One of Apple’s small company acquisitions may have resulted in the more convenient search now found in the “Explore” tab in the App Store, according to TechCrunch. Ottocat, a small search startup focused on organizing apps based on “nested” categories, released a beta version of software designed to make it easier to find relevant apps in May 2013, claiming to have indexed every app in Apple’s App Store. By October 2013 the company was gone, with its website simply stating, “Ottocat is no longer available.” Little information is available on Apple’s acquisition of the company, aside from one of Ottocat’s co-founders authoring a patent as an employee of Apple and filing it in November 2013. It’s also unclear whether Edwin Cooper and Michelle Cooper, Ottocat’s founders, are still with Apple, but in June 2014 Apple unveiled the “Explore” tab in the App Store, sorting the store’s offerings into categories and subcategories, as Ottocat claimed to have done the previous year. No one from Apple or Ottocat has responded to the story.
Apple has added four new Apple Watch Guided Tour videos to its website, giving users a general overview of how to operate the watch, in addition to closer looks at Messages, Faces and Digital Touch features on the upcoming device. Other instructional videos for features like Siri, Phone Calls, Music, Apple Pay and Maps are listed as “coming soon.” The videos emphasize how the Apple Watch augments some functions of a user’s iPhone, and the basics of how to customize the look and information displayed on the watch face. Apple begins accepting pre-orders for the Apple Watch at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time this Friday, April 10.
Apple has added Booking.com and Trip Advisor reviews to its Apple Maps app — previously, Apple Maps relied solely on Yelp for business reviews. Incorporation of Booking and Trip Advisor is still limited — only one of the three review providers is visible for any one business within Maps, with no clear way to determine which source you’ll be getting. And there’s no way to swap between review providers within the app. However, the addition of Booking seems to add more information about international destinations. Apple hasn’t commented on the additions and still lists Yelp as its sole review provider. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s next Apple TV won’t support 4K video streams when it hits store shelves later this year, Buzzfeed reports. With limited 4K programming available and few consumers with 4K-capable TVs or Internet connections, Apple isn’t putting effort into meeting the increased requirements of streaming 4K video until the higher resolution format becomes more commonplace. “4K is great, but it’s still in its infancy,” said one source described as “familiar with Apple’s thinking.” Apple declined to comment.
AppleCare+ for Apple Watch will be priced at $59 for the Sport model, $79 for the stainless steel Watch, and $999 for the gold Edition model, according to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. Both sites have alleged internal Apple screenshots of the pricing. AppleCare+ will add an additional year of coverage to the included one-year warranty in the case of the Sport and stainless steel Watch models. Edition customers already get two years of around-the-clock support upon purchasing the $10,000+ Apple Watch model — the $999 price tag will add a third year of coverage.
Samsung will provide Apple with A9 processors for the next iPhone, Bloomberg reports. The rumored move was reported earlier this year, and now appears to be official. Last year, Apple shifted much of its chip manufacturing to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, but the Cupertino company is returning to Samsung, ostensibly to benefit from the South Korean company’s more advanced manufacturing process. As the report notes, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang said last year that he expected his company “would lose ground to Samsung” before “reclaiming the upper hand in 2016.”
Philips has debuted Hue Go ($100), a new connected LED lamp based on the company’s popular Hue smart LED bulb ecosystem. Powered by a rechargeable internal battery that provides up to six hours of portable power, Hue Go can be taken just about anywhere, allowing you to light up and transform any space in your home. It features a unique, spherical design that provides a balance between functional and aesthetic lighting, and like the Hue bulbs, it can be set to any of more than 16 million colors. Hue Go is fully customizable using the same Hue APIs as Philips’ own apps and the huge variety of third-party Hue apps, allowing users to set location-based geofences, program timers, and light “recipes” for a wide variety of moods and activities. Hue Go is expected to be available in late May or early June.
Apple is under scrutiny from EU regulators concerning its new streaming music service, The Financial Times reports. Likely in response to a formal complaint, the European Commission has contacted several music labels and digital music companies, sending them questionnaires asking for more information about agreement between Apple and the labels. The report notes that the commission is concerned that Apple may use its size and influence to force music labels to abandon licenses that allow competitors such as Spotify to provide free, ad-supported services — something that music executives would reportedly be amenable to as well, based on earlier reports. If the Commission were to find wrongdoing as the result of a formal investigation, it could require changes to Apple’s business practices and possibly even impose hefty fees, however information gathering such as this is normally only a very preliminary step and does not necessarily mean a formal antitrust investigation will even be launched.
