Apple is looking to make its own Netflix-beating TV shows

Apple is planning on investing in original TV shows, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. With iPhone sales on the decline, people close to the company have revealed that it will attempt to gain Apple Music subscribers by adding original video content to the service. While this move has been rumoured since the relaunch of Apple TV, the company has apparently now started reaching out to Holywood producers, planning to offer original video content by the end of 2017.

Instead of investing in a full library of scripted content, however, Apple is initially setting its sights on a few high-quality original concepts. The same sources claim that Apple is seeking to rival the quality of shows like HBO’s Westworld and Netflix’s Stranger Things, with original movies possibly coming further down the line.

The report claims that Apple is still yet to buy any scripts due to internal debates about how to handle its business model. While Netflix refuses to share any kind of viewer figures or demographic data, Holywood producers believe that Apple will be far more open about how its original content performs.

While surprising, this wouldn’t be Apple’s first foray into publishing video content. Seeing the phenomenal success of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, Apple Music recently bought the rights to broadcast its own 30 minute version of the series. The company also revealed that it’s creating a semi-autobiographical documentary series called ‘Vital Signs’ starring Dr. Dre, due to premiere on Apple Music later this year.

While significant, both confirmed shows are firmly rooted in music. This rumoured expansion could mark Apple’s first step into non-music-related video content. Despite that, this seems to be a way to lure subscribers away from Apple Music competitor Spotify, rather than serving as a rival to purely video streaming services like Netflix. At last count, Apple Music had 20 million subscribers and Spotify double that.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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The iPhone 7 may not be selling as well as Apple hoped

Traditionally, new iPhones sell pretty well in their first few months — often outperforming the previous model’s sales during the same quarter. That might not be the case with Apple’s latest handset: according to Nikkei, sluggish sales are forcing the company to cut back production of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices. Based on data received from suppliers, Nikkei expects Apple to slow stock production by about 10 percent.

Apple saw an early sign of this reported slowdown in March, when its Q2 earnings showed that while iPhone 6S upgrades were outpacing the previous year, they still weren’t up to snuff with sales from users who upgraded to the iPhone 6 is 2014. It’s too early to say if the iPhone 7’s slower sales are enough to make it the company’s first device not to outsell the previous model, but we’ll know soon enough: Apple’s next quarterly earnings are set to drop sometime at the end of next month.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: Nikkei

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2016 was a hard year to be an Apple fan

Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership will probably not look back fondly on 2016. iPhone sales declined for the first time, and Apple’s profits followed suit. There are still bright spots, like the company’s growing services business, and the company is still making insane amounts of money. Even so, the stalled growth has to be concerning to both the company and its investors.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to pity Apple. I’m here to commiserate with its fans, the ones who Apple shafted this year. Particularly those of us who waited all year long for a substantial update to the Mac lineup only to be offered a pair of intriguing but compromised new laptops. Or those of us who bought an iPhone 7 and can’t use the headphones included with it in our new MacBook Pro, or even those of us trying to figure out which iPad to buy.

Across the board, Apple has confusing product lineups with weird and unnecessary compromises. And if you believe the wailing of aggrieved fans across the internet, it seems like plenty of loyal Apple supporters might be contemplating life outside the company’s ecosystem. How did we get here?

Apple fans: 2016 Year in Review

The product that most exemplifies Apple’s difficulty in 2016 is the Mac. The Mac may only compose a small part of Apple’s overall business, but that doesn’t excuse the neglect it’s endured recently. For 10 full months, the only update was a processor refresh on the 12-inch MacBook. (OK, you can also buy it in pink now. Thanks, Apple.) The company’s main three machines — the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac — went untouched. That’s still the case for the iMac and MacBook Air; it’s hard to recommend that anyone buy them right now. And we all know what happened when the MacBook Pro was finally updated: A portal to the dongleverse was opened.

I’m not here to pity Apple. I’m here to commiserate with its fans, the ones who Apple shafted this year.

