Apple, along with other tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, will reportedly publish a letter asking for increased transparency in U.S. government surveillance. The letter will ask government leaders to let service providers report on national security-related information requests with more detail. Faced with accusations of surreptitious data harvesting from their users, these companies wish to regularly report the number of: requests for user information, individuals or accounts for which information was requested, and requests seeking communications and other information. A government-issued transparency report is also sought by the coalition. “This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use,” a copy of the letter reads. [via AllThingsD]
Apple’s rumored smart watch will focus on fitness, according to a new 9to5Mac report. Likely to be a wearable computer on the wrist, the “iWatch” is being developed by a team reportedly led by Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield, Vice President Kevin Lynch, and senior hardware director James Foster. Lynch, who was hired from Adobe in March, is reportedly focusing on the device’s “overall software vision.” His team consists of former iPod hardware and software designers, while Foster’s team contains sensor, chip, and battery experts. Fitness and fashion experts have reportedly been brought in to assist with developing and marketing the device, as well.
Former iPhone engineers are also reportedly working on the device, and some people from Apple’s acquisition of biometric security company Authentec are working on sensors for the smart watch. Interestingly, it’s noted that Apple has hired people who have worked on devices that analyze sleep patterns — Apple could be giving the users a reason to keep the watch on through the night, which might lead to recharging challenges. Other designers and developers on the team specialize in distance measurement and “integrating mobile devices with fitness equipment.” The report speculates Apple may also want to measure medical information in “a non-invasive way;” for instance, glucose levels could be monitored while wearing the watch. A release date for the watch is still unknown — it was originally believed the iWatch could launch this year, but a recent report claims late 2014 is more likely.
A patent granted to Crucible Intellectual Property, the technology partnership formed by Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies, could enable mass production of amorphous metal alloys — otherwise known as metallic glass — in the fabrication of devices. The patent involves the creation of molten metal sheets that could be formed into an electronic device like the iPhone, or as part of a display, such as with a TV monitor. It notably suggests that Apple and Liquidmetal have developed a system to fabricate large pieces of the malleable material, which was previously considered difficult to commercialize due to mass manufacturing challenges.
Apple’s iPhone 5S will ramp up production later this month, according to a report from AllThingsD. “Sources familiar with the company’s plans” have confirmed reports about increased iPhone 5S production, including a mention from analyst Peter Misek. Notably, Misek previously claimed the 5S would enter preliminary production in March for a June or July launch. Misek has now said the latest increase in production will follow current production of Apple’s unnamed budget iPhone, which AllThingsD suggests will be “mid-end,” and likely to sell for $300 to $400 unsubsidized. The AllThingsD confirmation of iPhone 5S production can be taken as highly likely to be accurate, and its discussion of the budget iPhone appears to add further weight to prior pricing rumors on that topic.
Apple is negotiating to acquire PrimeSense, the company that created the technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect, according to a report from Israeli publication Calcalist. Though the negotiations are in the early stages, a deal could reportedly cost Apple around $280 million. PrimeSense holds important patents related to motion sensors reading body movements, which Apple may want to use as it develops its next-generation Apple TV and/or television set. Microsoft used the company’s technology for Kinect, and is now using it in the enhanced Kinect hardware developed for Xbox One. [via 9to5Mac]
A recent Apple hiring spree focused on the company’s rumored smart watch suggests that the device won’t be ready for launch until late 2014, according to the Financial Times. Apple is reportedly “aggressively” hiring for the project at this time. Though Apple has recently filed for the “iWatch” trademark in multiple countries, the release date for such a product still remains a mystery. Reports earlier this year suggested that the company was facing significant battery life issues as a result of a decision to use the iOS operating system for the watch, rather than sticking with the lower-power operating system built for the sixth-generation iPod nano.
Meanwhile, another report has surfaced suggesting that the Retina iPad mini will be delayed until 2014. This new report from Digitimes claims Apple is attempting to design a Retina display iPad mini with “an almost bezel-free look,” likely to be released next year. A “slightly updated” version of the current iPad mini may ship in the second half of this year.
Update: DigiTimes is now contradicting its own recent report, saying there will be no delay for the Retina iPad mini, which should launch in October. Once seemingly on the upswing, the publication’s track record of accuracy has returned to “highly questionable,” casting doubt on the veracity of anything it publishes regarding future Apple products.
