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Apple Human Interface VP Greg Christie leaving company

Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie’s clashes with Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive have led to Christie’s imminent departure from the company, 9to5Mac reports. Ive will take control of the company’s software design group. Christie is an original iPhone designer who has led software design at the company, and he recently testified for Apple in the current patent trial against Samsung. Ive and Christie reportedly butted heads over the design of iOS 7. With the departures of Christie and former SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall, Ive is now in position to be in control of Apple design on both the hardware and software fronts.

Update: Apple confirmed Christie’s exit to the Wall Street Journal. A company spokesman said, “Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple.”

Report: Apple mulled Square acquisition

Apple considered making an acquisition offer for Square in the past year, Re/Code reports. Google also thought about making an offer for the payment company, but Square CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly favors Apple. Dorsey believes Apple’s aesthetics and values align more closely with Square, and he was also reportedly “put off” by Google when the company engaged in acquisition talks with his prior company, Twitter. “Jack does not want to sell to Google,” a source said.

An offer around $8 billion would “get Dorsey and the board’s attention,” the report notes, though sources doubt Square could receive such an lucrative offer at the moment. Apple and Square both declined comment.

Apple, other firms could pay $9 Billion in poaching suit

A class-action lawsuit is seeking $9-Billion in lost wages from Apple and other companies for their alleged roles in preventing employees from being hired by rivals, the New York Times reports. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe are negotiating to settle the case. Though the companies “privately scoff” at the $9-Billion amount, the employees — about 100,000 of them — contend the facts are so convincing and embarrassing that “they won’t settle for anything less than a blindingly high number.” A number of emails from Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt reveal the anti-poaching agreement between the companies, with Google seeking permission from Jobs to hire an Apple employee at one point; the offer was rescinded after Jobs objected.

The lawsuit was granted class-action status in October 2013, but the number of employees is higher than was initially reported. Each employee would be owed about $90,000 in lost wages if the $9-Billion amount is accepted.

Former Amazon A9 search VP now at Apple

Former Vice President of Amazon’s A9 Search Technology group, Benoit Dupin, has taken a job with Apple. Dupin’s LinkedIn page has been updated to note he is a “Director” at Apple. He will work on search for Maps, the iTunes Store, and the App Store, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has been pushing to improve search functionality, and the company has been testing a ‘related’ search feature in the App Store.

More Schiller emails reveal Apple ad turmoil

A recent report illustrated how Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller was bothered by Samsung’s marketing campaign targeting Apple, and newly released January 2013 emails show the back-and-forth between Schiller and Apple ad agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab. These emails, posted by Business Insider, follow Schiller’s email to the agency noting that Apple had “a lot of work to do” in response to an article titled “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” The agency responded at length with thoughts on how to fix the “chilling negative narrative,” including needing more freedom — even comparing the situation to Apple’s predicament in 1997, as well as suggesting than the company hold an emergency executive meeting akin to one Steve Jobs held during Antennagate. Schiller was “shocked” by the response, writing that Apple placed no limits on the agency, and take the agency to task for its 1997 comparison.

“This is not 1997,” Schiller wrote. “Nothing like it in any way. In 1997 Apple had no products to market. We had a company making so little money that we were 6 months from out of business.” The agency apologized via email. In another email days later, Schiller wrote that while iPad advertising improved, iPhone advertising was “not good,” especially compared to a recent Samsung ad at the time.

iOS 8: Healthbook as aggregator, faster camera speed

Apple’s planned Healthbook app in iOS 8 is described as “an application that aggregates health and fitness data from various applications and hardware accessories” in a new 9to5Mac article. The feature, which mainly summarizes much of what’s already been reported about iOS 8, alludes to Healthbook being a sort of base app for other possible health-related applications. Additionally, the article notes Apple is working to speed up the time required to take a photo with the new iPhone’s hardware components, and pushing to further improve overall speed in iOS 8.

Apple internal slides reveal need for larger, cheaper phones

Internal Apple slides revealed by Samsung in the latest patent battle between the companies illustrate Apple’s need to create larger and cheaper smartphones. The slides from an April 2013 meeting, posted by Re/Code, show that while the iPhone growth rate is slowing, there’s still demand and growth for cheaper and larger phones.

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One slide, titled “Consumers want what we don’t have,” shows all of the market growth coming from smartphones either priced at $300 or cheaper, or phones more expensive than $300 with a screen larger than 4”. Apple is rumored to be developing two new iPhones with displays larger than 4.7”.

Update: The same Re/Code article contains internal Samsung documents showing the company regarded Apple’s iPhone as its top rival. One slide noted that “everything must be in context of beating Apple,” and the “threat from Apple is extremely real and urgent.”

Apple’s PRODUCT (RED) contributions at $70 million

According to a tweet from the PRODUCT (RED) campaign, Apple has raised $70 million for the charity. Apple sells special red-colored iPod nanos, shuffles, and touches, and certain accessories, with a portion of the proceeds going to fight AIDS in Africa. The partnership stretches back to 2006, when Apple introduced its first PRODUCT (RED) iPod nano.

Apple acquires speech recognition company Novauris

Apple has acquired automatic speech recognition company Novauris Technologies, TechCrunch reports. The acquisition reportedly occurred in 2013, and the Novauris team was already working on Siri as of last fall. Last year, it was reported that a formerly unknown “small team of notable names in speech technology” was working on Siri.

The founders of Novauris were “key members” at Dragon Systems, the company known for voice recognition software including Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Dragon Dictation. Novauris was developing patented automatic speech recognition technology with a large vocabulary that could access information stored locally or remotely. The terms of the deal are unknown.

