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Apple offering free next-day holiday shipping

Apple is now offering free next-day shipping on many online orders in the United States. According to Apple’s holiday shipping page, non-engraved iPads and iPods, the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, non-customized and popular iMac configurations, and the Apple TV can all be ordered today for arrival by December 24, thanks to the free next day shipping offer. For all other products, customers are advised to check their cart for expected delivery dates.

ITC rules for Apple in HTC case, import ban set for 2012

The U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this week ruled that HTC is violating an Apple patent, and ordered an import ban on some of the former’s products. AllThingsD reports that the Commission found HTC to infringe on two claims related to an Apple patent, a ruling that in some ways favored HTC, as an earlier ruling had the company infringing upon two Apple patents. “While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ’647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ’647 patent,” HTC said. The ban will take effect April 19 of next year, giving HTC time to demonstrate that it has avoided infringement in its products.

Apple launches Complete My Season Pass on iTunes

Apple has launched a new Complete My Season Pass feature on the iTunes Store, according to a Mac Rumors report. Similar to the Complete My Album feature, the Complete My Season Pass feature discounts the price of full TV show seasons by the amount of any individual episodes previously purchased, allowing users to buy the entire season without paying a penalty for buying individual episodes. It appears that the feature may only be live for certain shows, however, as some older shows no longer available via Season Pass do not show the option.

Apple airs new iPhone 4S TV ad: ‘Santa’

Apple has started to air its latest TV advertisement for the iPhone 4S. Entitled “Santa”, the 30-second spot shows Santa Claus interacting with Siri to get directions, find out the weather, find emails, read text messages, and keep track of his 3.7 billion appointments. The ad is available for viewing on Apple’s website or in embedded form below.

Apple launches iPhone 4S in over 20 new countries

Apple has launched the iPhone 4S in over 20 new countries. According to Mac Rumors, the handset made its debut in Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Apple’s previously stated goal was to have the iPhone 4S available on 100 carriers in 70 countries by the end of the year, a goal it appears that it will reach, as the handset is now available in over 65 countries.

Apple begins international rollout of iTunes Match

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Apple has started to roll out its iTunes Match cloud music service internationally. Available since early November in the U.S. and launched earlier this week in Brazil, links to activate the service have appeared on the front page of the iTunes Store in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and possibly in other countries. iTunes Match is a $25/year service that matches tracks in a user’s iTunes library with tracks stored on the company’s iTunes Store servers, uploading any tracks it can’t match, and offering users full access to all their music — up to 25,000 tracks — from any of their devices. [via Mac Rumors]

Apple releases Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4

Apple today released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4, the latest update for its second-generation set-top box. Apple has yet to update its Support page with details on 4.4.4, so it remains unclear what—if any—improvements or changes the update offers. Apple TV Software Update 4.4.4 is available now via the Update Software option in the device’s General Settings menu.

Update: According to Apple, the update “includes general performance and stability improvements, including a fix for an issue that displayed an error when playing some video content.”

Apple to open R&D center in Israel

Apple plans to open a research and development center in Israel that will focus on semiconductors, according to a new report. Citing Israeli newspaper the Globes, Reuters reports that Apple has already hired Israeli high-tech veteran Aharon Aharon to run the center, which will be located in Herzliya, an area considered to Israel’s version of Silicon Valley. According to the report, the center would be Apple’s first such site outside California; Apple’s vice president of R&D, Ed Frank, is said to be in Israel currently. Earlier this week, a report indicated that Apple is in talks to purchase Anobit, an Israeli fabless semiconductor company specializing in flash storage solutions.

iMessage glitch lets stolen phones receive messages

An apparent glitch or oversight in the way Apple’s iMessage SMS replacement service is set up is allowing thieves and unknown buyers of stolen iPhones to continue to receive and send texts via iMessage using the Apple ID of the original owner. Citing separate Mac Rumors and Apple Support forum threads, Ars Technica reports that the problem persists even after the device is registered under a new account. According to the report, neither remote wiping, changing Apple ID passwords, or even moving the prior phone number to a new phone fixes the problem, with the only proven fix to completely cancel the Apple ID that was used for iMessages on the stolen device. Ars contacted Apple to ask why this was happening, but has yet to receive a response.

ITC ruling in HTC, Apple dispute delayed again

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has once again postponed a final ruling on the dispute between HTC and Apple, according to an HTC official. Speaking with Reuters, the official said that the ruling is now due on December 19, adding that the ITC did not give a reason for the delay. The ITC was due to deliver a ruling in the case, which could see sales of Android-based HTC devices banned in the U.S., on December 6, before it pushed back the date back to today.

Apple to buy flash memory firm Anobit?

Apple is in talks to purchase Israeli company Anobit for $400-$500 million, according to a new report. Citing a report from Hebrew-based Calcalist, TechCrunch reports that should the deal go through, it would be Apple’s first acquisition in Israel and the first under new CEO Time Cook. Anobit is a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage solutions, which are designed to improve speed, endurance, and performance of flash storage systems while driving down cost. According to the Calcalist report, Apple relies on Anobit’s solutions in the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air, among other devices.

