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Judge: Apple, Google using litigation as strategy

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said in an order that neither Apple nor Google’s Motorola Mobility unit have any interest in resolving their ongoing patent litigation, instead using the lawsuits as business strategy. “The parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end,” Scola said in an order. “That is not a proper use of this court.” Apple and Google are battling over “more than 180 claims related to 12 patents, and disputes over the meaning of more than 100 terms” in Florida court. Scola gave both companies four months to streamline the scope of the case; a failure to do so will put the case on hold until all of the term disputes are resolved. [via Bloomberg]

Apple job listing refers to flexible displays

A job listing on Apple’s website specifically mentions flexible displays, indicating the company has at least some interest in the technology. The listing, for a Sr. Optical Engineer, notes in its summary that “Apple Inc. is looking for a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance.”

Various rumors about Apple’s iWatch have involved a possible flexible display or curved glass for the watch. Recently, Apple published a patent application for a wraparound display. But Corning, which supplies glass to Apple suggested a flexible display using its Willow material is at least three years away. [via 9to5Mac]

iOS Office not due until fall 2014?

An alleged plan for Microsoft’s next wave of Office updates indicates we may not see an iOS version of Office until fall 2014. An apparent roadmap spotted for Microsoft’s “Gemini Wave” lists Office for iOS in October 2014. Though such roadmaps often change, a source indicated this plan was “likely current as of the start of 2013.” This drastically contradicts prior reports, which pegged an iOS Office release for early this year. The reported late February or early March release date has came and went, with no sign of iOS Office. [via ZDNet]

Apple bans in-app comic for sexual content (Update: No)

Apple has refused to carry a comic, Saga #12, on app-based platforms due to gay sex scenes, according to a report. The comic’s writer, Brian K. Vaughan, said in a press release, “Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps.” Vaughan notes that Saga has “featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past.”

Notably, the comic should still be available in Apple’s iBookstore, according to publisher Image Comics. Apple is known for curating its App Store, but Comixology’s Comics app is rated as 17+. “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity” is listed as one of the reasons for the rating. Other illustrations of sexual content and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The Verge]

Update: Comixology CEO David Steinberger has released a statement noting Apple did not ban the comic; rather, Comixology did not release Saga #12 based on the company’s understanding of Apple’s policies. Steinberger notes, “We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.” Saga #12 will be available on the Comixology app soon.

Apple licenses Palm-related patents

Apple has paid about $10 million to license patents from ACCESS, including patents related to Palm, Bell Communications Research and Geoworks. Japan’s ACCESS owns the company formerly known as PalmSource. The move was likely done to aid Apple in patent litigation moving forward. Interestingly, Steve Jobs once threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm to prevent poaching employees. [via Macotakara]

Report: Apple taps Foster + Partners to revamp retail stores

Apple has hired Foster + Partners to work on new designs for its retail stores, according to a new report. Foster + Partners is the London-based firm behind Apple’s “spaceship” corporate campus, Campus 2, which is reportedly $2 billion over budget. Apple has previously worked with rival firm 8 Inc for designing stores, including its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Both Apple and Foster + Partners declined comment. [via Marketing Magazine (UK)]

AppGratis removal ‘first step’ in App Store crackdown

A new report claims the recent removal of AppGratis from the App Store was just the beginning, as the ouster of AppGratis was “a first step in a broader enforcement action,” mainly targeted at similar discovery apps found to violate clauses 2.25 and 5.6 of Apple’s App Store review guidelines. Apple feels such apps “threaten the legitimacy of the App Store charts” by letting developers spend money to increase their ranking. The company is also concerned the App Store could become overwhelmed with “alternative storefronts” through these apps.

Apple’s clause 2.25 was thought to be a way of restricting third-party App Store promotion when it first appeared — those initial examinations of the clause now appear to be true. The clause states, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.” Clause 5.6 states that “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A stronger enforcement of these clauses could lead to many discovery apps disappearing from the App Store in the near future. [via AllThingsD]

Report: Apple, Yahoo discuss ‘deeper partnership’

Apple and Yahoo have been discussing the possibility of Yahoo’s services playing a greater role on iPhone and iPad, according to a new report. The companies are discussing deals that could push more content from Yahoo News and more onto Apple devices — possibly through “an expanded Siri partnership.” Currently, apps which use Yahoo’s finance and weather sites come preloaded on iPhones, and Siri uses some Yahoo data, as well.

Though “no deal is imminent,” according to sources, the benefits can be seen for both sides. Apple could further distance itself from Google services with a Yahoo partnership. Yahoo could provide web results to Apple, though that’s noted as “a long shot” due to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft — Microsoft’s Bing powers Yahoo search — and Apple’s deal with Google. Representatives for Apple and Yahoo declined comment. [via The Wall Street Journal]

Ron Johnson out as JC Penney CEO; Apple return?

As multiple outlets reported yesterday, former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson has been ousted as CEO of J.C. Penney. Johnson left Apple for J.C. Penney in 2011, and he has been replaced by his predecessor, Mike Ullman. Many are now speculating that Johnson could return to the job he left at Apple, as the position is still vacant after John Browett’s dismissal in October. Neither Apple nor Johnson has commented on such speculation at this time.