Apple, others form patent lobbying group

Apple and a number of other large companies have created a new lobbying group dedicated to fighting proposed changes to the patent system, Reuters reports. The group — which also includes DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, and Pfizer — calls itself the Partnership for American Innovation. Pending legislation aimed at patent assertion entities may have an adverse effect on innovative companies, the group argues. The Partnership for American Innovation opposes all legislative efforts intended on making software or biotechnology unable to be patented.

Apple announces WWDC for June 2-6

In a press release this morning, Apple announced the dates of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will run June 2 through June 6 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

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This year, tickets will be available via a lottery system, rather than on a first-come, first-serve basis as they have been in the past. WWDC is a conference designed for developers with technical sessions and Apple engineers on-hand. New software is traditionally shown, and iOS 8 will likely be previewed at the keynote presentation.

Samsung: Edgy ads drove Apple ‘crazy’

Samsung claims its “Next Big Thing” advertising campaign bothered Apple, as shown by internal Apple documents, The Verge reports. “This new, edgy marketing strategy ... it drove Apple crazy,” Samsung lawyer John Quinn noted during the latest patent trial involving the two companies. Quinn said the ad campaign, which poked fun at Apple customers, really got to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who became “obsessed” with the campaign. Schiller even suggested to CEO Tim Cook that Apple should switch to a different ad agency. An internal email from Schiller to his team noted a Wall Street Journal story titled, “Has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?” Schiller’s one line of text said, “We have a lot of work to do to turn this around.”

iWork for iCloud apps add shared view-only docs, other features

Apple has updated its iWork apps — Pages, Keynote, and Numbers — at iCloud.com. The updates include new designs for the web apps, Retina display support, and the ability to share view-only documents, among other features.

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Apple has said compatible updates for iOS will arrive later today. It’s notable that the updates come less than a week after Microsoft launched Office for iPad. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple opens up iAd Workbench to all

Apple is making its iAd Workbench advertising system available to anyone with an Apple ID starting today, Advertising Age reports. Workbench was previously available only to registered mobile developers. Customers can now add short videos to an ad unit with Workbench, which works exclusively for ads on iOS devices. The viewers of ads can also now be taken to promoted iTunes content, or a separate website, instead of only being directed to an app. According to the report, “Apple imagines the iAd expansion will draw in new types of advertisers ... unwilling to take the earlier developer plunge.” Apple also anticipates other major companies getting involved with the program.

Report: Apple may acquire display chipmaker

Apple is in discussions to acquire a division of Japan’s Renesas Electronics that develops chips for smartphone displays, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The division in question, Renesas SP Drivers, is “the world’s leading producer of drivers and controllers for small and midsize LCDs.” These chips are said to “determine a display’s quality and performance,” in addition to affecting the overall energy efficiency of a device. Renesas SP is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip.

Apple is reportedly seeking Renesas’ 55 percent stake for an estimated $479 million. All of Apple’s iPhone liquid crystal display chips already come from Renesas SP; the acquisition would give Apple greater control of how the chips fit into its product designs. The report claims Apple hopes to complete the acquisition by summer, with about 240 current employees staying with the unit.

Apple granted patent for camera lens mount

A new Apple patent for bayonet attachment mechanisms may signal the company’s interest in using an attachable camera lens system in its iOS devices. The patent describes a system that would use a bayonet mount integrated into the camera of an electronic device — lenses could be swapped in and out of the mount.

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Patently Apple notes how quickly the patent was approved — the patent application was only published weeks ago — speculating that Apple may be looking to use the feature in the near future. An alleged leaked picture of the iPhone 6 shows the device with a protruding camera lens, but it’s unclear if any sort of mount system is included. Images in the patent document depict the fifth-generation iPod touch. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Q2 earnings call set for April 23

Apple has announced on its investor webpage that it will release its Q2 fiscal year earnings on Wednesday, April 23. As usual, the earnings will be released in a conference call starting at 5 p.m. ET. The company provided guidance of Q2 revenue between $42 billion and $44 billion in its Q1 revenue report.

iPhone 6 with 4.7” screen in fall, 5.5” model delayed?

Apple suppliers will start mass producing displays for the next iPhone “as early as May” for the next iPhone’s release this fall, Reuters reports. It’s reported that a 4.7” screen is “likely” to be produced first, but the rumored 5.5” version of the new iPhone could be delayed. According to a source, difficulties with in-cell production technology in the larger version of the phone prompted Apple to start mass production of the 4.7” version on its own. The 5.5” version of the new phone could enter production “several months later,” with a film sensor being used instead of in-cell technology.

TD-LTE iPad Air and iPad mini released in China

Apple announced TD-LTE models of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are available in China, starting today. Although there were already existing iPad Air and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models, these are the first new iPad models sold in China to support higher speeds. Prices for the TD-LTE iPad Air range from 4,488 RMB ($723) for 16GB, to 6,588 RMB ($1062) for 128 GB. TD-LTE iPad mini with Retina display prices range from 3,788 ($610) to 5,888 RMB ($949). It appears these new iPads represent the two new iPad models spotted in iOS 7.1, and will only be available on a regional basis.

Alleged iPhone 6 leaked pics show protruding camera

Alleged photos of the iPhone 6 have surfaced on Weibo. The pictures show a large phone that appears to have a metal frame in the middle, capped off on each end by D-shaped pieces with rounded edges. A protruding rear camera with a smaller, circular flash than the iPhone 5s can be spotted in the shots.

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Another photo reveals a computer rendering that appears to match recently seen drawings; the design is in some ways similar to the fifth-generation iPod touch, but with iPhone-like antenna compartments. The veracity of these photos — including any identification of which new alleged iPhone 6 model this may be — is unclear. [via G 4 Games]

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