Volkswagen in talks with Apple to bring CarPlay to 2016 VW models

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Volkswagen’s VW line, one of the few notable holdouts from announcing future integration of CarPlay into its vehicles, is in talks with Apple to embed the iOS-based feature, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

An announcement from the two companies is expected in the coming months, but specifics on which models will receive CarPlay are currently unavailable, except sources say that Volkswagen is targeting CarPlay for 2016 models, not 2015 versions…

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Apple debuts iTunes Pass in Japan, allows Passbook-based iTunes credit refills at Apple Stores

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Apple today has launched an interesting new service for iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore users in Japan with iPhones and iPod touches. The new service, called iTunes Pass (no, not that iTunes Pass), allows users to go to an Apple Store in Japan, purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code…

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Chinese state TV annoyed by NSA, takes it out on Apple

The WSJ reports that the state-run China Central TV has described the iPhone as a “national security concern” due to its location-tracking capabilities.

In its national noon broadcast, state-run China Central Television criticized the “frequent locations” function in Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system, which tracks and records the time and location of the owner’s movements. The report quoted researchers who said that those with access to that data could gain knowledge of the broader situation in China or “even state secrets” …

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Fourth Swiss Apple Store coming to Basel on July 12th

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Apple will be opening up its fourth official retail store in Switzerland this weekend. A new store in the city of Basel will see its grand opening on Saturday, July 12th, according to a notice on Apple’s Retail Store website. Job listings for the store first appeared earlier this year on Apple’s jobs website. Apple has already surrounded the store with a black banner promoting the store’s website. Apple is also planning several new stores in China, Italy, and the United States under the guide of recently appointed retail head Angela Ahrendts.

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iPhone & iPad AppleCare+ purchase window extended to 60 days as standard plan discontinued

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Apple today will be rolling out a couple of significant changes to its AppleCare support offerings. As we detailed in a report last month regarding Apple’s future plans for AppleCare, Apple will making a significant push for its premium AppleCare+ service. AppleCare+ is the iPhone and iPad protection plan offering that provides support for an additional two years (on top of the free 90 days of support) and support for up to two incidents of accidental damage.

Previously, customers were required to buy the plan within 30 days of purchase of an iPhone or iPad, but today’s change brings that purchase window to 60 days. This gives customers more time to decide if they will need enhanced support for their mobile Apple devices. The AppleCare+ plan costs $99 for both recent iPhone and iPad models. The plan can be purchased both via Apple’s Online Store or inside of official Apple retail stores. The AppleCare+ change is supported in all AppleCare+ regions except Japan, where the timeframe remains 30 days…

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Apple’s Ahrendts to oversee slew of new China, Italy, U.S. stores as organizational restructuring planned

Seeking to enhance Apple’s retail store divison and bring the customer experience to higher levels, new Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts is planning a fundamental restructuring of Apple’s retail stores as she prepares a series of new store openings across the globe for the second half of 2014 and first half of 2015…

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Apple looks to boost iPhone sales in stores with new pre-paid & month-to-month plans

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Apple is preparing to enhance its Apple Store-based iPhone sales operations in the United States around pre-paid and month-to-month plans in order boost sales, according to a source briefed on the upcoming initiatives. For the first time in U.S. Apple Stores, customers will be able to purchase an iPhone at full-price and then connect the phone to a pre-paid plan or a month-to-month plan within the store. Previously, iPhone customers could only buy full-priced iPhones as unlocked devices then connect the devices to pre-paid plans or month-to-month plans via a previously purchased SIM-card or through a carrier store…

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13th anniversary of first Apple Store: risky gamble to most profitable retail space in the world

Today marks the 13th anniversary of Apple’s retail stores, the first ever store having opened at 10am on 19th May 2001 at Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Virginia. The video above shows Steve Jobs giving a preview of the store six days before it opened, and below the fold you can see an animated GIF of the growth of the U.S. stores since then.

Amazing as it seems today, the move was considered at the time to be a risky gamble, with critics arguing that they couldn’t possibly make money. Businessweek ran a story entitled Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work and TheStreet.com agreed in a piece headlined Apple’s Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel …  Read more

AT&T announces rollout of voice-over-LTE ahead of likely iPhone 6/iOS 8 integration this fall

United States-based carrier AT&T today officially announced its rollout of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls. The VoLTE rollout comes in tandem with AT&T HD Voice launch, which provides better sounding phone calls. Starting on May 23rd, IllinoisIndianaMinnesota and Wisconsin will be the initially supported markets for these features, but AT&T says to expect a more complete rollout as time goes on:

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Apple plans ‘enormous’ iPhone upgrade event this week to boost sales

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Apple is planning to hold an “enormous” iPhone-related event in its stores this week in order to boost sales, according to a source with knowledge of the initiative. Beginning May 8th, the source said, Apple will be contacting upgrade-eligible iPhone users with older iPhone models via email to come into their local Apple Store to update to a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c…

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iTunes Festival channel shows up on Apple TV ahead of SXSW concerts

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Ahead of this upcoming week’s iTunes Festival concert series at SXSW, Apple has added an iTunes Festival channel to the Apple TV so that users can live stream the concert’s content. Late last week, Apple released an updated version of the iTunes Festival application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The Apple TV application is similar in style to the iOS app, and it includes a colorful logo…

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