MIB-II infotainment system also supporting Android Auto, VW app suite
As promised roughly a year after CarPlay was unveiled, German car maker Volkswagen is now shipping automobiles that include a next-generation infotainment system called MIB-II that includes support for both CarPlay and Android Auto along with its own proprietary suite of Car-Net apps, the latter of which requires a subscription. The company says that all but its entry-level models will feature the new MIB-II system.
Release is modeled on fifth developer beta, issued on Monday
About 48 hours after offering a fifth developer beta of this fall's OS X 10.11 upgrade, Apple has made a "public beta" version available to registered testers, just a week after the last public beta, suggesting that more-or-less weekly updates will continue to appear through the testing process, a significant increase from the Yosemite public beta releases. The latest beta has the same focus areas as the previous beta.
Tablets still reign in enterprise, education, but consumer market lagging
Although Apple CEO Tim Cook remains "bullish" on the future of tablets, Apple and the market generally for tablets is declining as consumers continue to favor large-screen smartphones for tablet-like functions, and as companies struggle to figure out what the replacement cycle for the still-popular devices is or should be, says research firm IDC. According to Apple, it sold 11.2 million iPads (with shipments of 10.9 million) in its fiscal third quarter, down from 13.7 million sold in the previous quarter.
Improves FaceTime compatibility with Boot Camp-based installs
In a seeming coincidence to being the day Microsoft has launched its latest version of Windows, on Wednesday Apple released a driver update for those running Windows 7 and Windows 8 on their 2015 series MacBook computers, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and the latest Retina MacBook. The update is a FaceTime Camera driver update that improves compatibility with Windows when using Boot Camp-based installations.
Boyle-Sorkin teamup will be centerpiece film, said to 'defy expectations'
The forthcoming major-studio Steve Jobs biography movie, simply entitled Steve Jobs, will get an early debut at the New York Film Festival on October 3, a week ahead of its October 9 national debut. The film has been given the prestigious "centerpiece" slot on the evening, with the film festival's director, Kent Jones, saying the movie is taking an "unconventional approach" to tell the story of the mercurial Apple co-founder.
Standing, walking, exercise all up from 'very satisfied' Activity app users
The Apple Watch's innovative combination of gentle reminding, motivation, goal setting, and its key visualization of activity and progress is actually working to help users lead healthier lives, a new study from Wristly concludes. Users in a study of Apple Watch early buyers report that 86 percent of them are still wearing the device on a daily basis, with another 12.3 percent wearing it "most days." Only three respondents in the survey of 1,000 users -- 0.3 percent -- said they no longer wear the device.
Themes of music, fitness, travel highlight devices ease of use
Apple has now added three new TV spots to its collection of ads for the Apple Watch, each with an emphasis on showing what apps look like on the device, and each with a theme: music apps, travel apps, and fitness apps. The commercials showcase mostly third-party programs, and showcase the amount of clear, useful information that can be gleaned on the small screen. Shazam, Yelp, and Nike+ Running are among the apps featured.
Mac minis as low as $419
Today at Apple's online store today find reduced prices on a wide selection of refurbished Mac mini configurations. Starting at $419 is the refurbished Mac mini with a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive. A $110 price cut is offered on the refurbished Mac mini with a 2.6GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive, now $589.
Major banks add support two weeks after Apple Pay UK launch
Two more banks have started to accept Apple Pay transactions in the United Kingdom, two weeks after it launched in the country. HSBC and First Direct have joined the growing roster of UK financial institutions supporting Apple Pay, with their customers now able to make contactless payments in stores using the Apple Watch or iPhone 6, though there are still a few notable gaps in the collection of banks.
Release presages likely update to iOS 9, watchOS 2 betas
A day earlier than expected, Apple on Monday issued a fifth developer beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan to registered developer accounts. At present, there is no further public beta release apart from the second tester release, issued last Wednesday. The new beta 5 has the same focus areas as the previous beta.
