According to recent reports, Apple has spoken to a few companies, possibly regarding acquisitions. Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica reportedly spoke to Tesla CEO Elon Musk “last Spring.” Both Tesla and Apple declined comment, though it has been speculated that the companies might collaborate in some way on a domestic rechargeable battery production facility. The same report noted that Apple is exploring “sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks.” Apple audio engineer Tomlinson Holman, the inventor of THX and 10.2 surround sound, is “exploring ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes as it flows through arteries.” Such a technology would likely come into play in Apple’s iWatch, if at all — a recent report suggested that iWatch sensors won’t be as advanced as some expect.
Another report notes Basis Science, maker of the Basis Health Tracker Watch, has spoken to companies including Apple and Google about a potential sale. Considering that Apple is working on its own fitness tracking watch, if the company had any prospective interest in Basis, it would likely involve incorporating the watch’s tracking technology into its own upcoming device. A Basis representative said the company doesn’t comment on “rumor or speculation.” [via San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch]
- February 17, 2014
- Site News
Happy Presidents’ Day from all of us at iLounge! We’ll be on a limited publication schedule today in observance of Presidents’ Day, and Family Day in Canada — we will return to normal updates on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Have a great day!
Patrick Kane’s Winter Games ($3), a new Olympic hockey game from Distinctive Games, hit the App Store in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The game is named for USA Hockey and Chicago Blackhawks player Patrick Kane. With his name headlining a video game, Kane joins a very select group of hockey players, which includes the likes of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
iOS sports games are often at a disadvantage from the start. Sure, they’re inexpensive, but the experience can’t compete with console sports simulation games, which benefit from precise controls, deeper strategies, and official league licensing, among a host of other features. Patrick Kane’s Winter Games tries to bridge the gap between arcade and simulation sports gaming, with mixed results.
- February 14, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Samsung mobile chief JK Shin last week about settling the companies’ legal battle over intellectual property, but ZDNet Korea reports the executives failed to reach an agreement. There was a February 19 deadline for mediation talks; it’s unlikely any further negotiations will occur before that date. The two companies are expected to return to court next month, and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller will be called to testify again, according to a report. Samsung may also call on former Apple SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall to testify. [via The Verge, PC World]
PolyFauna is a new app from Radiohead — yes, the band Radiohead. The free app has an expectedly vague description. Basically, you hear clips from “Bloom” off the group’s 2011 album The King of Limbs while guiding yourself through a strange, open landscape. Touching the screen creates different textures as you swoop around. Following the red dot will take you to new areas. It’s a very Radiohead kind of app.
DotEmu has brought R-Type II ($2) to the App Store. The classic side-scrolling shooter from 1989 has proven hard to come by over the years, with various versions not quite the same as the original arcade game. R-Type II comes with the original features — six levels with bosses, and the same weapons and upgrades. But players can upgrade to improved graphics, choose between three difficulty levels, change the screen ratio, and more. The game supports iOS 7 controllers, as well.
- February 13, 2014
- iPad Accessories
Twelve South has introduced its new stand, Compass 2 for iPad ($40), the sequel to 2011’s Compass Mobile Stand. Compass 2 is a metal stand with new dimensions for holding iPad Air and iPad mini, in addition to past iPads. The stand is made to work in either portrait or landscape mode.
Compass 2 includes a rear locking leg and secondary leg that folds down for a comfortable typing angle. It is available now in black, red, or silver.
Apple is expected to discontinue its iPad 2 “in the near future,” according to AppleInsider. Sources said the decision was made to decrease production as customers are “resoundingly” buying more of the iPad Air and iPad mini. The second-generation iPad is currently the only $399 full-sized iPad option on the market, with only the 16GB model offered at this point — the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular version is also sold for $529. Released in March 2011, iPad 2 is also the only remaining Dock Connector iPad still sold by Apple. It’s believed the iPad 2 has remained in Apple’s product lineup due to its popularity in the education market.
