Apple confirms its plans to close retail stores in the patent troll-favored Eastern District of Texas


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Apple has confirmed its plans to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas — a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits, according to Apple news sites 9to5Mac and MacRumors, which broke the news of the stores’ closures. Apple says that the impacted retail employees will be offered new jobs with the company as a result of these changes.

The company will shut down its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas as well as its Apple Stonebriar store in Frisco, Texas, MacRumors reported, and Apple confirmed. These stores will permanently close up shop on Friday, April 12. Customers in the region will instead be served by a new Apple store located at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is expected to open April 13.

Apple did not comment on the stores’ dates of closure or the new store’s opening.

However,

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Apple could be looking for its next big revenue model


This post is by Ron Miller from TechCrunch


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Apple has always been an evolving company. While it never really invented any product categories, it always seemed to make those product categories work better and smarter. It also found a way to make us want them, even when they were more expensive. Today, the WSJ reports, Apple is trying to find its way to a future without the iPhone at the center of its revenue model.

This shift happens as Apple reported lower revenue for the first time in years against a backdrop of flagging iPhone demand. Part of the problem is a shifting Chinese market, but it’s also due to people simply taking longer to refresh their phones. As that happens, and the price of iPhones soared to more than $1,000, there has been a decline in sales.

With iPhone sales down 15 percent, this was not a typical Apple earnings report, but it was something the company

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Apple could release a 16-inch MacBook Pro and a 31-inch 6K display


This post is by Romain Dillet from TechCrunch


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Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is quite reliable when it comes to Apple’s road map. And he shared a ton of information over the weekend in a new report obtained by 9to5mac. In 2019, you can expect a bigger MacBook Pro, a new display and upgrades to iPhones, iPads and AirPods.

Let’s start with the Mac. According to Kuo, Apple has been working on a MacBook Pro with an all-new design. It’s unclear if those future models will retain the same keyboard, as many users have been complaining about the reliability of the butterfly keyboard.

But Kuo learned there will be a bigger model, with a 16 to 16.5-inch display. Let’s hope that Apple is going to trim down the bezels around the display.

TechCrunch already reported that Apple will release a new Mac Pro in 2019. But Kuo believes the company is also going to release a high-end display

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Apple partners with Oakland nonprofit Dream Corps on Swift coding initiative


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Apple this morning announced a new partnership designed to train more people to code using its own programming language, Swift. The company says it’s now working with the Oakland-based nonprofit organization Dream Corps on the initiative, which will see Apple providing technology along with curriculum guidance, professional support and advocacy to individuals in middle and high schools, college and beyond.

The nonprofit currently operates its own learn-to-code program called #YesWeCode, which has graduated 100 people to date and placed around 60 percent in tech jobs. Its long-term goal is to help 100,000 young people from underrepresented backgrounds to be able to train for jobs in tech.

“I see Dream Corps as a peace corps for the American Dream,” said CEO Vien Truong, in a statement. Truong joined the organization in 2015, and is herself the youngest of 11 children born to an immigrant couple who migrated from Vietnam in the 1970’s,

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Apple acquires talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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Apple has just bought up the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod, and its voice strategy. Apple has acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, according to Axios’ Dan Primack and Ina Fried. The company makes voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to power those experiences, and toys like talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString went on to raise $44 million.

Apple’s Siri is seen as lagging far behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of developer ecosystem. Google and Amazon has built platforms to distribute Skills from tons of voice app makers, including storytelling, quizzes, and other games for kids. If Apple wants to take a real shot at becoming the center of your connected living room with

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SEC charges former Apple compliance lawyer with insider trading, avoiding $382K in losses


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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The shine on Apple is getting a little tarnished. Today, the SEC filed a suit against Gene Levoff, a lawyer who used to work for the iPhone giant, accusing him of insider trading, selling millions of dollars in stock ahead of earnings and saving himself some $382,000 in losses the process, and in a separate, earlier period, $245,000 in profits.

Levoff started to work for Apple in 2008, first as director of corporate law and then senior director. He was put on leave from Apple in July 2018, and his employment was terminated in September 2018.

The suit covers activities 2015 and 2016, years when Apple saw a dip in performance before it roared back with a trillion dollar market cap in 2017.

The news is especially ironic — although perhaps not surprising, considering the information Levoff had at his disposal: he had been the company’s Senior Director of Corporate

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Daily Crunch: Apple’s subscription fix


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Apple’s iOS update makes it easier to get to your subscriptions

Moving the Manage Subscriptions menu so that it’s just one click away from your App Store profile might seem like a minor change, but it was needed: As more mobile apps have adopted subscriptions as a means of generating revenue, it’s become critical to ensure consumers know how to turn off their subscriptions.

Plus, Apple is expected to launch some subscriptions of its own, namely for its streaming video and news services.