Yes, Apple had already released the 12-inch MacBook with just a single USB-C port. But that computer was designed with extreme portability in mind; it was a laptop inspired by the iPad. It’ll likely take the aging MacBook Air’s place in the lineup as the company’s entry-level Apple laptop. That was fine when the MacBook Pro and its many ports existed, but Apple has now made it clear it’s not interested in keeping any legacy I/O around, even for its “pro” customers. That’s an aggressive move, and one that has been met with widespread displeasure.

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In a vacuum, there are plenty of things to like about the new MacBook Pro. The screen is excellent, the reductions in size and weight are welcome improvements, performance and audio quality are both improved, and even the controversial Touch Bar has potential. Other things, such as the redesigned keyboard, are a matter of personal preference, not a definitive drawback. But reduced battery life, the loss of physical function keys and only one type of port mean that many of the professionals Apple is targeting will need to change their workflow.

And that’s not even mentioning the price increases: It’ll cost you at least $ 1,799 to get a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar. History suggests that prices of the new MacBook Pro will eventually drop as the old models are phased out, but there’s still some significant sticker shock here.

This confusing middle ground between old and new makes it hard to decide which MacBook Pro is the best for a given shopper. Is your $ 1,499 better spent on the previous-generation model or the new one? If you opt for the new model, you get a piddly two ports and no Touch Bar, while opting for last year’s computer gets you all the ports you could want but in a heavier package with an older processor and worse screen. My guess is that lots of people will decide not to make a purchase instead of being forced to compromise one way or another. The new entry-level MacBook Pro would be a great step up from the MacBook Air for a lot of users — but the $ 500 separating the two computers is a difficult gap to close.

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that Apple could have silenced its critics by simply including a USB 3 port and not removing the SD reader. Space may be at a premium on this new device, but I’d be willing to bet that many potential buyers would be happy to give up two of the four USB-C ports in exchange for those legacy connections. But that wouldn’t be a “courageous” move now, would it? Hell, Apple could even throw us the smallest of bones by including a USB 3 to USB-C dongle in the box so users can charge their iPhones without any further hassle.

Speaking of the iPhone, let’s go over that headphone situation one more time. Putting aside Schiller’s ridiculous “courage” line, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if we can evolve beyond the headphone jack. No other port has been immune to the march of time, and Apple probably has the data to show that most iPhone buyers use the included headphones. In theory, switching to the included Lightning headphones wouldn’t be a big deal, and there’s a dongle in there if you have a nice pair you want to keep using. What’s the harm?

Just as with the MacBook Pro, the problem is making consumers change their routines without a clear benefit. Apple executives gave a few rare interviews about the headphone jack decision when the iPhone 7 first came out, but the rationale mostly came down to using the limited space inside the iPhone for more useful technology, such as water resistance, a bigger battery and better cameras. Those are indeed great features to add to the iPhone. But they’re also table stakes at this point. It’s easy to forget that before the Galaxy Note 7 started exploding, Samsung had closed basically all the hardware gaps between its offerings and the iPhone, which means these updates were necessary, not revolutionary. And without also presenting an improved headphone solution, it’s hard to not feel like something was lost in this move.

Adding insult to injury, Apple did come up with an improved wireless-headphone experience: AirPods are much simpler to use than your average Bluetooth headset. But the price and mediocre audio quality make them a tough sell, and Apple didn’t even manage to have the headphones out on time. They only just hit the Apple Store a few weeks ago, and they’ll be in short supply for a good long time. They should have been ready to go alongside the iPhone 7, but Apple’s latest handset has been on the market for nearly three months without its companion wireless earphones. That’s a major tactical blunder.

Many of Apple’s more fervent supporters have scoffed at the notion that Apple is floundering a bit. After all, the company’s bottom line grew for 15 years: It clearly knows how to build products that resonate. But there’s been a growing chorus of unhappy fans who say that Apple doesn’t have the same eye for detail as it used to. Some point to the goofy charging experiences for the new Apple Mouse and Pencil as design decisions that Steve Jobs never would have allowed.