- February 13, 2014
Apple has released its annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report for 2014. The report says Apple confirmed in January that “all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third party auditors, and we’re pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources.” Apple drew criticism last year for its tin mining practices — the company reacted by launching a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia. This year’s report notes that Apple has worked with groups to develop the Indonesian Tin Working Group, “whose goal is to explore how its members can help resolve the environmental and social challenges of tin mining on Bangka and Belitung Islands while also supporting the economic benefits of a robust mining trade.”
Also within the report, Apple says it drove suppliers to achieve “an average of 95 percent compliance” with the maximum 60-hour workweek, and more than 1 million workers were tracked in the program. The company found 14 facilities had excessive recruiting fees — suppliers were required to pay back excess foreign contract worker fees, equaling $3.9 million in 2013. Apple found a total of 11 active underage labor cases, “significantly fewer than the previous year.” The company has also launched a Clean Water Program pilot for 13 water-intensive sites — Apple has previously drawn criticism for its suppliers polluting nearby rivers. The full Supplier Responsibility Progress Report is here.
- February 13, 2014
- Apple TV
Apple attempted to license TV programming for its own service before turning its attention to negotiating with existing TV distributors, the Wall Street Journal reports. A source said Apple could try seeking rights to programming directly in the future, however. A report from Wednesday noted Apple was negotiating with Time Warner Cable to add content to the device, but today Comcast has announced a deal to purchase Time Warner Cable in an all-stock transaction for $45.2 billion, pending regulatory approval. It’s unknown what the merger might do to the negotiations with Apple, but Wednesday’s report noted Apple was having trouble negotiating with Comcast. It’s also unclear whether Apple anticipated the merger. The WSJ reports the Apple TV could come “as early as June,” with one source saying it could be later. Wednesday’s report noted the device could be announced in April for a holiday release.
- February 12, 2014
- Apple TV
Apple will introduce a new Apple TV set-top box “as early as April,” according to Bloomberg. However, Bloomberg also claims Apple is “aiming to have the device available for sale by the Christmas holidays,” though the release date could change pending distribution and programming negotiations. The report notes Apple is working on a deal with Time Warner Cable and other partners to add video content to the device. Such a lengthy amount of time between the announcement and release date would differ greatly from Apple’s usual protocol, especially for an upgrade of an existing product.
- February 12, 2014
Apple’s iPhone 6 will launch in September in two sizes — 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches — the South China Morning Post reports. The cited sources are “industry insiders” who have reportedly seen the iPhone 6 prototypes. As some have speculated, the screens will allegedly be made entirely out of sapphire crystal. The new screens will be flat — not curved — and also will supposedly offer a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, a jump from the current 326 ppi display, although it’s unclear which of the screen sizes would have that dot pitch. A prior report noted two new iPhones would feature displays larger than 4.5 inches and 5 inches.
The questionable and increasingly strange saga of the mediocre game Flappy Bird has gotten plenty of attention lately, but the App Store has long had a one-touch flapping game that’s actually great — Frogmind’s Badland ($4). Badland now has iOS 7 game controller support in version 1.90. The update also adds a co-op multiplayer level to the game. Badland is $2 for a limited time.
Documentarian Ken Burns has released his own iPad-only app, Ken Burns. The app takes clips from Burns’ filmography and places them in a slick interactive timeline that offers a view of American history. It’s free to download the app, which comes with access to the innovation-themed playlist. The other playlists — featuring more than three hours of video and other exclusive content — can be unlocked in the full version for $10. Other themes include art, hard times, politics, race, and war. iOS 7 is required for the Ken Burns app.
Sony is negotiating with Apple to double its supply of camera components in the iPhone, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Noting that Sony supplies Apple with most sensors for the rear-facing iSight cameras on current iPhones, the report speculates Apple will likely switch to Sony sensors for the front-facing cameras, as well. The components could be found in a new iPhone “as early as next year,” which means any iPhones introduced this year would likely not include the additional Sony components. Considering the supplier switch, it’s possible front-facing iPhone cameras will get a spec boost with the Sony sensors. Nikkei also notes Sony has started to provide batteries for the iPad Air.