Numbers during free trial mean little, conversion rate yet to be seen
In only its first month, some 10 million people have signed on to give the subscription-based Apple Music a try during its three-month free trial period, according to music industry sources that allegedly reflect a figure given to them by Apple itself. While the number doesn't mean much during the free trial period, if one assumed that the number of users trying it out will grow over the summer, established rivals may have reason to worry.
Apple part of 13 companies taking the American Business Act on Climate pledge
On Monday, Apple was announced to be part of 13 companies joining a White House initiative headed by Secretary of State John Kerry, taking a new pledge called the American Business Act on Climate Change plege. Apple, which has already invested extensively in renewable energy resources and other environmental initiatives, joins tech companies Google and Microsoft in the project, which aims to reduce carbon pollution by six billion tons by 2030.
Authorized Mobility Resellers to push iPhones in 12 cities
As part of an expanded push in one of its fastest-growing markets that recently saw the company advertising for a senior government manager, the iPhone maker is now in the final stages of executing a plan to increase its available resellers to around 500 outlets. There are currently around 100 resellers already on board, and the company plans to double iPhone sales in each of the next three years.
PCs outsold by iOS devices, AT&T/DirecTV merger, AAPL vs AMZN and more
Another interesting week at MacNN brings us plenty to talk about on Episode 25 of The MacNN Podcast, ranging from the FCC approval of the AT&T/DirecTV deal for no clear reason (but with a bunch of conditions), to our new column "My Stupid Fault." We also include a full report on Apple's fiscal Q3 and the uncalled-for drop in the stock, the results of our testing of Apple's new third-party SSD Trim support, and more.
The Terminator (again), Elon Musk and AI weapons, and more!
Yeah, its a day late because of some improvements on the site, but its now time for the weekly MacNN Week That Was column! Rolling into our second month, this is our weekly column on the stories that entertained us, informed us, or amused us in our patrols around the Internet during the week. We're not just highlighting our own writing -- anything that we've discussed behind the scenes here at MacNN is fair game. Read on for thoughts on the events of the week in the tech world!
Match-3 mechanics combine with RPG elements in this Adventure Time-themed game
So you may have noticed this by now, but we've got some serious love for the match-three genre. We especially like games that combine match-three elements with other genres of gaming. You also may have noticed that we're pretty big fans of Adventure Time, too. Well, thanks to Cartoon Network and D3PA, both of our loves are combined in Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, a match-three roleplaying game (RPG) that takes you into the Land of Ooo.
Suit alleged that Apple, Nike knew of FuelBand deficiencies, continued to sell
Apple and Nike have come to an agreement, potentially ending the class action suit against the pair about the Nike FuelBand. Suit BC509363 in the Superior Court of California alleged Apple and Nike of misleading customers on the tracking capability and monitoring accuracy of the Nike FuelBand in marketing materials.
Up to 300 Best Buy stores will sell Apple Watch by holidays
The Apple Watch is going to be easier to acquire in the United States, with major electronics chain Best Buy set to sell the smartwatches to customers from next month. An announcement from the retailer advises that it will be the first national retailer where the Apple Watch can be acquired, aside from Apple's own store network, with the first locations to put the wearable device on sale doing so from August 7.
Apple well aware of issues, blending of Apple Music and iTunes Match at issue
We reported last week on fellow Mac journalist Jim Dalrymple's particularly bad issues with iTunes 12.2 and later on the Mac, centered around the arrival of Apple Music and Apple's attempts to blend the paid service's ability to store songs for later streaming or offline use with some customers' existing or previous iTunes Match libraries, which appears to cause much confusion, ranging from mislabelled entries in the iTunes library to missing songs in some cases.
