Investigations into Apple’s iPhone Battery Slowdowns Spread to Italy and South Korea

Italy and South Korea on Thursday joined a growing list of countries in which class-action lawsuits and government investigations into Apple's iPhone battery slowdowns are underway.

Italy's antitrust body revealed it had opened a probe into allegations that Apple used iOS updates to slow older smartphones and push clients into buying new models (via Reuters). The Italian watchdog said Apple had failed to inform customers that the updates might have a negative impact on the performance of their phones, suggesting the company might have infringed four separate articles of the national consumers' code.


In a first among the recent wave of battery probes, Samsung is also suspected of orchestrating "a general commercial policy taking advantage of the lack of certain components to curb the performance times of their products and induce consumers to buy new versions," said the Italian watchdog. If found guilty, the two companies risk multi-million euro fines.

Meanwhile, a South Korean consumer group has filed a criminal complaint against Apple CEO Tim Cook, accusing his company of defrauding iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

In its complaint, filed Thursday, the advocacy group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty accused Apple of destruction of property and fraud. According to Reuters, the group also represents around 120 plaintiffs in a civil damage suit filed against Apple earlier in January.

Apple has already admitted that it slows down some older iPhones with degraded batteries during times of peak power usage in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns, and accepts that it should have provided a clearer explanation when it introduced the power management feature in iOS 10.2.1.

Following an apology, Apple has implemented a battery replacement program that allows all customers with an iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, and SE to replace their batteries for a reduced fee through the end of 2018.

Apple has also said it is introducing better battery monitoring features in a future iOS update, which will include the ability for customers to turn off the power management feature it introduced in iOS 10.2.1. However, despite efforts to rectify the issue, the company is now facing lawsuits, state investigations, or consumer group probes in countries including China, France, and the U.S. over the controversy.


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Apple Now Selling Refurbished 2017 27-inch iMac Models in Europe

Apple quietly updated several of its European online stores for refurbished products over the last couple of days, and has added its latest 27-inch 5K iMac models to the discounted listings for the first time.

The iMacs were first released in June of 2017 and feature Kaby Lake processors, faster SSDs, and AMD discrete graphics. Online stores in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Spain have all been updated with the new stock, although the largest range of configurations currently appears in the United Kingdom.


In the U.K., for example, an entry-level model with 8GB RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive, a 3.4GHz i5 processor, and a Radeon Pro 570 is priced at £1,489, which is a £260 discount off the standard price.

This is the first time the machines have been available in refurbished stores around Europe since their introduction at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple first began selling the refurb models in the U.S. and Canada back in August.

In addition, Apple has boosted its European stock of refurbished 21.5-inch 4K iMacs, also released in June of this year. Apple has added a range of configurations, from low-end to top-of-the-line. As with all refurbished products, stock will fluctuate regularly based on the machines Apple is getting in for repair.

All of Apple's refurbished products go through a rigorous refurbishment process before being offered for sale, which includes inspection, repairs, cleaning, and repackaging. Refurbished Macs come with a one-year warranty that can be extended with an AppleCare+ purchase. For more tips on purchasing a refurbished product, make sure to check out our guide.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Neutral)

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Apple Pay Expanding to AIB in Ireland, CaixaBank in Spain, and Other Banks in UK, France, and Italy

Apple Pay continues its global expansion today with several new participating banks, and more coming soon, in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the UK.


In France, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year to Banque BCP and Arkéa Banque Privée customers, and through mobile-only banking and/or payment solutions Orange Bank, Lydia, and N26.

In Italy, as promised, Apple Pay is available now for American Express credit cards issued directly by American Express.

In Ireland, Apple Pay is available now at AIB, one of the so-called "Big Four" financial institutions in the country.


In Spain, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year at CaixaBank and mobile-only banking app imaginBank. Visa in general will also begin supporting Apple Pay in Spain by the end of the year.

In the UK, Apple Pay is now supported by mobile-only banking app Starling Bank.

Earlier this month, Apple announced several other new and forthcoming banks with Apple Pay support in France, Italy, and Spain. Apple maintains a complete list of Apple Pay participating banks in Europe on its website.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Ireland

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Apple Pay Expanding to Additional Banks in France, Italy, and Spain

Apple has updated its regional websites to indicate that Apple Pay is expanding to additional banks in France, Italy, and Spain.


