- April 2, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apology and warranty improvements for Chinese customers has earned praise from China’s state-controlled media. Although it was recently criticized by the Chinese media in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign, Apple is now “worth respect compared with other American companies,” according to the Global Times, a Communist Party tabloid. China’s Foreign Ministry also praised Apple. “We approve of what Apple did,” spokesman Hong Lei said. [via Reuters]
- April 2, 2013
A key claim in Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent — the patent that gives graphics a bounce back effect when scrolling — has been ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action” by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a court filing by Samsung revealed. While the action is “final,” Apple can still appeal the decision to a trial and appeal board, a process that could take years. The uncertain status of the patent could impact Apple and Samsung’s continuing battles in court. [via FOSS Patents]
- April 2, 2013
AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne announced the carrier will support HD Voice later this year. Speaking at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit, Rinne also said AT&T will start to work on “advanced LTE,” which reduces interference, among other things. T-Mobile was the first to announce improved phone call quality through HD Voice support for the iPhone 5 in the United States — it will begin to offer the iPhone 5 April 12. The specific date for AT&T’s HD Voice rollout is unknown. [via AllThingsD]
- April 2, 2013
Apple has announced on its investor page that it will release its second quarter 2013 financial results at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 23. During the financial quarter, the company released a 128GB version of its fourth-generation iPad, and also released Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in China. In the prior quarter, Apple announced revenue of $54.45 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion.
A federal court has ruled that startup ReDigi can’t resell iTunes songs, as it has claimed it could. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records, as Universal sued ReDigi for copyright violation. Sullivan ruled that users can’t resell digital media files unless given explicit permission by the copyright owner. Notably, a recently published Apple patent filing offers a solution that would let digital rights be transferred during a resale or loan, contemplating both software technology and contract rights to allow it. [via All Things D]
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, an Apple official told San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón that the next two generations of iPhones have already been developed, and that “they preceded Tim Cook.” Gascón reportedly spoke with Apple government liaison Michael Foulkes in an effort to convince the company to embrace anti-theft technology. According to Gascón, who wants Apple to add a post-theft kill switch to iPhones, Foulkes spent an “underwhelming” hour “doing a lot of talking and saying nothing,” apart from an unusual apparent revelation: Foulkes supposedly said that the next two generations of iPhone had been developed before Tim Cook, suggesting that their designs were locked in under Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, prior to the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011. While this claim is facially difficult to believe, Apple did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on the report.
- April 1, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook published a new letter (translated link) on Apple’s Chinese website announcing changes to the company’s warranty policies, as well as apologies for misunderstandings or concerns. The letter follows high-profile criticisms of Apple by Chinese media and various Chinese citizens, which were suspected to have been coordinated by the Chinese government. Cook announced changes to the parts used in iPhone 4 and 4S repairs, clarifications of the company’s warranty policy, improved training of Apple service providers, and a convenient way to provide feedback to Apple. Under the policies, Chinese consumers will receive not only one-year warranty coverage for their Apple devices, but in many cases two-year coverage for major computer components such as motherboards and displays, without the need for AppleCare. [via 9to5Mac]
Soundfreaq has announced Boom Freaq ($350), a special edition of its Sound Stack speaker. Boom Freaq is a Bluetooth wireless speaker that can dock either Dock Connector or Lightning devices — a 30-pin dock is built-in, and a Lightning adapter is now also included. Like other iterations of Sound Stack, the speaker features two full-range drivers and two active subwoofers. A USB port is included for universal charging.
