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Apple to Debut Revamped Apple Store App With 'For You' Recommendations

applestorenewiconApple will soon introduce a redesigned version of its dedicated Apple Store app, reports Bloomberg. The new version of the app, which is used to make online purchases of Apple products, will feature custom recommendations for new products to buy based on purchase history.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, Bloomberg's report says Apple is likely to include a dedicated "For You" tab in the Apple Store app, mirroring the "For You" sections of the Apple Music and Apple News apps. This tab will offer up purchase suggestions "based on prior orders."

The current Apple Store app, while outfitted with general product recommendations displayed in the "Featured" tab, does not give customers personalized suggestions on what to purchase. It is not known why Apple is making the shift, but it's likely being done in an effort to introduce customers to new products they would not otherwise discover.
The shift toward using recommendations would mark a change for Apple, where privacy concerns have traditionally usurped efforts to use customer-behavior data to garner more revenue. While its music-streaming and news apps also recommend tracks and stories, they primarily do so based on interests that customers have chosen to declare. Amazon and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, meanwhile, regularly mine a user's prior tastes and purchases to generate business by recommending complementary products.
Apple plans to introduce its redesigned Apple Store app in the near future, perhaps within the next two weeks. It will be a universal app that works on both the iPhone and the iPad.

Bluetooth Headphone Revenue Overtakes Non-Bluetooth Ahead of iPhone 7 Launch

As the launch of the iPhone 7 approaches, Bluetooth headphone purchases are on the rise, according to new data shared by NPD Group. In June, Bluetooth headphone revenue overtook non-Bluetooth for the first time, accounting for 54 percent of headphone dollar sales and 17 percent of unit sales in the United States.

The overall headphone category saw seven percent year-over-year growth in pure dollar sales during the first half of 2016, but Bluetooth headphones saw double-digit growth during the same time period. A solid cost decrease helped spur Bluetooth headphone sales, with average selling prices down 5 percent. Nearly 30 percent of Bluetooth headphones sold during 1H 2016 were less than or equal to $50.
"Promotions and new product introductions have helped spur the growth we are seeing in Bluetooth headphones," said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group. "Consumers are already embracing a wireless future and if, as rumored, the headphone jack is removed from the next iPhone, we expect this will continue to drive market share of the Bluetooth category."
Apple's Beats brand and LG dominated the Bluetooth headphone market during the first half of the year, accounting for approximately 65 percent of dollar sales. Bose, Jaybird, and Skullcandy were the other manufacturers to make it into the top five brands, in that order.

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With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple plans to eliminate the headphone jack, requiring consumers to rely on Lightning adapters, Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones, or headphones that include a Lightning connector. Apple's decision will undoubtedly lead to even greater Bluetooth headphone sales as the headphone jack is gradually phased out across its product line and from competing products.

Apple's Car Project Shifts Towards Autonomous Driving System Under Mansfield's Direction

Bob Mansfield, a longtime Apple executive who previously served as Senior Vice President of Technologies, recently took over Apple's secret car project. Under his leadership, Apple's car strategy has shifted towards autonomous driving, reports Bloomberg.

Apple is not abandoning its effort to build a full Apple Car, but it is said to be focusing more heavily on creating an autonomous driving system that would perhaps allow it to partner with or purchase a car manufacturer in the future. Apple is now said to be pursuing a two-prong development approach, working both on a car and the software to power it.

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As Apple takes a renewed interested in autonomous driving systems, it has hired Dan Dodge, who ran BlackBerry's automotive software division and developed QNX, the software platform found in a wide range of in-car infotainment systems. Dodge, like other Apple car engineers and employees, reports to Mansfield, while Mansfield reports directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Mansfield reportedly has three distinct teams in his division: a software team led by John Wright, a sensor team led by Benjamin Lyon, and a hardware engineering team led by D.J. Novotney. Under Mansfield's direction, Apple is continuing its aggressive hiring policies, taking on former Ford employees Todd Gray and Aindrea Campbell, both of whom have experience with car body manufacturing and research.