2. Instagram confirms that a bug is causing follower counts to change

Don’t panic! Instagram says it’s “aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people

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Sling TV closes year with 2.4 million subscribers, but growth slowed significantly


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Sling TV’s growth has slowed dramatically as the competitive landscape for live TV streaming services has heated up. Despite this, the Dish -owned streaming service remains ahead of rivals in terms of subscriber count – largely due to it being first to market with streaming TV. Dish said today it closed out the year with 2.417 million Sling TV subscribers. That puts it ahead of AT&T’s DirecTV Now, which ended 2018 with 1.6 million subscribers.

It’s also more than newcomers like YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV. The latter topped 1 million subscribers this past fall. YouTube TV doesn’t report its numbers, but had an estimated 800,000 subscribers as of last July. It’s likely neck-and-neck with Hulu Live TV at this point.

Dish reported its Sling TV numbers as a part of its Q4 2018 earnings, which also indicated that Sling TV is nowhere near making

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Apple’s iOS update makes it easier to get to your subscriptions


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Apple has made a small but important change to iOS that will allow users an easier way to manage their app subscriptions. In the latest release of the mobile operating system (iOS 12.1.4 and 12.2 beta), the company has relocated the “Manage Subscriptions” setting so it’s only one click away when you tap on your profile in the App Store, instead of being buried more deeply within the settings.

This may seem like a minor change, but it was a much-needed one.

As more mobile apps have adopted subscriptions as a means of generating revenue, it’s become critical to ensure consumers knew how to turn their subscriptions off. And, based on a reading of many angry App Store app reviews, many people don’t know how to do this. Most assume that they should reach out to the developer to have their subscription disabled – after all, it’s

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No, Tencent isn’t about to burn Reddit down


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Ahoy, it’s doom and gloom for Reddit after the company welcomed investment from Chinese censorship overlord Tencent.

Well, not quite.

The reality is, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In recruiting the company behind one of the internet’s largest and vibrant social networks — chat app WeChat — and countless blockbuster games, Reddit has pulled off a major coup and banked a huge amount of cash, both of which can help it grow to the next level.

But, right now, reports in the U.S. are suggesting otherwise. You might have seen a range of negative stories surface in the past week following Reddit’s latest round of investment — first reported by TechCrunch — which is led by Tencent and values the company at $3 billion.

Triggered by a Gizmodo story last week, fear is being stoked that a deal with the “Chinese censorship powerhouse” could lead Reddit awry and bankrupt

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Apple fails to block porn & gambling “Enterprise” apps


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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Facebook and Google were far from the only developers openly abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program meant for companies offering employee-only apps. A TechCrunch investigation uncovered a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple’s oversight. The developers passed Apple’s weak Enterprise Certificate screening process or piggybacked on a legitimate approval, allowing them to sidestep the App Store and Cupertino’s traditional safeguards designed to keep iOS family friendly. Without proper oversight, they were able to operate these vice apps that blatantly flaunt Apple’s content policies.

The situation shows further evidence that Apple has been neglecting its responsibility to police the Enterprise Certificate program, leading to its exploitation to circumvent App Store rules and forbidden categories. For a company whose CEO Tim Cook frequently criticizes its competitors for data misuse and policy fiascos like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica, Apple’s failure to catch and block these porn and gambling

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Sub-brands are the new weapon in China’s smartphone war


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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One of China’s top smartphone brands Vivo appears to have joined its fellows Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi in setting up a new sub-brand as a softening market and heightened competition at home drive players to venture upon their original reach.

A new smartphone brand called iQoo made its debut on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, on Tuesday by greeting in English: “Hello, this is iQoo.” It also playfully encouraged people to guess how its name is pronounced, as the spelling doesn’t resonate with either Chinese or English speakers. Vivo immediately reposted iQoo’s message, calling iQoo a “new friend.”

Vivo has not further revealed its ties with iQoo, although the latter’s Weibo account is verified under Vivo’s corporate name. TechCrunch has contacted Vivo and will update the story when we have more information.

vivo iqoo

Screenshot of iQoo’s first Weibo post

Sub-brands have become a popular tactic for Chinese smartphone

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New figures highlight the iPhone’s rough quarter in China


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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When Apple issued revised guidance for its quarterly earnings last month, the company singled out China as a primary driver for its disappointing result. Sure enough, iPhone revenue declined 15 percent year over year, and now IDC’s got some more insight into the role the Chinese market may have played in that decline.

New figures out this week show right around a 20 percent dip in shipments in China y-o-y for the quarter. That’s a pretty dramatic drop for a market that’s been a key factor in Apple’s growth plans, going forward. That marks a drop from 12.9 to 11.5 percent of the market. Last month, Tim Cook highlighted some of the reasons for the drop in the world’s largest smartphone market.

Among the reasons cited are international trade tensions and an overall slowing Chinese economy. Of course, Apple’s not alone in seeing a decline. Smartphone shipments are

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Apple partners with VA to bring Health Records to veterans


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Apple announced this morning it has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make the Health Records feature on iPhones available to veterans. The deal will allow the veterans to view their medical information across participating institutions, including the VA, organized in the Apple Health app.

