Import bans on the new iPhone and iPad could be possible, as Apple is unlikely to invalidate two allegedly infringed HTC patents for data transmission in wireless devices, Bloomberg reported. “I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid,” U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said during a trial on the patents, implying an uphill battle for Apple. HTC maintains that the two patents in question are critical to LTE technology; should the company win, it could seek bans on the iPhone and iPad, and persuade Apple to settle its own patent infringement claims against HTC.
Confirming prior speculation, the new iPhone will indeed support global LTE cellular technology, The Wall Street Journal reports, though most likely not for every mobile carrier. The Journal’s sources were unclear about which carriers or countries would be left out of the loop, and suggested that supporting multiple LTE radio bands was the key challenge. The new iPhone will almost certainly follow past precedent, falling back to support the fastest non-LTE speed of a supported carrier’s network.
However, Apple’s use of LTE won’t be uncontested. Confirming previous reports, Samsung will sue Apple for allegedly infringing on its 4G LTE patents, according to The Korea Times. A Samsung official quoted in the story said the U.S. and European countries are the “primary targets” in another legal battle against Apple.
American Airlines, United, Virgin, and Delta have all confirmed they’re either ready or working to support Apple’s new Passbook application, debuting with iOS 6 this month. Passbook stores boarding passes, tickets, loyalty cards and other forms of digital information, then uses the iPhone’s location services feature to call up the appropriate document on the Lock Screen when in the correct location. At the initial iOS 6 presentation, Apple suggested that Passbook would be backed by companies such as United, Amtrak, Starbucks, and Fandango. [via Electronista]
Apple has decorated the exterior of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for its Sept. 12 media event, leading to informed speculation that the artwork hints at a stretched iPhone screen. Based on a reader’s tip, a report at MacRumors suggests that the colors on the facade are actually stretched-out iOS icons, in an ode to the next iPhone’s taller 4” display.
Stretched versions of the iTunes, Music and Game Center icons, among others, are believed to be seen on the building. Earlier Apple art on the Center included a subtle transparent eye icon indicating the Retina display for the third-generation iPad’s unveiling.
Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily reports that thousands of Chinese students have been pushed to work at a Foxconn plant instead of attending school. According to the paper, which cited online posts from students from Huai’an in Jiangsu Province, classes were suspended at the start of the new semester, and students were driven to a Foxconn factory to meet demand for production of the new iPhone. The students were paid 1,550 yuan (US $243.97) a month for a six-day work week, while having to pay for their own food and accommodations, one student wrote, claiming that Foxconn did not inform parents or sign agreements with the students. Other students from at least five colleges backed up the information, saying they were forced to work 12 hours a day.
Foxconn responded in a statement that its interns are free to leave at any time, and that a recent audit of three facilities found no evidence of pressuring interns to participate, Bloomberg reports. Apple has previously confronted reports of poor working conditions in Foxconn’s factories, accepting some responsibility for its partner’s issues while vowing to use audits and high standards to achieve improvements. While some of the damning reports from Foxconn’s factories have proved to be accurate, the veracity of others has been questioned, and several were subsequently discovered to be fraudulent.
After spending years downplaying the value of “all you can eat” subscription music services, Apple is now negotiating licensing agreements to create a customized streaming radio service similar to Pandora, according to the The Wall Street Journal (subscription req.). The new service would work on Apple’s hardware, and possibly on PCs running Windows, which suggests iTunes would feature the service. Perhaps not surprisingly, the report notes that the new service would not work on Android devices. Instead of preparing to pay royalty rates like Pandora, Apple is negotiating directly with record companies for licensing, according to the Journal’s sources.
Although prior reports that Apple has completely dropped Samsung as a supplier of iPhone chips are false, reports Reuters, Apple has indeed reduced orders for Samsung memory chips for the new iPhone. The news agency’s source denied that the relationship between the two companies — or recent patent disputes — are causing the reduced orders, suggesting that Apple is merely diversifying its suppliers. As of yet, there has been no official comment from Apple or Samsung.
The agency also reports that Apple is unlikely to use Audience Inc.‘s noise-filtering technology in its new iPhone, according to a public statement made by Audience. Audience’s technology improves voice quality by filtering out background noise, and was featured in the iPhone 4S. The company didn’t explain why its technology wouldn’t be used, but suggested in a conference call that Apple “has built up its own audio team.”
