A federal court has ruled that startup ReDigi can’t resell iTunes songs, as it has claimed it could. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records, as Universal sued ReDigi for copyright violation. Sullivan ruled that users can’t resell digital media files unless given explicit permission by the copyright owner. Notably, a recently published Apple patent filing offers a solution that would let digital rights be transferred during a resale or loan, contemplating both software technology and contract rights to allow it. [via All Things D]
According to a report in the San Francisco Examiner, an Apple official told San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón that the next two generations of iPhones have already been developed, and that “they preceded Tim Cook.” Gascón reportedly spoke with Apple government liaison Michael Foulkes in an effort to convince the company to embrace anti-theft technology. According to Gascón, who wants Apple to add a post-theft kill switch to iPhones, Foulkes spent an “underwhelming” hour “doing a lot of talking and saying nothing,” apart from an unusual apparent revelation: Foulkes supposedly said that the next two generations of iPhone had been developed before Tim Cook, suggesting that their designs were locked in under Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, prior to the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011. While this claim is facially difficult to believe, Apple did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment on the report.
Apple CEO Tim Cook published a new letter (translated link) on Apple’s Chinese website announcing changes to the company’s warranty policies, as well as apologies for misunderstandings or concerns. The letter follows high-profile criticisms of Apple by Chinese media and various Chinese citizens, which were suspected to have been coordinated by the Chinese government. Cook announced changes to the parts used in iPhone 4 and 4S repairs, clarifications of the company’s warranty policy, improved training of Apple service providers, and a convenient way to provide feedback to Apple. Under the policies, Chinese consumers will receive not only one-year warranty coverage for their Apple devices, but in many cases two-year coverage for major computer components such as motherboards and displays, without the need for AppleCare. [via 9to5Mac]
The US Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad mini,” according to a report. In a letter to Apple, the USPTO describes the term as “merely descriptive of a feature or characteristic of the goods,” therefore, the trademark registration was refused. The examiner’s description is a bit curious, as iPad is already an Apple trademark, but that term is also referred to as “descriptive” in the letter. There’s still a possibility Apple could be approved for the “iPad mini” trademark after further review, though the burden is now on Apple to counter the Office’s interpretations. Notably, Apple successfully trademarked many variations on the iPod name, including iPod shuffle, classic, and touch, but does not appear to have trademarked iPod mini. [via Forbes]
Apple is “pushing hard” for a summertime launch of its anticipated streaming music service, according to a new report. The company has allegedly made “significant progress” in talks with two of the top record labels: Universal and Warner. A source is claimed to have said, “iRadio is coming. There’s no doubt about it anymore.” Multiple reports have noted the service has been held up by Apple battling the labels over royalty rates; most recently, a report noted the company was offering labels a very low rate of 6 cents per 100 songs streamed. [via The Verge]
Apple is preparing to launch its own dedicated game controller, according to a new report. Apple allegedly discussed plans for the controller in private meetings at the Game Developers Conference this week, and the company is “ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.” Little else is known about the rumored controller — its physical appearance and release date are unknown. Game developers have been waiting for years for an Apple-developed solution to appear, and the only known authorized third-party solution (Duo Games’ Duo Gamer) was locked out of supporting most third-party titles. Notably, the report comes from PocketGamer, which previously cited anonymous sources to claim that Apple would launch a $20 premium games section of the iOS App Store, which never materialized; as such, the claims should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Update: Often given Apple’s off-the-record responses to rumors, The Loop denies the report.
In-app purchases generated a record 76 percent of total App Store revenue in the U.S. in February, according to a report from Distimo, a company that tracks app performance and metrics. The new report tracks revenues generated through the App Store, so ad revenue is excluded. At least 90 percent of all Asian market revenue came from in-app purchases, Distimo claims. Despite this, freemium apps were found to generate the least amount of revenue per download — just 93 cents per download based on the top 250 apps in the U.S. App Store, which might suggest that developers are hurting themselves by giving away apps in hopes of subsequent purchases, apart from building larger user bases. Paid iPhone apps without in-app purchases generated an average of $2.25 per download, and paid apps with in-app purchases generate even more revenue. iPad paid apps average $4.04 in revenue per download.
Facebook has sent out invites for a media event to “Come See Our New Home on Android” next Thursday, which appears to be the announcement of a Facebook-based Android phone co-developed with HTC. Though it’s unclear if the event will focus on the phone, reports suggest that Facebook has created a version of the Android operating system with deeper Facebook integration than before. Past reports have noted that Facebook has hired former a number of iOS designers and engineers, and Facebook notably also purchased Push Pop Press, a company started by former Apple employees. For possibly competitive reasons that were only speculated on before, Apple was slow at incorporating Facebook features into iOS and OS X — now, presumably, Facebook will be directly competing against the iPhone, while maintaining a number of popular apps on the platform. [via 9to5 Google]
Two recently published Apple patent applications — one for an electronic device with wraparound display, another for a ceramic enclosure for a device — could offer insight into the company’s future devices. The first application involves a device that would include a flexible display enclosed within a transparent housing, enabling the display to have greater surface area. Within the application, it’s noted that there is “a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device. ” Such a display would require use of a detection system to identify how a user is interacting with the device, and could provide volume controls on one of the display’s sides, for example. The device’s AMOLED display could be unrolled into one continuous band, as illustrated.