These health records include allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will be displayed alongside other information, like Apple Watch data. This gives VA patients a more comprehensive view of their medical history and health data, Apple says.

The medical information is also secured through encryption and protected by the iPhone user’s passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.

Apple was reported to be in discussions with the Department of Veterans Affairs about this deal back in November of last year. At the time, it was said that in addition to the health record integration on iPhones, Apple would

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Fitbit’s newest fitness tracker is just for employees and health insurance members


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Fitbit has a new fitness tracker, but it’s one that you can’t buy in stores.

The company quietly uncorked the Inspire on Friday, releasing its first product that is available only to corporate employees and health insurance members. The idea is to offer a fully subsidized wearable that helps the company dig deeper into the corporate and business worlds.

The new devices are available as a wristband with the option of a clip. The basic tracker’s features are pretty standard and include activity and sleep tracking, calory burn and alerts from a connected phone. A higher specced model includes heart rate tracking, GPS for fitness tracking and deeper analytics on sleep. No prices are displayed on the website, but eligible customers won’t need to pay.

In an interview with CNBC, CEO James Park said the company has 6.8 million users on wellness programs include Fitbit devices via employers, health plans or

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Apple turns Ariana Grande and other musicians into Memoji for its latest ads


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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Just in time for the Grammy Awards, Apple has unveiled three new ads for Apple Music, featuring new singles from Ariana Grande, Khalid and Florida Georgia Line.

In each video, the musicians have been transformed in Memoji (the human-style Animoji variant that was announced last year), which lip synch to their latest songs. The ads probably won’t change any minds when it comes to Memoji and Animoji — but if you like the format, they’re are fun.

Apple actually created similar ads with Animoji lip synching to Childish Gambino and Migos before last year’s Grammys.

As The Verge points out, if you watch to the end of the videos and pay attention to the small print, you’ll notice that these Memoji were “professional animated.” So don’t feel too bad if your lip synching Animoji videos don’t look quite as good.

Update to iOS 12.1.4 to re-enable Group FaceTime


This post is by Romain Dillet from TechCrunch


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That nasty FaceTime bug is now a thing of the past. You can now download and update your iPhone and iPad to re-enable Group FaceTime again. iOS 12.1.4 is a bug fix release and doesn’t contain any new feature other than this one.

Shortly after people found out that you could eavesdrop on somebody’s microphone or camera by starting a fake Group FaceTime call, Apple disabled Group FaceTime altogether. If you’re running iOS 12.1.3 or earlier, you simply can’t start or join a FaceTime call with more than two persons.

The company has been working on a fix to re-enable Group FaceTime without the nasty bug. And that update is now available.

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week,” Apple said in a statement last week. “We

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Clean Your Phone Right Now


This post is by Josh Ocampo from Lifehacker


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We touch our phones some 2,617 times a day (yep, that includes every swipe and tap). We take them with us everywhere: bathrooms, gyms, subways, and buses. They’re like an extra limb or appendage. And while most of us think to clean doorknobs, faucets, or anything else in contact with our hands, we rarely think of our…

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Angela Ahrendts is leaving Apple


This post is by Greg Kumparak from TechCrunch


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Angela Ahrendts will depart Apple in April, almost exactly five years after taking on a role as the company’s senior vice president of retail. Apple says Ahrendts is leaving “for new personal and professional pursuits.”

Ahrendts’ joining of Apple in 2014 was massive news, with her having just served as the CEO of the luxury fashion brand Burberry from 2006 to 2014. She lead the charge to “reimagine” Apple’s retail stores, shifting them to what she hoped felt more like a “modern-day town square”. Her in-store product education program, “Today at Apple”, launched around two years ago, and the company continues to add new courses on the regular.

The company says Ahrendts’ responsibilities will now be handled by Deirdre O’Brien, whose title is changing from “senior vice president of People” to “senior vice president of Retail + People”. O’Brien joined Apple 30 years ago in 1988; her

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iOS 12.2 beta includes new Animojis and fake 5G logo


This post is by Romain Dillet from TechCrunch


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Apple has released a new beta version of iOS 12.2 yesterday. While the final version isn’t available just yet, here’s what you should expect: new Animojis and a fake 5G logo if you’re an AT&T customer.

If you have an iPhone X, XS, XS Max or XR, you’ll see new animals in the Animoji collection. As 9to5mac spotted, you will be able to record video message and replace your head with a giraffe, an owl, a shark or a warthog. These Animojis will also work during FaceTime calls.

Here’s a picture from 9to5mac with the new lineup:

More interestingly, Apple succumbed to AT&T’s marketing plot to rename 4G into 5G. MacRumors noticed that some AT&T users now have a ‘5G E’ icon in the top right corner when they upgrade to the beta version of iOS 12.2. Some Android phones already show a 5G E icon after

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