Apple invests $1 billion in world’s biggest tech fund

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tim cook in a car
Apple invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing last year.
Photo: Tim Cook/Twitter

Apple confirmed today that is getting into the venture capital game by investing in one of the world’s largest tech funds.

SoftBank’s new Vision Fund received $1 billion from Apple, according to a company spokesperson that revealed the company is investing in the $100 billion fund to gain access to future technology.

Japanese ad shows off speed of Apple Pay

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Apple Pay
One of the big Apple Pay selling points in Japan is the ability to use it on the subway.
Photo: Apple

Like a short, Apple-produced version of the movie Sliding Doors, the company’s latest ad for the Japanese market pits two parallel versions of the same character against each other — one with Apple Pay, one without.

Guess which one makes it onto the train home in time? (Hint: the answer probably won’t shock you!)

Today in Apple history: Apple opens first store outside U.S.

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Apple's store in Tokyo's swanky Ginza shopping district.
Apple's first non-U.S. Apple Store was located in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo: Héctor García/Kirai CC

Nov30November 30, 2003: Apple expands its Apple Store chain outside the U.S., with its 73rd Apple Store opening its door’s in Tokyo, Japan’s trendy Ginza shopping district.

On opening day, thousands of Apple fans — possibly still the biggest queue in Apple history — queue around the block in the rain to gain early access to the store, which offers five full floors of Apple product goodness.

While Steve Jobs isn’t on hand for the opening, shoppers are given a welcoming speech by Eiko Harada, then-president of Apple Japan.

Apple Pay goes live in Japan, but not without its problems

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Apple Pay
Apple Pay arrived in Japan today.
Photo: Apple

Apple Pay made its debut in Japan today, although it didn’t completely get off to the best start.

The reason? One of the most eagerly-anticipated selling points of the service — the ability to use it on the subway — didn’t work properly. While East Japan Railway Co. says things were fixed within a few hours, the rush hour outage has made some users worried about future system stability.

iOS 10.1 brings Portrait Mode to the iPhone 7 Plus

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Does your iPhone 7 Plus hiss?
Portrait Mode is finally here!
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

iPhone 7 Plus owners can finally start using Apple’s highly-touted Portrait Mode starting today.

Apple released iOS 10.1 to the public this morning after weeks of beta testing the new Portrait Mode. The software update comes with a couple of other tweaks for iPhone and iPad as well as a number of bug fixes.

Apple’s Japanese R&D center will be dedicated to AI

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Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse in 1937, was a star at the World's Fair in 1939-40. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum
Tim Cook is eying Japan for Apple's AI research hub.
Photo: Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum

Apple’s new R&D base in Yokohama, Japan, will focus on artificial intelligence and other related technologies, Tim Cook has revealed.

The new facility is set to be completed by December, well ahead of the projected date of March 2017. In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Cook called it a center for “deep engineering,” and said it will be “very different” from the R&D centers Apple plans to build in China.

Tim Cook talks R&D, future collaboration with Japan’s prime minister

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Tim Cook and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must be talking about the Note 7.
Photo: Sourikantei/Facebook

Apple CEO Tim Cook made a pit stop Friday at the office of Japan’s prime minister to talk about Apple’s growth in the country.

Cook told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Apple’s new R&D facility in Yokohama will be completed by December, well ahead of the projected date of March 2017. Apple says it hopes the new R&D facility near Tokyo will help it forge more local partnerships to source parts for future Apple products.

Apple to adopt new tap-to-pay standard for Japan

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FeliCa-Japan
Apple is adding support for FelICa.
Photo: Sony

Apple is planning to adopt a new tap-to-pay standard that will be integrated into future iPhones specifically for customers in Japan, according to a new report. The FeliCa standard, originally developed by Sony, will allow users to store public bus and train passes in Apple Wallet.

Japanese temple hopes Steve Jobs’ name will revive interest

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This is the temple where Jobs' spiritual advisor was trained.
Photo: 663highland/Wikipedia CC

It’s no secret that Japan is a big fan of Steve Jobs, which goes some way to explaining why Apple’s late co-founder is being used as a (pretty tenuous) connection to help reinvigorate interest in the country’s Buddhist Zen tourism trade.

How? Because, as it turns out, the 13th century Eiheiji temple Japanese local authorities hope to drum up interest in happens to be the same place which trained Kobun Chino Otogawa, a.k.a. Jobs’ spiritual advisor and wedding officiator.

We warned you it was tenuous!