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Apple recruits another auto expert for rumored car project

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple has hired another major ex-auto industry executive, further fueling speculation about the company’s secretive car project. Doug Betts, who most recently led global quality for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, spent more than 20 years in the auto industry before landing at Apple this month. An update to Betts’ LinkedIn profile simply says he now works in “Operations” at Apple, but he joins more than 200 automotive industry experts hired by the company in recent months. While Apple has been tight-lipped about the project, this February sources claimed that the company is trying to produce a viable electric car by 2020. A settlement with vehicle battery manufacturer A123 Systems and the acquisition of GPS firm Coherent Navigation have also hinted at Apple assembling components to build a car. Earlier this year Apple hired noted autonomous vehicle researcher Paul Furgale and former Ford executive Steve Zadesky, but Betts could be the first executive to bring automotive manufacturing experience to the project. Both Apple and Betts declined to comment on the new hire.

Silcon Valley companies join Samsung in patent fight against Apple

Facebook, Google, Dell, HP, eBay and other Silicon Valley giants have joined forces against Apple, asking a judge to reconsider a ruling ordering Samsung to pay $548 million to Apple for infringing on the company’s hardware patents, Inside Sources reports. In a “friend of the court” briefing filed on July 1, the coalition said forcing a company to pay a portion of its profits for an entire line of smartphones or smart TVs — over a patent infringement on only one component out of the hundreds used in the device — would create a chilling effect on development in the industry. “Under the panel’s reasoning, the manufacturer of a smart television containing a component that infringed any single design patent could be required to pay in damages its total profit on the entire television, no matter how insignificant the design of the infringing feature was to the manufacturer’s profit or to consumer demand,” the group said.

In 2012, Samsung was found guilty of copying both the internal components and exterior look of the iPhone and ordered to pay more that $1 billion to Apple. A subsequent appeals ruling threw out the $382 million awarded to Apple for Samsung copying iPhone external design elements for its own Galaxy phones, but upheld all of the damages awarded over infringement on patents covering internal components. That left Samsung to pay the “total profit” to Apple, to make up for the potential iPhone profits lost to the competing product — and that worries other companies that see the potential for the decision to creep from hardware cases to those involving software products and online platforms. In June, Samsung asked for another review of the case on the grounds that letting the ruling stand would “invite overprotection and overcompensation for design patents,” but Apple has argued that the companies supporting Samsung – Google in particular, which owns the Android OS installed on Samsung’s Galaxy – have a direct stake in the fight and shouldn’t be viewed as objective observers. “Google has a strong interest in this particular case, is not an impartial ‘friend of the court,’ and should not be permitted to expand Samsung’s word limit under the guise of an amicus brief,” Apple told the court.

Analyst claims new iPad mini, gold Apple Watch colors coming this year

In a new report to investors, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that the new iPad mini coming this fall will be a slimmer, lighter version of the iPad Air 2 with updated internal components, as previous rumors have suggested. He also expects a fall release of new Apple Watch Sport colors to match those coming with the new iPhone, including yellow gold or rose gold. Those predictions refer specifically to the aluminum cases, with no new colors expected for the stainless steel Apple Watch. [via 9to5Mac]

iPod touch, nano, and shuffle color comparison photos

Following up on this morning’s unboxing and comparison gallery of the sixth-generation iPod touch, we now have a comparison of the additional colors of the new iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle below. Unlike the sixth-generation iPod touch, the traditional iPod models remain identical to the previous versions other than the color changes, with the seventh-generation nano receiving its last update in 2012, and the fourth-generation shuffle having not received a functional update since 2010. The new pink color is a bit more vibrant when compared to the iPod shuffle’s last pink color, which seems a bit more salmon-colored in comparison. The blue on the new iPod touch is a darker, more traditional blue than that found on the iPod touch 5G. We’ve also got shots of the iPod nano in gold, as well as comparisons between past and current iPod blues and pinks.

iPod touch 6G: Unboxing + comparison photos

We’ve gotten our hands on the new sixth-generation iPod touch and have posted an unboxing and comparison gallery below, highlighting the contents of the iPod touch packaging along with differences between this new gold iPod touch and the previous iPod touch. The body of the new iPod touch 6G is the same as the prior generation, with one exception — the metal circle on the back of the iPod made for the “iPod touch loop” wrist strap (seen in some incarnations of the iPod touch 5G) is gone, along with the touch loop itself. You’ll also see a comparison shot between the gold iPod touch and the gold iPhone 6 Plus. We’ll be posting another new iPod photo gallery later today.

