The U.S. International Trade Commission has thrown out the last patent-in-suit remaining in the original complaint against Apple from Google’s Motorola Mobility in Oct. 2010. A Motorola patent for a “sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device” was found invalid. In December, Apple also won a ruling over Motorola, as Apple was found not to violate another patent. Google is currently appealing a decision to throw out three other patents; this new decision can also be appealed. [via FOSS Patents]
Apple has added a “download later” option for large media purchases in the iTunes store. Users who purchase a TV season, Season Pass, movie bundle, music box set, or an individual movie or TV episode now have the ability to download the media at a later time from iTunes in the Cloud. This new option could benefit users who want to buy such media, but don’t have the time or data connection to download a large file at the moment of purchase. The “later” option is available for users using iTunes 11, or iOS 6 or later, and in countries that support iTunes in the Cloud for the selected media.
Apple has returned at least 5 million iPhones to Foxconn due to substandard appearance or dysfunctional problems, according to a new report out of China. An anonymous source said the number of rejected iPhones could be as high as 8 million. It’s estimated the issues could cost Foxconn as much as $1.6 billion to cover the cost of replacement handsets. The report didn’t specify which iPhone model failed Apple’s quality tests. [via China Business (translated link), The Register]
Apple has revealed that Siri data is stored on the company’s servers for up to two years. Apple spokeswoman Tracy Muller noted the data is anonymized, and the voice clips are only collected to improve Siri. Siri users are assigned randomly generated numbers when using the software, and are represented by these numbers, rather than Apple IDs or email addresses. After six months, Apple “disassociates” user numbers from voice files. Those files are then kept for up to 18 more months. [via Wired]
Apple and book recommendation site Goodreads discussed integrating Goodreads’ service into the iBookstore, but a possible partnership was halted by Amazon’s recent purchase of Goodreads. A new report claims Apple and Goodreads were talking about integration “over the past year.” Goodreads proposed that its ratings appear within iTunes, in a manner similar to Rotten Tomatoes’ movie ratings. Apple reportedly entertained the idea, but talks stalled — Apple wanted to move forward “around March,” but by then, Goodreads had started discussions with Amazon. [via The Wall Street Journal]
Apple has agreed to pay $53 million to settle a class action lawsuit in San Francisco federal court involving iPhone and iPod touch warranties, according to a new report. The settlement, which has yet to be filed, will pay cash to iPhone and iPod touch customers denied repair or replacement of a faulty device, whether through Apple’s standard one-year or extended two-year warranty. A number of combined lawsuits noted that Apple refused to honor warranties if a white indicator tape within the phone turned pink or red. The changing tape color was believed to signal a device had made contact with water, but tape maker 3M said humidity could have turned the tape pink. Devices affected are from older generations: the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and the first, second, and third-generation iPod touch. [via Wired]
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said in an order that neither Apple nor Google’s Motorola Mobility unit have any interest in resolving their ongoing patent litigation, instead using the lawsuits as business strategy. “The parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end,” Scola said in an order. “That is not a proper use of this court.” Apple and Google are battling over “more than 180 claims related to 12 patents, and disputes over the meaning of more than 100 terms” in Florida court. Scola gave both companies four months to streamline the scope of the case; a failure to do so will put the case on hold until all of the term disputes are resolved. [via Bloomberg]
A job listing on Apple’s website specifically mentions flexible displays, indicating the company has at least some interest in the technology. The listing, for a Sr. Optical Engineer, notes in its summary that “Apple Inc. is looking for a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance.”
Various rumors about Apple’s iWatch have involved a possible flexible display or curved glass for the watch. Recently, Apple published a patent application for a wraparound display. But Corning, which supplies glass to Apple suggested a flexible display using its Willow material is at least three years away. [via 9to5Mac]
An alleged plan for Microsoft’s next wave of Office updates indicates we may not see an iOS version of Office until fall 2014. An apparent roadmap spotted for Microsoft’s “Gemini Wave” lists Office for iOS in October 2014. Though such roadmaps often change, a source indicated this plan was “likely current as of the start of 2013.” This drastically contradicts prior reports, which pegged an iOS Office release for early this year. The reported late February or early March release date has came and went, with no sign of iOS Office. [via ZDNet]
Apple has refused to carry a comic, Saga #12, on app-based platforms due to gay sex scenes, according to a report. The comic’s writer, Brian K. Vaughan, said in a press release, “Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps.” Vaughan notes that Saga has “featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past.”
Notably, the comic should still be available in Apple’s iBookstore, according to publisher Image Comics. Apple is known for curating its App Store, but Comixology’s Comics app is rated as 17+. “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity” is listed as one of the reasons for the rating. Other illustrations of sexual content and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The Verge]
Update: Comixology CEO David Steinberger has released a statement noting Apple did not ban the comic; rather, Comixology did not release Saga #12 based on the company’s understanding of Apple’s policies. Steinberger notes, “We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.” Saga #12 will be available on the Comixology app soon.
