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Apple releases iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers

Apple has released iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers. The new beta includes bug fixes and improvements, less than two weeks after the third beta was released. We’ll update this article with any notable changes as they’re discovered.

Apple hiring more medical sensor experts

Apple recently hired two medical sensor experts as the company continues to expand its research into wearable devices. A recent report notes Apple has hired Nancy Dougherty from Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narasimhan from Vital Connect. At Sano, Dougherty specialized in unobtrusive blood reading, working as the lead hardware engineer for a patch worn on the skin to measure blood levels. Narasimhan was vice president of research and development at Vital Connect, possessing experience in biosensors, including patents for measuring a user’s respiratory rate and a detection system that can tell if a person has fallen. It’s believed that Apple may institute biometric technologies in its rumored iWatch or other future devices. A previous report noted Apple’s smart watch would focus on fitness. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple to fix 5c displays in-store next week

Apple is reportedly planning to repair or replace broken iPhone 5c displays in its stores next week, likely starting Monday. Broken displays not covered under warranty are expected to cost $149 to repair. Apple’s in-store repair initiative was first reported last November. At this point, the planned iPhone 5s display repairs are not ready for a full rollout in all stores. [via 9to5Mac]

Cook promises ‘great things’ at China Mobile launch

Apple CEO Tim Cook told customers the company is working on “great things” during China Mobile’s launch of the iPhone today. Cook, who autographed iPhones at China Mobile’s headquarters store in Beijing, was asked about bigger screens and flexible displays, according to Bloomberg. “We never talk about future things,” he said. “We have great things we are working on but we want to keep them secret. That way you will be so much happier when you see it.” A previous report noted Foxconn has already shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile. The carrier also started selling the iPhone 5c today.

Apple patent reveals secure air payment system

A recently discovered Apple patent application describes a method that uses two “air interfaces” to make a secure wireless payment. A link would be established between the purchasing device and point of sale device through one air interface, such as NFC, while a separate, second air interface “is used to conduct a secure commercial transaction.” The point of sale device would not receive a customer’s actual card data — it would only receive an alias and an encrypted key for verification.

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While NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all mentioned in the patent application, it’s possible another interface — perhaps Apple’s iBeacon — could be used. The application notes “protocols other than NFC” could establish the secure link, and mentions the possibility of “another wireless protocol that has more desirable characteristics for maintaining the link over time than NFC.” [via Patently Apple]

Jobs’ biographer: Google more innovative than Apple

Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson said in a CNBC interview that “the greatest innovation in the world today right now is coming from Google.” While Isaacson called Apple’s China Mobile agreement “a big deal,” he said Google’s acquisition of Nest was more important, saying, “I think this shows an amazingly strong, integrated strategy that Google has to connect all of our devices, all of our lives….”

As for what might be coming next from Apple, Isaacson said, “I think Steve Jobs would have wanted as the next disruptive thing, to either have wearable-like watches or TV ... or disrupt the digital camera industry or disrupt textbooks or something. Steve Jobs was a disruptor.” Cook will need to disrupt as well, Isaacson said. “We ought to see, in 2014, Apple do something huge.”

Apple settles with FTC over in-app purchases

Apple has settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchase disclosures, a new email from Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals. The email, posted by 9to5Mac, finds Cook explaining at length steps Apple has taken to make in-app purchases safer for customers with younger children. Cook also took issue with the FTC’s involvement. He wrote, “It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.” The report notes the U.S. government will announce the settlement later today.

Update: The FTC announced Apple will refund at least $32.5 million in full consumer refunds to settle the FTC’s complaint “that the company billed consumers for millions of dollars of charges incurred by children in kids’ mobile apps without their parents’ consent.” According to the FTC, “The settlement requires Apple to modify its billing practices to ensure that Apple obtains consumers’ express, informed consent prior to billing them for in-app charges, and that if the company gets consumers’ consent for future charges, consumers must have the option to withdraw their consent at any time. Apple must make these changes no later than March 31, 2014.”