Apple removes AppGratis from App Store for violations

Apple has removed AppGratis, a popular deal and discovery app, from the App Store for violating two clauses in Apple’s App Store review guidelines. According to a new report, Apple has confirmed the app violated clause 2.25, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected,” and clause 5.6, “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A source noted Apple was “more than a little troubled” by AppGratis’ business model, which appears to favor developers who pay for exposure. Apple declined further comment; AppGratis did not comment. [via AllThingsD]

USPTO withdraws refusal of iPad mini trademark

The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.” A suggested disclaimer within the USPTO’s new office action now notes “mini” cannot be claimed as an exclusive Apple term, and can only be used in conjunction with iPad. If, for some reason, Apple refuses to submit the disclaimer in its trademark application, the trademark could still be denied. [via MacRumors]

Apple patent suit loss prompts iOS change

Apple’s loss to VirnetX for infringing VPN patents has caused the Cupertino company to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. In a support article on Apple’s website, the VirnetX lawsuit is specifically mentioned as the reason VPN On Demand configured to “always” will now behave as if it was configured to “establish if needed.” This issue is unlikely to affect most iOS users directly; Apple notes it will “address this functionality with alternatives in a future software update.”

Apple “close” to deal for streaming iRadio

Apple is now close to signing deals that would pave the way for the company’s music streaming service, according to a new report. Sources claim Apple could reach agreements with Universal Music Group and Warner Music in the next week; a prior report indicated significant progress had been made in Apple’s dealings with the two record labels. While it’s believed the deals have Apple paying 6 cents per 100 songs streamed — half of what Pandora pays to record labels, and previously reported to be the main reason for delaying the service — the new report claims Apple’s service will offer additional revenue streams. Consumers will be able to buy a song they hear through iTunes, and a revenue share of new audio ads would also benefit labels. Sources say the streaming service will most closely resemble Pandora — it won’t offer on-demand listening, but “some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song” may be included. By all indications, Apple is still prepping the service for a summer launch. [via CNET]

Apple patent filing reveals hybrid notebook/tablet

A newly published patent filing reveals possible Apple plans for a hybrid notebook/tablet computer, according to a report. The invention could involve a keyboard-laden base and removable display — two components that could communicate wirelessly. Also noted as a possibility is the ability to transfer power wirelessly, perhaps through coils or capacitive plates.

image

In some embodiments of the patent filing, the removable display would incorporate touchscreen technology. Novel in the invention is a set of retracting magnetic connectors that would enable the screen to physically attach to the keyboard when necessary, while disappearing to make the screen a standalone tablet when not in use. It’s unclear whether the fruits of this concept would be a Mac, iPad, or something inbetween, but the images are disclaimed as merely illustrative of a design possibility. [via Patently Apple]

Report: iMessage encryption prevents federal surveillance

Apple’s iMessage uses encryption that prevents police surveillance, according to an internal Drug Enforcement Administration document allegedly seen by CNET. The document notes “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices,” even with a court order, due to the secure end-to-end encryption. Apparently, the DEA realized full records of text messages from the target of an investigation couldn’t be captured due to the use of iMessage. Both the DEA and Apple declined comment.

Apple’s Campus 2 now costs estimated $5B

Apple’s Campus 2, the company’s currently in-progress corporate campus, has seen its costs swell to nearly $5 billion, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Budgeted for less than $3 billion in 2011, the building’s estimated cost now exceeds the amount being spent on the new World Trade Center complex in New York, as the article notes for purposes of comparison. Located in Cupertino, California, the four-story ring “spaceship” building will take up 2.8 million square feet within 176 acres of trees, with roads and parking mostly hidden away underground. In addition to the size and the scope of the project, details such as 40-foot panes of concave glass from Germany and specially fabricated ceilings are contributing to the high budget. When Campus 2 is completed, Apple events are likely to be held at an on-site auditorium, without the need to use space in San Francisco. The move-in date is now set for 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in February, a delay from 2015. Apple declined to comment on the report.

iOS 7 running late; iPad event possibly April?

In a Branch thread stemming from discussion of an iPhone production report, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote that he’s heard that iOS 7 is “running behind,” and engineers have been moved off OS X 10.9 to work on the newest iOS. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to ship iOS 7 “around midyear.” An overhaul of the user interface is expected, courtesy of Jonathan Ive’s involvement. Gruber also mentioned that he’d heard nothing regarding a new event, but speculated that Apple could introduce the fifth-generation iPad this month. In the absence of typical pre-announcement signs such as leaks that production is underway, the date for the next iPad’s unveiling has remained ambiguous, with forecasts ranging from April to October of this year.

Apple sued for EarPods trademark infringement

Apple has been sued for infringing on a trademark with its EarPods headphones. Randolph Divisions, makers of the HearPod digital hearing aid, have filed suit against Apple in Honolulu court. Randolph Divisions registerd the “HearPod” trademark in 2007. Apple’s EarPods with Remote and Mic first shipped in early September of last year. [via The Next Web]

WSJ: New iPhone production to start in Q2

Apple plans to start production of a new iPhone in this year’s second quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal confirms that the new iPhone—likely the iPhone 5S—is “similar in size and shape to its current (iPhone).” A summer launch is noted as possible, which would match our January report that an upgraded iPhone is planned for July.

The same WSJ article notes that Apple is working on a less expensive iPhone “that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year.” Apple has allegedly been working on different color shells for the device.

China, state-controlled media praise Apple’s apology

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apology and warranty improvements for Chinese customers has earned praise from China’s state-controlled media. Although it was recently criticized by the Chinese media in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign, Apple is now “worth respect compared with other American companies,” according to the Global Times, a Communist Party tabloid. China’s Foreign Ministry also praised Apple. “We approve of what Apple did,” spokesman Hong Lei said. [via Reuters]

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