Apple has paid about $10 million to license patents from ACCESS, including patents related to Palm, Bell Communications Research and Geoworks. Japan’s ACCESS owns the company formerly known as PalmSource. The move was likely done to aid Apple in patent litigation moving forward. Interestingly, Steve Jobs once threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm to prevent poaching employees. [via Macotakara]
Apple has hired Foster + Partners to work on new designs for its retail stores, according to a new report. Foster + Partners is the London-based firm behind Apple’s “spaceship” corporate campus, Campus 2, which is reportedly $2 billion over budget. Apple has previously worked with rival firm 8 Inc for designing stores, including its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Both Apple and Foster + Partners declined comment. [via Marketing Magazine (UK)]
A new report claims the recent removal of AppGratis from the App Store was just the beginning, as the ouster of AppGratis was “a first step in a broader enforcement action,” mainly targeted at similar discovery apps found to violate clauses 2.25 and 5.6 of Apple’s App Store review guidelines. Apple feels such apps “threaten the legitimacy of the App Store charts” by letting developers spend money to increase their ranking. The company is also concerned the App Store could become overwhelmed with “alternative storefronts” through these apps.
Apple’s clause 2.25 was thought to be a way of restricting third-party App Store promotion when it first appeared — those initial examinations of the clause now appear to be true. The clause states, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.” Clause 5.6 states that “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A stronger enforcement of these clauses could lead to many discovery apps disappearing from the App Store in the near future. [via AllThingsD]
Apple and Yahoo have been discussing the possibility of Yahoo’s services playing a greater role on iPhone and iPad, according to a new report. The companies are discussing deals that could push more content from Yahoo News and more onto Apple devices — possibly through “an expanded Siri partnership.” Currently, apps which use Yahoo’s finance and weather sites come preloaded on iPhones, and Siri uses some Yahoo data, as well.
Though “no deal is imminent,” according to sources, the benefits can be seen for both sides. Apple could further distance itself from Google services with a Yahoo partnership. Yahoo could provide web results to Apple, though that’s noted as “a long shot” due to Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft — Microsoft’s Bing powers Yahoo search — and Apple’s deal with Google. Representatives for Apple and Yahoo declined comment. [via The Wall Street Journal]
As multiple outlets reported yesterday, former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson has been ousted as CEO of J.C. Penney. Johnson left Apple for J.C. Penney in 2011, and he has been replaced by his predecessor, Mike Ullman. Many are now speculating that Johnson could return to the job he left at Apple, as the position is still vacant after John Browett’s dismissal in October. Neither Apple nor Johnson has commented on such speculation at this time.
Apple has removed AppGratis, a popular deal and discovery app, from the App Store for violating two clauses in Apple’s App Store review guidelines. According to a new report, Apple has confirmed the app violated clause 2.25, “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected,” and clause 5.6, “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.” A source noted Apple was “more than a little troubled” by AppGratis’ business model, which appears to favor developers who pay for exposure. Apple declined further comment; AppGratis did not comment. [via AllThingsD]
The US Patent and Trademark Office has withdrawn its recent refusal to Apple’s trademark application for the term “iPad mini.” A suggested disclaimer within the USPTO’s new office action now notes “mini” cannot be claimed as an exclusive Apple term, and can only be used in conjunction with iPad. If, for some reason, Apple refuses to submit the disclaimer in its trademark application, the trademark could still be denied. [via MacRumors]
Apple’s loss to VirnetX for infringing VPN patents has caused the Cupertino company to change the way VPN On Demand connects in iOS. In a support article on Apple’s website, the VirnetX lawsuit is specifically mentioned as the reason VPN On Demand configured to “always” will now behave as if it was configured to “establish if needed.” This issue is unlikely to affect most iOS users directly; Apple notes it will “address this functionality with alternatives in a future software update.”
Apple is now close to signing deals that would pave the way for the company’s music streaming service, according to a new report. Sources claim Apple could reach agreements with Universal Music Group and Warner Music in the next week; a prior report indicated significant progress had been made in Apple’s dealings with the two record labels. While it’s believed the deals have Apple paying 6 cents per 100 songs streamed — half of what Pandora pays to record labels, and previously reported to be the main reason for delaying the service — the new report claims Apple’s service will offer additional revenue streams. Consumers will be able to buy a song they hear through iTunes, and a revenue share of new audio ads would also benefit labels. Sources say the streaming service will most closely resemble Pandora — it won’t offer on-demand listening, but “some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song” may be included. By all indications, Apple is still prepping the service for a summer launch. [via CNET]