Apple, U2 reportedly working on secret new digital music format

Sep 18, 2014 - 11:39 AM - by sparkyscott21

U2's new collaboration with Apple appears to run deeper than the recent exclusive release of the band's new Songs of Innocence album on iTunes, as the Irish rockers are said to be working alongside the iPhone maker to create a new digital music format.

Though details are nowhere to be found, U2 frontman Bono believes that the new format will spur a resurgence of buying music, rather than streaming or illegally downloading tracks. He told Time that recent arguments for streaming and looking the other way on piracy — that they spur sales of tickets for live concert tours — don't take into account the needs of less well-known artists.

"Songwriters aren't touring people," Bono said in an interview. "Cole Porter wouldn't have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn't coming to a stadium near you."

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was apparently keen to the idea of a new high-definition digital music format, as Canadian rock legend Neil Young revealed in 2012 that the two were working together on such a project. Young said the new format would have offered fans uncompromised studio quality sound in the form of digital music downloads, but Young apparently decided to go in his own separate direction, releasing the Pono music player and accompanying download service earlier this year.

U2 has long collaborated with Apple on consumer-facing products like the U2-edition iPod and Product (Red) accessories, but the group was reportedly rebuffed for more in-depth partnerships under late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Bono indicated as much in 2009 when the group signed a deal with Canadian smartphone makers BlackBerry.

"I'm very excited about this," he said at the time. "Research In Motion is going to give us what Apple wouldn't — access to their labs and their people so we can do something really spectacular."

Apple's tune seems to have changed under new CEO Tim Cook, who has led the company in a much more open direction. The recent $3 billion acquisition of headphone maker Beats and Apple's new enterprise tie-up with former blood rival IBM are prime examples of this change of course, which also includes more transparency on issues like privacy.



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iOS 8 has been released – download the update now!

Sep 17, 2014 - 12:23 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple's hotly anticipated free iOS 8 update for iPhone and iPad is now available to download, giving users access to a wide range of new features including third-party keyboard support, Notification Center widgets, extensions, Hey Siri hands-free voice activation, and much more.

The iOS 8.0 update can be accessed through the Settings application, under General and then Software Update. iOS 8 is compatible with the iPhone 4s and newer, iPad 2 and newer, all iPad mini models, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.

One of the key features of this year's update is what Apple calls Continuity, which allows users to seamlessly transition between devices and pick up where they left off. Continuity will allow users to answer iPhone calls from their iPad, or send standard SMS text messages when their iPad is connected to their iPhone.

Enabling Handoff takes this one step further, and allows users to begin composing an email, text message or other task on one device, only to continue on another. Continuity features, including Handoff, are included in iOS 8 and are coming to Macs later this year with the release of OS X Yosemite.

iOS 8 also opens up the ability for developers to create their own keyboards that users can install. Apple's own keyboard has also been enhanced with QuickType predictive word recommendations, which are displayed above the virtual keyboard as a user types.

Notification Center also gets overhauled in iOS 8 with new widgets that can be enabled and displayed as users wish. Both widgets and keyboards come included with applications that can be downloaded from the iOS App Store.

Apple has also granted developers the ability to secure apps with Touch ID fingerprint scans starting with iOS 8. And new extensions support will allow developers to also tap into other native iPhone apps and features, such as plug-ins for the Camera, photo editing, and the Safari Web browser.

Messages in iOS 8 adds a new Tap to Talk button allowing users to quickly share voice memos, and holding down on the camera icon will also allow quick photos and videos. Users can now share several photos and videos at once and easily browse through all of them within a conversation from one place.

New group messaging features grant users the ability to add and remove contacts, and the option not to be disturbed or to leave a conversation entirely. With iOS 8, users can also choose to share their current location from within Messages for an hour, a day or longer.

The iOS 8 Photos app brings new editing tools, such as automatically straightening horizons, and smart editing tools that quickly adjust light and color with a swipe. Individual

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Apple's next product splash slated for second half of October

Sep 17, 2014 - 11:37 AM - by sparkyscott21

Though the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch have been formally introduced, Apple is far from calling it quits on 2014, with the company's next major product unveiling expected to take place around mid-to-late October, AppleInsider has learned.

A person familiar with the company's pre-launch logistics says Apple has set internal project and marketing deadlines of mid-October, ahead of the planned unveiling of major new products during the second half of the month. That would align with an anticipated media event previously rumored to be held at some point during October. The same source who spoke to AppleInsider has shared reliable information on product introduction and timing in the past.

Of course, Apple has used the latter month of October to introduce new products in years past, including the unveiling of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display last year. Both of those products were introduced at a media event on Oct. 22, 2013, before they went on sale to consumers in early November.

This year, Apple is widely expected to unveil its latest iPads at an October media event, with both the next-generation iPad Air and iPad mini rumored to feature the company's secure Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It's also likely that the new models will boast the same A8 processor found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Also on tap for debut later this year is Yosemite, the latest free OS X update. Yosemite will tie closely into Apple's iOS 8 mobile operating system update for iPhone and iPad, scheduled to be released to the public on Wednesday.

The company has also revealed that Apple Pay, its NFC-based secure mobile payment service for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, will launch with a forthcoming iOS 8 update in October.

