The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.”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’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 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]
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.
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]
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, 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.
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 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]
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.
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]
A key claim in Apple’s “rubber-banding” patent — the patent that gives graphics a bounce back effect when scrolling — has been ruled invalid in a “Final Office Action” by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a court filing by Samsung revealed. While the action is “final,” Apple can still appeal the decision to a trial and appeal board, a process that could take years. The uncertain status of the patent could impact Apple and Samsung’s continuing battles in court. [via FOSS Patents]
Apple has announced on its investor page that it will release its second quarter 2013 financial results at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 23. During the financial quarter, the company released a 128GB version of its fourth-generation iPad, and also released Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in China. In the prior quarter, Apple announced revenue of $54.45 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion.
A federal court has ruled that startup ReDigi can’t resell iTunes songs, as it has claimed it could. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records, as Universal sued ReDigi for copyright violation. Sullivan ruled that users can’t resell digital media files unless given explicit permission by the copyright owner. Notably, a recently published Apple patent filing offers a solution that would let digital rights be transferred during a resale or loan, contemplating both software technology and contract rights to allow it. [via All Things D]
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, an Apple official told San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón that the next two generations of iPhones have already been developed, and that “they preceded Tim Cook.” Gascón reportedly spoke with Apple government liaison Michael Foulkes in an effort to convince the company to embrace anti-theft technology. According to Gascón, who wants Apple to add a post-theft kill switch to iPhones, Foulkes spent an “underwhelming” hour “doing a lot of talking and saying nothing,” apart from an unusual apparent revelation: Foulkes supposedly said that the next two generations of iPhone had been developed before Tim Cook, suggesting that their designs were locked in under Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, prior to the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011. While this claim is facially difficult to believe, Apple did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on the report.
Apple CEO Tim Cook published a new letter (translated link) on Apple’s Chinese website announcing changes to the company’s warranty policies, as well as apologies for misunderstandings or concerns. The letter follows high-profile criticisms of Apple by Chinese media and various Chinese citizens, which were suspected to have been coordinated by the Chinese government. Cook announced changes to the parts used in iPhone 4 and 4S repairs, clarifications of the company’s warranty policy, improved training of Apple service providers, and a convenient way to provide feedback to Apple. Under the policies, Chinese consumers will receive not only one-year warranty coverage for their Apple devices, but in many cases two-year coverage for major computer components such as motherboards and displays, without the need for AppleCare. [via 9to5Mac]
The US Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad mini,” according to a report. In a letter to Apple, the USPTO describes the term as “merely descriptive of a feature or characteristic of the goods,” therefore, the trademark registration was refused. The examiner’s description is a bit curious, as iPad is already an Apple trademark, but that term is also referred to as “descriptive” in the letter. There’s still a possibility Apple could be approved for the “iPad mini” trademark after further review, though the burden is now on Apple to counter the Office’s interpretations. Notably, Apple successfully trademarked many variations on the iPod name, including iPod shuffle, classic, and touch, but does not appear to have trademarked iPod mini. [via Forbes]
Apple is “pushing hard” for a summertime launch of its anticipated streaming music service, according to a new report. The company has allegedly made “significant progress” in talks with two of the top record labels: Universal and Warner. A source is claimed to have said, “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Multiple reports have noted the service has been held up by Apple battling the labels over royalty rates; most recently, a report noted the company was offering labels a very low rate of 6 cents per 100 songs streamed. [via The Verge]
Apple is preparing to launch its own dedicated game controller, according to a new report. Apple allegedly discussed plans for the controller in private meetings at the Game Developers Conference this week, and the company is “ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.” Little else is known about the rumored controller — its physical appearance and release date are unknown. Game developers have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed solution to appear, and the only known authorized third-party solution (Duo Games’ Duo Gamer) was locked out of supporting most third-party titles. Notably, the report comes from PocketGamer, which previously cited anonymous sources to claim that Apple would launch a $20 premium games section of the iOS App Store, which never materialized; as such, the claims should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Update: Often given Apple’s off-the-record responses to rumors, The Loop denies the report.
In-app purchases generated a record 76 percent of total App Store revenue in the U.S. in February, according to a report from Distimo, a company that tracks app performance and metrics. The new report tracks revenues generated through the App Store, so ad revenue is excluded. At least 90 percent of all Asian market revenue came from in-app purchases, Distimo claims. Despite this, freemium apps were found to generate the least amount of revenue per download — just 93 cents per download based on the top 250 apps in the U.S. App Store, which might suggest that developers are hurting themselves by giving away apps in hopes of subsequent purchases, apart from building larger user bases. Paid iPhone apps without in-app purchases generated an average of $2.25 per download, and paid apps with in-app purchases generate even more revenue. iPad paid apps average $4.04 in revenue per download.
Facebook has sent out invites for a media event to “Come See Our New Home on Android” next Thursday, which appears to be the announcement of a Facebook-based Android phone co-developed with HTC. Though it’s unclear if the event will focus on the phone, reports suggest that Facebook has created a version of the Android operating system with deeper Facebook integration than before. Past reports have noted that Facebook has hired former a number of iOS designers and engineers, and Facebook notably also purchased Push Pop Press, a company started by former Apple employees. For possibly competitive reasons that were only speculated on before, Apple was slow at incorporating Facebook features into iOS and OS X — now, presumably, Facebook will be directly competing against the iPhone, while maintaining a number of popular apps on the platform. [via 9to5 Google]