With Mansfield at the helm, Apple may be able to get its car project back on track. Rumors have suggested that the departure of Steve Zadesky, who formerly led the project, resulted in delays, internal strife due to challenges like unattainable timelines, and organizational changes. Recent rumors suggest Apple is now aiming to launch an Apple Car in 2021 instead of 2020, but if Apple decides to go with a software-based product meant to be built into existing cars, it could potentially debut earlier.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: bloomberg.com

Apple's 'Hard-Nosed' Negotiating Tactics Leading to Trouble in Television Market

Apple's "assertive" negotiation tactics have made it difficult for the company to establish deals with cable providers and networks, reports The Wall Street Journal, stymieing its efforts to build a more robust television platform.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple started talking with the Walt Disney Company in early 2015 about getting Disney-owned content onto its then-planned streaming television service, but Apple executives, iTunes chief Eddy Cue in particular, made demands networks were not prepared to meet.

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In particular, Apple wanted to freeze for several years the monthly rate per viewer it would pay to license Disney channels. TV channels usually get annual rate increases and rely on them to fuel profit growth.

Disney balked. Similar talks with media giants that included 21st Century Fox Inc. and CBS Corp. also stalled.
Apple sees TV as a way to push further product growth, but persuasion tactics that have worked in the mobile phone and music industries aren't working in the television industry. Content providers are reluctant to agree to Apple's terms because it would compromise traditional revenue streams. As The Wall Street Journal points out, inking a "sweetheart" deal with Apple could lead to traditional cable distributors demanding similar deals.

Over the last several years, Apple has made several attempts to enter the television market, seeking deals with Time Warner, Comcast, and other providers, but nothing has panned out. In one instance, Apple wanted full on-demand seasons of hit shows and a recording feature that would include ad-skipping in newly aired shows, something cable executives were surprised by.
Apple sought payments of $10 a month per subscriber from the cable providers and refused to rule out seeking an even higher share of each monthly subscription in the future, according to people involved in the talks. It also wanted users to sign in with Apple IDs, even though Comcast and Time Warner Cable would handle billing and customer service.
Up until last year, Apple was still in talks for a streaming television service that would bundle several popular live channels and on-demand television at a price point of approximately $30 per month, but Apple reportedly put the project on hold after being unable to establish the necessary deals because content providers were reluctant to unbundle their channels. Cue, who leads most of the deals, is known for his "hard-nosed" negotiating style and refuses to settle for less than what Apple wants.

Instead, Apple has shifted towards positioning its Apple TV set top box and the tvOS App Store as a platform to allow networks to share their own original content. Apple is also following in the footsteps of Netflix and Amazon Video with original programming aimed at promoting services like Apple Music and the App Store.

Three shows are in the works: a dark semi-autobiographical drama starring Dr. Dre called "Vital Signs," a reality series that follows App Store developers called "Planet of the Apps," and a music-based reality show that's a spinoff of "Carpool Karaoke."

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Samsung Doubles Apple's Share of Smartphone Market as Customers Await iPhone 7

The latest data from market research firm IDC reveals that Samsung shipped nearly twice as many smartphones as Apple in the fiscal third quarter. Android-based Galaxy smartphone shipments totaled an estimated 77 million, compared to 40.4 million iPhones, during the three-month period that ended in late June. For Apple, the fiscal third quarter is seasonally its lowest of the year.

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Samsung was the most popular smartphone vendor in the quarter with a leading 22.4 percent market share, nearly double Apple's 11.8 percent market share. Samsung experienced 5.5 percent year-over-year growth on the strength of the Galaxy S7 launch in March, whereas Apple declined 15 percent compared to the year-ago quarter as customers await the iPhone 7 series in September.