Apple will use Samsung to manufacture A9 chips for a future iPhone, according to a new report. Samsung reportedly signed an agreement to supply the processors to Apple in 2015. The report notes Samsung lost the contract for A8 chips to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, but regained the order by developing “state-of-the-art 14 nano models.” This appears to contradict a prior report claiming TSMC would start to produce A9 and A9X chips for Apple in the third-quarter of 2014, in addition to the A8 chips, which should go into production this month. Ambiguities in Apple’s supply chain have grown as the company has expanded its manufacturing and component supply partners, including efforts to reduce its dependence on Samsung. [via The Korea Economic Daily]
Apple is looking into the death of a Chinese woman who was apparently killed when answering a call on her charging iPhone 5. According to China’s Xinhua news agency, 23-year-old Ma Ailun was electrocuted when she took a call on the charging phone. Apple declined to comment on details, but released an email saying, “We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter.” [via Reuters]
Time Inc., publisher of Time Magazine and 20 other magazines, will offer free iOS Newsstand previews for all of its publications by year’s end. The magazines will let users read a few articles from a magazine, while teasing the rest of the content — the Entertainment Weekly iPad app is currently offering the feature in its latest issue. Time Inc. hopes to increase its number of digital-only subscribers with the move. Notably, the publisher didn’t reach an agreement with Apple on magazine sales until June of last year. [via AllThingsD]
Apple’s new Retina-equipped iPad mini may not ship until next year, according to a Taiwanese report. A shortage of Retina displays may cause Apple to push back the device’s shipping date. The report also seems to indicate there may be a non-Retina version of the next-generation iPad mini, though any differences in release dates or features between the rumored devices are unknown. A June report also claimed the release of the second-generation iPad mini would be pushed back a few months, but indicated it would likely be available by the holiday season. [via Economic Daily News (translated link)]
Apple has launched a “fact-finding visit” to Bangka Island, Indonesia, to see if it is using illegally mined tin in its products, according to an update on the company’s Supplier Responsibility webpage. The move may have been prompted by a Friends of the Earth campaign that calls for Apple to “publicly come clean” about the sourcing of tin in its iPhones. Samsung has already admitted to using tin from Bangka Island. Tin mining on Bangka Island is reportedly responsible for destroying forests and farmland, harming coral reefs, and negatively impacting local communities. [via The Verge]
Apple and Google have seen their relationship improve during the past year, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Schmidt said the companies have conducted “lots and lots” of meetings, without providing further details about those meetings. Google and Apple are in “constant business discussions on a long list of issues,” he said. Apple has distanced itself from Google recently by choosing to use services on its devices from other companies, such as Yahoo!, and through providing its own Apple Maps service for iOS. [via Reuters]
Verizon may end up owing Apple billions of dollars in 2013 due to a purchase commitment for iPhones, according to a report. Telecommunications analyst Craig Moffett estimates the carrier could have a shortfall of $12 billion to $14 billion, with Verizon obligated to buy $23.5 billion in iPhones this year; a second analyst concurs with the lower number. Such a shortfall could spark some negotiation between Verizon and Apple on how to fill the gap. Neither Apple nor Verizon commented on the report. Notably, the report suggests that Sprint will likely be able to meet its own commitment to buy $15.5 billion in iPhones during over four years. Sprint started selling the iPhone in 2011. [via Bloomberg]
Apple is asking the International Trade Commission for a stay on an upcoming August 5 ban of older iPhone and iPad models. The ITC ruled in June that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and issued an import ban on GSM versions of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and cellular first- and second-generation iPads. Apple is arguing that the ban will harm both the company and its carrier partners, even though the company previously stated the decision had “no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.” Though carrier names were redacted from Apple’s filing, AT&T and T-Mobile are likely the affected companies. Apple is waiting for the Federal Circuit to decide on an appeal. [via GigaOM]
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled today that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices, and a trial for damages will be forthcoming. The U.S. Department of Justice first filed the price-fixing antitrust lawsuit in April 2012 against Apple and five book publishers, all of whom settled out of court before trial. Cote said in May that the government had enough evidence to prove Apple conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices, and the decision today confirmed her prior statement. “The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,” Cote said. The U.S. government and a number of states will likely receive damages from Apple. [via Reuters]
Apple and Amazon have both decided to end their lawsuit over the rights to use of the term “app store,” according to Reuters. Following an initial ruling that suggested Amazon would prevail in the case, a spokeswoman for Apple said that the company no longer needed to pursue the case, and Amazon agreed not to sue. Both companies are free to use the term “app store.”
The companies were ordered to begin settlement talks in March before an August trial. Apple originally sued Amazon over use of the term in March 2011; in January, Apple’s claim of false advertising against Amazon over use of the term was dismissed.
A change in iOS 7 beta 3 may allude to Apple making its iWork and iLife apps free in iOS 7. The recommended free Apple apps screen in the third beta now includes Apple’s iWork suite, as well as iPhoto and iMovie, though not GarageBand. This could be changed before final release, and may be an App Store glitch, but it appears to have been a deliberate addition to the list of free Apple downloads. Apple may want to make it easier for users to access its iWork suite, especially with the introduction of iWork for iCloud, and might also see the iPhoto and iMovie tools as worthy of giving away with iOS—similar to their bundling with OS X for the Mac. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has been targeted in a class action suit for selling iTunes customers HD video downloads even when the customers had older devices that didn’t support HD. The suit was reportedly filed by a Florida lawyer who claimed Apple deceived him into paying an extra $1 for an HD version of a film. A complaint accuses Apple of making HD the default option for video downloads on the first three versions of the iPhone and iPod touch, even though the devices didn’t support HD playback. The downloaded videos would then play in standard definition. It’s alleged that iTunes could recognize an SD-only device, but would still sell the HD version of the video. Compensation is being sought for those who paid to download HD videos to the older devices. [via GigaOM]
Apple has released the third beta of iOS 7 to registered developers. The company released the second beta two weeks ago, and the first beta of iOS 7 two weeks before that. The third beta is now available through Software Update in iOS settings, and “contains bug fixes and improvements,” according to sparse notes. Additional details on newly added features will become available over the next several days.
Update: iOS 7 beta 3 has also been posted to Apple’s developer portal.
A new “Only on the App Store” promotion has made a number of top iOS apps and games free from iTunes. Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Badland, Tiny Wings for iPhone and iPad, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, Day One, Over, Barefoot World Atlas, Traktor DJ for iPhone and iPad and more are all currently free — Traktor DJ notably normally sells for $20.
The apps have likely gone free to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the App Store. It’s unclear how long the apps will be available for free, or if other apps will be made free at some point. [via The Verge]
Update: Apple has noted the apps are free for a limited time as part of “5 Years of the App Store.” A timeline of App Store milestones can be viewed within the App Store. The promotion also includes How To Cook Everything for free, in addition to the apps listed above.