For me, it’s this new world of dongles that I’d have to use to make a new MacBook Pro work the way I need it to. Something isn’t right when the MacBook Air, which hasn’t substantially changed in design for five years, is still better for my needs than the brand-new MacBook Pro. I’d happily open my wallet and pay $ 1,799 for that new computer if it had an SD slot and a full-sized USB port. Part of me feels like those are tiny things to quibble over when weighed against the improvements — I’m dying for a better display at this point — but we all have to draw the line somewhere.

For others, that line might be the missing headphone jack, the late AirPods, the lack of substantial Mac updates (the Mac Pro hasn’t been touched for three years), the confusing iPad lineup, the lackluster Apple Watch reception or any other chink in Apple’s armor. Apple fans were sold on the promise that “it just works.” When that stops being the case, it’s much easier to start looking at competitors like Microsoft and Google. And that won’t help Apple make 2017 a better year.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

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Apple will replace a lost AirPod for $69

Following a slightly delay, Apple’s wireless AirPods are ready to order. They’re small and sleek, but the lack of cords has put a nagging thought in the back of my mind: I am guaranteed to lose one, if not both within a few weeks. If you’re equally forgetful, or happen to commute in jam-packed subway carriages, you’ll be happy to hear that Apple will replace a single AirPod for $ 69 (£65). Given a fresh pair costs $ 159 (£159), that seems like a reasonable fee. Similarly, a new AirPod charging case will set you back $ 69 (£65), for the inevitable “I threw it out thinking it was floss” stories.

To Apple’s credit, your music will stop as soon as one AirPod leaves your earhole. It serves two purposes: so you don’t have to press pause when someone starts talking to you, and to give you a heads-up whenever one AirPod drops out of your ear. If you’re somewhere busy, like a crowded train platform, that immediate notification could be vital to retrieving it. Otherwise, the allure of Apple’s AirPods is a tangle-free lifestyle, convenient pairing and charging. It’s doubly useful if you have the iPhone 7 with its non-existent 3.55mm jack. (Yeah, I’m still annoyed about it.)

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Apple (US), (UK)

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Square Cash plugs its virtual card into Apple Pay

The Square Cash service added a “virtual debit card” feature back in September, and tonight during the Code Commerce event, CEO Jack Dorsey announced that it’s integrating with Apple Pay. The virtual Visa debit card lets Square Cash users spend their balance anywhere Visa is accepted (legitimately), and starting today, its iPhone app can enable the card for use on Apple Pay too. If you’re not using an iPhone or Apple Watch, Dorsey said that the company does have plans to support other platforms like Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

Source: Recode, iTunes

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iPhone classic ‘Tiny Wings’ gets new levels and Apple TV app

Tiny Wings is one of the best iPhone games ever. It’s a great example of a developer making something that wouldn’t make sense on any other platform, and it’s a game equally suited to playing quick bursts or for extended sessions as you try to beat your high score. And after more than two years without an update, developer Andreas Illiger has finally released a pretty major update. Tiny Wings is now available for the Apple TV, and the iPhone / iPad version has five new levels.

Unfortunately, the Apple TV app requires a separate $ 2.99 purchase — but if it is as good as the iOS game, that’ll be money well spent. The Apple TV app features split-screen multiplayer; players can either use the Siri remote, a dedicated game controller or an iOS device to control the big-screen action. The Apple TV app uses iCloud to sync progress with your mobile devices, and it feature the same array of game modes and levels as the iOS version — including the five new “flight school” levels.

If you bought the iOS app years ago, you’ll get those new levels, and Illiger also finally upgraded the graphics to support the higher screen resolutions Apple introduced with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. There’s nothing else new here, but if you haven’t tried the game before now’s a perfect time to give it a shot. The adorable graphics, procedurally generated levels and excellent music are all as charming now as they were when the game launched way back in 2011. If you want to give it a shot, the update is live in the App Store now.

