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Rumor: Apple plans 4.8” iPhone, another by Christmas?

Apple will announce three new iPhone models this year, according to a questionable new report from China and Taiwan. There will be a 4-inch-screened iPhone 5S and a supposedly larger-screened 4.8-inch “iPhone Math” model before the end of June, while a third model with a 12-megapixel camera will arrive before Christmas, the report claims. There have already been rumors of an iPhone 5S, as well as a new low-end iPhone model, but iPhone Math seems almost certain to be a bad translation—and the supposedly larger screen size is equally questionable. This new report also claims Apple will launch iTV before year’s end. While the report should be taken with extra grains of salt, it’s interesting in that it is the first to suggest that Apple may have two separate iPhone release events this year, which could spook some potential early adopters into waiting. [via China Times and Commercial Times (Taiwan), as translated by Brightwire]

Apple CEO Cook to give deposition in antitrust case

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been ordered to give a deposition in a lawsuit that claims Apple and other companies violated antitrust laws. The private lawsuit claims the companies — which also include Google, Intel, Adobe, Disney’s Pixar, Intuit, and Lucasfilm — agreed not to recruit each other’s employees. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh issued the order Thursday. According to a report, “Koh told lawyers yesterday that Apple founder Steve Jobs was copied on e-mails at issue in the case, and that she found it ‘hard to believe’ that Cook, as Apple’s chief operating officer at the time in question, wouldn’t have been consulted about such agreements.” [via Bloomberg]

Report: Sharp slashes 9.7” iPad screen production

Sharp has “nearly halted” production of 9.7-inch iPad screens, according to a report. Screen production is now at “the minimal level to keep the line running.” The report initially mentions a demand shift to Apple’s iPad mini, but later notes sources “didn’t say how much of the slowdown was due to seasonal changes in demand or consumers opting for the smaller iPad mini and were unable to characterize Apple’s overall tablet sales.” Sharp’s Miyuki Nakayama said, “We don’t disclose production levels.” A source at LG Display — Apple’s biggest supplier — said its decreased production was mostly due to typical weak post-holiday demand.  Apple did not comment. [via Reuters]

Newsstand offers Hearst magazines first, before print

Hearst Magazines has announced that new issues of its various publications will be made available to subscribers in Apple’s Newsstand before appearing in print or any other digital edition. The 20 magazines include Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Car and Driver, Good Housekeeping, and Woman’s Day, among others. A report notes that each publication differs in how far it will be released ahead of other editions, but each will appear at least a “few days in advance” of its print counterpart. [via TechCrunch]

Apple job posting hints at Siri’s future evolution

An Apple job posting for a Siri Writer/Editor position sheds some light on how Apple may be planning to evolve Siri in the future. Apple seeks a writer with “demonstrated experience in writing character-driven dialog,” and the job description expects a successful candidate to “refresh and refine existing Siri dialog,” “Ensure the consistency and quality of Siri dialog from all sources,” and to “Help the Siri team evolve Siri as a distinct, recognizable character.” Siri, which was taken over by Eddy Cue after Scott Forstall was let go, seems to be moving forward with a strong emphasis on originality, as well as functionality. [via 9to5Mac]

Facebook Messenger launches free calling for US iPhone users

Facebook Messenger now offers free calling, as the feature has made its way to US iPhone users. The standalone Facebook app allows users to open a conversation with another Messenger user by opening a conversation, tapping the “i” button, and then tapping the new Free Call button. The calls are free using Wi-Fi or the iPhone’s data connection. The VoIP calling service was announced as a new feature about two weeks ago. An App Store update is not needed to start making calls. [via The Verge]

Dutch court: Samsung tablets don’t infringe Apple design

A Dutch court has ruled that three Samsung Galaxy tablets do not infringe an Apple design, citing previous British court decisions. The ruling involves rounded corners on the tablets. Apple lost a tablet design infringement case in the UK and was required by law to post ads stating that Samsung did not infringe on its designs. [via Reuters]

