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Apple Daily: 90 Days of Free Apple Music; AT&T-Subsidized iPhones; Same-Day Delivery

In today’s Apple Daily, Apple is said to be preparing to launch its music streaming service with the option of trying it for 90 days for free. Meanwhile, there’s good news and bad news at the Apple Online Store: all AT&T subsidized iPhones with two-year plans have been removed, but same-day delivery is now offered for some purchases.

Apple’s Rumored Streaming Music Service Said to Offer 90 Free Days

Apple’s long awaited music streaming program is still thought to appear during next week’s keynote, and in preparation, Financial Times has some insider information outlining what we can expect. Based on what they’ve heard, Apple will abandon the Beats Music name, but rather than adopt iTunes branding, it will go with the previously rumored “Apple Music.” Furthermore, it will allow customers to enjoy the service for free for three months before requiring a .99 monthly subscription.

That’s a generous offer, especially considering that Apple’s competitors offer a mere 30 days before requiring payment. iTunes Radio will likely also be renamed in the process, as Apple allegedly plans to trumpet its service as a way of making up for the absence of a free tier in the style of Spotify. As mentioned in previous news briefs, Apple is supposedly hoping the revamped iTunes Radio will appeal to customers outside the U.S., who’ll then buy Apple Music’s full streaming subscription after discovering new music through the radio service.

Both the new music streaming service and the revamped iTunes Radio are expected to be a part of the new Music app, which’ll hopefully see for the first time next week.


Option for AT&T-Subsidized iPhones Removed From Apple Online Store

AT&T has supported the iPhone for longer than any other carrier, but changes went into effect today that could send even the most loyal customers into the arms of rival carriers. As of last night, Apple no longer provides the option to buy subsidized phones with two-year plans from the carrier through the Apple Online Store — instead, you’ll have to buy it through AT&T’s “Next” financing plan.

It’s important to note that this move isn’t only directed at Apple; it also affects all of AT&T’s other supported smartphones as well. AT&T CEO of mobile and business solutions Ralph de la Vega spoke of the shift to Re/code on Tuesday, but at the time he said that subsidized phones with two-year plans would go away “slowly,” and “not because we insist on it but because customers will choose it less often.” Well, just a couple of days later, it seems as though they’ve insisted on it in some cases.

Under the Next plan, customers purchase the new phone for down and continue to make monthly payments on it until the phone is paid off in full at the end of 12,18, or 24 months. Once the phone is paid off, customers are allowed to purchase a new phone under the plan, and the cycle begins anew. On the bright side, you’ll still be able to buy the subsidized phones through AT&T’s websites, AT&T’s own retail stores, other dealers, and through customer service. For now, anyway. Based on the changes implemented last night, that could change at any time.

If you do end up going with the Next plan, here’s what you can expect to pay for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:

iPhone 6
– 16GB: From .64/month
– 64GB: From .97/month
– 128GB: From .30/month

iPhone 6 Plus
– 16GB: From .97/month
– 64GB: From .30/month
– 128GB: From .64/month


Apple Brings Same-Day Delivery to Online Store

But let’s say you do want that shiny new iPhone from AT&T (or any other carrier, for that matter) from the Apple Online Store. Starting today, thanks to Apple’s partnership with delivery firm Postmates, you can get the device delivered on the same day (provided you live in certain zip codes).

As 9to5Mac first noticed, if you live in one of the areas where Postmates operates, you’ll see a new delivery option at checkout for “courier delivery,” through which you can get your new device within four hours.

The option has been available since last month via the Apple Store app for the iPhone and iPad, but this marks the first time Apple has offered the service through its direct web store. The service costs , which makes it just more expensive than the expedited next-day delivery option.

As a small catch, keep in mind that the list of supported zip codes remains comparatively small, as it the list of supported qualifying products from the Apple Online Store itself. The option also still seems to be in the final stages of rollout, as it reportedly hasn’t appeared in the listings for all known Postmates-supported zip codes and cities.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Apple Daily: Secret Apple Watch Port; Beats Music Rebranding; Free Office 2016 Preview

That old saw about waiting until the next generation to buy a new Apple product might also apply to the Apple Watch, as new reports suggest that future versions could have a special port for “smart straps” and similar peripherals. In other news, we likely won’t get to listen to Apple’s rebranded streaming music service until WWDC, and Microsoft has released a free preview version of Office 2016 for Mac users.

Future Apple Watches Could Have Special Ports for ‘Smart Straps’

If you’re planning on picking up an Apple Watch and you have dreams of hooking up all kinds of fancy doodads to it, you might want to wait until next year before you plop down ,000 or more on the Edition version. A new report from TechCrunch claims that a version of the Apple Watch (although, 9to5Mac‘s sources say, not the one that’s about to ship) has a hidden port that could potentially be used to attach “smart straps” to the device.

“It’s being used for diagnostics and direct access to the Watch operating system, but it’s feasible that could be used to connect accessories in the future,” says TechCrunch. “The port has a 6-dot brass contact array inside the groove for the ‘bottom’ strap connector slot. Several sources have confirmed its existence and placement to me.”

We’ll likely get to see what Apple has in store for the current version on Monday, when the Cupertino company hosts its “Spring Forward” media event at 10:00 a.m. PST. We at Mac|Life will be on hand to relay the news as we hear it.


