Officially announced and briefly discussed at this week’s iPhone 5-focused event in San Francisco, Apple’s next-generation Lightning Connector has quickly become a flashpoint of confusion for iPhone and iPod users. Revealed piecemeal in several leaks ahead of the event, the Lightning Connector replaces Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Connector, a ubiquitous rectangular port found on every iPhone, every iPad, and every iPod released since 2003, except the iPod shuffle. The first device to feature the new port will be the iPhone 5, with the iPod nano and iPod touch following soon thereafter; iPads will reportedly begin to make the transition this year. To enable some prior accessories to work with the new devices, Apple is now selling three types of Lightning Adapters, two for old 30-Pin Dock Connector accessories and one required in Europe for Micro-USB chargers. Through a spokesperson, Apple has also announced plans to release at least two more Lightning Adapters for HDMI and VGA output.
Despite Apple’s connector and adapter announcements, significant uncertainty remains regarding prior accessory compatibility, and the availability of Lightning Adapters. Conflicting reports this week suggested that the “all-digital” Lightning Connector might not be able to support analog audio or video output; however, Apple has confirmed that its Lightning to 30-Pin Adapters will be capable of passing iPhone 5 audio to prior Dock Connector-based docks, speakers, and cables, but will not support video out from the iPhone 5 to older video accessories, or “iPod out” mode transmission of data and album art, used in some car and home video dock accessories. It remains unclear whether the iPhone 5 will display jarring error messages when used with Apple’s Lightning Adapters, or just gracefully pass through what it can share. The first third-party accessories built with Lightning Connectors are not expected to hit stores until late this year or early next year, according to an iLounge source.
Adapter availability has also become a point of concern. The iPhone 5 will be delivered to users starting next week, however, Lightning Adapters will apparently not be available until some time in October, so the first round of customers will not be able to test their prior accessories with the iPhone 5 until well after the phone arrives. Apart from one brief and apparently erroneous hint during the iPhone 5 ordering process, Apple has not suggested that the iPhone 5 or new iPhones will include Lightning Adapters. According to a dialogue box spotted by TheNextWeb during iPhone 5 pre-ordering this morning, Apple’s web site told some European customers that the iPhone 5 “includes a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter,” and offered the purchase of “this additional adapter to have a second adapter for your home or office.” Some time afterwards, Apple changed the language to omit references to the “included” and “additional” adapters, with sales representatives describing the text as “an error.”
Despite web site hiccups early on Friday morning, Apple and its carrier partners are now officially accepting and processing pre-orders for the iPhone 5. Falling a little behind schedule after promising a 12:01am PT/3:01am ET online pre-order process, Apple’s web site began to accept orders several minutes later, and provided a reasonably graceful fallback reservation process when AT&T’s computers buckled—an outage that lasted for approximately 30 minutes as AT&T’s own site quickly failed at processing upgrade eligibility status for existing users.
Users attempting to order Verizon phones were promptly processed, while AT&T iPhone 5 orders through Apple were given reservation numbers and the opportunity to log in to complete their orders when AT&T’s computers became operable. E-mails offering that opportunity began to go out by 12:35am PT, and were processed properly at that point. Notably, iPhone 4S customers have discovered that they are not eligible for discounted or fully subsidized iPhone 5 pricing, with October 8 of this year as the earliest date for discounts, and May 8, 2013 for full subsidized pricing. iPhone 5 unlocked and off-contract pricing remains the same as for the iPhone 4S: $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB).
Apple also began to accept pre-orders for the fifth-generation iPod touch and seventh-generation iPod nano during the same time period. Unexpectedly, Apple limited iPod touch orders to two per person, with no limitation on iPod nano orders. iPod touch loop wrist strap accessories became available separately for $9 each. The company provided no further details on ship dates for the new iPods or accessories beyond the word “October.”
Updated: One hour after pre-orders began, Apple sold through its initial U.S. pre-order allocation of iPhone 5s; the Apple Store web site thereafter told customers that new orders would ship in “two weeks.” iPod availability apparently remained unchanged.