Boom Freaq’s look is inspired by classic boomboxes, and is the newest addition to the company’s Novogratz Collection. Boom Freaq is available now for pre-order and will ship in 4 to 5 weeks.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad mini,” according to a report. In a letter to Apple, the USPTO describes the term as “merely descriptive of a feature or characteristic of the goods,” therefore, the trademark registration was refused. The examiner’s description is a bit curious, as iPad is already an Apple trademark, but that term is also referred to as “descriptive” in the letter. There’s still a possibility Apple could be approved for the “iPad mini” trademark after further review, though the burden is now on Apple to counter the Office’s interpretations. Notably, Apple successfully trademarked many variations on the iPod name, including iPod shuffle, classic, and touch, but does not appear to have trademarked iPod mini. [via Forbes]
- March 29, 2013
Apple is “pushing hard” for a summertime launch of its anticipated streaming music service, according to a new report. The company has allegedly made “significant progress” in talks with two of the top record labels: Universal and Warner. A source is claimed to have said, “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Multiple reports have noted the service has been held up by Apple battling the labels over royalty rates; most recently, a report noted the company was offering labels a very low rate of 6 cents per 100 songs streamed. [via The Verge]
Apple is preparing to launch its own dedicated game controller, according to a new report. Apple allegedly discussed plans for the controller in private meetings at the Game Developers Conference this week, and the company is “ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.” Little else is known about the rumored controller — its physical appearance and release date are unknown. Game developers have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed solution to appear, and the only known authorized third-party solution (Duo Games’ Duo Gamer) was locked out of supporting most third-party titles. Notably, the report comes from PocketGamer, which previously cited anonymous sources to claim that Apple would launch a $20 premium games section of the iOS App Store, which never materialized; as such, the claims should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Update: Often given Apple’s off-the-record responses to rumors, The Loop denies the report.
In-app purchases generated a record 76 percent of total App Store revenue in the U.S. in February, according to a report from Distimo, a company that tracks app performance and metrics. The new report tracks revenues generated through the App Store, so ad revenue is excluded. At least 90 percent of all Asian market revenue came from in-app purchases, Distimo claims. Despite this, freemium apps were found to generate the least amount of revenue per download — just 93 cents per download based on the top 250 apps in the U.S. App Store, which might suggest that developers are hurting themselves by giving away apps in hopes of subsequent purchases, apart from building larger user bases. Paid iPhone apps without in-app purchases generated an average of $2.25 per download, and paid apps with in-app purchases generate even more revenue. iPad paid apps average $4.04 in revenue per download.
Facebook has sent out invites for a media event to “Come See Our New Home on Android” next Thursday, which appears to be the announcement of a Facebook-based Android phone co-developed with HTC. Though it’s unclear if the event will focus on the phone, reports suggest that Facebook has created a version of the Android operating system with deeper Facebook integration than before. Past reports have noted that Facebook has hired former a number of iOS designers and engineers, and Facebook notably also purchased Push Pop Press, a company started by former Apple employees. For possibly competitive reasons that were only speculated on before, Apple was slow at incorporating Facebook features into iOS and OS X — now, presumably, Facebook will be directly competing against the iPhone, while maintaining a number of popular apps on the platform. [via 9to5 Google]
Flipboard Inc. has updated its free Flipboard app to version 2.0. The web article aggregator now lets users collect and save content into “magazines” that are public by default, but can be made private. A new bookmarklet makes it easier to add items to magazines from your browser, and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is now easier. Personalized recommendations are now available, and search — now in a more prominent position — has been improved.
Repulze ($3), the futuristic racer from Pixelbite, has now been updated with additional features that bring it closer to Sony’s classic Wipeout series. Version 1.0.4, aka “Phase Three,” adds weapons and AI opponents to the game. New challenges, hovercrafts and tracks have also been added. At this point, the weapons are still pretty basic, and the stages don’t have quite the right balance of weapon-racing action, as Repulze continues to feel like a beta version of a finished game. But the graphics and speed continue to improve with every release, and if subsequent updates evolve the weapon systems further, Pixelbite might just have an excellent game on its hands.
- March 28, 2013
Two recently published Apple patent applications — one for an electronic device with wraparound display, another for a ceramic enclosure for a device — could offer insight into the company’s future devices. The first application involves a device that would include a flexible display enclosed within a transparent housing, enabling the display to have greater surface area. Within the application, it’s noted that there is “a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device. ” Such a display would require use of a detection system to identify how a user is interacting with the device, and could provide volume controls on one of the display’s sides, for example. The device’s AMOLED display could be unrolled into one continuous band, as illustrated.
