Apple has made some minor but notable changes to its front page App Store listings. In place of the prior App of the Week listings are two new Editors’ Choice picks for both the iPhone and the iPad, which rotate in the top slot alongside traditional themed bundles of promoted apps—a number of apps dedicated to Dinosaurs is being highlighted this week, for instance. The App of the Week moniker is not being retired, however, as it is now being used further down the page to promote a Free App of the Week—this week, Cut the Rope: Experiments for the iPhone and Cut the Rope: Experiments HD for the iPad. [via The Verge]
Rogue Amoeba reports that Apple has removed its Airfoil Speakers Touch app from the App Store. In a post on the company’s blog, CEO Paul Kafasis states that the company was informed today that “Apple has removed Airfoil Speakers Touch from the iOS App Store” although he first heard about the decision from Apple two days ago and has been in ongoing discussions since then regarding the pending removal.
Kafasis goes on to indicate that he does not yet have any clear answer on why Apple has chosen this course of action, and that he believes Airfoil Speakers Touch is “in full compliance with Apple’s posted rules and developer agreements.” He also mentions that Rogue Amoeba had not submitted any new versions for approval recently, and that this removal is therefore not related to a pending review process, but rather concerns the existing version of Airfoil Speakers Touch that was approved and released in April. Notably, Rogue Amoeba went through a another issue with the App Store and Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.1 back in 2009 regarding the display of artwork representing the computer and source application from which audio was being streamed—images that were provided by Mac OS X itself, but were trademarked Apple images. Apple later reversed its policy on this issue, allowing Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.2 to reincorporate this functionality.
Kafasis indicates that the company has filed an appeal with Apple’s App Review Board and is presently awaiting further information. In the meantime, users who have already downloaded Airfoil Touch Speakers should be able to continue using the app.
Apple is continuing to reject charges that it conspired with publishers to fix the price of electronic books. Reuters reports that Apple has made a filing in U.S. District Court in which it argues against the Justice Department’s lawsuit and claims that it did not conspire with anyone or fix prices in an effort to undermine Amazon.com’s lead in the marketplace. “Apple’s entry into e-book distribution is classic procompetitive conduct” that helped to foster competition, Apple said in its filing. It added, “for Apple to be subject to hindsight legal attack for a business strategy well-recognized as perfectly proper sends the wrong message to the market. The government’s complaint against Apple is fundamentally flawed as a matter of fact and law.” Apple, along with Macmillan and Penguin, are continuing to fight the charges, while publishers HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette have all reached settlements.
Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive was knighted today at Buckingham Palace. According to an interview piece with the Telegraph, Ive was knighted for services to design and enterprise, and honor he described as “incredibly humbling.” During the interview, Ive also made several comments about his work at Apple. “We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense,” Ive said. “Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way. We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products. I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.”
Ive also made some comments about unreleased products. When asked if he was to be remembered for just one of his Apple designs, which one would he pick, Ive took a long pause, and responded, “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung are set to meet today in San Francisco for court-ordered talks. Reuters reports that the talks will be held in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood and will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero. Based on comments made by a Samsung official over the weekend, it appears the company is not adverse to a settlement. “There is still a big gap in the patent war with Apple but we still have several negotiation options including cross-licensing,” said Samsung mobile division chief JK Shin. The talks are scheduled for today and tomorrow.
Foxconn is investing $210 million to build a new Apple production line in China, according to a new report. Citing local officials, China Daily reports that the line will be located in Huai’an city, in Jiangsu province. The office of Taiwan Affairs in Huai’an said that the plant housing the production line will produce components for Apple. The plant plans to hire over 35,000 employees; the article does not speculate on what types of components or products might be produced at the facility. [via Engadget]
Apple has announced that it plans to power its Maiden, NC data center using nothing but renewable energy. Reuters reports that Apple is building two solar array installations nearby, which will produce roughly 84 million kWh of energy annually, with a separate bio-gas fuel-cell plant to supply the rest of their energy needs. “I’m not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. “The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.” Apple plans for the Maiden facility to be coal-free by the end of 2012.
HTC’s new One X and Evo 4G LTE handsets face an indefinite import delay at U.S. Customs due to a prior International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling in Apple’s favor. The Verge reports that both handsets are delayed while Customs investigates whether they infringe upon a specific Apple patent for which Apple won a ban on HTC’s Android devices at the ITC last year. The ban involves a patent covering so-called “data tapping”, or the automatic conversion of chunks of text such as dates, phone numbers, and email addresses into tappable items. According to the report, the ban was delayed so HTC could engineer around Apple’s patent, but went into effect on April 19.
“The US availability of the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC exclusion order,” HTC said in a statement. “We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with Customs to secure approval.”