Apple gives 15-inch MacBook Pro a shot in the arm with Force Touch, new GPU
Apple's 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro continues to be a popular notebook with professional users and prosumers looking for the ultimate mix of performance and portability. The latest version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with some welcome upgrades, including Apple's new Force Touch trackpad, and one of AMD's latest mobile GPUs. Unusually, perhaps, there is no CPU bump on the new model, although that is the result of production delays faced by Intel in bringing its quad-core "Broadwell" processors to market. Nonetheless, the new 15-inch MacBook remains a strong performer, and is worth another look. We take a deeper dive into it in our full review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
MacBook Airs from $759
Today at Apple's online store, find savings on refurbished MacBook Air configurations of up to $260 off. Right now prices start at $759 for 3 different configurations. The first is a 2015 11.6-inch Air that offers a 1.6GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The next one is an 11.6-inch Air from April 2014 that has a 1.4GHz Intel dual-core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A $140 discount drops the cost on the 13.3-inch Air with a 1.4GHz i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Apple increasing efforts in India with search for government affairs specialist
Apple is seeking a senior manager for its New Delhi-based offices that has experience with India's government procurement system, indicating a new pitch to improve sales of the iPhone to the government as well as find someone who can represent the company's position on policy issues that come before the government and "within trade associations," according to the hiring notice.
Company continues long-standing campaign for equal rights for workers
Apple this week is highlighting two areas of protection from discrimination in two separate actions; the endorsement of a new legislation motion to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act, and a spotlight celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act by showcasing a collection of accessibility apps. The company was recently recognized for its leadership in tech accessibility by the National Federation for the Blind.
Android Auto, CarPlay standard in three models of Accord
Car manufacturer Honda has dispelled any confusion about its CarPlay launch plans. At its Mountain View, CA research facility, the company revealed the new 2016 Accord, boasting support for both CarPlay and Android Auto. The new Accord is the first Honda vehicle to have CarPlay support, but the company says that it will have more vehicles in the 2016 line that supports the Apple connectivity standard.
Apple has confirmed the pull, but not the fairly apparent reason why
After months of speculation on the future of the product with Apple, the popular Nest smart thermostat co-developed by ex-Apple employee Tony Fadell and now owned by Google has been purged from both Apple's online store, and also the retail arm of the company. In its place is now the Ecobee 3 HomeKit thermostat.
Phantom adverts affecting data caps, defrauding advertisers
Over 5,000 fraudulent apps currently available for iOS and Android are displaying ads users cannot see, but which are causing problems, using up cellular data, and costing advertisers around $850 million per year, says online fraud research company Forensiq in a new report. The ads are not visible on screen, yet the volume of them contributes to an overal slowing down of iPhone or Android devices while stealing data from often-limited cellular data plans.
Wintel installed base still larger, but Apple sees expansion headroom still
Apple reached a new milestone with its most recent quarterly report, according to analyst Benedict Evans, in that the combined sales of iOS devices now match annual sales of all Windows devices made by various manufacturers. While not unexpected, the change demonstrates the changing nature of computing in the 21st century, which has become increasingly mobile-centric and cloud-dependent -- two trends that have had significant ripple effects through the entire PC industry.
Report claims Apple planning to provide Watch chargers under MFi program
Apple may soon allow producers of docks and stands for the Apple Watch to manufacture their products with a charger built into it. A report claims Apple is close to approving manufacturers under its Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program and providing them with charger components, potentially resulting in third-party docks for the Apple Watch that already include the charging mechanism in a more covert manner than current releases.
Experience from long-time Mac fan voice confirms MacNN testing
Apple cognoscenti Jim Dalrymple posted a missive about his poor experience with iTunes and Apple Music yesterday, confirming ongoing MacNN testing of the issue dating back to just after the launch, and subsequent update of the Apple music player. The pundit notes that amongst other problems the loss of 4,700 songs that he has little hope of getting back, the service is selective as to which tracks are actually added to his Internet-accessible library, sometimes drawing from "greatest hits" albums, and not the actual source of the original recording.
App Store fees, restrictive rules affecting music services draws ire from critics
The terms and fees Apple imposes on other music streaming services using the App Store has come under attack from more sources. US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and advocacy group Consumer Watchdog have both written to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), urging them to investigate whether or not Apple is "engaging in anticompetitive behavior" with regards to Apple Music and its App Store policies.