Cook: China Mobile deal is ‘watershed moment’

Apple CEO Tim Cook played up the importance of the company’s recent China Mobile deal in a recent press briefing in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports. China Mobile will start selling the iPhone 5s and 5c on Friday. “As of this weekend we will be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations,” Cook said. ” It’s a monumental day and a watershed moment.” China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said the carrier has received several million preorders for the iPhone — a recent WSJ report noted Foxconn has shipped more than 1 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile already. Cook said, “...Today is a beginning and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future.”

In a separate report from the same briefing, the WSJ revealed Cook’s comments at greater length. Cook said using the iPhone with China Mobile’s TD-LTE network makes it “a new product, this is a world phone. Now you can take your iPhone in China use it on TD-LTE and if you travel to the United States you can now use it on FDD-LTE. This is a big deal, it’s huge, and so I couldn’t be happier with how we’re doing.” Cook also said the key meetings for closing the deal took place in fall 2012 and Jan. 2013, “and then it was a matter of preparing the organizations and executing and working the details.”

VirnetX adds products to FaceTime infringement suit

VirnetX, the patent holding company which successfully sued Apple for infringing its VPN patents in FaceTime in 2012, has added more Apple devices to its pending patent infringement lawsuit. As announced by VirnetX, the holding company is now adding the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and “latest Mac computers” to the litigation against Apple. The company is also including the “iPod Touch with Retina Display,” which could refer to the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch; however, the current lawsuit has already included the fifth-generation iPod touch. VirnetX maintains that Apple infringes upon its VPN patents, including workarounds Apple redesigned for iOS 7.

Apple initially changed the way its VPN On Demand connected in iOS after the loss of the first lawsuit. However, the company decided to reverse course weeks later, and change its VPN On Demand connection back to how it always worked. The reversal caused speculation that Apple and VirnetX appeared to reach an agreement of some kind — that obviously now appears to be false. Apple was ordered to pay $368.2 million for the loss of the first lawsuit, and lost an appeal.

Apple patents automatic motion-adjusting UI

A patent granted to Apple today describes a user interface in which onscreen graphics are automatically adjusted when the device is in motion. The patent background suggests that it’s harder to interact with a graphical user interface while the user is in motion; the patent would enable the device to adjust the GUI based on measurements of that motion. For instance, touchscreen buttons in the UI could be made larger while the device is moving, making the buttons easier to use.

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As another example, graphic features could be moved around for ease of use. The patent also describes implementations in which the device “learns” how a user’s device moves and can make adjustments accordingly. Apple originally filed for the patent in Nov. 2007. [via Apple Insider]

Apple hiring iPod/iPhone engineers for Arizona plant

Apple has started hiring for its new Mesa, Arizona manufacturing facility and one of the job listings is for an iPod/iPhone Manufacturing Design Engineer. Under key qualifications, Apple notes that it is seeking “world class engineers that will provide end to end manufacturing and process solutions for key design features.” A previous report noted Apple would be producing sapphire glass in the new plant, though other details were limited; it now appears the facility could involve more than just sapphire manufacturing. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple to relaunch 8GB iPhone 4 in India

Apple will relaunch the 8GB version of its iPhone 4 in India, The Economic Times reports. The iPhone 4 will be priced at 15,000 rupees (about $244). According to the report, Apple is relaunching the phone after losing sales and market share to Samsung. No release date has been announced, though one source said the iPhone 4 could be relaunched as early as next week; production on the older model reportedly stopped some time ago, leading to questions as to where the inventory of new units will come from. Apple has not commented on the report.

Google announces $3.2B Nest acquisition

Google has announced it has agreed to acquire Nest for $3.2 Billion. Nest Founder and CEO Tony Fadell was formerly senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, and has been referred to as the “father of the iPod.” The company is best known for its Nest Learning Thermostat, and recently released its Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector.  Apple currently sells both products online and in its retail stores. Nest will continue to operate under Fadell with its own brand identity. The deal is expected to close “in the next few months.”

Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement, “Nest’s founders, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, have built a tremendous team that we are excited to welcome into the Google family. They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now — thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe. We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!”

Fadell said in the same statement, “We’re thrilled to join Google. With their support, Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.” Reports suggested that Fadell left Apple on less than fond terms, and Nest has continued to hire former Apple engineers to work on its products.

