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Report: Apple bans UK music service from iAd

Bloom.fm, a U.K.-based streaming music service, has reportedly been blocked from using iAd by Apple. A spokesman for Bloom told CNET Apple must view the much smaller service as a threat. “We were surprised at Apple’s decision to ban us from their iAd network as their iTunes Radio service isn’t even available in the U.K.,” the spokesman said. “Bloom.fm gives you 22 million tracks for £1 a month — the price of a single download on iTunes — so I can see why they’d want to protect their business.” Although Bloom spent £2,000 per month on iAd, the company was informed it could no longer advertise on the platform. Apple said Bloom.fm is “a competitive service to iTunes Radio and it is against Apple policy,” according to a Bloom tweet. iTunes Radio still has yet to launch in the U.K., though a report said the service would launch in early 2014.

Apple says services not affected by Heartbleed

The Heartbleed security flaw, which has affected hundreds of thousands of websites using OpenSSL, has not done the same to Apple’s services. Apple confirmed to Re/Code that its mobile, desktop, and web services were not affected. “Apple takes security very seriously. iOS and OS X never incorporated the vulnerable software and key Web-based services were not affected,” an Apple spokesperson said. It’s recommended that Internet users look into which sites were vulnerable to Heartbleed, then update their passwords after those sites update their security software.

Apple considering ‘dramatic overhaul’ of iTunes Music Store

Apple is now considering “the most dramatic overhaul of its iTunes music store in more than a decade,” Billboard reports. The internal debate has been prompted by iTunes Radio’s inability to cease the decline of music downloads. Apparently, only 1-2 percent of iTunes Radio listeners are clicking the buy button. But just how Apple plans on revamping the iTunes store is up in the air.

It’s previously been reported that Apple is considering creating an on-demand music streaming service like Spotify, and the company has looked into creating an iTunes app for Android. Apple is also reportedly pressuring labels for exclusive album releases to boost sales, though it’s likely the company is placing more focus on streaming music at this time.

Apple Human Interface VP Greg Christie leaving company

Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie’s clashes with Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive have led to Christie’s imminent departure from the company, 9to5Mac reports. Ive will take control of the company’s software design group. Christie is an original iPhone designer who has led software design at the company, and he recently testified for Apple in the current patent trial against Samsung. Ive and Christie reportedly butted heads over the design of iOS 7. With the departures of Christie and former SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall, Ive is now in position to be in control of Apple design on both the hardware and software fronts.

Update: Apple confirmed Christie’s exit to the Wall Street Journal. A company spokesman said, “Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple.”

Report: Apple mulled Square acquisition

Apple considered making an acquisition offer for Square in the past year, Re/Code reports. Google also thought about making an offer for the payment company, but Square CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly favors Apple. Dorsey believes Apple’s aesthetics and values align more closely with Square, and he was also reportedly “put off” by Google when the company engaged in acquisition talks with his prior company, Twitter. “Jack does not want to sell to Google,” a source said.

An offer around $8 billion would “get Dorsey and the board’s attention,” the report notes, though sources doubt Square could receive such an lucrative offer at the moment. Apple and Square both declined comment.

Apple, other firms could pay $9 Billion in poaching suit

A class-action lawsuit is seeking $9-Billion in lost wages from Apple and other companies for their alleged roles in preventing employees from being hired by rivals, the New York Times reports. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe are negotiating to settle the case. Though the companies “privately scoff” at the $9-Billion amount, the employees — about 100,000 of them — contend the facts are so convincing and embarrassing that “they won’t settle for anything less than a blindingly high number.” A number of emails from Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt reveal the anti-poaching agreement between the companies, with Google seeking permission from Jobs to hire an Apple employee at one point; the offer was rescinded after Jobs objected.

The lawsuit was granted class-action status in October 2013, but the number of employees is higher than was initially reported. Each employee would be owed about $90,000 in lost wages if the $9-Billion amount is accepted.

Former Amazon A9 search VP now at Apple

Former Vice President of Amazon’s A9 Search Technology group, Benoit Dupin, has taken a job with Apple. Dupin’s LinkedIn page has been updated to note he is a “Director” at Apple. He will work on search for Maps, the iTunes Store, and the App Store, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has been pushing to improve search functionality, and the company has been testing a ‘related’ search feature in the App Store.

More Schiller emails reveal Apple ad turmoil

A recent report illustrated how Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller was bothered by Samsung’s marketing campaign targeting Apple, and newly released January 2013 emails show the back-and-forth between Schiller and Apple ad agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab. These emails, posted by Business Insider, follow Schiller’s email to the agency noting that Apple had “a lot of work to do” in response to an article titled “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” The agency responded at length with thoughts on how to fix the “chilling negative narrative,” including needing more freedom — even comparing the situation to Apple’s predicament in 1997, as well as suggesting than the company hold an emergency executive meeting akin to one Steve Jobs held during Antennagate. Schiller was “shocked” by the response, writing that Apple placed no limits on the agency, and take the agency to task for its 1997 comparison.

“This is not 1997,” Schiller wrote. “Nothing like it in any way. In 1997 Apple had no products to market. We had a company making so little money that we were 6 months from out of business.” The agency apologized via email. In another email days later, Schiller wrote that while iPad advertising improved, iPhone advertising was “not good,” especially compared to a recent Samsung ad at the time.

iOS 8: Healthbook as aggregator, faster camera speed

Apple’s planned Healthbook app in iOS 8 is described as “an application that aggregates health and fitness data from various applications and hardware accessories” in a new 9to5Mac article. The feature, which mainly summarizes much of what’s already been reported about iOS 8, alludes to Healthbook being a sort of base app for other possible health-related applications. Additionally, the article notes Apple is working to speed up the time required to take a photo with the new iPhone’s hardware components, and pushing to further improve overall speed in iOS 8.