Another application focuses on techniques for fabricating a laminated ceramic housing around a device. The ceramic enclosure would be multi-layered for increased strength, yet it would remain lightweight. Such a ceramic housing could be a unibody design, like the iPhone 5. [via Apple Insider]
iCloud is meant to “just work,” but a recent report from The Verge suggests that many third-party developers believe otherwise. A number of developers are cited, noting that Apple hasn’t improved the way iCloud syncs with databases, also known as Core Data. The issues have caused developers to write extra code and manually help users who seek a solution, while dealing with customer complaints and poor ratings. In many cases, data will stop syncing, no matter what efforts are made. “iCloud with Core Data is a developer’s worst nightmare,” a developer said. “It’s frustrating, maddening, and costs hundreds of support hours.” Reportedly, Apple hasn’t been helpful to developers experiencing issues, and though iOS 6 has improved matters, the article notes “the company has simply not expressed any desire to fix Core Data syncing.” Apple declined to comment on the story.
Apple is facing a lawsuit from a Shanghai company over an alleged patent infringement for use of Siri, according to a report. Shanghai Zhi Zhen Internet Technology Co Ltd is suing Apple, claiming Siri infringes on its patent for Xiaoi, a “chat robot system” — the patent went into effect in 2006, prior to Siri. Xiaoi has been used in many fields, including telecommunications and banking, Shanghai Zhi Zhen has claimed. A pre-hearing is being held today. Shanghai Zhi Zhen is not seeking compensation; the company has asked the court to confirm the patent right. Apple is asking that Xiaoi’s patent be invalidated. [via Shanghai Daily]
Apple has confirmed that it will begin sell a new version of its A1428 iPhone 5 model in order to support additional Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands for T-Mobile’s network, according to a report. Current iPhone 5 users will not be able to gain the new AWS support via any kind of software update; instead, Apple is updating the current A1428 model of the iPhone 5, and will begin to sell it on April 12, the same day the device comes to T-Mobile. Existing A1428 models will perform at lower speeds on T-Mobile’s network, and thus will be phased out in favor of the new AWS model. The updated iPhone 5 will continue to support AT&T’s LTE network, and likely gain support for low-cost WIND and Mobilicity carriers in Canada in the process. [via Engadget]
Apple has acquired indoor GPS company WifiSLAM for around $20 million. WifiSLAM is a two-year-old startup that has developed ways for mobile apps to detect the location of a phone in a building with Wi-Fi. A brief description of the company notes applications including step-by-step indoor navigation, product-level retail customer management, and proximity-based social networking. The addition of the technology will theoretically help Apple compete with Google in mapping, as Google already offers a number of indoor maps. [via The Wall Street Journal]
A new exploit has been discovered that allows anyone with both your email address and date of birth to reset your Apple password by pasting a modified URL on Apple’s iForgot page, according to a report. Further details about the issue were not provided for security reasons, but the hole was confirmed. Yesterday, Apple added an optional two-step verfication service; users of that service would not be susceptible to the security hole. [via The Verge]
Apple has confirmed that it has added an “Offers In-App Purchases” line to freemium apps found in the App Store. Currently, the line is only found within the iTunes desktop version of the App Store. The company recently settled a class action lawsuit over freemium apps aimed at children, but as one British boy showed during an in-app spending spree, freemium purchases remain an issue. The disclosure offers a somewhat more conspicuous up-front sign of the potential for post-download charges, though apps can squeak through by debuting without in-app purchasing and subsequently adding the feature. [via The Guardian]
Apple is being probed for possible antitrust violations in the European Union, as a group of cellphone carriers have complained about the strict terms in contracts to sell iPhones, according to a report. A formal antitrust investigation has not begun at this point. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said, “Our contracts fully comply with local laws wherever we do business, including the EU.”
Meanwhile, in Australia, Apple is being questioned for its pricing of hardware and software, which is much higher than in the U.S. A 2012 survey showed that in Australia, software and hardware products sold for an average of 50 percent more than in the U.S. An Australian parliamentary committee questioned Apple, which blamed “old-fashioned” record companies, film studios, and TV networks for inflated prices on digital downloads. Adobe and Microsoft executives were also taken to task, and the committee found some of the answers “evasive.” [via The New York Times, Reuters]
More than 20,000 college students in the Chinese city of Wuhan have taken out high-interest loans in the past year to buy high-end electronics — mostly Apple products — according to a report. From Jan. 2012 through Feb. 2013, these loans totaled about $25.7 million in value, with about 90 percent of the credit used to buy Apple products, according to a credit manager. The loans, offered by Home Credit China, carry annual interest rates of over 47% on a 12-month-term loan. Despite the high interest rates, the loans are easy to get, and have “encouraged students to embrace the craze for Apple devices.” [via China Daily]
Apple hardware and software designers are now collaborating earlier in the design process than before, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. While iOS designers were previously “cut out of the loop on specifics” regarding new mobile devices while a separate “stealth group” of software developers worked on prototypes, Apple’s mobile software team is now briefed about the prototypes earlier. Sources said Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive, who now sits in on those meetings, is pushing for a simpler, starker, more “flat design” for the next Apple operating system. Changes are expected to be “pretty conservative.”
Apple has announced on its developer website that starting May 1, the App Store will also no longer accept new apps or updates that access device-specific identifiers known as UDIDs. It’s been known for some time that Apple planned to phase out the use of UDIDs, replacing them with the new Advertising Identifier in iOS 6. On the same date, new apps and updates submitted to the App Store must be built for iOS devices with Retina displays, and must support the iPhone 5/iPod touch 5G four-inch displays, suggesting that Apple will emphasize larger and/or higher-resolution screens while downplaying smaller, lower-resolution ones.
Apple has introduced an optional new two-step verification service for Apple ID and iCloud users. Like many other two-step verification systems, Apple users can now receive a verification code on a trusted device — that code is then entered into a new device to make an iTunes or App Store purchase, or to make account changes. A recovery key can also be set up to access an account if a user forgets a password or loses a device. The new service can be set up on the Apple ID website. [via 9to5Mac]