Mac mini excluded from promotion at Apple Retail, online education store
Apple has launched its Back To School promotion for 2015, at least in part. For this year, the company is giving away a pair of Beats Solo2 headphones with any Mac purchase other than a Mac mini. Alternatively, customers can pay an additional $100 to upgrade to the wireless Beats headphones.
Takes second place in profits, added $200B to market value
Fortune has published its annual Global 500 company rankings, again placing Apple at 15th place worldwide, behind mostly oil companies, two car companies, arch-rival Samsung, and the top choice Walmart. The survey, which analyses company performance from March to March for the magazine's "fiscal year" figures, pegged Apple's revenue at $182.8 billion, with profits at $39.5 billion -- up seven and six percent, respectively.
Fixes issue with flash storage that could cause data corruption
Apple on Wednesday issued a firmware update for the recently-released "mid-2015" MacBook Pro Retina 13- and 15-inch models. The update, aimed at only the MacBook Pro models with the Force Touch trackpad as a distinguishing feature, fixes a problem with flash storage that could, in rare cases, cause data corruption, according to Apple. The 1.9MB file is available directly from Apple and the Mac App Store's update section.
Releases follow latest developer betas, still have plenty of issues
As predicted yesterday, Apple has created public beta versions from the latest developer betas of OS X 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9 for testing with registered testers. The betas are the second public incarnation, but are actually based on the fourth developer betas. Both upgrades, available to the public for free this fall, are still in early stages, and still have a long list of problem areas and issues. Testers are strongly cautioned to heed Apple's warnings about beta software.
Strategy Analytics estimates first-quarter shipments of four million units
One day after Apple CEO Tim Cook debunked reports that sales of the Apple Watch were slipping by saying in a conference call with analysts that in fact, June sales had outperformed both May and April -- including the original rush of pre-orders, new data from Strategy Analytics claims that not only has Apple handily stolen the crown of top smartwatch seller from Samsung in just its first full quarter, the company has outsold all rivals combined year-to-date.
Two Apple Watch charging stands, Casetify store credit on MacNN Deals today
Every day, alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing some of the discounted items available on our own MacNN Deals page. Today's collection consists of accessories for your Apple Watch, including a new strap to make it even more fashionable, and a pair of charging stands designed to present the device smartly while the battery refills.
Region continues to offset normal summer sales doldrums
Although Apple's conference call with analysts on Tuesday was light on new information, a few facts and figures about China -- Apple's fastest-growing sales region by revenue, and currently buying more iPhones than the US -- came to light. In the most recent quarter, Apple's "greater China" revenues (which include Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Taiwan) jumped 112 percent from the year-ago quarter, to $13.2 billion. That's right, more than double. In a year.
Transaction fee, rules for music streaming services in App Store under examination
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly launched an investigation into how Apple treats other music streaming services in the App Store. Continuing from earlier reports that the FTC was merely making queries rather than performing a full investigation, the government agency has allegedly moved into an investigatory phase, looking into whether or not Apple is behaving anti-competitively with regards to the App Store's fees.
CEO specifically debunks recent report of declining sales
Although Apple has declined once again to provide sales numbers on the Apple Watch in order to avoid giving valuable information away to competitors, CEO Tim Cook took time out Tuesday's conference call with analysts to specifically challenge a recent report by Slice Intelligence that claimed that Watch sales were declining, and had fallen 90 percent since its debut weekend. Cook said that in fact, sales in June were the highest yet.
Foreign sales dominate as Apple shatters fiscal Q3 records
The enduring popularity of the iPhone 6 line -- particularly in developing and rapid-growing markets such as China -- has allowed Apple to again beat quarterly best-ever records with its most recent fiscal Q3 report. The company sold more than 47.5 million iPhones, lower than analyst predictions, but which represents 35 percent year-over-year growth. Macs sold 4.7 million units, another record for a fiscal Q3 and up seven percent year-over-year.
