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Apple unveils iPhone 15 Pro with titanium case, holds line on prices

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Apple unveils iPhone 15 Pro with titanium case, holds line on prices

Apple launched a new series of iPhones that included a new titanium shell, a faster chip and improved video game playing abilities.

The biggest surprise with the iPhone 15 that will come out Sept. 22: It did not raise prices, reflecting the global smartphone slump.

The event at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters comes amid lingering economic uncertainty, especially in China, Apple’s third-largest market where it faces challenges from expanded restrictions on using its iPhones in government offices and the first new flagship phone in several years from Huawei Technologies.

Huawei raised its second-half shipment target for the new Mate 60 series smartphone, which has satellite capability, by 20%, the country’s official Securities Times reported on Tuesday shortly before the Apple event.

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Apple did not deliver any blockbuster surprises, and shares closed down 1.7% after event.

While Apple avoids the terms artificial intelligence, or AI, the technology was the driver of several new features.

An Apple executive said the company used machine learning to detect a person in the frame, allowing users to turn a picture into a portrait immediately or later in the Photos app.

Apple also showed off new watches, including a Series 9 Watch with a feature called “double tap” where users tap thumb and finger together twice, without touching the watch, in order to perform tasks like answering a phone call.

It uses machine learning to detect tiny changes in blood flow when the user taps their fingers together, freeing up the other hand for other tasks like walking a dog or holding a cup of coffee, said Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.

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Both the Pro and other iPhone 15 models will have a brighter display and a 48-megapixel camera as well as 100% recycled cobalt in their batteries.

Apple said the iPhone 15’s satellite connectivity can now be used to summon roadside assistance. It is rolling out the feature out with the American Automobile Association (AAA) in the United States.

Apple said that USB-C charging cables are coming to both its iPhone 15 and the charging case of its AirPods Pro devices. The move reflects requirements from European regulators to use USB-C and allows the use of the same charging cables already used for iPads and Macs.

“I was expecting Apple to try and spin the all USB-C decision in certain way but they didn’t they were very matter of fact in the way they talked about it,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies. She said the shift “brought some differentiation to the iPhone Pro, because there’s faster throughput for data transfer. That is going to be valuable for people” who use the device for professional photography, Milanesi said.

Apple also said the iPhone 15 Pro can capture what it calls “spatial videos” by using two of the device’s cameras to capture a three-dimensional video. Those videos will be viewable on Apple’s Vision Pro headset that is due out early next year, marketing chief Greg Joswiak said.

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The Pro’s use of titanium makes it lighter and stronger than previous models of other metals.

Bob O’Donnell, head of TECHnalysis Research said the steady prices were a surprise.

“I think both Apple and the carriers recognize that with consumers feeling pressure on their budget and the lack of dramatic changes it’s getting harder to convince people to upgrade. Keeping prices stable should help with that,” he said.

The iPhone 15 costs $799, the iPhone 15 Plus starts at $899 and the Pro series starts at $999. The Pro Max starts at $1,199, the same prices as last year for the same levels of storage. Last year, Apple offered a $1,099 iPhone Pro Max model with less memory.

Apple still relies on iPhone for more than half of its sales, but the global smartphone market has slumped from shipping 294.5 million total phones to 268 million in the second quarter. Apple’s shipments declined the least of any major smartphone maker, dropping from 46.5 million phones to 45.3 million, according to data from Counterpoint Research.

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The outdoor sports-focused Apple Watch Ultra 2 has new features for cycling and diving and what Apple said is the brightest screen it has ever made. The Series 9 will start at $399 and the Ultra 2 watch will start at $799 and be available Sept. 22.

Apple will no longer use leather in any of its products, said Lisa Jackson, the company’s environmental chief. The company is replacing some of those products with a textile called “FineWoven” that it says feel like suede.

Apple made its effort to become carbon neutral by 2030 a focus of the event, including launches of lower-carbon watches.

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ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

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ByteDance confirms layoff plan at its Indonesian unit

China’s ByteDance will lay off staff at its Indonesian unit following a deal where it bought a local e-commerce firm and combined it with its TikTok operation, a spokesperson said on Friday.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, did not say how many employees would be affected. Bloomberg had earlier reported there would be 450 jobs cut.

