Apple has reportedly fired Richard Williamson, the employee who oversaw the iOS 6 Maps team, according to a recent report from Bloomberg. The decision was apparently made by Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, who recently took over Maps and Siri services following a major executive shake-up late last month that saw the departure of iOS Senior VP Scott Forstall. Cue is reportedly now looking to install a new leadership team for the Maps group while also seeking advice from mapping experts outside of Apple and urging TomTom NV to fix the mapping data it shares with the company. Notably, Forstall’s fate may also have been at least partially related to the introduction of Apple’s Maps, as he allegedly refused to sign Apple’s apology letter for the application’s maligned launch.
Sensu Brush ($40), a brush/stylus for touchscreen surfaces, is now available. Originally a Kickstarter project by Chicago-based Artist Hardware, Sensu Brush features synthetic hair that feels like an artist’s brush, with copper-infused bristles that allow it to function on the capacitive touchscreen of an iPad or iPhone.
Sensu Brush can also be used as a standard touchscreen stylus with the brush tucked away and the rubber stylus tip used instead. Sensu Brush requires no charging or batteries and is compatible with many drawing apps, such as Paper, SketchBook Pro, and more.
General Motors will be the first automaker to implement Siri’s Eyes Free feature, as it officially announced plans to incorporate the technology into its Chevrolet Spark and Sonic subcompact cars early next year — as first indicated by an independent report in June. An iPhone 5 or 4S running iOS 6 will connect via Bluetooth to Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system — drivers can activate Siri’s Eyes Free mode using the steering wheel voice activation button. Once in Eyes Free mode, drivers can perform a number of tasks without taking their eyes off the road: make voice-activated, hands-free calls to contacts; play iTunes songs and switch music sources from radio to iPod mode; listen to, compose, and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or a saved contact; access Calendar and add appointments.
While in Eyes Free mode, driving distractions can be minimized by keeping the iPhone’s screen from lighting up, even when Siri answers simple questions — but Siri will not provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a web page. Eyes Free can eventually be expected to turn up in vehicles from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda, as all eight automakers were initially announced as partners.
Facebook has announced that iTunes has been added to Facebook Gifts as of today. Users can now send recommendations or iTunes credit for purchases — in denominations of $10, $15, $25, or $50 — to Facebook friends. Facebook Gifts launched near the end of September with about 100 merchants, and the social network recently announced more new partners. [via CNET]
China Telecom has started taking preorders for the iPhone 5, according to a new report from Global Times. A customer service employee said “China Telecom’s version (of the iPhone 5) will go on sale sometime in December,” as the reported December launch for the iPhone 5 in China appears all but certain. China Unicom has yet to start taking preorders for the phone. In addition, Taiwan’s major telecom carriers have confirmed the iPhone 5 is “very likely” to be released Dec. 14 in Taiwan, according to Focus Taiwan News Channel. There’s been no official word from Apple on the release date. [via 9to5Mac]
Apparent has launched the Doxie One ($149), a standalone scanner which can sync to an iPad, Mac, or PC. Scans can import directly to your photo roll, and are backed up via iCloud. The Doxie app allows for sharing documents through Evernote, Dropbox, or iMessage. Doxie One can create full color images at 300 dpi, and it scans documents, receipts, photos, and cards at eight seconds per page, or five seconds per photo. It can accommodate paper sizes from a business card to 8.5 x 11”.
Doxie One comes with a 2 GB SD memory card, power adapter, photo scanning sleeve, and USB cable. The scanner can be used anywhere with four AAA batteries. It is now available in gray, and seven color skins ($10 each) are sold separately.
Apple has acquired rights to use the Lightning trademark in Europe in a recent partial transfer from Harley-Davidson, according to recent documents from The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union. The documents can be seen in a report from Patently Apple; the transfer occurred on Nov. 24. While specifics of the partial transfer are not provided, it likely allows both Apple and Harley-Davidson to use certain aspects of the Lightning trademark for their own non-conflicting products.
On Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., we here at iLounge would like to say how thankful we are for your readership and support, and to wish you a happy holiday. We will be on a limited posting schedule today and Friday; we will return to normal updates on Monday, November 26. Happy Thanksgiving!
VERSI has announced its Dual VERSI iPad Stand ($259) for the iPad and iPhone. Featuring two arms to hold both an iPad and iPhone, the stand’s ball joint lever design allows for tilting, swiveling and rotating for viewing at nearly any angle. The base is made from solid black granite. When ordering the stand, customers have a choice of which iPad and iPhone they would like the stand to hold: The second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini are all options, as well as the iPhone 4/S or iPhone 5. A Single VERSI iPad Stand ($189) is also available.
iTunes 11 could be released “within the next days,” according to MacRumors. A post on one of the site’s forums shows an email reportedly sent to record labels by Fieyr, a German music distribution service. The email is asking for picture and gallery submissions of musicians to iTunes. Apple has previously said iTunes 11 would appear by the end of November, after missing its original October launch date.
Andrew Auernheimer, 27, was found guilty in a New Jersey court on one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy without authorization for his role in a 2010 security breach that exposed the email addresses and SIM ICC-ID numbers for 114,000 AT&T iPad users, Wired reports. Auernheimer and co-defendant Daniel Spitler extracted the data through a script — the site leaked e-mail addresses in response to ICC-IDs, and the script mimicked that behavior. As The Verge notes, Auernheimer faces two consecutive five-year felony sentences for the verdict. AT&T representatives confirmed during testimony that Auernheimer did not crack any codes, steal passwords, or break into AT&T’s customer database, though he was found to have violated the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Auernheimer tweeted that he would appeal the verdict. Spitler plead guilty to the charges last year and accepted a plea bargain.