One bright spot for Apple was the lower-priced iPhone SE, although the iPhone's average selling price dropped to $595 compared to $662 last year:
Apple’s second quarter saw the Cupertino-based giant ship 40.4 million iPhones, representing a 15.0% year-over-year decline from the 47.5 million units shipped last year. The new 4-inch iPhone SE proved successful in both emerging and developed markets as the new SE has captured many first-time smartphone buyers as well as Android users switching over to the Apple ecosystem. The success of the cheaper SE did, however, have an impact on the overall average selling price (ASP) for an iPhone in the quarter. The ASP for an iPhone was $595, down 10.1% from $662 one year ago. As smartphone competition continues to escalate and upgrades continue to slow, Apple will look to drive sales with a newly designed iPhone 7 combined with their upgrade program come this fall.
Apple also ceded market share to Chinese rival Huawei, which ranked third among smartphone vendors with an estimated 32.1 million shipments and 9.4 percent market share. Huawei manufactures Google's popular Nexus 6P and introduced new dual-camera P9 and P9 Plus smartphones in April, but its presence in the United States and other regions is still limited compared to China.

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Chinese rivals OPPO and Vivo rounded out the top five smartphone vendors with quarterly sales of 22.6 million and 16.4 million units respectively. OPPO in particular saw explosive 136.6 percent year-over-year growth over the three months, increasing its market share to 6.6 percent compared to 2.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. Vivo had 9.1 percent market share, an 80.2 percent year-over-year change.

Worldwide smartphone shipments totaled an estimated 343.3 million units in the quarter, an increase of only 0.3 percent from the year-ago quarter, when vendors shipped an estimated 342.4 million units. The relatively flat growth is the result of market saturation and lengthening upgrade cycles, which vendors have attempted to offset by offering incentives such as the iPhone Upgrade Program.

On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company recently sold its 1 billionth iPhone.

Possible iPhone 7 Lightning to 3.5 mm Adapter Surfaces in New Photos

A collection of new photos and a video showcase a Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter, which has previously been rumored as a bundled accessory for the iPhone 7 this fall as a way to assuage users of the smartphone's long-rumored removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The adapter in today's photos was reportedly obtained from a Foxconn factory in Vietnam (via Tinhte.vn) [Google Translate], and the report's author believes it could be a genuine Apple adapter.

iPhone 7 lightning to 3.5mm
As shown in the pictures shared today, the adapter's cord appears short and visually similar to that of Apple's current adapters sold on its website, including the USB-C to USB and Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet accessories. The Lightning plug does not appear to fit particularly well into its sheath, but it's unclear if it might be an incomplete part, damaged during disassembly, or simply a knockoff product.


When the Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter is plugged into a device running iOS 9 or lower, the software displays an incompatibility message to the user, but when used on devices with a beta of iOS 10 installed, the dongle appears to work "immediately" without any issues. The author also notes that if headphones are plugged into both the standard headphone jack on a current iPhone and the adapter connected to Lightning, the device gives priority to the Lightning port for audio output.

iPhone 7 lightning to 3.5mm 3
While the adapter shown today could still potentially be a third-party product, it fits with Apple's design aesthetic and its ability to function with the large number of 3.5 mm headphones already in the wild could be a better solution than a previous, sketchy rumor that hinted at Lightning-enabled EarPods coming with the iPhone 7.

Regardless of whether this leaked adapter is a genuine Apple product or not, Apple's solution will undoubtedly be sleeker than most other current third-party solutions, but many users remain opposed to the removal of the headphone jack that will cause conflicts for users looking to use wired headphones and charge their devices simultaneously.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: tinhte.vn, Lightning

Phil Schiller Named to DNA Sequencing Company Illumina's Board of Directors

phil_schillerDNA sequencing and array-based technologies company Illumina today announced that Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller has joined its board of directors.
“Phil’s track record and global experience in bringing world-class products to market will help guide us as we continue to develop innovative new solutions for our customers,” said Francis deSouza, Illumina President and Chief Executive Officer. “His vision, integrity and passion are fully aligned with Illumina’s core values.”
Schiller has been part of Apple's senior executive team since the late Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997. He has helped market several products, including the Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, Apple TV, and the Apple Watch, and he has managed the App Store across all Apple platforms since last December.