iFixit posts teardown of sixth-gen iPod touch

iFixit has posted its teardown of the sixth-generation iPod touch, revealing a few minor details and confirming Apple’s published specifications for the new device. The most significant new detail is that the device packs in a 3.83 V, 3.99 Wh battery rated at 1043 mAh – a step up from the 3.7 V/3.8 Wh/1030 mAh rated battery included in the last generation. Since Apple advertises the same battery performance specs, the larger battery is likely required to achieve this while powering the significantly more energy-hungry A8 processor. A comparison of the camera from the iPhone 6 reveals that, as highlighted in Apple’s specs, the iPod touch lacks the sapphire crystal lens cover, auto-image stabilization and larger ƒ/2.2 aperture of the current iPhone models; the iPod touch comes in with an ƒ/2.4 aperture. The report also highlights the lack of a Touch ID sensor as a key distinction compared to current iPhone and iPod models, but notes that it’s a positive for repairability, as it avoids the need to have a button paired with the device’s processor.

Apple and GSMA in talks to adopt embedded SIM technology

Apple is currently in discussions with the GSMA regarding moving to a standardized embedded SIM card in mobile devices, The Financial Times reports. The GSMA, which is an industry association responsible for developing GSM standards, has been working on an agreement among mobile operators to adopt a standardized embedded SIM card that would allow devices to more easily transition between different mobile networks. While all parties are said to be heading toward this “common architecture,” many of the technical specifications still need to be worked out, and mobile device manufacturers such as Apple would be under no obligation to adopt the new standard.

This initiative is separate from Apple’s own Apple SIM, which debuted last year for the latest iPad models. Those models still require a physical SIM card, but package a generic Apple version that can be activated on any participating carrier. The Apple SIM has received relatively limited adoption, with only a handful of carriers in the U.S. and one carrier in the U.K. supporting it. While Apple has declined to comment, the GSMA said it is “continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative” and that the organization is “optimistic” that a formal agreement can be reached. Apple reportedly pursued its own embedded SIM initiative about five years ago, with patents filed in 2010 and in 2013, although the idea failed to gain traction at the time as it was believed carriers feared Apple was trying to do an end-run around them.

New iOS scam surfaces as crash warnings in Safari browser popups

A new iOS phishing scam has been discovered that attempts to extort money from iPhone and iPad users by deceiving them into believing that their device has been compromised. As reported by the New York Daily News and The Telegraph, a number of iOS device users in both the U.S. and U.K. have encountered the scam, which presents a pop-up message in Safari advising them that their device has crashed for reasons such as a “third-party application in yourphone” or “unwanted websites visit” [sic] and advising them to call a number that in some cases is identified as Apple technical support. After calling the number, users are being asked to pay amounts ranging from $19 to $80 to fix the issue. The differing pop-up messages suggests that there may more than one group exploiting the issue. While this sort of scam has plagued desktop browsers for years, it has only recently begun affecting iOS users; some more isolated instances were reported late last year, although the scams appear to have resurfaced more actively over the past few days, and this the first time they have been reported in the U.K.

The issue can be avoided by ensuring that pop-ups are blocked in the Safari browser by enabling Safari, Block Pop-ups in the iOS Settings app. However, users who are already experiencing the issue will need to enable Airplane Mode to disable their Internet connection and then use the Clear History and Website Data option under the Safari settings. An Apple support document provides more guidance on securing Safari.

 

Initial benchmarks show new iPod touch running slightly slower than iPhone 6

Some initial benchmarks on the new iPod touch run by TechCrunch reveal that the A8 CPU in the new model appears to be running at 1.10 GHz per core, slightly slower than the iPhone 6’s A8, which clocks in at 1.39 GHz. The report also notes Geekbench scores at 1379 and 2440 out of the box, and suggests that the processor is likely under-clocked to allow for optimal battery life while sporting a smaller battery than the larger iPhone models.

