From all of us here at iLounge, Happy New Year! We’ll be on a limited publication schedule until the second of January as we celebrate with our families and friends.
While 2012 was an uneven year, it had several highlights, including the debut of the first iPad with a Retina display, the mid-year announcement of iOS 6, and then the near-simultaneous releases of two new iPods, the iPhone 5, and two new iPads before the holidays. With substantial iPad and iPad mini updates expected in 2013, it’s no surprise that the new year is shaping up to be very exciting indeed.
Once again, we are beyond thrilled to be hosting the largest iLounge Pavilion in the history of the International Consumer Electronics Show—this year, with over 120,000 square feet and 500 exhibitors devoted to iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac products. The 2013 International CES officially kicks off on January 8, and there will be plenty of news and events before the doors open. Our editors will be there for all of it.
Feel free to browse through our archives until we return, and be sure to join us for our upcoming CES live coverage. Once again, Happy New Year!
Carbon Audio has announced Zooka ($100), a distinctive new wireless Bluetooth speaker. Zooka promises to perform audio up to five times louder than the iPhone, iPad, or Mac laptop it works with, and interestingly can slide onto a laptop’s top, while a removable metal stand makes it an iPad holder, as well.
The elongated speaker comes equipped with two 30mm speaker drivers and features a 30 ft. Bluetooth range.
Zooka has a built-in microphone and a rechargeable battery that offers up to eight hours of play time. The speaker comes in eight different colors, and is available now.
With over 1,300 votes from iLounge readers, our most recent poll—“What is your favorite new feature in iTunes 11?”—has ended. Readers were asked what feature they liked most—if any—about Apple’s latest iTunes release.
A significant 48 percent of respondents indicated that they didn’t care for any of the new features and don’t like iTunes 11 at all. Among the remaining responses, 26 percent liked the new user interface in general, 13 percent preferred the Up Next play queuing feature, five percent leaned toward iTunes in the Cloud integration, and four percent specifically liked the new Mini Player interface. Two percent of readers indicated camera-based gift card redemption as their fave new feature, while a handful indicated a preference for the addition of a Home Videos category and Live Search, coming in at one percent apiece.
Samsung could be fined up to $14.8 Billion by the European commission for attempting to use standard-essential 3G patents to ban sales of the iPhone and iPad in Europe, according to a new report. The fines could total 10 percent of a company’s worldwide revenues — Samsung took in $148.9 billion in 2011. While Apple has sought bans due to infringements of specific, non-standard patents, Samsung has often used its standard-essential patents to seek bans. Because Apple agreed to pay a licensing fee to Samsung for those 3G patents, the commission decided Samsung’s requests for sales bans were unjustified. An official statement of objections was issued by the commission, and Samsung will respond before the commission makes any further decisions. [via The Guardian]
Apple has been fined 1.03 million yuan ($165,908) for selling unlicensed e-books in China. A Beijing court ruled against the company on Thursday, according to a report out of China. The money will be paid to eight Chinese writers and two companies, as third-party apps featuring unlicensed versions of their books were available for download. In the United States, Apple is effectively able to avoid liability for third-party copyright violations within apps, simply removing them from the App Store when violations are reported. [via Xinhuanet]
Conflicting reports have recently surfaced regarding the current state of working conditions in the factories of Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn. Envoyé Spécial, a French news investigation show, sent undercover reporters to the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory and found few changes following promised improvements from Apple earlier in 2012. According to the story — which ran a few weeks ago — reporters found some workers living in dorms without electricity, running water, or elevators. Also, some student employees were allegedly working at Foxconn because their school administrators threatened to take away diplomas if they didn’t go to work.
