In addition to the rumored iPad Pro expected later this year, Apple is said to be working on several additional hardware and software improvements to the iPad, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Rumours have been circulating for some time now regarding split-screen multitasking on the iPad — a feature that was expected in iOS 8 last year — however sources now suggest that the side-by-side app support feature will arrive with iOS 9, and in fact may be introduced as soon as this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June and be available in the first iOS 9 developer betas.
Sources indicated that Apple originally intended to debut the split-screen feature with the iPad Air 2 last fall, however it was considered “too unpolished” and removed it from iOS 8.0 with plans to reintroduce it in iOS 8.1. Soon after, however, Apple was forced to reprioritize its engineering resources on the iPhone and Apple Watch, effectively tabling the feature until iOS 9. Latest plans suggest the feature will provide 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views, subject to the parameters of specific apps, with the screen able to display either two different apps side-by-side or two different views of the same app. It is still unclear, however, whether Apple will have the feature ready to show by next month. Sources also suggest that Apple may hold back the feature to debut it with the release of the “iPad Pro” later this year.
Support for multiple users on a single iPad is also said to be in the works, however sources suggest that this feature will not make the cut for the initial release of iOS 9, and it’s not certain whether it will arrive this year. However, Apple is apparently actively working on it in parallel with iOS 9 as it is a feature the company believes is “critical to the enterprise and education sectors,” suggesting that it could debut with the “iPad Pro” or as part of an iOS 9 point update.
Apple may finally be adding transit directions to Apple Maps with the release of iOS 9, according to new information obtained by 9to5Mac. When Apple transitioned from Google Maps to its own mapping service, integrated transit directions were one of the casualties, and as a stop-gap measure, Apple provided plug-ins for third-party routing apps for getting directions, allowing users to start planning a trip in Apple Maps and then switch to another app, such as Google Maps or Transit app, to provide specific routing directions. While built-in transit routing was expected to arrive last year in iOS 8, Apple reportedly experienced difficulty getting the feature off the ground due to personnel problems and data, as well as coverage limitations, deciding to pull the feature just prior to WWDC 2014.
Sources are now indicating that Apple hopes to launch its Transit service with iOS 9, which would include bus, subway, and train route navigation as the major updates to the Maps app. The new functionality would not only include routing and trip planning for public transit, but also larger icons for airports, subway stations, and train stations, and a new Transit view to complement the existing standard, hybrid, and satellite views. In addition, Apple has also apparently been making headway on an indoor mapping project that would allow users to navigate major buildings, offices, and landmarks. Autonomous robots with iBeacon sensors are reportedly being deployed in buildings to collect data for the indoor mapping project, however it’s uncertain whether this feature will go live with iOS 9 or is simply being prepared for some future release.
Apple and IBM have begun expanding MobileFirst enterprise apps onto the Apple Watch, as evidenced by updates to Apple’s Mobile Enterprise Apps webpage. The updated page shows three apps that now provide Apple Watch support.
Hospital RN allows notifications to be sent to the Apple Watch to alert “nurses to review new patient requests, changes in lab status, safety alerts, and prioritized task lists for immediate action. And Apple Watch lets nurses quickly view notifications so they can stay more focused on patient care.” Field Connect (pictured above) sends notifications to field technicians of “late-breaking news on severe weather, outages, hazards and crew member information” to the Apple Watch, so “field technicians can view important alerts, without stopping what they’re doing.” Incident Aware allows police and other public safety workers to receive urgent alerts of emergency calls and related information right on their Apple Watch. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is currently working on a new embedded iOS app for unifying and controlling HomeKit devices, 9to5Mac reports. Dubbed simply “Home”, the app would provide a central user interface to managing HomeKit accessories from any developer using the standard HomeKit specification. Sources familiar with the app have revealed that the app is currently “fairly basic” in its capabilities, with the present development version only providing the ability to wirelessly discover and setup HomeKit devices, organize devices into virtual “rooms”, utilize an Apple TV as a hub to connect HomeKit devices, and help users discover new HomeKit devices and apps. The development app is apparently embedded in iOS 9 builds being used by Apple employees already, however sources have indicated that the app may not yet be ready to show to the public, making it unclear whether it will make an appearance at WWDC in June.
Apple plans on bringing its own San Francisco font seen on Apple Watch to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, 9to5Mac reports. The font will replace Helvetica Neue, which debuted in iOS 7 in 2013. Though the San Francisco font was developed “specifically for legibility,” the idea to bring the font to iOS appears to have a mixed reaction within Apple — the report claims that higher-ups believe the font will help “iOS and OS X to avoid becoming stale,” but also notes that some Apple engineers don’t like the font, “which may look particularly rough on non-Retina screens.”