More than 12 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) allegedly obtained by hacking group AntiSec may have been stolen from an app publisher’s computer. AntiSec claimed that the UDIDs were acquired from a compromised FBI laptop, but Instapaper creator Marco Arment blogged that the information may instead have been taken from a database at Spankapps, built by push notifications issued by the publisher’s novelty apps. Both Apple and the FBI have publicly denied that they were the source of the leaked UDIDs. [via Cult of Mac]
Update September 10, 2012: BlueToad, an Orlando-based company that translates printed content into digital formats, claims that it was the source of the leak, according to The New York Times. The company also said “nowhere near” 12 million UDIDs were stolen.
A new Apple patent application foresees the cooperation between an iPhone or other mobile device with a vehicle to generate more accurate navigation data. Apple iOS chief Scott Forstall is listed among inventors of a technique that would allow mobile devices and cars to collaborate on pertinent information, such as location services that could deliver navigation instructions based on the current position, with either the vehicle’s or device’s sensors assisting the other’s based on the situation. Syncing contacts between the devices would also be a possibility with the technology, conceivably to enable the car’s maps to display the contacts’ locations. The patent application was published today, and filed on May 14. [via Apple Insider]
Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reports that Apple has acquired a collection of LTE mobile technology patents in preparation for new legal challenges by Samsung. As previously reported, Samsung has threatened to sue Apple if it releases a new iPhone using LTE mobile technology, even though the third-generation iPad already includes LTE support, presumably under license from LTE chip makers. Apple now has 4.9 percent of total LTE patents, according to the Korea Intellectual Property Office, up from zero last year. Samsung has 12.7 percent of the total LTE patents, ranking first among LTE patent holders. [via MacDailyNews]
A Chinese manufacturer has already copied — and may have patented — the new iPhone design, according to a recent report. The Goophone I5, an Android-based smartphone released in late August, closely matches leaked images of the new iPhone, and Gizchina reports that GooPhone claims to have patented the design in China ahead of the next-generation iPhone’s launch.
Gizchina speculates that Goophone’s alleged patent could prevent Apple from selling the new iPhone in China, and it may even mean that Goophone could block new iPhone exports. As hard to believe as this may be, Apple has previously faced legal challenges due to manipulation of the Chinese legal system, most notably settling a lawsuit with a company that negotiated in bad faith over the “iPad” trademark. [via Wired]
Apple has publicly denied claims that it supplied the FBI millions of Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs), according to a report from All Things D. This follows Tuesday’s similar statement of denial from the FBI following a release of over 1 million UDIDs by hacking group Antisec, which said that a database with more than 12 million UDIDs was discovered on a compromised FBI laptop. Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris told AllThingsD, “The FBI has not requested this information from Apple, nor have we provided it to the FBI or any organization. Additionally, with iOS6 we introduced a new set of APIs meant to replace the use of the UDID and will soon be banning the use of UDID.”
Antisec claimed that it obtained UDIDs and related personal account information—including user names, device names, telephone numbers, and addresses—from a breached FBI computer. The group suggested that the UDIDs may have been used by the FBI for device surveillance. Subsequent reports suggested that the database included President Obama’s UDID, though their veracity remains unclear at this time. [via 9to5Mac]
Responding to earlier reports that Apple hasn’t offered developers parts or specs for next-generation Dock Connector accessories, additional sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple will be the exclusive initial vendor of a new Dock Connector Adapter, to be sold individually and/or in three-packs. According to sources, the Dock Connector Adapters will sell for approximately $10 each or three for $29, with Apple-branded new USB cables selling for $19 each. For reference, Apple’s MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter sells for $9.99, while international pricing for Apple’s earlier iPhone Micro USB Adapter is €9 ($11) or £8 ($13).
While leaks of the new connector have been numerous, Apple has remained mum on what developers are calling the “9-pin Connector,” even though sources claim that Apple has in recent months stopped approving third-party proposals for connector-equipped accessories. Some developers fear that Apple will corner the market for both the adapters and cables, much as it did with MagSafe connectors for MacBook laptops, using licensing agreements and threats of lawsuits to prevent less expensive third-party solutions from coming to market. One source notes that Apple will reap a windfall by limiting competition in this manner, generating revenues of $100 million for every 10 million Dock Connector Adapters it sells for $10. According to the source, Apple estimates that it will sell the first 10 million Adapters by the end of 2012. It remains unclear whether Apple will allow third-party developers to release competing alternatives before then, or afterwards.
