- May 23, 2014
Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel are paying $324.5 million for their settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed for anti-poaching agreements, the Los Angeles Times reports. The four companies agreed to settle last month. Former employees, who alleged the companies agreed not to hire each other’s employees, were seeking $3 billion in lost wages — that number could have jumped to $9 billion due to the suit’s antitrust status. Each member of the suit is now estimated to get “a few thousand dollars.” The settlement still requires approval by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh before being finalized.
- May 23, 2014
Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics “is happening” but almost fell apart “multiple times,” TechCrunch reports. A source is 70 percent certain the deal will go through, which still casts doubt on an acquisition that many thought was all but done. The source also noted that Apple is buying Beats for its talent, not its technology — namely its founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. “They want Jimmy and they want Dre,” the source said. “He’s got fashion and culture completely locked up.” Apple has become interested in hiring “culturally aware and highly skilled managers” — Angela Ahrendts, Paul Deneve, Ari Partinen, and Ben Shaffer are all given as examples.
The report theorizes Iovine will negotiate record deals for Apple, as many have expected. Another source notes — unsurprisingly — that Apple will use the Beats streaming music service to its advantage in conjunction with iTunes.
- May 22, 2014
Apple has extended its exclusive license with Liquidmetal to use the company’s metal alloys until Feb. 5, 2015, according to an SEC filing. The agreement was originally made in 2010, and last extended in 2012. As noted then, Apple was working with the material in its SIM card ejector tool, but the company has still yet to use Liquidmetal’s alloys in any prominent way; perhaps the material will be used to a greater extent in an upcoming product.
Apple has officially acknowledged its iMessage issue that causes users who switch from an iPhone to stop receiving texts. “We recently fixed a server-side iMessage bug which was causing an issue for some users, and we have an additional bug fix in a future software update,” Apple told Re/code in a statement. The report notes that a recent server glitch has only exacerbated the issue, making it harder for Apple support staff to fix iMessage using standard protocol.
To avoid the problem, Apple says users switching from an iPhone to a non-Apple phone can switch off iMessage on their iPhone, and uncheck the phone number from all other Apple devices using iMessage before making the switch — though this doesn’t do much good to those who have already made the transition. A recent report noted Apple is being sued over the issue.
Two hackers are claiming to have found a way to compromise iCloud by bypassing Activation Lock on stolen iPhones, De Telegraaf reports. The hackers — based in the Netherlands and Morocco, respectively — reportedly worked on the hack for five months. A vulnerability in Apple’s software apparently allows another computer to fool an iPhone into thinking it’s a genuine Apple server, allowing third-parties to gain Apple ID credentials and reverse Apple’s Activation Lock. The two hackers also claim they contacted Apple about the issue back in March, but the company never responded. They have allegedly unlocked 30,000 iPhones by exploiting the vulnerability. [via MacRumors]
Apple has released version 2.0 of its free WWDC app ahead of its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. The app reveals a good portion of the conference’s schedule, including the keynote, which is set for 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST, Monday June 2. A number of the events on the conference schedule have still yet to be announced. Maps of the Moscone West venue in San Francisco and videos from past WWDCs are also included within the app. [via 9to5Mac]
Henry “Hap” Plain, a collector of rare Mac prototypes, revealed an unreleased prototype Apple Mac mini with a built-in iPod dock in an interview with Cult of Mac. According to Plain, a friend suggested that Apple originally planned on releasing the Mac mini at the same time as the new iPod that would dock on its top, but the iPod project was running behind schedule, so Apple left the feature out. While Plain says that the iPod in question was the iPod mini, both the Mac mini’s January 2005 release date and an accompanying photo suggest that the delayed iPod was actually the first-generation iPod nano, as Apple had released the iPod mini in 2004. The prototype Mac’s dock doesn’t appear to have enough space for larger iPods.
It’s unclear what exact plans Apple had for that Mac mini model, but reports in 2005 and 2006 noted that Apple was considering an integrated dock for the computer. A user who opened the original PowerPC G4-based Mac mini discovered an unused set of pins on the logic board that would have supported a Dock Connector interface, and rumors suggested that Apple might include the feature in an Intel processor-based followup the next year. Apple ultimately did not integrate an iPod dock into any of its computers.