Illumina, founded in 1998, is a San Diego-based biotech company focused on genetic research solutions to fuel advancements in life science research, translational and consumer genomics, and molecular diagnostics. It ranked third on MIT Technology Review's list of the top 50 smartest companies in the world in 2016.

Schiller holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Boston College, where he graduated from in 1982.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Pre-Orders Could Start September 9

Over the weekend well-known mobile phone leaker Evan Blass predicted that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus would release the week of September 12. A short time later, he predicted that it should launch on Friday, September 16. Today, Blass has followed up and reported that pre-orders would take place on Friday, September 9.

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Apple typically announces the newest iPhone a couple days before pre-orders start. With September 5 being Labor Day, it's likely Tuesday, September 6 would be the day of Apple's iPhone 7 event. The dates roughly line up with Apple's usual pattern for iPhone releases. Last year, Apple announced the iPhone on September 9, started pre-orders on September 12 and released it on September 25.

Blass is well known for leaking details and images from Android smartphones well before official confirmations. A couple days before predicting the release week of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, he revealed that the codenames for Apple's new smartphones are "Sonora" and "Dos Palos."


This year's iPhone models are not expected to feature significant design changes aside from the loss of the headphone jack. Instead, Apple is said to be introducing major new features for the 10th anniversary iPhone 8. The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 is expected to get an improved camera and optical image stabilization while the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus may gain a dual-lens camera system and 3 GB of RAM.

Other rumored features for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus include a faster TSMC-made A10 processor, repositioned antenna bands, faster LTE and Wi-Fi, a slightly larger battery, and a minimum 32 GB of base storage.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: Evan Blass

Apple Has Sold 1 Billion iPhones

Apple today announced that it recently sold its one-billionth iPhone, marking a major milestone for the company. CEO Tim Cook shared the news with employees at a staff meeting this morning, as noted in a news story published by Apple.

In a statement, Cook called the iPhone one of the most successful, world-changing products in history, echoing similar sentiments from yesterday's earnings call where he said believes the iPhone is becoming a device that people can't live without.

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Tim Cook holds the billionth iPhone sold
"iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It's become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day," said Cook. "Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we've always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day."
Apple first introduced the iPhone in 2007, and since then, the company has gone on to release nine generations, each with major improvements, revisions, and new features. While iPhone sales have been down for the last two quarters, the 1 billion milestone highlights what a successful product it is.

The iPhone has long been Apple's most important device, responsible for a majority of the revenue that the company brings in.

Next year, Apple will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and the company has something big planned. Rumors suggest the 2017 iPhone will introduce some of the most significant design changes we've seen, with an all glass body and an edge-to-edge display with an integrated camera and Touch ID sensor. Other prospective features include wireless charging, biometric additions like iris or facial scanning, and a faster A11 chip.

Tag: Tim Cook

Apple Partners With Parkopedia to Bring In-Depth Parking Data to Apple Maps

Parking service company Parkopedia today announced that it will begin to provide its enhanced and detailed parking information services directly within Apple Maps. With the partnership between the two companies, that means iOS users will be able to visit Apple Maps to discover more than 40 million parking spots in 75 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The integration of Parkopedia into Apple Maps actually began in March inside of the United States, but today marks the official worldwide launch of the new resource. With the parking company's "rich information," Apple Maps users will be able to search for parking garages and lots, while reading about their location, payment type, number of spaces, and more. Future updates will allow users to filter search results, in order to discover the cheapest lots first, for example.

