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Apple, others likely to reach $415M settlement in poaching lawsuit [Update: settlement approved]

A U.S. judge appears ready to accept a $415 million offer to settle a lawsuit accusing Apple and three other Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to keep employee wages low, Reuters reports. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected an earlier $324 million offer as too low after one of the plaintiffs objected. Apple, Intel, Google and Adobe are accused of agreeing not to recruit employees from the other companies, limiting job mobility to keep salaries lower. The lawsuit, filed in 2011, was largely based on emails from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and leaders at the other rival companies.

Update: Judge Koh has tentatively approved the settlement, the Associated Press reports, stating that she was satisfied after the companies increased their earlier offer. The tentative approval is to allow for comments prior to granting a final approval at a hearing scheduled on June 9.

Apple and HBO in talks for ‘HBO Now’ service launch

Apple is in talks with HBO about launching its new “HBO Now” streaming video service on the Apple TV, International Business Times reports. HBO is apparently working with partner Major League Baseball Advanced Media to launch the standalone web service in April, tied in with the premiere of the fifth season of “Game of Thrones.” Unlike HBO’s prior streaming offerings, HBO Now will be available for purchase directly from the company, rather than requiring the user to have an account with a cable or satellite provider. It’s expected that it will launch at a retail price of $15/month, which is in line with the current HBO pricing through traditional providers. While HBO and Apple are in talks about having HBO Now available on the Apple TV, it’s not expected that this will be an exclusive deal, and the service is likely to also be available on other devices such as Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and other platforms.

Review: Uniq Aircraft+ for iPhone 6

Uniq's Aircraft+ collection of cases for iPhone 6 ($33-$35) takes its cues from company's previously released Aircraft Clear line for iPhone 6, with some important differences. Whereas Aircraft Clear consists of an aluminum bumper around a clear shell, there's more to Aircraft+, as you might surmise. This time, the aluminum bumper slides over a separate rubber bumper, and a backplate slides into the back of the aluminum bumper to complete the case. Button coverage is present for the volume controls and sleep/wake button. The backplate contains a magnet for docking — the case will also be sold with a car mount as part of a larger package, as pictured further below.

Report: Next-gen ‘iPhone 6s’ to feature 2GB RAM, Apple SIM

Apple plans to increase the RAM in the next-generation iPhone — likely to be dubbed the ‘6s’ — to 2GB, according to AppleInsider. This would provide more working memory to allow for apps to stay open and preserve data in the background, although at a potential battery cost. While Apple has defied expectations thus far in maintaining the iPhone RAM at 1GB in recent years, the iPad Air 2 received a RAM bump to 2GB last year, suggesting a high probability that Apple will do the same for the next-generation iPhone. The report suggests that this would apply to both the base iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

The same report also suggests that Apple is “strongly considering” including the “Apple SIM” in the new iPhone models as well, which would allow users to sign up for service directly with their carrier of choice right from within an iOS app or setup screen. While the iPad Air 2 included the Apple SIM last fall, the idea was met with resistance from carriers, with some such as Verizon choosing to opt out of the program entirely. The more complex iPhone plans that most carriers offer — in comparison to the more basic data-only iPad plans — would make this even more of a challenge for Apple to work out with carriers.

Apple looking to settle with electric car battery company

Apple is in talks to settle the lawsuit recently brought against the company by electric car battery manufacturer A123 Systems, Reuters reports. The breach of contract lawsuit against Apple and five former A123 employees claims that Apple began poaching engineers from the company last June. A123 specializes in creating large lithium-ion batteries for use in cars and other machines — it’s believed that Apple is working on its own electric car. In a court filing Tuesday, Apple requested an extension in responding to the lawsuit to explore a “potential resolution.”

Daily Deal: Bayit Smart Wi-Fi Socket, $39.99

Today in our iLounge Deals we’re offering the Bayit Smart Wi-Fi Socket for only $39.99 – 20% off the normal price. Letting you turn your electronics on or off from anywhere, the Bait Socket connects to your home Wi-Fi network and lets you access the power controls from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android device. The socket can be used with any home appliance, including fans, heaters, lamps and dryers, and is quick and easy to set up. You can also set scheduled and timers to turn your devices on and off automatically.

Get the Bayit Smart Wi-Fi Socket now for only $39.99

Apple pushing out fix next week for ‘FREAK’ security flaw

Apple will be releasing a fix next week to remedy the newly discovered “FREAK” security flaw affecting the company’s iOS devices and Macs, according to Re/code. Researchers who uncovered the vulnerability in encryption technology said it could be used to spy on users of Apple’s Safari browser. A U.S. government regulation banning American companies from using the strongest encryption standards for users from overseas — ostensibly so the government could more easily monitor that communication, according to some experts — left websites vulnerable to hackers who realized they could exploit the weaker export encryption standard to break into sites in a matter of hours. The hackers could then steal data or take over elements of the affected websites. The bug left Apple and Android users vulnerable to attack while using hundreds of thousands of websites, including Whitehouse.gov, FBI.gov and NSA.gov.

Tip of the Day: Quickly viewing your most recent Notifications

While Touch ID is a really great way to unlock your iPhone, sometimes it’s a little too fast, as anybody can attest to who has ever watched an important notification disappear from the Lock Screen before you could even identify what it was. The good news is that you can easily find these notifications by pulling down the Notification Center, but they may not always be easily seen if you’re not sorting them properly.

The good news is that you can control the sort order for your Notification Center by going into the iOS Settings app and choosing Notifications. While sorting manually can be handy for putting the important notifications at the top all the time, the “Sort By Time” option is a great way to ensure that the most recent notifications are always at the top, so that when you miss one while unlocking your iPhone, you can simply pull down Notification Center and see it right at the top of your screen.…

Report: Apple Watch retail strategy aims to push iPhone sales

The approach expected to be used by Apple Retail to sell and promote the Apple Watch has been unveiled in a new report by 9to5Mac. The strategy will focus on “three key features” as well as a plan to encourage Apple Watch customers to adopt the latest iPhone models. Citing sources within Apple Retail, the new selling guidelines indicate that Apple believes “many customers have already decided they want an Apple Watch.” The company expects to leverage the Apple Watch to “position the benefits” of users either upgrading to the latest iPhone model or switching to the iPhone from other platforms. Retail employees have been specifically instructed to “highlight the ways Apple Watch will add value” to a customer’s life, before asking a variety of iPhone-related questions. It’s interesting that Apple appears convinced of customers’ desire to buy an Apple Watch — as the report notes, employees aren’t instructed to make a “hard sales pitch” regarding the device.

Review: Speck MightyShell + Faceplate for iPhone 6 Plus

Last October, we reviewed Speck's MightyShell for iPhone 6, a slightly bulkier, more protective version of the company's classic CandyShell case. Now the company will soon be releasing an iPhone 6 Plus version of MightyShell. Additionally, the company has recently introduced its Faceplate, a front film cover that Speck claims has five layers of protection to prevent screen damage. We'll be offering two separate ratings in this review — one for the iPhone 6 Plus MightyShell ($55) and another for the iPhone 6 Plus MightyShell + Faceplate ($70).






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