Apple’s Rebranded Music Streaming Service Likely Won’t Debut Until WWDC

Apple’s makeover of the Beats streaming music service has been expected for a while, but, according to a new report from 9to5Mac, we’ll reportedly have to wait until WWDC to see it. Some spurious earlier rumors suggested that we might see it at Apple’s upcoming “Spring Forward” event on Monday, but that seems like it won’t be the case. (TechCrunch later followed up with its own anonymous source, who also claimed the service wouldn’t debut until June’s flagship conference.)

The service is thought to be competitively priced at around .99 per month, which should give it a leg up on competing services such as Spotify, Rdio, Google Play Music, and (for now) Apple’s own Beats Music. Much like iTunes Radio, the service will be closely interwoven into the experience of using iTunes and the Music app on iOS. In addition, Apple is reportedly making an Android version of the service, marking one of the few occasions when Apple has actively designed software for its massive competitor.


Microsoft Offering Free Preview of Office 2016 for Mac Users

After years of treating Apple’s devices as something barely worth paying attention to, Microsoft is at last making direct efforts to entice Mac users into using its products. Starting today, Mac users running OS X Yosemite can access a free preview build (i.e., beta) of Microsoft’s upcoming Office 2016 suite, which will launch sometime later this sunny summer.

The last Office release for Mac was Office 2011, which actually came in out in 2010. This newest release plays off the strengths of today’s cloud-based environments, and as such you’ll get the most out of the experience if you use an Office 365 account (although you won’t need one to access to preview). The new version also boasts interfaces that are designed for Retina displays, new features, and a heavy emphasis on collaboration.

You can download it right now from Microsoft’s website (although, again, you have to be running OS X Yosemite). Just keep in mind that it’s still a beta, and that the occasional bug or two might make an appearance.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


Apple Daily: Free on iTunes, Apple Pay and Photo IDs, Photos for iCloud.com

Apple hasn’t apparently turned its back on free stuff, after all, even though it seemed a little iffy after the disappearance of the free iTunes Single of the Week. In other news, a Missouri lawmaker wants users to produce photos IDs every time they use Apple Pay and similar services in his state, and Apple introduced some simple but useful tools for its Photos for iCloud.com app.

Apple Introduces ‘Free on iTunes’ Section

For a few days there, it looks as though the free U2 album kerfuffle had soured Apple on the idea of free products forever, but a new “Free on iTunes” section of iTunes shows that’s far from the case. Many longtime users were initially sad to hear about the sudden disappearance of the “iTunes Single of the Week,” but, if anything, this replacement — which includes songs as well as TV shows — makes the experience even better.

Sorry, international users — at least for now, the page only works for customers in the United States. But if you’re a resident of Apple’s home country, you’ll be able to sample free episodes from SyFy’s 12 Monkeys, MTV’s Eye Candy, and others. More interested in music? Check out the offerings from bands like Jauz. Purity Ring, and Asking Alexandria.

Apple hasn’t revealed a schedule for the new service, but it’s likely that the Cupertino company will update the new section every week, judging from its own traditions.


Missouri Lawmaker Wants to Require Photo IDs with Apple Pay, Similar Services

You’d think that Apple would have already sufficiently demonstrated that using your fingerprint for Apple Pay is “identification” enough, but at least one Missouri lawmaker (via AP) is having none of it. If Democratic Rep. Joshua Peters of St. Louis has his way, in fact, Missourians would be required to show their IDs to clerks when using Apple Pay (and any other mobile payment service, for that matter).

It’s actually more complicated than that. Not only would our hypothetical Missourian have to show her driver’s license or similar documentation, but the clerks would also have to write down the ID number of the person making the purchase and keep it in their records. If they don’t, they’re entirely accountable for fraudulent transactions.

There’s a couple of flaws here in that it’s already uncommon for clerks to check ID cards for normal credit card purchases, and most mobile payment systems have some kind of enhanced security wall (such as Apple Pay’s Touch ID) that keeps crooks from having a field day with spending. What’s more, as 9to5Mac points out, it’s far easier to fake an ID than a fingerprint.

The retailers themselves don’t seem terribly concerned. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal this morning, suppliers of point-of-sale systems saw a massive bump in interest following the release of Apple Pay in October. Brendan Lauber, an executive at Harbortouch, said that only 22 percent of the company’s customers had mobile payment receptors installed prior to the release of iOS 8; following the launch of Apple Pay, 68 percent asked for systems that support mobile transactions.

“It’s like night and day,” said Lauber.


Photos for iCloud Updated with New Features

The Photos app for iCloud.com got a little better this weekend, as Apple upgraded the service to allow users to send photos from their iCloud library to anyone via e-mail. In addition, you can now zoom in on photos in the iCloud Photo Library itself (via iFun.de).

The actual pace of Apple’s updates for its iCloud Photos app might leave a little to be desired, but at least the iPhone maker has started a trend of packing worthwhile features into each patch. Last November, for instance, Apple enabled users to upload their own photos to the site from their computers. According to some supposedly inside sources, the reason for the relatively few updates pertaining to iCloud as a whole lies in a culture of excessive fragmentation within Apple’s walls.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.


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