Via: The Verge

Source: iTunes

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Apple will fix iPhone 6 Plus ‘touch disease,’ for $149

A number of iPhone 6 owners and independent repair techs have been complaining for months about something called “touch disease” killing their phones, and now Apple is responding. The problem’s symptoms have been described as a flickering gray bar across the top of the screen and problems with the touchscreen responsiveness, which continue to get worse until it’s addressed or the phone is unusable. Repair techs like Jessa Jones have reported seeing multiple devices per day afflicted by the same problem, with no end in sight.

Going by Apple’s description of its “Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus,” the problem is really the owner’s fault, caused by “being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.” Still, if you have the problem and your screen isn’t cracked, Apple says it will fix the issue for $ 149, and its repair program is available for five years after the original sale date.

That’s less than the usual out of warranty repair price of $ 329, but it’s not free, and it does nothing for people who opted to replace their phone instead of fixing it. Some owners have reportedly filed lawsuits against Apple concerning the issue, and it remains to be seen how this will affect their progress. If you’ve already paid to have an iPhone 6 Plus repaired due to the problem, Apple says it will reimburse the difference between that cost and $ 149, if you used its service or an authorized technician.

While some have reported similar problems with the smaller iPhone 6, there’s no indication of a program for owners of that device. In a blog post on iFixit, Jones noted the larger size of the 6 Plus made it more susceptible to the problem, despite reinforcements implemented to resolve the phone’s tendency to bend. The actual problem seems to come from the touch controller chip separating from the phone’s logic board, which is why twisting the device can sometimes fix it for a short time.

Update: iFixit raised the issue months ago, and tonight issued a statement saying that Apple’s program does not go far enough. According to its CEO Kyle Wiens, Apple’s response confirms “the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components.” But that falls short, he says, because the problem has also been seen on phones that owners claim have never been dropped. In addition, Wiens says an Apple Genius confirmed the company is not repairing the devices at all but simply swapping them out for refurbished phones.

You can read excerpts from his statement below; we’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update this post if there is a response.


Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit:

“Apple’s statement confirms what the independent repair industry has been saying for a long time: the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components. Apple is correct that dropping the device onto a hard surface could cause this issue. But that’s not the only cause: we have seen this problem on phones that have never been dropped. The underlying problem is insufficient structural support around the logic board.”

“Apple is calling this the “Multi-Touch Repair Program”, but they’re not actually repairing customer’s phones. An Apple Genius confirmed to us that they are swapping customer phones with a refurbished device. The repair service does not transfer your data over to the new device — customers are left on their own to figure out how to backup their important information.

Apple has had chronic issues with Touch Disease on refurbished devices in the past, and this the limited 90-day warranty on this ‘repair’ does not instill confidence that the repaired units will stay fixed.

We appreciate the effort they’re making, but this program doesn’t go nearly far enough. Apple is still charging a lot of money for the device swap. And they’re only replacing iPhone 6 Pluses, even though many iPhone 6 owners have also been affected.

Apple should come clean, admit the manufacturing deficiency, and extend their warranty on this issue to 24 months (the same warranty that iPhones have in Europe) for both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Lawsuits on the matter are still pending.”

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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Apple starts selling refurb iPhones through its online store

If you’ve ever wanted to buy an iPhone straight from Apple but thought that brand new unlocked models were out of your reach, you’re in luck. Apple has started selling refurbished iPhones in its US online store, with hefty discounts depending on what you want to buy. An unlocked 16GB iPhone 6s is selling for $ 449, or $ 80 off the usual price; splurge on a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus and you’ll shell out $ 589, or $ 110 less than usual. The iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are absent, but that’s not surprising given that owners have only had them for several months at best.

This won’t be as big a bargain as you’d get by purchasing an iPhone through a used goods site, an auction or a friend. However, you’ll get both a year-long warranty and the knowledge that there won’t be any rude surprises when you open the box. In short: if the thought of shopping on eBay or Swappa makes you nervous, this is your best bet.