In January ByteDance completed a deal to buy a majority stake in Tokopedia, an Indonesian e-commerce firm, from the GoTo group.

ByteDance spokesperson Nuraini Razak told Reuters in a statement the company would “make necessary adjustments” as a result of the combination of TikTok and Tokopedia.

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“We identified areas to strengthen our organisation and better align our teams with company goals,” she said, adding the company would “aim to support employees throughout this transition”.

ByteDance had its own e-commerce operation in Indonesia via its TikTok app, but that was banned under an Indonesian rule that social media applications could not operate as an e-commerce platform.

Tokopedia is one of the leading e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

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Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

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Indonesia minister threatens to shut down X over adult content

Indonesia is prepared to shut down social media platform X if it does not comply with a regulation barring adult content, the country’s communications minister said on Friday. Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has strict rules that ban the sharing online of content deemed obscene.

Minister Budi Arie Setiadi told Reuters he had sent a warning letter to X related to this matter.

“We will certainly shut its services down,” he said, pointing to Indonesia’s electronic information and transaction (ITE) law that can carry a six-year jail sentence if someone spreads pornographic content.

His comments in an interview come after the social media platform recently updated its policies to permit consensually produced adult content.

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X, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has not responded to Indonesia’s warning letter, Budi said, adding the government would send more letters before deciding on a potential closure.

X, formerly known as Twitter, did not immediately respond to a request by Reuters for comment.

Indonesians are big users of social media and X has 24.85 million users in the country, according to data gathering business Statista.

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Japan watchdog recommends action on MUFG units over sharing of client data

Japan watchdog recommends action on MUFG units over sharing of client data

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Japan's securities watchdog recommended on Friday that the banking and securities units of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group opens new tab (MUFG) be penalised for what it said was unauthorised sharing of client information. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) made the recommendation to the banking regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), which hands out such punishments in Japan. The recommendation, which was widely expected, followed the SESC's investigation into MUFG's banking arm, MUFG Bank, and its two brokerage ventures with Morgan Stanley (MS.N), opens new tab. The investigation found that confidential client information had been shared between MUFG Bank and one of the two securities firms on at least 26 occasions between 2020 and 2023. MUFG Bank also illegally offered preferential lending rates to clients that did business with the group's two securities brokerages, the SESC said. Japan's "firewall" regulations prohibit banks and securities companies in the same group from sharing customer data with one another without the customer's consent. The investigation found no evidence of insider trading, but monitoring and internal controls were lacking, the SESC said. MUFG group companies will make every effort to strengthen control systems in light of the recommendation and will take measures to prevent recurrence, the parent company said in a statement. The two brokerages were established in 2010, two years after MUFG invested in Morgan Stanley at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. MUFG owned around 23% of Morgan Stanley as of March 2024.

Japan’s securities watchdog recommended on Friday that the banking and securities units of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group  opens new tab (MUFG) be penalised for what it said was unauthorised sharing of client information.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) made the recommendation to the banking regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), which hands out such punishments in Japan.

The recommendation, which was widely expected, followed the SESC’s investigation into MUFG’s banking arm, MUFG Bank, and its two brokerage ventures with Morgan Stanley (MS.N), opens new tab.

The investigation found that confidential client information had been shared between MUFG Bank and one of the two securities firms on at least 26 occasions between 2020 and 2023.

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MUFG Bank also illegally offered preferential lending rates to clients that did business with the group’s two securities brokerages, the SESC said.

Japan’s “firewall” regulations prohibit banks and securities companies in the same group from sharing customer data with one another without the customer’s consent.

The investigation found no evidence of insider trading, but monitoring and internal controls were lacking, the SESC said.

MUFG group companies will make every effort to strengthen control systems in light of the recommendation and will take measures to prevent recurrence, the parent company said in a statement.

The two brokerages were established in 2010, two years after MUFG invested in Morgan Stanley at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. MUFG owned around 23% of Morgan Stanley as of March 2024.

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