However, a New York Times report notes Apple and Foxconn have started to carry out reforms to improve working conditions in factories, as “interviews with more than 70 Foxconn employees in multiple cities indicate a shift among the people on iPad and iPhone assembly lines.” An anecdote about a female employee receiving a sturdy chair with a high back to replace a prior short stool is included in the report, as are other reforms, including protective foam on ceilings and automatic shut-off devices on machines. Foxconn has also announced that increased wages and decreased weekly work hours will be fully enacted by July 2013. [via Engadget]
As the latest in a series of reports regarding screen sourcing plans for new iOS devices, Apple is again reportedly discussing IGZO panel production with Sharp for possible inclusion in its next generation iPads and iPhones, according to a Digitimes story that cites unnamed industry sources. These sources claim that Apple is evaluating how many IGZO panels will be available in 2013. Speculation that Apple would use Sharp’s thin, low-power, high pixel density IGZO displays in future devices has continued for some time, but actual products with the new technology have only recently arrived on the market, and in limited quantities. Apple and other companies have reportedly made substantial investments in Sharp to keep the financially unstable company afloat, in large part due to its screen production technologies. [via Digitimes]
Apple has received a patent for high temperature manufacturing processes to form glass — a process that would enable Apple to create curved glass without the use of chemicals. An alignment system would allow thin glass to bend around a mold without interference.
Speculation has hinted at a curved-screen iPhone, but the process could be used for glass covers in a number of devices — phones, media players, tablets, monitors and televisions, among other devices, are all listed as possible beneficiaries in the patent summary. [via Patently Apple]
Apple has received a SIM card-related patent, specifically for inventions that would prevent the connectors in SIM cards from being damaged or improperly inserted while being removed or replaced. The patent includes the ejection of a SIM card via a “plunger rod,” similar to the tools Apple has included with some iPhones and cellular-capable iPads; the patent discusses using the rod to put pressure on a lever that releases the SIM card inside of a housing, as the SIM trays have worked on prior Apple devices. Apple’s patent was originally filed on Sept. 30, 2010. [via Patently Apple]
Christmas is finally here, and we’re guessing that there are a lot of new iPads, iPhones, iPods, and gift cards making their way into lucky hands today! iLounge has some highly useful resources to help you make the most of your new Apple device—or choose one with your holiday cash.
Our 2013 iPhone + iPod Buyers’ Guide includes the year’s best iPhone and iPod hardware, plus top accessories, apps, and games—including new Lightning accessories for the latest Apple devices.
Our New iPad Buyers’ Guide includes reviews of iPads, as well as their best accessories, apps, and games. Updated reviews of the just-released fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini can be found separately here.
Check out iOS Gems for the latest in App Store purchasing recommendations, and our amazing Tutorials for helpful guides to using iTunes, the Apple TV, and all things iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Great Macintosh computer products can be found in our special curated collection, iLounge + Mac.
And of course, our Discussion Forums include over 200,000 members sharing tips and thoughts on different Apple products, a great place to start if you have questions. If you can’t find the answer by searching iLounge, feel free to Ask iLounge, a column where one of our expert editors provides smart answers to reader questions. Happy holidays!
Merry Christmas from all of us at iLounge! We’re off celebrating with our families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we’ll resume our normal posting schedule on Wednesday, Dec. 26. Have a wonderful holiday, and we hope you find some great iPad, iPhone, or iPod goodies under the tree this year!
The Wall Street Journal has finally joined Apple’s iOS Newsstand service. One of the last high-profile publishers to holdout from offering subscriptions via iTunes, the Journal will now sell digital subscriptions from directly within the app — and will pay the standard 30 percent of subscription revenue from in-app subscriptions to Apple. Although The Wall Street Journal has long had its own reader app for iOS, it initially chose to remove in-app subscription purchasing following the launch of Apple’s in-app subscription service early last year, rather than sharing revenue and customer data with Apple. Former Dow Jones president Todd Larsen had opposed Newsstand subscriptions, but he left the company last summer. [via All Things D]
Apple has been fined €200,000—roughly $264,000—by the Italian antitrust authority, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), for failing to make changes to its AppleCare warranty policies from March 28 to November 10. The Italian regulator originally fined Apple €900,000 (approximately $1.2 million) last year for selling two-year AppleCare warranty coverage while failing to inform customers that Italian law already offered two years of coverage. Apple made changes on November 10th that now present consumer rights as “clear and unambiguous,” according to the AGCM, but the company still faces the additional fine for not complying with the AGCM regulations sooner. Notably, Apple has also discontinued the sale of physical AppleCare packages in Apple Stores; Italian customers can now only purchase AppleCare online. [via The Next Web]
Apple has denied approval to POP, a popular Kickstarter portable charger that aimed to power multiple devices, including the iPhone 5. According to an update from project creator James Siminoff of Edison Junior Design Laboratory, Apple is “no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin – seriously).” More than $139,000 has been pledged to the project, which started with a funding goal of $50,000, and Siminoff has promised to provide full refunds to all backers. He notes that Edison Junior will be required to absorb more than $11,000 in credit card and Kickstarter fees, however.