Apple unveils new iPod touch, new nano and shuffle colors

Apple has rolled out its first major updates to the iPod since 2012, updating the iPod touch and adding new colors for the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. The new iPod touch has the same 4-inch screen size as its predecessor, but has also received a major iSight camera upgrade to 8MP to keep up with cameras in the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2. The A8 64-bit chip will make for better speed in apps and improved graphics for gaming, while the addition of the M8 motion coprocessor from the iPhone will let the device track steps and other fitness-related information. Wireless capabilities also now include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.The new iPod touch will likely come pre-loaded with iOS 8.4 and Apple Music, strengthening Apple’s push to get its new streaming service into as many hands as possible, and also features a 128GB model priced at $399, in addition to the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, priced at $199, $249, and $299 respectively.

The updated iPod nano and iPod shuffle don’t get any internal improvements, but add new dark blue, pink and gold color options that are also available on the new iPod touch.

Logitech debuts Logi BLOK cases for iPad Air 2

Logitech has announced its new Logi BLOK family of cases for the iPad Air 2, the first group of products to appear under the new Logi brand, which was introduced last week. The family includes the Logi BLOK Protective Shell ($40), the Logi BLOK Protective Case ($70), and the Logi BLOK Protective Keyboard Case ($130), all of which feature square corners to help protect the iPad. Logitech indicates the cases have been tested to withstand drops from up to six feet high and onto surfaces such as hard concrete, providing good drop protection with much less bulk and weight than many ultra-protective cases. The cases are expected to be available in August, with black, red/violet or teal/blue color options.

Apple releases iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers

Following the general release of iOS 8.4 to the public at the end of June, Apple has now released an iOS 8.4.1 beta to developers. The new beta features a build number of 12H304 with no release notes provided, although it seems likely that it addresses issues with Apple Music similar to yesterday’s iTunes 12.2.1 update along with any other new or unresolved issues from the iOS 8.4 public release.

Apple sued over iWatch trademark it doesn’t own

Apple is being sued for buying ad space on the Google results page delivered to users searching for the term “iWatch,” Bloomberg reports. Probendi, an Irish software developer, owns the iWatch trademark in Europe and has filed suit over Apple’s efforts to steer people typing that term into Google toward its Apple Watch website. Giacomo Bonelli, a lawyer for Probendi, said, “Apple never replied to our requests and objections, while Google said they are not responsible for links.” Right now, Probendi owns the name “iWatch,” which is estimated to be worth $97 million, but doesn’t have a product on which to attach it. Co-founder Daniele Di Salvo said the company’s plan to build a smartwatch that would be cheaper than the Apple Watch, run Android software and bear the iWatch name is “in standby.”

Neither Apple nor Google commented on the case. Google’s policy on the use of trademarks in its ad service says terms are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with the company reserving the right to “enforce certain restrictions.” A hearing for the dispute is set for November 11.

Apple progressing in TV service negotiations, aiming for fall debut

Apple’s negotiations to add all four major broadcast networks to its proposed streaming TV service are gaining momentum, the New York Post reports. Sources say ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are close to gaining the rights to negotiate on behalf of affiliate stations to deliver local live TV feeds to users of Apple’s subscription TV service. Obtaining local programming has been a main goal for Apple to set the service apart from other cord-cutting options. Networks are reportedly offering affiliates like Tribune and Sinclair a cut of the profits to opt in and offer their feeds. Disney or CBS are expected to be first in line to sign a deal to anchor Apple’s TV bundle, but Apple’s insistence that TV partners give up 30 percent of the fee for subscriptions sold in the App Store is still a sticking point. Agreements already in place to prevent networks from charging some distributors less than others and details over the inclusion of cable channels like Discovery and ESPN are also still points of negotiation. Sources say Apple is still hoping to launch the service this fall despite holding off announcing the product at this year’s WWDC. “The platform is ready and it rocks,” a source told the Post.

Also of note in the report: Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue were recently spotted talking to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, leading some to speculate on an Apple TV “NFL offering.” Though completely speculative, it’s unclear what such an offering would be, considering the NFL’s new eight-year deal with DirecTV — that deal continues to give the satellite provider the exclusive right to air out-of-market NFL games.

