Apple has applied for a patent on an inductive charging mat that could perform different functions based on the physical orientation of devices on top of the mat. The application notes that functions such as charging, data transfer, data synchronization, and diagnostic checking could be performed depending on how a device rests on the mat. For instance, an iPhone facing down on the mat could sync, while an iPhone facing up could charge. Physical orientation wouldn’t be limited to face-up or face-down — devices placed sideways or facing specific directions could also activate functions.
The inductive mat could also alert the user to what’s been activated using sounds, vibrations, or on-screen indications, as well as connecting wirelessly to other devices. [via Apple Insider]
Some users of Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable have been reporting issues with the USB end of the cable getting stuck. A discussion thread on Apple’s support forum started a week ago, and has continued to grow with reports of issues in computer and car USB ports. Some users have found it extremely difficult to remove the USB end of the cable after plugging it in, and various unorthodox methods have been suggested to extract the cable. Notches in the metal USB jacket of the new cable are noticeably deeper than those on the old dock cable, leading users to suggest a variety of unwise ideas to fill in the holes. One forum poster wrote that AppleCare is “aware of the problem,” but there has been no official Apple comment as of yet.
Users of iOS 6 who miss Google Maps already have a workaround to access Google Maps — a workaround that will offer Street View in two weeks, according to the New York Times. Street View will soon be added to the iPhone indirectly, through the Google Maps Safari web app. Like any website on Safari, you can add maps.google.com to your home screen; you’ll be prompted to add it to the Home Screen each time you visit. While this isn’t as easy to use as a native iOS app, it’s a quick way to restore nearly everything Google Maps offers, including written directions and traffic reports.
The Google Maps web app does not, however, offer spoken directions, and All Things D reports the lack of voice-guided navigation on iOS Maps was the true deal breaker between Apple and Google, causing Apple to go its own way with Maps. Prior reports citing Google’s desire to add new features and more prominent branding to Maps were also verified as points of contention in the new report.
Apple opted to switch over to its internally-designed maps application for iOS more than a year before its contract with Google Maps expired, according to The Verge, suggesting that the under-polished Apple Maps software could have been released after additional tooling. The report claims Google is working to develop a new iOS Google Maps app, but it’s incomplete and likely months away. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt recently said his company would need Apple’s approval before bringing Google Maps back to the App Store.
Both companies apparently had their concerns moving forward: Apple was concerned about iOS Google Maps lagging behind Android’s mapping capabilities, as Google’s iOS Maps lacked turn-by-turn navigation that had been available on Android for years. Google sought more prominent branding and the ability to add new features, which Apple wouldn’t allow. Nevertheless, Apple made the decision to end the deal early.
Criticism continues for the new iOS 6 Maps, except perhaps in China. The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple made a special version of Maps for the country, and it appears to be an upgrade over Google Maps within China’s borders. Apple used data from Chinese mapping company AutoNavi Holdings to create more detailed maps, though the maps are far from perfect — they don’t offer spoken driving directions or 3D flyover technology, and their detail within other countries is limited.
The discovery of a particular Qualcomm chip in the iPhone 5 has led to speculation that Apple may be planning to make its newest handset available for use on China Mobile — the world’s largest mobile carrier. A report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple could reach a deal with China Mobile due to the presence of a TD-SCDMA compatible chip in the iPhone 5 which could support the 3G networking standard used by China Mobile. A research note from HSBC Holdings PLC says Apple is “clearing the way for a potential iPhone deal between China Mobile and Apple.”
Apple has already offered the iPhone to smaller competitors of China Mobile — China Unicom and China Telecom, and Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China earlier this year and is rumored to have met with China Mobile on a prior trip in 2011. [via Cult of Mac]
Scratches on the iPhone 5’s aluminum body are “normal,” according to an email from Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. The email from Schiller, published at 9to5Mac, is in response to a reader’s concerns about scuffs and scratches on a black iPhone 5. “Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color,” Schiller responded. “That is normal.” Numerous reports — and our own tests — have noted the relative ease at which the iPhone’s new aluminum body can be scratched or dented.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters that his company needs Apple’s approval before it could bring its Google Maps app back to the iPhone. “We haven’t done anything yet with Google Maps,” Schmidt said. He didn’t comment on whether or not Google has submitted an application to sell Google Maps in Apple’s app store. Apple continues to deal with criticism of iOS 6 Maps, and recent reports have stated the company is looking to hire people who have worked on Google Maps in the past. [via Bloomberg]
Apple’s response last week to criticism of iOS 6 Maps hasn’t slowed the flow of complaints and news about the troubled app. TechCrunch reports that Apple is now actively seeking to hire people who have worked on Google Maps. According to TechCrunch, many individuals are eager to accept, as Apple offers the chance to “build new product, instead of just doing ‘tedious updates’ on a largely complete platform.”
Meanwhile, the critiques continue. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told ZDNet Australia that he was “a little disappointed” with the app, but went on to mention that he’s not sure the problems “are that severe.” Also, a new Motorola ad has taken direct aim at Maps. As noted by Apple Insider, the ad compares a search for 315 E 15th in New York City on the Droid and the iPhone, with iOS 6 Maps showing an incorrect result.