Live, up to the minute breakdown of Tim Cook and company's earnings call
While we're not expecting another question about an Apple television set, that doesn't mean that we can't cover the earnings announcement anyway! Starting at 5:00 EDST, join the MacNN team for a live breakdown of figures given by Cook and company, as well as the follow-up question and answer session. The live page found here is now closed, but still available for perusal.
Excised feature returns with same functionality, new bugs
A feature from the iOS 8.4 release pruned by Apple was Home Sharing for music. While possibly removed for licensing reasons, the true reason for the original omission was unclear. However, the feature has been reinstated to all devices, not just the Apple TV, with the new developer beta of iOS 9.
Second public beta of OS X 10.11 now includes Apple retail employees
Apple on Tuesday released new betas for all three of its in-development updates for OS X 10.11 El Capitan, iOS 9, and watchOS 2. The OS X and iOS betas will likely also be available as "public" betas to those who have signed up for the AppleSeed pubic beta program, currently limited to roughly one million users. WatchOS 2 is not available as a public beta, and users are cautioned that only Apple can downgrade the Apple Watch if users install a pirated copy of the earlier (and buggy) beta.
MobileFirst for iOS partnership now offers 32 vertical apps
The partnership between Apple and IBM that targets the enterprise sector continues a steady stream of new app releases, with 10 more announced on Tuesday that brings the total of the year-old partnership to 32 apps for specific industries. The latest batch include apps designed for managers, business travelers, the mortgage industry, government inspectors, and field technicians and professionals, among others.
Amicus curae brief claims verdict will stifle innovation, hurt consumer choice
Silicon Valley powerhouses are giving opinions on the ongoing Apple versus Samsung court battles. In an amicus curae filing, Dell, Ebay, Facebook, Google, and HP are asking the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that Samsung turning over full profits of some phones found in violation of Apple patents would set a dangerous trend, and threaten the entire industry with waves of patent infringement lawsuits which would stifle innovation, and limit choices for consumers.
Former Fiat Chrysler executive heads to Apple, possibly for rumored car project
Rumors of Apple's electric car have been boosted, courtesy of reports that it is bringing on board a senior executive from one automobile manufacturer, as well as a leading researcher in the field of automated vehicles. Doug Betts, previously the head of global quality at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reportedly joins Apple alongside Paul Furgale, a Swiss researcher that is said to be forming a team for a confidential vehicle-related project.
Too busy enjoying Apple Music streaming on my iPod touch
In this early season of presidential candidate pronouncements, its refreshing to see someone not running for office who can crazy with the best of them. On this week's MacNN Podcast We celebrate 10 years of podcasts along with Apple, as well as the new, updated iPod touch. We then proceed, like all good parties, to trash some things -- in this case, iTunes and Neil Young's crazy (high) horse. Show notes after the jump.
Podcast audience overwhelmingly on iOS, use default player
A new report by audio platform Clammr that pushes the notion that podcast listening is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream of American culture (due to popular podcasts such as Marc Maron's WTF and Welcome to Nightvale) reports that the vast majority (66 percent) of podcast listeners are on mobile devices, and that 82 percent of that audience are using iOS devices -- with 78 percent using the default Apple player.
Traditional promotion has been MIA so far this year, revamp may be in cards
Traditionally, Apple launches a Back To School promotion in the first week of July (or first week in January for Australia and New Zealand) that offers extra incentives, such as iTunes Gift Cards, on top of the usual educational discounts on hardware ranging from Macs to iPods. The program has not appeared this year, with no reply from Apple to inquiries about the state of the promotion -- but a weekly video to Apple Store staff from retail chief Dame Angela Ahrendts hints that a rethink on the Back To School idea is coming.
Third spot of new campaign highlights 1.5M apps for iPhone
Apple has released another advertisement in its new "If it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone" campaign, this time focusing on the software experience. The new 30-second ad, titled "Amazing Apps" on Apple's YouTube page, promotes the wide array of apps on iOS, with more than 1.5 million of the "best apps available" available to buy and download to the smartphone.