Final major bank signs on as Apple Pay goes live in UK

With Apple Pay coming online today in the U.K., British bank Barclays has confirmed it will allow its customers to use service, Reuters reports. Barclays — the last major holdout in negotiations to bring Apple’s contactless payment system to U.K. consumers — will allow its credit and debit card users to enroll in the service, but didn’t set a timeline for when it would be available. Another major bank, HSBC, has experienced technical problems implementing Apple Pay and told cardholders via Twitter that they’ll have to wait two more weeks to use the service. As previously reported, U.K. transactions with Apple Pay won’t require a PIN, but are limited to £20 or less.

Apple releases iTunes 12.2.1 with iTunes Match, Apple Music fixes

Apple has released a minor update to iTunes, as iTunes 12.2.1 addresses a few issues found within iTunes Match and Apple Music. One of those iTunes Match issues found iTunes incorrectly labeling some Match songs as Apple Music songs. The update also “provides a way to correct a library problem affecting former iTunes Match subscribers.” Minor tweaks for Beats 1 are also included in the update. iTunes 12.2.1 is now available in the Mac App Store.

Big pharma firms looking to integrate ResearchKit

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest drug developers, is “currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months,” Buzzfeed reports. GSK didn’t provide specifics on its plans, but Michelle Crouthamel, a project manager with the company’s Digital Platform Performance unit, said ResearchKit offers a chance “to improve patient engagement and data collection.” Purdue Pharma, another large drug developer, is also in the early stages of exploring possible uses for ResearchKit. Larry Pickett Jr., Purdue’s vice president, said his company has vetted the platform, but hasn’t committed to building an app to utilize it, nor has the company even determined what types of data they’re be interested in collecting.

While the apps developed so far using ResearchKit have come from non-profits and academic research centers, Apple’s Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams says the company doesn’t limit who can use the platform in the name of medical advancements. ““We’re open to working with anybody that is going to make an impact on people’s health,” he said. “So we’ve made ResearchKit open-source so Apple won’t even control who uses it. We will control what we put on our App Store, but we won’t control who uses it.” Even so, not all big pharmaceutical companies have obvious interest in ResearchKit’s capabilities — Gilead Sciences and Pfizer both confirmed they have no current plans to use the platform.

M.I.A. project joins the ranks of Apple Music-exclusives

M.I.A. has joined Pharrell Williams, Drake and Dr. Dre in offering exclusive content through Apple Music. An expected release today for her “Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than a Border” project — which includes two songs and and a short film featuring music from her upcoming album — was teased by a tweet from Apple Music’s Twitter account. Three preview clips for the project have appeared on Connect, but the songs and film still don’t seem to be accessible at the time of this writing. Other exclusive Apple Music projects from artists like Diddy, Purity Ring and James Bay are also rumored to be in the works. [via Pitchfork]

Apple’s cut of streaming music rivals’ profits sparks antitrust inquiry

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether Apple’s cut of profits taken from rival streaming music apps violates antitrust laws, Reuters reports. Apple takes 30 percent of the $10/month subscriptions sold through iOS apps for streaming music competitors like Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others, leading those companies to complain that the higher-than-normal cut Apple takes forces them to charge more than they do on other platforms or see their profit margins eroded. Raising the price would mean making streaming subscriptions for competing music apps more expensive than Apple Music’s $10/month fee. Rivals could deny Apple its cut if users signed up for music subscriptions through their web browser instead of in-app, but Apple’s terms of service specifically prohibit advertising the app’s availability from other sources or linking to the company’s website from the app. These policies are more stringent than the ones Google places on app makers, and three industry sources said the FTC is looking at whether Apple’s tighter rules break any laws, but hasn’t the commission hasn’t yet started a formal investigation. Neither the FTC nor Apple commented on the issue.

New iPods coming July 14?

A recent rumor about new upcoming iPods seems to have picked up more steam, with French site iGen.fr claiming Apple will introduce new iPods early next week, possibly on Tuesday, July 14. Speculation first popped up when iTunes 12.2 had images of iPods in heretofore unseen colors, such as a dark blue iPod touch — that iPod touch in question notably shows a “Tuesday 14” date. It’s believed that while iPod nano and iPod shuffle may only get new color options, the iPod touch may be in line for a more noteworthy update, featuring an upgrade to a 64-bit processor.

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