It appears that a growing number of AT&T users now have access to FaceTime over Cellular, including those who have grandfathered unlimited data plans, according to a MacRumors report. AT&T recently announced that FaceTime over Cellular would be accessible to those with tiered data plans, but no such announcement was made regarding customers with the unlimited plans. Not all users seem to have access yet, so it’s possible that AT&T is rolling the service out gradually. AT&T has made no new official announcement regarding FaceTime over Cellular as of yet.
Ferrari by Logic 3 has announced two new audio accessories, the Cavallino T350 Headphones ($399) and Scuderia FS1 Bluetooth Speaker Dock ($549). Inspired by the Ferrari GT car, the Cavallino T350 Headphones are active noise canceling over-ear headphones, housed in metal with a black or tan leather headband and ear cups. Equipped with 40mm drivers, the T350 comes with a three-button and one-button in-line remote, and anti-tangle, detachable cables trimmed in woven fabric.
The Scuderia FS1 Bluetooth Speaker Dock is a compact Dock Connector accessory, powered by a 2.1 speaker system with two 2” drivers. A digital signal processor allows for natural musical timbre and extended low frequency response. Though the Scuderia FS1 streams music wirelessly via Bluetooth, an auxiliary port is also provided. A video out port for Apple devices and USB charging port are also included, along with a remote. Both accessories are now available.
Some Apple TV users are reporting that a recent software update is removing functionality from their set-top boxes. An Apple Support Communities thread with more than 28,000 views and 230 replies highlights the issues — a software update for the second-generation and third-generation Apple TVs is causing a number of reported problems. Some users can’t connect to their network after the update, while others are losing functionality entirely, as the Apple TV displays a blinking light while the TV screen stays black. A number of users are downgrading their software to restore functionality. Apple TV software version 5.1 was released on Sept. 24; the support thread started on Sept. 25. [via Apple Insider]
Wahoo Fitness has announced the Balance Smartphone Scale ($99), a Bluetooth 4.0 body scale. The scale tracks weight and BMI, sending the information to the Wahoo Wellness App or any compatible fitness app to track progress with charts and graphs. Profiles can be saved for up to 16 different users, and the scale’s own internal memory can save up to 130 separate weight readings.
The Balance Smartphone Scale is compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, fifth-generation iPod touch, third-generation and fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. Now available for preorder, the Balance Smartphone Scale ships the first week of December.
Nokia’s HERE Maps application is now available for iOS. The mapping program was released today after being announced one week ago. HERE Maps is a HTML5-based application that features voice-guided walking navigation, live traffic view, public transport directions, search history, map sharing, and offline capabilities, as maps can be saved for offline viewing.
Maps for almost 200 countries are included at launch, with selected countries featuring community maps created and updated by users. HERE Maps is optimized for iPhone 5 and is available for free download at the App Store.
iLounge and Geneva Lab are giving away one Geneva Sound System Gold Model S Speaker with stand and remote (retail value $300). The Geneva Sound System Model S is a compact tabletop hi-fi system with features such as TouchLight controls, a PowerDock connector for iPod/iPhone, and a digital clock radio. A Dock Connector accessory, two full-range 3” drivers and two bass ports are included in the Model S speaker.
November is a big month for giveaways at iLounge: We’ve still got ongoing giveaways for the iBattz Mojo Battstation Battery Pack, uNu Ecopak Battery Case, and Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2. All four of these giveaways end at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, Nov. 30, so enter today!
AC/DC’s complete catalog is now available for the first time on iTunes, Apple announced today in conjunction with Columbia Records. Two specially packaged compilations are also being offered — all AC/DC studio albums are offered in The Collection ($100), and The Complete Collection ($150) includes the band’s complete catalog, a special promotion reminiscent of the iTunes compilations Apple created for The Beatles and U2. The AC/DC catalog includes 16 studio albums, four live albums, and three compilation albums.
Apple’s iTunes Match service is suffering from an outage, which appears to have started early on Monday; songs are not loading from the service. This follows a weekend in which iMessage and FaceTime both experienced outages. Apple’s Support website for iCloud noted that some users experienced iMessage and FaceTime outages Sunday, but does not note iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match status. [via Apple Insider]
Apple and Google’s Motorola Mobility are discussing using binding arbitration as a possible resolution to their ongoing patent dispute, according to a court filing. Bloomberg reports the two companies have exchanged proposals relating to industry standard patents. It’s possible that a licensing agreement could pave the way to settling all patent disputes between Apple and Google. Apple recently settled its patent dispute with HTC.
Meanwhile, Samsung and Apple aren’t getting any closer to resolving their patent disputes. A recent statement by Samsung mobile chief Jong-Kyun Shin indicated the company won’t look to settle out of court, and U.S. magistrate judge Paul Grewel granted motions Thursday to include the iPhone 5, a number of Galaxy devices, and Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS in the ongoing Apple-Samsung lawsuit, CNET reports. The inclusion of Android 4.1 is restricted to use with the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.