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Some Apple Card owners hit snags with iPhone 13 preorders – CNET

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Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiling the iPhone 13.


Screenshot by CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple.

Some Apple Card users ran into problems when trying to pay for iPhone 13 preorders, which kicked off Friday morning.

Numerous people said on social media that they got error messages when they tried to use their Apple Card to pay for an iPhone 13 preorder. So much so, that it became a trending topic on Twitter. Some CNET staffers also reported problems. 

Apple acknowledged on its system status website that it had an “issue” with Apple Card that prevented some users from making purchases through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. But it says the issue has since been resolved, and it advised users to try again. 

Some people reported that they had to use another method of payment to buy their phones. But if Apple Card owners do that, they miss out on the 3% cash back they’d normally receive when using the card to buy Apple products. Other purchases made with Apple Card reportedly went through.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment. 

Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 lineup on Tuesday, alongside the Apple Watch Series 7 and new iPads. The new iPhones are available for preorder starting Friday and are expected to arrive in stores Sept. 24.

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Alibaba unveils custom ARM-based server chip for cloud computing data centers

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Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Tuesday it has developed a processor that will be used to power servers in its data centers.

The development marks the latest foray into semiconductors for the company, mirroring moves from other global cloud computing players while also dovetailing with Chinese government’s priorities to boost the nation’s chip sector.

Developed by Alibaba’s in-house semiconductor unit T-Head, the chip — the Yitian 710 — is based on architecture from UK-based Arm Ltd, and will not be available for commercial use outside of Alibaba.

Alibaba is the largest cloud computing provider in China by market share and the third-largest globally, according to research firm Gartner.

Its rivals in the sector have also released server chips of their own. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Amazon.com Inc rely on their respective Kunpeng and Graviton chips to power their cloud computing infrastructure.

Alibaba also said it has a developed proprietary line of servers, called Panjiu, and added that it will make the source code for its Xuantie series of IP cores — based on the RISC-V open source architecture — available to the public. Alibaba unveiled the Xuantie in 2019.

China’s government has long urged industry to invest in the domestic chip sector, which remains behind that of global counterparts.

The country remains reliant on overseas companies for much of its advanced semiconductors, a vulnerability brought forth when U.S. sanctions against Huawei crippled that company’s booming smartphone business.

In addition to Alibaba, search giant Baidu Inc, phone maker Xiaomi Corp, and a number of Chinese automotive and appliance companies have begun investing in chips.

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Uttaresh.V)

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Apple debuts a $4.99 per month Apple Music Voice plan, designed mainly for HomePod or AirPods use – TechCrunch

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In 2019, Amazon introduced a more affordable way to stream Amazon Music in their home with the launch of a free, ad-supported music service that streamed over its Echo speakers. Today, Apple is catching up with its debut of a new, lower-cost version of its Apple Music subscription it calls the “Voice plan.” Unlike Amazon’s service, the Voice plan is not free. Instead, it’s a more affordable, $4.99 per month ad-free subscription that limits consumers to only being able to access the Apple Music via Siri voice commands.

Explained the company at its October event today, the new Voice plan will allow customers, in 17 countries to start, to use Siri to play songs, playlists, and all stations in Apple Music when the service launches later this fall. This will also include access to a series of new playlists based on moods and activities, as well as personalized mixes and genre stations. That means you’ll now be able to ask Siri to play you music for a dinner party or something that would help you to wind down at the end of the day, for example. Hundreds of new playlists will be available, said Apple.

Apple Music rivals, including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora already offer such a feature — and have for years. So this is a matter of Apple playing catch up in the space with its own expanded set of editorially crafted mood and activity playlists. Currently, its editorial selections are more limited to its “Made for You” lineup which includes personalized playlists like your Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix and Get Up Mix.

While Apple says the new Voice plan can be used to access Apple Music across “all your Apple devices,” it’s clearly been designed with HomePod in mind — similar to Amazon’s free music streaming for Echo. If using a phone, tablet or computer, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to speak to Siri to play music when you have a device with a screen. However, the service could possibly be interesting to those who primarily listen to Apple Music via their AirPods — and don’t mind speaking all their commands.

Apple says the service will also work via CarPlay, in addition to iPhone and other devices like iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Subscribers will see a customized app interface that displays suggestions based on their music preferences and a queue of their recently played music through Siri. There will also be a section called “Just Ask Siri,” which teaches users how to optimize Siri for Apple Music.

The new plan joins the other Apple Music subscriptions, the Individual plan and Family plan, at $9.99 per month or $14.99 per month respectively. Like the Individual plan, the new Voice Plan is also limited to just 1 person per subscription, Apple said. It provides access to the full Apple Music catalog of over 90 million songs.

Image Credits: Apple

At launch, it will be available in Australia, Austria, Canada, China mainland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S. The company didn’t offer an exact launch date besides “later this fall.”

Apple said it will market the service to non-subscribers who ask for music through Siri. They’ll be able trial the service for 7 days for free, with no auto-renewal.

To complement the launch of the new service, Apple also announced new, third-gen AirPods and more colorful lineup of HomePod mini smart speakers.

Apple October Event 2021

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Australia must commit to carbon cuts to keep green energy advantage -Fortescue’s Forrest

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Australia risks losing its advantage in the green energy revolution if its leaders don’t promptly commit to cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the country’s richest man, Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest said on Monday.

Forrest, who grew Fortescue from a minnow to rival the world’s biggest mining giants in less than two decades, has spearheaded his company’s global green energy drive, signing deals from Brazil to Indonesia to Democratic Republic of Congo.

The company aims to build a 250 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser at Bell Bay in Tasmania — 25 times the size of the biggest existing electrolysers in the world — for less than A$1 billion ($740 million), Forrest said, putting a price on the project for the first time.

Fortescue is ready to make a final investment decision this year, as promised, but is waiting for support from the state government before going ahead with the project.

While Forrest told Reuters that Australia is the best place to realise his green vision, the country’s failure to commit to a policy to cut emissions is risking that advantage.

“I would say 2050 neutrality is a certainty for Australia. If we support it by COP26 the dividend flow to regional Australia will be substantial. If we don’t support it by COP26, the future will remain uncertain,” Forrest said, referring to the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of October.

“The renewable energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity industry is very, very mobile,” he said.

“It is where the will is strongest – they will be the first to be developed.”

Australia’s energy policy is again in the spotlight as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to attend the conference, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.

But Morrison is short on updated climate ambitions to bring to the table given his reliance on the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government which said it would not be rushed into a decision on whether to support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The Nationals who represent coal and farming heartlands worry that stronger emissions targets will cost jobs. Coal is the country’s second biggest export earner.

But Forrest, speaking to Reuters from London, said that rural Australians were set to be the biggest winners in the move to green energy – if agreements are made in time.

“I have demonstrated investment into the regions despite the fact Australia is dragging the chain,” Forrest told Reuters.

Fortescue is investigating the potential to convert top Australian fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane ammonia plant to use green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of natural gas, with an on-site electrolysis plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year.

The plant’s future had been under threat due to soaring gas prices, however setting up a green hydrogen production site to feed the existing plant could save 400 jobs and create many more, Forrest said.

At the same time, the product from the plant will be cheaper for local farmers.

“So farmers in Australia long into the future can plan for the next season, or even for the next generation … knowing that fertilisers are coming from a hydrogen molecule that is infinite,” Forrest said.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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