In France, Apple Pay will be available later this year at Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, Crédit Mutuel du Sud-Ouest, and Crédit Mutuel Massif Central, which are the three regional federations of Crédit Mutuel Arkéa. Apple Pay is also coming to Crédit Mutuel Arkéa's online banking subsidiary Fortuneo, and Max.

In Italy, Apple Pay is now available at Banca Mediolanum for Mediolanum Card debit cards, which are based on Mastercard's Maestro network.


In Spain, Apple Pay is now supported by Boon, a mobile wallet solution based on a prepaid account with a digital Mastercard. Boon users top-up their accounts with a debit or credit card, or via wire transfer. Boon also supports Apple Pay in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Ireland, and Italy.

In Spain, Apple Pay will also be available through mobile-only bank N26 later this year. The service has a partnership with Mastercard.

Apple maintains a list of Apple Pay participating banks in Europe, although it has yet to be updated to reflect today's additions.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Spain, France, boon

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Proposed Law Against Apple’s ‘Walled Garden’ Software Approach Sparks Fears of iPhone Ban in Italy

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera [Google Translate] published a headline today that translates to "the bill that could ban the iPhone in Italy."


The bill in question, Senate Act 2484, is aimed at ensuring Italians have open access to software, content, and services. The portion of the bill potentially relevant to Apple essentially says that users should have the right to download any software, whether proprietary or open source, on any platform.

An excerpt from Article Four of the loosely translated bill:
Users have the right to, in an appropriate format to the required technology platform […] use fair and non-discriminatory software, proprietary or open source […] content and services of their choice.
It's well known that iOS is a walled garden, in which apps can only be distributed through the App Store, and only if developers adhere to Apple's guidelines. The only way to download apps outside of Apple's parameters is by jailbreaking, which is in violation of Apple's end-user agreement.

Naturally, there are some concerns about how the iPhone and other devices could be affected if the bill is approved, although the prospect of any Apple product being outright banned in Italy seems highly unlikely.

The bill was introduced last year by Stefano Quintarelli, an Italian entrepreneur and member of the Scelta Civica political party in Italy. The bill was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in July 2016, and it now must be approved by the Senate of the Republic, within Italy's parliamentary government.

(Thanks, Macitynet and iSpazio!)

Tag: Italy

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Former Starbucks Worker Says Attending Apple’s Developer Academy Was ‘Opportunity of My Life’

Apple's first iOS Developer Academy opened in Naples, Italy last October, providing 200 students with practical skills and experience to help turn their app ideas into reality and bring them to market on the App Store.


One of those students is a young Neapolitan man named Luigi, who left Naples for the United Kingdom to find a technology job, but was enticed to return to the city upon hearing about Apple's Developer Academy.

The Independent says after Luigi applied for the academy, he left his job at Starbucks so that he could study properly. He felt it was a risky move, but fortunately, he passed the test and joined the first year's class of students.

Luigi described the academy as the "opportunity of my life" and, nearly eight months later, said he would "totally recommend" the experience to anyone looking to come from elsewhere in the world.
“I was taking a risk, but this was the opportunity of my life,” he says. He had tried university already, and found it lacking because it had so little focus on student’s enjoyment and the work of actually solving problems and working with other people.
The Independent explains how Apple's Developer Academy has made Naples a more attractive city for young people to thrive in, after years of suffering from "brain drain" following an industrial decline.
“If you stay here you are part of an ecosystem that will continue to train developers,” says Giorgio Ventre, a professor at the University of Naples Federico II. “This is something that you do need if you want to open a company. You want to count on yourself - but you want to count on the skills you need to help your company grow. If you stay here you can find it.”
Apple is accepting applications for the Developer Academy's second year until May 31. Scholarships are available, and each student inducted receives a free MacBook and iPhone to use during the one-year program. Courses are held at the University of Naples Federico II in Naples suburb San Giovanni a Teduccio.

The academy will accept up to 400 students for the new academic year, twice as many as the first year. The program is open to students from across Italy and around the world, with Apple encouraging developers from the United Kingdom and elsewhere to apply in an effort to have a more diverse group of people.