Apple device theft driving NYC larcenies

New York City has seen decreases in many major crimes during the last 12 years, with the exception of grand larcenies — a category which is increasingly being driven by the theft of Apple products, the Wall Street Journal reports. The New York Police Department attributes a rise in grand larcenies from last year to the trend of stealing electronic devices, and Apple products made up more than 18 percent of all grand larcenies last year. The NYPD tracks Apple device thefts specifically due to their frequency. An Apple spokeswoman said that Apple has “led the industry in helping customers protect their lost or stolen devices” with the 2009 release of the Find My iPhone app, which the NYPD recommends Apple users activate. The police department also has its own program that allows people to register their e-devices.

iOS 7.1 beta 3 released

Apple has released its third beta for iOS 7.1, including bug fixes and improvements. The beta also notably features redesigned swipe to power off graphics, tweaks to the look of the Phone application for iPhones, and a variety of other cosmetic changes. iOS 7.1 beta 2 was released in mid-December.

iLounge is live at the 2014 CES: follow us at CES.iLounge.com!

iLounge’s editors have arrived in Las Vegas for the 2014 CES, and we’re already scoping out the latest Apple accessories under wraps at the gigantic Las Vegas Convention Center. On our new CES mini-site, you’ll find behind-the-scenes photos and early details from the show. Keep checking out the site over the next week, as we’ll be updating it frequently with new info and imagery.

iBeacon ‘scavenger hunt’ game planned for 2014 CES

Announced by Apple in mid-2013 as an application of new Bluetooth low-energy (LE) technology, iBeacon will be used to power what the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) describes as “the first promotional iBeacon-based scavenger hunt,” rewarding a “limited number” of attendees with special prizes for collecting virtual badges scattered throughout the show. Attendees will find instructions on gathering badges within CEA’s official 2014 CES app, which will wirelessly look for iBeacons within 100 feet of an iOS or Bluetooth 4-equipped Android device, tallying each badge discovered during the hunt. The first three people to gather all of the badges will receive a “special prize,” with other prizes for people who complete the hunt during the rest of the show.

According to CEA, the hunt was developed in partnership with iBeacon vendor Radius Networks and Bluetooth SensorTag chip provider Texas Instruments. Having deployed iBeacon with mixed results in its retail stores last December, Apple does not appear to have anything to do with the promotion.

Apple denies working with NSA on iPhone spying

Reacting to a recent report from Der Spiegel, Apple said it has never worked with the NSA to create any sort of backdoor entry for iPhone monitoring. The report claimed the NSA has the ability to access Apple’s iPhones through a secret spyware program named DROPOUTJEEP. According to alleged NSA documents, data could be downloaded or uploaded from an iPhone, while messages, voicemails, the device’s address book, microphone, camera, and location can all be accessed without the user noticing.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.” The initial report notes the program was still being developed at the beginning of 2008. Though the software implant required physical contact with the device, the document notes remote installation would be “pursued for a future release.”

Apple hires NYT mag designer as creative director

  • December 30, 2013
  • Apple

New York Times Magazine design director Arem Duplessis has been hired by Apple as a creative director. Duplessis will apparently be involved in Apple’s internal marketing team, though it’s likely that he could contribute in other ways. In a 2011 interview with Mediabistro, Duplessis said his dream project would be to “design a revolutionary iPad app that would make the world wonderful and happy” before changing his answer. [via Mediabistro]

Report: Apple, Samsung resume patent talks

  • December 30, 2013
  • Apple

Apple and Samsung are negotiating to end their disputes over patent infringement, The Korea Times reports. An official at the Fair Trade Commission said, “As far as I know, the companies recently resumed working-level discussions toward the signing of a potential deal. They are in the process of narrowing differences over royalty payments.” Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung reportedly held talks last year, but couldn’t reach an agreement, as Samsung wouldn’t accept Apple’s royalty demands. Samsung seeks a cross-licensing deal, which would allow the company to access certain Apple patents. But Apple is asking Samsung to pay more than $30 per device, which is “too much,” according to a Samsung official. Last week, Apple renewed a motion seeking a U.S. sales ban on certain Samsung products.

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