Users hoping for an iOS return to Google Maps can look to a CNET report that a hacker has ported the app onto iOS 6. Ryan Petrich was able to get the iOS 5.1 version of Google Maps onto an iPhone 3GS running iOS 6. However, the as-yet-unavailable port is prone to crashing, and the phone must be jailbroken for the hack to work. Google has suggested that it’s working on a new app for iOS.
A Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, China, closed after a large brawl in a company dormitory, according to Reuters. About 2,000 workers were involved in the melee. Foxconn said the fighting stemmed from a personal disagreement, but Internet posts claimed that factory guards had beaten workers.
Roughly 79,000 people are employed at the Taiyuan plant. Though Foxconn does not confirm which of its factories supply Apple, an employee told Reuters that iPhone 5 parts are made and assembled at the plant; reports suggest that aluminum backs are made there. The plant’s closure could last for two or three days, according to an employee, but no time frame has been publicly announced.
A disassembled Lightning cable appears to reveal an Apple authentication chip within the cable, according to an AppleInsider report. During a teardown by a reader, a chip was found directly in the signal path of the V+ wire, a location suggesting that even seemingly simple Lightning accessories will need to contain similar chips to work with new Apple devices.
The user who made the discovery claims that due to the authentication chips, early third-party Lightning connectors can’t possibly be functional and should be avoided for now. While it’s unclear as to whether those early connectors contain hacked authentication chips or no chips at all, exercising caution is a good idea for the time being.
Apple has been accused of stealing the design of its new iOS6 iPad Clock application from a famous Swiss train clock created by Hans Hilfiker, leading copyright and trademark holder Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to seek credit and/or compensation for the alleged infringements. According to Swiss newspaper Blick, SBB licensed the design to a developer in 2009, and the clock appeared in a successful iPad and iPhone app called Swiss Railway Clock. Apple then cloned the clock design for the iPad application in iOS 6.
A photo comparison reveals the clocks to be nearly identical. Both SBB and its watch licensee Mondaine are currently contemplating legal action against Apple, though Mondaine has expressed interest in a non-legal solution that benefits all parties.
Apple has responded to widespread criticism of its new iOS 6 Maps app, saying the company is “just getting started with it.” Spokeswoman Trudy Muller told AllThingsD late yesterday, “We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get.” Muller also said Apple is working with developers to integrate existing transit apps into Maps. Though it’s only officially been out for a few days, the new Maps app has drawn plenty of ire for inaccurate directions, poor photographic renditions of some areas, and distorted 3-D in major cities.
The iPhone 5 began its official rollout today with reports of lines of people and decent initial stock at Apple Stores around the world. As has been typical of recent iPhone releases, queues generally stretched into the hundreds of customers, though some of the first people waiting in various cities have been outed as marketers and small business people looking for media attention. Pre-orders for the new iPhone notably began one week ago, with launch day devices going out of stock within roughly one hour; subsequent shipments were projected to take two or more weeks. Apple subsequently said that first-day orders had topped two million units, doubling the company’s previous record.
A report from iLounge’s Nick Guy notes that launch day iPhone 5 inventory may be limited at local Apple Stores due to varying supplies of iPhones in different capacities, colors, and carriers. Some models are believed not to be in stock at all, while other supplies are limited; certain low-end 16GB models are reported not to be available. Launch day stock levels at Apple’s cellular partners have traditionally been low, and may be further constrained by the ever-increasing number of carriers now demanding immediate inventory. Apple’s online store still shows three- to four-week wait times for new iPhone 5 orders placed today.
Apple has begun to require that all iOS developers begin including iPhone 5-optimized screenshots with their app submissions and updates that have been optimized for the new, 1136x640 display. While many apps have already received iPhone 5 updates in advance of the device’s release tomorrow, developers must also submit the appropriate screenshots for display on the App Store pages in order for their apps to be approved for sale. The new resolution requirements are 640x1136 and 640x1096 for portrait screenshots and 1136x640 and 1136x600 for landscape. [via Cult of Mac]
Following yesterday’s official release of iOS 6, users all over the globe have continued to register complaints about Apple’s new Maps application, the first in five years to discontinue use of maps and points of interest databases assembled by Google. As noted by iLounge editors, Maps now fails to properly route users to the nearest possible correct results, instead making seemingly random or logically tortured guesses as to which “Main Street” is being searched for, offering directions to Australia rather than America, and sometimes presents disfigured 2-D and 3-D renderings of cities.
Amongst additional issues spotted by various publications: AppleInsider mentions that a search for “Columbia, SC” brings users to Santiago De Cali, a city in Colombia; the BBC reports on missing British towns and incorrect locations, the Irish Times notes the potential dangers of an incorrectly placed airfield in Dublin; and NorthScotNews of Scotland claims Apple has sent “the Highlands back to the dark ages” with black-and-white satellite imagery. A sarcastic Tumblr page titled The Amazing iOS 6 Maps documents more follies of Maps, including aerial photography interrupted by clouds and inaccurate directions.