Though not entirely surprising, this denial reveals a heretofore unknown rule regarding the Lightning connector being used alongside any other charging connectors, and shows Apple drawing a clear line in the sand regarding Lightning licensing. Companies require Apple approval to license the Lightning connector, allowing the company to apply its tightened rules to reject projects such as POP.
Updated: Apple now says it will allow its Lightning cable to co-exist with the Dock Connector within the same accessory. “We support accessories that integrate USB and Lightning connectors, but there were technical issues that prevented accessories from integrating 30-pin and Lightning connectors so our guidelines did not allow this,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said. [via CNET]
Apple may be among several companies looking into acquiring home automation startup id8 Group R2 Studios Inc., according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft and Google are also said to be in acquisition talks with the company, which holds patents for controlling electronic devices and interfaces, and has also released an Android app for heating and lighting systems control. R2 Studios was created in May 2011 by Blake Krikorian, founder of Slingbox maker Sling Media Inc. The report notes, however, that “a deal may not happen and some talks may be preliminary.”
Updated Jan. 3: Microsoft has acquired id8 Group R2 Studios Inc. to “beef up its Xbox unit,” the WSJ reports.
No-contract MVNO Solavei is offering existing unlocked GSM iPhone users an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for $49 a month, leveraging T-Mobile’s 4G network. Users will be able to access 4G coverage across 37 markets nationwide, including 14 newly expanded markets: New York City, Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, Detroit, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Tampa, Warren, Mich., and Springfield, Mass.
Following a review initiated in 2010, the Federal Trade Commission has amended its rules regarding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), strengthening privacy protections for children under 13. COPPA was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1998, requiring online services for children under 13 to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information.
Starting July 1, 2013, parents will need to consent to the gathering of their kids’ photos, videos, and/or location information, and the consent process has been streamlined, among other changes. Notably, COPPA now explicitly covers services such as apps, plug-ins, and advertising networks, however, Apple’s App Store and competitors will not have to police apps for violations. The FTC’s action comes on the heels of a recent report criticizing the privacy practices of kids’ apps found in the App Store and Google’s Android Market. [via The Wall Street Journal]
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively ruled all claims of an Apple ‘pinch to zoom’ patent invalid, possibly affecting the $1.05 billion in damages Apple won from Samsung. Apple’s patent was rejected in a first Office action, meaning the patent could later become invalidated. Samsung brought the tentative rejection to the court’s attention, as Claim 8 of the patent was declared most valuable by Apple in the court case that ended in August. An upcoming judgment on the awarded damages is expected to be made in the near future. [via Foss Patents]
An anecdotal report suggests iOS 6.0.2 for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini appears to be affecting battery life. The update, which aimed to fix a Wi-Fi bug, is allegedly causing unusually fast battery drain on the updated devices for some users. As with prior iOS-related battery issues, the problem does not appear to affect all users; however, a Twitter search for “iOS 6.0.2 battery” reveals a fair number of tweets about decreased battery life related to the update. It’s been noted that Apple has removed the support note for the update, which may signal another patch to address the latest problem. [via Tidbits, ZDNet]
A new report out of Taiwan suggests the long-rumored Apple TV set won’t be seen until at least 2014. Though the report is of questionable veracity, it includes some interesting claims from an anonymous source at Apple manufacturing partner Hon Hai/Foxconn. According to this source, initial testing of the TV design has begun, with Apple considering 46- to 55-inch flat panel screens. As these sizes are commonly available, Hon Hai would not need to rely exclusively upon Sharp—which reportedly is focusing production on 60-inch panels—as an exclusive provider for the screens. The report suggests that some products relating to the Apple TV set could appear at CES in January, though there is little to no chance that this will happen at the 2013 show. [via Focus Taiwan News Channel]