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This week on AppleInsider: Apple's corporate shakeup, next-gen iPhones and iPads, Apple Pay in China & more

News somehow managed to keep up the pace right before the Christmas break, with major seat changes at Apple and hints at future products, including new iPads and the so-called iPhone 7.

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Samsung appeals Apple patent victory at U.S. Supreme Court

Hoping to avoid a major blow to its finances, Samsung petitioned to have Apple's $548 million in court winnings reduced or overturned by the Supreme Court. The company argued that lower courts' interpretation of the law was "not in line with modern times," and that even if it did violate some iPhone design patents, there are many parts that form the whole in a smartphone, which might make the issued penalty excessive.

Should Samsung lose at this level, the company will have little choice but to pay Apple, finally putting an end to the years-long case.

Apple takes over Qualcomm's IMOD Mirasol display lab

The lab —located in Longtan, Taiwan —could allow Apple to produce thinner, low-power displays that would also be easier to read in sunlight. The takeover was confirmed through government documents and staff spotted wearing Apple ID badges.

Apple's secondary motive may be to reduce its dependence on companies like Samsung, LG Display and Japan Display, instead developing its own display production processes and farming manufacturing out to smaller non-competing firms.

'iPad Air 3' in March, 'iPhone 7' in Sept.

Connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that while Apple may be working on a third-generation iPad Air for March, it won't have 3D Touch, since the associated supply chain may not be up to the task. He did however predict that the next-gen iPhone will ship with 3D Touch in September.

3D Touch coming to iPads after 'iPhone 7'

An AppleInsider source indicated that while the company is working on the technology for iPads, it will only debut sometime after new iPhone models. That could potentially include the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Jeff Williams takes over vacant COO seat

Filling a post at Apple last occupied by CEO Tim Cook, long-time Apple executive Jeff Williams was this week promoted to chief operating officer. Johny Srouji, meanwhile, became the company's senior VP of Hardware Technologies, while an outsider —Tor Myhren —will join Apple as VP of Marketing Communications in the first quarter of 2016.

Phil Schiller, best known for heading Apple's worldwide marketing, assumed the extra responsibility of controlling the App Store. Previously, that fell under the aegis of senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue.

Apple Pay coming to China in early 2016

Confirming rumors, Apple on Thursday announced a deal with China UnionPay that will see Apple Pay come to China sometime early next year. That could potentially be supported by over 20 banks and 10,000 point-of-sale terminals.

Apple Pay has so far been limited to a handful of markets, primarily the U.S. and the UK China is Apple's next biggest market after the U.S., making it essential to get a strong foothold there before other mobile payment options become entrenched.

AppleInsider podcast

Editor Mikey Campbell and Victor Marks focused mainly on Apple's musical chairs, but also BBC iPlayer coming to the Apple TV, and Mikey's review of the Devialet Phantom speaker.