Apple wants TV networks to “handle the responsibility and cost of the streaming infrastructure” for its web TV service, Re/code reports. While Apple wants to launch its service in the fall, the streaming issue is “one of many unresolved questions,” with executives reportedly hesitant regarding the demand. It’s still too early to tell if this issue could push back the proposed autumn launch, but Apple has been pursuing some kind of TV service for some time now, with many apparent bumps in the road along the way. Additionally, Apple’s attempts at creating its new music streaming service have also reportedly found the company butting heads with others, with little to show for it thus far. Apple declined comment on the new report.
Pandora CFO Mike Herring says his company and Apple have a “frenemy kind of relationship going on” with Apple poised to enter the streaming music market, Fox Business reports. The report also notes that “one can expect” Pandora will be integrated into Apple Watch, and Herring said “we’ll definitely be in CarPlay.” While Pandora and Apple have a close partnership — “We were part of what made it fun to have an iPhone,” Herring said — Apple’s development of a streaming music service comes at a time when Pandora’s share price has dropped over uncertainties about royalty rates paid to artists. Herring admits that if royalties go much higher than the current $0.0014 per song, Pandora would have a hard time staying profitable. Even though Pandora is still at the top of the streaming heap with 81 million monthly active users, Apple siphoning off a significant portion of that number would further strain the already struggling company. But since Pandora still owes much of its success to the popular iPhone app, Herring said it’s a “very interesting relationship.”
Apple has announced that third-party iOS Developers can now begin submitting their Apple WatchKit apps to the App Store for review, along with other data such as the app icon, screenshots, and description. Apple has also released guidelines for Apple Watch app submissions, including notes that up to five screenshots may be included, that WatchKit app icons should be “visually similar” to the corresponding iOS app icons, and that the iPhone app and WatchKit app should “share one name and one description” and the iPhone app should contain notes on Apple Watch functionality. Notably, WatchKit apps cannot include the phrase “Apple Watch” in their names. App Previews can also only include footage of the iPhone app, and developers are explicitly instructed not to show the WatchKit app in their app previews. Apple also notes that “a small group of people who currently have an Apple Watch will be able to use [...] WatchKit app[s] before April 24” although it notes that developers can choose to restrict availability until launch day in the same manner as for any other app.
While several developers released iPhone app updates late last week, it’s unclear whether those developers have received priority access for App Store submissions, or if their actual corresponding WatchKit apps were still waiting for final submissions to open. The Apple Watch App Store was added to the iPhone in iOS 8.2, although it remains closed with a “Coming Soon” banner and instructions to pre-order the Apple Watch on April 10th; the store will presumably open to begin showcasing apps closer to that time.
Apple has hired former Dolby Executive Vice President Mike Rockwell as an executive in its hardware division, 9to5Mac reports. A source says Rockwell was likely recruited to improve audio and display performance of Apple’s upcoming products. Rockwell oversaw Dolby’s new technology development, including efforts to create “state-of-the-art color display technology” at a company mostly known for its audio applications. Before coming to Dolby, Rockwell was with Avid Technology, a company specializing in video and audio production technology. AnSEC filing shows Rockwell resigned from Dolby on January 30 and his LinkedIn profile shows him coming on board at Apple in February, but lists no current title. Rockwell’s addition fits with Apple’s hiring spree for top talent in recent months and further bolsters the company’s audio credibility following last year’s acquisition of Beats Electronics.
The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating Ericsson’s claims that Apple violated its patents, PC World reports. Apple sued Ericsson in January, claiming Ericsson was charging too much for patents it holds and that the patents are no longer essential for the LTE technology in Apple’s iPhones, iPads and other cellular-enabled products. Ericsson counter-sued, arguing Apple had infringed on its patents and that the price demanded to use the technology was fair and non-discriminatory. With those lawsuits likely to take years to play out in court, Ericsson has turned to the ITC, which can act quickly to ban products from being imported into the U.S. Such an import ban would immediately affect sales, so companies like Ericsson are increasingly using the threat of ITC action to force settlements in patent disputes.
Apple has announced that it will release its Q2 financial results on Monday, April 27. The company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. ET that day. For the first quarter, Apple previously provided guidance for Q2 of revenue between $52 billion and $55 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.