With Apple’s special iPhone-focused event only a week away, leaks of supposed packaging and parts have continued to appear online, some increasingly dubious—a reason we haven’t been posting everything that’s flooding in these days. In a recent post at TechnoBuffalo, pictures of alleged “iPhone 5” packaging from HDBlog clearly show the “iPhone 5” name on the side of the box, with an angled picture of the new iPhone on the front. An Apple logo can also be spotted on the edges of the box. However, both the iPhone edges and box dimensions look off, there’s no iCloud logo to be seen, and the font doesn’t seem quite right, either. Other supposed box images for “the new iPhone” look equally suspicious for different reasons, including decidedly un-Apple-like text, and iPhone screenshots featuring YouTube, an app that’s already known to have been pulled from iOS 6.
Though it should go without saying at this point, this is just a reminder that faked images and details tend to increase in number immediately ahead of new Apple product launches, so it’s important to take late-stage rumors with an extra grain of salt. Bogus packaging leaks ahead of June’s release of new MacBook computers contained wildly inaccurate specifications, making Apple box “leaks” especially suspect.
Hacker group Antisec has released a collection of over one million Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) and related push notification tokens, which it claims to have taken from an FBI database with over 12 million UDIDs and related personal account information, including user names, device names, telephone numbers and addresses. The group suggests that the UDIDs may have been used by the FBI for device surveillance. Neither Apple nor the FBI has commented as of yet. [via Pastebin]
Users can find out how to locate their UDID at What’s my UDID?, and that information can be cross-checked against the list here. Privacy-concerned users should note that submitting their UDIDs to a random site such as this may well be insecure.
Updated: In a tersely worded statement, the FBI has denied Antisec’s claims that it sought or obtained Apple UDID data, or that an FBI laptop containing UDID data was compromised. A separate post to Twitter called the claims “totally false.” [via 9to5Mac]
After nine years of steady third-party accessory growth for its devices, Apple faces a potentially serious ecosystem disruption this year, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge. With only two weeks remaining before the expected debut of the next-generation iPhone, Apple has not offered third-party developers the components or engineering details necessary to build docking accessories for the new device—the first iOS product expected to ship without Apple’s now-ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector, which will soon be replaced across all future Apple pocket and tablet devices. Noting the time required to manufacture and ship new products, the sources suggest that new iPhone-specific electronic add-ons will likely miss the upcoming holiday season, apart from whatever accessories are released by Apple itself.
Rumors of a smaller Dock Connector replacement have circulated for years, and the new component has recently been spotted in leaked cables, next-generation iPhones, and even parts apparently intended for other iOS devices. References to the new connector have also been found in beta versions of iOS 6. Despite these disclosures, however, Apple has not made the connectors available for developers to test or purchase, or discussed its new authentication chips, both of which might stop existing accessories from working, or limit their functionality with new Apple devices.
While the broadly available Micro-USB standard was suggested as a possible replacement for the 30-pin Dock Connector, sources suggest that Apple’s switch to a proprietary new connector will enable it to control the entire supply of available parts, as well as developers, since third-party versions of the new connector will likely be either unavailable or unreliable for months. One source expects that Apple will introduce a more stringent version of its Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (“MFi”) licensing program alongside the new connector, complete with more elaborate testing requirements and perhaps higher fees. It remains possible, however, that Apple may merely attempt to dominate the 2012 holiday market by selling its own accessories—perhaps including adapters for older accessories—then supply new connectors and chips to developers in 2013.
Apple’s MFi program was grudgingly accepted by most developers years ago as a necessary cost of doing business with the Cupertino company, adding additional costs to iPod accessories once Apple began to sell electronic components and require per-unit licensing fees, collectively described by some as an “iPod tax.” The subsequent “Works With iPhone” program generated industry-wide grumbles based on new Apple approval and testing procedures, which were blamed for delaying the release of early iPhone electronic accessories for roughly a year, as well as restricting the variety of accessories that could be developed without Apple’s consent. Apple has since been criticized for problems with its AirPlay licensing program, which offers developers a wireless, dock-less alternative for streaming music to Wi-Fi-equipped accessories. AirPlay add-ons have been plagued by audio drop-outs and other issues, leading to complaints and mass returns by disappointed consumers, the costs of which have largely been absorbed by developers.