Apple internal slides reveal need for larger, cheaper phones

Internal Apple slides revealed by Samsung in the latest patent battle between the companies illustrate Apple’s need to create larger and cheaper smartphones. The slides from an April 2013 meeting, posted by Re/Code, show that while the iPhone growth rate is slowing, there’s still demand and growth for cheaper and larger phones.

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One slide, titled “Consumers want what we don’t have,” shows all of the market growth coming from smartphones either priced at $300 or cheaper, or phones more expensive than $300 with a screen larger than 4”. Apple is rumored to be developing two new iPhones with displays larger than 4.7”.

Update: The same Re/Code article contains internal Samsung documents showing the company regarded Apple’s iPhone as its top rival. One slide noted that “everything must be in context of beating Apple,” and the “threat from Apple is extremely real and urgent.”

Apple’s PRODUCT (RED) contributions at $70 million

According to a tweet from the PRODUCT (RED) campaign, Apple has raised $70 million for the charity. Apple sells special red-colored iPod nanos, shuffles, and touches, and certain accessories, with a portion of the proceeds going to fight AIDS in Africa. The partnership stretches back to 2006, when Apple introduced its first PRODUCT (RED) iPod nano.

Apple acquires speech recognition company Novauris

Apple has acquired automatic speech recognition company Novauris Technologies, TechCrunch reports. The acquisition reportedly occurred in 2013, and the Novauris team was already working on Siri as of last fall. Last year, it was reported that a formerly unknown “small team of notable names in speech technology” was working on Siri.

The founders of Novauris were “key members” at Dragon Systems, the company known for voice recognition software including Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Dragon Dictation. Novauris was developing patented automatic speech recognition technology with a large vocabulary that could access information stored locally or remotely. The terms of the deal are unknown.

Apple, others form patent lobbying group

Apple and a number of other large companies have created a new lobbying group dedicated to fighting proposed changes to the patent system, Reuters reports. The group — which also includes DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, and Pfizer — calls itself the Partnership for American Innovation. Pending legislation aimed at patent assertion entities may have an adverse effect on innovative companies, the group argues. The Partnership for American Innovation opposes all legislative efforts intended on making software or biotechnology unable to be patented.

Apple announces WWDC for June 2-6

In a press release this morning, Apple announced the dates of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will run June 2 through June 6 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

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This year, tickets will be available via a lottery system, rather than on a first-come, first-serve basis as they have been in the past. WWDC is a conference designed for developers with technical sessions and Apple engineers on-hand. New software is traditionally shown, and iOS 8 will likely be previewed at the keynote presentation.

Samsung: Edgy ads drove Apple ‘crazy’

Samsung claims its “Next Big Thing” advertising campaign bothered Apple, as shown by internal Apple documents, The Verge reports. “This new, edgy marketing strategy ... it drove Apple crazy,” Samsung lawyer John Quinn noted during the latest patent trial involving the two companies. Quinn said the ad campaign, which poked fun at Apple customers, really got to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who became “obsessed” with the campaign. Schiller even suggested to CEO Tim Cook that Apple should switch to a different ad agency. An internal email from Schiller to his team noted a Wall Street Journal story titled, “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” Schiller’s one line of text said, “We have a lot of work to do to turn this around.”

iWork for iCloud apps add shared view-only docs, other features

Apple has updated its iWork apps — Pages, Keynote, and Numbers — at iCloud.com. The updates include new designs for the web apps, Retina display support, and the ability to share view-only documents, among other features.

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Apple has said compatible updates for iOS will arrive later today. It’s notable that the updates come less than a week after Microsoft launched Office for iPad. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple opens up iAd Workbench to all

Apple is making its iAd Workbench advertising system available to anyone with an Apple ID starting today, Advertising Age reports. Workbench was previously available only to registered mobile developers. Customers can now add short videos to an ad unit with Workbench, which works exclusively for ads on iOS devices. The viewers of ads can also now be taken to promoted iTunes content, or a separate website, instead of only being directed to an app. According to the report, “Apple imagines the iAd expansion will draw in new types of advertisers ... unwilling to take the earlier developer plunge.” Apple also anticipates other major companies getting involved with the program.

Report: Apple may acquire display chipmaker

Apple is in discussions to acquire a division of Japan’s Renesas Electronics that develops chips for smartphone displays, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The division in question, Renesas SP Drivers, is “the world’s leading producer of drivers and controllers for small and midsize LCDs.” These chips are said to “determine a display’s quality and performance,” in addition to affecting the overall energy efficiency of a device. Renesas SP is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip.

Apple is reportedly seeking Renesas’ 55 percent stake for an estimated $479 million. All of Apple’s iPhone liquid crystal display chips already come from Renesas SP; the acquisition would give Apple greater control of how the chips fit into its product designs. The report claims Apple hopes to complete the acquisition by summer, with about 240 current employees staying with the unit.

Apple granted patent for camera lens mount

A new Apple patent for bayonet attachment mechanisms may signal the company’s interest in using an attachable camera lens system in its iOS devices. The patent describes a system that would use a bayonet mount integrated into the camera of an electronic device — lenses could be swapped in and out of the mount.

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Patently Apple notes how quickly the patent was approved — the patent application was only published weeks ago — speculating that Apple may be looking to use the feature in the near future. An alleged leaked picture of the iPhone 6 shows the device with a protruding camera lens, but it’s unclear if any sort of mount system is included. Images in the patent document depict the fifth-generation iPod touch. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Q2 earnings call set for April 23

Apple has announced on its investor webpage that it will release its Q2 fiscal year earnings on Wednesday, April 23. As usual, the earnings will be released in a conference call starting at 5 p.m. ET. The company provided guidance of Q2 revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion in its Q1 revenue report.

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