- February 11, 2014
An upcoming iPhone could feature a display with no bezel, according to The Korea Herald. A source said Apple is testing a prototype iPhone with a bezel-less screen that incorporates a fingerprint scanner, though there are still issues with mass-manufacturing the scanning component. The report notes the next iPhone is rumored to have a bigger display, as has been reported, though bezel-less screens might be overly “vulnerable to external impact” when mishandled. It’s been speculated Apple could use sapphire in its next phone’s display to reduce scratching, while other materials and design elements might provide the necessary shatter protection for the screen.
- February 11, 2014
A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that court-appointed monitor Michael Bromwich can continue to supervise Apple’s antitrust policies, Reuters reports. Apple was given a temporary reprieve from monitor Bromwich in late January, but Bromwich will once more be able to perform his duties, which are limited to assessing compliance policies and disseminating those policies. “Today’s ruling makes abundantly clear that Apple must now cooperate with the court-appointed monitor,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Gina Talamona said. The monitor was originally appointed to examine Apple after the company’s involvement in fixing e-book prices. Apple is still seeking a broader appeal to remove the monitor completely.
Rita Lane, Apple vice president of iPad, Mac desktops, and Mac accessories has retired from the company, as noted by her LinkedIn profile. According to the profile, Lane has held her VP position since 2008; she was directly involved in the success of the iPad since its launch. Lane was noted as one of the highest ranking women at Apple in a 2012 Business Insider article. Her successor is unknown. [via 9to5Mac]
According to a new report from MobiHealthNews, Apple currently has more than 200 people working on the iWatch, but the smartwatch will be a peripheral device that relies on an iPhone connection for full functionality, rather than intended as a purely standalone product. Qualifying rather than contradicting an earlier 9to5Mac story detailing potential iWatch features, the report notes that sensors in the iWatch may not be as advanced or numerous as some expect, with simpler measurements concentrated on displaying accurate, “real metrics like calories,” rather than abstract Nike Fuel numbers, and a lower likelihood of features such as integrated hydration measurement.
Exercise, diet, sleep, stress, and medication adherence are all believed to be targeted by the device, which will aim to bring meaningful health tracking to the masses. It’s believed Apple that is planning on keeping the iWatch and rumored “Healthbook” app — which may have a different name — unregulated by the FDA, which was the crux of the company’s recent meeting with the agency. In order to avoid FDA regulation, Apple would have to report measured health statistics without analysis.
Apple has announced iTunes Radio is now available in Australia. As in the U.S., iTunes Radio is ad-supported, with iTunes Match subscribers able to listen without ads. With the Australian launch official, it’s likely other countries will soon follow — a report from last October anticipated iTunes Radio would launch in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.K. in early 2014.
- February 10, 2014
- Apple TV
A reference to new Apple TV hardware has been discovered in iOS 7. The reference is to “AppleTV4,1,” which would be a new Apple TV, as the current Apple TV is referenced internally as “AppleTV3,2.” Though the reference has reportedly been in iOS since iOS 7.0’s release in September, it was only found recently by developer Hamza Sood. Given that the model is shown as part of the existing Apple TV family, it’s likely that the new device will remain a set-top box, with upgraded internal components. The report also notes that new Apple TV software builds make references to iOS 7’s Game Controller framework, suggesting that some game controllers could connect to Apple TV. It’s been reported that Apple has been testing new versions of Apple TV. We previously reported that a coming Apple TV update would add downloadable game support to the platform. [via 9to5Mac]
- February 10, 2014
Billionaire Apple investor Carl Icahn has withdrawn his proposal for Apple to buy back an additional $50 billion of its own stock. The withdrawal is in reaction to a recommendation from proxy advisory firm ISS, which recommended investors vote against Icahn’s proposal, Reuters reports. Icahn wrote on his Shareholders’ Square Table website that he was disappointed in the ISS recommendation, but “we do not altogether disagree with their assessment and recommendation in light of recent actions taken by the company to aggressively repurchase shares in the market.” Seemingly in response to market pressures, Apple has repurchased $14 billion in shares in the past two weeks, and the company is on track to repurchase “at least $32 billion in shares” in this fiscal year. Apple CEO Tim Cook has mentioned that the company is balancing repurchase programs with a desire to maintain cash flexibility for large acquisitions, and is not ruling out the prospect of a $1 billion purchase under the right circumstances.