Skipping the US Customs and Border Protection queues? There’s now an app for that …

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trialling an iPhone app that allows travellers returning to the United States to bypass the normal immigration queues by entering their details into the app and getting a QR code containing their electronic approval.

You still have to show the code to a CBP officer, but you can bypass the normal queues and use a special Mobile Passport Control lane that should be significantly quicker …  Read more

Apple pushing Beats Music app via email to iTunes customers

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Apple has begun pushing the Beats Music streaming service via email to iTunes customers. The emails promote the free-to-download Beats Music app’s “Just For You” and “Tune Your Taste” features and note that Beats is now “part of the Apple family.” Apple finalized its acquisition of both Beats Music and Beats Electronics at the beginning of this month, and Apple has already begun promoting Beats Electronics via a new section on the online store and notable discounts. This email push is the second Apple promotion of the streaming app as the company has already integrated the app into the App Store’s “Apps by Apple” category. Full email below:

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Apple releases OS X Yosemite Public Beta 2 & fresh iTunes 12 beta

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Apple today released the second version of the OS X Yosemite Public Beta. The update is available via Software Update on the Mac App Store for those running the initial beta release; the first beta was released at the end of July. It appears Public Beta 2 is nearly the same build as the Developer Preview 6 (build r, up from f) released to Yosemite developers earlier this week. Apple has also released an updated version of the redesigned iTunes 12:

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Calls to Apple confirm: Apple TV promotion and upcoming iTunes Festival wipe out Store stock, still available for shipping

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The Apple TV is showing up as ‘Unavailable for pickup’ at Apple Stores across the U.S., with multiple NY Apple Stores we called saying that in-store stocks had been exhausted by demand created by the promotion offering $25 iTunes credit with every purchase, along with that generated by the upcoming London iTunes festival as well as the recent Lollapalooza livestream. Apple has been promoting the music festival as a good reason to buy the box now … 

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The eight reasons Morgan Stanley thinks it’s time to buy AAPL

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Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty is advising investors that now is the time to buy AAPL shares – and not just because the iPhone 6 is on the way.

Huberty gives eight reasons (via BusinessInsider) for believing that the price of AAPL stock is likely to increase. None of them are new, but the combined effect is persuasive, she argues …  Read more

Beats Music “Listen Now” feature starts rolling out to Shazam iOS app

Users of the Shazam iOS application have begun noticing that Shazam is testing a new “Listen Now” feature with the Apple-owned Beats Music streaming service. Like it does with iTunes Radio, Spotify, and Rdio, this feature allows a user to tag a song with Shazam and then instantly play it in Beats Music. We tested the feature this morning and it works as advertised. You’ll need a Beats Music subscription or a 14-day free trial in order to make use of the feature. With Beats now under Apple’s wing and Shazam a key partner for Siri in iOS 8, it makes sense that the trio would integrate in a fashion such as the new Listen Now button in the Shazam app. You’ll need the latest Shazam update to make use of the feature.

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As Siri gets more powers in iOS 8, we ask: Do you use it to its fullest or is it still a party trick?

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When Siri lost its beta tag almost a year ago, I suggested it might be a good time for those who’d been frustrated with its early performance to give it another chance. What I discovered through your comments was that Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.

But Apple has continued to work hard on improving the service, adding new capabilities as well as refining its ability to handle existing ones. It might not yet be as sophisticated as its creators envisage for the future, but a year on seemed a good point to revisit the topic and find just how many of its capabilities people are using …  Read more

Apple says it had record month in July for App Store revenue, customer transactions

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Apple has announced that July was a record setting month for App Store revenue following its earnings report last month where the company reported strong iTunes results for the three-month period that ended June (via CNBC).

The company also told CNBC today that it saw “a record number of customers making transactions” for the App Store during the month:

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Apple hires Angela Ahrendts’ confidant & former Nike exec to lead social media efforts

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Apple is giving its social media department a significant shot in the arm this week. The Cupertino-based company has hired Musa Tariq, the former social media chief for both Nike and Burberry. At Nike, Tariq ran general social media marketing as well as social media partnerships with athletes across all Nike product platforms, and at Burberry he led “strategy and innovation” for social media…

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Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers to also lead iTunes Radio at Apple, according to report

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ian Rogers, the head of Beats Music, will now also lead iTunes Radio following the Apple acquisition. Apple wants to increase collaboration between both Beats Music and iTunes Radio by having both streaming services led by Rogers. Up to now, iTunes Radio has been headed by Jeff Robin’s team, best known for creating the software that became iTunes.

The Journal says that Rogers’ leadership will increase ‘cohesion’ between the services, which currently offer a lot of app in their end-user experiences. It is still unclear whether Apple has plans to consolidate the brands.

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Heads rolling at Beats as Apple eliminating redundant positions, Ian Rogers & Trent Reznor to stay on

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As Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music nears completion this financial quarter, the Cupertino and Culver City, California-based companies have begun work on transitioning select employees and technology resources from Beats to Apple, according to sources briefed on the transition. Apple executives have visited Beats’ Southern California headquarters this week and last week to offer groups of employees positions at Apple and to notify some members of the Beats staff that they will not be included in the transition.

Many Beats employees in development and creative roles have been offered positions at Apple. Many of these employees will be offered space in Apple’s Cupertino offices, but Apple is said to plan to retain the Los Angeles-area offices, and select engineers on the Beats Music streaming service will continue working out of Southern California. An email from Apple CEO Tim Cook detailed earlier this year that Beats hardware employees would transition to Phil Schiller’s team in Cupertino, so it seems likely that the headphone and speaker makers will make up the majority of the new Cupertino staff…

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