One of Apple’s component suppliers, Sharp, may be falling behind in its production of screens for the new iPhone, according to a new report from Reuters. According to an anonymous source familiar with Sharp’s production operations, the company may be struggling with high production costs, and has questioned whether Apple might provide a financial incentive to accelerate production. For its part, Sharp was expected to begin mass production of LCD screens from its Kameyama plant in Japan, and although it is considered common knowledge that the company produces screens for Apple, it has never officially acknowledged that Apple is among its customers.
Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to be announced at an event in mid-September, and released shortly thereafter. Since Apple routinely uses multiple screen suppliers, it is unclear whether a delay at one supplier will have any impact on Apple’s release schedule. Moreover, Apple also schedules subsequent international product release dates over the course of several weeks, allowing the company to limit broader worldwide availability without affecting its initial domestic launch.
According to The Korea Times, Samsung plans to immediately sue Apple if it releases products using LTE mobile technology, which is widely expected to be incorporated within the next-generation iPhone. The threat initially appears to be serious, as data from Thomson-Reuters shows that Samsung holds 12.2 percent of current LTE patents. However, Apple already sells the third-generation iPad in an LTE-capable version, and is believed to have purchased cellular chips with valid licenses to the underlying LTE technologies.
The Apple-Samsung conflict shows no signs of ending, even after last week’s court decision in Apple’s favor. As reported by The Korea Times, Samsung’s lawyers are preparing to counter every issue in which the jurors found in favor of Apple, and planning to wage a patent war against Apple across 10 different countries. In addition, Samsung is discussing modified Galaxy designs with major cellular providers, and the company is partnering with Microsoft to alleviate its dependency on Google’s Android, as well as placing the legal dispute entirely in the hands of Samsung Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung.
According to Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page have been talking behind the scenes about a number of intellectual property matters, including continuing mobile patent disputes between Apple and Google, as a prelude or alternative to a lawsuit between the companies. The two CEOs are expected to chat again in the coming weeks, after a reported delay of a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. One source envisions a possible truce between Apple and Google regarding basic Android features, but the scope of the discussions are unknown.
A jury ruled in favor of Apple last Friday in its patent and trade dress trial against Samsung, awarding $1.05 billion to Apple, which then requested a sales ban on eight Samsung phones. Samsung uses Google’s Android software, which is at the core of numerous iPhone competitors, including devices sold under Google’s own name. Apple and Google reportedly declined comment.
Retail policy changes and cutbacks at Apple Stores are quietly continuing, according to a new report from ifoAppleStore, placing more emphasis on revenues and profit over customer satisfaction. The report claims that Apple has cut back in several budgetary categories, while decreasing hours for many employees, and instituted sales-focused performance metrics that threaten to further undermine morale within the retail division.
Last month, Apple Senior VP of Retail John Browett reportedly instituted a number of new staffing policies, including reducing hours, laying off new, probationary employees, and limiting overtime, leading to outcry from retail employees. According to a subsequent follow-up in The Wall Street Journal, Browett later reversed these changes and denied that any employees had been laid off, however, ifoAppleStore’s sources disagreed with at least some of these claims, indicating that layoffs had in fact occurred, and that affected employees were later rehired.
This more recent spate of changes within Apple Retail involve a reduction in workshops at many stores, continuing limits on available overtime hours, and assigning of only minimal hours to part-time employees. Further, new employee performance measurements emphasize contract sales of iPhones, as well as the number of accessories such as cases that are sold alongside major products. Additionally, the report indicates that employees are being told to promote use of the EasyPay app, despite the fact that EasyPay sales are not credited to any specific employee, thereby having no positive impact on individual performance reports. Sources also indicate that no explanation or apology has ever been received from Browett or store management about the original staffing cuts, despite public claims to the contrary. Instead, employees have been told not to discuss the situation with anybody, leading to an overall decrease in employee morale.