Via: MacRumors

Source: Apple

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Apple temporarily cuts USB-C dongle prices to appease MacBook Pro buyers

Last week Apple announced its new lineup of MacBook Pros and revealed they include only new USB-C-style connectors, dropping all legacy ports (other than, oddly enough, the headphone jack.) While the aggressive move means owners can charge their laptop through any of the jacks, and have the new capabilities offered, it also means that simple things like plugging in an iPhone to charge will require an adapter of some kind, which is not included.

As my former podcast partner Ben Drawbaugh noted, stocking up on dongles to go with your new laptop gets pricey fast, and Mac buyers have responded angrily online in our comment sections and elsewhere, However, now Apple says it will help them make the switch by “reducing prices on all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables.”

The new prices in the Apple Store:

  • USB-C to USB Adapter drops from $ 19 to $ 9
  • Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter drops from $ 49 to $ 29
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) drops from $ 25 to $ 19
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m) from $ 35 to $ 29
  • USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
  • USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter from $ 69 to $ 49
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader drops from $ 49 to $ 29
  • All other third party USB-C peripherals ~25% off

Will not include Apple USB-C power adaptors or the USB-C Charge Cable (2m)

The only hitch remaining? These price drops are temporary. In a statement provided to Engadget on this lovely Friday afternoon, an Apple spokesperson said they would remain in effect through the end of the year, so even if you’re not buying a new laptop immediately, you may want to stock up on new cabling now. The Apple store page confirms this, saying “* Discount reflected in price. Subject to availability and quantity limits apply. Pricing effective October 27 – December 31, 2016.”

There’s also no word on credits for those who have purchased these products already, however as iMore points out, if you bought them since the announcement they should still be within the return period so you can contact Apple about that.

Update: MacRumors points out that prices on the LG 4K and 5K displays announced last week have dropped by about 25 percent. Apparently, they count as third-party USB-C peripherals? The UltraFine 5K Display is down to $ 974 from $ 1,300, while the Ultrafine 4K Display is down to $ 524, from $ 700.

Source: Apple Store

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Does the iPad Air have a future at Apple?

During its “Hello Again” keynote in Cupertino today, Apple debuted its newest MacBook Pro as well as an overhaul of Final Cut Pro X and an all-in-one video entertainment app simply titled, TV. But surprisingly, there was not a word spoken about iPads.

First, a quick recap: The iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 were both released in 2013. They then both received updates the following year with the release of the Air 2 and the tepidly received Mini 3. But in less than a year, Apple had already moved on to something newer, bigger and more expensive. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch dropped in September 2015, along with the iPad Mini 4, and was joined by a retina-enabled 9.7-inch Pro this past March.

That means we haven’t seen a new iPad Air in two years. And while the older models are still receiving OS updates, their A8 processors are decidedly pokey when facing the Pro’s A9x. In fact, benchmark tests indicate that the A9, which is really a desktop chip crammed into a tablet, performs nearly twice as well as the previous version.

So if Thursday’s event is any indication, it would appear that Apple is far more focused on its Pro models than the rest of its products. Just as today’s announcement of three new MacBook Pros — the base model of which offers similar specs to the existing MacBook Air at a slightly higher price — likely spells the eventual end of the MacBook Air line, Apple’s recent release of the 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros could be bad news for the older iPads.

This timing — release, update within a year, then nothing for the next two — does not bode well for the iPad Air line, especially with the more recent release of the Pros. What’s more, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro offers superior performance in the same form factor as the Air 2 for just $ 200 more. So why would Apple keep the Air 2 around when it could simply eliminate the model and force consumers to shell out an extra two bills for the Pro? Remember this is a company that recently eliminated the iPhone 7’s headphone jack in favor of selling us $ 180 wireless AirPods and just today rolled out a series of laptops that can’t connect to any peripheral you already own without an adapter.

In the end, there’s no way to confirm that this is the end of the line for the iPad Air. Apple is notoriously secretive when it comes to upcoming product announcements. There are some unsubstantiated rumors that the next Mini could be announced in the spring of 2017, and maybe the Air will be brought along, but we’ll have to wait for March to find out.

Click here to catch all the latest news from Apple’s “Hello Again” event.

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