Less certain is an anticipated MacBook Air redesign with a high-resolution Retina display and an all-new ultra-thin form factor. The existing 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air models without Retina displays were updated in April with modest upgrades and price cuts, while the newly redesigned version was originally claimed to debut this year.

However, recent rumors have suggested the launch of a new MacBook Air with Retina display may be pushed back to 2015. The new model is expected to come in one screen size of 12 inches, and is rumored to feature a fan-less quiet design, click-less trackpad, and fewer inputs and outputs on its shrunken frame.

Retina displays are also rumored to come to Apple's iMac lineup, but there has been even less concrete evidence for a 2014 debut for a high-resolution all-in-one Mac desktop. Also a candidate for a Retina display would be Apple's premium Thunderbolt Display, something fans have hoped for since the new cylindrical Mac Pro debuted in late 2013.

Finally, the company is also rumored to be working on an update to its Apple TV set-top box, potentially with new input methods and support for downloadable third-party applications. But the latest claims suggest Apple remains held up by talks with cable companies and content owners, suggesting that such negotiations could push the launch of a hardware

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Attorney general wants to quiz Tim Cook about Apple Watch privacy

Sep 16, 2014 - 10:54 AM - by sparkyscott21

Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen wants to know just closely Apple Watch will, err, watch you.

Tim Cook may have been on the receiving end of welcoming notes from other watchmakers now the Apple Watch has been announced, but not every note has been so friendly.

On Monday, the office of Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen revealed that he had sent an open letter to Tim Cook noting concerns about the privacy implications of Apple Watch, particularly related to the handling of health data.

In his letter, Jepsen requests a meeting with Apple to discuss how this information will be stored and safeguarded, perhaps partially provoked by concerns lingering from the recent iCloud hacking incident.

Jepsen wants to know whether personal and health information will be stored on the Apple Watch itself or on Apple servers. He says that he is not accusing Apple of anything, but rather trying to open up a dialog.

While the company has reportedly yet to respond, Jepsen may well find Apple agrees on many of his concerns. Recently the App Store’s Review Guidelines were updated, letting developers know that HealthKit data must not be stored on iCloud, and that apps are barred from sharing HealthKit data with third parties without user consent.

Tim Cook has also been outspoken about Apple’s difference from Google as a company — noting that Apple is not a business built on monetizing user data.

“You are not our product,” Cook said during his recent interview with Charlie Rose. “I think everyone has to ask, ‘How do companies make their money?’ Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried and you should really understand what’s happening with that data.”

George Jepsen’s letter to Tim Cook, dated Friday 12th, can be read here.



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Square reportedly turned down $3 billion offer from Apple

Sep 12, 2014 - 10:24 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple put mobile wallet payment platforms like Google Wallet, Square and PayPal on notice this week with the reveal of Pay, but before Cupertino decided to launch its answer to the wallet, sources tell TechCrunch the company was eyeing an acquisition of Square.

Square’s simplistic payments platform seems like it would have been the perfect fit for Apple and would have added “Next Steve Jobs Nominee” Jack Dorsey to its loaded executive ranks, but after Apple executives failed to put enough cash on the table, Square walked away from negotiations.

“Apple wanted the company to come aboard, according to one source, but the discussed price was a sticking point: The tipster held that Apple wanted to buy Square for less than half of the $6 billion valuation it eventually would raise at (around $3 billion). Square, valued at the time at a firm 66 percent delta to that price point, declined to accept.”

After getting rejected, Apple went on to announce its competing mobile service, Apple Pay, that will allow iPhone 6 and Apple Watch users to pay for physical goods at retail locations with one simple tap. Instead of using Square to power the mobile payments, Apple has turned to Stripe as its partner for payments processing.

The report also notes that Apple showed Square a software register, booking services, and payment systems for iPhone, but Square’s people weren’t exactly thrilled about Apple’s enthusiasm to get into financial sector, as they felt the products would possibly outshine and out compete their own offerings.

Square recently raised a new $100 million of funding bring its valuation to $6 billion as the company is rumored to be heading for an IPO in the near future.



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Cook says Apple working on products that 'haven't been rumored about yet'

Sep 12, 2014 - 10:19 PM - by sparkyscott21

In an upcoming PBS interview with Charlie Rose, set to air Friday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the company's current product lineup, Beats, Apple TV, Steve Jobs' legacy and hints at new product categories that "no one knows about."

When asked about Apple's future product pipeline, Cook admitted that there are a lot of things the company has interest in, but a focus on execution prohibits the number of devices it can work on at any given point.

"There are products we're working on that no one knows about, yes. That haven't been rumored about yet," Cook said.

On the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Cook trumpeted praise for the latest handsets, gushing about the Retina HD displays, thinness and speed. Cook pooh-poohed a question asking whether Apple was playing catch-up with Samsung in releasing new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.

"No, we — honestly, Charlie, we could have done a larger iPhone years ago. It's never been about just making a larger phone," Cook said, adding, "It's been making — it's been about making a better phone in every single way."

The Apple chief also talks about Apple TV, reiterating that television is an area of "great interest" for the company. As usual, not much was shared in the way of details, though Cook did reveal a few things he would like to

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