Apple has posted full videos of Wednesday’s media event, as well as separate videos focusing on the iPhone 5, and EarPods. The iPhone 5 video is nearly seven minutes long and shows a brief demonstration of its LTE network in action, in addition to detailing new features of the phone. The EarPods video concentrates mainly on the design and development of the earphones, which will be packed in with some iPods and the iPhone 5, as well as sold separately.
Apple has released its Gold Master seed of iOS 6 to registered developers. Listed as build 10A403, the GM build is normally the last to be seeded prior to the software’s official launch, expected on September 19, and as such can be used to submit iOS 6 applications to the App Store for review. It is unclear whether the iOS 6 GM seed will be made available as an over-the-air software update, as has been the case with past iOS 5 and iOS 6 beta releases, however Registered Developers can download the iOS 6 GM seed and the accompanying SDK from the iOS Dev Center now.
During today’s iPhone 5 event, Apple also unveiled a major update to iTunes, its iconic media management application. Designed to be “dramatically simpler” the new version provides a much more simplified user interface presented primarily as a grid view, with album content expanding in place in a style similar to iOS folders and deeper links into the iTunes Store for browsing and purchasing additional content. A new split screen view allows users to see their full library while working with playlists, a new popup and drop down dialogs provide access to now playing queues and search results, providing more effective navigation without taking the focus away from the main screen. Improved playlist management allows users to move effectively drag and drop tracks directly into their preferred playlists and a new mini-player interface has been added providing album artwork with basic controls and search capabilities.
The new version of iTunes will also provide direct iCloud integration allowing users to stream previously purchased content from iCloud such as Movies and TV shows, with playback positions automatically synced with iOS devices via iCloud. Tighter iTunes Store integration also allows artists to share photos and other information and allows users to access artist pages to look for information such as concert dates and scheduled new releases. The new iTunes is expected to be available in late October.
During today’s iPhone 5 event Apple announced the official release dates for iOS 6, the next major version of the company’s operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Originally announced at WWDC in June, iOS 6 is expected to add over 200 new user features. During the event, Senior iOS VP Scott Forstall took the stage to demonstrate several of the major new features in iOS 6 running on the new iPhone 5, including the new Apple Maps application with turn-by-turn navigation, a database of 100 million points of interest and integration with Yelp for photos and reviews.
Forstall also demonstrated the new 3D Flyover feature in iOS 6 Maps, new Safari features such as full-screen view and iCloud tabs, VIP support in the new Mail app, the new Passbook digital coupon and ticket app and Shared Photos Streams. Forstall also highlighted new Siri features such as the ability to request sports results, get movie recommendations, find restaurants and make reservations via OpenTable and post Facebook updates by voice. iOS 6 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and later, second- and third-generation iPod and fourth-generation iPod touch and will be available for download via iTunes and OTA update on September 19th.
Internal Apple tension over the looks of the company’s applications is becoming public, according to a Fast Company report, with key executives and designers disagreeing about the aesthetics of software designs. Most of the criticism revolves around the company’s occasional penchant for skeuomorphism—ornamental designs inspired by real-world materials and products — that sometimes appears in software, such as in iCal’s “leather” stitching and Game Center’s wood-and-green-felt casino look. The skeuomorphic interfaces arguably make some users feel more comfortable with software, while offending the visual tastes of others.
The report suggests that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and current Senior iOS VP Scott Forstall have aggressively promoted skeuomorphic interfaces, while Senior VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and other designers believe the traditional visual metaphors are no longer necessary and create confusion. “There was lots of internal email among UI designers at Apple saying this was just embarrassing, just terrible,” a former senior UI designer at Apple reportedly told Fast Company in reference to the leather look of iCal, which reportedly was inspired by Jobs’ personal Gulfstream jet; another former designer is quoted as claiming that many Apple employees “think it’s gone too far.”
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.