AT&T allows FaceTime over Cellular on tiered data plans

AT&T has announced it has enabled FaceTime over Cellular at no extra charge for customers using any tiered data plan and a compatible iOS device. Customers with an iPhone 4S and a tiered data plan will now be able to make FaceTime calls on the AT&T network. After initially limiting FaceTime over Cellular to specific shared data plans, AT&T later announced it would allow customers with a tiered data plan and LTE device to use the service. This new announcement removes the LTE device requirement. Now, only users with grandfathered unlimited data plans will be left out. The update should be rolled out “in the next couple of weeks.”

Apple Retail VP Jerry McDougal resigns

Jerry McDougal, Apple’s Vice President of Retail, has left the company. Reports say McDougal left to spend more time with his family. McDougal is the latest in a growing line of executives that have left the company in recent months — that list includes Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett, who was let go in late October. Many believed McDougal had a chance at replacing Browett, which obviously won’t be happening now. Jim Bean, former Apple VP of Finance, will replace McDougal. The company continues to search for a replacement for Browett.
[via, AllThingsD]

Apple, Amazon set for settlement talks in ‘Appstore’ case

Apple and Amazon have been ordered to hold settlement talks to resolve the ongoing case in which Apple is claiming trademark infringement for Amazon’s use of the term “Appstore.” The companies will meet on March 21 in an attempt to settle, before reaching a trial in August. A few weeks ago, Apple’s false advertising claim against Amazon for use of the term was dismissed. [via Bloomberg]

Apple shareholders meeting scheduled for Feb. 27

Apple will hold its annual shareholder meeting at 9 a.m. Pacific, Feb. 27, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The meeting will be held at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Proposals up for a vote include the election of Apple’s board of directors, an advisory vote on executive compensation, ratification of Ernst & Young as the company’s independent accounting firm, and two shareholder proposals — one requiring executives to hold onto a percentage of shares until normal retirement age, the other regarding the establishment of a Board Committee on Human Rights. Apple’s board opposes both proposals. Also, a proposed amendment would establish a “par value” of $0.0001 per share for Apple common stock, among other measures. [via Apple Insider]

Next iPhone rumors: 5S and low-cost phones

A couple of new iPhone rumors suggest Apple could be looking to release both high-end and low-end models this year, while the iPhone 5 remains in the middle. Analyst Peter Misek has suggested that the iPhone 5S will go through preliminary builds in March, with a launch in June or July, less than a year after the iPhone 5 debuted. Originating from Asian part suppliers, a second report claims that a recently rumored lower-cost iPhone could include a plastic chassis, or a plastic-and-metal chassis designed such that parts might be seen from the outside — a rumored launch date for this model is sometime in the second half of this year. While the rumors should be taken with requisite grains of salt, particularly when they come from analysts, the rumors follow Friday’s withdrawn report regarding Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller’s comments on a cheaper iPhone—a withdrawal that has been taken to suggest that the company is indeed pursuing a new affordable model. iLounge’s own sources suggest that Apple hopes to release a less expensive version of the iPhone 5, featuring such components as a Lightning connector and 4” screen.
[via Street Insider, Digitimes]

Belgian consumer group files AppleCare complaint

Belgian consumer watchdog agency Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats has filed a complaint against Apple for the company’s warranty practices. The complaint is over Apple’s marketing of its AppleCare, which the watchdog group believes is being marketed to consumers without Apple properly explaining consumer rights. EU customers are already entitled to a free two-year warranty of any consumer electronics purchase. Apple has been fined twice in Italy over similar complaints, most recently in December for $264,000, and in December 2011 for about $1.2 million. The Belgian complaint mentions the first Italian fine as a precedent. [via TechCrunch]

Apple to release iPad mini, fourth-gen iPad in China on Friday

Apple has announced that the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will be available in China on Friday. Both iPads will be available through Apple retail stores, the Apple online store, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. The Wi-Fi versions of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad went on sale in China on Dec. 7, with plans to release the cellular models within a month; Apple CEO Tim Cook personally traveled to China to speak with leading cellular providers before the announcement was made.

iOS 6.1 release imminent?