Three newly published patent applications have shed light on additional innovations Apple has been developing in its labs. A new patent application details a new facial recognition locking and unlocking system, which could conceivably allow a user to unlock his or her phone simply by looking at the device, and lock it by looking away. It’s already drawing comparisons to a similar Android feature and Google patent, but according to Patently Apple, “Apple’s invention adds so much more depth.”
Another patent application suggests an on-the-go charging mechanism, enabling a device to recharge using the motion of magnets across printed coils. Shaking or moving the device would create a current that could be stored as battery power. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has notably received a patent for a universal battery system, originally contemplated in 2007 and 2010 filings, which would allow users to swap rechargeable batteries between devices. The patent suggests that Apple was exploring the possibility of creating a flat, cell phone-style battery pack that could be charged inside a docking bay of a desktop computer, then placed inside anything from a wireless keyboard or mouse to a cell phone. While the concept is exciting, the company has been shifting away from user-replaceable batteries over time, leaving only certain computer peripherals with that option. [via Engadget]
Apple and four major publishers have agreed to settle an EU antitrust investigation, Reuters reports, by letting retailers sell e-books at a discount in Europe. For two years, Apple, along with publishers Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre of France, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany, will not “restrict, limit or impede e-book retailers’ ability to set, alter or reduce retail prices for e-books and/or to offer discounts or promotions,” the European Commission reported. A settlement was first offered in April.
EU regulators had examined Apple’s e-book pricing deals, including contract clauses that disallowed publishers from selling e-books for prices lower than those set by Apple. Apple and the publishers have agreed to suspend those contracts for five years, the Commission said. Among the publishers being investigated with Apple, only Penguin has not agreed to settle with the Commission. Apple, Penguin and Macmillan continue to fight a similar legal battle in the U.S., though Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette settled with the U.S. government in April.
Announced in June, Shared Photo Streams have officially arrived today with the release of Apple’s iOS 6, as well as corresponding updates to Mac OS X applications. Users can now create iCloud-based virtual photo albums that can be shared as web pages or individual photos, both capable of being viewed and commented on by other iOS 6 and iCloud users.
It should be noted that Shared Photo Streams don’t have to include photos from the main Photo Stream, and they are not subject to the same Wi-Fi-only and 30-day, 1000-photo limitations. They don’t appear to count against iCloud storage allocation, either, and enable users to easily notify family members and friends of new images that are being privately shared amongst themselves.
Following the release of iOS 6 earlier today, Apple has released an update to iPhoto for iOS devices adding a multitude of new features and enhancements. iPhoto 1.1 now includes six new Apple-designed ink effects along with a collection of Coaching tips in the help system to assist new users in getting started with the app and producing the best results. Users can also now import full resolution photos via iTunes File Sharing, with images of up to 36.5 megapixels in size supported on the iPhone 5 and third-generation iPad. Custom tags can be added to photos to create tag albums and multiple photos can now also be saved out the Camera Roll in a single operation. Photos can be sorted by date and filtered using new criteria and a Power Scroll strip has been added for high-speed scrolling through the app. A month-year overlay also now appears when scrolling in Photos view and a grid of thumbnails can be expanded to multiple rows when viewing in portrait orientation.
A number of enhancements have also been made to the various editing features including the ability to rotate tile-shift and gradient effects, modify fonts and alignment of text in journal items, and resize journal Note and Memory items. Dividers can also now be manually added to break journal pages into sections and a new Swap mode is available for changing the placement of items in a journal layout. In addition, links to journals can be shared directly to Facebook and Twitter and send out via Messages and links to remote journals can be shared from any device. Users can also control when to update their journal via a new “Publish Changes” button.
Facebook integration has also been improved with the ability to more easily add comments, upload videos to Facebook and set locations and friend tags when posting photos. Photos previously posted to Facebook can also now be more easily replaced with a more current version and notifications are now displayed when a Facebook upload completes in the background. The new version also adds integration with other apps such as Cards and iMovie, allowing photos to be shared directly to these apps from within iPhoto for iOS and adds support for the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch. iPhoto for iOS 1.1 is a universal app requiring iOS 6.0 and is available from the App Store for $5.
Apple has updated iMovie, its universal video editing and creation app for iOS devices adding new content and editing features along with improvements to video sharing and exporting resolutions. iMovie 1.4 includes three new trailers—Adrenaline, Coming of Age, and Teen and now provides the ability for users to easily add Ken Burns animated photos to any trailer. A new Precision Editor is also available on the iPad to create split audio edits and clips can be previewed in the Video Browser before being added to a project. Photos can also be shared from iPhoto for iOS and finished projects can be shared to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport in full 1080p HD resolution. The new version also provides new Coaching tips to help users get started and provides easy access to audio recordings captured in a project via the Audio Browser. iMovie 1.4 is a universal app requiring iOS 6.0 or later and is available from the App Store for $5.