Apple over the weekend quietly went about changing the official name of its third-generation iPad with cellular data capabilities. Previously known as the Wi-Fi + 4G model, it is now referred to on Apple’s website and in its retail locations as the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. It “connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi and fast mobile data networks,” reads the description on Apple’s UK online store. Apple had been facing scrutiny from regulators in several countries, which claimed that the “4G” moniker was misleading as the device didn’t support 4G LTE networks anywhere but in the US and Canada. [via 9to5Mac]
A beta version of Apple’s iCloud.com online tools has revealed that the company plans to add Notes and Reminders access to the site. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith discovered the beta.icloud.com site by accident this morning, and posted a screenshot showing a beta message that read “The beta version of iCloud.com requires a developer account and setting up your Apple ID with latest iOS or OS X.” Behind the pop-up were the icons for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, a missing image marker that was later discovered to be the iWork icon, and two new icons for Notes and Reminders. Further investigation of the site by 9to5Mac discovered that the code for the site made references to iOS 6, specifically, “To use beta.icloud.com, first sign in to iCloud with the iOS 6 Beta.” Apple has since pulled the website, but it appears likely that Apple will officially open the site alongside the release of a beta version of iOS 6.
Apple and a number of other major manufacturers have been sued in US District Court in California by a company called Golden Bridge Technology. GigaOM reports that Golden Bridge claims that devices such as the iPhone infringe on a patent from 2000 regarding chips that share data sequence signals across channels. Further, Golden Bridge claims that this patent is essential to 3G communication standards. Along with Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, HTC, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Pantech, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sierra Wireless, Sony, and ZTE are also named in the suit, which is seeking damages from each company.
Apple and Foxconn will share the initial costs of improving labor conditions at the latter’s factories. Reuters reports that Foxconn chairman Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but did way that he regards recent criticism of the working conditions at his company’s factories as unfair. “We’ve discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength,” Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. “I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs.” Foxconn, which assembles a number of Apple products including the iPhone and iPad, raised wages for its workers by 16 to 25 in February, and reached an agreement with Apple in March to hire tens of thousands of new workers in an effort to reduce overtime work.
Apple is testing the use of iOS-style notifications on iCloud.com, according to a new report. Citing a reader tip that was subsequently confirmed by other staff members, TUAW reports that the notifications appear in the middle of the screen, and currently use placeholder text, stating “Default Title for English” and “English - This is test message description”. Apple has not made any announcement of web-based iCloud notifications, and would likely need to integrate more functionality into the website to make the notifications truly useful, as Mail and Calendar are the only current web-based applications that could fully take advantage of such a system.
Apple today released iOS 5.1.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. According to Apple’s release notes, iOS 5.1.1 contains several improvements and bug fixes, including improvements for HDR photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut, a fix for bugs that could prevent the third-generation iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks, fixes for bugs that affected AirPlay video playback, improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List, and a fix for an issue where an “Unable to purchase” alert could be displayed following a successful purchase. iOS 5.1.1 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch, and is available now via the update feature in iTunes or as an over-the-air update. To update your iOS device over-the-air, open Settings, tap on General, and tap on Software Update.
Apple has been sued by a New York-based iTunes customer who claims he was double-billed for a song. Justia reports that Robert Herskowitz was charged twice for the song “Whataya Want from Me”, and Apple refused to refund him for the extra charge. “Your request for a refund for “Whataya Want from Me” was carefully considered; however, according to the iTunes Store Terms of Sale, all purchases made on the iTunes Store are ineligible for refund,” Apple’s response read, according to the lawsuit. “This policy matches Apple’s refund policies and provides protection for copyrighted materials.” Herskowitz is seeking class action status for the suit.
Apple has announced that it has added support for 10 new languages to iTunes Connect. “We have expanded language support in iTunes Connect, so you can localize app metadata, keywords, and screenshots in 10 new languages: Traditional Chinese, Norwegian, Turkish, Finnish, Danish, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese, and Greek,” reads a notice on Apple’s Developer site. iTunes Connect, the suite of web-based tools developers use to submit and manage apps on the App Store, now offers support for more than 25 languages.
Apple has released minor updates to its iLife apps for iOS with a number of small enhancements, bug fixes and stability improvements. iPhoto 1.0.1 adds the ability to copy the URL of an iCloud-published photo journal to the clipboard using a Copy Link button and addresses an issue related to duplicate photos appearing in photos view. GarageBand 1.2.1 fixes an issue with crashing or missing songs when sharing to iCloud, resolves login issues with SoundCloud and Facebook accounts in addition to addressing other minor performance and stability issues. iMovie 1.3.1 adds the ability to access Help when editing projects in the iPad version and resolves an issue where incorrect frames were sometimes shown when splitting clips.
Apple is in the process of rolling out its iTunes Match service in a number of new countries. 9to5Mac reports that users in Italy, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, and Austria can now sign up for the service, although they have yet to be added to Apple’s official list of countries in which the service is available. Launched in the U.S. in November, iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices.
Apple has hired Jessica Jensen, a former executive at Yahoo!, to its iAd team, according to a new report. Citing anonymous sources, AllThingsD reports that Jensen will work for recently-hired iAd head Todd Teresi. At Yahoo!, Jensen was in charge of the women’s site Shine, as well as its lifestyles and health content businesses.
Apple and Samsung are set to meet for court-overseen talks in late May. AllThingsD reports that the companies will meet in San Francisco on May 21-22, with Apple CEO Tim Cook and general counsel Bruce Sewell expected to attend. The talks will be overseen by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, and will be focused on resolving the numerous patent disputes between the two companies. As noted in our prior report, the court can obligate the two companies to meet and talk, but cannot force a settlement.