Apple has expanded its in-store iPad trade-in program to a number of European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Both the UK and Spanish Apple sites are referencing the program, with iPhoneAddict.fr and Macerkopf.de verifying the program’s launch in France and Germany, respectively. Apple only started accepting the iPad in its Reuse and Recycling program last month. Both eligible iPads and iPhones can now be traded in toward the purchase of new iOS devices; current-generation devices are generally not eligible for trade-in. [via 9to5Mac]
- May 19, 2014
New Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts “has outlined a three-part vision” for the future of Apple retail, 9to5Mac reports. The three parts include a greater emphasis on Apple’s presence in China, improving mobile payments in retail stores, and redesigning the Apple Store visitor experience from end to end. Ahrendts reportedly believes “the tastes of Chinese consumers are critical” around the world, and the company must be receptive to the Chinese people. The report notes that Apple currently has ten stores in China, and hopes to have 30 stores in the country by 2016.
Ahrendts wants to improve mobile payments in Apple’s retail stores and within its mobile apps, and hopes to “blur the lines” between Apple’s physical and online stores. It’s previously been reported that the company is pursuing its own mobile payments service, likely centered around the Touch ID sensors in iPhones. As for Apple’s retail locations, Ahrendts has apparently visited a number of stores already, leaving sources impressed with her interactions. It’s been said that she would like to change the experience a customer has in the store from start to finish — from finding a product to making the purchase, everything could be revamped.
- May 19, 2014
Apple and Samsung have resumed talks aimed at settling the company’s ongoing patent disputes out of court, The Korea Times reports. “Samsung has recently resumed working-level discussions with Apple and the key issue is how to dismiss all lawsuits,” a source said.
One reason to believe Apple is willing to settle comes from the company’s recent settlement with Google’s Motorola Mobility unit on their respective patent issues, notes Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents. Apple and Google released a statement late on Friday stating that they’ve settled current patent litigation, but the settlement does not include cross-licensing of each other’s patents, Reuters reports. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform,” the statement said.
Apple is being sued over an issue that causes iPhone text messages to get lost when sent to Android devices, Bloomberg reports. The lawsuit was filed by a former iPhone user who claims she switched to a different device and stopped receiving texts. A few days ago, a widely distributed blog post was written about the very same issue; that post claimed Apple was aware of the problem, but has no standard solution. Texts sent from an iMessage system to a user who used to have an iPhone but switched to an Android phone are — often, apparently — getting delayed in delivery or are completely failing to reach the intended recipient. The suit is seeking class-action status. [via Business Insider]
- May 16, 2014
A report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation titled “Who Has Your Back?” has awarded Apple a full six-star rating when it comes to standing with users when the government seeks access to data. Apple earned a star in all six criteria: require a warrant for content of communications, tell users about government data requests, publish transparency reports, publish law enforcement guidelines, fight for users’ privacy rights in courts, and publicly oppose mass surveillance.
In the last three years, Apple only earned one star in the report, which notes this year that “Apple shows remarkable improvement in its commitments to transparency and privacy.” The report features summaries for 26 tech companies. Eight other companies joined Apple in earning a six-star rating, and the lowest grade went to popular appmaker Snapchat, with one star.
Today’s OS X update, 10.9.3, has re-added the ability to sync contacts and calendars with iOS devices via iTunes over a USB or Wi-Fi connection. Apple had quietly removed this feature in Mavericks, presumably as part of the deprecation of OS X SyncServices, directing users to iCloud instead for syncing. It has returned in this latest OS X update, possibly due to pressure from users concerned about the use of cloud-based services, although it is unclear if Apple has returned to the prior SyncServices model or simply developed a new synchronization architecture for this purpose.
Alongside updates to its iTunes software, Apple today released new versions of two of its iOS apps: Podcasts and iTunes Connect. Podcasts 2.1 sees a number of improvements to episode browsing, Siri integration, and more. A new Unplayed tab lists podcasts that haven’t yet been listened to, while the Feed tab shows episodes available to download or stream. Podcast episodes can now be set to be automatically deleted after being played.
