Beats revamp still debuting at WWDC, global release late-June, iOS 9 details revealed

According to a report today from Billboard, Apple does not have the deals in place to launch its long-awaited Beats Music revamp as its new streaming music service. The report quotes a source as saying “June won’t be the release date. The deals aren’t done,” but our sources say that an announcement at the June 8th WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) keynote is still planned. A few weeks following the announcement, in late June, Apple will fully release the service as part of two new software products: iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2, according to sources briefed on the plans…

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A skeptic’s Apple Watch diary: Day 7, decision time

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I outlined in my first diary piece why I decided to put an Apple Watch to the test, despite being skeptical about the value of smartwatches. The short version is that there’s only one way to judge a new product category, and that’s by living with it for a while.

I set an arbitrary test period of one week because I think that’s long enough to determine if and how I use it, and what difference it makes to my everyday life. I do recognize that a week isn’t long enough for the ultimate test: will it have been consigned to a drawer two or three months down the line? But I figured you wouldn’t want to wait quite that long for my verdict.

Let’s start with what have now been very firmly identified as non-issues …

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Apple reportedly hires additional BBC Radio 1 producers for upcoming streaming music service

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A new report from Music Business Worldwide claims that Apple has recently hired four producers from BBC Radio 1. This report comes two months after it was announced that Zane Lowe was leaving the British radio station to take a new position at Apple. According to today’s report, the recent Apple hires include James Bursey, Natasha Lynch and Kieran Yeates, as well as one other.

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Apple says it could face ‘material’ back taxes over Ireland tax arrangements

Following its announcement of record Q2 earnings, Apple published its quarterly 10-Q report, providing more in-depth details about finances. Notably, the company warns of the possibility of “material” back taxes due to the company’s well-documented favorable tax arrangements with Ireland.

On June 11, 2014, the European Commission issued an opening decision initiating a formal investigation against Ireland for alleged state aid to the Company. The opening decision concerns the allocation of profits for taxation purposes of the Irish branches of two subsidiaries of the Company. The Company believes the European Commission’s assertions are without merit. If the European Commission were to conclude against Ireland, the European Commission could require Ireland to recover from the Company past taxes covering a period of up to 10 years reflective of the disallowed state aid. While such amount could be material, as of March 28, 2015 the Company is unable to estimate the impact.

Apple will need to pay the fines if the European Commission, which is akin to the U.S.’s SEC, rules that Ireland granted Apple special privileges for reduced taxes. As the European Commission has not made any formal rulings on the fine, Apple says it could not estimate the impact. However, the Financial Times pegs the potential payments at $2.5 billion based on Apple’s current rate of profits.

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Apple Watch rollout slowed by faulty Taptic Engines, additional manufacturers considered

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the limited initial roll out of the Apple Watch was slowed by supply manufacturing issues concerning the Taptic Engine. The report claims that after mass production of the device began in February, reliability testing showed that some of the Taptic Engines supplied by AAC Technologies Holdings began to break down after use.

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Microsoft announces new tool for effortlessly porting iOS apps to Windows 10

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Microsoft announced today during its Build conference that it will release a tool for developers to port their iOS apps directly to Windows 10 as “universal apps” that run on both phones and desktop computers. Developers will be able to feed their existing Objective-C code into a new software package and have it converted to work on the upcoming PC operating system.

At least, that’s how Microsoft is pitching it, though the whole process is a bit more complex. Essentially Windows 10 will ship with APIs that mirror the expected behavior of many iOS APIs, and this new conversion tool will help developers swap out iOS code for matching Windows code.

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Happy Hour Podcast 012 | Apple Watch first impressions

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Apple Watch is finally here (well for some of us) and this week Zac, Benjamin, and Michael talk about their first impressions and experience with it. Has it been living up to the hype so far? Feel free to drop us a line about your Apple Watch experience at listenermail@9to5mac.com. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

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Apple will soon let you shop the Apple Store from your Apple Watch

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Amazon and Target won’t be the only major retailers on your wrist for long: sources say that Apple is finishing up work on a version of its Apple Store application for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch app will come “soon” as part of an update to the Apple Store iPhone and iPad application, and will likely enable customers to make certain types of Apple Store purchases from their wrists, as well as receiving Apple Store-related notifications. As the Apple Watch does not have a keyboard, more involved orders will require the user to move over to the iPhone app. Apple will ask employees to push Apple Store app installations for the Apple Watch to customers this summer, when the Watch goes on sale in Apple’s own stores. Until then, retail employees will be encouraged to show off the Apple Store app on demo Apple Watches.

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Twitter CEO highlights Apple Spotlight partnership during earnings call

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Users may see more Tweets in future updates to iOS and OS X. According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Twitter is working with Apple on injecting Tweets into the Spotlight feature on iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, and Macs. Costolo made the comments as part of yesterday’s Twitter quarterly earnings call, according to a transcript:

And finally, we are also working with Apple to surface great Twitter content and accounts directly in Spotlight Search on iOS and OS X, that also makes it easier and quicker to find great things on Twitter. So I would sum up by saying, there is absolutely an opportunity to go and monetize that attention and traffic. We want to make sure we iterate on the experiences to get them right first.

Spotlight on iOS and OS X already integrates with Twitter when searching for specific hashtags, but Costolo’s remarks makes it sound like more functionality is on the way.

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The best Mac and iPad keyboards

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Keyboards are important — so important that many people won’t “work” on their iPads without real keys to type on. No one complained when desktop mice gave way to laptop trackpads, or when trackpads evolved into tablet touchscreens, but the switch from physical to virtual keyboards has been met with plenty of resistance… specifically because virtual keyboards offer no resistance. There’s something about the responsive, up and down movement of actual keys, known as “travel,” that people clearly prefer over tapping on completely flat glass.

I’ve tested a lot of keyboards, and since I rely upon them professionally every day, I have some strong opinions as to the best options for different types of Mac and iPad users. You might be surprised by my advice, as it bucks a couple of Apple’s trends (“smaller!” “thinner!”), but if you’re like me, you’ll be a much happier typist if you “think different” on this topic than the folks in Cupertino…

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Samsung reclaims top smartphone maker title from Apple

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Strategy Analytics has a new report out that estimates that Samsung has once again become the number one smartphone manufacturer by units shipped. Although Samsung doesn’t officially report unit numbers, the analytics firm is estimating 83 million smartphones sold worldwide for the company. IDC is also reporting similar numbers.

Apple, which does report the number of iPhones it shipped, sold 61 million iPhones in the last quarter. This is a new record for Apple (which became the #1 manufacturer during the previous quarter with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) but is clearly outstripped by Samsung’s (estimated) number by about 20 million units.

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