Avenue Store loses while it relocates to the smaller FAO Schwarz location for upgrades. Not everyone is happy with the store opening. Local residents have complained that it will bring throngs of shoppers to this somewhat quiet (by Manhattan standards) upscale neighborhood. Apple has promised to open later and close earlier than other nearby stores in order to appease the neighbors.

Many more images below: Read more