Apple ▪ Yesterday

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Telstra, the largest carrier in Australia, has today launched a new webpage on which it reveals an exclusive offering related to Apple Music. The carrier is offering new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers, across both 12 month and 24 month contracts, a free year of Apple Music on its Go Mobile plans. This offering is the first of its kind for Apple Music, and also hints at a another first: carrier billing.

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I was genuinely excited when my colleague Mark Gurman revealed iOS 9’s Proactive — Apple’s competitor to the Android assistant Google Now — because it sounded like something that would radically improve my daily iPhone use. “Like Google Now,” Mark said, “Proactive will automatically provide timely information based on the user’s data and device usage patterns,” details Apple confirmed when it officially announced Proactive at WWDC. Google Now’s success made an Apple response inevitable: who wouldn’t want an iPhone that correctly anticipated your needs, reducing your time spent manually hunting for information?

But unlike Google, which Apple CEO Tim Cook has portrayed as a miner of personal data for “God-knows-what advertising purpose,” Apple has positioned itself as a champion of user privacy. As such, Proactive apparently doesn’t use cloud servers to process your personal data, which Google has done to great effect. Instead, iOS processes data directly on your device, so its scope — whatever your device is holding — and utility are a lot more limited. Consequently, the iOS 9 beta version of Proactive doesn’t do much; its features could have appeared on the annual WWDC slide that flashes 50 new iOS additions on screen for less than a minute before disappearing.

Readers, I’d like to ask you a question. We’ve seen what Google and third-party developers are currently doing with Google Now cards, and it’s pretty awesome — everything from helping you manage commutes (like Proactive) and trips (way beyond Proactive) to finding TV shows, scheduling return taxi rides, and sending birthday greetings. My question: would you rather see Apple slowly iterate on Proactive as it sorts through each new feature’s privacy implications, or tackle Google Now with a bolder and more powerful Proactive, privacy be (mostly) damned? A poll is below…

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Map showing Apple’s San Jose property, via Silicon Valley Business Journal

According to a new report from Silicon Valley Business Journal, Apple has purchased a 43-acre development plot in North San Jose. The report claims that Apple paid slightly more than $138 million for the property, which is located on North First Street in San Jose.

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Following the iCloud voicemail transcription news from earlier today, Business Insider is reporting that Apple may actually be following Google’s Project Fi  into the “becoming a carrier” field.

Sources close to Apple say that the company is privately trialling an MVNO service in the US, but is also currently in talks with telecoms companies in Europe about bringing the service there too.

MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator  is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which the MVNO provides services to its customers. Google’s Project Fi uses Sprint and T-Mobile’s infrastructure and combines them to become a “super-carrier”.

Apple of course announced the so far iPad-limited Apple SIM last year which allows you to choose between a handful of network carriers for iPad data on a month to month basis.

Three weeks ago, the UK-based FT reported that Apple and Samsung were in talks with carriers to launch “e-SIM” cards and and Apple MVNO service might be an evolution of that.

The idea behind the talks is a universal standard for embedded SIM cards (“e-SIM”) that are built into the phone and not user accessible. These subscriber identity modules would allow customers to sign up for service on any network they wanted, then allow them to switch at any time (obviously with some limitations placed by the carriers).

Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer in these discussions. Samsung is also reported to be part of the talks, meaning this tech could become a real standard across iPhone and Android devices, unlike Apple’s current SIM which is locked specifically to the company’s hardware.

Apple has a long history of flirting with the MVNO business with an insider revealing that Steve Jobs wanted Apple to become a carrier before the release of the iPhone (if only!). Telecom vet and former CTIA chairman John Stanton had worked with Jobs on the project… expand full story

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