Apple launches iTunes Store in Brazil, Latin America

Apple has launched the iTunes Store in Brazil, as well as 15 additional Latin American countries. According to the company, the iTunes Store in Brazil offers a catalog of over 20 million songs, including local artists, over a thousand movies to rent or purchase, many in HD, and iTunes Match. In the other 15 countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela—customers can browse a catalog of music from the major labels and thousands of independent labels, and also receive standard iTunes in the Cloud service for free.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.2 with iTunes Match, distortion fixes

Apple today released iTunes 10.5.2, the latest update to its digital media management software. According to the company, iTunes 10.5.2 “includes several improvements for iTunes Match and fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs.” iTunes 10.5.2 is available now as a free download from apple.com/itunes, and is expected to be available via Apple’s Software Update utility shortly.

Apple seeds iOS 5.1 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the second version of iOS 5.1 to registered iOS developers. According to Apple’s release notes, this new beta adds the ability to delete photos from a Photo Stream, along with other improvements; it also notes that the accompanying preview release of Xcode 4.3 is distributed as a single application bundle, allowing it to be installed directly from the App Store without the need for a secondary installation process. iOS 5.1 beta 2 is available now to registered iOS developers as a direct download from the iOS Dev Center.

Apple airs new Beatles iTunes ad

Apple has started to air a new 30-second TV advertisement touting The Beatles on iTunes. The ad is based on the covers of the band’s albums, including Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour—the titular track plays in the background—The Beatles [White Album], Yellow Submarine, Let It Be, and Abbey Road, in that order, with a simple “The Beatles on iTunes” message appearing in text at the end, followed by an Apple logo. Apple is notably giving away The Beatles Yellow Submarine children’s book right now on the iBookstore. The new ad is available for viewing on Apple’s website.

iBooks adds Night mode, New fonts

Apple has released an update to its universal iBooks app adding several new UI features and enhancements. iBooks 1.5 adds a nighttime reading theme for reading books in the dark as well as a new full-screen reading view. The update also adds several new fonts including Athelas, Charter, Iowan and Seravek and a new redesigned annotation palette making it easier to choose highlighting colours. With the latest version Apple is now including classic covers for public domain books as well rather than the generic title covers that had previously been displayed. iBooks 1.5 requires iOS 4.2 or later and is available from the App Store as a free download.

EU launches antitrust probe of Apple, publishers

The European Commission—the executive body of the European Union—has launched a probe into whether Apple helped major publishing houses illegally raise prices for e-books when it launched the iBookstore. Apple was notably the first retailer of digital books to allow publishers to use the so-called agency model, under which publishers set the price at which books are sold to consumers. “The Commission has concerns that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the body said in a statement. Also included in the probe are Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan.

Apple, Samsung ruling exposes new details

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s ruling denying Apple’s request for a ban on sales of select Samsung products in the U.S. has unintentionally provided additional details of the ongoing dispute between the two companies. According to Reuters, a version of the ruling was originally released that allowed anyone to copy & paste redacted text out of the document for reading elsewhere; one of these passages revealed that Apple’s own studies show that existing iPhone customers are unlikely to switch to Samsung devices, with any increase in Samsung smartphone sales likely to come at the expense of other Android handsets. Koh alluded to this in the openly released portion of the ruling, saying that “It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed”.

Another passage shows that Samsung argued that Apple’s supply cannot keep up with market demand for its products, a claim which Koh called “dubious”, as Apple had presented convincing rebuttal evidence to the contrary showing its ability to keep up with demand in the long term. In addition, the redacted portion of the ruling also referred to licensing deals that Apple had struck with other tech companies involving one of the patents referenced in Apple’s suit. As first reported by The Verge, Apple licensed a key patent dealing with a method of scrolling documents and images on a touchscreen device to both IBM and Nokia before offering a similar licensing agreement to Samsung, which the latter company rejected.

Apple eyeing Oregon for new data center?

Apple is considering building a large data center in Prineville, Oregon, according to a new report. Citing two people with direct knowledge of Apple’s plans, The Oregonian reports that Apple’s option to purchase 160 acres of land—currently owned by Crook County—expires at the end of the month, with climate, power costs, and tax breaks all playing roles in the decision. Notably, the location would place Apple’s data center less than a mile away from a large data center run by Facebook, and close to another sizable data center run by Google. Apple brought online a new $1 billion data facility in North Carolina earlier this year, which is used for both the iTunes Store and iCloud.

U.S. court denies Apple request for Samsung sales ban

A U.S. District Court in San Jose has rejected an Apple request for a preliminary injunction barring the sale of several Samsung Galaxy tablets and smartphones. The San Jose Business Journal reports that Judge Lucy Koh denied the request, saying that “It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed.” Samsung issued a statement on the ruling, saying, “We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung’s mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year.” Despite the ruling against Apple, Koh also said that Apple has proven that it’s likely to succeed in proving that Samsung’s products infringe its patents.

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