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Publishers object to agency ban in proposed Apple remedy

The five major U.S. publishers that settled with the U.S. government prior to trial are objecting to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed remedy for Apple’s e-book price fixing, The Wall Street Journal reports. In a court filing, publishers said eliminating the “agency model” for five years as proposed would harm the publishers instead of Apple, since publishers were given the ability to set the retail prices for e-books under the model. The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, and HarperCollins — all settled with the government before a price fixing trial, while Apple went to court and was subsequently found guilty of fixing e-book prices. Apple has spoken out against the DOJ’s proposal, calling it a “draconian and punitive intrusion.”

iTunes Store outage affecting ‘some users’

An outage with Apple’s iTunes Store is preventing some users from making purchases, as well as completing transactions that were underway at the time of the outage. The issue has continued for nearly two hours as of this writing, according to Apple’s System Status page. iLounge editors have experienced the problem firsthand, in the form of being unable to complete video purchases, and through in-progress app downloads that won’t authorize via iTunes.

Update: Apple’s System Status page is now showing a number of issues with other services. According to the status page, “Users may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, or iBookstore. Users may also be unable to download previously-purchased content, use iTunes Match, or successfully restore Apps and Music from an iCloud backup.”

Second update: All of those services have been restored, but now some users are unable to make FaceTime calls, according to Apple’s System Status page as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

AppleCare to intro 24/7 chat support, new website

Apple will soon make major changes to its AppleCare support service, including making online chat support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to a report. Around-the-clock chat support could go live as soon as Aug. 12, with the online chat “likely” to support users of both iOS devices and Macs. Along with the always-available online chat support, Apple is also readying the launch of a redesigned AppleCare website. The interface of the revamped site will feature larger and simpler navigation and icons, similar to iOS. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 5

Apple has released iOS 7 beta 5 to registered developers. The fourth beta was released just last week after Apple’s developer site went down, so it appears Apple is trying to stick to the original release schedule for the iOS 7 betas. As has repeatedly been the case iOS 7 beta 5 only lists “bug fixes and improvements” as features, and is available for developers through Software Update in iOS settings, or Apple’s developer portal.

Update: Apple has also released Apple TV Software beta 4.

Apple announces USB Power Adapter Takeback Program

Apple has announced a new USB Power Adapter Takeback Program following two reported user-shocking incidents in China that were blamed on third-party adapters, one of which allegedly caused a woman’s death, and another allegedly placing a man in a coma. The new program lets customers drop off third-party adapters with which they may have concerns at Apple retail stores or Apple authorized service providers. Apple will then dispose of the adapters in an “environmentally friendly way.”

Those who turn in at least one USB power adapter and bring along their iOS device for serial number validation will be able to purchase an official Apple USB power adapter for just $10, or the approximate equivalent in local currency. Customers will be able to purchase one $10 adapter for each iPhone, iPad, and iPod they own. The takeback program starts Aug. 16 and the special pricing for power adapters will run until Oct. 18.

Apple to restore most developer services this week

Apple has emailed an update on the continued restoration of its developer website, following an intrusion a few weeks ago. The update notes most of the developer services are back online, and most of the remaining services will be reinstated this week. As of this writing, four services were still marked as offline on the Apple developer system status page. Those services are Xcode Automatic Configuration, Member Center, Program Enrollment and Renewals, and Technical Support.

China investigates Apple suppliers for pollution

Regulators in China are looking into allegations that two Apple suppliers — Foxconn and UniMicron plants in Kunshan — are polluting nearby rivers with toxic heavy metals. Chinese environmental regulator and local vice director Ding Yudong said testing could take a while, and violations could come with serious penalties. Foxconn said it complies with emissions standards and noted that other facilities in the same industrial park discharge wastewater into the rivers. UniMicron said that it does daily wastewater inspections, and quarterly inspections are done by a third party. An Apple spokeswoman said the company regularly audits suppliers and works to ensure environmental standards are met. [via The Wall Street Journal]

Import ban on older iPhones, iPads vetoed

Apple can continue to sell the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the first- and second-generation 3G iPads in the U.S. after the Obama administration overturned an import ban on the devices, Bloomberg reports. The import ban, which was to start today, came about after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated a Samsung standards-essential patent. However, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the ban was unwarranted, as Samsung could continue to seek financial damages without stopping Apple from selling the devices.

An Apple spokeswoman told AllThingsD, “We applaud the administration for standing up for innovation in this landmark case. Samsung was wrong to abuse the patent system in this way. On the other side, a Samsung spokesman said, “We are disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to set aside the exclusion order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC’s decision correctly recognized that Samsung has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.” The matter isn’t completely over, as Samsung has already said it’s been granted an appeal hearing on the issue next year, according to the Financial Times.

Apple slams DOJ e-book proposal as ‘draconian’ intrusion

Apple has responded to the U.S. Department of Justice’s proposed restrictions to remedy the company’s e-book price fixing, calling the proposal “a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business.” The company argues in its opposing brief that the restrictions proposed today could cost both dollars and “lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers.” Apple doesn’t believe any further injunction is warranted — but if an injunction is issued, the company suggests mild limitations and obligations which would be a far cry from what the DOJ suggests. A hearing on the remedies is set for Aug. 9. [via AllThingsD]

DOJ proposes remedy for Apple e-book price fixing

The U.S. Department of Justice has released a proposed remedy addressing Apple’s e-book price fixing, for which the company was found guilty last month. Under the proposal, Apple would be required to terminate “existing agreements with the five publishers with which it conspired” and to “refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.” The company would be prohibited from “again serving as a conduit of information among the conspiring publishers or from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books on agency terms.” Apple would also be prohibited from entering into agreements with any content providers that are “likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” Additionally, for two years, Apple would be required to allow other retailers — such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble — to provide links from their own e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing for easy comparison between their own prices and Apple’s prices.