Apple has added refurbished iPad Air 2 models to its online store for the first time. The online store has several models and colors available, starting at $419 for Wi-Fi models and $519 for cellular-enabled versions. All the refurbished devices are discounted between 15 and 17 percent off the price of a new iPad Air 2 and include a one-year warranty. [via MacRumors]
In a simple two-sentence statement, TomTom confirmed that its partnership to provide Apple with maps and related information has been extended, but provided no further details. TomTom has been partnered with Apple since 2012, the same year Apple fired its own internal manager in charge of Maps for iOS 6. Apple recently announced the acquisition of GPS firm Coherent Navigation, which could be another move to bolster the features of Maps. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has released a new iPhone Lightning Dock compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.The product description says Apple-designed cases won’t interfere with docking, but makes no promises about third-party cases. The dock can be plugged into a wall outlet to charge the iPhone using the Apple USB power adapter or connected to a computer with the USB cable to both sync and charge. An audio line-out port provides a connection for powered speakers and the dock supports headphones that include a remote control. Apple last released Lightning docks in 2013 for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Apple has joined a large group of privacy advocates in an appeal urging President Obama to reject efforts to weaken the security of smartphones and other communications devices — the letter was obtained by The Washington Post. Facing increasing pressure from the FBI, CIA and other government agencies to make encrypted information available in the name of safety, the group of tech firms, security experts and other organizations argues that keeping user data private guards against worse threats. “Encryption protects billions of people every day against countless threats — be they street criminals trying to steal our phones and laptops, computer criminals trying to defraud us, corporate spies trying to obtain our companies’ most valuable trade secrets, repressive governments trying to stifle dissent, or foreign intelligence agencies trying to compromise our and our allies’ most sensitive national security secrets,” the letter reads.
The group claims introducing intentional vulnerabilities into secure products increases the likelihood of those same weak points being exploited by malicious attackers, undermining the security of both private citizens and entire governments. Citing an international chilling effect that the U.S. could create by forcing weaken encryption domestically, the group closed its appeal by pointing out the dire human rights risks if far less tolerant countries are emboldened to make similar demands. “The result will be an information environment riddled with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by even the most repressive or dangerous regimes. That’s not a future that the American people or the people of the world deserve.”
Apple shelved its plans to produce a television set “more than a year ago,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The idea was abandoned “after nearly a decade of research.” Investor Carl Icahn said he expects to see an ultra-high-definition TV coming from Apple in 2016, but people familiar with the matter said Apple executives pulled the plug on a TV project after finding little in the way of breakthrough features to add to a product that would be entering an already crowded and competitive market. An ultra-high-definition screen and video calling features didn’t meet Apple’s standards for entering a new product area, where Apple typically likes to be able to provide innovative technology and easier-to-use software. While both Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook have expressed an interest in TV, Apple’s focus has turned to redesigning the Apple TV and creating its own cable TV streaming service.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated a portion of the damages initially awarded to Apple in a 2012 jury verdict against Samsung. While the appeals court affirmed the prior verdicts on design and utility patent infringements, it reversed the findings “that the asserted trade dresses are protectable.” In 2012, the jury originally found that certain elements of the iPhone’s design were famous, and found to be diluted by Samsung’s products, but the appeals judges disagreed. It’s estimated that Apple will lose $382 million based on the trade dress claims, leaving about $548 million remaining in damages owed by Samsung to Apple. [via Ars Technica]
Apple has acquired GPS company Coherent Navigation, the Cupertino company has confirmed to The New York Times. Though the article notes that it’s “unclear exactly how Apple will use the company’s services or technology,” it seems all but certain that Coherent Navigation’s accurate, “high-precision” navigation technology will be used to boost Apple’s Maps. Coherent Navigation “has also worked on autonomous navigation and robotics projects,” so the company’s technology may also play a role in Apple’s secret car project. Apple released its typical statement in an email: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Apple will be discontinuing support for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS effective June 9, 9to5Mac reports. Citing Apple internal documents, the report notes that the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3G (China), iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3GS (China) will be designated as “Obsolete” in Asia-Pacific/Canada/EU/Japan/Latin America and all Apple Retail Stores, while these models will be designated as “Vintage” in the U.S., where Apple is still required to provide hardware service for a longer period of time as required by California law. The original iPhone, which was declared obsolete outside of the U.S. in 2013, will also lose its U.S. “Vintage” status and be added to the U.S. “Obsolete” list as well. Apple typically declares products “Vintage” when they have not been manufactured for more than five years, but less than seven. “Obsolete” products are those that have not been manufactured for more than seven years.
Apple has delayed the launch of its HomeKit home automation platform until the fall, Fortune reports. Originally expected to arrive in May or June, sources participating in the program have revealed that the launch date has been moved back to “something closer to late August or September.” While Apple has not formally announced a launch date, several HomeKit partners had suggested at CES that products could be expected this spring, with one even suggesting that they could arrive “in time for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.”