Last year, Apple said it expects to expand its Developer Academy program to other countries around the world in the future.


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Apple Pay May Launch in Italy as Soon as Tomorrow

Apple Pay could arrive in Italy as soon as tomorrow, according to Italian tech blog MacPost.it. The imminent launch of Apple's mobile payment system in Italy has been rumored for several weeks now, but the website claims to have spoken to three different sources from the retail and banking sector who independently confirmed that Apple Pay is set to go live on Wednesday throughout the country.


The exact time of the launch remains unknown, according to the sources, but the general expectation is that Apple Pay will be announced in the morning. Meanwhile, in another indication of the impending launch, the Apple Maps app has started listing Apple Pay as "accepted" at certain retail outlets in Italy, as the following image provided by MacPost.it shows.


Last week, MacRumors noted that an Apple support document shows Italy highlighted on a map which is supposed to indicate Apple Pay participating banks and card issuers. Apple's regional Italian website has listed Apple Pay as "coming soon" since March. Now it looks like it may be only hours away. The contactless payment service is expected to be available in the country through UniCredit, Carrefour Bank, and Boon.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Italy

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Apple Announces New Piazza Liberty Store in Milan, Italy Opening Soon

Apple today announced that it will soon open a new retail store at Piazza Liberty, or Liberty Square, in Milan, Italy.


As revealed in city planning documents earlier this year, the store will be located entirely below the outdoor amphitheater. The sales floor will be accessible by walking down a staircase situated between two waterfalls that form part of the larger fountain. There will also be an elevator available.

Apple is developing the store in partnership with architecture firm Foster and Partners, who have helped design many of the company's most significant retail spaces around the world and its new Apple Park headquarters.


Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts wants Apple Stores to be more of community gathering places, rather than just a place to buy the latest iPhone or iPad. As part of those plans, Apple Piazza Liberty will be an open space for all to "have a break, be with friends, and discover new interests."

The store will feature Apple's next-generation retail design with indoor trees and a large screen for "Today at Apple" sessions and other events.

(Thanks, setteBIT!)

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Tag: Italy

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Apple Pay Negotiations Still Ongoing in Germany as Hints of Pending Italian Launch Increase

Apple is "working rapidly" to expand Apple Pay to additional countries in Asia and Europe, and there's increasing evidence and reports that suggest the service may launch in Italy and Germany in the near future.


Apple recently updated its Apple Pay participating banks and card issuers in Asia-Pacific support document with a new image of Europe that has Italy highlighted. The change isn't visible on the United States or Europe versions of the page, suggesting that it may have been added to the Asia-Pacific page prematurely.


MacRumors discovered a colored version of the image stored on Apple's servers that makes it easier to see Italy highlighted.


Apple's regional Italian website has listed Apple Pay as "coming soon" since March, so it's only a matter of time—WWDC?—before the payments service launches in the country. At launch, Apple Pay will work with Visa and MasterCard in Italy through participating banks UniCredit, Boon, and Carrefour Banca.

Meanwhile, German blog iPhone-Ticker reports that Apple Pay should launch in Germany in the fall or winter. As in some other countries, however, the negotiations between Apple and German banks allegedly continue to be challenging, likely as both sides struggle to reach an agreement over fees and control.

Last October, Germany was similarly highlighted on the Apple Pay availability map, but only for a brief period of time.


Apple Pay launched in the United States in October 2014, and it has since expanded to 14 other countries and regions: Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. There was also a rumor that Belgium could be added this month.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Germany

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Apple Adds Apple Pay Details to Italian Website Ahead of Launch

Apple has updated its Italian website with an Apple Pay page, confirming its introduction in the country is close at hand.

Last month, Apple added complete translations of Apple Pay support documents to its Italian and German regional websites, indicating the launch of the mobile payment system in those countries is just a matter of time.


Today, for Italy at least, that launch appears one step closer, with the "arriving soon" web page listing UniCredit, Boon, and Carrefour Banca as participating banks.

Also today, Apple Pay launched in Ireland, making it the 14th country to accept Apple's mobile payments service.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Italy

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