Another application focuses on techniques for fabricating a laminated ceramic housing around a device. The ceramic enclosure would be multi-layered for increased strength, yet it would remain lightweight. Such a ceramic housing could be a unibody design, like the iPhone 5. [via Apple Insider]
- March 28, 2013
Following up on the announcement that Apple will release a new version of the iPhone 5 to support T-Mobile’s network, the company has clarified that unlocked current-generation iPhone 5 models will work on T-Mobile’s network—partially. According to a report, the original iPhone 5 can connect to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21Mbps and LTE networks, but will not work on the company’s newer HSPA+ 42Mbps network. Due to cellular radio frequency differences that apparently vary from city to city, it’s impossible to know for certain what current iPhone 5 speeds will be like at a given location within T-Mobile’s network. This issue is being resolved with the new iPhone 5 model, increasing the chance new customers will be able to connect at better speeds. [via The Verge]
iCloud is meant to “just work,” but a recent report from The Verge suggests that many third-party developers believe otherwise. A number of developers are cited, noting that Apple hasn’t improved the way iCloud syncs with databases, also known as Core Data. The issues have caused developers to write extra code and manually help users who seek a solution, while dealing with customer complaints and poor ratings. In many cases, data will stop syncing, no matter what efforts are made. “iCloud with Core Data is a developer’s worst nightmare,” a developer said. “It’s frustrating, maddening, and costs hundreds of support hours.” Reportedly, Apple hasn’t been helpful to developers experiencing issues, and though iOS 6 has improved matters, the article notes “the company has simply not expressed any desire to fix Core Data syncing.” Apple declined to comment on the story.
- March 27, 2013
Apple is facing a lawsuit from a Shanghai company over an alleged patent infringement for use of Siri, according to a report. Shanghai Zhi Zhen Internet Technology Co Ltd is suing Apple, claiming Siri infringes on its patent for Xiaoi, a “chat robot system” — the patent went into effect in 2006, prior to Siri. Xiaoi has been used in many fields, including telecommunications and banking, Shanghai Zhi Zhen has claimed. A pre-hearing is being held today. Shanghai Zhi Zhen is not seeking compensation; the company has asked the court to confirm the patent right. Apple is asking that Xiaoi’s patent be invalidated. [via Shanghai Daily]
Parents of young children have a love-hate affair with the Canadian kids’ cartoon Caillou, featuring a relatable four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister Rosie. While Caillou cartoons nicely touch upon common childhood themes, including role-playing, exploration, and parent-child interactions, the title character whines and pouts frequently enough to teach impressionable kids bad behaviors. Fingerprint’s new Step-by-Story - Caillou’s Window ($1) thankfully does away with the whining, but isn’t going to win the series any new fans, either. It lets kids choose very short pre-built or built-it-yourself stories featuring Caillou characters, stringing together five or so concepts to form a complete (if not particularly compelling) “story” like this one: (1) Outside, it was fall, (2) when Daddy saw (3) Caillou skiing and (4) Sarah (5) on a shooting star. Each of these clauses adds a simple, lightly animated foreground object to a flat background image while Caillou’s theme song plays and a narrator slowly enunciates the clauses. That’s it — though the art is high-resolution, it’s flat, and there’s no additional interactivity. Kids who try the app may be interested at first, only to discover that little they do while watching the “story” has any impact on the screen. We’d suggest passing on this one.
Google has introduced a number of new features to its Google Plus (free) social networking app. A new profile design is the first notable change users may see, along with a new notifications tray. Version 4.3.0 also includes new photo editing tools, such as filters, rotating and cropping. Users can also control the volume of posts from individual circles or communities and filter search results. There are also more community options — you can tell your friends about a community and reshare posts, along with displaying counts for unread messages and new moderation features in communities.
Apple has confirmed that it will begin sell a new version of its A1428 iPhone 5 model in order to support additional Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands for T-Mobile’s network, according to a report. Current iPhone 5 users will not be able to gain the new AWS support via any kind of software update; instead, Apple is updating the current A1428 model of the iPhone 5, and will begin to sell it on April 12, the same day the device comes to T-Mobile. Existing A1428 models will perform at lower speeds on T-Mobile’s network, and thus will be phased out in favor of the new AWS model. The updated iPhone 5 will continue to support AT&T’s LTE network, and likely gain support for low-cost WIND and Mobilicity carriers in Canada in the process. [via Engadget]