While Apple is now said to be planning a smaller HomeKit announcement in the near term, the official launch has been pushed out to later this year, with sources indicating the delays were a result of the code base for managing online devices having grown too large for the smaller, battery-powered iOS devices, and Apple now requiring more time to shrink the code back down to something manageable.
Update: Apple told The Wall Street Journal the first HomeKit accessories will be arriving in June.
Apple has filed a formal objection with a U.S. bankruptcy court to prevent the transfer of customer information as part of RadioShack’s auctioned-off assets, according to a new report from the Dallas Business Journal. In its filing, Apple claims that a reseller agreement it had in place with RadioShack prohibits the company from selling information specific to Apple’s customers, and further claims that such information does not “fall within RadioShack’s estate,” giving it no right to sell the information at all. AT&T has also filed similar claims, along with the State of Texas; the latter claiming that the sale of customer data would violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and other consumer protection laws. The state filing also points out RadioShack’s online and in-store privacy policies that promised customers that their information would never be sold. The customer information in question allegedly includes up to 117 million customer files, according to the court documents.
Investment firm Standard General won the auction for RadioShack’s assets earlier this week, however while the bankruptcy court has accepted the winning bid, it has not yet granted formal approval for the sale. At this point, the court could conceivably halt the sale entirely, however legal experts believe that it’s more likely that the court would simply exclude the customer info from the assets being transferred to the buyer. The hearing for these claims is expected to occur next week. [via MacRumors]
Apple and Tesla are continuing to lure away each other’s senior employees, 9to5Mac reports, with Apple’s Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting, Cindy Nicola, joining Tesla as that company’s new Vice President of Global Recruiting. Apple previously hired away Tesla’s Lead Recruiter last year to join its own electric car project, amidst other automotive experts. Tesla has reportedly been hiring top talent from Apple in recent months as well, although this latest hiring appears to be taking the poaching of employees up a notch.
Apple is close to settling a lawsuit brought by battery maker A123 Systems earlier this year, The Boston Globe reports. A123, which makes large lithium-ion batteries for vehicles, accused Apple of poaching five of the company’s key engineers last June - fueling speculation that the engineers were working on Apple’s rumored electric car project. Apple asked a judge to dismiss the case in March to no avail. The two sides reported Tuesday that they “have reached an agreement, signed a term sheet, and are in the process of drafting a final settlement agreement.” The terms of the agreement haven’t been made public.
Apple is leading the way on clean energy among companies delivering Internet services, according to a new Greenpeace report. The report praises the company’s efforts to use only renewable energy to power its facilities, noting all three of Apple’s data center expansions announced in the past year will be powered by renewable energy sources. Apple was the only one of the 13 tech firms listed to score 100 percent on Greenpeace’s Clean Energy Index and earn “A” rankings across the board for energy transparency, efficiency, policy and advocacy, placing the company head and shoulders above others in the industry. Apple was also praised for pushing affiliated companies to adopt cleaner energy standards, since much of Apple’s environmental impact comes from third-party suppliers. “Apple’s commitment to a 100 percent renewable cloud appears to be driving change not only among Apple’s utility sector partners, but also among other major data center operators that play a supporting role in the delivery of Apple’s online products,” the report notes. Other innovative ideas, like using a Denmark data center’s excess heat to warm other buildings, are taken as proof of Apple going above and beyond what others in the industry are doing to creatively limit waste.
Visiting Beijing to tout Apple’s environmental strides in China, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Xinhua he is “very bullish on Apple Pay” for the country, despite a series of snags that has kept the payment system from going live there. Once Apple Pay is available, Cook said he believes China will adopt it even faster than the U.S. has. China has already become a more lucrative market than the U.S. for iPhone sales, with Apple overtaking local phone maker Xiaomi to become the top smartphone vendor in China. “I think China is a market where everyone will own a smart phone,” Cook said, adding he hopes to convince “a reasonable percentage” of that market to carry the iPhone. Apple is rapidly expanding its retail presence in China to meet growing demand, opening seven more Apple stores since the start of 2015 and planning to nearly double the current total of 22 stores by the middle of 2016. “Forty is a good objective for us for mid next year,” said Cook, “That is not where we want to end. We’ll keep adding from there.”
Apple has released its third beta of iOS 8.4 to developers, continuing to focus on the new iOS Music app. Featuring a build number of 12H4098c, the release is also accompanied by a new Xcode 6.4 beta to support the new APIs and development environment. The release notes for this latest beta indicate both improvements and limitations in App Extensions, the iTunes Store, Siri, Videos, and WatchKit, as well as with the new Music app. The new Music app appears to continue having a long list of issues that remain to be addressed, with limited progress since the first beta, although the language of several has been softened from phrases such as “does not work” to “may not work” suggesting that Apple is perhaps slowly working on improvements in these areas.