The DOJ is also “asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple’s internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers.” Apple would pay the salary and expenses of the court-appointed monitor. It must be noted that the DOJ’s proposal must be approved in court. A hearing on the remedies is scheduled to be held on August 9.

Apple Store app starts offering free content

Previously rumored but not rolled out, Apple has now started to offer free content within its Apple Store iOS app. The Apple Store is now offering Color Zen, normally $1, as a complimentary download.

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Color Zen must be downloaded from within the Apple Store app to get it for free. Reportedly, Apple will be providing a new app, iBook, or piece of iTunes content for free each week, apparently as an enticement to increase interest in Apple’s retail operations. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple continues extended search for retail chief

Apple’s search for a new retail chief continues as the company has still not settled on a finalist for the position, The Wall Street Journal reports. Since the departure of John Browett in late October, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been overseeing retail. Wireless and telecommunication executives have been interviewed for the open position, but “rejected as a poor fit,” according to sources. Apple was turned down by a “CEO of a privately held retailer in France,” who believed it would be tough to “change Apple’s culture as an outsider.” Outsiders, however, are all that Apple appears to be interested in, as a source said the company isn’t considering internal candidates for the position. Sales at Apple retail stores are still high, but down 4.5 percent per square foot in this fiscal year.

Apple informs MobileMe users of expiring free iCloud storage

Apple is now notifying former MobileMe members via email that the free 20GB iCloud storage upgrade they received will be expiring on Sept. 30, as was announced last year. iCloud storage for those users will revert to the free 5GB plan after the complimentary upgrade expires. Users who wish to retain their extra iCloud storage must purchase a storage plan by Sept. 30. An Apple support document provides additional details.

Apple acquires wireless chip developer Passif

Apple has acquired wireless chip developer Passif Semiconductor, according to a report. Passif specializes in making Bluetooth LE communication chips. The report notes Passif’s technology is “promising for health-monitoring and fitness devices that need extra-long battery life.” It’s been reported that Apple’s upcoming iWatch will be focused on fitness. Apple verified the acquisition, as a company spokeswoman said, “Apple buys small technology companies from time to time.” This is Apple’s known third acquisition in recent weeks, following the company’s additions of Locationary and Hopstop. [via Jessica Lessin]

Patent filing reveals iPhone-stored user environments

A new Apple patent application details a system in which a user can use a device such as an iPhone to learn and configure environmental preferences, especially in a car. For example, a user sitting in a car might set up his or her car seat, steering wheel, power mirror, radio, and climate control preferences. An iPhone could conceivably store this information, and “when the user visits another automobile, such as when renting a car, or buying a new car,” the preferences could be imported to adjust the car’s settings.

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The system described is a more advanced version of Apple’s iOS in the Car, featured in iOS 7. In some embodiments of the system, a home or room environment can be adjusted — climate control, television, and lighting preferences may be able to be adjusted in a house or a hotel room, for instance. [via Apple Insider]

iOS 7 beta 4 fixes charger hack

A recently revealed charger hack for iOS devices has been fixed in iOS 7 beta 4, Reuters reports. The known hack involves using a malicious charger to invisibly install malware on an iOS device in less than a minute, and was officially unveiled at the Black Hat hacking conference on Wednesday. Apple confirmed the latest iOS 7 beta has fixed the issue. The hack will still work on devices running iOS 6.

Retina iPad mini in 4Q, new rear shell colors?

Apple suppliers are readying mass production in the fourth quarter for a new Retina display iPad mini that will “likely feature” a Samsung screen, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sharp and LG Display will also reportedly make screens for the next iPad mini. The report also notes Apple has “been contemplating multiple color back covers for the new tablet.” A number of reports — including a Wednesday report — have also referenced a non-Retina second-generation iPad mini, but it’s unclear when such a device would be released, if at all.

iOS 7 code points to faster, non-Retina iPad mini?

References spotted in the iOS 7 SDK appear to show that Apple is testing a new, faster iPad mini without a Retina display, 9to5Mac reports. The code refers to the same A6 processor found in Apple’s iPhone 5, which would be faster than the current iPad mini processor. A lack of “@2x” references — generally how developers reference a Retina display — hint that this device would be non-Retina. As the report notes, there is no way to tell whether Apple is merely testing such a model, or if it will be released as a final product. Recent reports have noted that a non-Retina iPad mini could be released this year, possibly as an interim model before a 2014 Retina mini.

Cook meets with China Mobile chairman

Apple CEO Tim Cook met Tuesday with the chairman of China Mobile, Reuters reports. China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, is the only major Chinese carrier not currently offering the iPhone. Cook and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua discussed “matters of cooperation” in Beijing, according to China Mobile, suggesting that a partnership to sell iPhones to the company’s customers is becoming more likely. It was previously speculated that Cook would meet with China Mobile during his visit.

Report: Foxconn seeks 90k workers for iPhone production

Foxconn is reportedly looking to hire a remarkable 90,000 workers for production of a new iPhone — likely the iPhone 5S — for its Shenzhen industrial complex. A report out of Taiwan notes that assembly testing has been completed for the device, and claims the company is ready to start production. Reports from multiple outlets in April noted Foxconn had increased hiring to produce Apple’s next iPhone. [via Focus Taiwan]

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