The release of iOS 6.1 could be coming soon, suggests a recent report. Apple’s fifth beta version of 6.1 — which is undergoing “extensive internal testing,” and deals mostly with bug fixes and optimizations — may wind up being the gold master build. If everything remains on track, this version will be released to developers shortly, followed by a public release. [via iFun (translated link)]

Apple cuts iPhone 5 part orders due to “weak demand”

Apple has reportedly decreased orders for LCD screens and other iPhone 5 parts due to “weak demand.” The company has asked Japan Display Inc., Sharp, and LG Display Co. to cut their LCD panel shipments by about 50 percent, according to sources — down from 65 million screens in the first quarter, leading observers to believe sales aren’t as high as Apple expected. Other component orders were also decreased. Apple has not yet commented on the reports, which have apparently contributed to declines in its stock this morning. [via San Jose Mercury News]

Apple TV gets Watchever video service in Germany

Apple TV has added an app for Watchever video service in Germany, according to reports. Watchever is a Netflix-style streaming video service that offers movies and TV series for a monthly fee. This is the first time Apple has added a service to Apple TV that is only available internationally, with the service limited to one country — in this case, Germany. It raises the possibility that Apple could add more smaller, more regional services to Apple TV going forward. [via The Next Web]

Next iPad, iPad mini claimed for March?

Recent reports claim that both the fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini will launch in March, as noted by an analyst.

iLounge has heard numerous indications, including several from reliable sources, that Apple will be capable of launching the next full-sized iPad in March, right around the one-year anniversary of the third-generation model. Based on what we’ve seen at this point, the device will have a dramatically thinner bezel—think only a little larger than the 9.7” screen on the left and right sides, a thinner body, and a chamfered body design that’s effectively an elongated version of the iPad mini and iPod touch. Our sources are not so confident about the supposed March launch of the next iPad mini; however, all indications are that its body will be nearly identical to the current model, with a Retina display inside.

Schiller: Apple will not make a ‘cheap’ iPhone [Updated]

In an interview with the Shanghai Evening News, Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller responded to rumours of a cheaper iPhone, essentially stating that Apple will continue to focus on producing the best quality iPhone possible and will not cut corners on its iPhone design simply to produce an inexpensive smartphone for the mass market.

Speaking regarding Apple’s products in China, Schiller noted that the Chinese market has already evolved from non-smartphones to cheap smartphones, but that despite their popularity, this will not be the future of Apple’s products. Schiller emphasized that Apple considers using only the “best technology available” in every product that it creates, and that Apple continues to make the majority of profit despite only owning a relatively small market share of smartphones.

Update: Reuters has issued a brief statement that it has withdrawn the prior story due to the Shanghai Evening News report being “subsequently updated with substantial changes to its content.” Notably, Reuters has indicated that no replacement story will be issued. There is some confusion as to the reasoning for this, as the Shanghai Evening News reports does not appear to have substantially changed since its initial publication by English media, however there has been some speculation that Schiller’s comments may have been misinterpreted or mistranslated.

Tim Cook meets with China Mobile Chairman

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China Mobile Chairman Xi Gouhua earlier today to discuss “matters of cooperation” according to a China Mobile spokesperson. This latest move suggests that Apple and China Mobile may be moving toward a deal. The iPhone 5 was released in December on China Unicom and China Telecom, however Apple has yet to reach an agreement with China Mobile—the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers—despite several years of talks.

Cook also met with government officials and partners earlier this week, including China’s minister for industry and information techonlogy, and senior executives from China Unicom.  More details on Apple’s talks with China Mobile are unavailable due to a confidentiality agreement between both parties.

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