Apple will soon let third-party products use its Lightning port, opening up new possibilities for accessories

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Last week at Apple’s yearly briefing for accessory makers in its Made-for-iPhone/iPad (MFi) licensing program, the company unveiled new Lightning connectors and specs for Lightning receptacles that will soon be available for implementation in MFi accessories. The new Lightning receptacle, scheduled to start shipping next year, will allow accessory makers to build new types of accessories that include a port for Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector previously reserved for its own iOS devices (pictured above). Read more

China UnionPay debit and credit cards now accepted as payment method for Apple’s Chinese App Store

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China UnionPay is the largest bank card provider in the region, but the App Store has not supported the payment method up to now. Apple has announced that this inconvenience has now been resolved with customers in China now able to link their Apple ID with debit or credit cards from UnionPay.

The addition should help expand the reach of the App Store to even more customers, allowing Apple to bolster its number credit cards on file ahead of an Apple Pay launch in the country. Code references have already been found that show the iPhone 6 NFC element is ready to support China UnionPay purchases.

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US-China trade deal set to reduce manufacturing costs for Apple, aims to cut prices for consumers

President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Beijing (photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Beijing (photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A trade agreement reached between the U.S. and China looks set to reduce Apple’s manufacturing costs by removing import tariffs on components imported into the country.

Apple uses components from a number of countries around the world, notably Korea and Japan, which are imported into China for the assembly of iPhones, iPads and Macs. China currently imposes import tariffs on these components. The new deal would allow companies like Apple, Microsoft and HP to bring components into China free from these charges …  Read more

Possible Apple-Alibaba partnership could lead to greatly accelerated rollout of Apple Pay in China

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The potential partnership between Apple and Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba could facilitate a far more rapid rollout of Apple Pay in the country than if Apple goes it alone, suggests a piece in the WSJ. Tim Cook first revealed that he was in talks with the company at the WSJ Digital conference last month.

One possible scenario is for Alibaba’s financial affiliate, which owns the Alipay electronic-payment business in China, to provide back-end services for Apple’s Apple Pay payment system, allowing iPhone users to pay with Apple Pay using the money from their Alipay accounts, Mr. Tsai said.

Such an arrangement would be significant for two reasons …  Read more

Apple blocks WireLurker malware apps from opening, but needs to do more, argues security researcher

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Apple has now blocked the launching of Mac apps infected with WireLurker malware, after earlier revoking security certificates to prevent them being installed on new devices. WireLurker was capable of infecting non-jailbroken iOS devices when connected to a Mac running one of the compromised apps. Over 400 Mac apps in a third-party Chinese app store were affected.

In a written statement, an Apple spokesperson said:

We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and we’ve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching. As always, we recommend that users download and install software from trusted sources.

However, a security researcher says that it would be easy for other attackers to exploit the exact same weakness …  Read more

Apple plans Apple University in China, bringing Jobs’ vision to Asia

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Tim Cook speaking at a conference in China

Apple is seeking to cement its business position in China for the long-term with an expansion of its Cupertino-based Apple University program to the region, according to a person with knowledge of the plans. Apple Vice President and Dean of Apple University Joel Podolny is currently interviewing candidates for a new Dean of Apple University position for China, according to the source.

Started in 2008, Apple University is an extensive and growing program within corporate Apple that trains mid-level employees and managers on the decisions made by Steve Jobs and other key executives throughout the company’s resurgence. Jobs created the program alongside former Yale School of Business Dean Podolny in order to keep the culture of Apple alive well beyond the lifetime of executives key to Apple’s early success.

The expansion of Apple University to China will mark a key step in Apple’s history as a global company. It will be the first time Apple has fully expanded the exclusive program to another region, indicating that it wants to extend its presence in China beyond mostly just sales and operations, like it has done in the United States. Apple has previously offered a minimal amount of courses in other regions and has flown-in professors. With many Apple suppliers headquartered in China, it is likely that a notable portion of the Apple University classes in China will be geared toward product engineering and manufacturing matters…

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Tim Cook talks Apple Pay, Apple Watch and security on final day in China

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On the final day of Tim Cook’s four-day visit to China, he told state news agency Xinhuanet that Apple Pay was top of the list of things the company wanted to take to China.

“China is a really key market for us,” said the CEO. “Everything we do, we are going to work it here. Apple Pay is on the top of the list.”

Cook said that Apple would be working to understand the steps needed to bring the new service to China before meeting with local carriers, banks and merchants …
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Foxconn hoping to make future iPhone screens, get more of the Apple pie

File photo of employees working inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua

iPhone assembler Foxconn is apparently hoping to move beyond its relatively low-margin work into more profitable high-end component manufacturing in order to take a bigger slice of revenue from Apple, reports the WSJ.

Apple Inc.’s major assembler Foxconn is in preliminary discussions with a provincial government in northern China for an investment in a new factory that would make high-end screens for iPhones and other mobile devices, people familiar with the talks say.

Foxconn already manufactures some iPhone components, but currently only low-margin ones like metal casings and cables …  Read more

Apple to grow retail stores in China from 15 to 40 within two years, says Cook

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Tim Cook noted during Monday’s earnings call that Apple was “investing like crazy” in China, but he took the opportunity of his current visit to the country to put a specific number on the company’s retail expansion plans: it will open 25 new Apple Stores in Greater China within the next two years. Greater China includes both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Speaking to local media, Cook also said that China would in time become Apple’s biggest market, reports the WSJ …  Read more

Tim Cook meets with Chinese vice premier in Beijing following iCloud phishing attack

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Two days after evidence emerged of a phishing attack on iCloud, allegedly due to the Chinese government firewall redirecting traffic to a fake login page, the Chinese state news agency Xinhuanet is reporting a meeting in Beijing between Tim Cook and Chinese vice premier Ma Kai.

Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday exchanged views on protection of users’ information during their meeting in Zhongnanhai, the central authority’s seat. They also exchanged views on strengthening cooperation in information and communication fields.

The Chinese government censors access to the Internet by deploying a country-wide firewall which blocks certain sites and which can redirect traffic from sites the government dislikes to officially-sanctioned ones …
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“iPad has a great future,” said Cook: long-term more important than “90-day clicks”

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While yesterday’s iPad numbers don’t look great – down 12.5% year-on-year, the third successive quarter in which sales have fallen – Tim Cook remains upbeat about the product, stating that it “has a great future” and that its long-term prospects are more important than “individual 90-day clicks.”

Quartz‘s Dan Frommer pulled together some of the things Cook has to say about the device, and while you’d clearly expect Apple’s CEO to put the best possible spin on things, he makes some reasonable arguments …  Read more