New images found on Weibo and posted by HDBlog.it may reveal some additional details about the rumored larger “iPad Pro” expected to be coming later this year. The images claim to show the edges and parts of the rear cover of the new iPad, ostensibly revealing a second Lightning port on the left side, a rear camera with the volume adjustment buttons, and the headphone jack and speaker grid. While the veracity of these images is completely unclear, the idea of a second Lightning port is not entirely unprecedented — early rumors for the original iPad suggested that the device would have an extra Dock Connector on the side for docking in either portrait or landscape mode, and an early iPad prototype with a second Dock Connector also later appeared on eBay, suggesting that Apple at one point considered the idea even for the original iPad. Apple has eschewed docks with more recent iPad models, however, it’s entirely possible that Apple may re-introduce a standalone dock or similar solution for the larger-screened iPad Pro.
Apple’s rumored expansion of its iPhone trade-in program to include non-Apple devices went live today in the U.S. and Europe, French blog MacPlus reports. The U.K. website for Brightstar, a third-party company that handles Apple’s trade-ins, indicates Apple is now offering Apple Store credit in exchange for select handsets from Sony, Nokia, Blackberry, Samsung, NTC and LG. The change to Apple’s exchange program was handled with little fanfare in the U.S., with the announcement buried on individual store pages according to 9to5Mac. This would seem to imply U.S. stores are accepting non-Apple devices for trade-ins, but it’s unclear when Apple’s website will provide a link to allow online U.S. users to get an estimate for the value of their Android phones.
Alleged photos of an alleged “iPhone 6c” rear shell have been posted on Future Supplier. The housing — which Future Supplier claims to have found but neglects to disclose from where — is similar to that of the iPhone 5c, but with an oval-shaped opening for the rear camera’s flash, matching the iPhone 5s flash instead of the round opening on the iPhone 5c. The purported iPhone 6c images also show two speaker grilles on the bottom while the similar 5c model only has one. Again, this is a closer match to the iPhone 5s. If the shell is real, this leads one to believe the 6c will be closer to an 5s, but within a plastic “c” body. A recent report claimed Apple is planning to release an iPhone 6c alongside an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The 6c’s four-inch screen size would offer an alternative to the larger iPhones.
iLounge has recently added a new section: Gear. This section will further highlight products we’ve received that have often “slipped through the cracks” in the past — items that don’t fit into our Reviews section. We’ve already featured some new bags and a small battery pack. Apple Watch bands will also have a home in Gear.
Also, for those who haven’t noticed, we’d like to point out that we’ve moved to the popular Disqus system for comments. Our comments system was neglected for far too long, and we’re proud to open the site back up again for feedback. Personal attacks and coarse language still won’t be permitted, but intelligent, reasonable discourse is encouraged.
With the Apple Watch poised to launch Apple into the health care industry, the Food and Drug Administration is doing its best to stay out of the way, Bloomberg reports. Current FDA guidelines leave mobile applications geared toward wellness and fitness tracking mostly free from scrutiny, focusing more on technology used to diagnose, treat and prevent illnesses. The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on apps making dubious claims about diagnosing illnesses, but Bakul Patel, the FDA’s associate director for digital health, said his agency is a long way from scrutinizing the Apple Watch and other wearables. “We are taking a very light touch, an almost hands-off approach,” Patel said. “If you have technology that’s going to motivate a person to stay healthy, that’s not something we want to be engaged in.” Patel said the level of future FDA regulation will depend on how devices are marketed and whether a product is being promoted to aid doctors in making medical decisions.
Leaked documents confirm Apple Stores won’t be selling Apple Watches to walk-in customers when the product launches on April 24, according to MacRumors. Customers will have to make an online “Product Reservation” to purchase a specific model at their local Apple Store, with Apple noting that even making a “try-on appointment” doesn’t reserve a specific Apple Watch for purchase. New training documents for Apple Store employees state, “If a customer walks in and wants to purchase a watch, offer the option to try on a watch. Then help them place an order online or through the Apple Store app.” This confirmation isn’t a big surprise, however, as Apple’s initial press release about the device’s launch noted that “On April 24, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers in China and Japan.”
During checkout, customers who have an Apple Watch reserved for purchase will be offered accessories and an upgrade to AppleCare+, adding a second year of hardware protection for aluminum and stainless steel models. The gold Edition comes with two years of protection standard, jumping to three years with AppleCare+. This information comes from 9to5Mac, which also reports that Apple has plans for a combined coverage program for customers buying both a new iPhone and Apple Watch from an Apple Store, but no official details have been released.