Parkopedia Apple Maps
While reading through some Parkopedia information for a parking lot in Apple Maps, users will be able to follow a link to reserve a spot, although that process takes them out of Maps to complete the payment process on the Parkopedia website or within the company's iOS app [Direct Link]. "More detailed information" will also be available outside of Apple Maps and in Parkopedia itself, including pricing, user reviews, special offers and real-time space availability.
"We're excited to deliver detailed information on more than 40 million parking spaces in 75 countries to Apple Maps customers. This is a very important milestone for Parkopedia. Our combined footprint in the consumer and automotive space is huge and this opens the doors to delivering a world of innovative solutions," stated Parkopedia's Head of Marketing, Christina Onesirosan Martinez.
Apple Maps has been receiving steady updates to help bolster its navigation and research abilities for users visiting new cities, or simply trying to find new venues in their hometown. Among these changes coming in iOS 10 are new parked car notifications, which reminds users where they left their car -- especially when parking in large garages or lots -- with the help of a simple geo-locked icon within Apple Maps. Combined with Parkopedia's information catalog, this could help Apple get a leg up on its rivals in the GPS map app space.

MacBook Air With USB-C Again Rumored, Launch Timeframe Unclear

Last month, Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported that Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models featuring USB-C ports based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol by the end of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August. It is now seven weeks later, however, and the rumor has yet to materialize.

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But if a new report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes is to believed, Apple still has plans to release a new MacBook Air with USB-C ports after all. The report does not provide a launch timeframe for the updated notebooks, but the secondary rumor suggests Mac Otakara may have been off on timing only.
Currently, Apple has decided to adopt the USB Type-C interface for its MacBook Air, while Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are upgrading one of their notebooks' regular USB port to the Type-C. Lenovo, Acer and Dell are still evaluating the option.
DigiTimes previously reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter, which ended in late June. The report said the new MacBooks would "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air."

DigiTimes also previously reported that Apple plans to release new ultra-thin MacBooks with metal injection molded hinges in the second half of 2016. The website is not always an accurate source of Apple's upcoming product plans, but it has well-connected supply chain sources that have proven reliable at times in the past.

Apple's entire Mac lineup, beyond the 2016 12-inch MacBook, has stagnated. Apple has not released a new MacBook Air in over 500 days, beyond a minor 8GB RAM bump for 13-inch models in April. Some believe the MacBook Air's days are numbered, but perhaps the notebook will live on until Apple can sell the 12-inch MacBook from $999.

Alternatively, it is possible that DigiTimes is misinterpreting a thinner MacBook Pro with USB-C ports as a MacBook Air.

If a new MacBook Air is incoming, a late-year launch is most probable. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will launch three new MacBook models by year's end: a thin and light 13-inch MacBook in the June-September quarter, and two thinner and lighter 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models in the September-December quarter.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Tags: digitimes.com, USB-C
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Don't Buy)

Australian Banks Challenge Apple Over Mobile Payment App Restrictions

Three of Australia's biggest banks have lodged a joint application with anti-trust regulators to negotiate with Apple over gaining access to the NFC-based mobile payment hardware in its smartphones (via Reuters).

Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank (NAB), and Westpac have so far resisted signing deals to use the company's Apple Pay mobile payment system, because they want their customers to be able to use digital wallets they have already financed and developed.

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However, none of the banks want to be accused of violating anti-competition law by negotiating deals, which is where the application comes in.

If the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lets the banks collectively negotiate with Apple under the terms of the application, it would enable them to undertake "a limited form of boycott" in which they would all agree not to negotiate with Apple individually while the talks take place.

Apple currently only allows its own mobile payment system to access the NFC-hardware in its iPhone devices, which banks argue is an anti-competitive restriction that hampers consumer choice.
"This is about providing Australians with real choice and better outcomes," said Lance Blockley, a senior advisor at Novantas who spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald on behalf of the banks.

"If successful, the application would have tremendous benefits for the entire Australian mobile payments landscape including for public transport fares, airlines, ticketing, store loyalty and rewards programs and many more applications yet to be developed."
Apple Pay launched in Australia in November, but has since been slow to roll out in the country. The delay was thought to be down to issues Apple was experiencing negotiating fees with the nation's largest banking institutes.

Three months ago it added Apple Pay support for credit and debit cards from the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (aka ANZ), the only bank in Australia's "Big Four" that played no part in the latest application.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Australia