Among other new features, Siri can now play specific podcasts and stations, CarPlay support has been added, and links can be shared using AirDrop.
iTunes Connect, a developer tool, has been completely redesigned for iOS. Additionally, it can now be used to access music, movies, and TV shows developers have made available in the iTunes Store, in addition to apps.
- May 15, 2014
Re/code is reporting Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics may not be finalized until next week. Original rumors pegged the deal to close this week at the earliest, although there’s been no word from either company on the issue. “Apple’s planned deal to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion may not be finalized until next week, according to people familiar with the transaction. That’s a longer timetable than some people expected as recently as a few days ago,” reports Peter Kafka.
An Apple tech support representative has reportedly verified that iMessages are still being sent to previously used Apple IDs in some cases, resulting in text messages never making it to their intended recipient. Former Lifehacker editor Adam Pash wrote a blog post about how he’s not receiving text messages from anyone with an iPhone, because he recently switched from iPhone to Android. The iPhone users sending the messages get a “delivered” receipt, but even after getting his phone number removed from his Apple ID, Pash hasn’t received any text messages from iPhone users. According to Pash, an Apple tech support employee explained that lots of people are having similar problems, but there’s no standard fix at this point. “No one can fix this but Apple because it’s a problem at the device level, which means people in my position have no recourse but to wait for Apple to figure out with the problem is,” Pash wrote. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple is reportedly restricting its German retail employees from taking time off in September, hinting at the launch of a new product that month, iFun reports. It’s expected the 4.7” iPhone 6 will launch in September. Other stores across the world will likely follow suit with similar vacation time restrictions. Another recent rumor expected the new iPhone to launch in August, but that appears unlikely at this point.
- May 13, 2014
A report from Japanese Apple blog Macotakara suggests that Apple is planning to offer “high-resolution audio” hardware and iOS software options, though the specifics of the functionality remain somewhat unclear. According to the report, iOS 7 and the current Lightning connector limit audio playback of high-definition audio files, so Apple will update the Lightning connector’s unseen chipset and iOS to support the higher-bitrate audio, as well as offering high-definition audio tracks such as upcoming remastered “Super Deluxe Editions” of three early Led Zeppelin albums. The report also claims that Apple plans to launch a new and improved version of its In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic, though there are no details on what the update will include.
Although rumors of high-resolution audio support for iOS devices have appeared before, there has been a continued lack of mainstream consumer interest in previously-announced formats, despite numerous attempts to market virtually unhearable sonic distinctions as worthy of higher album and song prices. It’s possible that Apple’s reportedly pending acquisition of Beats Electronics will be used to push the high-definition format, despite the well-established lack of sonic accuracy in prior Beats products.
Comparing $19 Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapters and clones sold on eBay and elsewhere for $3, Ken Shirriff elucidates the risks unknowingly assumed by buyers of knockoff accessories. Cosmetically all but identical from the outside, the iPad chargers actually differ dramatically inside, with the Apple version providing a more stable flow of 2-Amp power with overheating and electrocution protection. By contrast, the clone produces only around 1-Amp power despite branding to the contrary, and cuts corners on everything from stability of the current to protection against temperature, moisture, and other electrical failures. Beyond supplying an inadequate flow of power to quickly recharge an iPad, Shirriff notes that the counterfeit charger’s board “is unsafe. If you use the charger in a humid bathroom and a drop of water condenses across the 0.6 mm gap, then zap!”
Counterfeit and other low-quality power adapters have been blamed for a number of iPhone-related electrocutions and deaths, most notably but not exclusively in China. In response to concerns, Apple offered to replace knockoff chargers last year for the equivalent of $10 U.S. in local currency. Similar concerns over sparking and exploding iPad chargers have been raised, as well.
Apple will launch the 8GB iPhone 5c in India following a brief early-2014 campaign to resuscitate the iPhone 4 there, reports The Times of India, using an old phone trade-in program to make the iPhone 5c more affordable for Indian consumers. According to the report, Apple will price the 8GB model at 35,000-37,000 rupees (approx. $588-$621), with the trade-in program reducing the price to 30,000 rupees (approx. $504)—a discount of only 2,000 rupees (approx. $34) below the 16GB version. The company has struggled to gain market share in India, selling far fewer units than rival Samsung and even regionally-known brands, but is apparently working to increase the average selling price of its devices in the value-conscious country.