By now just about everyone knows about ostentatious headphone maker Beats - if you haven't seen them shilled by hip-hop stars and football players, you've seen them in custom-made corner displays at Best Buy. The company has also technically been a part of Apple since May of last year, presumably because a gold iPhone 6 just isn't complete without a matching pair of Champagne Studio Wireless headphones. But a more interesting question to ask is this: what will happen to Beats Music, the multi-platform streaming service that competes with the likes of Spotify?
The Pushbullet team has long impressed us with the creation of a solid product that works as advertised across multiple platforms, pushing files and syncing notifications with ease. Now you can add more names to the list: Mac OS X and the Safari web browser, which join the existing iOS app to flesh out Pushbullet's support for Apple's ecosystem.
Let's be real here, there are no shortage of Mac users who carry around an Android phone (some of them even write for us).
Apple's proprietary iMessage system lets iPhone users send text messages to other iPhone users over a data network, avoiding SMS charges and making texting free, at least within Apple's ecosystem. It's an impressive run-around of the entrenched carrier system - the same basic idea, applied to an agnostic model, has made texting alternatives like WhatsApp fantastically popular. But users found that trying to leave Apple's walled garden was much harder after setting up iMessage with their personal phone numbers.
It's common for companies to eliminate redundancy when an acquisition takes place. So it should come as no surprise that Apple is reportedly in the process of shutting down Beats Music, the streaming service it picked up when it bought the company for $2.6 billion earlier this year. The timeline isn't clear, but the wheels are allegedly already in motion.
As with every iPhone release over the past four years, your average Android fan is probably summing up today's announcement with a big "so what?" In truth, it's an understandable, if predictable, reaction: Apple has quickly gained a reputation in the smartphone community for turning last year's (or the year before that) features into this year's thing you totally won't believe.
As a lumbering multi-hundred-billion dollar consumer product giant, though, Apple has lost the luxury of disrupting a market it took into the mainstream, and has in recent years moved more and more to the conservative side of the smartphone market, calibrating and refining on a basic hardware premise we've all been familiar with since the iPhone 4: one phone, one size, three storage options, and a dogged refusal to give in to market "trends" it didn't agree with.
It's not a complete truce, but Samsung and Apple are backing down slightly from their ongoing patent war. The companies have issued a joint statement announcing the agreement to end all patent litigation between the two outside the US. Cases in the US will continue, though.
Apple first sued Samsung in 2011 for copying the look and feel of iOS in its TouchWiz Android skin. Samsung fired back, and the battle has raged on across the globe ever since.
DoubleTwist's unique Android music app has been able to stream audio to Apple's AirPlay standard for some time, and to Qualcomm's competing AllPlay WiFi speakers since May. But for some reason, the company's Pandora-style streaming music service Magic Radio wasn't included. They have now corrected this oversight, and the latest version of the DoubleTwist app on the Play Store can now stream Magic Radio to AirPlay or AllPlay devices. You'll need the $8.99 upgrade to access streaming.
You can't talk about mobile gaming without mentioning the elephant in the room: the free-to-play model. The bane of many a purist gamer and unwitting parent, an over-reliance on free downloads and hooks for in-app purchases has made mobile gaming a minefield of games based on upsell and addiction. Italy's had enough, and its antitrust authority is investigating app store owners Google, Apple, and Amazon, and game publisher Gameloft, for unfair commercial practices.
Apple and Google have been fighting it out over patents ever since Android devices went on sale. Until today, that involved more than 20 ongoing lawsuits (in the US and Germany) between the two technology behemoths. In a joint statement earlier today, Apple and Google have announced all that is over. They will be ending the patent cases and will instead work to reform patent law.
This certainly sounds great, but it's probably not as significant as you're imagining.
Apple didn't have it all its own way: the jury also found that none of the Samsung phones presented violated two other Apple patents, and they awarded Samsung $158,400 after finding Apple guilty of unintentionally violating one of the Korean company's patents presented in a counter-suit.